Monday, 5 November 2007

Disgruntled from Abingdon

Weekends for me are becoming more and more contented in the run up to Christmas. I think it's mainly to do with the clocks going back - suddenly it's inky dark at 5pm and a good excuse to stop whatever chores have had to be done during the day and settle in front of the fire, or start cooking a luxuriously comforting casserole (we had slow cooked venison, marinaded in red wine, redcurrant jelly, cider vinegar, juniper and allspice berries and lots of woody herbs on Saturday night. Served with mash and cavolo nero, it was YUM). It's started to get cold - still not *really* cold enough to justify a real fire, but I love having one and so my eco-credentials take a bit of a bashing in the winter when the coal bucket and log basket get filled 2 or 3 times a week. Last night and this morning the fog came down, and looking out of our living room window at night when the streetlamps are lit, when all you can see is the yellowy glow contrasting with the white cloudiness, you get a whiff of Victorian Abingdon. The effect is better in the conservation area around Abingdon School and Albert Park, where the streetlamps really are Victorian cast iron (or very good reproductions), the modern cars are parked away in garages and the houses are huge, posh and gorgeous. However if you look out of our window when the lower shutter is closed, the foggy view of terraces in the street opposite ours is almost as good.

November is shaping up to be no different from the rest of the year to date, in that we are busy visiting / being visited. In a couple of weeks we have the second free weekend in as many months (astounding, what's going on??) and this has been earmarked for Christmas shopping ahead of a trip up to the Scottish Borders to see Ali's folks in late November. Which means a few evenings of sitting on the floor, sipping red wine by the fire, wrapping paper all around, random lengths of sellotape stuck to every surface, SCD on the telly (you didn't think I'd let a post go by without at least one mention did you?) and a warm glow everywhere.

So what's with the miffed-sounding post title then? Well, yesterday, we sat down to watch Top Gear at 8pm as no doubt many households around the UK did. Fire going, bellies full, ready to enjoy a last bit of relaxation before the week ahead. I normally don't mind Top Gear, despite the display of laddishness, misogyny, racism, anti-environmental sentiment and homophobia of the three presenters. I think a lot of this (with the exception of Jeremy Clarkson) is put on for the cameras and anyway it's just telly after all, usually entertaining telly at that.

But last night they were on a 'Top Gear Challenge'. What utter bollocks. Driving around Botswana in 3 old bangers, followed by a crew in 4x4s to cater for their every comfort and make sure there was enough hot water after a night's 'camping' to ensure they got a proper shave. I can understand why they'd do challenges in new super-cars - after all it's escapism and I guess informative if you're into cars. But this was just silly. There was a bit of an outcry in July when it was discovered the 3 heroes were going to be trekking over the Makgadikgadi salt pans in totally unsuitable vehicles and there was a scene where they ignored all existing tracks and drove the most direct route through the wildlife to get to the nearest petrol station. I bet there were a few scared monkeys that day. But apart from all that, it's the pointlessness of it that gets me. Yes, OK, there were mildly amusing bits, Richard Hammond's yelps as he sank trying to ford a river being one. But really, what a waste of our license fee. Hence the title - because this level of petty sniping is really best left to Points of View or the Telegraph letters page. And for one who watches a wide variety of both quality and crap tv, I'm hardly one to talk about what constitutes a waste of the license fee...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Kathryn - I read your blog site. Very nice m'dear. I like this new one about Abingdon - very atmospheric. Reminds me of my Oxford days. Deb XX