Sunday, December 03, 2006


Good news before I get onto tonight's pseudoprofundities: the other day, I received a letter saying I've got a grant from the Authors' Foundation to help me write my next book! Would have opened champagne if I hadn't had food poisoning at the time.

Not sure whether that gliterati party really did try to murder a roomful of authors, agents and publishers with radioactive sushi the other day, but what's certain is that it's taken me the whole weekend to get back to normal and I missed a lunchtime recital by Philippe Graffin this morning in Norden Farm, Maidenhead, because I didn't feel up to driving the M4 - exceptionally annoying.

Anyway, tonight is the last night of Tom's tour, so I treated myself to one of several things I sometimes do when he's away. Pathetically innocent things, I hasten to add. Last time it was 'Titanic' and that wasn't long ago enough to do it again. So tonight I went for The Big Woody Allen Double Bill - 'Annie Hall' and 'Manhattan'. I saw them both for the first time more than 20 years ago, and goodness knows how many times in the intervening years, but still notice something new in them every time.

Glorious. Humour like that is the best kind: it shows up his serious points and makes them palatable. Who else could have dreamed up that scene with the skeleton, or the Planetarium, or the view of the bridge at dawn, in 'Manhattan'? Or the lobsters in 'Annie Hall'?

By the way, contrary to The Guardian and various other daft commentators, it IS possible and not yet illegal to do the following:

* Enjoy Woody Allen's films without condemning or condoning his action in marrying his ex-wife's adopted daughter;
* Enjoy Wagner without being a Nazi;
* Enjoy Chopin, Schumann and Liszt without being anti-Semitic;
* Enjoy Gershwin's 'Porgy and Bess' without believing that it's supposed to typify and therefore stigmatise or misrepresent the whole of African-American culture, or to be patronising thereto;
* Enjoy the soundtrack of 'Manhattan' - Gershwin again - without condemning it for not being an original soundtrack;
* Enjoy Korngold's serious music even though he wrote original soundtracks for Hollywood and dared to use tonality after 1930.

(This could go on forever, but The Guardian has recently had it in for Gershwin in a big way - see Gary Younge here and Joe Queenan here - and I think it's all gone a little too far. He's a great composer, already, so leave him alone, like it or lump it.)