Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Yorkshire : A Grand Canyon.

So ....we're standing listening to a Yorkshireman, in Yorkshire, as you do, and he's telling us an amusing story about David Hockney, Britain's greatest living artist (that's my opinion, but may very well be his too). Hockney, Bradford's most famous son, has forsaken some time ago the colouful life he has led in Los Angeles and returned to his native roots. Not to Bradford exactly, but to Bridlington on the coast, a few miles away, where he's painting away merrily, smoking like a chimney, and generally enjoying the rain and intermittent sun.

Anyway, there's to be a big retrospective in New York in the Autumn and Time Magazine decides to send its Art Correspondent to interview The Man. I have no idea who this poor hack is (Robert Hughes?) but on the phone Hockney gives him directions from downtown Manhattan to Bridlington, right the way to his front gate. With an added rider that if he is lost (in Bridlington) to ask anyone as everyone now knows exactly where he, and everyone else presumeably, lives.

Exhausted and not a little put out, the metropolitan scribe arrives huffing and puffing, plaintively asking (over restorative Yorkshire Tea and biscuits, or possibly a Dandelion and Burdock with a slice of Curd Tart) why anyone would possibly want to live in such a place, as "no sane man would ever want to visit here".

"Yes, I agree," Hockney replies, rather waspishly.

The interview is conducted, and at the end Hockney declares that the Mighty Hack must, while he is in town (he's not going to be rushing back after all) visit the Bridlington Arts Society Annual Show, a big deal around these parts. Slightly nonplussed, the Hack ambles down to the Town Hall and looks around. Hockney has told him there's even a 'Hockney' on show and sure enough, there is, by his elder sister Margaret, a gifted manipulator of scanned images and artist in her own right. The hack wanders around aimlessly and is joined by a local dignitary, either the Mayor or President of The Art Society, or both.

The Hack asks what it's all for.
"Well it's our annual show" The Dignitary beams proudly.
The Hack looks dismissively at the sea of amateur art before him.
"Yes but what's it for?"
"Well it's OUR SHOW." comes the rather frustrated reply."Don't you have them in America?"
Time Magazine's Mighty Hack says he has no idea, having possibly only spent time examining numbered Pollock drip paintings or Rothko's colorblock path to suicide. He leaves with a weary sigh, having wasted a good half hour of his valuable time, to start the journey back, a daunting prospect: strange taxis, trains, buses, planes. Instead of just a short cab ride from Columbus Circle to midtown.

In a subsequent telephone conversation with Hockney, the Dignitary mentions the visit, and suggests that in future David holds fire.
"Don't send another one of them, David. He were a right waste o' space"

We laugh politley at the vast chasms that exist in life, before The Yorkshireman asks us how long we're staying in the area.
"Just a few days" I answer and so he helpfully points towards some vague greenery, the hills and moor leading to Ilkley.
"You must go there," he urges, "It's fantastic. Great countryside. Only about seven miles. No problem. You just need stout shoes"
At which point my partner, who rarely strays north of Regent's Park, asks her first question of the day.
"Isn't there a taxi?"

After a small pause, we get our coats and leave.


Thursday, July 16, 2009


I like progress, always have, long before the king of change swept into the White House. It's why I left the comfort of institutions like the BBC, ITV - and marriage - quite so frequently. And why I'm happy downsizing, changing, and moving forward.

Despite the job losses, I love the way production in media has developed, I love the fast way new technology is racing, why this very blog is being overtaken by new means of communication. For the moment, hello Twitter, au revoir Facebook, bye bye Blogging.

But it's goodbye to other things. In my case I read today that flatbeds in BA planes might be phased out. Boo! Hoo! They changed my life, flying to my adopted city (New York) was revolutionised by the idea that you could sleep, without drink and food, virtually all the way. No movies, no fizz, no extra glasses of red. I still use them, mostly on other airlines, because everyone has outpriced BA.

I'm writing this in Bradford, home of the English Curry, but tonight I asked our Yorkshire Chef in Titus (Saltaire) if he'd cheated by putting cream in the pea risotto. (regular readers will know how fanatical I am about peas). He was horrified that I could even suggest such a thing. A few years ago he'd have been nonplussed. I'd had the real thing, proper risotto, just as I cook it, just as you have it in Italy. Bravissimo! (sound of breathless sighing here if you're a nuts about peas as, er, me)

I like instant response. I couldn't talk to Alan in London because he was talking via Skype to his son in Beijing (for free). I texted my pal in Dubai and established a link, with jokes. I automatically emailed chums in New York and Los Angeles as if they were Hackney and Ealing. I spoke with people in Shanghai, Glasgow, Stornoway, Melbourne, and wrote some pithy tosh online all over the world.

I am about to embark on a TV series which invades six different countries and a film which takes me out of the UK for months. This is possibly goodbye blogothing. Maybe I'll be a Twitterer (a Twit) from now on.

But maybe it won't make the slightest bit of difference.