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

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?"


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

"Which YOU'RE presenting?"

" 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."


"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

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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Thousands of Russian troops marched on Red Square in the annual Victory Day parade in a proud display of the nation's military might amid escalating tensions over Ukraine  

Once again, the West fails to understand Russia

Mary Dejevsky
Jamie Oliver joins children as they celebrate Food Revolution Day 2014 by cooking bread, making smoothies and creating salads at St Paul's Whitechapel CE Primary School in London  

Teaching children to cook at school is a recipe for self-respect

Grace Dent
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before