Sunday 7 February 2016

Dead reckoning

January saw a succession of public figures suddenly taken from us - the musicians Lemmy and David Bowie, the actors Alan Rickman and Frank Finlay, the broadcaster Terry Wogan. There were others. So it goes.

We'e entered the final and inevitable stage of the proliferation of popular culture that began in the 1960s, that high dishonest decade, a time when television supplanted cinema and the radio as the primary source of entertainment. Television, through its ubiquity and implied intimacy created many 'household names', some of them very talented, others not, but all of whom made a direct impression on their large audiences. They were young then - now they're getting old and dying.

Those 1960s figures - not only telly and radio names but also artists and novelists and fashion designers and theatre directors and architects and producers and directors and scriptwriters and journalists and comedians and photographers and choreographers and all the rest - made their mark when they were in their twenties, and that was half a century ago. We have to brace ourselves for much more of this over the next ten years or so - a veritable culling of well-known (if not always 'much-loved') names, and we have to prepare to go on living what's left of our own lives in a world unadorned by (say) the continuing presence of a favourite singer or actor or writer or politician, although I cannot think of a single serving M/P. whose immediate dissolution would cause a moment's pang.

Come to that I wouldn't give a tinker's toss if Lady Gaga popped her clogs tomorrow,or one of the Kardashians, or all of them, or Bono. But I was saddened, by news of the passing of Bob Ellot a few days ago. You may not have heard of Bob and Ray Goulding (who died in 1990). As Bob and Ray they were a sublimely deadpan American double act (the nearest British equivalent to which might be the fondly-remembered Johns Bird and Fortune). Here's Bob and Ray in their renowned sketch: Komodo Dragon. They skewer the inanity of interviewers and the narrow range of most expertise. "I believe we've just about exhausted the subject". I love their bland subversion, their mellow voices. They always seem to be coasting and are never in a hurry but you can see their minds racing. Hell, here's another and another.  Seriously funny guys.

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