This blog…

Is now up and running again, and please forgive any infelicities, I am coping with a new Chromebook. Which for me fulfils Clarke’s First Law, that any advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. But which was passed on to me by the Boy as hopelessly obsolete.

I also now have a busy Facebook page. I shall soon be heading down to the UFO Club to learn how to frug to the Pink Floyd.


On the 1960s, and progress

To the V&A for the You Say You Want A Revolution exhibition on the
years 1966 to 1970. There is a strict ban on photography. Which in the
spirit of the age I ignore, surreptitiously.
It is surprisingly moving. I was 10 in 1967 and have no excuse not to
remember it. Hair (actually 1968), Magical Mystery Tour… I remember
them. The 60s are a decade much derided, and there was a lot of
silliness about, well documented in the exhibition. I recall it all.
And does one really need to see the frock coat worn by Jimi Hendrix’s
drummer? More than one actually.
It was quite revealing, though. A lot of things that made an awful lot
of people’s lives an awful lot better started there. Women’s rights,
gay rights, black people’s rights, environmentalism.
You walk around the exhibition with the headphones on playing the
appropriate music. Which is then available in a 3 CD set. And there’s
a souvenir book.
The revolution will not be televised. It will be available in the gift
shop after your visit.

On Sir Christopher Bland

Sir Christoper Bland has died.
He was best known as chairman of BT and the BBC but I first came to
know him as chairman of LWT in the early 1980s. I used to go around to
the TV centre on the South Bank to interview him and Greg Dyke, who
was chief executive, during a hostile takeover bid both were fighting
We met again about a decade ago at Prue Leith’s cooking school in
Chiswick, west London when I was writing a personal profile of him.
He had a stake in the business. We spent the morning cooking,
something vaguely Thai as I remember. He was a blunt, plain-spoken
Ulsterman. He spent the morning ordering me around as the kitchen
skivvy, in a hilarious way. “0h no, he’s stirring it the wrong way.”
His humour and warmth came through. It was one of the most fun
interviews I have ever done. I have a picture of Christopher and me,
in our pinnies, in my kitchen to this day.
He lately made a third – fourth? fifth? – career as a novelist, with
Ashes In The Fire, a history of Ireland from the start of the last
century through to the property crash seen through the eyes of
multiple protagonists, and Cathar.
As chance would have it, I have just finished the last, a story about
the suppression of the Cathar heresy in the Albigensian Crusade in the
early 13th century. I meant to email him via his publisher to remind
him of me and raise a couple of questions from the book. Never got
around to it. I regret that.
RIP. One of the greats.