P&J Column 22.6.17

‘Ken ‘is? Some nights there’s jist nithin’ on the Telly.’

J. Fergus Lamont – arts critic and author of ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – Beechgrove Gothic’

The received wisdom is that we are currently enjoying a ‘Golden Age’ of television wherein the artistic merits of productions for the small screen are reaching previously unattained heights. I myself have never been persuaded that the form is worthy of much attention, and although I own a ‘set’, its cathode ray tubes have scarcely been called upon since the dystopian masterpiece ‘Triangle’ was on air. Nevertheless, this week I took the plunge into the realm of shirtless 19th century miner owners, heavily fictionalised monarchs and grumpy Scottish time travellers. However, it was on Tuesday that I discovered that the rumours are true – we are indeed in a televisual Golden Age, and the idiot box in the corner can still produce stunning work when one knows where to look!

I sat agog in my living room as the BBC News at 10 presented me with an audacious televisual treat. Huw Edwards looked stern but remained mute amidst random picture montages and no less than 11 swift, stuttering appearances of the ‘Breaking News’ logo, as seconds turned to minutes and nothing happened, I realised that this was a daring a live performance of John Cage’s seminal work 4’ 33’, at the climax of which Edwards wished us all a ‘good evening’ – a stunning moment of deconstructionist TV the likes of which we have not seen since Dennis Potter naughtily plied his trade back in the 1980s. The whole production was a powerful commentary on the unpleasant reality of today’s news; whereby to be silent is the only sane response. I applauded hugely and attempted to contact the BBC to offer my congratulations, but apparently there was a technical hitch and I couldn’t get through.

No matter! I simply switched channels and found myself enjoying another stunning piece of TV. Entitled ‘Love Island’, this was a superbly bleak post-apocalyptic drama where the only humans left on a deserted island paradise must work out which coupling of these dregs of the gene pool might best continue the species. If I have a criticism its that the dialogue was so banal and the characters so 2 dimensional that they couldn’t be truly convincing, but that minor niggle apart, a triumph!

By now it was well after midnight, but still the treasure trove of multichannel TV kept on delivering – an eternally-open shop floor offering incredible value consumer goods to those viewer who interacted with the weirdly hypnotic hosts. Gamely ,I entered into the spirit and rung in.

Several hours later, I found myself utterly spent, and inexplicably the owner of a hurricane spin power scrubber and several sets of ladies’ Brazil Knit Wellness trousers, with pockets.

I wept.

Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit who goes in hard

In Derek we trust! The Dandies got a boost last week when gaffer Derek McInnes sailed his colours to the mast by turning down Sunderland’s overtones. I was worried that Degsy would be on his way South to the North East sending the Dons’ chances West, but he is here to stay and the Red Army will be well chuffed with that turnip for the books.

McInnes’s loyalty is a rare thing in the doggy-dog world of football. Back when I was playing no-one never turned down no big-money moves and I’ll admit that even old Kenny had his forehead turned.

When I was released by the Dons and wound up at Brechin City my agent (my Da’) got a phone call from Dundee United chicken-supremo Jim McLean. Big Jim says to my Da’, he says “I’m wanting Kenny to sign for us so he can provide a bit of steel in midfield”. But my Da’ says to Jim, he says “Kenny canna dae that, he jist gings roon halfin folk.” It turns out that that was exactly what Big Jim was meaning, so he made me an offer I could not defuse. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have played for him, but driving the Jag to Brechin every day for training had made my petrol bill astrological enough as it was, so I did defuse it after all.

Degsy McInnes found out the possible identity of the Dons’ first opponents this season. We’ll either be sticking Ordabasy of Kazakhstan or Bosnian outfit Siroki Brijeg. I mind when the biggest question about the European draw was “How do we play them?” Now the biggest question is “How do we say them?” Mental.