Personal moment-os

The BBC juxtaposed some interesting couples recently and asked them about their lives in books as part of its book week (or is it book year?) . This allowed us to spot some delightful interpersonal split-seconds that you can usually find if you freeze-frame through people’s body language.

The cheeky but bright Sue Perkins was set alongside her real partner Giles Coren [massive correction needed here: Sue’s been “out” for years I now realise; explains many of the Google search terms that find this posting! More viewers find this website by googling her than any other search subject – by a long way…], and we got a hint of the character of their co-operative style (not certain of the exact sequence here):


Clare Balding has taken some unjustifiably terrible treatment from comedians in recent years, as indeed has the host of the show, Anne Robinson. I suppose comedy never changes much even when the practitioners claim to be of a new generation. Both did a reasonable job here, and they were joined by Hardeep Singh Kohli whom I once met in the street in Cardiff after the Eisteddfod. I thought he was just standing in the street (with a camera crew) waiting for people to recognise him, so I didn’t smile. A bit supercilious of me really; I’d spilt bright yellow chicken curry down my shirt at the Eisteddfod and had no business adopting a superior attitude. Clare Balding obviously held a serious reservation though, since at the end of the show when Kohli offered to shake hands, she refused. I was too undisciplined to get a screen-shot of this while I had the opportunity, but a BBC clip does include this moment of interest:

It’s not Balding snapping the book shut and catching his nose in it, he’s just smelling her old book. I think I can see a Dan Brown on the table. Not sure what that’s doing amongst Books of One’s Life.

Perhaps the tastiest pairing was Jeanette Winterson and Alastair Campbell. There were plenty of moments where they were both smiling, but those from the psychological school that claims micro-expressions say a lot, might enjoy this:

They didn’t argue or anything. When asked, Campbell claimed his French was better than Tony Blair’s by a mile. Winterson didn’t claim to be a genius this time. However, Jeanette Winterson really is wonderful to watch. It was poignant moment of the week when she said how a girlfriend had dumped her a few years ago :-S

I’ve never read her books, only seen an adaptation. It’s not really what she says about literature that sends me, though I can be sold on the right person’s words. I really haven’t a clue what she’s talking about a lot of the time, she just says it all so vividly and sweetly. No doubt when I’ve read her books I’ll be even more impressed!

[Update Aug 2013: Well, the start of this blog has unexpectedly turned out to be a bit of a lesb-fest! I was intrigued by the number of Google enquiries reaching this posting that seemed to be asking if Clare Balding had a girlfriend. I eventually realised there was something real behind the enquiries! As I mention above, the same thing later started happening with Sue Perkins! Recently I discovered that although Jeanette Winterson was generally very decided as to which way she “tended”, she’s seemed to have checked the other tack from time to time… just to make sure, perhaps (-: . When I made the complimentary comments above, I was assuming they could have no more than 0% relevance!]

And then there was Sister Wendy and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

Again, a woman with distinctive views and keen to talk about them – but in her case particularly astonishing since she chooses to live without talking to people most of the time. She does however pray, and I think this must give her linguistic practice, and some other kind of sustenance too. Again, I missed a magic moment where where she leaned over and grabbed him.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen went to my school, but after me. We’ve had some goodies: R.V. Jones: major war scientist. We also had a head of a secret service – not a celebrity since in those days the secret services were secret (except from the Russians, obviously :-S). Although not a pupil from the school, Lord Shawcross used to check the lines of cadets every year on Inspection Day (never me – I think I was off RAF’ing). I was later to discover he had headed the UK contingent at the Nuremburg trials… where many were hanged due to shortcomings in their philosophy – just moral philosophy, but a wonderful principle nonetheless!

We also had… yuuurggh… Kelvin MacKenzie! )-: )-: For a person of any reasonable ability to attend that school for five years or so and leave with just one ‘O’-level was a major personal statement. Always assuming he had any reasonable ability.

So… a bit after the war, it was Kelvin MacKenzie, David Hemmings and Simon Ward (currently playing Bishop Gardiner splendidly evilly in The Tudors), then after various gaps, me; then after another three year gap, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen. Much more recently: Pixie Geldof (-: .

Wiki also tells us there was Timothy and Sam West, and “Darth Vader/The Green Cross Code man” – I’m not sure which was David Prowse’s more sinister role (-: . (But this was according to Julian Glover; it isn’t corroborated by David Prowse’s own webpage. It’s clear that both Glover and Prowse also went to school in Bristol, so perhaps a confusion arose through that. Prowse’s real-life nemesis in the Star Wars films was Princess Leia, who made fun of his Bristol accent, referring to him off screen as “Darth Farmer”. Funny how sounding your ‘r’s makes the English sound like pirates or peasants, but doesn’t with Americans. Prowse was annoyed when he was told, rather late, that his Long John Silverishness was to be overdubbed. He started ad libbing his to-be-discarded lines, notably one involving “asteroids…”. George Lucas doesn’t invite him to his parties any more.)

Also after I’d left were Jude Law (who I think talked a bit like me in Gattaca, so shared origins might explain that) and Florence of The Machine. I must add my name to the list of notable attendees (-: . (By which I mean… actually add it (-: .)

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