‘The Art of Japanese Life’

A long time ago, in a country far far away, I had a Japanese roommate. Manabu was lovely, a total gentleman, but not very chatty. I blame the language barrier, or maybe we just didn’t have that much in common. Eventually we bonded over injuries (his sporting, mine alcohol-related), microwave breakfast burritos (he loathed them, I loved them) and our two crazy little island homes. Comparing the UK and Japan is not as odd as it first sounds. Culturally and geographically we have a lot of shared aspects. We’re wilful independent island nations, who revere our daring histories of medieval knights and samurai warriors. Other countries are somewhat nervous around us as if you give us a flag and a gun we tend to get a little carried away and decide to go off and be a colonial invading force. Small countries, big ideas. Despite our macho military history, our national characters are reserved and polite, and we like to know our place in the social hierarchy. We’re the worlds best queuers!

Art historian Dr James Fox seems the similarities in our two nations, although sadly in this series on aesthetics and art in Japanese life, we are yet to hear his opinion on the breakfast burrito. This BAFTA nominated broadcaster has a day job in Cambridge University’s Art Department and first came to my attention presenting Who’s Afraid of Conceptual Art? on BBC4 in September 2016.

He’s an engaging, enthusiastic, and quite cheeky presenter. His trademark seems to be a sharp black suit and tie, ever ready for a funeral or a cocktail party. He’s really good at breaking down complex ideas about art, religion and society. These big ideas are discussed in simple terms. His passion for the subject shines through. And, pleasingly, as you’d expect from a BBC4 art show, this whole episode is beautifully shot and framed.

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I Have Been Watching… A Telly Tribute to Victoria Wood

I read a quote today that went something like, ‘Is George RR Martin writing the script for 2016?’ Too many people who enrich our lives have been lost this year, most far too soon. But that all goes without saying.

I always felt that Victoria Wood was a champion for those of us who were painfully shy in our youth. But she overcame it; big time. How could she not with her absolute genius talent bursting inside of her. Was there nothing this woman couldn’t do? She was a musician (self-taught), songwriter, comedian, dramatic writer and actor. And yet it was all so self-effacing. Quietly producing work that was quite frankly, genius.

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Photo: theguardian.com

Being an avid telly watcher myself I remember her from As Seen On TV . There’s a great quote from that: “I said to my friend – and she watches telly from Wincey Willis through to Gardener’s World into the Open University” (those were the days) “Do you think TV is killing the art of conversation?”
She said, “Errrrmmmm….”

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