The venue. Renamed after its current sponsor but I still think of it as the Millennium Dome. I last visited it when it was a shiny new rather eccentric white elephant of a previous government. It's faded a bit now, like me, and its neo-modernist forms are almost weather-beaten enough to pass as actual decayed 1960s modernism. There is a newer cable car over the Thames next to it, which has also proved a commercial white elephant. I couldn't resist it, of course. So, with a few hours to spare I crossed over industrial wastelands and the old Golden Syrup factory to what used to be docklands and is now a sterile, expensive housing estate, mostly devoid of people. It made me feel sad. An experiment in wealth attraction that has failed to attract anything other than wealth. I rode back over to the Dome in search of human life and found it heaving with 20,000 fellow Monty Python fans queuing for food and beer, and giant neo-Victorian Terry Gilliam sets. Yes! Then it began.....
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Luckily we never wash our car anyway.
Cute new BHA video series with Stephen Fry narrating.
It's silly, I know, but I was browsing IMDB last night and discovered that John Neville died more than two years ago and I hadn't been aware of it, and I felt rather sad about this. He'll always be the Baron to me. A surprising number of the cast of Baron Munchausen are dead now. It seems only recently I was watching it at the cinema when it first came out but it was actually decades ago. Kid actress Sara Polley is the same age as my wife! I feel old.
I'm looking forward to seeing the surviving Pythons this summer before they all die too.
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A fuzzy iPad photo of Jonathan Meades giving a talk about brutalist architecture to the Regency Society in the spectacular music room of Brighton Pavilion. For months Jon (jermynsavile) and I had been as excited about this as small children going to Disneyland. There was a tense moment when Jon's tickets failed to materialise but it all turned out well in the end and we sat there in our coats at the beginning grinning at each other like idiots. Like many Meades fans, his programmes are one of the few reasons I will ever tune into broadcast TV. To those of you unfamiliar with Meades, he has created a sort of Reservoir Dogs screen persona and delivers his programmes as verbal barrages which, oddly, despite the extremely visual subject matter, are more akin to radio than television. Somewhat slower and unedited in real life he was, if anything, even more bizarre. Tiny, irritable eyes embedded in that big flaccid face it soon became evident that he was going to deliver nothing less than, verbatim, the entire script of his last two TV episodes. Spontaneous and engaging are not qualities he's bothered to cultivate and I don't suppose he needs to either. After an hour and a half of this the charming chairman of the Regency Society hesitantly placed a note on Meades's lectern which, we gathered, read something along the lines of "Brighton City Council are going to turf us out of here at 9pm." Meades froze as if in terror, but more likely rage, and then, in stony silence, turned over the last five pages of his script like sheets of lead and wound up the lecture; an episode of comic drama which Jon reckons was worth the whole £10 ticket price. There was a brief Q&A session during which I asked him if there was a better name for brutalism and he shot back "chummy, matey concrete".
Meades didn't join us for wine afterwards in the fancy kitchen with its iron columns disguised as palm trees. His loss. I found that the Regency Society is made up mostly of immensely literate, witty conversational retired people and I will make an effort to meet them again I think.
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