Tuesday, February 06, 2024

celebrity lookeylikey of the day

Red Bull Formula 1 head honcho Christian Horner, currently *cough* in the midst of some, erm, personal issues, and Scottish comedian and internet provocateur Limmy, whose current incarnation as a video game streamer on Twitch I find somewhat baffling but which clearly makes him happy and pays the bills, so it's all good. The longer-form TV stuff he used to do is pretty good, and the things like the compilation of short clips originally posted to Vine featuring his increasingly deranged plasterer is a thing of bleak Beckettian brilliance.

Monday, February 05, 2024

I hate you, leopard

I'm sure that you, like me, are a deeply tedious and unappealing person to be with at parties owing to your propensity for offering up "fascinating" trivia factoids at the drop of a hat: Birmingham has more canals than Venice, Gary Oldman is thirteen days younger than Gary Numan, et teeth-grindingly cetera. Those two do at least have the virtue of being true, though the Birmingham one is considerably less impressive than it sounds once you consider the relative sizes of the two cities. 

Another one that I've heard a few times is: did you know that Olive out of On The Buses was married in real life to Ape Being Attacked By Leopard from 2001: A Space Odyssey? This one is only really suitable for trotting out in the company of people old enough to remember On The Buses - a group, I should add, which actually excludes me as I don't think I've ever seen it. This is partly because I was only three when its original run ended in 1973 and partly because it was on ITV, which there was a largely-unspoken ban on in our house for reasons I've never quite been able to fathom in hindsight. Anyway, Olive was one of the main characters, requiring actress Anna Karen, in real life a slim occasional model, to don large amounts of padding, an unflattering wig and glasses. It's fair to say On The Buses doesn't see much repeat action these days as it's no doubt Highly Problematic in a whole variety of ways. 

Anyway, back to the claim - what is certain is that Anna Karen was married to a guy called Terry Duggan, from 1967 to his death in 2008. He was a comedian and actor who appeared with his wife in several things (On The Buses included). His Wikipedia page does make brief and slightly vague reference to him having also "learned acrobatics which led to film stuntman roles", but there is no mention of 2001 in his filmography. Go to IMDb, though, and you will see that he is credited with the role of "Ape Attacked By Leopard". So who is right?

Well, closer examination of the Wikipedia edit history reveals that there was an update - fairly recently, in late 2023 - that removed that role from his list. There is an explanatory note which says that the role was indeed played by a bloke called Terry Duggan, but a different one, and links to this article. Lots of interesting stuff there related to the shooting of the Dawn Of Man sequence at the start of 2001, ending with the famous match cut from the flying bone to the spaceship, and in particular this:

Terry Duggan was a acrobat and stuntman born in Coventry in 1935 (no relation with Terry Duggan the comedian). Duggan had already worked with the Chipperfield's, a famous british circus, and later joined a member of the family, Jimmy, who had started a film animal business and at that time of the shooting of 2001 was operating Southampton Zoo. 

There is also a footnote, as follows:

(dec.11: the article has been updated with the removal of the picture of Terry Duggan the comedian, who was not the Duggan involved with the Chipperlfield's and 2001. As Mission Control would say, IMDB and Wikipedia are "in error" in saying that they were the same person. Source: Mr.Duggan' sister thanks to Jamie Clubb.)

There is a link to the blog of the Jamie Clubb mentioned in the footnote, and some relevant entries are here and here. This is the most relevant paragraph:

The bounce article referenced Terry Duggan, a wild animal trainer who worked with my two great uncles and my grandfather when they ran "Chipperfield's Circus". I am not directly related to the Duggans, but we share cousins and they have been connected to my family for a very long time now. Terry and my great-uncle, Jimmy Chipperfield, were involved with the prologue sequence of Kubrick's film, where a leopard attacks a member of a tribe of australopiths.

On the other hand, there is this page which purports to be written by a relative and which does make the 2001 claim in relation to Terry Duggan the comedian and husband of Anna Karen. So who do we believe?

My gut instinct is to believe that these were two different people; it seems implausible that someone whose day job was as an actor and comedian would be entrusted with the job of wrestling a leopard, still less be inclined to accept it. On the other hand, someone who worked pretty much full-time with circus animals would be an ideal fit for the job. 

So I think we tentatively conclude that this is a myth - that obviously shouldn't stop you from watching 2001, though you might want to secure 3-4 undisturbed hours and get lightly baked first. As for On The Buses, I couldn't say I'd recommend it, but you do you.

priest: deceased

2023 was a pretty average year for The Curse Of Electric Halibut, although there was a brief flurry of activity in the summer when Cormac McCarthy and Milan Kundera both died in quick succession. As if exhausted by the strain of taking down two mighty literary behemoths in quick succession, the Curse then kicked back and took the rest of the year off, leaving the authorial deaths total at three. 2015 remains the deadliest year on record with five.

But, evidently refreshed by the Christmas break, the Curse has started off the new year strongly by snuffing out Christopher Priest, author of two books on this list, Inverted World and The Affirmation. Priest was 80, which puts him slightly below the average age for inclusion, and the curse length of a little over nine years puts him slightly above the average, those numbers being just over 82 and just over six years respectively.

Priest was one of the authors included in Granta's Best Of Young British Novelists list in 1983, along with several other featurees on this list including Julian Barnes, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, William Boyd and Graham Swift. Priest was older than most of those people (he scraped under the 40-year age limit by only a few months) and a bit of an outlier genre-wise, much of his output falling broadly into the category usually labelled "science fiction". I've rambled at tedious length about the stretchiness and meaninglessness of this term before, but while Inverted World is pretty definitely science fiction, The Affirmation is a science fiction novel only in the very loosest sense, and you could certainly reasonably ask the question whether it's more science-fiction-y than, say, Never Let Me Go

Author Date of first book Date of death Age Curse length
Michael Dibdin 31st January 2007 30th March 2007 60 0y 59d
José Saramago 9th May 2009 18th June 2010 87 1y 40d
Beryl Bainbridge 14th May 2008 2nd July 2010 77 2y 50d
Russell Hoban 23rd August 2010 13th December 2011 86 1y 113d
Richard Matheson 7th September 2011 23rd June 2013 87 1y 291d
Iain Banks 6th November 2006 9th June 2013 59 6y 218d
Elmore Leonard April 16th 2009 20th August 2013 87 4y 128d
Doris Lessing 8th May 2007 17th November 2013 94 6y 196d
Gabriel García Márquez 10th July 2007 17th April 2014 87 6y 284d
Ruth Rendell 23rd December 2009 2nd May 2015 85 5y 132d
James Salter 4th February 2014 19th June 2015 90 1y 136d
David Cook 24th February 2009 16th September 2015 74 6y 205d
Henning Mankell 6th May 2013 5th October 2015 67 2y 152d
William McIlvanney 7th September 2010 5th December 2015 79 5y 90d
Umberto Eco 30th June 2012 19th February 2016 84 3y 234d
Anita Brookner 15th July 2011 10th March 2016 87 4y 240d
William Trevor 29th May 2010 20th November 2016 88 6y 177d
John Berger 10th November 2009 2nd January 2017 90 7y 55d
Nicholas Mosley 24th September 2011 28th February 2017 93 5y 159d
Helen Dunmore 10th March 2008 5th June 2017 64 9y 89d
JP Donleavy 21st May 2015 11th September 2017 91 2y 114d
Ursula Le Guin 6th December 2015 22nd January 2018 88 2y 49d
Anita Shreve 2nd September 2006 29th March 2018 71 11y 211d
Philip Roth 23rd December 2017 22nd May 2018 85 0y 150d
Justin Cartwright 7th September 2008 3rd December 2018 75 10y 89d
Toni Morrison 18th July 2010 5th August 2019 88 9y 20d
Charles Portis 3rd April 2018 17th February 2020 86 1y 320d
Alison Lurie 24th March 2007 3rd December 2020 94 13y 254d
John le Carré 21st February 2008 12th December 2020 89 12y 295d
Joan Didion 14th December 2010 23rd December 2021 87 11y 12d
Hilary Mantel 22nd October 2010 22nd September 2022 70 11y 338d
Greg Bear 4th October 2021 19th November 2022 71 1y 48d
Russell Banks 4th December 2018 7th January 2023 82 4y 35d
Cormac McCarthy 22nd September 2009 13th June 2023 89 13y 265d
Milan Kundera 27th March 2008 11th July 2023 94 15y 105d
Christopher Priest 6th January 2015 4th February 2024 80 9y 26d