P&J Column 7.6.18

No Man is an Island – Except Lewis and Harris, obviously.

J Fergus Lamont, arts critic and author of “Harper: King Joey’s royal ascension”

It’s always nice to have one’s finger on the cultural pulse. When, upon the omnibus I overheard some local arts connoisseurs simply gushing about the latest unmissable piece of serial drama, I knew I had to witness it for myself.

Alas, having pored over the radio, theatre and opera listings, I could find no trace of the production of which they spake. Defeated, I turned, by way of last resort, to the chattering cyclops in the corner, the television set.

Regular readers will be aware that, like most, I largely eschew the charms of the gogglebox. I find little there to interest me since Russel Harty left our screens – but on this occasion I struck gold. You wont have heard of it, it has received little if any publicity, but ‘Love Island’ maybe the most insightful examination of the vagaries of human relations ever devised; and I include Funbox’s heartbreaking ‘Pirates and Princesses’‘.

The plot centres on a group of young Ingénues and Lotharios who have been marooned on a remote island. There the futility of their existence is laid bare. One might usefully think of it as a cross between Lord of the Flies and Waiting for Godot.

Ultimately revolving solely around their most basic desires, the drama centres on whether or not any of the characters can stop primping and preening themselves for long enough to succumb to Cupid’s archery skills.

Let me tell you one thing about “Love Island” – the cast are acting their socks off! In performances a young Olivier would have been proud of, it’s almost as if they genuinely were utterly vapid, empty vessels with nothing of any interest to say. Bravo!

I can’t wait to see how this unfolds over the next 8 weeks, already, 2 days in. I’m hooked! And when Adam breezed in and stole Kendall from Niall? It was nothing short of Anthony’s betrayal of Cleopatra, in a bikini.

I wept!

Professor Hector J Schlenk, Senior Research Fellow at Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science

As a scientist, people are always asking questions, sometimes searching questions such as “Can I just have a quick look in your bag please sir?” “Did you forget to pay for all these packets of Percy Pigs?’ and “Can you accompany me to the manager’s office, please?”

But when not becoming inveigled in confectionary based misunderstandings in Marks & Spencer (you’d think they’d be a bit more grateful for my continued custom, in the current climate), I have been cogitating on matters therapeutic. I was fascinated to learn about the introduction of a “Therapet” named Harley into Aberdeen International Airport to ease the nerves of stressed passengers. Therapy dogs have been used for years in North America but Aberdeen is the first UK airport to use one.

This is a fascinating area of scientific research with strong views on either side. Some would say there is nothing more conducive to easing the stress of missing an imminent flight, being 2 grams over your luggage weight allowance or staggering for several miles to an unmanned and immobile baggage carousel after a 12 hour flight, than rounding a corner to come face to face with a large alaskan malamute. Others may take the view that such things have no place in an airport environment, and that rather than dogs they would be better getting a outlet where a hungry traveller can purchase a bacon roll for less than the price of a small car.

Having reason to use the airport this week (Comic -con at the Birmingham NEC. Where else could I get the opportunity to meet Christophe Lambert and find out the secret of his immortality) I determined to gain a conclusive answer to this issue, so I conducted my own study by bringing a second control ‘therapet’ to the Airport. Not being a dog owner myself, I managed to lure my next door neighbour’s pet into my car by use of a trail of chicken nuggets. I then drove out to the airport with the animal on my passenger seat. This itself was no mean feat as my car is a 1987 Mini Metro and the animal in question is a 17ft  Burmese Python named ‘Ghengis’. Sadly, however, it quickly  became apparent from the screams emanating from the rapidly emptying concourse area that not all pets have the desired calming effect. I will say, however, that thanks to a totally deserted departures area checking in for my flight was an absolute pleasure.

See the Flying Pigs live at HMT Aberdeen in ‘Now That’s What I Call Methlick!‘ June 26th – 30th 2018. Tickets available now.