Friday, 11 October 2013

This old dog likes New Tricks

The wonderful cartoonist Sydney Padua (author of Babbage and Lovelace, crazy computational comic crime fighters) has designed this badge in honour of Owen Paterson, the Secretary of State for the Environment, who says the badger cull has fallen flat because the pesky predators 'moved the goalposts'.

Should you require more interactive cutting-edge satire, I recommend this game, in which you attempt to score a goal while the badger move the goalpost, as is their wont. If on the other hand you have higher-brow tastes, you might wish to discover which eminent Elizabethan you are. I came out as Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. Dashing, rakish, liked a duel, a hit with the ladies (including Elizabeth I), was beheaded. It's all about the self-fashioning, so keep trying (sorry, little New Historicist humour there). 

I have actually been working today, but I'm also tired (and falling behind in the lecture writing) and now have two colleagues in hospital, so a little light relief is in order. 

And while we're here, I have an argument to settle. Now you may know that I'm a fan of supposedly rubbish TV drama New Tricks, which follows the investigations of some semi-retired cops as they look into cold cases. There are two reasons why I love New Tricks; firstly it's a comedy-drama, which my friends refuse to admit, and secondly, it's clearly written by some left-wing satirists who keep a keen eye on current affairs. 

As evidence, I present the episode 'It Smells of Books', in which a university lecturer dies in suspicious circumstances. It opens with one of our heroes losing his temper in a noisy library, plugs the London Library, promotes reading as the route to enlightenment and wickedly satirises a vice-chancellor more interested in the bottom line than in learning, gets rid of the humanities and staff who defend them and talks of investment, leverage and payback. In the show, the university library is being converted to student accommodation. (You may think I'm having a pop at my own dear institution here, but I'm not: my VC actually wants to rename the Learning Centre as 'the Library', which is rather delightful). Here's the first 10 minutes or so. It's a delightful popular culture intervention which reaches an audience generally resistant to ideological debate. It is, I might say, an interpretation of Newman's The Idea of a University and McGettigan's The Great University Gamble thinly disguised as prime-time detective drama in which the death of humanistic university principles are played out in a murder plot, and I thoroughly recommend it. 

The rest of the episode is available on a popular video-streaming website well-known for copyright fraud. If you like TV campus comedies, you may also enjoy A Very Peculiar Practice

1 comment:

Oldgirlatuni said...

Oh, I love a Very Peculiar Practice. I love the timelessness of the ideas, and the villainy of Ernest Hemmingway. I love the way in which the privatisation of education was made a figure of fun (if only, eh?), and the nuns. Who could not like those nuns?

I also love the brutalist architecture of the university - kind of reminds me of Unitown.