Continue to wade my way through Andrew Motion's biography of Keats, verrrryyyyyy slowly, but thoroughly because I am stopping along the way with my old Penguin edition of the complete Keats to read early sonnets and Endymion, so no new books up for review at all. Perhaps a burst of activity in Nov, who can say, but I shouldn't think life will lighten up until all the references and university entrance palaver is out of the way.
In the meantime, I did start watching Stephen Fry and Simon Schama on the USofA, part of my great America fetish. Schama's programme is genuinely provocative and interesting, although of course, I'd have liked him to be a little less careful with his judgements and a bit more provocative with his commentary. But I am unhinged by overexposure to the Daily Show and Huffington Post, so what do I know? Stephen Fry's romp around the US in a black taxi is great - it's a bit like the way Americans do Europe - three seconds in North Dakota, a whole minute for some meander in the Mississippi in the company of a man who was a dead ringer for an Islamic terrorist given big bushy beardiness (BTW, I swear when I am Emperor of the Universe and Evil Overlord of all Dominions, I'm going to ban beards - they have always looked like homes for bacteria and strange fungal growths. I will entertain petitions for beards that are either so neat as to be unobtrusive or champion ZZ Top type beards, but 98% beards will be for the big shave).
And now I'm brought to my latest two televisual addictions: Little Dorrit, in same useful, user-friendly format as Bleak House, half hour on Thursday and Sunday, and of course, the diabolically appalling Spooks.
I've always thought of Spooks as shark-jumpy, from the end of Season 1 where MacFadyen has his girlfriend and her daughter trapped in a house with an exploding laptop, and yanno that everyone will escape the cliffhanger - but then the writers will get you with a much worse death for your favourite characters at the end of an early ep in the series. And it was ever thus, with the dispatch of Rupert Penry Jones, oops, sorry, Adam Carter, it's just the drama and writing are so implausible that I can never forget that the actors are actually actors and that Rupert Penry Jones is having to say these absolutely ridiculous things e.g. about how his grandfather had half his back shot away on the Somme so we aren't going to bow to terrorists demanding that we cancel Remembrance Sunday....eh?
Anyway, last night, RPJ bought the farm, but fortunately, hot guy role has been taken over by Richard Armitage, aka Guy of Gisborne, and bonus, he took off his top to reveal muscular glorification with Blake tattoed on his midriff. I am not sure how or why the tattoist in the Russian prison where Guy - sorry, Richard, sorry, Lucas North had spent the last 8 years (ahem conveniently skipping 9/11 and all previous series of Spooks) had access to a Blake print, but there it was on his chest, along with cobblers like Dum Spiro Spero and wiggly squirls on his back and arms. Anyway for those of you who missed it, Armitage has quite the upper body.
You can see that unlike previous series of Spooks, where they had Tom/Matthew MacFadyen walking into the sea and Danny the cool black guy having his brains blown out, I am no longer remotely upset by the death of key characters. I just like to know how they are going to get rid of them, and RPJ had let slip the suggestion that he might be leaving the series, so I knew sticky end would surely follow. The bad news is that despite having a full funeral the stupid blonde woman who RPJ/Adam was having an on-off thing with is back, behaving more stupidly than ever... in Russia undercover (ermmmm, MI5 don't do abroad, but that's only a slight technical hitch) using her mobile, then having a detailed practical chat over mobile in back of London cab - how bloody un-undercover is that? She did do a cool thing of kicking the s*@t out of a big bald bloke who was theoretically an Ivan following her, then straddling him with her crotch in his face and a ballpoint pen to his left eye so she could nick his carkeys.
Anyway, Spooks was well up to its customary standard of being beyond the collapse of the Twin Towers in its use of Willing Suspension of Disbelief, but I will be there like a panting hart to watch the second in the series tonight. But I'm getting perilously close to not wishing to spend my previous TV hours on a programme which has me howling at the screen every 3 seconds: "No, that couldn't happen, that just couldn't happen, arrrrghghghg give me a bloody break."