Monday 17 February 2014

Meades etc.

So, last night, after the inevitable Call the Midwife (too little Sister Monica Joan this week), it was over to BBC4 for Jonathan Meades' latest - a two-parter under the fittingly heavy title Bunkers, Brutalism and Bloody-mindedness: Concrete Poetry. These creations of Meades' are always a joy to watch, if only because they are so uniquely wide-ranging, visually inventive, densely argued and unpredictable. Whereas most TV documentaries say virtually all they've got to say in the first few minutes and then plod along well-worn ruts to the appointed end, Meades' creations are more like a kind of jazz, flowing in a series of often bonkers riffs to who knows where. In this one, Meades was (I think) throwing everything into an argument that the style of architecture known as Brutalism or New Brutalism is in a grand tradition of ugly and offensive architecture that we should value and enjoy, precisely for its unabashed ugliness. Hmm. This srikes me as perverse and wrong - the Georgian troika of  Commodity, Firmness and Delight will do me, thanks - but it was an exhilarating, not to say mind-boggling ride, and I'll be back for part two next week.  
  Then it was over to BBC1 to catch the last hour of the Baftas, presided over by a clearly depressed Stephen Fry. Lifetime achiever Helen Mirren gave the big speech, and couldn't stop herself signing off by reciting 'Our revels now are ended...' Best Film was 12 Years a Slave, and it was good to know that the film industry - always at the cutting edge of morality - is now firmly and unanimously of the opinion that slavery is a Bad Thing. Never afraid of sticking their necks out, those movie makers...


  1. I'm concerned Nige, that you've picked up a regrettable American linguistic tic equivalent to saying 'Can I get a camel latte?" It's the 'get' used by English kids which I object too. You started the post above with the word 'So'. In this case there is no tone of condescension but so often the prefacing of an explanation with this word communicates the sense that the speaker is addressing an idiot who has to have things explained and enunciated very very slowly. Guess (Americanism) that this sounds retrograde and reactionary in the global village but I can't help it if it raises my heckles…especially when you hear Brits aping it. What say you?

  2. And more. Watched the Meades on your advice. He holds a strange fascination and I too love watching him. He is often hilariously ridiculous. I think the fascination comes from the fact that, in truth, he is a poet manqué. He is in love with words more than he is with architecture. His eye is always on the effect that the juxtapositions of the recherchés words he uses will have rather than on the buildings.