Sunday, 24 January 2010
Sunday Night is... Gawd, I've got a winner here, mate!
Tony Hancock, Irene Handl in The Rebel (1961). Writers: Galton and Simpson.
Oh, you temptress!... I created you! I'm your master! (mwahahahaha!).... The Barbarians are at the gates of Rome!.... I know I'm hammering again, you turbanned fool!.... Great ugly thing?! -That's Aphrodite at the waterhole!.... I did that from memory. That is women as I see them..... I call that 'Ducks in Flight!'
The delights of art, even when the art is utterly terrible. Hancock, transformed, dedicated! This was still the heyday of Picasso, who represented everything puzzling in modern art, none of it to the taste of the landlady, Mrs Cravat. The sculpture is presumably part-Picasso, part-Jacob Epstein on a very bad day.
It reminds me of the dialogue in The Glums when gormless Ron tells his father, Mr Glum (Jimmy Edwards), that he has finally got a job. The trouble is that it is as an artist's model. Edwards is scandalised. You mean to say you are modelling in the nude? Ron replies that the nudity is only symbolic. Edwards rages back: I am not having my son in front of a lot of people stark symbolic naked!.* The writers, Muir and Norden.
Somehow the world that nourished them has not really dated. That is to say, yes, of course it has dated, but it has dated just enough. It has become a classic age, a classic age of surreal sitcom writing. Everyone knows what they are up against. Everyone knows what they yearn for. Everyone knows what they can't have.
*It occurs to me now that the joke may be lost on some. 'Bollock naked' is the common term being punned on - i.e. symbollock naked [GS guffaws]. I know this looks like Dudley Moore trying to explain the lyrics of 'Mama's got a brand new bag, yeah' to Peter Cook, but let that be. I am a fellow of infinite patience.