Went to see Dylan Moran last Thursday. For reasons best known to his management, he was playing in Ilfracombe. This is a small seaside town on the north coast of Devon more noted for some wickedly sharp rocks and a strange popularity with Liverpudlians. Naturally, I expected a crumbling ruin of a Victorian music hall theatre somehow surviving on the crumbs of end-of-the-pier style shows. Not that Ilfracombe has a pier. Nowhere in Devon has a pier: we're sticking out into the Altantic. We're rugged and weather-beaten not like those sheltered south-eastern places like Brighton and Bournemouth. A pier wouldn't last a winter. The rest of the schedule for the theatre does indeed read like your worst vision of 'saucy' seaside Britain: Joe Longthorne, line-dancing, Chas & Dave, The Chuckle Brothers. So discovering that one of the main stars of the modern comedy circuit is playing a single night there is a surprise. So was the theatre.
Hopefully someone somewhere will tell the comedy circuit management that Exeter has theatres as well. And isn't entirely full of old ladies and strange locals. The programme for the Barnstaple theatre has an evening with Germaine Greer, to which I may go if I can get a late train back.
On the drive back from Ilfracombe, Carrie and I discussed music. That came back to me when listening to Jonathan Ross this morning when he played I Started Something... by The Smiths. It does seem odd coming out of the radio now, tangled up with the latest by Belle & Sebastian, Keane and old songs by Aretha Franklin and Delroy Wilson. I really can't tell if the Smiths is still good - it's so heavily bound up to all-night sessions working to academic deadlines with only Meat is Murder or Radio Moscow (RAM of jingle) for company.
This is one reason why I listen to R2 now - the playlists are generally quite eclectic so you get a wonderful sense of the breadth of music. Except for the Steve Wright show which is just dreadful (and exactly the same schitck he was peddling on R1 back in the 80s). The only exception is in the mornings, where I must have the Today programme on R4. Dylan Moran did a perfect summation of R4's habit of alternating between mind-numbing political horror and small-scale whimsy. His impression of John Humphrey, "up since 2am warming up for a fight", was spot on. The weather forecast on Thursday morning was:
and now the weather. Remember how it's been for the last couple of days? Well, it'll be like that again.How can you not love a programme that switches from that casualness to seriously interogating the Foreign Secretary?