Diary… News ban in London home


Boris Johnson and The Masked Singer

🔹Ever since Friday 13 December 2019 my wife Jane has opted out of listening to or watching the news.

She can’t face the prospect of accidentally exposing her eyes and ears to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

I have joined her in this quest, but only marginally for the same reason.

On top of seeking to steer clear of Boris, I sought to conquer my news/politics addiction. So along with Jane I went cold turkey too.

To replace her old listening habits, Jane has become attached to BBC Radio 4 Extra, with its mix of drama, comedy, panel games and talk shows.

I’ve started listening to Radio 2.

This morning I heard Tony Blackburn – who outed himself as being 77 in two weeks’ time – hand over to Dermot O’Leary, who has in that uniquely BBC way inherited Blackburn’s cheesy smoothness.

The difference is that Dermot tells better stories.

Today he revealed that he woke up in a panic last night. He was worried that the new hamster he’s just bought had escaped from its cage. 

Dermot O’Leary is 30 years younger than Tony Blackburn.

When I confess to no longer listening to Radios 4 and 5Live but to R2 instead, some friends express genuine surprise that it took me so long to catch up.

As if arriving at Radio 2 is a natural part of life’s crappy ageing deal, like incontinence, false teeth and hip replacements.

🔹Alexa seems to prefer the line of least resistance, and if left to minimal verbal prompting will run straight to daddy and mainline an Amazon Music playlist into my Ultimate Ears Wonderboom.

Today the list included Neil Young’s ‘After the Gold Rush’. It’s a typically druggy song, which includes the line, “Flying Mother Nature’s silver seed to a new home in the Sun”.

But the song also has more grounded lines:

“I was thinking about what a friend had said,
I was hoping it was a lie.”

🔹To John Lewis in Oxford Street to check out saucepans and TV sets.

The Tefal Ingenio range is indeed ingenious, because its pans don’t have handles.

A universal clip-on/clip-off handle fits all pan sizes. I think we’ll end up with the set of 4 (16-, 18-, 20-inch), plus lids.

Ingenious… No handles

🔹In the TV department on the 5th floor, I think I persuaded Jane that only a 50- or 55-inch screen will do. 

The persuasion took the form of the offer to pay for it with my own money rather than to draw funds from the family account. That might just swing it.

🔹An early-evening Netflix movie: Only You. It’s a love story set in Glasgow about a young couple who recklessly decide to have a baby after about two dates.

It doesn’t go to plan and they end up not only shagging to exhaustion in their mission to find a home for Mother Nature’s milky seed, but cripple each other emotionally with recrimination, guilt and multiple rounds of IVF, all of which fail.

They split up, but can they ever get back together now that a baby is out of the question?

Can that Elvis Costello song that delivered their very first moment of passionate embrace ever spin again?

This is real suspense!

The characters are brilliantly played and the story totally convincing. 

It tables difficult questions about gender roles, loyalty and commitment. 

Ultimately, it draws out every notion about what love between two people really amounts to.

🔹The Masked Singer must be one of the silliest programmes on TV.

Jane says one of tonight’s contestants, Octopus, looks like a Liquorice Allsort.

Octopus, soon to be unmasked

Octopus narrowly beat Tree to make it into the next round. Tree was then ‘unmasked’ to reveal its true identity.

It was former footballer Teddy Sheringham, who then sang the Will Young song ‘Evergreen’ to demonstrate his extensive and diverse post-soccer achievements.

🔹Later on BBC iPlayer was the tense Mike Figgis crime thriller Internal Affairs, starring Richard Gere and Andy Garcia.

Gere is probably in his best ever film role. He is pure evil as the corrupt cop facing investigation from the Internal Affairs Department. Garcia is the anti-corruption cop who is trying to nail him.

Tense, gripping

The film makes the UK TV series ‘Line of Duty’ look like a stroll in the park, but lets itself down by ending with the worst line ever in any film in all of history.

In the closing scene, Richard Gere decides to enlighten Andy Garcia with some home truths. He tells him his problem is that he has no children. 

Then, as the big put-down, the killer blow, he screams accusingly at Garcia, with real venom:

“You selfish yuppie”.

Ouch!

🔹Read yesterday’s scrapbook

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