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Kevin Cryan
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #60: 05.11.16 at 10:25 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘Picture swaths of Britain where thousands of edible dormice reign supreme’  

An edible dormouse doesn’t look like that kind of creature. It is very cute
 


 There are now zillions of edible dormice, threatening to eat the entire country.’ Photograph: Alamy

 
Quote:

I had thought that the BBC’s Autumnwatch might not recover from the loss of Kate Humble, but I now realise that there has been a gain in strength.
 
One of the recent shows featured the strangely named edible dormouse, which is not as cute as it looks. If you haven’t been following, the best way to conjure up the truly daunting edible dormouse situation is that there used to be a few of them but now there are zillions, threatening to eat the entire country.
 
The problem partly arises from the fact that an edible dormouse doesn’t look like that kind of creature. It is very cute, even after it has tripled in weight, which it can do at the drop of a hat.
 
With the cane toad, the Australians at least had the excuse that they knew it was uglier than sin. They just thought it might do some good. But the British have no such let-out from responsibility...........

 

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #61: 12.11.16 at 09:31 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘It occurred to me that I might be suffering from a sudden mental disturbance’

When one is genuinely shocked, there is a tendency to mumble polite banalities and shuffle away, dazed  
 


  I was genuinely alarmed: which isn’t, of course, the idea at all.’ Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

 
Quote:

I was a bit late writing this column because my usual medical problems were compounded by shock on the night of Halloween. My elder daughter had supplied me with a candle-powered pumpkin and a basket of very classy treats, including little chocolates, properly wrapped up. Unfortunately, I had not been supplied with some very necessary information, and had to figure it out for myself during the course of a hectic evening.
 
For the first three or four times the doorbell rang, I almost died of shock each time I opened the door, because I was confronted with a spectacle that convinced me I had been hauled into space and was looking down on bunches of very small people in black, pointed hats and luminous outfits. Numbly, I held out my basket, mumbling something about being too scared to ask for a trick from them, so they’d have to settle for a treat from me. It only slowly occurred to me that I might be suffering from a sudden mental disturbance.
On about the fifth occasion, I began to figure 
 
On about the fifth occasion, I began to figure out what had happened. For several years previously, I had spent Halloween distributing sweets among a particular group of local children, but this year they all seemed shrunken, as if by a magic wand. What had happened was time....

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #62: 19.11.16 at 09:21 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘I was seconded to the SAS only briefly, during the hunt for Saddam Hussein’  

I tracked him over a thousand square miles of desert, following the tang of his excellent Cuban cigars. Most of the Arab men in that area smoke fake Crème Caramels, so the mission was a cinch’
 

  Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
 

Quote:
I am sad to be told that there is once again an ex-SAS guy on the loose who might be enhancing the story when he tells of his adventures. SAS personnel are meant to keep their mouths shut when they return to civilian life, but those of us who have defied the odds often find it hard to clam up in the pub and television studio, two closely related structures in their capacity to unleash the power of reminiscence.
I was seconded to the SAS only briefly, during the hunt for Saddam Hussein. But since I was the man who found him hiding down his hole, there was a lot of pressure on me to talk, and I was forced to reveal how I had tracked him over a thousand square miles of desert, following the tang of his excellent Cuban cigars. Most of the Arab men in that area smoke fake Crème Caramels, so the mission was a cinch. But I was reluctant to talk about it until Angelina said that, unless I came clean about my past, our relationship was off. I kept my mouth shut and she went with Brad....


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #63: 26.11.16 at 09:16 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘My idea of a speed thrill is turning up the gas on a mower'  
 

Damon Hill installed me like a piece of frightened luggage in the front passenger seat of a fast saloon and headed towards the airport
 


  'I have no doubt that, when very young, Damon Hill drove a fast pram.’ Photograph: David Davies/PA  
 
 

 
Quote:
Christmas looms, and as always I shall be giving books, hoping to receive books in return. Sometimes the books given and the books received threaten to be the same ones, but the situation is headed off by a constant exchange of information about what is brewing. Watch a big family getting ready for Christmas, and you get a lot of tips about how to fight a war.
 
Intelligence is the key factor. The key to a relevant intelligence operation is to make sure everybody else gets to learn your secret desires. The embarrassment of being given something you’ve already got can be headed off by discreetly spilling that you’ve already got it.
 
Nobody need give me Damon Hill’s brilliant autobiography, Watching The Wheels, because I’ve already been given it....

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #64: 03.12.16 at 09:37 »
Quote

Clive James: Does David Attenborough say, 'Thank Christ it's the snow leopards again'?

 
If I switch on the TV at the right time, I will see a small female ape with a green bottom doing a lap dance for David Attenborough
 


  Photograph: David Willis/BBC  
 

 
Quote:

Health-wise, I’ve had the kind of bad week when it’s an effort just to turn on the TV set and go looking for David Attenborough. Finally I found him. He was at his best, miles up a Himalaya and giving us a blow-by-blow of the snow leopards screwing each other.
 
I wonder if he has the same priorities as I. Does he look at the schedule and say, “Thank Christ it’s the snow leopards again next week. If I had to provide another running commentary on those death-pale bivalve slow worms having it off in the mud of the Amazon, I’d flip my lid”?
 
But, apart from his unflagging curiosity, Attenborough differs from me mainly in being the kind of perpetual energy source who can get a week’s work done no matter what. Parachute him into the High Andes, and he lands all set to track the emerald-bottomed lemur or whatever. (The male emerald-bottomed lemur is the one who clears a whole acre of jungle so the female will be able to see nothing except his oscillating rear end when he goes into his display, which...


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #65: 10.12.16 at 09:26 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘At 16, my dress sense was in the first full flower of its baroque glory’  
 

It took me 50 years to learn that I should dress as plainly as possible
 


  Not 16, but nearly: Clive James on University Challenge in 1968. Photograph: Granada  
 
 

 
Quote:
The paper has asked me for a photograph of myself at 16. I can’t find one: it is as if my chaotic archives had been cleaned out to eliminate all records of myself at an age when my adult dress sense was in the first full flower of its baroque glory.
 
In particular, shopping for myself, I had obtained a pair of oxblood shoes with quilt tops and foam rubber soles. Before I left the shoe shop I had already discovered that these rubber soles made a squelching noise. But I bought the shoes anyway, liking the look of them.
 
As I completed the walk to church the following Sunday, I noticed that everybody around the building was facing in my direction. It was because they had heard my shoes from half a mile off. That was the day when I finally abandoned my ambitions to attract the attention of Shirley Atwood, a petite ….....

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #66: 17.12.16 at 09:04 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘My behaviour at the Christmas table is based on hard-won learning’
 
For years, I took it to be mandatory that I should be as entertaining as possible, so as to ensure being given first crack at the goose’s legs
 


  Photograph: Zoran Milich/Getty Images

 
Quote:
Not enough research has been done on the close relationship of our gathering for Christmas dinner to the classic waterholes of the world’s great deserts. Even the omniscient David Attenborough has been slow to examine the connection. In his current multi-part survey of the planet, there is a constant theme hammering: the deadly dangers facing animals that gather anywhere in order to drink. They might eat each other. Indeed, if they are on camera, they almost certainly will, thereby triggering Attenborough’s most plangently recurring threnody: “Yet this can be a dangerous place in which to linger.”
 
I speak as one in no need of education about the level of violence in the natural world. At Uluru once, I had a close-up of a plague of centipedes. A close-up was unavoidable, because they got into even your hotel room, probably through the airconditioning system. Most of the year, they aren’t visible.......

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #67: 24.12.16 at 09:35 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘Trump’s boasts spring from an aching wish’  
 
Any man who drivels about women when he is alone with a man has no clue what to say when alone with a woman
 


  Theresa May: going for goose. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/PA  

 
Quote:
Since my family will be having a vast Christmas dinner with a raft of Australian fly-in guests spreading through several rooms, I have made it known, in my position as patriarch, that I favour a simple solution to the question of which big bird to feature, goose or turkey. Magisterially, I suggested that there should be both.
 
Thus I dodged the question that stumped Theresa May, who was airborne when some pain in the arse of a reporter tried to frame her as a plutocat for favouring goose. Either the same pain in the arse of a reporter or a different one also tried to frame her for spending too much money on a pair of leather trousers. She dodged that question by implying, surely correctly, that her trousers were good for the leather industry, for British couture, and indeed for almost every living entity in Britain, except perhaps the animals from which the leather was peeled.
 
Anything to stave off the dumb reporters until the day arrives when Fleet Street finally twigs that Theresa is the biggest fashion asset to Britain since the first years of the Queen’s reign. When the penny drops....
.


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #68: 31.12.16 at 08:55 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘Even the most trite Netflix drama is too slickly done to be switched off’  
 
There was once some hope of turning off the set and reading a book
 
 


  Kiefer Sutherland, you would think, has already done too much time in 24 to be an interesting draftee president’ Photograph: Ben Mark Holzberg/AP  
 

 
Quote:
A generous friend has given me a Netflix subscription and hence, probably, destroyed the rest of my life. When my fallback viewing consisted mainly of seeing whether Die Hard With A Fixed Pout was on again for the 10th time, there was some hope of turning off the set and reading a book. But now I have to cope with the adhesive properties of The Crown, and then cope again with the horrible information that they haven’t even finished making it.
 
Also on Netflix, the series Shooter, with Ryan Phillippe, is mainly a remake of the already ageing movie of that title. I find Phillippe a more engaging male star than Mark Wahlberg in the same role, but the movie had Kate Mara and the series hasn’t, so I can almost leave it alone.
 
But only almost. Even the most trite Netflix.....


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #69: 07.01.17 at 10:39 »
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Clive James: ‘I hanker for a time when everybody was given a job description by everybody else’  
It would be handy if we all spoke a language sufficiently stuffed with honorific tags and phrases that we all knew where we stood
 
 


   
Netflix series The Crown. Photograph: Alex Bailey/AP  

 
Quote:
Watching the excellent Netflix series The Crown, I have heard so many actors call each other “Your excellency” that I have begun to hanker for an earlier time when, in conversation, almost everybody was given a job description by everybody else. I can imagine being called “Your medium importance” by a restaurant doorman, and calling someone else “Your vanishing significance”. They all knew where they were.
 
Instead of having to interpret someone’s social significance from a pewter lapel button, you found out straight away that he was the holder of the Queen’s dancing master’s velvet gloves or tea-maker in ordinary to the mayor of Pitlochry. Everyone would bow at the correct angle to everybody else. The fact that no one would be doing anything but bowing would be a minor issue.
 
Japan used to be like that. For centuries after a special language for the royal family ceased to be convenient, the emperor and his relatives spoke a tongue that no one else could easily interpret. When Japan surrendered in 1945....

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #70: 14.01.17 at 09:27 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘Carrie Fisher sharpened her comedy with tragedy’  
 
Debbie Reynolds was too sunny to add much darkness to her onscreen persona, but Carrie Fisher could give her inborn merriment a tragic aspect
 
 

 
'Compounding the glooms of Carrie Fisher’s demise was that her mother, Debbie Reynolds, went, too.’ Photograph: Vince Bucci/Invision/AP  
 

 
Quote:
At a Hollywood roast for the Star Wars mogul George Lucas, Carrie Fisher gave a speech in which she remembered how, in the years of her incarnation as the intergalactic Princess Leia, space was haunted by “a small merry band of stalkers”. I met her only a couple of times, but heard enough to know that she could talk like that for ever.
 
Compounding the gloom of her demise was that her mother, Debbie Reynolds, went, too. So, along with all the footage of Carrie fighting the Imperial stormtroopers and frowning with glacial heat at Han Solo, the screen was suddenly playing host to a zillion clips of Debbie dancing with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. One of the reasons I could never go fully ape for the daughter, despite her brilliance, was that I had long ago gone fully ape for her mother.
 
Back in the day of its first glorious release, I had seen Singin’ In The Rain three times on the trot, thrilled by every number in it, but by no number more than Good Mornin’, Good Mornin’, in which the barely post-teen Debbie keeps up with every step of those two dazzling male dancers. At the time, there was......  



 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #71: 21.01.17 at 09:55 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘I am allowed to drink only elderflower cordial plus water, the diet of a playboy sparrow’  
 
If all this restraint is worth it, you will see my name in this space next week
 

 
Photograph: Alamy

 
Quote:
As I write this week’s column, I must suppress the hilarious knowledge that I am booked in for an operation tomorrow that will feature the insertion of various items of machinery into my rectum. My blood counts reveal a progressive anaemia whose source needs to be traced and, if necessary, cauterised. In my imagination, the machines they want to insert into me vertically are the size of combine harvesters, but that, of course, will not be so. As civilisation progresses, everything gets more nano. If they can put a radio in your ear, they can put some machine with the power of a locomotive up your bottom.
 
Yet there is no “of course” about the way one’s apprehensions work. I can already hear the thrumming howl of approaching farm machinery as I sit here for a long day of not eating anything. There.....  


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #72: 28.01.17 at 10:32 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘We are told, over and over, that President Trump will destroy the world. How do people know this?’  
 
‘I can remember a time when people of good will were equally certain that the newly elected President Ford would destroy the world by accidentally falling against the nuclear button’
 
 


 
‘It turned out President Ford was quite safe doing the rounds of the White House.’ Photograph: Rex Features
 

 
Quote:
In the continuing edge-of the-bed serial about my health crisis, we left me last week on the point of having an internal scan to see if anything needed patching. It turned out, however, that the operation would have to be postponed. There had been a communications failure, and the surgeon found out days too late that I had not ceased to take a certain pill whose effects would make it difficult for him to make any internal interventions against badly behaved blood vessels.
 
You don’t want to know? I know exactly how you feel, so I can promise that there will be no more said from me on this topic until the operation finally gets done. At the moment, I am getting set to prepare myself for it all over again. If a certain sameness creeps into my prose, you will understand. To hear about the iffiness of a forthcoming medical event is like being told, over and over, about how President Trump, once installed and inaugurated, will destroy the world. How do people know this?
 
I can remember a time....


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #73: 04.02.17 at 10:03 »
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Clive James: ‘Gérard Depardieu is not light on his feet. But I've always wanted to be him’  
His nose once looked like a pair of lorries parked side by side, but now the lorries are the size of trains
 

 
Gérard Depardieu as the mayor in Marseille. Photograph: Netflix/Everett/Rex/Shutterstock  
 

 
Quote:
The Netflix series Marseille stars Gérard Depardieu as the mayor. He fills the screen. Where once he filled the big screen, he now fills the small screen, so looks more screen-filling than ever. Every figure in local politics is corrupt, but not him. Apart from the occasional fudged cab receipt, he is a pillar of integrity, wanting only the best for his city.
 
He is a pillar of integrity shaped like a dirigible hangar. Throughout his career, Depardieu has been wearing bigger and bigger outfits. In Cyrano, he wore lace and velvet on an epic scale, looking like a house on its way to a wedding. As Marseille’s mayor, he has doubled in size so that the shoulders of his suit leave the screen on their way to the next banlieue. His nose, as always, looks like two lorries parked side by side, but now the lorries are the size of trains.
 
You might wonder how such a pile of building materials can....


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #74: 11.02.17 at 09:47 »
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Clive James: ‘When I am a break down to Nadal in the fifth, I contemplate giving up. Not Federer’  

More and more I need to be told things are happening. Only then can I turn my majestic attention to them, like a rusty old weather vane miles behind the action
 
 

 
I was still groggy in the last set but Roger Federer wasn’t.’ Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock  
 

 
Quote:
As the last traces of anaesthetic haze leave my system following my recent operation, I am getting better at telling reality from fantasy. For example, it is not a fantasy that the new Potus with that weirdo thing on his head has gone into business as a sort of berserk travel agent; it is reality. Nor is it a fantasy that Roger Federer, after a valedictory period of being written off as a faded hero by the international media, has re-emerged as the world’s greatest tennis player. It is reality.
 
In a magic final in Melbourne, both Federer and Nadal wore pink shoes, but Federer’s pink shoes had wings. Shod like Mercury, he came back from oblivion. Only a couple of days after the actual event, I tuned in and saw it happen. I was still a bit groggy in the last set, but Federer wasn’t. He was frowning in the way he has always done when commanding a favour from the gods. In my own mind, when I am a break down to Nadal in the fifth, I at....


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #75: 18.02.17 at 09:38 »
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Clive James: ‘I’ve done a mental survey of TV arts presenters and can’t find any I hate’  

 
It was a miracle on the scale of Lucy Worsley not dressing up as Queen Elizabeth I
 
 
 
Andrew Graham-Dixon, presenter of The Art Of France. Photograph: BBC/Jake Robinson  
 

 
Quote:
Were I a would-be TV presenter in search of a role model, Andrew Graham-Dixon would fit the frame. As well as wielding copious explanatory powers about art, he comes over as quite butch, with such non-effete features as a vigorously sane hairstyle and powers of elocution not even half as crazy as some other arty presenters we could name. In the opening chapter of his BBC mega-series, The Art Of France, he was not afraid of the bold statement: “Like every great country, France has always been a mongrel nation.”
 
This was especially bold because it suggested that Japan, for example, had never existed. Even today, it is almost impossible for a foreign artist, or indeed a foreign anything, to take up residence in Japan, whose intellectuals will tell you unblushingly that the true secret of their cultural coherence is that the nation is “homogeneous”, meaning they don’t let the buggers in.
But Graham-Dixon was on about France, not Japan, so the sweeping statement fitted. He lounged unobtrusively....  


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #76: 25.02.17 at 10:03 »
Quote

Clive James: 'The Eagles were exposed as a line-up of relentless bores'  
 
When they sang, they were magic, but when they talk now, they are nerve gas
 

‘The quickest way back to mental health is to dial up the full seven minutes of the Eagles’ most amazing song, Hotel California.’ Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters  
 

 
Quote:
The Canadian political analyst and popular music expert Mark Steyn has spent about a year transforming his blog into a TV station, so that he can now interview someone he admires right there in vision. Apart from his habit of punctuating any long sentence with the word “ah” (imagine Sue Barker as a baritone), Steyn is, ah, an ideal broadcaster; provided, that is, that, ah, you have an extra half-hour in your day to follow him through the occasional flat spots in his, ah, doomed search for perfect fluency.
 
How Steyn finds the time to do what he does is one of the mysteries in this new era of personalised broadcasting. He can write, speak and sing, and, being a Canuck, he can probably also skate. His problem now is going to be finding a weekly guest as bright as he is. One of the first shows to be globally transmitted through his new enhanced medium was an interview with Sir Tim Rice. I watched it with fascination, awed all over again by how scruplously Rice attends to the language in which he expresses himself. I don’t think he said “ah” once, and unless he were quoting the lyrics of Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life verbatim, I think he would never do so.
 
......


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #77: 04.03.17 at 08:48 »
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Clive James: ‘I’ve been going deaf for years, so wouldn’t have been able to hear SS-GB anyway’  

After the first episode, I was wiping the blood from my ears with Kleenex
 
 

SS-GB: ‘Len Deighton’s novel still holds up well.’ Photograph: Laurie Sparham/BBC/Sid Gentle Films Ltd  
 

 
Quote:
As if to prove that television’s appeal depends mainly on what it gives you to see, the BBC’s new headline serial SS-GB spends many millions giving you something you can’t hear. Some expert analysts say the show is quite audible, but other even more expert analysts point out that this is true only if you have a Woofendorf M-23 multiple takedown receptor within 10ft of your set and another within 10ft of your feet. It goes without saying that this elementary boosting equipment needs to be further enhanced with a Paxman P-36 growl-filter in your loft, to translate the German of anyone above the rank of feldwebel into double Dutch.
 
After the first episode, I was wiping the blood from my ears with Kleenex, but here’s the gag: I wouldn’t have heard it anyway, because I’ve been going deaf for years and would not hear German invaders if they landed one at a time in......


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #78: 11.03.17 at 09:42 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘I couldn't believe how non-weird Sam Neill was’

Performers do best to do their best every time. It is easier to maintain this attitude if you are not being treated as a deity
 
 

‘Sam Neill has put together a richly sane career without ever having departed from the human scale.’ Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian  
 

 
Quote:
Whoever said, “Wagner’s music isn’t as bad as it sounds” got a cheap laugh, but the concept sometimes comes in handy with regard to other fields of creativity. A few years back, an expensive movie called Equilibrium was based on the idea of our world having turned into a dystopia where you could be consigned to the disintegration chamber if you were caught reading a book. Sean Bean got caught reading the collected poems of Yeats and was duly eliminated, barely before you had time to remember that this was yet another variation on Ray Bradbury’s postwar novella Fahrenheit 451, named for the temperature at which paper catches fire on its own.
 
The zillions of people who never saw Equilibrium were right: it’s a dreadful mess. But in the brief scene that shows Bean, with his Irish coffee voice, reading aloud from Yeats, he was at the height of his career. Somewhere in that paradox there is a work ethic signalling for attention. Performers do best to do their best every time. By no paradox, it is easier to maintain this attitude if you are not being treated as a deity.
 
Sam Neill, for example, has put together a richly sane career without ever having departed from the human scale, except for the odd stint as an intergalactic grand vizier or something. I met him once in Sydney and couldn’t ......


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #79: 18.03.17 at 11:26 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘Idris Elba is the most kingly British star since Richard Burton’  


To collect an actor’s performances is still one of the best reasons for continuing the long search into infinity
 


'I try to see everything Idris Elba has done since he knocked me out in The Wire.’ Photograph: Sarah Lee for the Guardian  
 

 
Quote:
 
As a Denzel Washington fan, I try to see every movie he has made. When I was still flying, I would watch a Denzel movie two or three times on the trot, just to study the way he timed a sardonic smile – even today, I time a sardonic smile at my granddaughter’s dog. But those of us who would once haunt the DVD racks to pick up a Denzel movie must reconcile ourselves to never seeing, on any flight entertainment system, one of the greatest performances of his late period. Starring as an airline pilot in Flight, he is not only meant to be high on alcohol, but the airliner is also meant to be on the verge of falling apart.
 
Long before it crashes, you realise that, if they recut the movie to be shown in flight, it would have to be about five minutes long. There is one scene, just before the airliner disintegrates, where passengers flying loose.......  


 
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