diamond geezer

 Sunday, July 31, 2005

The best/worst of July

Month of the year: You may have thought April was busy (royal wedding meets dead Pope meets election campaign) but when they come to write those 'review of the year' programmes/articles at the end of 2005, surely it's July that's going to stand out. Not just for the wake-up call of London's sudden terrorist nightmare but also for the totally unexpected Olympic victory, the global unification of Live 8, the wholly anti-climactic G8 Summit, the end of 35 years of IRA violence and a huge tornado ripping through Birmingham. Months don't get much more memorable than July 2005. Please, could the next five months be a little quieter?

Short-term London event of the month: Eight bombs (four grimly murderous and four thankfully incompetent) have shaken London out of an ill-judged cosy complacency, but life will get back to normal. It may take weeks, or months, or even years, but one day we will all feel (pretty much) safe sitting on a tube train again. One day.
Long-term London event of the month: Just two votes in Singapore, on the other hand, proved sufficient to rewrite east London's future forever. The five-ring circus is coming to town and no terrorist campaign can stop it. I remain optimistic that in seven years' time July 2005 will be remembered far more for Wednesday 6th and not Thursday 7th.

TV programme of the month: I've always been a sucker for the seaside (ooh, cliffs, mmm, beaches, ahhh, lighthouses) so BBC2's Coast is a twice-weekly must-see. It's a fascinating mix of geography, history, archaeology, anthropology, zoology, geology and travelogue, and I'm continually amazed how much they manage to cram into one hour (ooh, the Severn Bore, ooh). It's North Wales tonight (BBC2, 9pm), including Portmeirion, the Menai Straits and Borth beach (where I once went on a geography field trip). But don't bother buying the book accompanying the series - it's all big pictures and lightweight text, and most disappointing.

Album of the month: It's been three years since the release of Röyksopp's essential Melody AM, an album much loved by advertisers and those who commission TV backing music. The follow-up (The Understanding) is now out, and I can report that it's almost as lovely but not quite as magical. Every tune pleases, but it's the Eple-like 'Sombre detune' that's earwormed into my brain.

Film of the month: Last night I watched Tim Burton's remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and suddenly I was ten years old again. Which was great. The special effects were top notch (although I understand the performing squirrels were real), the script was witty (even the great glass elevator joke worked more than once) and the cast were whipple scrumptious. Johnny Depp played Willy Wonka with an endearing gaucheness (like how Michael Jackson used to be) and his performing Oompa Loompas stole the show every time they appeared. But the true star remained Roald Dahl's wildly inventive plot, full of political incorrectness and moral preaching (even if I bet he never once used the abysmal American word 'candy'). Sweet.

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