February 28th, 2004


Not tired of life

This evening started badly - a group of us went to a screening of what has to be the worst sketch show ever, 'Sweet and Sour' which is an attempt to copy the 'Goodness Gracious Me' format with Chinese British comedians. My friends Adi and Anna were both asked to write for it, and neither did - and maybe it would have been less dire if they had, but they were right to want to avoid getting involved.

I didn't laugh once, and I only vaguely smiled, and a couple of times I dropped into a doze and whispered ' did I miss a punch line?' and was told, no, I hadn't. Even the sketches that had good ideas had no rhythm, no sense of building comic pace. Some of the people in it - a Liverpudlian guy in particular - were good and funny, but the material was weak and the direction weaker.

It is the sort of occasion where you leave as quickly as possible in order not to have to say anything insincere, and fix a grin on your face so that the people responsible for the mess will think you still love them.

And so we escaped into the wilds of Soho and looked for a bar, and found 'The Music Box' which is just down from Panton Street and on a Friday night has a piano and singers and an intermittently open mike. Carolyn who runs Fridays has a long track record - I vaguely remember her running something in Heaven in the eighties - and a good blues voice; one of the bar staff Roxie was so wonderful in 'Cry Me a River' that everyone in the bar shut up to listen. And my friend Charlie, eminent rock critic, demonstrated his scary capacity to become an eighty five year old blind black man and sing blues from deep in pain he keeps in a box somewhere for such occasions.

It was just one of those nights - sitting listening to jazz and show tunes and blues - and arguing about story structure with Adi and Anna that reminds me why I will always live in London. Then home on two buses - the backstreet bus from Islington was for most of the journey my own personal taxi, which is always cool.

Cautionary tale about being Roz

Sometimes you can be too clever for your own good.

The Guardian has a Saturday quiz, which we always do, and the second half of the quiz asks you to sort out what various things have in common. Today, one of them was 'The Enigma Variations; the Origin of Species; Prison Reform' and we thought hard. And we went - ooh tricky!

The most famous Enigma variation is the one called Nimrod, after the mighty hunter in Genesis, because it was a portrait of Elgar's music publisher Jaeger, which is the German for hunter; Darwin's discovery of natural selection was based on the work he did on the Beagle; prison reform was started by Elizabeth Fry, who was a Quaker, a denomination founded by George Fox. So - hunter, beagle, fox. There we had it.

Except of course that, as we should have known perfectly well, Darwin and Elgar and Elizabeth Fry all appear on bank notes. Which was the answer.