It’s a wonderful thing to have a column in a newspaper. And if you can’t have a column for pay, a blog is close.
Because a columnist (and a reviewer who is another kind of columnist) is paid to opine. A blogger doesn’t get paid but you are allowed to say what you really mean. And to be sniped at when somebody thinks they know better!
I still approach my blog rather like a dog that I think might be friendly, only it has large teeth should it decide not to be.
So far, so good.
Long ago and far away I read four periodicals a week – that’s apart from newspapers and other magazines – and I found there one of the few film reviewers I have ever admired.
In those long ago days of relative innocence, I couldn’t acknowledge the gap between liking somebody’s work and liking them. Which is absurd but it is a presumption upon which careers are made.
Nowadays I focus on what I am offered – a review of a film or play, in theatre or on television, encouragement to go and see an exhibit.
And if the role of the previewer (advance warning) is to get you to go and see for yourself, or to stay home and watch, then the role of the reviewer (after the event) is to agree with you or take you in another direction by making you see something completely different. And I’m pretty sure most of us like our perceptions confirmed or are swayed when “everybody” seems to agree.
But once in a while you come across a “voice” you trust.
Which is how you might learn something.
Occasionally I write to somebody in the public eye to thank them because they have made me think again, understand better or all that and because their writing has pleased.
Occasionally I think I will write – and I don’t.
I no longer have any illusions about the gap between my perception of your work and what you are really like – I can trust and know (my perception) and you not at all – and my psyche doesn’t need a swift kick up the backside first thing on a Monday morning.
So I choose my targets and you do better with writers (they take longer to do the job so are more attuned to the responses of readers) than journalist of any stripe.
Though I did once write to a political editor at the BBC who had expressed himself brilliantly over a complicated issue to camera (hard to do) and happily he received my comment in the way it was intended.
What made me think of this particularly was at the moment I find myself at odds over Wolf Hall.
And as a very well known columnist poured his edition of baby oil all over it and swiped at The Eichmann Show – so I turned the page.
I enjoy Hilary Mantel’s books about Thomas Cromwell and I think “Bring Up the Bodies” is even better written than “Wolf Hall”. I read and reread them, alone aloud even, because I can “hear” them. My jury is out on the tv Wolf Hall. I’m unconvinced.
But The Eichmann Show was the best work I have ever seen Martin Freeman do, twinned with Anthony LaPaglia’s strange physicalisation of a knowledge his character couldn’t share (years on a black list will do that to you). This was the re -reading through the symbol of television broadcasting that which is so horrible, one should be ashamed to say it is familiar.
I wanted to congratulate the writer Simon Block – though I know that however good the script was, the producer’s realisation was as good, so was the director’s and he or she or they were in turn well served by the actors and the crew.
Which is what I mean about the layers of the whole thing.
Film is a the most co-operative of art forms.
Eichmann didn’t act alone to secure millions of deaths and the filming of the filming of his trial was not a single undertaking.
Sometimes you don’t need to be paid to think.
You just need to think.