Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Days Like These

I never thought I’d ever say that insomnia has an up side to it. Awake well beyond the early hours of Monday morning, I started poking around on the computer and discovered the drama section of 4oD on YouTube. I’m sure everyone knows about this but I obviously wasn’t paying attention in assembly when the announcement was made.

Since that first night I’ve worked my way through the Channel 4’s marvellously bonkers adaptation of A Dance to the Music of Time from 1997 than gallops through Anthony Powell’s twelve–volume cycle of novels in just under seven hours. Next up will be the channel’s version of Mary Wesley’s The Camomile Lawn, which I haven’t seen since it was first broadcast. Then there’s The Gravy Train, the original Traffik, GBH, the marvellous Porterhouse Blue and even the whole run of both Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. Best of all Dennis Potter’s final pair of dramas, Karaoke and Cold Lazarus, are also available, which is an absolute godsend.

Hopefully I’ll get to watch them at a more sociable hour, although when that will be is anyone’s guess. This afternoon six large containers filled with a mixture of documents, contracts, correspondence, annotated scripts, various clippings and all manner of publicity photographs, finally arrived, which have to be sorted through and catalogued. For the current project it’s like having the contents of Aladdin’s cave delivered to my door. Since I haven’t even bothered to break for an evening meal, stopping to try and get some sleep is highly unlikely even though after last night’s shenanigans I should be thoroughly worn out.

The time had come to celebrate our good pal H’s birthday. It was a much earlier start than usual and he had started even earlier, having a long lunch with a number of his actress friends. Although none of them carried on to the next stage of the celebration we were joined by the actor George Innes. By chance BBC2 had shown Stephen Frear’s Gumshoe over the weekend in which he appeared along with Albert Finney and Fulton Mackay. Although he continues to act on the screen and stage, in the last decade appearing in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Stardust, for men of a certain age he will forever be Bill Bailey, Charlie Croker’s Number Two in The Italian Job.

Although Michael Caine delivers the famous and favourite one liner, “You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”, once the gold is loaded into the three Minis and sent on their way, Innes gets to tell the rest of the crew, dressed up as football fans and sitting in the dormobile as they wait to make their escape from the traffic–jammed Turin, “Well, look happy you stupid bastards. We won, didn’t we?” Yet strangely enough, over a drink I found myself asking him about his time spent in America, guest–starring in episodes of Hill Street Blues, Magnum P.I. and Newhart.

Usually the first to leave on these nights, this time I was there right to the end. Instead of having to help someone I barely knew who was too drunk to get home on her own, this time I was in the company of our beautiful Persian Princess, who was just a touch squiffy and not wanting the night to end just yet. So instead of heading home at a time when we were just about sure our respective train lines were still running, she announced we should grab a quick bite.

Hand in hand, off we skipped looking for something to eat, eventually resulting in me just managing to get the last bus north from Marylebone and her having what sounded like the most horrendous journey east, taking in just about every means of transport available. Still, you obviously can’t have everything. I mean I’m still waiting for the birthday drink she promised me.


At 8:30 am, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

You sound positively trippy after all that sleep deprivation! Hope the sleep kicks in at some point...

And, for my own Nighttime Waking Hours: thanks for telling me about 4oD on YouTube! Just checked it out: wonderful stuff available. Brilliant!

At 1:54 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

After having that first night out in quite a while I was hoping to collapse straight into bed once I eventually got home. It didn’t happen. But then ploughing through all this material over the past few days has helped somewhat. Whether the switch to BST is a help or hindrance remains to be seen.

I hope your nighttime waking hours turn to sleeping hours. But at least there is the 4oD. I’m still amazed by the selection on offer. This morning I started on the first episode of The Gravy Train. Absolutely marvellous!


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