Thursday, 4 February 2010

Hate the English? Well, some of them...

No, you're not hallucinating - that really is Hugh Grant. And no - I'm not hallucinating either. Well, no more than usual. Read on, read on...

An old poem today and one I was reminded of thanks to a conversation over here about poems in films and TV ads (and which mentioned, as you might expect, 'Four weddings and, thank god, finally a bloody funeral').

I wrote the poem below in 2005 after watching the film 'Love Actually' with my Mum. Why did I watch it, you might ask (if I hate these kinds of films..and I do...) and my answer would be - because it was on, because Mum and I live in the same house so we have to do some things together (but we have very different tastes).

Maybe it was unfair to target Richard Curtis for 'Love Actually's terribleness (as I do in the poem) but then he did direct it and write it so maybe not (you can read more about him here...just in the interests of fairness). It is an excruciating film though and anyone who disagrees with me is going to be locked in a room and forced to watch it over and over and OVER (then see how much you still like it...when you're choking on the saccharine!). One reason I mention Curtis in the poem I suppose is because in fact he has worked on some of my favourite TV shows ('Not the Nine O'Clock News', 'Spitting Image', 'Blackadder'...) but when it comes to films pretty much everything he's been involved with has made me want to SCREAM (though I would say that since I wrote this poem and got it out of my system it's bothered me a lot less...poetry as therapy...hell yes!).

Those of you who aren't English might not get why I find films like 'Four Weddings' (Curtis was writer and producer), 'Bridget Jones' (writer) and 'Love Actually' (writer, director) so annoying but to me it's the ridiculously clichéd idea of England they portray that bugs me so much. And the most annoying things about clichés? That they're true of course! There is this little bubble in England of people who all talk the same, who only know people who went to private school/Oxbridge, who own the land (well, everything the Russians haven't got to yet), who are fairly unaware that there are any other people in England (or indeed the world). They are one of the (OK, many) reasons I don't live in England and in fact the only time I find any of this crop of films bearable is when they bring in Americans (yes, North Americans - you are the good guys again for a change!). Renée Zellweger is charming and funny in 'Bridget Jones', for example, (shame about the rest of the film and indeed the sequel) and Julia Roberts is just adorable in 'Notting Hill' (though she could have done better than Hugh Grant). But you know I don't even hate Hugh Grant – I quite like him in 'About a Boy' - but in the Curtis factory films...EURGH, I want to kill him and wave his scalp on a stick through the streets of London (and boy, will those streets be dirtier than on any of those stupid films).

Scalp on a stick? Maybe it does still bother me a little. Must work on that...although now I live in Scotland I don't have to deal with the annoying English so much and I remember all the nice ones and I only think about the others when reminded (as yesterday). The Scots though...that's a whole other story...maybe I'll write that poem when we move...

In the meantime here's the English poem. It's a bang-bang rhyme number but you won't judge it harshly for that now will you...will you?

Got the Bridget Jones, Love Actually, Four Weddings blues

Richard Curtis
How you hurt us
You know not surely
But you do
London's quiet
Reneé's diet
All this stuff
It's just not true

No-one's poor and no-one's hungry
Everyone has a central flat
Don't forget it snows at Christmas
How could you have forgotten that?

England is a picture postcard
A chocolate box, a pastel scene
Full of men like Hugh and Colin
Every high school prom queen's dream

The England I knew didn't match yours
It always rained more than it snowed
Hughs and Colins - all obnoxious
The spacious flats - all gone, been sold

Now you can say it's just a fiction
A happy world for Saturday night
But all those larks with perfect diction
Make for a strange unsettling sight

It's like the sixties never happened
The seventies, eighties, nineties too
England stuck in post-war limbo
Jolly chaps and work to do

I don't think you mean to do it
You seem a human sort of bloke
You were carried on a moment
But just saying 'fuck' is not a joke

So let's have no more Bridget Joneses
Let's have no more love times love
Whatever happened to Blackadder?
What would he make of this guff?

And look at all your charity work, sir
If you really care at all
Stop polluting life with drivel
False impressions, stories tall

So can you stop please
All this film cheese
Can you stop it
Kill it dead
England's story
Needs less glory
Honest hope
It needs instead

RF 2005

And then he made 'The Boat that Rocked'. I have managed to avoid that so far.



Rachel Fox said...

And of course it did snow this Xmas! Damn him!

Eryl said...

I thought I was the only person in the world who hated 'Love Actually', I wanted to smash things after watching it. My husband told me I was horribly unromantic and other people looked at me with pity when I expressed this, so hurray for this post and your poem.

Rachel Fox said...

Oh no, Eryl...we are many!

I have said before that Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman were the only things in Love Dreadfully that I could stomach but they they are good in pretty much everything, aren't they? Real class will out, darling, don't you think?


Rachel Fox said...

Obviously one of those theys was a then.

Unknown said...

I had a good laugh reading this one, you're so right :))))

Rachel Fox said...

Thanks Barbara. So, it hasn't dated too badly then?

Rachel Fenton said...

Made me chuckle :)

hope said...

Thank you for allowing me to like Alan Rickman...he was the only reason I watched that whole film!

Hugh Grant...god help me but I don't get it! I don't find him attractive and his bumbling characters don't help. Then again, I never was impressed by the "Flavor of the month" in movies. I may be the only woman in America who looked at Brad Pitt and went, "Yea. So?" :)

Loved the poem by the way.

Dominic Rivron said...

Argh! A photo of Hugh Grant!

At least the poem made up for it :)

Rachel Fox said...

I could see the Pitt appeal in 'Thelma and Louise', Hope, but after that he lost me (and that was just such a great film anyway).

As for the rest of you - chuckles are good and, Dominic, did he give you Sloane nightmares? 'I say, I mean dreadfully, I mean, jolly good' and all that.


Marion McCready said...

Can't stand Hugh Grant films but I love all those detective series' about the priviledged English - Morse, Miss Marple etc. The poem made me laugh!

Jim Murdoch said...

I suppose many New Yorkers feel the same about Woody Allen’s narrow view of life in that city. Curtis’s film work doesn’t annoy me very much at all. I see it falling into a cinematic tradition of idealised worlds. A few weeks back I noticed that Cheaper by the Dozen was on, the original not the awful remake, and since I’m fond of Clifton Webb, we watched it. It was dated, yes, I expected that, and it was also oh so perfect but if you put that to one side it was a perfectly watchable film, not a documentary; any connection to the real world was tenuous at best.

There are times when I want my entertainment to be as realistic as possible but mostly in films I’m happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy. I have the DVD of Love Actually and actually one of the best bits never made it to the final cut. It shows two old lesbians in bed and is really very sweet. We should just be grateful that he did write Blackadder and hope he gets a late spark of genius like Cleese did with A Fish Called Wanda.

What I did find amusing is that you chose to slag him off in a cheesy rhymed poem.

Rachel Fox said...

Sorlil - 'About a boy', as I said, is worth a look. It shows HG can be in a good film.

You find anything rhymed cheesey, Jim. I consider this very small-minded on your part.

Rachel Fox said...

And I'm not slagging HIM off. It's just certain bits of his output that I'm objecting to.

Jim Murdoch said...

No, I don't. Have a look at the comment I made earlier today on this poem.

And don't be so quick to take offence. None was intended.

Marion McCready said...

I have seen it, thought it was rubbish lol!

Rachel Fox said...

You call a poem cheesey, Jim, and I think I'm allowed to respond. You write poems very much to one style (it seems to me) but I like to try all different kinds of styles and forms. It's risky and it means you can come in for stick...something Curtis and I have in common, perhaps.

Jim Murdoch said...

And what I wanted was to make sure you realised that I wasn't being disparaging when I called your poem 'cheesey'. I guess the problem is how offensive you think the term 'cheesey' is. Ah, if only we could rely on one meaning per word. It might mean us having to invent a whole load of new ones to accommodate but I would vote for it.

Rachel Fox said...

I think the meaning of cheesey is fairly straightforward - to try it out describe some of your own work that way and see how it feels.

I would say this poem is, like some others of mine, light with a hint of heavy. It may be out to entertain (more than, say, have ambitions towards huge artistic merit) but I never seen anything wrong with that (not every poem can have 'be the best poem ever' as its goal in life). It is a bit dramatic when read aloud (and rhyme helps with that) because it is actually a subject I feel quite strongly about (England and what it is, what people think of it as a country, what they think of us, the English). I feel strongly about subjects - that's me you should know that by now. You've been coming here long enough!

Now don't go and write one of those 'some poets can't take criticism' posts or comments because I can and I do (very often). And don't say 'don't post things if you only want people to love them' because I don't do that either - I'm interested in debate and learning and talking about stuff. Ask yourself more why you go around blogs handing out so much 'advice' all the time? I'm not sure I know anyone around the blogs I read who feels this is their role as much as you sometimes seem to!

Jim Murdoch said...

I’ve just had a long talk with my wife (who stands in your corner) and it’s clear that I have no idea how offensive the word ‘cheesey’ can be. It was a flippant remark and not intended to be taken with any more than a pinch of salt. So, I withdraw the comment and apologise unreservedly.

Still friends?

Rachel Fox said...

I was told my comment to you was a bit harsh too.

So yes, two grumpy old friends.


Titus said...

Huge, Hugh agreement and I loved the poem!

I have never felt the slightest desire to even go and see "Love Actually".

I am rather fond of Colin Firth, however.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, Colin Firth...not the kind of actor who makes me want to throw underwear or anything but I can see the appeal. He is gently charming.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rachel Fox said...

I don't often delete comments but I deleted one above because it was just stupid beyond the bounds of possibility (except not, evidently) and it was totally anonymous (not even a made-up name - how brave). The commenter seemed to think I was American (er, I'm not) and a whole load of other nonsense. It did say my poem was rubbish which is opinion they are entitled to but the rest was just too ridiculous to leave up here.

Anonymous said...

I didn't like Love Actually at all but I did love Bridget Jones (oh, don't hate me...)because I really like Renee Zellwegger. This was a brilliant post and your poem was spot on!

Rachel Fox said...

No, Selma of course I don't hate you! As I say I like Zellwegger in B Jones...she makes it really (and I never liked the book anyway..all that crap about her weight - so dull!). It's more the portrayal of London in the film that I don't like. I lived in London and still visit now and again and I hate it when movies turn it into a dull, clean, empty theme park version of the city.


Dick said...

The curse of Hugh Grant seems to be that no one will give him anything to do unless he's all floppy hair and public school insouciance. So bless Mike Newell for casting him as the neurotic theatre director Meredith Potts in 'An Awfully Big Adventure'. Cast in a secondary role, he actually got some decent acting done.

Otherwise you're right on the money.

Rachel Fox said...

Yes, I agree. I've nothing against Grant as an actor really. He's in one of my favourite films ('Sense and Sensibility') in a minor role.

Dominic Rivron said...

Bridget Jones is on the telly now, as I blog. That's why I'm blogging.

Can't find my reading glasses - but I have just discovered how to blow up the Firefox page (CTRL and +) so I'm managing. Unfortunately, to read this I had to blow that picture of Hugh Grant. Argh! No!

Rachel Fox said...

Sorry to give you nightmares!