An article about a programme about a book about Hemingway, papa of post-modernism

Share
Related Topics
I HAD TO go up to London the other day and who should I bump into but my old friend Adrian Wardour-Street? Adrian, as you may know, is the doyen of British PR.

"What are you up to," I cried.

"I?" said Adrian, steering me expertly into a passing coffee house. "I am in the business of buying you a coffee. Espresso? Cappuccino? Latte?"

"Latte isn't coffee," I said. "It's the Italian word for milk."

"They are so behind the times in your part of the world," said Adrian. "You'll be telling me next that post-modernism hasn't reached you in the provinces yet."

"I'm not sure if it has or not," I said. "What exactly is it when it's at home?"

"Well, it's the stage that culture reaches when it does more borrowing than creating. At least, I think it is. Pop records created from other records... novels that revisit other novels... films which interpret one period in terms of another... lives of people which might be biographies and might be novels..."

"Was the film Time Bandits post- modernist then?"

"I expect so," said Adrian, vaguely. "This new project of Michael Palin's is sort of post-modernist."

"Palin?" I said. "Lord, what's he up to now? Walking round the world diagonally?"

"No, no - apparently he's retracing Ernest Hemingway's steps through Spain, Cuba, Africa, everywhere. The point is that Michael Palin wrote a novel called Hemingway's Chair, which was about a bloke who is obsessed with Hemingway. Now Palin is making a film in which he himself is obsessed with Hemingway. So the programme will pose lots of post-modernist questions. Like: is it about Palin or about Hemingway? Or is it even about the character in Palin's book? Would Palin make a programme about an author who hadn't gone to such nice places? Is it about the real Hemingway or the mythical Hemingway? See?"

"No."

"Well, here's another example. The programme series I'm working on at the moment, which I'm presenting..."

"Which YOU'RE presenting?"

"...is actually based on lots of other programmes in a very post-modernist way," said Adrian, ignoring me as usual. "I don't know if you ever saw Coast to Coast with Janet Street-Porter?"

"Some of it," I said. "Wasn't it all about Janet Street-Porter bumping into some of her London friends who had been specially driven out into the country for the purpose?"

"Exactly," said Adrian. "Now, this series I'm making is all about MY encounters with people making other programmes. As I journey across Britain I bump into Janet Street-Porter... I encounter the Antiques Road Show and get something valued... I come round a corner and there is Lucinda Lambton inspecting the last Georgian public loo in Rutland... Another corner, and there are Darcus Howe and Peregrine Worsthorne, being terribly interracial on their travels."

"So your programme is a programme which is entirely made up of extracts from other programmes?"

"Yes. But it's cleverer than that."

"How?"

"Because these bits have never appeared in the other programmes. My encounter with Janet Street-Porter appears in MY programme but not in hers. I get a Victorian pot valued by the Antiques Road Show people - but not for the Antiques Road Show. Only for my programme. So although in a way my programme is all off-cuts from other programmes, and couldn't exist without their existence, yet also what you see is peculiar to my programme."

My head swam.

"And what are you going to call the programme, or the series, rather?"

"The Ultimate Post-Modernist Show."

"Will people know what that means?"

"No. So instead we're going to call it Hello, Mr Palin."

"But is Michael Palin in it ?"

"Not necessarily. But was Hemingway in Hemingway's Chair? Was the Pope in The Pope's Rhinoceros? Was Stalin in Stalin's Nose? Was..."

"When is the series going out?" I said, trying to stem the flood.

"That's the clever thing," said Adrian. "That's the really post-modernist thing about it. It's never going out. We're not doing it for transmission. Must dash. See you - ciao!"

I later found out he had made up the whole idea and it was just a leg- pull. Trouble is, I keep thinking it's actually quite a good idea....

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: Inequality in Britain – a defence of the mansion tax

John Rentoul
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada