I’ve been thinking a lot about Muriel Spark this week. More specifically, a Miss Jean Brodie in her prime.
Although I’ve read the book, I’ve never seen the movie. Of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, that is. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is a pretty awesome watch.
Nevertheless, Maggie Smith’s portrayal of Jean Brodie does seep into the consciousness. In fact, between Brodie and Minerva McGonagall, it never occurred to me that she could be anything other than Scottish – in fact, an Edinburgher.
It turns out that she’s English-born, with residences in London and Sussex. But her mother was a Glasgow-born secretary. According to Ian Wiki, Smith’s parents used to tell her
the romantic story of how they had met on the train from Glasgow to London via Newcastle.
Anyway. The reason I’ve been thinking about TPoMJB is that it seems particularly timely this week. Jean Brodie, you may well know, was an admirer of Mussolini and then Hitler.
2. SATIRE IS DEAD
Mrs Stroke Bloke and I have been dipping in and out of CNN’s The History of Comedy. The last episode of the first season, Politics Aside
is a look at the many different ways that comedy has lampooned and influenced politics.
I jest. Surely satire must be dead in the face of Trump’s daily – hourly – outrages. And it was easy to be sceptical of an episode promoting SNL as the height of political humour when Veep and The Thick of It and The Day Today and…. Well, you get the idea.
But as the work of Jon Stuart, and Samantha Bee, and Stephen Colbert, and Key and Peele was presented, it was hard to deny that we’re in a golden age of US political satire. I mean, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight is doing some seriously funny serious work.
But, why are Brummie Oliver and Scotsman Armando Iannucci doing great work on HBO, while Britain’s supposedly satirical shows are filing down their teeth. Is it true that incompetence and impossibly far-fetched scenarios have killed satire in Britain?
Jenny Turner’s obituary of Muriel Spark in The Guardian remarked on the way
an innocuous-looking catchphrase, like Miss Jean Brodie’s famous “crème de la crème”, attains a mysteriously sacramental force by dint of a rhythmic repetition, half-gossipy, half-incantatory in intent.
Yeah. I got yer timely right here, pal.
Perhaps I’m being a little unfair on the state of satire in Britain. How about this week’s indelible contribution?
Here’s David Davis’s Statement to the House a month ago. And here’s his evidence to the Brexit Select Committee this morning. pic.twitter.com/O81ahJNf7O
— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) December 6, 2017
Absolute genius. It turns out that Chris Morris of The Day Today, Brass Eye, Blue Jam, Veep, Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle, and countless other blog faves has topped himself again in terms of biting satire and outrageousness – he’s only gone and made himself a David Davis skin suit and started reciting a six year-old’s transcribed thoughts on Brexit from inside it!
“I haven’t looked at the impact of Brexit at all”
*David Davis then proceeds to actually fucking giggle* pic.twitter.com/0ILFgMCapR
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) December 6, 2017
“Oh god. I wish I’d scooped out the viscera, now.
Still. Time’s short and needs must.”
Sleep tight. 😘