2014 — 18 October: Saturday

I was a few minutes late — blame a loose screw in my chair that had first to be found, and then refitted, after I received an audible clue to its unwelcome departure from under the base of the thing — resuming work on my current self-imposed "painting the Forth Bridge" task1 this unsunny morning. The task is throwing up a variety of anomalies, leavened by the occasional pleasant surprise...

My state of grinding poverty2 forced me to fit extra material on to the space at the end of DVDs I cut from off-air transmissions and laser-rotting LaserDiscs. I was not always terribly good at tracking this extra stuff. Who knew, for example, that behind the hand-scrawled title "A history of oil"3 was a fascinating 47-minute programme of comedian-turned-anarchist Rob Newman giving a lively lecture of an entirely different (but very plausible and carefully researched) history of the "true" causes and purposes of the First World War?

Forget Sarajevo. Forget Archduke Ferdinand. He turned out to be totally irrelevant. But does invading the Middle East for its oil sound vaguely familiar?

"The West" (basically us and the French) wanted to stop Germany extending its existing rail link beyond Constantinople across into those rich newly-discovered oil fields of Arabia. Not that the website of the Dorset regiments involved goes into much detail of this global mischief. It's all about "bringing democracy to the Middle East" and has been going on for a century. Even Kermit Roosevelt had a rôle to play, as part of a deal Churchill cooked up, to spring from prison and install on Persia's throne that splendid puppet Shah who went on to preside over a long series of gigantic human rights abuses. That worked out so well for everybody.

I don't expect to see Mr Newman popping up on "Question Time" any time soon. (Not that I watch it. Or even know if it's still running.)

Mr Postie...

... has done nothing to clear up today's anomaly by delivering this 1955 UK thriller (originally titled "The Atomic Man" and scripted by Charles Eric Maine — the chap who wrote that terrifying novel of a pandemic "The Darkest of Nights"):

Timeslip 1955 film

Sadly, the "Timeslip" title I had casually scrawled on one of these blasted DVD-Rs referred to something completely different — a 30-minute episode from a 1985 Yorkshire TV series about a crime- and evil-fighting computer hacker. Since I couldn't remember what I'd recorded I had lazily consulted IMDB instead of sticking my DVD into the Oppo and actually checking what was on it. Hence, today's delivery.

Still, at least I now know my DVD-R also holds a one-off comedy item called "Up for grabs" that seems to feature a very young Emma Thompson in multiple rôles, and a 57-minute segment (quite possibly the original pilot episode) of "Max Headroom". All three items were originally recorded on bog-standard VHS tape in the mid 1980s and don't upscale terribly well on to my 60" Full HD plasma screen.

It was...

... Derek Jewell (jazz and popular music critic of The Sunday Times) who first introduced me to the vocal magician going by the name of Norma Winstone. And that would have been around 1971, 1972. I'm enjoying her every bit as much 40 years later during tonight's wondrous edition of "Jazz Line-Up".

This little lot arrived...

... while I was otherwise dashing around ahead of my Thursday lunchtime rendezvous. Two are replacing films I originally had on LaserDisc, while the boxed set is a venture into the unknown:

Winter watching

... though a fairly low-risk one, as I did hear a 'New Yorker' film critic speaking very well of it on NPR the other day while he was actually mostly talking about something else altogether. As long as the Grauniad's praise of it ("brainy, deeply delicious television") isn't from Peter Bradshaw, I figure I should be OK. [Pause] Three half-hour sessions of 'therapy' will be quite enough for tonight, methinks. It's a clever idea, offering a series of hooks from which to hang interlocking storylines, but I'm no great fan of the psychotherapeutic profession in real life. I would make a lousy therapist, and an even lousier client, I'm sure.



1  Of methodically checking my way through the combination of my CaseLogic storage folders (in which I store my video [and audio] discs), the simple flat ASCII files that describe and index the physical location of these discs, the folders upstairs in which I file an incomplete set of their cover artwork, and the as-yet-unfinished suite of Python script(s) that Brian assures me will one day simplify the whole process of getting my data into and out of the online DVD Profiler system that hosts a description of my entire collection. This last is, of course, only as good as the data I and many thousands of other users have been entering into it for the last decade or so.
And not all of those users are, erm, completer-finishers :-)
2  Inherent with being in receipt of the monthly pittance from IBM that they were always pleased to describe as my "market rate salary".
3  On the end of the DVD on which I'd also burned the copy of "Big Trouble" that I've just replaced by a 'proper' commercial DVD.