Monday 29 December 2014

The Up Side

Well, I celebrated Christmas in traditional manner, i.e. by falling ill with this year's variation on the debilitating cold/cough/flu syndrome. In this case it was a rip-snorting, body-wracking cough that at least had the decency to stay at a distance till halfway through Boxing Day (and before that, Christmas, with son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, was a joy).
 The up side of these flattening seasonal malaises is that a person can lie around doing nothing very much with a clear conscience, there being little other option. So I spent a lot of time dozing to Radio 4 and Radio 3, and to whatever seemed bearable on TV - Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Family Guy (including an episode in which the action was suddenly suspended in favour of glossy 1980s colour footage of Conway Twitty singing all three and a half minutes of I See the Want To in Your Eyes - brought in as a distraction technique by Peter Griffin. I thought I was hallucinating...). But I also managed something more substantial - i.e. two Laurel and Hardy features.
 A Chump at Oxford, which I haven't watched in ages, is a patchy affair, beginning with an irrelevant 20 minutes, tacked on to bring the film up to European length. After that it improves rapidly, though it's not much of an advert for Oxford, where the strangely middle-aged-looking students seem to be sadistic psychopaths to a man (one of them, bizarrely, is the great Peter Cushing, in his second Hollywood role, and sporting a moustache). Things take a very interesting turn when Stan, for reasons too far-fetched to explain, becomes Lord Paddington, the university's most comprehensively gifted ornament. It's the only time Stan ever stepped out of character, and he makes a brilliant job of it.
 I'm sure I needn't tell you that Way Out West is a comic (and musical) masterpiece, but if you want to confirm that, check it out on You Tube. You will feel better for it. In fact, come to think, it might have been Laurel and Hardy who made me feel better enough to haul myself back into work today. Gee thanks, fellas...


  1. If they played Conway Twitty at my funeral I would wake up from the dead, if only to run shrieking from the room. At least it wasn't Tiger in Those Tight-Fittin' Jeans. No telling where you'd be by now.

  2. Yes indeed - I know what you mean about Twitty, Esther - and I don't think I'll be checking out that track any time soon...

  3. The soft shoe outside the saloon in "Way Out West" is probably my favorite 3 minutes of all time.