Wednesday was dazzling in Sussex, dawning brilliant with snow, the valleys shrouded in breathy, swirling mist. By the time we set off for school the sun was shining from a cloudless sky, the trees were dripping and the magnificent Revolutionary and Romantic orchestra was blasting Beethoven's Fifth out at scurrying rabbits and grubby, startled lambs in the fields. We swung into school conducting wildly. The gym mistress thought we were waving at her; she waved back, lost her balance and fell on her bottom into a snow drift. The children were still chuckling at tea-time.
The week got even better late at night. The current Book at Bedtime (R4) is Don Marquis's glorious frolic Archy and Mehitabel. Archy is a cockroach, whose soul once inhabited a vers libre poet. Every night he leaps from key to key of his landlord's typewriter, leaving a record of his thoughts. The alley cat, Mehitabel, not to be outdone, claims that she was once Cleopatra, though her history is as shaky as her memory. Eartha Kitt was born - even christened - to be Mehitabel. Now an outrageous flirt, now a philosophical old tabby, she looks back on her rackety life, her flings perpetually interrupted by fertility: one damn kitten after another.
Sometimes savage, sometimes bitter, always unassailably sexy, she purrs and howls through her shady nights on New York rooftops, punctuating her stories of vile abductions, faithless toms and unwanted families with her perennial cry: "What the hell, Archy, what the hell. Toujours gai." John Guerassio as Archy is her urbane and splendid equal in suave versatility: "Ya never saw an insect work so hard and perspire so freely."
Between dawn and dusk, however, mild disappointment set in with The Chronicles of Clovis (R4). Saki is a stylist to the last lifted eyebrow: his stories have been read, most successfully, on R3 but this dramatisation doesn't quite work. Individuals are grand: Prunella Scales was the fruitiest baroness anybody could require, her voice like a rich, chewy, rum-soaked Dundee cake. John Sessions as the dubious cleric Septimus Brope (born of Uriah Heep out of Obadiah Slope?) was almost too unctuous to grasp, but the production suffered from an apparent lack of rehearsal. Saki's sentences are perfectly balanced: the wrong inflection and they crash like a gym mistress. Background noise was intrusive - I wanted to shoot one repetitive blackbird - and, sadly, Mark Tandy sounded like an irritating child, rather than the creatively mischievous Clovis.
I'd also like to shoot David Starkey, were it not for the fact that he would so enjoy the publicity. Better to maroon him somewhere far away from a micro- phone with only another engorged ego, say David Mellor, for company. His performance on Thursday's edition of The Moral Maze (R4) was disgraceful. The topic was euthanasia, and every one of the "witnesses" deserved a better hearing than they were given by the bitty format of this series, or by the tetchy and offensive panel. Only Janet Daley and the endlessly wise Rabbi Hugo Gryn displayed an ability even to listen to another point of view, let alone, heaven forfend, to learn from it. Nobody saw fit to discuss the hideous dangers of assessing another person's "quality of life".
Hugo Gryn, a survivor of Auschwitz, appeared again on Education Matters (R5) discussing the Holocaust, a subject he knows all too well. The issue this time was the Anne Frank Exhibition, now touring the country and intended to instruct children in the horrors of racism. Those who had visited it sounded remarkably astute. Anne Frank died 50 years ago; had she lived she would have been in her sixties and doubtless a figure of international renown. The quality of her short and straitened life is reflected in her extraordinarily intelligent and moving diary. It deserves a permanent place on the national curriculum, Gryn rightly asserted, whether you call it history, English or RE. Somehow, you can cope with reading it at 12: as an adult, particularly as a parent, its pathos is well-nigh unbearable.Reuse content