It was good to see my old friend James Kearney, who came South of the River from Crouch End to return a DVD, swap his latest news, and grab a quick bite to eat this evening.
It's scary to think that I first 'met' James over 30 years ago. We were both fans of the BBC radio series of The Lord of the Rings and got in touch, I think, through The Tolkien Society. Some time after we started corresponding James made a legendary appearance on Jim'll Fix It where he met the LOTR producer Jane Morgan and got to work on a radio dramatisation of a Charles Dickens play as I recall. At the time I was living in Southampton and James in Northern Ireland. We became good pen pals, swapping great long letters discussing not just Tolkien but classical music and Lord knows what else. When I went to the Middle East James was kind enough to send me frequent 'care packages' of the best TV shows and bits and pieces I requested, and it was sad to hear on my return that his hearing had deteriorated to the point where he could no longer really hear the music he had so obviously and enthusiastically enjoyed as a youngster.
Anyway, James arrived this evening bearing a bottle of very pleasant wine (hic!) and gifts - always a lovely surprise, even if not at all warranted - and it was good to see him in such good health. Because I'm so anti-social and work takes up so many hours I make a lousy friend. Whole years can go past before I get the chance to hook up with people less than an hour's travel away, but fortunately when we do hook up it's as if there's been no time away at all, and James is no different in that.
It was sad to hear that my friend is yet another casualty of the great BBC love of wielding the big 'redundancy' stick every few months, and will be looking for a new job next year, but he remains as I always remember him: cheerful no matter what difficulties life throws at him. I envy him his naturally sunny disposition.
While he was here, we watched the first (of three) episodes of Casanova - not the movie, but the Russel T Davis mini-series from the BBC starring David Tennant in the lead role. It's amazingly well written and directed and, frankly, it's hard to believe this is from the same guy who's doing such an awful job with the scripts on Doctor Who. Since so many of the cast seem common to the two series one has to wonder why Who is so weak, when obviously the same key players can turn in something as wonderful as Casanova.
A full DVD review will follow when I've finished the series, but in the meantime it's worth pointing out that the BBC have put no real effort into the DVD release at all. Not only are there no extra's, but there aren't even subtitles for those, like James, who have hearing difficulties. Poor show BBC as this is one area you usually excel at!