It’s a double-header tonight.
I was zapping through all that TV choice people go on about the other night, and feeling vaguely depressed about the complete lack of anything beyond gardens, property, cooking, wine and Homes in the Sun.
But then for some reason my mind went back to the early to mid 1950s, and all those ghastly, vapid songs like ‘How much is that doggy in the window’, ‘I’m a pink toothbrush you’re a blue toothbrush’ and ‘I saw Mama kissing Santa Claus’. Well, in 1956 Bill Haley brought all that to an end with ‘Rock around the Clock’, swiftly followed by ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ by Elvis Presley. In UK radio and television, we were soon to get The Goon Show, Hancock’s Half Hour and That was the Week that Was. A West End Theatre scene dominated by tedious revivals and limp comedies gave way to Room at the Top and Beyond the Fringe. A decade of derivative mush had given way to an ejaculation of intense creativity.
Those young folks now wanting to write something fresh for television (and frozen out by formulaic fear) should not give up hope. Your time will come soon enough. The reign of those who wish only to give people more of the same is rarely more than an interregnum – a Regency. Keep writing what you believe in, and soon the era of the terrified terrible will be over. A strong sitcom idea based on the mismatch between pols and real people might be a good start.
There seems to be more than the usual quotient of What a Shit Earthdweller Man Is around at the moment. While I am myself guilty of slamming the species Homo sapiens, my version is largely based on evidence of our ability to be crap to each other. But when it comes to those who think we are uniquely destructive, I beg to differ.
The elephant, for example, is infinitely more selfishly destructive than Man. An elephant spotting some tender leaves at the top of a tree won’t think twice about uprooting it with his trunk in order to indulge his epicurean fancy. Sharks will eat anything they can swallow without regard to whether that species is in some way threatened. And the highly intelligent blue whale will happily eat all the plancton in his ocean, and never feel the remotest twinge of conscience.
Every keen gardener knows the truth of this. Given a tree with tender bark to nibble upon, the deer will kill every leafed species on one’s land. Sharing territory with the struggling red-brown sparrow-hawk, your average buzzard will devour its young. Moss will ruin every emerald green lawn. Couch grass will kill any other living plant in its path. And so on and so on.
However, although we aren’t uniquely destructive, there is a sad feature we own that makes us one of a kind. That is the intelligence to know we are doing something silly…..but to do it anyway. None of the other species I’ve singled out for criticism have that. They blunder about the place uncaringly damaging natural balance, but only the Human Race has awareness without guilt.