Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Posted by John Finnemore at 7:07 pm
Tuesday, 5 July 2016
|Wittgenstein, enjoying a joke.|
This is from a memoir of Ludwig Wittgenstein by his former pupil Maurice Drury:
'After tea Johnson played some of Bach's Forty-eight Preludes and Fugues. Wittgenstein told me he admired Johnson's playing. On the way back to Trinity he told me that at one of these afternoons Johnson had played badly, and he knew it himself, but the audience had applauded loudly. This annoyed Johnson, so by way of revenge he gave as an encore the accompaniment only of a Beethoven violin sonata, which of course was meaningless without the violin part. This gesture seemed to please and amuse Wittgenstein.'
Ways in which, had I been there, I would have failed to get the joke which pleased and amused Wittgenstein:
1) I wouldn't have noticed Johnson was playing badly.
2) I wouldn't have noticed the audience were applauding indiscriminatingly.
3) I might have noticed Johnson was annoyed, but I wouldn't have known why.
4) I wouldn't have recognised the Beethoven violin sonata.
5) I might have noticed the piece sounded odd, but I wouldn't have known why, or that it wasn't meant to sound that way.
6) Even if I had understood all of the above... I don't think I'd have realised the choice of the sonata was intended as a rebuke to the audience for clapping the player's previous poor performance too enthusiastically. That seems to me quite a... subtle point.
I suppose what's happening here is I'm coming to the shocking conclusion that Wittgenstein was a cleverer man than I am. And also that I slightly regret not living in a world in which people take their revenge through their selection of Beethoven sonatas. Though, of course, the above shows that quite possibly people around me are doing things like this all the time, and I have simply never had Wittgenstein around to explain them to me.
Saturday, 21 May 2016
This week I was honoured to make my first appearance on Radio 4's comedy warhorse Just A Minute, now in its astonishing 75th series, and which I've listened to and enjoyed all my life. It was enormous fun, and the regulars were very kind to me.
Posted by John Finnemore at 7:50 pm
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Lines imagined to be written by Galileo Galilei upon demonstrating that, contrary to Aristotelian thought, the ratio of gravitational mass to inertial mass is essentially unity.
Whether they're large or
Whether they're small
Has no effect on
The rate that things fall.
But whether you choose
To accept this or not'll
Depend on your faith
In that fool Aristotle.
Posted by John Finnemore at 1:08 pm
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Saturday, 27 February 2016
Something a bit different today - I've written a crossword. If you're in Britain, it's published in today's Times, on page 54 of the Saturday Review section. It's also available online here, although it may be behind the Times' paywall. And here's a picture of it.
If you do tackle it, let me know how you get on...
Posted by John Finnemore at 5:18 pm
Friday, 12 February 2016
So... the fifth series of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme has been going out!
|Featuring this pile of idiots.|
That's... that's definitely the sort of thing I should have been posting about here. Oh dear. Well, the last one was broadcast yesterday, but that does mean that there is now a two day window - today and tomorrow - where all six episodes are simultaneously available on the BBC iPlayer. On Sunday, the first one will drop off, then a week later the second, then... well, I'll leave you to work the rest of the system out for yourself. Anyway, sorry for being so rubbish at publicity, and hope you enjoy them.
Thursday, 31 December 2015
What, did you think just because I started a series called '24 Doodles' on December 1st, it was some kind of advent thing? Well, I don't know where you got that idea. I'm sure I never said so. No, the idea was always to post one every one or two days for about a fortnight, and then the rest all in one splurge on New Year's Eve. So here, as part of the plan that was definitely the plan all along, are the other nine. Happy New Year!
Posted by John Finnemore at 8:56 pm
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Two people who passed my window in November, while I was finishing The Goliath Window. (The woman was carrying a white bag, by the way; she's not dressed as a French maid...)
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:53 pm
Tuesday, 15 December 2015
...and here's the more stylised version.
(The red stains on both come from a drop of candle wax, which fell on the second page, and then, next time I left the book in the sun, melted and seeped through to the first page as well. I rather like the way that, purely by chance, this makes the second stain look like a stylised version of the first.)
Posted by John Finnemore at 5:48 pm
Here's my first attempt at the Edwardian paterfamilias in a photograph hanging in the room in which I was working on Hot Desk in August...
Posted by John Finnemore at 5:45 pm
Sunday, 13 December 2015
You know I said a while ago sometimes my doodling is extremely literal minded? Well, here's half a page of notes from Dorset in September on Red-Handed. Yeah. It's not exactly wild, creative, free association, is it?
(By the way... I would just like to make it clear that I'm not putting these - any of these - doodles up because I think they're good. They're all genuinely what I was doodling in the margins while I was working, and so most of them are rubbish- these hands certainly are. This is not 'Behold - pages from my sketchbook' it's 'Look what nonsense my hands got up to while my brain was trying to solve plot problems.')
Posted by John Finnemore at 8:55 pm
Saturday, 12 December 2015
Here is a marginal piglet from Tuttlingen in Germany in May, in a pleasant Gasthaus where I ended up doing so much useful plot work on English For Pony Lovers that I set the episode there in its honour.
Posted by John Finnemore at 5:10 pm
Thursday, 10 December 2015
(Incidentally, the French painter I was trying to remember was Géricault. )
Posted by John Finnemore at 9:00 pm
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
Posted by John Finnemore at 8:43 pm
Posted by John Finnemore at 12:59 am
Monday, 7 December 2015
Here's a little bit of research I diligently did into stained glass terminology for The Goliath Window at the British Library in October... none of which ended up in the script. But then, you never know what will be useful until you do it.
That 'Why's it funny?' question was one I had to keep reminding myself to ask whilst writing Double Acts - it was easy to get seduced by the story-telling aspects, and then realise later a page had gone by without any jokes. The answers I came up with here are largely not the answers I ended up with, but at least it reminded me to bear in mind it was a comedy.
Posted by John Finnemore at 8:24 am
Sunday, 6 December 2015
This is from August, when I was working on Hot Desk. There was a photo of a girl on a horse lying around on the table I was working on. I like the horse's legs in this, but not much of the rest of it.
(Incidentally, the 'Aesop version' actually turned out to be The Tortoise That Fell In Love With A Hare. But the rabbit and the lion were useful staging posts to getting me there.)
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:58 pm
Saturday, 5 December 2015
Posted by John Finnemore at 7:07 pm
Posted by John Finnemore at 2:39 am
Friday, 4 December 2015
This chap was sitting along from me in the British Library in June, while I was working on what became English For Pony Lovers. I've been trying to learn to be more stylistic with my drawing, which I only seem to be able to do by doing the same drawing repeatedly, only more so each time.
Posted by John Finnemore at 12:55 am
Thursday, 3 December 2015
A quick sketch of Evelyn Waugh, drawn in March, on the island of Kos, whilst listening to an interview with him which contained the seed from which A Flock of Tigers grew. The man from whom Edmund Willard got his initials, and some of his opinions. (Though Edmund is fundamentally nicer than I fear Evelyn was, at least by this age.)
Posted by John Finnemore at 1:13 am
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:43 pm
Sunday, 23 August 2015
When I was little, one of my grandmothers lived in a bungalow, and the other lived in a house, with a staircase. And one day, I remember one of my parents - I don't remember which - casually saying that this was sensible on the part of bungalow-Gran, as it meant she would be able to carry on living there even when she was very old. (It must, by the way, be one of the strange hazards of being a parent that, while the vast majority of everything you say to your kids, especially concerning teeth-brushing and room-tidying, is instantly forgotten; every so often you'll say something utterly unremarkable which your kid will NEVER FORGET.)
In this case, I think the reason it made such a big hit with me was it was the first time it had ever occurred to me that old people could get even older. I knew about death, of course, and I knew, without really believing it, that I would be a grown up one day, and my parents would get old. But this idea that either of my grans were not yet as old as they were ever going to be - as old, indeed, as it was possible to get - was completely new.
And I remember having two distinct reactions to the stairs thing: on the one hand, following my parent's lead, I too solemnly commended bungalow-Gran's foresight and good sense. But, at the same time, I secretly rather admired stairs-Gran's daredevil recklessness - her apparent refusal, not that I would have put it this way at the time, to go gentle into that good night...
Stairs-Gran would at the time, I think, have been about 65.
Posted by John Finnemore at 12:46 pm
Monday, 17 August 2015
Hello! I am very excited to announce that this autumn I will be doing a live stage show for two weeks only at the Shaw Theatre in London. Here's the poster, and tickets are on sale here.
The show will be a mixture of favourite sketches from John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme; brand new sketches; a 'Since You Ask Me' adventure; quite possibly a song or two… and a specially written new monologue by Mr. Arthur Shappey, making his first live stage appearance. He's very excited. Well, obviously he always is, but I mean specifically about this.
Each show will feature one of five guest stars, as shown in the poster: the four cast members of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme, plus Kevin Baker, the 'Kevin' out of John and Kevin's Sunday Papers. The selection of sketches will be slightly different for each performer… and on the two Sundays, Kevin and I will do a live 'Sunday Papers'.
Here's who's on when:
30th September, 1st and 2nd October: Simon Kane.
3rd October: Margaret Cabourn-Smith
4th October: Kevin Baker
6th October: Margaret Cabourn-Smith
7th and 8th October: Lawry Lewin
9th and 10th October: Carrie Quinlan
11th October: Kevin Baker.
LINKS AND MISCELLANEOUS INFO
Tickets, as I say, can be bought here.
The show has a Facebook page (which is more than I do.) It's a good place to ask any questions not answered here.
It also has a Twitter account. Why not.
The show begins at 7.30, and will be about two hours long, including an interval.
It is suitable for children. We've put over twelve as a guide, but this will not be rigidly enforced. If you have a well-behaved ten year old, bring them along. Come to that, I suppose, if you have a badly behaved fourteen year old, keep them away.
The Shaw Theatre is on Euston Road, next to the British Library, midway between Euston and King's Cross St Pancras stations.
…And I think that's it. Any questions, ask in the comment section, or on the Facebook page. Hope to see you there!
Posted by John Finnemore at 10:39 am
Monday, 10 August 2015
Since I'm back on this blog, I really ought to mention 'With Great Pleasure', a Radio 4 show I presented last week, and will therefore be available to listen to online here for the next three weeks.
In it, some idiot gets to pick eight pieces of writing they enjoy, and, crucially, two actors to read them out - which meant that I got to stage a partial Cabin Pressure reunion with the wonderful Stephanie Cole and Geoffrey Whitehead. For anyone needing further evidence of their genius: firstly, what's the matter with you? and secondly, I direct you particularly to the way Stephanie says 'accompany me on the harp', and Geoffrey says 'beautiful, beautiful flamingo.'
I hope it's half as much fun to listen to as it was to record.
|Click to make readable|
Posted by John Finnemore at 7:44 pm
Friday, 7 August 2015
- 'Now, we offer a range of caravans, Sir, what sort of thing did you have in mind?'
- 'I don't know… what have you got?'
- 'Well… for the economy minded customer, we offer the Compact. Value for money, but perhaps a little cramped. Then of course there's our Standard model, which offers rather more space and comfort, whilst still being very competitively priced. And then, of course, for the caravan connoisseur... there is the De Luxe.'
- 'The De Luxe? That sounds good.'
- 'Oh, it is, sir. The last word in luxury. Assuming of course that money is no object.'
- 'Well, I wouldn't say that, but… we're only likely to buy a caravan once… What the hell! We'll take the De Luxe!'
- 'An excellent decision, sir! One never regrets buying the best! Mr Stephenson? Pray prepare for the gentleman… our caravan De Luxe!'
Posted by John Finnemore at 10:23 pm
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
…Hello. Remember me? Sorry about the tumbleweed, I've been busy writing things. I still am, but I'm going to try to get back into the habit of putting things up here as well.
Recently, I was for a few days looking after my friends' dog, captured here in a typical moment of meditative thoughtfulness:
One of the solemn duties of whoever is lucky enough to be custodian of this large brown idiot is to give him a pill in the morning. He won't eat the pill on its own, so I found the easiest way to get him to take it was to use a dab of butter to stick it to a dog biscuit, and toss him that. I was constructing this cunning pill / biscuit Trojan Horse the other morning, with the dog watching me attentively, when I accidentally dropped the pill. As it rolled off the kitchen counter to the waiting dog below, I called out, instinctively… 'Leave it!'
Yeah, quick thinking, genius. Because it would be terrible if the dog ate the pill before you put it on the biscuit that makes him eat the pill...
Friday, 1 May 2015
Sunday, 12 April 2015
(Your email won't be passed on to anyone else, and I won't send you emails very often. And of course you can always unsubscribe again. Your umbrella may go down as well as up.)
Posted by John Finnemore at 11:53 pm
Friday, 27 March 2015
This is G. K. Chesterton and his wife Frances, nee Blogg. They were a devoted and happy couple, and Frances was largely responsible for managing the chronically disorganised Chesterton's life. (He famously once sent her a telegram reading 'Am in Market Harborough. Where ought I to be?')
When they were engaged, Gilbert sent Frances a letter beginning '...I am looking over the sea and endeavouring to reckon up the estate I have to offer you.' You can read all twelve items he came up with here, but here are the first six. The sixth is my favourite.
Friday, 20 February 2015
|Winston Churchill. Not that one.|
This is nice. In 1899, Winston Churchill was 25, an aspiring politician, and the author of a couple of books. He was not, however, the most famous Winston Churchill around. That was the now largely forgotten, but at the time best-selling, American novelist... Winston Churchill. Aware of this, the British Winston Churchill wrote to his namesake as follows:
- Mr. Winston Churchill presents his compliments to Mr. Winston Churchill, and begs to draw his attention to a matter which concerns them both. [...] He has no doubt that Mr. Winston Churchill will recognise from this letter — if indeed by no other means — that there is grave danger of his works being mistaken for those of Mr. Winston Churchill. He feels sure that Mr. Winston Churchill desires this as little as he does himself. In future to avoid mistakes as far as possible, Mr. Winston Churchill has decided to sign all published articles, stories, or other works, ‘Winston Spencer Churchill,’ and not ‘Winston Churchill’ as formerly. He trusts that this arrangement will commend itself to Mr. Winston Churchill, and he ventures to suggest, with a view to preventing further confusion which may arise out of this extraordinary coincidence, that both Mr. Winston Churchill and Mr. Winston Churchill should insert a short note in their respective publications explaining to the public which are the works of Mr. Winston Churchill and which those of Mr. Winston Churchill.
- Mr. Winston Churchill is extremely grateful to Mr. Winston Churchill for bringing forward a subject which has given Mr. Winston Churchill much anxiety. Mr. Winston Churchill appreciates the courtesy of Mr. Winston Churchill in adopting the name of ‘Winston Spencer Churchill’ in his books, articles, etc. Mr. Winston Churchill makes haste to add that, had he possessed any other names, he would certainly have adopted one of them.
Sunday, 15 February 2015
I know it's hard to imagine, but beneath the impossibly slick looking surface of John and Kevin's Sunday Papers, with its sky-high production values, glamorous locations, and billion dollar cast, lie ordinary fallible human beings who occasionally make mistakes.
Here are a few of them...