Larkalong was saddened to hear the news of Richard Briers’ death. He was respected and loved by many. His resume is as grand and vast as any actors and many will remember him for his various roles: From Tom in ‘The Good Life’ to his work with Kenneth Brannagh in ‘Frankenstein’ and his Shakespearean work but here at Larkalong, when we think of Richard Briers we will always come back to (in our opinion) his finest hour, that of Mr. Martin Bryce on the classic sitcom ‘Ever Decreasing Circles’. His performance in that show was nothing short of majestic and for people of a certain ilk, it will continue to be watched and re-watched for as long as people have their favourite (and second favourite) jam.
I hope you are well. I know you are not. As it happens you wrote in 1973 a letter to your future self and it is high time that your future self had the decency to write back. You declared in that letter (reproduced in your 1997 autobiography Moab Is My Washpot) that “everything I feel now as an adolescent is true”. You went on to affirm that if ever you dared in later life to repudiate, deny or mock your 16-year-old self it would be a lie, a traducing, treasonable lie, a crime against adolescence. “This is who I am,” you wrote. “Each day that passes I grow away from my true self. Every inch I take towards adulthood is a betrayal.”
“MY STANDARD FOR VERISIMILITUDE IS SIMPLE AND I CAME TO IT WHEN I STARTED TO WRITE PROSE NARRATIVE: FUCK THE AVERAGE READER.”
Some things television is good for:
Depicting the “other” America
Pissing off the mayor
Three or four years ago, I got an email from a friend in which he described The Wire as the best thing he’d ever seen on TV, “apart from Abigail’s Party.” Here was a recommendation designed to get anybody’s attention. No mention of The West Wing, or The Sopranos, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, or any of the other shibboleths of contemporary TV criticism; just a smart-aleck nod to Mike Leigh’s classic 1977 BBC play. It reeled me in, anyway, and I went out and bought a box set of the first series.
I’d never heard of the show. It’s not widely known or shown here in the U.K., although whenever a new season starts, you can always find a piece in a broadsheet paper calling it “the best programme you’ve never heard of,” and I didn’t know what to expect. What I got was something that bore no resemblance to Abigail’s Party, predictably, and very little resemblance to any other cop show. At one stage I was simultaneously hooked on The Wire and the BBC’s brilliant adaptation of Bleak House, and it struck me that Dickens serves as a useful point of comparison; David Simon and his team of writers (including George Pelecanos, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane) swoop from high to low, from the mayor’s office to the street corner—and the street-corner dealers are shown more empathy and compassion than anyone has mustered before. The hapless Bubbles, forever dragging behind him his shopping trolley full of stolen goods, is Baltimore’s answer to Joe the Crossing Sweeper.
We talked via email. A couple of weeks later, we met in London—David Simon is making a show about the war in Iraq with my next-door neighbor. (Really. He’s really making a show about the war in Iraq, and the producer literally lives next door.) We talked a lot about sports and music.
—Nick Hornby Continue reading