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It’s that time of year again

As Yuletide beckons – chaotic last minute shopping, endless gridlocks on Britain’s motorways, television screens full of total rubbish except, of course, for Channel Four which seems to be showing a series of classic Carry On films during the daytime (yesterday they showed Carry On Spying which example contain my all-time favourite Carry On gag, in which – as two hapless regulars meet at a nightclub table to discuss matters of great importance – Kenneth Williams, apparently the nightclub manager, materialises beside them and leans over to the bunch of flowers on the table to whisper “Testing … testing …”) – those few Rust staffers not already on holiday gathered together this morning to present this little round-up of media stories that might interest our readers:

 

FAIRYTALE OF NEW YORK (1987)

First up, let’s get in the festive mood by celebrating Fairytale of New York – the unlikely all-time UK Christmas hit and my favourite – a collaboration between the iconic Irish folk group The Pogues featuring vocals by the shambling Shane McGowan and tragic British songstress Kirsty MacColl (originally famous for her 1981 ditty There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Thinks He’s Elvis) who died in a boating accident whilst on holiday in Mexico in 2000.

Here’s a link to the original video for the song, courtesy of – YOUTUBE

And here’s a link to a piece by Ilana Kaplan, who went out and about in New York to play the song to locals who had never heard it before, as appears on the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

 

AN AUTISTIC BOY SINGS

Here’s a link to a report about Callum Courtney, a ten year old boy from Essex suffering from a mild form of autism, who found it within himself to sing in public at his local Asda supermarket.

Footage of his performance was posted on Facebook by his mother and has now scored over a million hits – see here for how the event was covered in the Daily Mail [slight warning: when you read the video box at the top of the piece, press the box marked ‘play the full video’] – DAILY MAIL

 

WHAT TO WATCH ON TV THIS CHRISTMAS

I don’t know about you, but watching the trailers put out by the terrestrial TV broadcasters over the past three weeks my overwhelming reaction has been that the schedulers and commissioning editors of our great TV stations have sadly and inevitably gone for the tried and trusted – e.g. Christmas ‘special editions’ of long-in-the-tooth formerly successful entertainment shows like French and Saunders, Not Going Out, Miranda and Doctor Who, albeit that on Christmas Day itself we’re going to be introduced to the new (first-ever female) Doctor in the form of Jodie Whittaker, whom I am not conscious of ever having come across before. Mind you, I haven’t watched Doctor Who since the days when Colin Baker was in it, so what do I know?

I noted this week that Morecambe and Wise have been voted Britian’s all-time favourite Christmas entertainers. I cannot think that far back, but strongly suspect that in their latter-period heyday we average viewers probably regarded them as totally old-hat and boring … but watched and enjoyed their Christmas Specials anyway. Ditto with The Two Ronnies, frankly. The thing to remember is that, of course, in those days, there being so few television channels to choose from, we always took what we got and were suitably grateful for it.

Mind you, after a great explosion of recent publicity about the return of the ‘alternative comedy’  series The League Of Gentlemen – for want of anything better to watch last night, and never having seen The League Of Gentlemen before – I went to BBC iPlayer and called up the first of what appear to be three episodes available in the new (comeback) series. I have to report that – after sitting through just the first quarter of an hour of it – I ‘exited’ and went back to the BBC’s The One Show (which I hate) because at least it more watchable. I found The League Of Gentlemen to be gratuitously offensive, devoid of humour and fundamentally puerile – i.e. basically crap. It’s the sort of programme that people have to pretend to like for fear of  being branded ‘uncool’ and past it by their pals.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s a guide to what might be watchable, as appears today upon the website of – THE GUARDIAN

 

THE TELL-TALE SIGNS OF DEMENTIA

Once you get beyond the age of sixty, you begin to notice that temporary aches and pains become semi-permanent, things don’t work as quite they once did, things begin to sag in places where once they didn’t, you keep going places to collect things and when you get there cannot recall what they were, you keep being clumsy in the kitchen and you occasionally suffer from what even you laughingly refer to as ‘senior moments’.

Either that – or, as happens from time to time with my kids – those close to you start suggesting that you should go to your GP and get your memory tested.

It’s called the passage of time.

Here’s a guide to help those under the age of forty to ‘spot’ the signs of encroaching senility in their elders and betters – and also help we senior citizens fend off accusations that we’re losing our marbles – over the next week or so, written by the Indie’s health correspondent Alex Mathews-King and which appears today upon the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

 

WHAT SIGNAL DOES THIS SEND TO OUR AMERICAN COUSINS?

Still reeling from the facts that pace bowler Anya Shrubsdole made the BBC Sports Personality of The Year‘s shortlist and the England women’s cricket team was awarded ‘Team Of The Year’ [whilst naturally concealing my alleged condescending misogyny from public gaze for fear of summary reprisal], today I spotted a media story about rounders being supplanted by cricket as a sport in UK girls’ schools.

We’ve all heard the quip that Britain and America being two great nations separated by a common language – and possible also their different senses of humour. This looks like another example of the type. In the UK rounders is now being downgraded to a mere ‘leisure activity’ – I wonder what that tells America about the Brit view of their supposedly-great American sport of baseball?

See here for a report of this development that appears today on the website of the – DAILY TELEGRAPH

 

FEMALE CHARACTERS IN LITERATURE

Here’s a lengthy article by Cambridge University’s Andy Martin on the unhappy outcomes for female characters in literature down the ages.

Personally I don’t read as much as I ought to – and I hate fiction on sight – but sometimes pieces like this make you think. In a good way.

See here – today upon the website of – THE INDEPENDENT

 

UNUSUAL SEX INJURIES

You have to scrape the barrel sometimes and here is today’s offering – a link to a piece by Claudia Tanner on the supposedly weirdest-ever injuries suffered by people in ‘intimate’ circumstances as appears today upon the website of the – DAILY MAIL

 

About Miles Piper

After university, Miles Piper began his career on a local newspaper in Wolverhampton and has since worked for a number of national newspapers and magazines. He has also worked as a guest presenter on Classic FM. He was a founder-member of the National Rust board. More Posts