I seem to have been watching a lot of obscure BBC documentaries recently (it's sort of linked to a familial post-holiday pact to desist sine die from watching the 10 o clock news, as if by the simple expedient of avoiding televised domestic current affairs we can somehow maintain the illusion that we are not back in our workaday UK lives at all but still esconced on our pink granite coast hideaway in the land of possibly Fascist Biscuits). Things I have learnt along the way include:
1...All the bees in the world are dying and nobody really knows why. It might be the pesticides... or the advance of commercial monoculture (that doesn’t mean we are boring the bees to death by playing them Classic FM through their hive doors, it means there are lots of great big massive fields just growing lettuces, which is all very well for your men the bees except for the 11 months of the year when the lettuces aren’t in season)... or the global warming... or the unspeakably voracious bee-eating mites which launched a campaign for world domination sometime just after the second world war when everyone was presumably too worried about those damn
Communists to properly be taking notice. Probably it is a combination of all four and we can do approximately bugger all about it at this stage of the game, which given the central role of pollination in the survival of the planet’s ecosystems and all, is pretty dire news indeed. On the other hand we are not to worry because in the National Bee Centre on the outskirts of York a team of top government scientists (men reaching retirement age, who have spent so long in the company of bees that they have begun to take on the some of the characteristics of their invertebrate charges themselves, such as beards of gauzy fur, darting quick-tempered inclinations of the head, and- in the case of the chief scientist- just the
suggestion they may have a couple of spare sets of arms up the jacket sleeves there, not that you’d be about to ask) are working night and day on a solution. In the meantime a couple of likely looking blokes in Australia- you could tell they were Australian because they actually had those hats with the corks hanging off them, really- are busily exporting great angry cratefuls of mysteriously healthy antepodean bees via jumbo jet plane to the ravaged plains of the American Midwest at forty dollars a shout, and laughing all the way to the bank, the lucky bleeders.
2...Low cost airlines-like Australian bees- are recession-proof, and in the main run by cheeky Machiavellan-spirited will-o-the-wisp wiry-haired Irishmen with the gift of the gab and always a ready quote in the back pocket, because no publicity is bad publicity, even if it involves being sued for many thousands of pounds in the Dublin courts by pretty young secretaries who won a lifetime worth of flights on account of being your millionth customer back in the 80s there, and then were slightly put out when you tried to take the prize away because it was costing you a couple of bob in actual, you know, flights. Or maybe they’r e not
recession proof at all, because if the day ever comes when British people get too much of ‘cultural discovery’ (read- drinking themselves stupid in the
backstreets of Latvian ex-steeltowns handily placed for commercially
exploitable airstrips) then it will be no good relying on your men the Spanish and the Portuguese to take up the slack, because unlike us they all live in hot places already so see no reason to get off their arses and fly half way round the continent to get drunk on cheap licquor of questionable provenance, they can comfortably do that without recourse to their suitcases and still be home in time for their dinner any afternoon of the week. Well that’s what Stelios the founder of EasyJet had to say, and he should know, what with him being Greek and all, and therefore probably not altogether one for the travelling himself.
3...I’ve also learned some most enlightening things about the life and tragic early death of Jim Morrison, you know, your man from the Doors, but I can’t quite remember what they were, partly because I watched that particular obscure documentary under the influence of several of the tiny bottles of very strong Pelforth Biere Brune that came home from Brittany
in our friends’ camper van, so wasn’t really concentrating. I’m pretty sure however that none of the interviews featured the one about how they’d discovered there was a fifth member of the Doors named ‘Stan Clear- you know, Stan Clear of the Doors’, thus missing a gilt-edged opportunity to cause passing latenight amusement to any fans of 1960s phychedelic troubadour-led rock who happen also to be regular travellers on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.
On account of this glaring editorial oversight I am giving
the BBC4 documentary on the life and tragic early death of your man Jim Morrison just 6 out of 10, and that is mostly for the songs which, let’s face it, we could have just as easily listened to on YouTube and avoided the
interviews altogether, erudite and informative though they no doubt were for those viewers artaking of the broadcast in full possession of their mental and critical faculties. The cheeky Machiavellian Irishmen and their Euro-wonderplanes with the chargeable loo-roll and questionable effects on Latvian-UK diplomatic relations, I am giving 7 out of 10, with one of these points being just for having Denmark’s very own Sandy Toksvig in the narrator’s seat (well she’s probably from Hounslow, but in the spirit of low-cost mile-high internationality let’s leave that to one side, hands across the seas and all). All of which means that the the bees and the bee-like taxpayer-funded scientists of the York suburbs with the ready sting in their antennaes and the pairs of extra legs up their stiffly-ironed trousers are the outright and uncontested winners of this week’s Obscure Documentaries We Happen To Have Watched competition, with a commendable 9 out of 10 (with one point held back as encouragement for them to put in a couple of extra shifts with the old testubes full of diseased larvae next week and save the bees, and consequently mankind, from surefire extinction, hell it’s not a bad world after all and there’s a bar in backstreet Gdansk where you can get a large vodka red bull, a striptease, and a meat pie, and still have change out of a five Euro note). Hearty congratulations to all concerned.