Friday, August 18, 2006


Leeds United chairman Ken Bates has been accused of racism for describing his successors at Chelsea as shysters. As far as I'm aware, the word has no anti-Semitic connotations; in fact, "shyster" is a Yiddish word and, oddly enough, people who speak Yiddish aren't all that prone to using anti-Semitic epithets. Is Bates being accused of racism simply for appropriating the language of his opponents? And, to be frank, if I were an anti-Semite, Leeds would be the last place I'd move to. It all sounds completely meshugge.

Also... following on from the Old/New Media musings I posted yesterday, a fun piece from the Graun about how Hollywood is bypassing print critics in favour of internet-driven word of mouth. But interestingly, they only seem to do this for popcorn schlock; films aimed at people who can read without moving their lips still get the old media treatment. Maybe with print critics, you know the opinion is coming from someone who has seen at least one film that is either a) free of CGI; b) black and white; or c) foreign.

And, in the skateboarding duck slot, the story of the Filipino judge and the three imaginary mystic dwarves reaches its conclusion. For further details, read his blog.

As I said in the last post, I usually blog about stuff, rather than about myself. Not that I have any problem with old-school, diary-type blogging, or confessionals, or reminiscences, or those that give intimate details of one's own sexual exploits. (Is there a word for those? Blogjobs?) It's just that I'd rather write about Belle and Sebastian, or Kandinsky. Or even Ken Bates.

But, for a change, two bits of moderately personal importance. One is to note that the guy who's being held in connection with the JonBenet Ramsey case was arrested about 50 metres from my front door.

The other is rather less lurid and, to me at least, far sadder; the death of Campbell MacKay. Campbell was one of my English teachers at Appleby College in Ontario, 20 years ago. He directed me in his never-to-be-forgotten, Mafia-themed production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead; he got me reading Joyce and Beckett and Burgess and Larkin. When people talk about inspirational teachers, you get the image of Robin Williams doing John Wayne impressions, and kids standing on desks. Campbell wasn't like that. He was a grey-bearded, chainsmoking, clarinet-playing Glaswegian, with the lugubrious demeanour of a slightly hungover bloodhound. He was one of the best teachers I've ever had, and I've been lucky with teachers. He was also a kind, funny, clever, gentle gentleman. Tonight, a glass will be raised.

"But you could not have a green rose. But perhaps somewhere in the world you could."
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


BEAST said...

YAy I am first.
Not sure about film critics , half of them you get the impression blatantly havn't seen the film as they make some bizzare errors .
The UK papers have some truly awful Arty Farty critics who seem so out of touch with well anything(probably high court judges in their spare time) , I saw one review of a Bruce Willis action blockbuster , that said yes it was very entertaining and the audience appluaded at the end.....but (he then wailed) IS IT ART.......
Its a Bruce Willis action pic you knob who expects it to be art.

West said...

I'll raise a glass to Campbell Mackay too, Tim.

He'd be very proud of how you've turned out.



Tim Footman said...

Actually, Beast, lots of Bruce's stuff (Last Boy Scout, 12 Monkeys, Sin City, Pulp Fiction of course) hovers in the peculiar nowheresville between arthouse, multiplex and postmodern chinstroker. And I've heard a cogent argument for The Color of Night having great depth of meaning, and it isn't just about Jane March's bum.

Bob - thanks, mate. I unearthed an e-mail he sent me last year, when he retired. He said "I’m glad you’ve stuck with words." I had to go for a little walk round the garden after I found that, I can tell you.

West said...

That's lovely Tim.

Clink clink.

wrod vrecificatoin: citwxtc. Was that before or after Oranges & Lemons???

Molly Bloom said...

That teacher sounds lovely. I'm always fascinated to hear stories about teachers. I'm going to raise a glass to him too....especially if he made you a Joyce fan. (Yay!) That is such a lovely thing to write in an e-mail....I think I might have to go and walk round the garden as well. Lovely, lovely stuff. He sounds like a wonderful bloke. It's the quiet determination and passion that always wins in the end.

I'm glad you stuck with words tooxx

Thankyou for your brilliant comments on my post too.

realdoc said...

I think the mainstream media think that cyberspace is populated solely by 16-24 year olds and so that's why they aim schlock at the internet.
Lovely story about your teacher.

orange anubis said...

Good on Mr Mackay. My most inspirational teacher was also an English teacher from north of the border. They breed a respect for words up there.

Billy said...

"I think the mainstream media think that cyberspace is populated solely by 16-24 year olds and so that's why they aim schlock at the internet."

Most 'non-blogging' people think this. I can surprise them when I say I'm one of the youngest and in a minority being male.

Oh and Tim, I'm raising a glass (well a can) to Campbell Mackay too. He sounds like an excellent teacher.

epikles said...

So what about the Israeli general who got caught selling lots of stock the day before the war started, and then complained that the media was trying to portray him as "a shylock".

JonBenet Ramsey? Where have I heard that name before? Oh yes, it's actually THE ONLY NEWS in the American media the past two days. There is no other 'news'.

FirstNations said...

i have already used the word 'lugubrious' in a post today. please retract your 'lugubrious' at once.
thank you.

I am terribly sorry about your teacher, btw.

Tim Footman said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I'm sure the vibes will percolate somehow to his family and give them some comfort. Today I had an e-mail from one of my AC contemporaries, who saw him in hospital. He wrote: "He was as gracious and gentle as always, less of an accent though, and the nursing staff loved him."

Other stuff...

realdoc, billy: is this why everyone's picking up on the old geezer doing YouTube grumbles? Because they had no idea that the over-30s could switch on a computer?

tom: It's starting to look as if the whole thing was some kind of deluded fantasy. Man, this one will run and run...

FN: I'm sorry, "lugubrious" is one of my words, along with "Ptolemaic", "coypu" and "git". It just is, right?

Anonymous said...

Finally found out how to add links! Then I pop over to digest your musing and aargghh Gallows Gone ! Have I said the wrong thing ??

Tim Footman said...

Sorry, gallows - I rationalised my links a few weeks back, and must have lost a few in the process. There... done. Like your Lynn Truss gag.

If you choose an identity when you post a comment, you won't need to key on your URL.

Anonymous said...

You are a gentleman ! Thank you kindly...I'm not sure how comfortably your link sits with The Brick Testament and Bumrapeisland ( in particular the latter) but both are worthy efforts.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid I know nothing about you, nor did I have the chance to read your blog in its entirety. I was inspired to comment here because we share something special - being students of Campbell MacKay. I was far away from my friends and family when I heard of Campbell's passing last week. Campbell was my advisor and I will miss him deeply. Your words about him were beautiful and true. Thank you.
Appleby College Student
(Class of '02)

Tim Footman said...

Thank you too, anon. One small consolation for me has been that friends from 20 years ago have been reappearing (by e-mail) to share their sadness. The grief is real and pervasive. Much howling at the moon.

I've received a copy of the order of service for Campbell's funeral. If you let me have your e-mail address, I can forward it to you.

Anonymous said...

I was also one of Campbell MacKay's students. He'd been appointed Assistant Headmaster by the time I went to Appleby, but I was lucky enough to be in one of the few classes he taught. There was a real gentleness to him. Incredibly kind and funny, with a true gift for teaching. I had no idea he was ill, or I would have visited him before he passed away. Thanks for posting your little tribute to him,

Catherine '97

Tim Footman said...

Thank you, Catherine. Over the last few weeks, quite a few people have suddenly realised how lucky they were.