Wednesday, November 26, 2008
I'm a big fan of The Tudors. I do mean, as it happens, the TV series depicting the lives of King Henry VIII and his entourage and not vice versa, though I suspect few will jump to the opposite conclusion.
It's a rollickin' good ride - the sex, the drugs, the sixteenth century court music. But, never mind the debauchery, what particularly struck me was an episode in which the Sweating Sickness decimated London's population, sending all people, rich and poor, into mass panic, terror and abject hopelessness. This virulent plague was entirely unknown to me.
Unsettled by such a significant gap in my education, I went straight to the oracle wikipedia. I discovered that not only was the Sweating Sickness, or 'English sweate', as prevalent and feared as depicted in The Tudors, but that, to this day, no one knows what caused it, or what it was. Terrifying. The SARS of its day, or worse, as it was utterly mysterious.
I wonder if British schools over the years buried knowledge of this Sweating Sickness. We learn about The Plague and, in period novels, there's always a smattering of consumption, but these diseases, in contrast, have known causes and treatments.
Perhaps it's deemed unseemly to frighten children with incurable plagues. In childhood, all is black and white. There's no problem that can't be fixed by an all-powerful grown up, no illness that can't be cured by a knowledgeable physician. The Sweating Sickness breaks the natural order of things - in creeps uncertainty and indeterminacy. Mustn't frighten the horses.
Season 2 of The Tudors starts tonight. Count me in.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I love the new Woolworths ad. When they launched the 'Fresh Food People' campaign I got the drift but it was still way to addy for my liking. And the track annoys the hell out of me. But the introduction of real Fresh Food People makes all the difference.
They don't come any more 'real' than Maria and Stavros, who are entirely charming and disarming. Shot in their native tongue, the commercial depicts an elderly Greek couple apparently having a barney from room to room. Turns out that Maria has spotted the birds attacking the vegetable patch. Stavros saves the day by swivelling in his chair to operate an ingenious makeshift scarecrow contraption. He then returns to a hard day of reading the newspaper, while his wife continues to slave away in the kitchen. All's well with the world.
There's something very cool about old people who know each other through and through and thus can be entirely themselves - no playing games, no pretending, no bullshit. I find their codes intriguing and their level of comfort with one another compelling. I'm reminded of an old Meat and Livestock commission campaign from the UK - again featuring an old couple and set against the Sonny & Cher track "I got you babe".