diamond geezer

 Monday, January 31, 2005

The best of January

TV programme of the month: Hmm, a difficult choice. I've been enjoying Dragon's Den [BBC2] (where incompetent entrepreneurs pitch pet projects to a panel of smug venture capitalists, generally with little success). I quite liked Desperate Housewives [C4] (although I missed the latest episode and realised I could live without it). I thought the 28th series of Grange Hill [BBC1] was back to its old school charms (yes I know I'm the only adult in the country who still watches this). And I enjoyed Celebrity Big Brother 3 [C4] rather more than I ought to have done (mainly for the constant ingenuity of the producers in coming up with something original for the inmates to do every day). But I think I have to award my monthly laurel wreath to the third series of Monkey Dust [BBC3], the shadowy black comedy that continues to speak the unspeakable but gets away with it because everyone's a cartoon character.
10:30pm update: Just 90 minutes of the month left and a late entrant stakes a convincing claim for January's top TV trophy. The second series of Look Around You has taken early 80s Tomorrow's World as its role model and delivered a magnificent spoof science show full of beige jackets, Letraset subtitles and misplaced enthusiasm. A true broadcasting gem.

Book of the month: It's still a bit early in the year for new books to be flooding out onto the market. There have been a few, like that recycled website published by the anonymous whore-blogger, but most bookshops are still trying to clear out all the Christmas stocking fillers we failed to buy last month. Which is how I stumbled upon the hardback edition The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss for half price. It's a sort of Victorian James Bond novel under a mock antique cover, the sort of adventure novel you might expect if Stephen Fry's Oscar Wilde had written Sherlock Holmes. Very inventive, quite witty, rather treacly, slightly repetitive, and probably worth waiting for the paperback.

Album of the month: LCD Soundsystem by LCD Soundsystem. It's very rare that I pick up an album and buy it without having heard a single track, but that's what I did here. The front cover design (and the name of the opening track - daft punk is playing at my house) suggested some kind of alternative dance record, and so it proved to be. This is an eclectic disco-punk mix - quite a lot of guitar, plenty of synth and several blatant influences - and no tracks are in any way the same. There's even a bonus CD of singles and b sides, making this an absolute bargain for under a tenner, and I fully expect to see this album making several of the trendier end-of-year best-of listings.
n.b. With 17 hours of the month still remaining, it is still possible that LCD Soundsystem will be ousted from my January pedestal by the latest Lemon Jelly album which is released today. Watch this space.
8pm update: Yes (as I suspected) the new Lemon Jelly album is very fine indeed and, after just one play, instantly appealing. '64-'95 is a collection of unrecognisable cover versions showcasing the duo's usual inventiveness in a fresh and unusual way, and you can expect to hear every single track as TV backing music over the next 12 months.

Single/Film/DVD/Gig/Magazine of the month: category not awarded.

London walk of the month: If you fancy a two hour walk around the capital, I can heartily recommend the guided strolls organised by London Walks. For just £5.50 you get to choose from a comprehensive list of daily tours, following a knowledgeable escort round some of the city's more intriguing backwaters. Yesterday I joined the Gangs of East London tour (which only runs twice a year), ably led by historian Ed Glinert (author of the essential London Compendium). Our bracing stroll from Shoreditch to Whitechapel was a fine excuse to revel in the nefarious activities of the Kray twins in the very streets they once ruled and terrorised. For one brief stretch, walking through the crowds of market thugs wheeling and dealing at the western end of Dunbridge Street, it was easy to believe that nothing at all had changed in the last 40 years. Recommended.


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