Bored of the dance

Hello there. Firstly may I thank all of you who have downloaded and listened to my first podgram. Since it was little more than an incoherent stream of reminiscence poured into a microphone by a man with no functioning right arm with which to type, the piece was not available to be read as a text blog. From now on, however, always assuming I am careful enough not to incapacitate other useful parts of my body, podgrams will also be accessible in classic text-blessay form at www.stephenfry/blog. The choice is yours – eyes or ears. Or both. Or indeed all four. You may have noticed too that the podgram was delivered through a heavy cold and a fog of sleeping pills and analgesic opiates: apologies for the concomitant croaky dopiness.

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Download the latest podgram “BORED OF THE DANCE”. Available in both .m4a (audio visual) and .mp3 (audio only) formats.

The PODGRAM is free via the iTunes Store or RSS feed subscribe link on the podcast page.

You may wonder why the podgrams can’t, like the blessays, be downloaded directly from stephenfry.com. Why must one go through the leviathan that is the iTunes store? I am afraid that no host that we can find is capable of dealing with the 1 terabyte plus of traffic engendered without crashing. And so we turned to the might of Apple to help us out. The problem we always return to is bandwidth. Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. Who would not prefer to pootle along the country lanes in a flowered gypsy caravan, rather than blast down the motorway in a colossal juggernaut? Trouble is, when you’ve a certain number of deliveries to make a van just isn’t big enough. Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. I sound like a 30s schoolgirl with a lisp. Bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth. What is she saying? Something to do with sandwiches perhaps? Or bandits. Bandits eating sandwiches and wearing bandages? We’ll never know.

Americans are no more irony illiterate than Britons or anyone else

Well. So. Thus. To the substance of this podgram. Since October 2007 I have been travelling around America making a documentary for the BBC. The idea is to visit every one of the 50 states that make up the great Union. We started six months ago at the top right hand corner in the state of Maine and will finish, in May this year of grace 2008, in Hawaii. Part paean to the continental Unites States and its matchless variety, beauty and almost preposterous grandeur, part journey of discovery through 50 entities, so diverse, proud and individual as almost to deserve to be considered nation states in their own right, part attempt to discover the nature and characteristics of the fabled “real America” whose citizens are so much more than the sum of wearisome cliché: red-necked gun-toter, bible-thwacking faggot-hater, egocentric freak, camp Hollywood gossip or ludicrous military figure shouting in sunglasses. We see a lot of New York City and Los Angeles on British television, and we see a good deal of sneering at religious cults, eccentric sex therapists and semiliterate politicians, but for those of us who have spent any time in the country, these are no more indicators of life in America, or conclusive characteristics of Americans than films about braying dukes and vomiting ladettes are clinching definers of all things British. If you are confused about what a ladette may be you can look it up (http://www.wordwebonline.com/en/LADETTE). God help you. Anyway. That is the idea. Not a propaganda piece for the America Tourist Board, if such a thing exists, but not an attempt to seek out the stupid, the mockable and the obvious. Incidentally, forgive a detour here, but if there is one misapprehension about Americans that annoys me more than any other, it is the lofty claim, usually made by the most dim-witted and wit-free Britons, that America is an — ho-ho — “irony free zone”. Let it be established here, this day, that no one, on pain of being designated fifty types of watery twat, ever dare repeat that feeble, ignorant, self-satisfied canard ever ever again. Americans are no more irony illiterate than Britons or anyone else and the repeated assertion (and it is no more than an assertion not a demonstrable provable fact) is no more than a pathetic symbol of a certain kind of Briton’s flabby need to convince themselves of their sophisticated superiority over the average American. Now, don’t feel bad about the fact that you, dear listener/reader have, at some point in the past been guilty of repeating and transmitting this feeble myth, we all have. It’s lazy, easy and gives us a warm glow. My war on the lie begins now, and is not retrospective, so you need not feel ashamed. Only promise never to repeat it. Actually, even if you think it’s true, have the grace to recognise that such a clunking, tedious, oft-repeated cliché is so dull and well-worn that it almost doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, it’s just plain tedious and only bar-stool bores and dull-witted gibbons would ever think it worth trotting out. Besides, it is ugly, graceless and rude.

Some American landmarks may be obvious and yet for all that impossible to ignore. The Grand Canyon for example: for our film crew to pass it by would be silly. And there are cultural equivalents. Most obviously perhaps musical landmarks. You cannot really travel through the Appalachians in Tennessee and Kentucky for example, without wanting to sample the clog dancing, banjo-strumming, guitar picking, fiddle-scraping, bass-slapping Hillbilly music known as bluegrass. Then there is the Mississippi River, from its mouth in New Orleans where jazz, zydeco and cajun music were born, through the Delta whence came the blues and up to Memphis, Tennessee, which styles itself the birthplace of rock and roll, and thence to Chicago where house music was first heard, a city that also has its own tradition of blues, jazz, swing, funk soul and rock. A few hour’s ride east will take you to Detroit, Mo’town.

If you add to this the rhinestone country music of Nashville, the gospel tradition abounding throughout the south, the Tin Pan Alley achievements of Broadway, the cowboy music, the West Coast sound and Seattle grunge, it is easy to look at a map of America and see an atlas of music. What a treat for me then to take those legendary trails.

Yes…

But…

Oh dear, this is an odd but, and I really must get it right.

I cannot BEAR …

No, that isn’t right at all.

I just don’t GET …

No, that isn’t it, either.

The thing is, trusted listener/reader, I have a problem with popular music. A real problem. It marks me out as an inadequate citizen of my time. I like to regard myself very much as a lover of the modern, a neophile, if you will. I like cars, computers, digital doodads, television, movies, just about anything new and shiny enthrals me. But, I …

It isn’t really to do with ancient versus modern

No, you see, I’m getting it wrong again, it isn’t really to do with ancient versus modern. It’s about something else, something quite other, something perhaps more profound.

Let me tell you about a moment, if you don’t know it, in a most excellent film called Running on Empty, made by the great Sidney Lumet, who has never really known how to make a bad film. It stars Judd Hirsch off of of of Taxi. I don’t know why people say “off of”. “You’re that Stephen Fry off of QI, people say to me.” And once, “aren’t you off of of the telly?” Two ofs. Anyway. Judd Hirsch off of of of off Taxi, Christine Lahti of Golden Globes lavatory fame, Martha Plimpton and the effulgent River Phoenix. Oh and Steven Hill, an actor with whom I’m ever so slightly obsessed, has one scene as Christine Lahti’s father … quite brilliant. The premise essentially is that Hirsch and Lahti, as Arthur and Annie Pope, once blew up a napalm factory as a protest against the Vietnam war, they thought the factory was empty, but there was someone there who was mutilated in the explosion and the FBI has been on their tail ever since. River Phoenix is their musically very gifted son, born on the run, who practises piano on a dummy keyboard, so unsettled are their lives. So, we witness them escape one near FBI bust and they arrive in a new town with new identities, River dyes his hair and enrols in the high school in this new town as Michael Manfield. He is destined to fall in love with the music teacher’s daughter, Martha Plimpton, but that’s later. We see him arrive, slightly late, at the music class. He gives Ed Crowley, who plays the teacher, his registration documents and is told to find himself a seat. Crowley continues with his lesson: he plays two pieces of music through speakers. One is classical, the other is, I think, a Madonna track. Crowley asks the class what the difference between the two is. There is the usual dumb silence you get when you ask a class of teenagers anything. Eventually one kid sticks up his hand and suggests, “one of them is good and the other is bad?” Crowley isn’t having that. “A matter of opinion, surely?” River shyly puts up his hand.

“Yes, Mr …. Manfield?”

And this is River’s answer: “You can’t dance to Beethoven.”

Crowley is delighted by this.

You can’t dance to Beethoven.

So there we have part of my problem. Dance music. It is not that there is classical or modern, serious or popular, the division is between music you can dance to or music you can’t.

I know that much of what I am about to say is wild exaggeration, but bear with me. I want to address a terror that lurks within me, a huge beast on my back, a great maggot in my brain. You cannot expect too much rational talk from a fellow who is unburdening himself of his deepest fears.

This is not a blessay or a podgram in which I reveal that I prefer classical to pop music. That is a) dull, b) over-familiar, c) as mad as saying that I prefer air to food: both food and air are necessary and besides they each use different pipes, so preference doesn’t enter into it, and d) it isn’t true anyway even if it could be, which it couldn’t so there.

All that music I talked about in describing a journey around America? I love it all. Or can love it. I love country, blues, rock and roll, gospel, zydeco, jazz, swing, Tin Pan Alley, roots, bluegrass, hillbilly. Less keen on the West Coast sound, on funk, soul, mo’town, rap, hip-hop, house, R and B. Don’t hate them, just don’t like them quite as much. Outside America I have gone on record as to confessing a weakness for Led Zeppelin and Abba twin poles on the Euroglobe, but each as splendid in their own way as the other.

But this is not a Nick Hornby Man List in which I show off my knowledgeable, insightful eclecticism. I know a great deal less about popular music than almost all of my contemporaries. The point is that I do want you to understand how much I love, or can love, this music. It is important when I try to explain to you how much I hate, or can hate, this music.

It’s all dance music. Give or take. I mean, yes, some tracks are dancier than others, some styles are dancier, but essentially they are all about tapping those toes and swinging those feet.

I hate doing it myself

I hate dancing more than I can possibly explain. I hate doing it myself, which I can’t anyway, but I loathe and resent the necessity to try. I hate watching other people do it. I hate the way it breaks up conversation. I hate the slovenly mixture of sexual exhibitionism, strutting contempt and repellent narcissism that it involves. I hate it when it is formless, meaningless bopping and I hate it (if anything even more) when it is formal and choreographed into genres like ballroom or schooled disco. Those cavortings are so embarrassing and dreadful as to force my hand to my mouth.

If I listen to music, I like either to do it completely alone, so that if I am taken by the desire to move my feet and body (which is inevitable with so much music) I can do it unwitnessed, or I like to LISTEN to it, to hear the line of it, to follow the lyrics and to allow it work inside me. I do not want to use it as an exercise track for a farcical, meaningless, disgusting, brainless physical public exhibition of windmilling, gyrating and thrashing in a hot, loud room or hall. I do not want to use music as the medium for a mating or courting ritual. No one would ever select me as a sexual partner on the basis of my ability to froth, frolic and gibber in time to music anyway, and nor would I ever choose a partner by such desperate and useless criteria.

I can’t dance. It may well be true that guilty feet have no rhythm, but it is also true that perfectly innocent feet can also be unable to move persuasively or happily to the beat. I can’t dance and I SO do not want to. Or is it that I don’t want to because I can’t? No, I don’t think so. I can’t play football, golf, cricket to anything like a human standard and I want to desperately. Desperately. It really isn’t a question of being truculent and captious about it. I really, really, really hate dancing and have not the slightest milligram of envy for those who can do it. If there is such a thing as ‘being able to do’ the kind of dancing people routinely engage in. Not so much an accomplishment as an affliction.

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The unhappy self-consciousness of the adolescent on the dance floor at school, or in the village barn dance or local disco is too well known a standard hero of rueful dissection for me to need to describe myself in that guise in too much detail. Here were boys and girls my age twisting, spinning and jumping at each other and they all seemed to know what they were doing. Had I been confined to the sick room with an asthma attack the day disco dancing was covered in the syllabus? How did they know which way to move,when to fling up a hand, when to spin, when to jump? When to look into their “partner’s” eyes, when to look at the floor? There was nothing written down, did it accord to some chord change or eight bar measure that I, in my hot discomfort And pop illiteracy simply could not hear?

Dancing around a handbag

Yes, it was true that the girls often danced with each other, or in desultory fashion around a handbag and yes it was true that some boys were gawkier, jerkier and less convincing than others, but that didn’t seem to worry them too much, they just got on with it. They had jumped in and they were being born along the current of the music. I was hanging on the bank, gazing in … what? Envy? Disgust? Misery? Scorn? Hungry sorrow? Actually, none of those things, I just wanted to be somewhere else. If I had been offered the skill and dance charisma of …. I don’t know, John Travolta, say … I would have turned it down. I found, from the get go, that a dance floor was a place I never ever wanted to spend any time at all. Not so much as a second of my life.To this day I cannot abide so much as a minute in a place where people are dancing. I find it simply unbearable. Think of it as an allergy. I hate films set in such places. Have never sat through all of Saturday Night Fever, Flash Dance, Dirty Dancing or any of those. I feel ill just picturing them: the leg warmers, the tights, the stretching and leaping … ugh…. And how people love to try and drag me to the floor. Just as I am tired of people saying to me “I’d really like to see you drunk one day, Stephen” I am tired of them saying “I’d love to see you dancing your head off.” Grrrrrrr.

Nowhere to run

There is a celebrated moment in Pride and Prejudice where Darcy squashes the blandly pompous Sir William Lucas, who has said something like, “There is nothing like dancing … I consider it one of the first refinements of polished societies.” To which Darcy replies, “and it has the advantage of being in vogue amongst the less polished societies. After all, every savage can dance.” We overlook the less than respectful language of the day, but actually the ‘savage’ element of dancing, the primal nature of it has returned to our culture and is the basic form enjoyed by most people in our “polished” society. At a pinch I would welcome that over the continued existence of endless long ballroom routines in which you have to be taught the steps of quadrilles, cotillions, gavottes, waltzes and so forth. I suppose the descendant of that ghastly form of entertainment is the vile terror known as Line Dancing, a proceeding so fatuous and horrible as to defy language. I have twice been caught with nowhere to run in one of those events. It was like being on the gymnastics mat at school, or in the infant Music and Movement room. The sweaty, ghastliness of it all and the silly hats and embarrassing clapping. Oh god, I’ve given myself hives just thinking of it.

And hell, that reminds me of childhood Scottish dancing lessons, hopping over swords. Or more recent holidays with friends with Highland Reels promised as an after dinner treat. ‘In this life,’ Sir Arnold Bax is reputed to have said, ‘you should try everything once, except incest and folk dancing.’ Eightsome reels. Stripping the Willow. The Roger de Coverley, whoever the arse he was. Morris Dancing, which is fashionable to loathe, I really don’t mind at all. In fact I quite like it, because there is never the faintest chance of being invited to join in. Organised dancing and disorganised dancing in which one is supposed to participate. Both of them fill me with dread and disgust. Yes, probably self-disgust more than any other kind.

Maybe it all springs from having to sing at school the Worst Song Ever Written — Lord of the Dance. ‘Dance then, wherever you may be, for I am the Lord of the Dance said he. I’ll dance with you if you dance with me, for I am the lord of the dance said he.’ And so bloody on. If ever a song were guaranteed to create a generation of atheists and non-dancers it is that one. ‘I danced for the sun and I danced for the moon. I danced at night and I danced at noon.’ I mean, come on. Seriously shut up. Shut so up and go so dreadfully and entirely away.

Classical music, we might as well use the term, is of course descended, like all music, from forms of dance. Even the most classical classical music has its roots there. Sarabands, gigs, minuets, galliards, pavanes, mazurkas, schottisches, waltzes, polkas and reels have informed the repertoire from the very beginning. You would be hard pressed to dance to a gig from a Bach partita however, or to boogy on down to the Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde. River was right. You can’t dance to Beethoven. Time signatures change and shift, there is no back beat, what dance rhythms there might be are played with in such a fashion as to discourage a tapping foot. Classical music is there to be listened to. It doesn’t make it better. I really, really mean that I do not believe that it makes it better, and I despise the snobbery and ignorance that is convinced otherwise. But it does make it better suited to Stephens. I can follow the line, lose myself in the music’s conflict and dialectical struggles, dive into the textures, surge with the ebb and flow of climaxes and surface again, all without pumping, primping and body popping. Again, I am aware that many of you, no matter how many times I repeat this, will think I am being all superior. So let me be absolutely clear about this. This is all a weakness, failing, problem, phobia, hang-up with me. It is something to do with physical shame, clumsiness, self-consciousness, pride in privacy, lack of co-ordination, all of which have culminated in a huge and insuperable hatred of losing physical self-control, in jumping in and joining in. The once sappy bendy young tree is now too old for anything to be done about it without his gnarled distorted shape cracking with a puff of dry dust, so it is too late to change.

It is more or less certain, statistically, that the vast majority of you listening or reading will love dancing and will be annoyed and upset to think that I am contemptuous of your adored hopping and bopping. I am not contemptuous. I think less of no one for loving to dance. I am fully aware that, from the most polished society to the most, hem, savage, it is what humans do more than writing, ball games, praying, knitting, riding, singing even. They dance in the mornings they dance at nights, they dance in their trousers and they dance in their tights. The whole world dances. Except Stephen and a few others. So do believe this. I am not in any way, not in ANY WAY scornful of those who dance, I am merely describing my allergic response. I am allergic to champagne as it happens, and this has given me a very healthy and natural distaste for it. I could describe the loathing and fear I have of the drink, but it would in no way implicate champagne drinkers. So let it be with Terpsichore and her art. I am allergic to it, but I do not despise those who are not. I can’t go so far as to say that I envy them, but scorn and derision? Absolutely not. Just don’t ever look for me on the dance floor.

And so when people ask me what I think of pop music, or folk music, or rock and roll, or whatever other kind, I never quite know how to answer. I like listening to it, there is much of it lifts my spirits, that speaks to my deeps, that cleans me out, cheers me up, flies me away. But as for going to concerts, being in rooms where it is playing, hearing it on television, at parties, in the street, having it pour from hairdressers, clothes shops and bars — well no thank you.

And if you think that means I’m an enemy of the people, an elitist, a snob, then I’m sorry I haven’t explained myself properly.

Thank you for letting me leak my unlovely torment all over you. Thank you for listening/reading. Until the next time. Fare well.

Stephen

© Stephen Fry 2008

Producer’s note, Andrew here.

Thanks for the kind offers about bandwidth. Currently The Positive Internet Company, a lovely company based in the UK are providing stephenfry.com with all our 1930′s school girl needs. Hope you all enjoy listening (and watching) Stephen’s latest offering.

This blog was posted in Blessays

73 comments on “Bored of the dance”

  1. smac8129 says:

    Stephen, I love how you described it an allergy. That’s literally the only way people don’t feel like you’re judging them when you say you “dont dance” or “don’t drink champagne” or in my life “dont eat red meat.” People always try to convince me otherwise, but I just dont like the taste. But now I just say i’m allergic and while it’s insane to believe that absurd statement, people always do… hehe!

    I agree dancing is a stupid waste of time and I laughed outloud when you said it wouldn’t be a criteria you would use to choose a mate, but yet that’s what my friends alwasy want to do to meet people and what a silly criteria indeed! No truer words have been spoken.

    One question, tho, I would like to know if this podgram was written and then read into a mic or the other way around. I personally would prefer the latter as I quite enjoyed the extemporaneous musings/ramblings in the original podgram, this second one seemed too calculated. YET I LOOOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT, naturally!

    I love you more than anything (although my mom and dad might love you more!!)

  2. Hoover Cam says:

    Hoover Cam gives its official blessing to this podgram x

  3. okbye says:

    What funny timing, I just heard Lord Of The Dance for the first time today. Lucky me!

    I never did understand all the animosity towards Americans, where do you guys think we came from? Most Americans are of European descent. I guess we’re the willful children who left home and our parents resent us for it.
    I also can’t dance to save my life so I can relate to the horror of others trying to force you to try. Dancing is ok when others are doing it, I don’t hate it or love it, but keep away from me!

  4. Susan P. says:

    Peter Davis…do you know the scene in the Mrs Bradley mysteries in the jazz club? Dial my number and let’s discourse and not necessarily agree.

  5. Clive Murray says:

    Bandwidth? Bandwidth?

    Giles Bandwidth?

    I apologise.
    –c.

  6. meerium says:

    Funnily enough, one of my favourite experiences of classical music was…………. watching a six year old child dance with joyous abandon to Beethoven.

    My family had bought tickets to an Ulster Orchestra concert that was outdoors, at a National Trust property. The ticket said bring a picnic tea, so we duly loaded up with blankets and coolbox, and arrived to discover the most pretentious, boorish display of vulgar wealth I’ve ever seen. People had brought silver candelabras, floral centerpieces, braziers, fancy tables and chairs; and were braying loudly about having arrived via yacht. They brayed so loudly, in fact, that they managed to drown out a soloist performing Purcell’s Trumpet Concerto. I was seething by the end of the concert, the finale of which was a performance of Beethoven’s 5th, with fireworks in the last movement. And as we reached the last movement, a little boy appeared from one of the tables and danced gleefully on his own to the music. It restored my faith in humanity just a little.

  7. animal71 says:

    How can we argue when the genius of British comedy tells us that we’re wrong about American humor? It’s like the scene when Woody Allen pulls Marshall McLuhan out from behind a poster in a movie theatre ticket hall to settle his argument with a pontificating idiot. McLuhan obliges: “I heard what you were saying… You know nothing of my work… ”

    But Stephen – British comedy does seem to go put me in places and evoke moods that American comedy seems to shy away from; in the same was that French pop can give me a feeling that the hits from Motown or Manchester are unlikely to deliver. Why is that? Am I twenty types of watery twat for feeling that way?

    Someone clever once told me that British comedy is happy to leave a painful situation unresolved – to fail to provide closure – whereas American comedy prefers to offer a neat denouement. Is that down to the preference of the audience? Or is it because of the producers? Or am I merely spouting another myth that marks me out as ugly, graceless and rude?

    Won’t you tell us what you think the differences are between Amercan and British comedy (or humor)? Perhaps, then, we might return some “ugly, graceless twat” comments in your general direction… (unlikely, actually).

  8. LynxLuna says:

    I quite felt as if you were describing my own, irrational hatred for dancefloors, discos, etc. I, as a matter of fact, dance. I don’t dance very nicely, I don’t find a special pleasure in it, I don’t feel proud doing it or something like that. So why people like me (most than you would suspect) do dance? I think it is merely social. When you’re there in de dance floor just jumping and bouncing surrounded by people, you just feel closer to them. It’s emotional, irrational, just like having a good vodka shot. May be dance is just like alcohol, that’s why they usually come together. It’s mental. You forget your body, it kinda moves alone. Your brain is filled with music and light and sweating people. It’s like a drug, actually.

    Well, I’m not quite sure, but I feel like that when I’m dancing. I don’t really like it, but I don’t hate it either. I put a lot of myself in the dance, so I can’t dance to music I don’t like. It’s impossible for me, I inmediatly get depressed. Truly depressed. I put a sense in every movement, I need the meaning of the chords and the lyrics to dance. I can’t dance just dance music. I have to like it, feel it, love it. Maybe it is like that because I don’t really like the stuff, and what moves me is the music itself, the real thing.

    The thing is, a lot of people dance for the same reason they drink. They don’t like the taste of it, just the result. The loss of control, the social consequences and so on. And as for me, I don’t know why I dance. I think I do it in order to have a laugh with my friends. The rest of the time I hate dancing as much as you do and hate drunk people that doesn’t even see where are putting their feet.

    When music sucks, and people suck at dancing, and everyone is shouting and the whole nigh seems like a dull, ugly, black ball of vomit, then I feel in my right to really despise dancing. So don’t feel bad Stephen, your hatred it’s not a weird unnatural event in the course of time. I can understand it perfectly.

  9. FatSam says:

    I know EXACTLY what you mean. It’s as if you’re inside my head, transcribing my very thoughts on the subject of dancing, but using much more eloquent language than I ever could.

    I particularly despise those people who insist on forcing me to dance despite my repeated protestations, insisting that it will cheer me up and stop me from being such a misery-guts. They can’t see that inside me, a piece of me has just died of shame and humiliation. Their insistence on making me fall in line with their idea of a fun time has snuffed out one of the candles of joy that flicker within me.

    And don’t get me started on wedding disco DJ’s, and the way they keep shouting over the microphone (don’t they realise the microphone is attached to an amplifier which makes their voice loud electronically?), calling everyone who isn’t dancing “boooooring”… Yeah, thanks for that. Draw attention to me why don’t you?

    And when some drunken and misguided relative, usually an embarassing auntie, does manage to drag you onto the dancefloor, the damn deejaay insists on drawing more attention to you by shouting witless observations about the dancers over the tannoy.

    Oh how I hate dancing.

    In reading your thoughts as laid out for us here, I feel I have found a kindred spirit, and someone who finally understands the pain I suffer at family gatherings and social events.

  10. frybearsuze says:

    `dear stephen fry – it is impossible that you have read all the replies here so i feel hopeless about logging in this reply….I would like to know if you can touch type – or how did you type all the stuff preceding these replies – surely you dictate it onto a tape and some PA/sec types it out for you….I have just been watching an episode of the repeats of Kingdom(which must be kingdom 2 as you are just finishing filming Kingdom 3….
    You are one of those people who photograph thi nner than you are whereas for most people it is true what they say, that the camera adds at least a stone to your figure. I notice that Karl, however, has lost weight between Kingdom 2 and Kingdom, 3….
    May I say that after having a small extra part at a lot less to your production than the cost in London – I already wrote to you re hoping you wou;d sign my copy of your Moab oevre – but hang about as i will around the Kingdom & Kingdom offices in Swaffham, there never seems to be a time to approach you to this end. If i dont manage it this series, anyhow, I’ll do it next year, for we have all read on the net that kingdom 4 is certain….
    I wonder if I dare say that, ohgod, a lot of the sound certainly on the repeat today Tues 2nd Sept, was abysmal…I kept thinking ammi going deaf or what for no matter how much i turned up the sound, i couldn’t make out the dialogue….and as an ex film technician i keep wondering why it wouldn’t be cheaper to do Kingdom in the studio – or is that option so prohibitively expensive….
    There is a sense of claustrophobia in the interiors of kingdom – one sees the lights etc. required to shoot int/ext kingdolm & kingdom’s office and one wonders why or how it is that the studios have priced themselves out of the market.
    Anyway, certainly on the repeats of Kingdom 2, the sound is awful – one can’t hear what anybody says even turning up the sound on one’s telly…..i dohope you will write something nice in my paper back of Moab is my washpot….is it n-ot horrible having a limb full of metal and bolts even if eventually it works more or less the same – it isn’t the same and you have always to be extra careful of it lest some violen.t movement suddenly necessary, jolts the whole bolted metallic reconstructioln of the arm or leg – i am abs in awe of your intellect. suzanne gomme

  11. frybearsuze says:

    dont forget stephen – for i am the lord of the dance said he….personally i thinkyou can dance to anything,to any music, of course you can..and you can

    anyway this is – could you relay it to your driver? when we were extra nuns,chattingto himthe subject of extras don’t get their nosh until everybody else got theirs who important in the pace of the filming -= we were told as extras to make sure everybody else on the crew had their lunch before we went for ours…and i said not precisely to your driver., but as a general comment, that the admonition reminded me of dynastic occasions when we said to each other FHB or family hold back – your driver accused me of being facetious which was certainly not my intention, and i put it to you, Mr. Fry, no way the received understanding of the small ausdience around him and us…..perceived my comment as facetious….anyway but for that incident i would of given my paperback of your Moab oevre to yr driver and arxed him to arx you to sign it. types like your driver have occurred in my life, and they never like me, in fact instinctively dislike me and this has caused me some problems in my life. many problems….you cannot possibly type yourself all the above, foregoing, discourse about not liking dance or dance music – unless, as i say, you can touchtype – not many men can – i can and i can type at 85 wpm – do you need a PA with such skills???? suzebear@btinternet.co.uk

  12. linenwing says:

    Apparently there is such a thing as dance phobia- it even has a name; chorophobia. I should say that I have a morbid fear of dancing it, and yet i have never heard of or from anyone else who shares these characteristics. Stephen Fry’s episode 2 podcast was quite startling to me in it’s vivid description of the fear, anxiety, anger, paralysis and need to escape which I experience in these situations. I don’t presume that it is a phobia in his case, as he calls it an allergy, but it is the first time that I have ever heard anyone describing more than simply a sense of embarrassment, awkwardness or self consciousness.
    I am capable of functioning adequately in most normal social situations, and can relatively comfortably give lectures, wedding speeches or eulogies. But the moment there is a note or two of any dancable music in a gathering of more than two, or even the prospect of it, then I will become a complete mess, cease to communicate, and leave the premises unannounced. Even if it is 3am in the Chateau Rouge district of Paris congested with knife gangs. Or at best if I am forced to stay, I turn into a tetchy peice of wood or seek refuge in a W.C.
    It isn’t simply a matter of shyness, ineptitude or aversion, or even just plain old fear. I have a fear of heights, yet I’m still willing to sweat and tremble and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. But dancing in any form is to be avoided at all costs. Any kind soul wishing to drag me onto the dance floor will be frustrated as I wrestle myself from their grasp and beat a hasty exit. An amiable group of friends will suddenly metamorphose in my mind into a braying mob from a William Hogarth painting. The only public music I can comfortably listen to is slow jazz, or any table or chair limited concert, where dancing is not expected or desired.
    My wife loves to dance and is wonderfully uninhibited, joyful and childlike in movement, and unfortunately I always have to pass her onto another man and end up feeling a little like the temperence league in D W Griffith’s Intolerence, or the blind monk in The Name of the Rose- some overly devout puritan out to spoil other people’s fun. Then i feel wretchedly guilty for about 3 days afterwards. It’s a silly phobia to have really.

  13. rickdang says:

    Stephen

    You have cheered me up no end with your comments about hating dancing. Whenever I am at a social function and end up being dragged onto the dancefloor by some irritating extrovert, I suffer physical reactions that I expect are designed to save my life were I to be confronted by a large predator. I absolutely hate it and I hate the way I am expected to participate. I am almost considering avoiding the company xmas party next year, as this year I had the choice of joining the rest of our dinner table on the dance floor, or appearing weird by being the only person to remain seated. I reluctantly got up and felt like a fish out of water.

    My loathing dates back to when I was about 15, when I reluctantly joined in at a church disco after many previous occasions where I watched clueless from the sidelines. I didn’t really “get it”, and my misery was made complete afterwards when a girl introduced me to a group of her friends with the line “This is X, and he can’t dance” (and they all laughed). I wanted the ground to swallow me up and have hated discos and clubs ever since.

    Same with Karakoke. I hate the way nobody asks me whether I would like to join in, I am just expected to do it, when I would prefer to have my fingernails pulled out with pliers than get up and humiliate myself.

    Why must people who enjoy dancing/singing inflict their passion on those of us who clearly hate it? I don’t physically haul them round to my house and force them to take part in activities that I enjoy such as chess, or imply in a loud voice that they are boring socially-retarded misfits if they don’t come along.

    Anyway, thanks again Stephen for making me feel a lot better – next xmas party I am going to stand my ground and explain in no uncertain terms that I hate dancing and do not wish to participate. And if people think I am strange, then so be it.

  14. Vintro says:

    I have traveled and worked extensively in America, and unlike Stephen, I can confirm the cliche’s more than just exist, they thrive. For some people, the cliche is the basis for/of their existence. I bore myself thinking of all the cliches I have come across. Non more so than being asked by a white women in a hotel bar in Main, Alabama, why I was talking and drinking with a black man after filming all day, the destructive force of hurricane Katrina.

    As for Irony, my experience is that most Americans struggle to disseminate what you have just said in a completely foreign accent, Let alone hearing the irony involved. I have seen this in your travels there! And after that, in my experience, some (I want to say most) Americans mistake Irony for rudeness and would prefer you to talk straighter, especially if you don’t know them that well.

    Stephen, were you ever struck by how all/most Americans are so adept at being interviewed on camera. They inherently know the value of a sound bite, they (even if they have never been on camera before) lead the way in doing a sound check, finding their spot, giving a full sentenced answer, and generally showing a great knowledge of the medium, unlike any other country in the world. Americans are born with a seventh sense for how to work with TV/film crews. Which makes working there, a breeze.

    I love America, because in some ways it is the most foreign country I have been to. It is a country of the most extreme extremes, And the parts that make up that great country are completely foreign to each other.

    As for Dancing, I don’t believe for a second that you don’t like it! You Dance with your words and mind, that’s your expression of dance! face it, you dance better than most! Your modesty of your dancing ability is underwhelming, even insulting to the reader. Please keep insulting me for a long time to come.

  15. nonoyesyes says:

    Hello Stephen. I hope you are well.
    I was touring around your page as I hadn’t been for a visit in ages.. last visit was to a blog with Fame in it’s title…
    I note the updates, etc, Twipic link: very fine indeed.
    It has been a great privilege, and an honour to be on the page which connects to you, of which the Twitter is a vital part!
    I totally enjoyed this blog. I had not seen it before. I can only say bravo – and applaud that you are so apt at being exactly who you are! Why should one apologise for being as is?!
    It is a celebration in fact to meet with a celebrity who is so at home with self; and who can communicate it so beautifully!
    No matter what else comes to my life; I will always be extraordinarily and truly grateful that your talented self was brought to my attenion!
    Knowing you just via your written word; and performances has waved a magic fabric of `joy of life’ over my life hard to describe!
    It has enriched my being; drawn an old artisic streak from a long forgotten vault in my background and made present life take on a new level of creative spirit.
    I will always hold you in the highest regard!
    Sincerely
    nahatsu

  16. nonoyesyes says:

    *TYPO correction
    * Attention
    * Artistic

    [sorry!]

  17. nonoyesyes says:

    p.s. on this bright Sunday afternoon..
    As I was touring around and about I came across this blog not so long ago seen and commented upon… and find there are some additions..
    Love the photo of you Stephen with “Did he Miss the Dance Class” I wonder had we been in the same tap / ballet dancing class if it would have been an absolute riot?!!
    LOL… I cannot imagine you in tights & leotard! (for that matter I cannot imagine myself in them these days either! LOLZ)
    I promise that should we ever actually meet, I won’t…positively won’t ask you to dance!!
    ((lol)) Cheers
    xx

  18. nonoyesyes says:

    *.*.*.*.* P.S.S. BIRTHDAY WISHES IN ADVANCE!

    MANY HAPPY RETURNS OF THE DAY!
    I SEE IT IS YOUR BIRTHDAY…
    AUGUST 24TH….

    HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL CELEBRATION!
    IT WAS A HAPPY DAY WHEN YOU ARRIVED!

    *.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*.*

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPHEN!

  19. nonoyesyes says:

    omg omg OMG!!!
    WHAT A GREAT WIN!
    I AM ITCHING TO MAKE ANOTHER PAGE ON TWITTER BUT …WITH 4 OR 5 ACCOUNTS BEHIND ME …???!!!!
    BUT I LOVE TALKING TO YOU! HA HA
    JUST HEARD YR AUDIOBOO AND COULD NOT (UNDERLINED) BE MORE DELIGHTED FOR THE SHEER BLSS OF WIN!
    CONGRATS FROM OVER HERE TOO!
    LOL
    nahatsu
    xx

  20. nonoyesyes says:

    Hello … am back home on Twitter once more!
    (( it was impossible to stay away! ))

  21. nonoyesyes says:

    A slip of the clicker on my mouse ….I ended up on yr page..
    Only to find (mysteriously) that I was “logged in” when I had not in fact logged in! I took it to be a sure sign that it would be alright to say hello.
    A destiny perhaps to arrive here logged in?! lolz
    Well… I was wondering how you’re doing with your screenplay: I sure hope its going well for you.

  22. jzfly says:

    Sorry most likely very mcOld but, bandwith = p2p = sorted.

  23. nonoyesyes says:

    Dear Stephen
    Hello!
    It’s tradition – it’s the 24th August, your Birthday; and time to wish you a very happy birthday!
    I wonder how you will be celebrating it this year what with you being out on a doc film producing errand…
    Anyway I hope it will be just as special and my very fondest wishes to you for a fabulous birthday celebration.
    Lots of love
    nahatsu

    xoxoxox

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