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The Furrowed Brow

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Eddie Mair | 05:51 UK time, Friday, 27 April 2007

The place to talk about serious, non-PM related things of your choosing.


  1. At 07:00 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    I heard last night that the present Executive says Scotland is, "one of the best small countries in the world".

    It reminded me of a Sunday morning in Marchmont when I had time to kill and engaged a stranger in conversation while he painted the railings in front of his house. Within minutes we had identified friends in common, and when I remarked on this, he replied, "Aye, Scotland's the worruld's biggest village."

    That's why I love it so much. And wish it independence.

    Yours Aye,

    Small country, few people - Hundreds of devices, But none are used.

    People ponder on death
    And don't travel far.
    They have carriages and boats,
    But no one goes on board;
    Weapons and armor,
    But no one brandishes them.
    They use knotted cords for counting.

    Sweet their food,
    Beautiful their clothes,
    Peaceful their homes,
    Delightful their customs.

    Neighboring countries are so close
    You can hear their chickens and dogs.
    But people grow old and die
    Without needing to come and go.
    Lao Tzu, ~400 BCE

  2. At 07:42 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Gun Crazy?

  3. At 07:58 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    My brow's all furrowed wondering why the Beach and the Brow keep being moved forward a day.

    Does this mean Eddie's got the day off, I wonder?

  4. At 08:15 AM on 27 Apr 2007, eddie mair wrote:

    I am at work today! I kinda wanted to experiment a little. Thought maybe the Beach was best to be fresh at the weekend...and Friday is the day we pretend the weekend starts. And I wondered whether after a weekend of fresh air the Furrowed Brow would benefit maybe from starting on a Monday. All thoughts welcome.

  5. At 09:11 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Molly wrote:

    I'm glad to see your lovely,friendly intro to the beach again.
    Is it me, or have there been fewer new froggers lately?
    Sure the intro will entice baby froggers to dip their toes in- hope so- it's a lovely place to share!
    Furrowed Brow on Mondays? Sure- logical, really as we should be ready for 'work' after our extra long weekend on the beach.

    Great show yesterday, by the way!


  6. At 09:41 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Perky wrote:

    "I kinda wanted to experiment a little" - Eddie, you sound like a character from "High School Musical"!

    I'm not sure whether you're experimenting with being at work, or with being fresh . . . .

    On a largely un-related subject - I had an email from a work colleague this week, where all the "you"s had been replaced by "u". It actually made me unreasonably mad. I'm fine with shortcuts in texts, but they really annoy me in emails!

  7. At 09:53 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Mmmmmm....it seems to me that the Glass Box has taken over the function of the Furrowed Brow, to a large extent.
    We should maybe have a new Furrowed Brow at the weekend, as there are no new Glass Boxes then, and we may have a more diverse range of issues to discuss that have not been triggered by PM.

  8. At 10:57 AM on 27 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Experimental Ed,

    I sort of thought the week's Glass Boxes might serve as auditions for issue to be discussed over pints in the Furrowed Brow. It is a pub, after all...

    But you're the landlord and Marc's head barman, so run it the way it suits your inclinations.

    Yours Aye, from the woruld's biggest village.


  9. At 12:02 PM on 27 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Eddie (4), If you are at work today why has your name come up without capitals -- traditionally the way it appears when you frog from home? Aha!

    And I challenge the statement "All thoughts welcome". Some of my thoughts are clearly highly unwelcome -- I have been moderated beyond belief this week. I wouldn't care, but only one of the lost posts was a slightly smutty reference involving you. I really have been most subdued for several days...

  10. At 12:15 PM on 27 Apr 2007, Orange Herbert. wrote:

    To the Eddie Mair outfit,

    I was filled with horror—no, mildly irritated—to read that outside the UK Mr Bean has become an “iconic figure” representing “an English archetype”, an "international symbol of Britishness", and that although the world is bowled over by his comic persona and his latest film is grossing millions everywhere, it is widely believed that we English do not laugh at him because we cannot laugh at ourselves.

    Let’s get this quite straight: the reason we do not laugh at Mr Bean is that he is not funny. In his early days Rowan Atkinson was very funny, and Blackadder is a masterpiece, but Mr Bean gurning and falling about is not funny at all.

    And in no way does Mr Bean typify the English: I have never met an Englishman remotely like him. Pierre Daninos in The Notebooks of Major Thompson created a much funnier caricature of Englishness and that wasn’t particularly accurate either.

    When we see ourselves caricatured effectively we certainly laugh without restraint; nearly forty years ago a certain bunch of comics portrayed us to ourselves as ineffective, feeble, loony, and with a penchant for cross-dressing. Whether this was entirely accurate or not is irrelevant: we loved them because they were funny. Lesser breeds didn’t get it at all for years, though finally they did.

    Mr Bean is one of several totally unfunny Englishmen to go down a storm outside his native land. Norman Wisdom is apparently very big in Romania and so of course is Benny Hill in the States: back home their comic acts sank without trace years ago. There is also an ancient English sketch (Freddy Frinton) which has become a cult classic, shown on German TV every New Year to the huge delight of millions of viewers. It wasn’t funny, and never had been.

    National differences in sense of humour are not surprising: why should something that makes them roll in the aisles in Bradford have the same effect in Prague or Des Moines? We don’t really expect to share each other’s tastes in comedy, but in other fields people are often oblivious of differences in national viewpoints: it is sad, for example, when others blithely assume that we share their view of our country’s leaders.

    Many times I have been at a loss when American acquaintances, meaning to be friendly, tell me of their admiration for Gordon Brown or Tony Blair. What can I say which will not hurt their feelings?

    Back in 1997 I might have lost a few (not very close) friends when foreigners wrote to me saying nice things about Diana, if I had not lied when responding. Had I been honest I would have told them that although of course it is sad when any young woman dies, their condolences were misplaced, for I had never admired her much, and that national mourning, closed shops and widespread sobbing seemed to me excessive for the mistress of a dodgy Egyptian playboy.

  11. At 12:44 PM on 27 Apr 2007, John H. wrote:

    Generally, I consider botox to be a Very Bad Thing. (What is it about female actors, in particular, that makes them think that having a completely expressionless fod is attractive?) However, in the case of Orange Herbert (10) I think an exception should be made. A brow that is so furrowed cannot be good for anybody. I sympathise with many of the views, but really.

  12. At 02:27 PM on 27 Apr 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    John H (11), Hehehehe! I also sympathise broadly, but not wholly. But I was much more entertained by your post... :-)

  13. At 10:52 AM on 28 Apr 2007, Peter Bolt wrote:

    I see today (Sat 28th April) The (I quote):` EU Foreign Affairs Spokesman` has warned the Turkish Army to keep out of politics.
    Is the EU now running UK Foriegn Policy as well as almost everything else ?

  14. At 02:16 PM on 28 Apr 2007, Andrew Wibberley wrote:

    Orange Herbert needs to get out more.!

  15. At 08:00 PM on 28 Apr 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Peter B;

    Re turkey: One marker for a truly democratic society is that the Armed Forces are entirely apolitical. This has not been true of Turkey throughout it's recent past. The Heads of their Armed Forces are generally assessed as being pro-EU-entry, and are avowedly secular in outlook. They have always seen themselves as the guardians of the Turkish constitution, with its separation of religion and state.

    They now find themselves in the uncomforatable position of having to refrain from constitutional meddling to meet their integrationist sentiments, but faced with an Islamist Prime Minister with Presidential ambitions who might shatter the constitutional balance.

    Tricky. And hard to know which way they will fall.


  16. At 12:45 PM on 29 Apr 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Peter (13),
    "Is the EU now running UK Foriegn Policy as well as almost everything else ?"

    They couldn't do much worse, could they? They might not renew our WMDs


  17. At 07:57 PM on 30 Apr 2007, Phil Bayliss wrote:

    I listened to your piece about the 'testimony play' of Fallujah (tonight at 5.48pm - Christopher Landau) and I am moved to write because of a conflict of emotions in lisetneing to the piece. The play deals with a set of events which could be described as 'genocide', or of the random killing of civilians under the rubric of the 'war on terrror'; or of a 'military' response to insurgency. The reporting by Christopher Landau is about the play, not the events themselves. This is not to say that an artistic representation of the siege of Fallujah is trivial, but that political comment about the impact of the war is removed from democratic accountability to artistic production. In the antechamber of Auschwitz is the quote from Santyana -'He who fails to learn from the lessons of history is condemned to repeat it'. I have in my possession a book of photographs by Willy Georg, who documented the Warsaw Ghetto of summer 1941. This document is harrowing and represents a view of which is now universally condemned as beastial. Is there a difference between this and the 'testimony play' which documents how civilians are herded from their homes (loudspeakers saying leave your homes, use white flags and bring your belongings, followed by a call, which could interpreted as 'now') and are then fired upon by snipers hidden on rooftops? '('I used the first bullet to wound, then allowed him to scream to demoralise his buddies, and then I used the second shot').
    The parallels between the 'jewish question' of Nazi germany and what is happening with Irag are close -walls being built to isolate insurgents, arrest and imprisonment without trial and 'random shootings' in confined spaces.
    The piece tonight focused on the atrocity of Fallujah, but the parallels between the Irag war ('war on terror') and what happened in Germany during the late 30's is striking - Daniel Goldhagen chronicled 'Hilter's Willing Executioners' as being 'ordinary' guys who committed mass murder as everyday activity. The demonisation of a people which can lead to their extermination, in the best possible interests of the 'Volk'.
    I commend the activities of Jonathon Holmes (the playwright) in adopting techiniques of verbatim theatre to chronical a human wrong, I am saddened that the testimonies of the people killed and the testimonies of the people killed are reported in a slot 10 minutes before the end of your programme (and reportage of the play, not the atrocity). The artistic pursuit provides a truth of Fallujah that is not captured by the statistics of war, not the 'identitarian politics of fascism' which are (seemingly) the only thing available to politicians to make them change their minds about the pursuit of killing. Please can we listen to people's voices -listening to the voices of the people of Virginia Tech expressed the anguish of a people bereft of understanding that some lone gunman can undertake a psychotic pursuit of death which brings american grief. Why cannot we listen to the voices of (among so many) the voices of Fallujah to recognise a profound wrong perpetrated against mothers and fathers and their children, who have become demonised as the 'enemy'?
    Please can the BBC support some kind of ethical process of debate which avoid the lessons of history being ignored?

    Phil Bayliss

  18. At 12:19 AM on 03 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Phil Bayliss,

    I enthusiastically second that motion.
    Houb Salaam
    03/05/2007 at 00:21:42 GMT

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