...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Day 2260: Worlds Collide


The first new adventure for Dr Who aired tonight! It was a two-parter, shown before and after the trailer for next weeks Eurovision heats, after I'm a Celebrity Fame Academy Get Me Out of Here!

I am not quite sure that I got the WHOLE plot, but it seemed to feature Dr Who and his new friend Martha, and Daddy Alex spotted a background clue to "Vote Saxon" which may be a plot-arc point.

Meanwhile, my OTHER favourite time-travelling scientist, Professor Richard, has been getting into a scrape over whether he or Mr Peter Kay have the Best British Book in the Galaxy, and receiving the FULL IRE of Mr James for doing so.

Now, far be it for me to wag a fluffy foot at Mr James for going off on one about Professor Richard going off on one, but it appears that – like the good Professor – Mr James may have been TAKEN IN by the Grauniad's reporting.

The story, the way the Grauniad puts it, is that Professor Richard singled out one passage from Mr Peter's autobiography…

"I believe in a God of some kind, in some sort of higher being. Personally I find it very comforting."

…in order to heap scorn upon it:

"How can you take seriously someone who likes to believe something because he finds it 'comforting'?"

I have to say that I thought that there was something DEEPLY DODGY about this story right from the get go. It is not terribly in character for Professor Richard to have a go at another author, not even at ones who have a go at him. He is much more likely to POKE FUN at them – because what people who do not bother to listen to what he actually says often do not realise is that Professor Richard is actually VERY FUNNY. He has a very dry sense of humour and enjoys ribbing people, especially his opponents. This makes him very enjoyable company, or to listen to on shiny disc.

The downside is that it is quite easy to find things that he has said and (a) clip them out of the middle so they aren't in context and (b) quote them in flat type that loses the cadences of humour from his spoken comments and PRESTO turns a mild gag into a "stinging attack" (© Grauniad hacks).

So I thought to my fluffy self, hmmm better try and find out what REALLY happened before poking my big fluffy nose into this one.

Because this IS the sort of thing that Professor Richard is wont to say, but usually only in the middle of a bigger explanation.

I had wondered if it wasn't part of a longer sentence, something like:

"Well, there's much there that I enjoyed though, of course, the one part that I would have to take issue with to be at all consistent with my much reported views is the bit about god existing because it's a comfort. I've often said how can you take seriously someone…"

But now, Professor Richard has offered a fulsome apology to Mr Peter in which he reveals that he was NOT AWARE that the quote in question was in fact to do with Mr Peter's book. In fact he hadn't read Mr Peter's book AT ALL and thought that in fact it was the usual stirring about "god" that he's always being asked about.

Now, Professor Richard is a JOLLY BRIGHT FELLOW and so that's not really a complete excuse, because if a journalist gives you a quote to comment on then you probably OUGHT to ask them where they got it from or what the context is before shooting your mouth off.

But to be fair, the same sort of obligation is upon the Grauniad to explain the context of Professor Richard's reply. Though of course if they DID do that then their story would disappear up its own Galaxy Award.

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