Thursday, April 28, 2005


Having had a good old CELEBRATE yesterday, I am now going to have a good old MOAN. Anyone who doesn't like moaning, please look away NOW.

BBC TV, bless its cotton socks, has a prime-time programme called The Culture Show. Culture, declared its trailer a while ago (someone was evidently scared witless) means whatever you want it to mean. Bad sign, thought many of us, picking up a good book instead. But tonight this measly little half-hour slot, amid the mind-numbing morass of 'reality' TV, gardening, house-selling and electioneering, was to feature an interview with Barenboim. So I tuned in to see what was cooking.

Barenboim was the second item of no fewer than four squeezed into that half an hour (allowing for intros and credits, this works out around 7 mins per topic). I missed the first, as I was getting me dinner; and duly settled down in time to watch the great man talk about Bach. After about 50 seconds, the phone rang: Tom checking in from the RFH, about to play Mozart with Anne-Sophie Mutter (currently my most loathed non-period-instrument violinist, which is why I wasn't there). We caught up on the afternoon's events: Tom told me he's getting used to playing in the LPO's Mozart-sized band of 30 players with nobody conducting (Mutter is 'directing from the violin'); and I told him I'd had to turn down a trip to Germany to interview someone wonderful on an impossible day. After this very brief chat, I turned back to Barenboim, to find that 50 seconds later, it was over. Blink and you missed it....

Next item was what should have been a very interesting hour-long programme about what the different political parties intend to do for the arts. In 7 minutes. I turned off before the grand finale ("Can Old Guys Rock?" - oh Per-Lease - shouldn't they be asking 'Can YOUNG guys rock?' instead?).

I want to know:

Why must politician Tessa Jowell be accompanied by boom-boom-boom beats while she talks about what the Labour party wants to do with the Department for Media, Culture and Sport? Why do the Tory and Liberal Democrat candidates have to compete for ear-space with trumpets and jingle-jangles in what's meant to be - but patently isn't - the background? Come on, fellas: those of us in the arts do want to know whether we're about to vote for someone who will abolish the DCMS or not! The arts have barely been mentioned in the whole election campaign - and now all they get is eight minutes of yattayattayatta drowned out by something vaguely jazzy?!? FYI, it emerges that the LIBERAL DEMOCRATS are the only gang who say they're committed to increasing arts funding.

Last but not least, how does having that nice Charlie Hazlewood (the presenter) dressed like a down-and-out help the cause of culture? Admittedly, maybe today's outfit did him more favours than his shirts for the Proms intros last summer.

Moan over. Thanks, folks. You save me thousands on psychotherapy bills.