Monday 20 September 2010

Citizen Smith

15st 6lb, 7.0 units. Glancing through the Radio Times last night, I noticed that they were showing an episode of Citizen Smith at 11.40pm, and I thought fondly of the young Robert Lindsay as Wolfie, standing outside Tooting tube station shouting “Power to the people!” But it was rather too late for me, so I gave it a miss. It was only this evening that I looked at the entry more closely, and realized that I had in fact missed “Citizen Smith: Writer Michael Smith investigates national identity in his home town of Hartlepool, examining the locals' sense of self and their place in the country as a whole.” So that’s two home towns he’s had in a week then, with last Sunday night’s pile of crap being billed as an essay on his “native city” of Newcastle.

Unless, of course, they meant “native city” as the baggy-trousered explorers used to talk of “native villages” in the black-and-white TV travelogues of my childhood. But this is the BBC we are talking about, so I guess not.

Bugger. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to have another go at the snappily named Mr Smith. I wonder what there is to say about Hartlepool apart from the aforementioned monkey-hanging incident, the implausible saga of the disappearing canoeist, and the fact that it is the only place in Britain so little valued by our Government that they built a bloody great nuclear power station slap bang in the middle of the town, rather than on some desolate wasteland miles from anywhere. Though while it was being built, as I recall, they called it “Seaton Carew”, only changing its name to “Hartlepool” once it was up and running. A bit like the whole Windscale / Sellafield thing, only in reverse.

Talking of back to front, I noticed a post from the Royal Opera House on Facebook offering orchestra stalls seats for Niobe, Regina di Tebe on Thursday and Saturday for a mere £45. The other day they were £68 including a “free” glass of champagne. These signs of increasing desperation are a bit worrying for those of us who have already arranged to see the opera, particularly when we have been daft enough to pay £115 for the self-same stalls seats. I posted a comment to this effect, and a lady promptly gave me a lecture about how “if you buy a suit in M&S at full price and then they have a sale the week after, you don't get money back! You book early for holidays, theatres, ballet etc. and you get the advantage of getting the seat of your choice. Or, you leave it until the last minute, possibly get a bargain, but aren't guaranteed the holiday/seat of your choice. That's life!”

Well, yes, I can see that. Though I can’t help thinking that the need for drastic last minute discounting might be reduced if these organizations read their markets correctly and priced their products appropriately in the first place. Niobe, Regina di Tebe is an opera so monumentally obscure that even I had never heard of it. The Royal Opera House bills it as “a rare and exciting chance to experience a work by a forgotten master”, the Italian composer Steffani. Niobe had its first performances in Munich in 1688, and its first revival in Schwetzingen in 2008. Clearly either a monstrous injustice or a sound musical judgement. No doubt time will tell. But if it proves anything like as mind-numbingly tedious as the ROH’s production of Tamerlano, I fear it will spell an end to Mrs H’s willingness to join me on jolly little outings to early operas (which is, to be honest, the main thing I was looking for in a wife). So quite a lot hangs on this.

At least when you engage in a debate on the ROH Facebook page it’s all properly spelt and punctuated, with no “lol”s and those unfortunate keyboards owned by stuttererrrrrrrs that repeeeeeeat every other lettttttter several tttttttimes in a bloody irrrrritattttttttting sort of wwwwwwway.

The other thing that I have started wondering about is why railways do not abide by the Golden Rule of Discounting, as outlined above. Hold off buying your suit or your holiday, and you may get it a whole lot cheaper. Delay buying your rail ticket and you are more or less guaranteed to pay the full price (and did you know that a first class return from Penzance to Thurso now costs £934, not that I can think of any reason why someone in Penzance would want to go to Thurso, except for a bet). Come on, train operating companies, let’s charge the anal early bookers top whack and let the disorganised prats on cheap at the last minute. And maybe throw in a “free” glass of champagne, too. That would certainly work for me.


blueskygirl said...

Glad to hear were not after all on a fast track to meet the Grim Reaper! And thanks for the fuller debrief on your Facebook thoughts. I have so far deliberately not 'joined in' partly through being witness to people finding they wished they could keep some things from some people without mortal offence, and the gloom of finding oneself embroiled in the receipt of inane status updates.....BUT... When Keith Hann starts finding FB more useful than irritating perhaps it's time for a rethink....!

ps - what is the score re selling up in Northumberland one of these days......? For the sake of this blog surely you never could! The trips north are always great to read about ;-)

Keith Hann said...

I do have serious doubts about the wisdom of placing personal information on the internet via social networking sites. But given that I have made vastly more of it available right here, without even Facebook's puny safeguards on privacy, it seems a bit pointless to worry about it.

I tried to sell my house in Northumberland to a very nice baronet, which my head told me was the right thing to do, but my heart rebelled. My head still kicks up a bit of a fuss during the frequent 4/5 hour, 240 mile, £45 worth of petrol trips each way between Northumberland and Cheshire, and reminds me that we can't actually afford to keep two homes, but my heart keeps murmuring "keep your options open".