Radio: And we all know what rhymes with Pollock

THE FIRST saucy joke I remember came from my father. We used to drive past a garage called Bossoms and he would laugh, saying the name was neither one thing nor the other. I was reminded of this when listening to Jack the Dripper, last Sunday's feature in R3's Inventing America festival. Whatever you think of Jackson Pollock, just imagine listening to his surname more than 80 times in 45 minutes ...

It's risible, and so was this feature. Pollock, who was killed in 1956 when driving drunkenly home, was, of course, the American artist who splashed industrial paints on to huge canvases on the floor. According to Pollock scholars, this technique "has to do with an exquisite calligraphic degree of control". He wanted to release the liquidity (or it might have been the quiddity) of the paint, to "become an infinite presence in the infinite that he conjures up".

Well OK, it's difficult to talk about abstract art. But Tim Marlow, the pilgrim/narrator of this feature, rapidly adopted the vernacular. He described a picture called One as "a vast environment into which the viewer is pulled and then spat out ... pulsating most powerfully at its centre which, as Yeats might have said, cannot hold". He said this, and a good deal more, very fast.

Then he went right into seventh heaven, and the artist's studio. Pausing in what he reverently called "the ante-chamber", he remembered feeling a similar excitement before entering the Sistine Chapel (though there he had to look up, not down). When he reached the sacred floor, it was messy - sorry - richly encrusted with old paint: you wear soft slippers to walk on it, and you can recognise colours from many a famous canvas. Marlow could "feel Pollock with his toes" and it was an incredibly profound experience.

There was a lot more of this kind of thing. Because he was born in Wyoming, Pollock fancied himself as a cowboy. But another pillock said that he was an Indian really, like Van Gogh and Braque (he really lost me there). Once, the great man tipped his glass over a well-wisher at a party, and his victim thereafter saw himself as a drip-painting (Marlow giggled at this). Then, gloriously, we met a couple of his old friends. As ice clunked in their martinis, they said that when he was drunk he was hell. And one of them remembered Pollock telling her that as a child out west he had watched his father piss on a flat rock and the burning ambition to do likewise had been born. Astonishing. From that one simple human outpouring grew the modern American Renaissance. Today, galleries all over the world vie with each other to acquire a precious hoard of old Pollocks.

Jack the Dripper was extremely good fun and, in spite of everything, increased my interest in his work. Good radio features make the best of all listening and there was another this week. Colin Grant's A Fountain of Tears (WS) began with an arresting sentence: "On 19th August 1936 I murdered a genius: may God have mercy on my soul." The genius was the 38-year-old Federico Garcia Lorca, shot in a Granada cemetery by Fascist guards at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

Lorca was the most celebrated writer in Andalusia, if not the whole of Spain. This programme explained precisely why. Partly dramatised, partly narrated, it drew on the knowledge of Ian Gibson, Lorca's biographer, to define his extraordinary gifts. As a child, he watched the plough turn up a Roman mosaic and forever afterwards his poetry reflected the simple, authentic details of the real Spain - not the naff, folkloric culture beloved of the tourist, but the ancient, primitive land in which dreams exist "like angels, like cancer, like money".

In this country, we know him best as a playwright. Nuria Espert, an actress - like Eleonora Duse, in her time - whose talents transcend nationality, spoke of the powerful women he created and the suffering, rebellion and frustration that characterised them. His influence was so strong that for decades it was dangerous even to speak his name. His death, she said, "made Spain smaller. He left Spain like ... like an amputated arm."

Now, back once again to the new Radio 4 and the regular 6.30pm comedy slot. A new serial started on Friday, billed rather depressingly as a "comedy thriller". Mark Tavener's In the Chair was much better than the name suggests. Its plot is neurotically complicated - it concerns a serial killer of dentists, the appointment of a new Director-General of the BBC and the waning popularity of a New Labour government. And it contained the wittiest writing to have been aired for ages.

Michael Williams stars as an ancient crime reporter who refuses to be sacked, and Hugh Laurie is superb as a guitar-playing Prime Minister - "Call me Kenny" - desperate to be loved. His deputy is full of northern emotion and rambling syntax: "When I were a lad in Derbyshire, the kids were so poor they had no shoes and walking to school was a feat with regard to this, and they couldn't afford to go to Boot's because it were a chemist not a shoe shop." Don't miss it.

Finally, a big hooray: Goodness Gracious Me (R4) has survived an excursion to television and is back on Thursdays, as funny as ever. This week, Indian tourists visited south-east Essex, the "deep south" of England. The reason trains are so unreliable, we heard, is that in England the tree is sacred. If just one leaf falls on the line ...

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SEN Learning Support Assistant

    £60 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Youth Support Workers Glouceste...

    IT Technician - 1st Line

    £19000 - £21000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPOR...

    PPA Cover Teacher

    £110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: Pr...

    Primary Teaching Jobs Available NOW-Southport

    £80 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Liverpool: **Due to an increase in dema...

    Day In a Page

    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

    'You need me, I don’t need you'

    Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
    How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

    How to Get Away with Murder

    Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
    A cup of tea is every worker's right

    Hard to swallow

    Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Which animals are nearly extinct?

    Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
    12 best children's shoes

    Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

    Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
    Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

    Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

    Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
    Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

    Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

    Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

    Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

    UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London