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Kevin Cryan
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #80: 25.03.17 at 10:52 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘Coogan and Brydon are the funniest couple since Laurel and Hardy’

The extras do uncanny impersonations of corpses, and sometimes can’t keep it up
 
 

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. Photograph: Trip Films Ltd  

 
Quote:
Anyone who relishes what happens when Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon sit opposite each other in a restaurant will know that the real focus of the entertainment is on the actors at the other tables who are pretending not to laugh. While Coogan and Brydon do uncanny impersonations of 007, the extras have to do uncanny impersonations of corpses, and sometimes they can’t keep it up. They crack a rib. And they are, of course, quite right. Coogan and Brydon are the funniest couple since Laurel and Hardy.
And it’s all done just by evoking stuff we’ve seen already. But there’s no “just” about it. Such accurate mimicry demands deep concentration. The basic shtick of their echolalic duel to the death depends on Coogan being even more fanatical about getting it right than Brydon is. Indeed, Coogan might not entirely....  


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #81: 01.04.17 at 10:05 »
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Clive James: ‘Helen Hunt! Holy smoke, what an artist!’  
 

I long for the days when Jack Nicholson could deliver a speech without flashing his ivory like a leopard set to charge
 
 

Helen Hunt and Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. Photograph: Tristar/Grac/REX/Shutterstock  
 

 
Quote:
Some tenured academic blockhead in America has written a book proving that poetry is over. One glance at his prose is enough to prove that, for him, poetry never started. But poetry can only gain from not being treated as a matter of vital cultural importance. It’s much more important than that. It happens that I regard my own forthcoming poetry book, to be published in May under the title of Injury Time, as being nifty in all respects, but I wouldn’t want to stake my life on the critics agreeing with me. One of them might be that dork in America.
 
I’ve only just now got back from a clinic where the chief medico iced the back of my skull preparatory to cutting out a seborrhoeic keratosis, a name that reminds me of a central European ice-hockey player with a collection of Thelonious Monk records. From such musings, I derived the only entertainment I needed during the whole 20 minutes, a period of time experienced in the benumbed interior of my head as a California redwood being chopped down nearby with a blunt axe. But if the ghost of TS Eliot had arrived to recite The Waste Land, I would have been no better off. There is a time and place for intense art, but you have to be ready.
 
Last night, I was ready for Helen Hunt's wonderful performance.....

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #82: 08.04.17 at 08:58 »
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Clive James: ‘Let me tell you about my other career as a spy’  

Mine were the intelligence reports on Britain that every Australian prime minister read first
 
Theresa May: ‘Don’t be fooled by the condescending smile.’ Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

 
Quote:
Apart from the occasional homicidal maniac, the people who write in to make comments about what I have written in this column couldn’t be nicer. But if I answered even a small fraction of them, I would soon be dead from the effort, so I am obliged to work on the principle that, whatever the comment, the next few columns are my answer. Some people write in to ask me, “Why so much about television?” Well, if the next few columns are about something else, that’s my answer.
 
If I were to give a specific answer, it would have to be something about how I once earned my living as a couch potato and that the habit of watching dies hard. There wouldn’t be room to say much about my other career as a spy. Disguised as a literary critic (irascible expression, leather patches on elbows of sports jacket), I was parachuted into Britain by Asio, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, with orders to keep track of Britain’s moves to join the common market. Now, half a century later, my reports …...

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #83: 15.04.17 at 11:03 »
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Clive James: ‘I am planning for a future in which I appear only as a shimmering outline’  
 
I am likely to proclaim that Margaret Thatcher once looked at me in silent awe
 
 
‘Margaret Thatcher asked me whether I had enjoyed the shamisen prodigy in Shanghai.’ Photograph: PA  

 
Quote:
As movies multiply in the Universal Soldier franchise, you might have noticed that Jean-Claude Van Damme is still in them, but looks ghostly. That is because he is present only as a hologram. Feeling a bit that way myself lately, I am making plans for a media future in which I appear only as a shimmering outline. There is a place you can go where you can have it done.
 
The results tend to look spooky, but there is no reason you should not emerge from the operating theatre talking as clearly as Ken Livingstone. You might have noticed from recent TV appearances that Ken is looking a bit crumbly around the edges, but his opinions sound as crisp as ever. The drawback of the technology, however, is that the opinions tend to be propagated automatically at exactly the wrong time.
The Ken hologram is currently on air night after ......


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #84: 22.04.17 at 09:41 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘I regret not calling my book Nail-Biting Slug-Fest On The Last Green’

I’m chortling to have got my book done before I roll over and gasp my last  

Justin Rose and Sergio García after the 2017 Masters play-off. Photograph: Rex/Shutterstock  

 
Quote:
I’m still recovering from having watched the shootout between Justin Rose and Sergio García in the Masters. Through no fault of either man, Rose looks like the unusually staid manager of an English bank and García looks like the slightly bonkers getaway driver for a South American gang attempting to rob it.
 
That the attempt was successful is surely a side issue. What mattered was that the two men were so near being equal in their powers that the whole battle was fought out in the mind. Finally, after hours of screaming tension, the match went to a sudden death play-off which was all over in a few quiet minutes. García took the first extra hole with such ease that for a moment I regretted having called my poetry collection Injury Time instead of Nail-Biting Slug-Fest On The Last Green.
 
But that’s twice in a fortnight I’ve managed to....

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #85: 29.04.17 at 09:50 »
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Clive James: ‘A reader has complained about my still being alive’  

He has guessed the unsettling effect of going nuts in your face, like Peter Capaldi in The Thick Of It
 

Peter Capaldi displayed a supernatural talent for keeping a stream of abuse flowing in The Thick Of It Photograph: BBC  
 

 
Quote:
Somebody on the point of bursting into flames from ungoverned anger has written in with a list of my perfidies, which include my still being alive when he has specifically indicated that he wants me dead. He holds me responsible for unforgivable frivolity in the face of climate change, and for my apparent indifference to the forthcoming nuclear war. And for having lived too long.
 
From internal examination of his violently aggressive prose, I judge him to be an Australian, so he will understand when I encourage him to insert his head in a dead bear’s bottom. This useful instruction, in a less polite form, I first heard 50 years ago from my friend Bruce Beresford, the Australian film director. Neither of us thought the expression any the less eloquent for the fact that Australia has no bears except koalas. The smaller the bear, indeed, the more........
 

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #86: 06.05.17 at 10:02 »
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Clive James: ‘I have put aside Shakespeare, to remind myself that others can write, too’  

The best artists are a bit like children and the best critics are a bit like artists
 

William Shakespeare: ‘Tolstoy was convinced he wasn’t much good.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo  
 

Quote:
Matthew Arnold once called them “the barren, optimistic sophistries”: the bright new beliefs that were going to improve the world. You can tell from his bleak tone that he didn’t think they would.
 
Quite a lot of them did, however, and Arnold himself benefited from the belief, then new, that travel by rail would broaden the mind even of someone with a classical education. For all we know, some of the most resonant phrases in his wonderful poem Dover Beach came into his mind at Crewe Junction. Sophocles makes an appearance, but has nothing particularly classical to say. Possibly a station master’s announcement drowned him out.
 
 It’s a mercy, because when Arnold was making a point of sounding classical, he could come up with a line like, “Who prop, thou ask’st, on these bad days, my mind?” Try saying it,.........

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #87: 13.05.17 at 09:47 »
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Clive James: ‘Back in the 50s, I saw Abbott and Costello die a death. Two deaths’  

As the sketch dragged on, the silence of the audience escalated to the monumental
 

The fear Abbott & Costello projected is with me yet, but they were pros, so they didn’t run. It would have been better if they had.’ Photograph: Paul Popper/Popperfoto/Popperfoto/Getty Images  
 

 
Quote:
This morning I woke to vivid memories of the imported American artists who appeared at Sydney Stadium back in the 1950s. The range of attractions was remarkable, and Sammy Davis Jr’s solo appearance was the first really stunning theatrical event I ever saw.
 
On the other hand, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello died a death. Two deaths. Their principal mistake, beyond their never having appeared in a movie that any Australian cared about, was to build their whole act around a single sketch,Who’s On First?, which had helped make them famous in America. Unfortunately, it was about baseball, a sport that was almost totally unknown in Australia.
 
I was there for the first of their dozen or so scheduled performances, and when they launched into Who’s On First?, it was like watching two men dive into a trench full of potato peelings mixed .........


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #88: 20.05.17 at 10:11 »
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Clive James: ‘The Death Star is threatening me with a lethal dose of boredom’  

All the special effects are bigger now, but you can’t bring on another Han Solo just by pressing a button
 

‘I was persuaded to watch Rogue One. I kind of liked Felicity Jones.’ Photograph: Jonathan Olley/AP  
 

 
Quote:
You know you’re getting on when you lose track of the Star Wars sequels. My elder daughter’s family keeps track of them, so even my granddaughter’s wonder dog can tell a post-prequel starring Natalie Portman from one of the later, newer, pre-early, post-imperial mega-sagas. The dog can recognise these later developments by the absence of Princess Amidala’s rococo get-ups.
 
Her outfits used to scare the dog to pieces, but along with his new friend, the small female cat from across the street, he is now watching the new brand of extra Star Wars saga, in which the established favourites of the foundation narrative are replaced by a younger generation.
 
Though doddering on my sore feet, I was persuaded to......  


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #89: 27.05.17 at 09:59 »
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Clive James: ‘My new wheelchair is a thing of beauty and precision’  
 

The same people who conspired to buy it are now competing to get first push
 

My wheelchair looked like a Ferrari from the heyday of the Mille Miglia.’ Photograph: Getty Images
 

 
Quote:
Some secret meeting of the women in my family must have concluded that the old man would not be doing much walking any more, because early this week a wheelchair turned up at my house. It arrived in a big cardboard box. A mass of brown paper had to be removed. This once done, however, the contraption, even in disassembled form, was revealed as a thing of beauty and precision.
Once put together, it looked even better than that. It looked like a Ferrari from the heyday of the Mille Miglia. The deep crimson enamel of the tubular bodywork competed with the glittering silver of the spokes to dazzle the eye. It was a gorgeous beast. You could practically hear it growl and throb. Actually, it won’t be doing any of that, because it hasn’t got an engine.........

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #90: 03.06.17 at 09:39 »
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Clive James: ‘In a crisis such as Manchester, words aren’t easily handled’
 
Proper writers should take responsibility for the pictures their words suggest  


Balloons and flowers in St Ann’s Square in Manchester. Photograph: Jon Super/AFP/Getty Images  
 

 
Quote:
This column appears a couple of weeks behind events in the real world, so you have to imagine me sitting at the keyboard and still unable to cope with the reports following the suicide bomber Salman Abedi’s completion of his self-assigned mission in Manchester. Soon I’ll be getting close to the moment when I have to press send and transmit what I have to say.
 
One of the reasons for my slowness of composition is that, in a crisis of this kind, the words get too sticky with significance to be easily handled. To fashion the merest paragraph takes twice as long as it ought. For example, I wanted to use the word “deadline” in the previous sentence, but it looked all wrong. Proper writers should take responsibility for the pictures their words suggest.
 
When I have this much trouble writing, I tend to lapse into a proven set of procrastination measures that become more desperate ........
 

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #91: 10.06.17 at 09:36 »
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Clive James: ‘Australia’s grammar is a vestige, a mere gesture’  

Is it because Australians eat so much meat?
 

‘I suspect language collapses quickest in those nations where they eat the most meat.’ Photograph: Paul Webster/Getty Images  
 

 
Quote:
I can’t prove it, but I suspect that in all the nations where the English language is collapsing, it collapses quickest in those nations where they eat the most meat. During the second world war, the US forces in the Pacific area issued their troops with a booklet indicating how much their allies ate. The booklet said that the Australians ate even more meat per week than the Americans.
 
Since then, the Americans have presumably caught up. One year when my wife and I were skiing in Aspen, Colorado, we were startled by the size of the steaks in a restaurant. Admittedly the restaurant specialised in steaks, but it was still daunting to be served with something of greater area than the plate. The steak was called something like a T-bone strip ribeye bazooma grande and.......  


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #92: 13.06.17 at 04:08 »
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Guilty as charged, I'm afraid. My sixth year of primary school at Dalwallinu, WA, was the last time we were formally taught any grammar, and I think that was pretty much standard across the state.
It has recently become more of a problem. I have a long-held, and mildly eccentric, desire to learn some Latin and rather late in life I have made a start. I'm sure you have already guessed my difficulty. Any Latin courses I have seen in books or online assume that I have the faintest clue what nominative, accusative, dative and so on actually mean.
The jury is probably still out on Clive's meat theory, but I have noticed that the online versions of newspapers seem to have more glaring errors than the paper versions. Then again I rarely read a paper one these days so I could be out of date there.
Incidentally, if I've never mentioned it before, many thanks Kevin for linking the Clive articles each week. I enjoy reading them, but would probably not get around to looking them up myself.
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #93: 17.06.17 at 09:42 »
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Clive James: ‘My wife is visiting the warmer bits of Europe before the whole shebang disintegrates’
 

I am jealous of her mobility, but determined to profit from being left alone with my books
 

Kalymnos, Greece. Photograph: Alamy
 

 
Quote:
As I sit down to write, enormous events are happening outside my hideaway here in Cambridge. In Manchester and London, one terrorist attack follows another, as if each group of madmen were jealous of the attention gained by the previous one. At the time of writing, the general election has not yet occurred. No doubt, by the time you read this, everybody will be able to look back and see that the result was inevitable.
 
But, right now, anything could happen. Not even the furiously tweeting Donald Trump can be sure of what comes next. As his fingers blur frantically on the keyboard of his device, I must face the fact that there is a maelstrom out there, while I am in here with nothing to contemplate except my own solitude.
 
I am thinking of arranging a visit from my granddaughter’s dog,...  


 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #94: 24.06.17 at 09:29 »
Quote

Clive James: ‘The trick of coping with a flop is to go on pretending it is a disguised success’  
 

Hardly anybody read my novel. There is an annual meeting of its readers, but it looks like those pictures of polar bears on an ice floe
 

Steve McQueen, second left, in The Magnificent Seven. Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Features  
 

 
Quote:

My friend the film pundit Antonia Quirke was here recently to do a radio interview with me about Steve McQueen. There is another Steve McQueen nowadays, but we were scheduled to talk about the one who drives a Ford Mustang flat out down the bumpy hills of San Francisco in Bullitt. Antonia knows a lot about him. She knows, for example, that the sub-frame of the Mustang had to be especially reinforced, or else McQueen, or whichever stunt driver was doubling for him, would have been converted by the repeated impacts into a half-cooked enchilada.
 
Indeed, she knows everything about Steve McQueen, but I was able to supply one fantastic fan-fact that she didn’t know..........



 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #95: 25.06.17 at 03:44 »
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Unfair. I love The Remake. I've read it many. many times. Not quite as many times as I've read Brilliant Creatures.
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #96: 01.07.17 at 10:30 »
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Diary: Howard Jacobson
 
Clive James is away.
 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #97: 29.07.17 at 15:37 »
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The Guardian

Weekend
29.07.17
Starters
Your
View

Letters, emails, comments
 
Quote:
Possibly the saddest line I've ever read: "Clive James will no longer be writing a weekly column" (Your View, 22 July). Thanks for the many years of laughter, Clive.
 
Patrick Harty
By email

 
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #98: 30.07.17 at 20:08 »
Quote

Kevin quoted:
 
Quote:
Possibly the saddest line I've ever read: "Clive James will no longer be writing a weekly column" (Your View, 22 July). Thanks for the many years of laughter, Clive.  
Patrick Harty

- This appears to be a reader's reaction to what might have been an editorial response to a query in 'Your View' of 21st (or 22nd?) July, about Clive's absence. Elsewhere (brief letters, 24th July) another reader wrote:
 
Quote:
A few lines on the Your View page (Weekend, 21 July) do not do justice to the hours of pleasure Clive James has given us over the years. Let’s have a big thank you to him now, with a few of his memorable writings included.
Elizabeth Dunnett

- but those "few lines" themselves seem to be missing from The Guardian's paywall-free website. You must have searched in vain for them too, Kevin, before quoting Patrick Harty's letter. If anyone can find them, or still has the relevant print edition, I think we'd all like to see whether the paper had any more to say about Clive's departure from its pages.
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Re:  Living with leukaemia -The Guardian
« Reply #99: 01.08.17 at 17:22 »
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on 30.07.17 at 20:08, S J Birkill wrote:
Kevin quoted:
...
- but those "few lines" themselves seem to be missing from The Guardian's paywall-free website. You must have searched in vain for them too, Kevin,....

 
I did search, and I concluded that the "few lines" never really existed in any published edition of The Guardian.  
 
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