Book: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Moving on from his usual tales of the second world war, Ishiguro turns to sci-fi with a story about a group of young people destined for lives as donors. Beautifully, this is not really speculative fiction, Ishiguro is less interested in how human cloning has come about than in his usual themes of childhood, memory, loss and friendship. Given that many male writers can't write female characters, here he creates the world of teenage girls with their rivalries, intimacies, trivialities, preocc... (show more)
Song: The Sun Was High - Best Coast
TV: Coronation Street. The street celebrated its Golden Anniversary by sending a CGI tram off of a viaduct with explosions and death galore. The live episode was extraordinarily good with stellar acting even from some of the less talented cast members (fortunately, Kym Marsh stayed away), and I was blubbering into my hotpot at the Peter Barlow death fake-out.
The best storyline this year was the John Stape/Colin Fishwick/Charlotte death 'n' teaching plot. John, desperate to go back into teaching (not just for the 13 week holidays) pretended to be his erstwhile colleague, the bizarrely named Colin Fishwick. Then Colin came back from Canada. Then Charlotte, the hippy-dippy HRT-crazed equine-face teacher accidentally killed him. Instead of reporting it to the police, the two rolled him up in John's nan's carpet and buried him in the knicker factory. It was tragedy played out as farce with John going slightly mad in the background whilst trying to keep everything from his wife. John was brought in as middle class boyfriend for ditzy Fiz, to evolve her from ginger barmcake wild child to mature (i.e. suffering) woman. John was an extremely tedious character with his specs and his tank-tops and his love of Romantic poetry. Then he had an affair with teen strumpet Rosie. Fiz forgave him. Then he kidnapped Rosie in a Ruthless People kind of move (he was quite a kind kidnapper, he provided her with Heat magazine and pasta salads). Unsurprisingly, he was jailed and put on the sex offenders register, despite having kidnapped Rosie because he was having a nervous breakdown rather than for nefarious purposes. Fiz forgave him. She chained herself to the prison until they let her see him in order to propose marriage. Then he had to be rehabilitated into society and was a boring character all over again. But the writers and producers worked out that he's hilarious as a man out of his depth, as he struggles to be Colin, assuage Colin, hide Colin and lose Colin, all the while avoiding amorous landladies, irate sofa salesmen, prying neighbours, angry builders, even angrier wives and nosy Norris who didn't want him to fly-tip a carpet on the cobbles. It seemed to be all over when John bashed Charlotte on the head, but as he pretended to be her fiancé to her grieving parents, it looks like he has to go 'round for Xmas Day and see them on birthdays, anniversaries etc. You can't impersonate a teacher (and kill people) and get away with it in Corrie, so he will one day have to leave, but I shall miss his Clouseau-esque homicidal bumblings.
I also watched the first 6 episodes of 1960 Coronation St which are, wonderfully, available on youtube. It's strange comparing 1960 with 2010; there are far far less characters (only Ken, Elsie and Ena stick in my mind, the rest are flotsam) and much longer scenes. Most of the episodes were filmed live and it shows with actors fluffing their lines and directors filming characters having a row without seeing either of their faces. There's no outside broadcasting and no establishing shots, just the two or three people in the scene filmed very close up, very claustrophobically, perhaps to emphasise the tight insular lives the characters lead. It's far more kitchen sink than soap opera-esque. There's very little drama, it's all character and dialogue led. Needless to say, Ena has filled the Blanche shaped hole in my life:
"That feather duster is mine on account o' the fact I won it at a beetle drive."
"If yer thinking of moving inter my bed, you better move out sharpish because I'm coming 'ome to die on it!"