Seen a few Vlogs on Nottingham now, and a number of its viewers have said this one is worth watching. Of course, I’m sensitive to what is missed – the radical history of Nottingham, its sports history, the night life (tens of thousands at the weekends), the cultural offer – and the repaired building featured is better known as the offices of our best ever architect. If given the chance, might have recommended other restaurants. Not allowed to film in some of our attractions, where the tours are a key part of their business, but photo presentation was a good substitute.
Ran into this 3 part video history series after seeing a travel vlog. Written and presented by Michael, of Nottsflix, and published in 2018 and 2019, this is a pretty impressive effort if, as claimed, this was his first attempt. It tries to be light-hearted. I’m not an historian so can’t know is everything is right, but it seemed pretty compelling to me. A history of the Broadmarsh shopping centre, starting with what Broad Marsh itself was, how it was known to be a monastery, how it was taken over for various trades, how living conditions came to be so intolerable despite the wealth being generated in the city, why the shopping centre came about and why it has the brutalist architecture (albeit, 3rd wave, muted brutalist architecture). Michael has also found letters from the protestors against the shopping centre being built, although seems a little unclear as why the council was so keen (suggesting something dark and underhand). Not sure. One of the losses that at one stage the early and much more ambitious proposals for regeneration wanted to re-instate was the previous city streets plan for that area (although that was also compromised by Maid Marian Way. That optimistic time was first publicly promoted I think in 1997, but the scale of the proposals was huge, and the then owner Westfield, had other projects, e.g. Derby’s shopping centre, that were easier to do and so done first.
Released on Youtube by Michael Moore of the 50th Earth Day, this very critical film against much of the modern environmental movement is welcomed by the Guardian reviewer as a “contrarian eco-doc“, but heavily attacked by others such as “Films for Action” and “The Energy Mix“. I too, am critical, but found some of the stories very salutary. (Wiki.)
An American mirror array in a desert to heat water that now lies in tatters, having wrecked acres of desert surface (which nowadays we know does have a distinctive eco-system). Concerts put on for green causes that (despite claims) doesn’t have the power to run the whole event and relies on the un-green grid for top-up and back-up power. Materials to create solar panels (they’re not made from glass) and batteries for cars draw heavily on mineral mining too. Electric cars often rely on coal-powered power stations. Wind farms that do indeed have a lifetime and can end up idle, rotting and ugly. That burning bio-mass releases CO2 and some of the woods and forests being cleared are special environments, which one scene at the end shows, provides homes for Orang-Utans. Some of the firms involved in the new green sectors have been the big players in the dirty or grey sectors.
It is worth reading the articles that are critical of the film highlighted above. Off the top criticisms I’d make include – – the documentary does not explore ground source heat pumping; or anaerobic digestion; or waste incineration; – waste incineration often sees metal extraction for re-cycling and ranks higher in the pyramid than burial; and it adds value despite needing to be under-written by gas or wood-chip burning at source; and heating devices running off the grid in the homes; – people need to be supplied with comfort (heating and cooling), and a first step for this should be the design of the buildings they live in or use; and planning and location is key to reducing travel; (agglomeration); – not all natural; gas comes from grand extraction and not all bio-mass fuels are based on burning; check out Nottingham City Transport’s use of cell-cracking technology.
Loads more to be said from the documentary and in critique of it. The documentary is a missed opportunity to convey what can be done and reflects badly on Michael Moore and those associated with it (both for inaccuracy and missing the bigger story) But it does provide a few jolts to make you think a bit more.
This BBCtv documentary says memorials to the Holocaust are needed because people will always need to be reminded and to be told that it did happen. Baddiel visited one site which was an extermination camp; 200,000 people being killed within one hour of their arrival by train. Opened with one of Eisenhower’s quotes – that he went to witness the extermination camps to better challenge the people who would one day deny they existed.
New Towns, Our Town – Stories on Screen is a collection of (often sponsored information) films “about (mainly) the first four of the UK’s New Towns – Stevenage, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead and Harlow” from the ’20s to the ’80s. (Peterborough, Basildon and Milton Keynes also feature.) Without an overarching explanatory narration, and presentations of contemporary perceptions of the towns, the criticisms of the new towns movements quickly spring to mind – lacking a central feature of distinction, designed before the take-off of car ownership, vulnerable during periods of high crime, diminished by people choosing home entertainment, home drinking and shopping in hypermarkets, oh and buying from internet companies who avoid paying tax. But new and old towns alike have been vulnerable to that criticism. As are the redeveloped neighbourhoods and new suburbs. Seeing “Crosswall” properties being erected, and the failure of (Harlow) Town Hall, it’s clear the New Towns movement didn’t have enough money to always provide quality. Cliches abounded – “it’s about people”; loads of kids playing and adults bowling; modern art statues and fountains lined with small square tiles. And one I actually like – success will be when they don’t need us (the development corporations) anymore. Loads to take in, but in the absence of editorial, the collation struggles to champion the New Town movement. Highlight, the champion for the Milton Keynes development describing it in 1973 as “the most exciting thing in the world”. The Guardian article.
Cos I’m of an age that landing on the moon was supposed to appeal our idealism the most. Cos we created our own command module using the lino in the bottom of the arts cupboard in Class 4. Cos we were woken up in the middle of the night to watch the landing on TV. Cos I’ve kept watching the movies (e.g. First Man and Apollo 13) and the documentaries that explained the mission, and the failures of the Russian programme. So I knew I had to see this film.
But if I though I knew it, was there anything left to learn? Oh yes – – the portrayal of the power of the Saturn V rocket was better here than seen before; – the top of the LEM looked tattier than I imagined it, and it looked fragile; – the landing felt quicker; – the photos of the moonwalk were better than I remember seeing; – the rejoin of the CSM and the LM seemed more astonishing than ever before; the true wonder of the mission; – amazing that they could adjust the splash down site, and miss the new arrival point by only 2 miles.
With the sound of JFK setting a new ambition or the country fresh in the mind, Apollo 11 is the kind of film that makes you see street life outside the cinema in a new way. Cos we have a new challenge – to save our planet for our current life. And we need the kind of leaders who can see the necessity of meeting this new challenge, convey the new challenge in a way that people get, and mobilise people to deliver.
David Dimbleby won an award at a National Television Awards event broadcast in front of an audience that had been whooping and hollering for soap stars and game show hosts, and used his speech in part to say he admired politicians cos they had a difficult job and were doing their best, but perhaps should genuinely answer questions with their own personal views. And his opportunity to keep asking questions was the thing that mattered most. I may have missed it, but I didn’t hear the references to inform, educate and entertain. Not all of Reith‘s values were that great – he kinda admired Hitler and Mussolini and was a Conservative – but he did demonstrate a strong desire for the BBC to be independent of government, most famously during the 1926 general strike when he tried to get the views of trades unions, labour leaders and church people broadcast, and was blocked. Despite this determination to be independent, he still became a Conservative MP. And a major problem with the BBC’s news and politics coverage is that its leading reporters and presenters are Conservatives, and / or from a very narrow snd privileged background. Cos of his dad, Dimbleby was presenting from the age of 12. Looking at the current batch, except for Andrew Marr, well known for being Conservatives: Laura Kuenssberg (placing Nick Robinson), Andrew Neil, Evan Davies (replacing Jeremy Paxman) and now Fiona Bruce – a picture of whom wearing a blue rosette (which is downloaded from social media, so some caution – really not sure it is a Conservative rosette) has been circulated following a controversy over her treatment of Diana Abbott on Question Time, for which the BBC have partly apologised (the unfair challenge over opinion polls, not the suggestions of racism). A Guardian correspondent claims Question Time’s director shifted the show to be more controversial a year or so ago, and makes five suggestions how it can be improved – calm the audience down, fairer chairing, mind the setting plan, scrutinise the directing and embrace the boring – well, maybe so, it misses bigger points. (BTW, I wonder what the suggestions would be for Daily Politics and A Week in Politics, where a guest (a rock star) sat in bewilderment as Neil and his sofa experts did a silly dance to music.) The BBC reporting of the employment figures – the highest for decades, whilst unemployment rate being the lowest for 40 years – was bouncy and enthusiastically sold. All at odds with the social security having to be paid out (even on a much more restricted set of criteria), the lump or gig economy meaning people don’t earn enough or in a regular enough manner (and so we get reports from local schools of the increase in problems young children are presenting). It disappoints me so that with the onset of information technology, our ability to understand what’s really happening has got worse. BBC political coverage will continue to struggle with its approach and Conservative and class background. And with journalists who look down on politics and politicians. So what would my Reithian approach be? Inform, Educate and Entertain – OK, but find a framework by which those tests can be measured, and have some kind of unit that evaluates and publishes the evaluation. Embrace Orwell’s values on condemning barbarity in writing. Give a framework to questions geared testing advocates and their plans for ambition, planning, performance, capability, capacity, culture and legitimacy. Value and celebrate politics – its existence is the signal of living in a free society – so that people do want to watch it. And then require much more of what government at all levels does through services and projects so that there is more of value to report. And yes, it would be good if politicians changed to this mode too.