Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Guilty Pleasures

This year is the year to turn 50, first Mark E. Smith of The Fall on 5 March, and now Stephen Fry, last week, on 24 August. I don't think I realized quite how fond I was of Stephen Fry until I watched a handful of programmes celebrating his life last week on BBC4, Stephen Fry at 50. The documentary on his life made one realize the sheer versatility of the man, as writer, actor, comedian, intellectual. Perhaps the best of the programmes was the one that actually featured Stephen Fry himself, a simple half an hour called Guilty in which Fry discussed several of his "guilty pleasures". Some of them were, to me, incomprehensible, like watching Countdown and Darts, but that was the point of the programme -- these were things that Fry saw as guilty, self-indulgences that may be incomprehensible to others. Fry was so good at enthusing about these things that by the time he had finished, you almost wondered why you had been missing these delights all these years. His first guilty pleasure, though, was one that I very much share, a love of Abba. I've loved them all my life, and have the big Abba collection to prove it, right down to the dolls, the soap and the perfume.

Most of Stephen Fry's guilty pleasures were simply an intellectual's admissions about enjoying different aspects of popular culture. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed the programme so much. Many of the academics I have met don't appear to have any guilty pleasures, and if they do, they won't admit to them, as if participation in what the masses enjoy might sully their reputation as one of the elite. Well, the more fool them. Often, they don't know what they are missing.


Anonymous said...

On one of the Fry and Laurie DVDs, there is a wonderful old video of the pair from their Cambridge days. They were as funny then as they are now.

David A. Large said...

Happy Birthday, Mark. Welcome to the 50 club. I joined over a year ago. Growing up Baptist, I know something about guilt.

Mark Goodacre said...

David -- I'm not 50 yet; I've another 10 years to go. :)

Jonny Goodacre said...

Yes, I think Stephen Fry said of Abba that they were 'much better than they needed to be' which gets it just right.

Stephen Fry was back in Cambridge yesterday filming on 'The Backs' for Kingdom. There are no reports of whether he came down Mill Road though!

David A. Large said...

Oops. Sorry about that. I thought you looked way to good to be my age!