This episode of Steptoe & Son (7-7, 03 April 1972) is a masterclass in situation comedy.
A one-room bottle episode with a sublime premise: the penniless rag & bone men are held up in their own home by escaped criminals looking for money, food, goods and a getaway car. The would-be stick-up-men find that there’s nothing worth having — a horse and cart, a slice of mouldy bread, leftover water-based porridge and some foreign coins — and leave with less that they came with.
The characters are richly drawn parallels of the Steptoes, with a brilliant performance by Leonard Rossiter for Corbett and Brambell to play off, exposing the tensions between the father and son: both captive dependents.
Steptoe & Son is the closest sitcoms have got to the absurd desperation of Beckett, barring maybe Bottom. Porridge is far too comfortable and owes much more to ‘Arold Pinter than despairing Samuel.
It’s brilliant, watch:
A new show opened at Site Gallery today by Finnish artist Pilvi Takala. It’s brilliantly observed work focusing on banal absurdism, mainly around rules, perceived rules and behaviour. It’s deeply funny and well worth popping into if you’re nearby.
Watch an excerpt of Takala’s The Real Snow White for an example of how she pokes things with a straight-faced stick.
One of my long-standing hobbies is watching for discarded notes. Most notably over at Other People’s Shopping Lists, but I keep my eyes peeled for any kind of abandoned writing or photographs – fragments of people’s lives – mostly hoping for treasure maps or Dear John letters in amongst the lichen and chip papers.
Such as this torn beauty:
A document of a holiday fling that ended sourly, found on the street in Liverpool one summer many years ago.
Yesterday, I spotted a square of paper that looked like more than a lost to-do list or B&Q inventory. I kicked it down the road a bit before picking it up. This is what I found:
This is the kind of thing that you keep an eye on the discarded and the mundane for. Folding it out, there is a whole page of name ideas for the Nuclear Winter Menu, with a side section for Kruschev Cocktails:
Some decent pun work – including People In Blankets and Garlic Mushroom Cloud on the meal side, and Berlin Wallbanger and Sex On The Bunker cocktails – is let down by some pretty shit ones (Holocaust Halibut).
I can’t quite see that the anonymous, slightly racist, fantasy landlord will ever quite achieve their dreams of drinking a Sexed Up On The Beach at their less inspired franchise idea: The Baghdad Bistro.