Monday 16 February 2009


I'm happy to report that my apparently none too trusty home PC (precisely one month out of warranty) is back in action. After much umming and aahing and head-scratching, I phoned PC Hit Squad or some such and they sent out an Instant Response Unit, which took a mere four hours and turned out to be a very pleasant young man of (I think) South Asian extraction, who soon had the machine working. It hadn't been easy being offline - the world seemed to shrink alarmingly when I was dependent on the resources of the analog world and the dusty lumber room of my mind. Still, I was able to read a bit, and watch Mad Men and muse on its staggering coolness and smartness, and how dumb nearly all British TV is compared to good American TV. And it's not just the odd sui generis gem like Mad Men or The Sopranos or The Wire, it's more routine stuff too. Compare Law & Order to the average British police procedural, which rarely comes up with a plot as interesting as even a below-par L&O, and takes three times as long to do about a third as much in all departments, while making about a third as much demand on the viewers' mind and attention. A UK version of the franchise - Law & Order: UK - is launching soon on ITV, and they seem to have got it more or less right by simply carbon copying the US format. Though of course it's not as cool or as smart...
But enough of TV. Thanks to the restored wonders of the web, I have discovered that today is the 141st anniversary of the founding of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, formerly known as the Jolly Gorks. I must confess I'd never heard of them, but to judge by their website they're huge - and no wonder: being an Elk sounds like the most tremendous fun. Don't miss the poem there - When Father Rode The Goat. Do the Elks still carry on like that? I do hope so.


  1. Where do you find 'em Nige, they sound like the wobbly hand shakers (freemasons) but with a sense of humour and don't want to tear your heart out and bury it on the seashore if you tell on them.
    PCs are like dishwashers, it's when they break down that you realise their place in the grand order of things.
    One good thing about our rubbish TV programmes, more time spent reading, talking, thinking and PCing. Less eye strain is an added bonus.

  2. I think you're wrong about British television.

    I've watched it for years, in different countries and now here. BBC America is a great channel.

    I'm true blue American, but the Brit comedies stack up against what american television is doing. I don't think I would say one is better thanthe other, just good. There are dogs, or cousrse, but a lot of quality stuff.

    And some of the dramas, such as Wire in the Blood and Life on Mars are as good as anything I've seen on television.

    There's a lot of crap out there, from both countries. But don't sell British tv short.

  3. I'd have to agree on British TV being generally terrible, compare The Bill or even Spooks with shows like CSI and The Wire - they just don't match up.

    Although we are very good at comedy and panel shows - Have I Got News For You, QI, The Office, Fools and Horses, Lead Balloon (I liked it anyway) the list goes on. We should stick to comedy and the news.

    I suspect Ron only gets the good programmes on BBC America, not having to bear the likes of Hollyoaks (cringe) and Ant and Dec.

    Then again the same could be said for the American programmes we get here...

  4. I live in the UK, so I 'can' see them all. I just choose to ignore the crap like Hollyoaks and Eastenders and Coronation Street.

    If I watch, i try to be selective. But the same thing applies. If I only got the best of what British tv had to offer on BBC America, then you guys are only getting the best of what FIVE, or any other channel chooses to air.

    Trust me, there's a lot you don't see, and don't want to.