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 ...

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
music
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
PROMOTED VIDEO
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
News
people
News
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
Voices
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
art
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
Extras
indybest
News
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

    Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

    £90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

    1st Line Service Desk Analyst

    £27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style