Tag Archives: John Prescott

Desert Island Discs: John Prescott

A public school education can be like slapping on an expensive set of veneers. You get something blindingly shiny, but you  wonder what they’re hiding. You only have to watch five minutes of Made in Chelsea to see how some of those who have been brought up to think they deserve to rule the world, have a forcefield of braying confidence which seems to substitute for brains, actual talent or a decent personality.

I also count amongst my friends, many decent men and women emotionally messed up by their experiences of boarding school. It’s not Hogwarts. Harry Potter, like Malory Towers and St Clare’s, portrays a preposterously positive vision of boarding school. Lord of the Flies with plusher furnishings and rugby pitches is more like it. And, to think, Parliament always has been dominated by public school boys. God help us all.

So it was refreshing to hear Secondary Modern-educated John Prescott (technically, Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull) on Desert Island Discs. He’s not a man to whom the word ‘slick’ would ever apply, but he’s so much more interesting than Cameron and Osborne ever will be. He shone in this interview. In contrast to them, and despite all of his achievements, his self belief is low. He finds walking into restaurants alone impossibly stressful. It’s clear that there are parts of him that are messy and chaotic, and equally clear he’s done some dumb stuff. The Jags, the affair. I’m not counting the punch, because although it was politically unwise, it was also done rather superbly (not that I condone punching people of course). But he admits his faults, and what also comes across is that he’s sincere, fascinating, and in many ways, remarkable. And he genuinely admires and adores his family. This was a man taunted and tormented in Parliament for being working class, Northern and not having the slick schtick of the braying Hooray Henries. But I think, it’s evident in this programme, that he will be remembered long after they’ve merged into one unmemorable pile of beige, over-privileged bores.

If you’re quick you can catch it on iPlayer. Well worth a listen.

Posted by Inkface

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Gavin & Stacey: Do you, Nessa? Do you love him?

At last, it was Nessa and Dave’s big day. But we all knew that Smithy was going to burst into the church at the eleventh hour, and play his part in a ferociously annoying Graduate/Four Weddings pastiche, from which only Dave Coaches emerged with any credit.

I kept losing concentration due to plunging into plot holes. When Stacey told Gav she was pregnant, she did so via a shoe-box full of positive predictor tests. I forget how many she said she’d done – how much wee can she do? – but it was something like 34. Against my will, I started to work out how much she’d spent. Let’s say the cheapest reliable test is a tenner for two. That’s, good lord, 170 quid! How come Stacey has that sort of money to chuck about? That’s surely more than a week’s wages in the sandwich bar! By the time I emerged from my calculations, Smithy was in the church telling Nessa he wanted to stop her marriage even though she repulsed him, and I had no idea how we’d got here.

Nessa looked interestingly strange in her bronze wedding dress. I went off her a bit this week though. First, there was her meanness to Gwen, which went from being not very amusing to just plain horrible. Even her little speech about how Gwen was like a mother to her was undermined by an awkwardly ambiguous kiss on the lips.

Then, it should have been Nessa’s finest hour at the altar. But when Smithy accused her of not loving Dave, she stubbornly denied everything. It was left to Dave to stand up and be counted; it was rather moving when he said sadly that he knew she didn’t really love him. This was a chance for Nessa to show a bit of emotion at last, and certainly not be buffeted about by two men making decisions for her. But she didn’t have the balls. I fell into another plot hole thinking about what would have happened if Dave had said nothing and they’d got married. I wrote a new ending, and though I say so myself, it was a considerable improvement.

I did enjoy some of it. Every scene with Nessa’s Dad, for instance. Give the man his own show! ‘Played it straight’, he said modestly, of his TV extra work as a man in a coma. ‘Just laid there, you know.’

I also loved Mick’s face when he realised the Auden poem he was reading mentioned coffins. But this was yet another hole – had he not glanced at it before he stood up ? And really, did they have to include that poem, just so everyone could so, ‘Ooh it’s just like Four Weddings innit, ha ha’?

Best bit by a huge margin was Dave greeting John Prescott at the door of the church. Even from the couple of words he uttered, we could see JP is a terrible actor (actually we already knew this from his political work), but what a lovely understated little moment. All those mad stories of Nessa’s past were played out in this one blink-and-miss-it scene. Oh, if only the whole thing had been like this, what a masterpiece it could have been.

We were left with a cop-out ending: Stacey pregnant, Gav dead-eyed, and Nessa and Smithy… well who knows? A couple, or just co-parents? As with so much of this series, the audience was left to do too much of the work, and not in a good way. Much as it saddens me to say it, this really was a good time to pull the plug. I missed these characters after Series Two ended, but I don’t think I’ll miss them any more.

 Posted by Qwerty

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