* Radio Four's The Jam Generation – in which the journalist Anne McElvoy questioned various rising young politicians about the influences at work in their 1980s upbringings – had some wonderfully ironic moments. These days, of course, one expects cabinet ministers to eulogise the rock bands they supported in youth, just as Gladstone and his colleagues bandied classical tags; all the same, it was a rare treat to find David Cameron tipping his hat to Paul Weller's anti-Thatcher tirade "Going Underground" ("You choose your leaders and place your trust/As their lies wash you down and their promises rust" etc). Even better was Cameron's enthusiasm for "Eton Rifles", Weller's account of a Right to Work march that, passing by the gates of Eton College, was loudly disparaged by the young gentlemen within.
The real eye-opener of The Jam Generation, though, was the identikit nature of most of the participants: Cameron; Nick Clegg; David Miliband – bright, articulate Oxbridge intellectuals all of them, each speaking in a near-identical accent (Cameron possibly a shade plummier), all, with minor shades of emphasis, expounding what were essentially the same views. I'm all for consensus and an end to the class-based political antagonisms of the 1970s, which McElvoy's panel rightly deplored, but, really, there ought to be something to distinguish one political party from another. What was needed to redress the balance was someone with a Barnsley accent proclaiming that trubble wi' Oxford in t'Eighties were that it were full of fookin' southern w****rs.' There were plenty of northern agitators there in my day, but perhaps such people no longer exist – or not at Oxford, anyway.
* The first tranche of BBC4's much-trailed The Worlds of Fantasy, a three-part exploration of children's fantasy fiction, was a sad disappointment. Nothing to do with the quality of its distinguished contributors (Philip Pullman, A S Byatt etc) but a consequence of the tiny budget that found the same group of child actors starring in every dramatised scene and no film clips from any source other than the BBC's own archive. Why don't such programmes ever make it to well-funded slots on the terrestrial channels, you wonder? Alas, that would mean infringing the corporation's "ghetto" policy on culture, whereby anything remotely highbrow gets relegated to the decent obscurity of digital, leaving BBC2's viewers free for their nightly stake-out of gardening, cookery and property makeovers.
* Primed by my son (rooting for The Mighty Boosh's Noel Fielding as "Hero of the Year"), I found myself taking an interest in the NME awards. They seemed the tiniest bit anodyne and corporate – a far cry from the anarchically leftfield readers' poll awards of the early 1980s, when crazed Jam fans – David Cameron presumably among them– would vote for their heroes in every category. There was a memorable moment in 1979: Paul McCartney triumphed in "best Bass" but 17 people were discovered to have voted for Charringtons.Reuse content