Tuesday, 6 November 2007


Back, fresh and destressed, from Herefordshire- Goodrich castle, the Mappa Mundi, a cider maker’s and second-hand bookshops visited to much excitement. Look, I don’t get out much, old stuff is as good as it gets.

The Mappa Mundi is brilliant - a world view, quite literally, and liberally dotted with those bits of dubious mediaeval zoology and anthropology that make any modern reader of Othello go "He's making it up- he's never been anywhere!"
The chained library which accompanies the Mappa in Hereford Cathedral is possibly even more exciting to a more specialist saddo like myself. Look- really old books chained to shelves with built in work desks and benches! Just fantastic- everything from early Caxton volumes to Doctor Johnson's dictionary in vaguely sensible shelving orders.

Goodrich castle is also worth a poke 'round, an excellently preserved site, with everything you want from a castle and with the layers of occupation clearly exposed too- you could see it was a space that had evolved, which I always love.
Paradoxically, I think the old Ministry of Works sign saying bits are a bit unsafe so it's your own fault if you break a leg or anything was one of the things that transferred me furthest into a different time zone.
No friendly visitors' centres with dragon glove puppets and opportunistically labelled fudge or audio tours and bits fenced off for health and safety reasons back then, just a lot of trip hazards and the assumption you'd behave sensibly enough not to come to any great harm...

I was reminded of that sense of history as a layered process in a location watching the new Poliakoff, which had a brilliant twenty minutes slowly built up to over almost an hour of watchable TV. Quite theatrically paced, and featuring a bit too much curiously disengaged rumpery between not quite convincing people for my tastes, the film repays your attentiveness in the end, particularly for the lovely use of archive film and for the revelation that the evil in a man's past his son was seeking to make reparations for, was the time when he'd stood by and done nothing as evil began to assert itself.

Still more thrillingly, on my return, the person on the BBC 7 message board who didn’t like No Tomatoes after episode 1 has had a “road to somewhere in the middle east but not Damascus yet and there’s no guarantee they ever will go to Damascus” experience.
The show has been growing on them and they mentioned a couple of items from show 5 they’d enjoyed, which was very nice, and comforting too.
However, they still feel as if the show is “written by a disgruntled mathematician whose thought processes are too close to my own to be funny”.
I’m almost certain I would be disgruntled as a mathematician actually. I’ve met one, he colours in maps, and tries to come up with a justification with writing and stuff for how many crayons he uses.
All day, apparently.
I only got O level Maths grade C, which essentially means I turned up and didn’t defecate on the exam paper. I was also famously bad at colouring in.

I suspect this disgruntled mathematician tag comes from the writer getting a couple of references I chucked in to Cantor in show 5 which they assume only a maths expert would understand, coupled with a couple of infinity and pi related items in earlier episodes. I reckon it means the esoteric scatter gun approach has hit at least one target anyhow. It’s just a shame they don’t think us appearing to have similar thought processes is nice. I suspect it means they think the shows are a bit too predictable and obvious, it's either that or they’re riddled with self hate (in which case their thought processes are indeed too close to my own).

If you want to hear No Tomatoes again, or even for the first time, you can’t, well not now, but it’ll probably be ‘round again in a year or so, they've paid.

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