Sunday, November 18, 2007

An Incredible Talent

A Sunday paper had an article that got my attention this weekend. Apparently, I and a good many others were being unkind to poor old Amy Winehouse. The dear girl needed our support since, so the writer claimed, she had “incredible talent.”
I was embarrassed. I realised that in spite of my remarks about the lady in question, I had never experienced her “incredible talent.” One must always be fair minded I feel and appreciative that one man's ris de veau is another man's offal. For instance, the music of Schoenberg does not appeal to me – but I can appreciate its quality.
So I turned to YouTube so that I could have the experience of a touch of Winehouse.
What I found was a rather unattractive lady, bedecked with tattoos and looking as though a good scrub down might do no harm, who sang some not unpleasant but unremarkable songs in a reedy nasal voice.
I struggled through several of her performances and, failing to find any trace of “incredible talent,” turned to the masterworks of one, P. Doherty. After all, a magistrate had let him off a spot of chokey because she liked his music. I must say, although personally I would have jailed him on the spot, I found his efforts marginally more acceptable and they would have gone down a treat at a local talent contest.
YouTube I find to be an invaluable resource, not only for educating oneself on the taste, or lack of it, of modern popular icons but as a wonderful repository of old newsreels. For instance, researching for a book on Nazi Germany, I had the transcript of a speech by Joseph Goebbels. On YouTube, I found the newsreel of the same speech, bringing it to life for me. For a historian, it's almost as good as having been there.
But after my depressing venture into Winehouse territory, I stumbled upon a clip from an old Morecambe and Wise show. You old age pensioners out there may recall the episode where that most attractive and competent of BBC newsreaders, Angela Rippon, performed a song and dance act with Eric and Ernie.
Now that was an “incredible talent.”
And most remarkably, none of them appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs and, as far as I could see, there wasn't a tattoo amongst them.


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