The quiet genius of Peter Kay reaches perhaps its purest expression in Car Share.
Nothing happens. It’s just two coworkers sharing a car to work. And back. That’s it. Nothing bloody happens.
And that nothing is everything.
Kay is better than Beckett, better than Bennett, better than Camus. There is not a wasted word, every interaction is absolutely essential and completely fucking pointless. Morrissey is a mere cack-handed amateur compared to the gentle precision of Kay’s exposition on this corner of British culture.
These tiny exchanges are so silly, they are eerily perfect:
“I can’t wait to hit the free bar!”
“What you on about? There’s no free bar!”
“There was a free bar last year!”
“NO THERE WASN’T!”
“Well… no-one stopped me… “
The other beautiful thing about Car Share is its pure adoration of pop music. Car Share understands the beauty in the ephemerality of pop music. At the minute, I’m watching a whole conversation about Crazy Frog’s weird little penis. It is brilliant. They also stage musical numbers so this is as much musical TV as Glee was but that’s the only thing the shows have in common; Kay is a total auteur and the comedy in Car Share is both way sharper and more real than the committee-written jokes of Gles.
If you’ve never seen Car Share, check it out. It’s fucking mint.
Today is the first anniversary of my Dad dying. I can’t believe it’s been a year.
I haven’t slept properly the past few days. I keep waking up every hour or so, like I’m anxious about missing a train or flight or something.
I’ve had such a lonely year without him. I miss arguing about politics with him (he was very left of Labour but not as much as me), I miss geeking out with him, showing him new gadgets I’ve bought. I mean, I’ve always loved my Dad but I didn’t know I’d miss him like this, every day in so many ways. I keep thinking, ‘Oh wait till I send this article to…. “ or “He’s gonna love this new lens…” and then realising I’m forgetting he’s gone.
I have so many happy memories of him carrying me when I was little, of him explaining things to me so, so patiently. He bought me my first book, Asimov’s Mysteries, when I was seven or so. He’s why I’m an SF geek. I had a wonderful father.
I wish I was as good a person as he was. I wish I was as strong and handsome, as fearless and resourceful.
If, like me, you’re lucky enough to have a great Dad, please go and give them a hug or ring them and tell them you love them. Because, one day, like me, you’ll wish you’d done that so much more when you had the chance.
Galaxies colliding. As ours will with Andromeda in around five thousand million years. Think of that, actual fucking galaxies colliding. (Pic is of the Antennae galaxies, a pair of interacting galaxies located 45 – 65 million light years from Earth. Credit: Hubble / ESA)
There are pulsars, as discovered by Jocelyn Bell. Stars that are basically cosmic lighthouses, sweeping huge bursts of energy out into the universe through their magnetic fields. Some of them are as accurate as atomic clocks.
There are beautiful nebulae, some of them millions of light years across. Some, like the Crab Nebula, are formed by the exploding guts of a supernova. Anything more complex than hydrogen, helium and lithium is made inside starswhen they bash atoms together and only released when they explode. Think of the journey those elements in your body have made…
MEANWHILE, BACK HERE ON EARTH…
I have to deal with the racism of white people who dislike me because I have genetic sunblock that makes my skin a different colour to theirs. Really.
I pity these people. I am sorry for them in that their perspectives are so tiny, so utterly local and banal and ephemeral. I am sad they will never see the beauty I see in every other human being and in the huge universe out there.
If they did see that beauty, if they did realise how unlikely and fleeting and miraculous all life on Earth is, they could not hold on to their ridiculous hate.
During the last 510 years of the European/Euro-American capitalist/patriarchal modern/colonial world-system we processed from the 16th Century ‘Christianize or we’ll shoot you,’ to the 19th Century ‘civilize or we’ll shoot you,’ to the 20th Century ‘develop or we’ll shoot you,’ to the late 20th Century ‘neoliberalize or we’ll shoot you,’ to the early 21st Century ‘democratize or we’ll shoot you.
I just fell asleep, old man style, and had this crazy 30-second dream.
I was laying next to this beautiful naked woman (well, naked except for a garter on her right thigh) and we were edging towards the beast with two backs when she suddenly looked up and through the window of the cottage we were in.
“Oh my god! Manet is here!” she wailed.
“Monet?” I said.
“No, fucking Manet! Look! He always travels in those carriages with the slidey doors,” she replied.
Sure enough, I looked through the small window and, yes, there was a train outside and a carriage painted a bright, lush green whose door was sliding open.
“Fuck!” she said as she slid off the bed hurriedly and threw on a silk dressing gown.
And the moral of the story: even in my DREAMS my brain hates me and won’t let me have sex.
Gustave: I suppose this is to be expected back in… Where do you come from again?
Zero: Aq Salim al-Jabat.
Gustave: Precisely. I suppose this is to be expected back in Aq Salim al-Jabat where one’s prized possessions are a stack of filthy carpets and a starving goat, and one sleeps behind a tent flap and survives on wild dates and scarabs. But it’s not how I trained you. What on God’s earth possessed you to leave the homeland where you obviously belong and travel unspeakable distances to become a penniless immigrant in a refined, highly-cultivated society that, quite frankly, could’ve gotten along very well without you?
Zero: The war.
Gustave: Say again?
Zero: Well, you see, my father was murdered and the rest of my family were executed by firing squad. Our village was burned to the ground and those who managed to survive were forced to flee. I left because of the war.
Gustave: I see. So you’re, actually, really more of a refugee, in that sense? Truly. Well, I suppose I’d better take back everything I just said. What a bloody idiot I am. Pathetic fool. Goddamn, selfish bastard. This is disgraceful, and it’s beneath the standards of the Grand Budapest. I apologize on behalf of the hotel.
Zero: It’s not your fault. You were just upset I forgot the perfume.
Gustave: Don’t make excuses for me. I owe you my life. You are my dear friend and protege and I’m very proud of you. You must know that. I’m so sorry, Zero.
Zero: We’re brothers.
Every time. I cannot pass this scene without it just killing me. Maybe it’s the perfectly deadpan way Zero explains his past, the horrors having become normalised. Maybe it’s Gustave’s sudden flip from casual racism to abject apology.
Whatever it is, I wish there were more kind hearts in the world now, I wish people were as quick to help others as to condemn.
“White people began to come to Harlem in droves. For several years they packed the expensive Cotton Club on Lenox Avenue.
But I was never there, because the Cotton Club was a Jim Crow club for gangsters and monied whites. They were not cordial to Negro patronage, unless you were a celebrity like Bojangles.
So Harlem Negroes did not like the Cotton Club and never appreciated its Jim Crow policy in the very heart of their dark community.
Nor did ordinary Negroes like the growing influx of whites toward Harlem after sundown, flooding the little cabarets and bars where formerly only colored people laughed and sang, and where now the strangers were given the best ringside tables to sit and stare at the Negro customers – like amusing animals in a zoo.”
– From The Big Sea by Langston Hughes (New York: Hill and Wang, 1940)