Stephen Fry is filming a series for the BBC in the United States of American and its beauty and wonder continues to inspire him.

In this third episode, he discusses the merits of Oscar Wilde’s view on American violence and good wallpaper.

Download the latest podgram “WALLPAPER”. Available in both .m4a (audio visual) and .mp3 (audio only) formats.

Producer note, Andrew here: Grateful thanks to the guys over in the Stephenfry.com/forum. They’ve transcribed Podgram 3 for you to read. As ever, please be patient as I manually approve comments from new users.

Note on “comments”, Andrew here. On Monday we upgraded the security of this blog and disabled some commentary sections of around 40% of Stephen’s blogs. We’re sorry that you have been unable to comment for three days. We are now working through the blogs and enabling the commentary sections. However, some of the older blogs will close off comments. We’ll start with September and October 07.

Thanks to Susan P alerting me to this.


This blog was posted in Blessays

40 comments on “Wallpaper”

  1. banjo says:


    thanks for all the pocasts.
    is there a text version of this one yet?

    my slow rural connection + oklahoma storms
    make it difficult for me to be online as long as it might
    take to download!

    i’ll give it a shot.

  2. banjo says:

    haha… i meant “podcasts”
    but i’ll start saying “pocasts”
    and see if it catches on.

  3. Fryphile says:

    B to the anjo, I’m typing as fast as my little fingers can :D

  4. banjo says:

    thanks Fryphile!

    and now y’all (Mr. Fry and Andrew and whoever else helps with this)
    don’t have to worry about it.

  5. jonecc says:

    The beauty and wonder? Of America, or the BBC series?

    I think we should be told.

  6. AxmxZ says:

    What would we do without you, Fryphile? :)

  7. robertas says:

    Aaaah I dont really care :) … words like happy, pig and shite come to mind on a day like today, just what I needed… :)
    Not that I think podgram was shite, in fact I think I like this one best of all… the lavatory bit had me in stitches…

  8. AxmxZ says:

    Ah, the intimate “naked, raw and trembling” ramble style… Doesn’t mean I won’t listen the others or enjoy them any less, but I think I’ll look forward to the odd-numbered twittery podgrams the most.

  9. David H says:

    Stephen Fry mentioned “Oscar Wilde and the wallpaper” comment before, didn’t he? I forget where it was… maybe on QI? Or it’s just deja vu for me…

    I’m so glad Stephen Fry is so open about his life and himself in general, and I thank him for these podcasts. These give us another way of getting to know Stephen and to know that he is actually a real person, but I won’t be fooled into thinking that he actually goes to the bathroom, that would be silly.

  10. Fryphile says:

    [url=http://stephenfry.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2423]Textable version[/url].

    WARNING: It’s pretty ugly looking without Stephen’s beautifully velvet voice. Not responsible for any murderous bloodbath which may result from people reading it.

  11. Dalliard says:

    Very enjoyable listening as ever. But…

    1. My vote too goes for the rambling, improvised and twittery ones. (Odd will always win through.)

    2. Would you lose that cacophonic musak? In favour of what? (Thatcher – coat hanger?) I really don’t mind. A sampled montage of coughing and retching noises like at the beginning of this podgram would, to me, be preferable to the tinny output of Random Setting 5 on your Bontempi organ. Just a thought, and I hope I’m not being too offensive in mentioning it.

    (It was probably composed by your mother, wasn’t it? And you’ll want to defenestrate anyone who says a word against it. Oh lor’.)

  12. hannah-mae says:

    I think this might be my favourite podgram so far.

    “Oscar is the Prince of Bohemia…he’s the student prince; he’s the man who represents the refusal ever to leave that permanent state of studentship, which questions things, which delights in sensations, which delights openly in love and other emotions, which questions the values that are imposed from above by our seniors”

    Yes! Absolutely. I’m one of those students you mention who proudly adorns her walls with his picture, and I think that’s exactly it. What you say about the commercialisation of music and whatnot is true, too. It’s rather sad. There are so depressingly few modern day inspirational “celebrities”

    I think a sign of a good podgram (well, a sign of a good anything) is when it gets you thinking and talking about its content long after you’ve heard it, which this one certainly did. After listening to it, I spent ages thinking about Wilde and Aestheticism and, in particular, the quote you used about wallpaper. I’d read it before, but I admit, I suppose I’d always thought of it as one of Wilde’s classic witty quips and not given it too much thought. You’re right though, of course; it’s really quite insightful. And it just serves to reinforce the man’s greatness. I think your empire state building comparison is perfect – I hope to visit one day and see for myself!

    I’m glad you’ve decided to continue with the less structured podgrams; they’re lovely and personal, like a cosy chat! I think what I love most about your entries (both audio and written) is that I always find myself grinning and nodding along in a agreement, and saying “yes!” a lot, often aloud. I get some funny looks on the train, but it brightens up long journeys!

    Hope all’s well, especially with your arm. Looking forward to the next installment…

  13. Alethea says:

    When I have time, I will be delighted to listen to the podcast (not on a pod). Meanwhile, I like to see words, too, so I indulged first in the pleasure of imagining you speak them and later, will hear the real thing. Thank you so much to your scribes, and it was well worth the wait.

    Writing as a scientist, I am happy to hear that you have a favo(u)rable opinion of that line of inquiry. Choice of scientific career is largely a matter of self-indulgence, from those who enjoy remaining perpetual students.

    I don’t really agree with your (or Mr. Wilde’s) assessment of the influence of aesthetics (or lack thereof) on human violence. I won’t bother you with the counter-examples as you didn’t ask for them, and could probably find plenty yourself if you put your mind to it. But it is fun to read (as yet) that you enjoy this strange-sided dialogue pitting you against a blurry Mr./Ms. Public on the otherside because I, as one little bit of that strange person, also enjoy it on my end. Looking forward to re-reading – or listening – and hearing what the other bits of my persona might have to say in response as well.

  14. metastatik says:

    Your observations on the Anglo-Saxon intellectual temperament are interesting – the sort of conservatism and faith in decency and ‘common sense’ which can be virtues in small measures too often metamorphose into a weird sort of universal distaste for the complex, difficult, elaborate or unusual. It has its roots in Locke, Hume and the emphatically sober analytical philosophy that underpins British intellectual culture – just look at the distrust of ‘continental’ philosophy with its strange meanderings and provocative phenomenology. On a less rarefied level, the recent British media analysis of les Sarkozettes and their interest in style: an unmistakable belief that style somehow detracts from or even precludes substance. One can’t make foreign policy in Dior, you know.

    I’m not as huge a fan of Wilde as you, though I’m by no means a virulent detractor – I think there’s an occasional laziness to his aphorisms that makes them a little tiresome. Eco, in one of the essays in ‘On Literature’, makes the point that Wilde’s paradoxes can often be reversed, which in turn makes me wonder if they’re really a triumph of style over substance. Wilde’s undoubtedly a brilliant satirist and a sharp wit, but even the most charitable reader of Wilde has to admit that his style is just occasionally indulgent to the point of being self-defeating. Indulgence is no crime, especially with a style like that – who doesn’t occasionally wish to roll in prolixity and linguistic dexterity? – but I think it’s wise to bear in mind that Oscar’s bon mots are occasionally brilliant but substanceless confections. One might argue that’s part of the joy, of course…

    It’s interesting that you choose nature as the great exemplar of beauty, since while I think it’s undoubtedly true that human culture is, to a large extent, a blot on beauty, Wilde’s ideology is surely the triumph of artifice and the antinatural, no? Wilde’s style is predicated on the escape from the whole idea of the ‘natural’ functioning of things — “through art and art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence”. Don’t really know where I’m going with this, perhaps only that Wilde might locate violence as a function of nature.

    Incidentally, I think the student appreciation of icons like Wilde is complicated by the sort of distance and vapid ‘irony’ that seems prevalent on a lot of campuses, even my own. The iconic status may only be accorded because of the ability to be able to spin a witty response, rather than any comment on the substance of those responses. I suppose one has to ask those dreadful cultural studies questions, like whether decadence, or an affinity for the Bohemian in an anodyne, mediated form, is just a symptom of privilege…

    Thanks for this, Stephen, it provoked me into thinking.

  15. Captin Pugwash says:

    Thanks again for a funny and enjoyable podgram.If you do these podgrams as Stephen Fry would do them, we will all be happy.Ramble on. Feel free, that is what this format is all about. Have fun, we will.

  16. missblue says:

    Dear Stephen, thanks for the lovely surprise of a freeform podcast. Blessings on you and I’m glad you’re on the mend. Two ideas:

    1. I too am rabidly uncoordinated and would gladly join you for hot chocolate and reading and placid sitting before a window with snow behind it – so long as I needn’t go into that snow. I’m from Boston originally and there’s a reason I live in California now. My husband is Canadian and likes skiing, but he’s a bit insane.

    2. A funny anecdote about Oscar Wilde. I was talking with my father, who is a conservative Catholic and not a great one for reading. He said to me that he’d been watching the Catholic cable channel and a priest had informed the audience that quite a number of famous writers had been Catholics. One, he said, was Oscar Wilde.

    I replied that I didn’t doubt that Wilde had some sort of spiritual experience but that I doubted it was full-blown Catholicism. Dad added that Wilde hadn’t been gay! Not at all! This priest had said so. I replied nicely that Oscar was certainly married and had had children, but his primary orientation was toward other men. Dad stubbornly asserted that Oscar was a straight Catholic.

    A few days later, I was having dinner with my half-sister. I told her this story. She rolled her eyes, and as we left the restaurant, she crossed the street, paused in the intersection, and said, “Hasn’t your dad ever read De Profundis?”

    “Clearly not,” said I.

    To be fair, I have only read bits and pieces of it, and that a long time ago.

    But I thought Oscar might be amused to think how…er, vital he continues to be at all levels of American discourse.

  17. Kyle Voltti says:

    I just wanted to say I’m quite enjoying these podcasts. I’m looking forward to the next one and hope you’re having a good time in Aspen. I wonder if you’ve ever been to Whistler BC.

  18. pabuenos says:

    Hello Mr. Fry

    I don’t know what exactly happened to the comments of the other podcast, but when i was trying to comment “Bored of Dance” they didn’t allowed me… well, the fact is that I loved this new podcast, just finished listening it for the third time (you speak too fast and I understand too slow). This “podgram” inspired me a lot! Made me laugh and think about many things in my life (specially the idols). I have a big poster of Rimbaud in my room, and another of Fernando Pessoa in my door… I was talking about it with my professor one day, and he repeted a verse by a brazillian songwriter: “Our heroes died by overdose”… lots to think about it, lots to say about it…. If you don’t mind I will comment the preview podcast: yes! “Running on Empty” is a fabulous movie, and the funny thing is that I always use the same scene you used in this podcast to illustrate the difference between pop and classical music to my friends. I have a big problem with pop music as well, even though there are some artists that I really like… I’m not unpunished! Talking about dance, that is the subject of the podcast, I have to say that I suffered when I was a kid. Here in Brazil we have a big party in “Carnaval”, and at school the teachers were always organizing Mask-Parties and/or Fantasy Parties… but the big problem was the dancing time. First of all I was always alone and nobody wanted to dance with me, but I don’t think it was a problem once I’d rather to be alone… anyway, the hate grew in my little heart and I never liked to dance! My friends always try to put me on a dance floor but without success… I really recognize myself when you were talking about it! And probably this is one of the preponderant factors for my musical taste! Yes… you are right! But my question is: what came first? The disliking of dance or the passion for classical music? My english is a mess anyway… by the way, you were talking about the documentary of USA where you would visit each state and showing the Musical Landmarks (between other things). Talking about music and this documentary, I don’t know if you have already been in Texas, but if you don’t, I have a suggestion about a small place between Austin and Houston called Round Top. Is really a small town, with 77 habitants and the most wonderful musical experience of that part of Texas (maybe one of the most brilliant of USA): an institute called Festival Hill Institute, where they have a very interesting schedule of classical music festivals all the year… in the summer students of music from all around the world go there to classes and play… I really think you should check this out! Wow, I write a lot, must stop now and say that I can’t wait for the next “podgram”!!! I am so sorry about my poor english (I’m a brazillian guy still trying to improve my english), but if you read it I hope you understand! (K)

  19. dark_maylee says:

    This is great. I love this particular podcast so much. I wouldn’t mind whether the podcast is improvised or prepared. Maybe I should be more picky with things. It’s currently my birthday as I’m typing this so listening to a brand new podcast is like a thirty minute birthday present (even though you posted this yesterday).

    When I was in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, I found some time to hang about on my hotel room’s porch and read a book. There was an incredible view of a little island and other bluish-grey ones behind it. The sky was almost cloudless and insanely blue. The water was blue with little white dot ships. Everything was blue except for the trees on the island. It was such a beautiful sight. Nature spent so many years creating this. We screw it up so much with hatred, it’s makes me feel kind of guilty to see something like that. Listening to this podcast reminded me of that moment. Actually, it was hearing about Alpine resorts, then about violence. I thought about how my country’s murder rate is through the roof. Every day there’s an article in the newspaper about a death or a kidnapping that these have become just statistics. It’s so depressing to hear the radio mention how many deaths there have been for the year but then now it feels like they seeing it as just numbers.

    My old Spanish teacher used to mourn about the increasing crime rate. Usually, I though she was a bit of nut, for different reasons, although there is one thing I remember: she once stopped class so we could look at the poui trees out the window. Some people enjoyed the sudden break from class and some people complained about ‘oh, we come to school to learn and here we are in spanish class doing nothing but looking at trees and I can watch the trees when I’m home’. I like looking outside.

    I strayed from the main point. Ack. Anyway, thanks.

  20. dark_maylee says:

    P.S. Glad the arm is getting better. :D

  21. Nixie says:

    Wow, this is the first time I’m going to get to comment in this highly entertaining and/or informative blog of Stephen’s. I’ve been looking forward to the third installment–been bouncing right at the tips of my tippy-toes–of Mr. Fry’s podgrams. Now I can’t wait to get home (I’m in the office now, worse luck–they haven’t got iTunes installed in our PCs!) and download it now that it’s here.

    It’s nice to know that Stephen’s recovered enough to get back in the groove of his extremely busy yet seemingly fulfilling schedule. Heaven knows how hard it is to recover from a broken schedule–almost as tough as recover from a broken arm! :-)

    Thanks for this Mr. Fry!

  22. Susan P. says:

    I enjoyed this podgram greatly. Before you began on the Wilde discourse I was hunched down pressing my headphone into/over my ears to cut out extraneous sound and my eyes were looking at a particular playlist. So, as you coughed and apologised and coughed and sipped, I was reading Sticky McGee, Fruit Bazooka and Sugar Tits et al. That rather fitted the odd wee moment of a Bit of Fry & Laurie humour you delivered. I almost consider than a noun; a genre. Anyway, I think we consider people pretentious when a) they love to hear what they say – it delights them and b) their ego enlarges by way of that and it fills a space. I think Wilde did have the first trait (who can blame him) but I suspect he would have delighted in having others capable of similar; thus he would have resonated against and made room for other’s egos. His comment about wallpaper serves a great deal in the sense you are led to think and consider – as you have done and delivered in the podgram. This will lead many of us to consider the propositions. I’m not sure tho, vis ‘beauty’ that this is such a cut and dried issue. I do note you referred ‘eye of beholder’ but haven’t you ever been struck by something that seems exquisite to you that defies normative definitions of beauty?
    Thanks for the time re the podgram.

  23. Susan P. says:

    Oh..I had intended more along these lines: haven’t you ever been struck by something that seems exquisite to you that defies normative definitions of beauty AND the cliches? I was totally enthralled at a sequence in a sitcom recently because it gave a life to an email dialogue I sometimes have with someone. It mirrored the creative humour and the twists and turns of conversing about nothingness and yet enjoying and making meaning of that. I felt the beauty of seeing the parallel TV example. A close example would be a particular book scene where Lord Peter Wimsey talks to his wife. Anyone overhearing them probably would make little sense of the dialogue; but to them, life was intimately commented on and shared, intimately. Exquisite.

  24. Nixie says:

    Hello everyone! I posted, or rather, attempted to post a comment earlier but apparently, it didn’t make it. Silly internet. Or is it silly, impatient kid who must’ve closed her browser before it could post her comment?

    Anyway, this is my first-ever post in Stephen’s highly entertaining and rather informative blog. I’ve enjoyed my brief moonlighting moments here and so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I would jump into the fray m’self and comment. I said in my failed posting earlier that I’ve been waiting on tenterhooks for this third installment of Mr. Fry’s podgrams. I’m still in no better position to talk about it as my iTunes is still downloading the file.

    It’s really heartening to hear that Stephen’s recovering from both his broken arm and broken schedule. Both are lousy predicaments to have dropped on one’s lap, but since the body’s self-healing powers are particularly potent especially with today’s modern medical marvels, I tend to think that in some cases the latter predicament may be a tad worse.

    Cheers then, Mr. Fry. I shall look in to comment again when I’ve heard the podgram. Toodle-loo!

  25. whim-of-a-hat says:

    I remember you discussing this subject at length on “Room 101″ a while back, in re the unspeakable abomination that is the Collectible Plate. I really think that you and Oscar may be on to something here. Case in point: the sickly green-white paint they use on the walls of our high school classrooms. I defy anyone to spend ten minutes in the presence of that color and tell me that it is not having an adverse effect on the psychological wellbeing of today’s youth.
    (Oh, and since you’ve given divine sanction to our nitpickery: I feel it only fair to mention that Oscar tried to live up to his “blue china” and not his “blue *and white* china”. Goodness, Mr. Fry. I know you have a cold but that’s hardly an excuse. :D)

  26. Gertrude Susanne says:

    Try as you might, dear Mr Fry, you could never ever “be too . . . too, too, too about Oscar.” x

  27. JonathanCarr says:

    It’s wonderful that something as light and fluffy as a podcast can be so deep, so telling . . . but that’s Mr Fry’s skill. The idea of aesthetics changing behavior has been successfully employed in a Los Angeles park where classical music is subtly piped through the day. That alone was enough to move the crack addicts on. What stopped me in my tracks (not really, I drove on, like a daft lemming) was this discussion of ugliness. Now that’s not a word many use these days. Ugly wars. Ugly elections. Ugly transport systems. Maybe it’s a word that would awaken us more than ‘This was an illegal war’. It cuts through the assumptions and focuses on the truth – man, it’s UGLY.

    Podcasting is an art, like writing, like travelling, like seduction and the Times Leader. I’m glad that Stephen Fry has mastered it in a flash and grasped its limits and possibilities. More please.

  28. Theahatthe says:

    Dear Mr Fry,

    Appearing on Wikipedia, as you ordered it, good sir.

    ‘In July 2011, Stephen Fry went missing after appearing in the Tot Ali Faik Ballet in China, and was found dead, having been carried to shore by three friendly fishermen, all of whom had excellent dental plans from their employees. (Or so we have heard.) Fry pointed out when asked by interviewers about his feelings on the matter that, ‘There is a lesson in this that can be learned by everyone. I’m damned if I know what is is.’ These wise words from Mr Fry will be remembered by everyone, especially those who heard them in the first place.’

    It may not remain for long, and my IP may be blocked from the site, but the futility of the task was almost bracing.

  29. I am not sure whether I enjoy the acerbic pokings in the eyes of the Lord of the Dance or the gentle caress of the life of the marvelous Mr Wilde more, but I have a request for Stephen. I have long been an admirer of Picasso and Dali, the only two visual artists (other than Renaissance painters) whom I have studied. However I would love to hear someone talk about ‘modern’ art.

    I’m sure I am making a dreadful fool of myself for assuming that just because Stephen is an intelligent man who quite possibly knows his Claret from his Beaujolais, he knows about art, and modern art at that. I should say though – and I will – that I would rather hear the passionate words of a devoted amateur, or even an eloquent ignoramus, on any pod.

    As we say in Canada, here’s hoping.

  30. Matt Keefe says:

    As regards the changing tastes among students, it seems to me that a large part of what you are talking about is simple disillusionment. Students believed music would change the world. It didn’t; they became disillusioned. They believed Che Guevara would change the world. He didn’t; they became disillusioned.

    We see a similar kind of disillusionment with many things, as time proves them not capable of the hopes people held for them – politics, for example, seems a similar a target of disillusionment and the once famously politically-active student body is no longer so (an interesting example of this on the BBC site today, in fact: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7371886.stm).

    The young in general, and students in particular, are perhaps the most prone to this kind of disillusionment, being by nature very of the most hopeful and idealistic amongst us. Perhaps one day they’ll decide Wilde has disappointed them, too.

  31. robertas says:

    Heavens I have not even realized comments were unlocked again, shame on me :)

    I have 3 bits and bobs I’d like to say
    lookingatthestars, oh yes what a great idea about modern art I love Dali, I was at his museum in Figueres – mindblowing. I would really love to hear Mr. Fry’s take on modern art.

    Second – you know its May (already ahhh where did the time go) but does that mean we can expect a new podgram soon? :)

    And third I tried submitting Mr. Fry’s podgram to the podcast section of digg but to no avail. It was weeks ago and still it is not listed. Not that it matters much, because all of us will listen to it anyway but it is annoying. I have it in mind to e-mail the digg boys, honestly if anyone deserves to have his podcast listed then it is the original Apple fanboy :)

  32. nadahlman says:

    Dear Mr. Fry,

    I just happened to have finished stage directing a scene from the opera “The Ballad of Baby Doe,” which is deeply tied to Leadville, Colorado. It was a shock to hear the name in any other context, especially one in which Oscar Wilde and wallpaper were involved!

    You may have encountered the opera, or at least its story, as part of your travels in Colorado. Horace Tabor comes with his wife to Leadville to keep a general store to serve the silver miners there; gets bored, starts speculating, and makes a huge fortune on the silver mines he comes to own; builds an opera house and other gifts for Colorado; falls in love with “Baby Doe,” a young female coal miner(!), and divorces his wife; is appointed to the senate for 30 days, during which he marries Baby Doe, eventually causing national scandal; lives with her in luxury and under social censure for 12 years, having two daughters; loses everything after the “Cross of Gold” election of 1896; and dies a penniless manual laborer. Baby Doe sets up a vigil by his most-prized mine and lives there alone for 30 years, finally found having frozen to death. Incredible epic story, very American, and a very touching opera to boot.

    Perhaps it makes sense that Oscar Wilde would have come to Leadville to speak. Tabor, an iconoclast, lover of the good life, and society rebel himself, would have appreciated what Wilde represented. Perhaps he invited Wilde? Imagine lecturing Americans on aesthetics in the middle of a mine-ridden industrial town called Leadville!

    Anyway, thanks for the podgrams, particularly 2 and 3. Can’t wait for the next one.

  33. carowould says:

    Having enjoyed the first three Podcasts enormously, I was settling down to what I presumed would be a loosely monthly occurrence, when, woe, woe and thrice woe, May has come and gone without an installment. Could anyone throw any light on this? Was I immeasurably foolish to assume as I did? Is May a blip or is there to be no regularity to Mr Fry’s broadcasts? I am very much aware that these Podcasts cannot be expected to take precedence on on Mr Fry’s already busy schedule, but no doubt there are others equally concerned that they have not had their dose of musings this month. Is there any chance (oh please, oh go on, you might) that we could have two in June to make up for May’s sad silence?
    Caro Wood

  34. Selma says:

    Now, Mr. Fry. Wonderful.

    How I wish I could be a famous undergrad. Not because of Fame, which I’m sure is overrated, but just for the challenge. I managed to sustain one part of that for five years, which isn’t bad. Half way through the fifth such year now, in fact, procrastinating (not writing) a dissertation in Art Theory. But I have pondered long and hard and I’m not really sure it is possible to be famous for simply being a student. A good and proper one, like. Much as I’m sure that would improve our lot a bit. Young people I mean. All we seem to get around here (for good reason I suppose) is “those bloody students, always burning couches”. As above, it seems that (disillusionment aside) people simply loose interest too quickly. Still, I don’t see that as good reason not to try, not to have hopes and to be idealistic. Someone has to.

    On another matter. In fact, now for something completely different, in fact.

    I feel it’s time for more. I know that’s just one of the many qualms people (myself included) have about modern society – always wanting more. But still. I’ve been waiting months on the hold list for the Last Harry Potter on CD, and it really has been a while since Wallpaper. I’ve resorted to lots of Jeeves and Wooster, 30s hit music and (sorry to say) a bit (ha) of whiskey, as I sit here alone (apart from a terrier) on a windy winter night. Southern hemisphere be damned. All that’s really got me is a strong desire to exist in 1929. So, I feel it’s time for more. More Fry Wisdom, that is. More well spoken, well thought and well received podgramme. I simply can’t go on dog-sitting without it (because I’m running out of whiskey, as I’m sure the quality of this response will attest to when I re-read it in the morning).

    I know you must be terribly busy, being famous and all. And then you simply must fit in a bit of Fry-time, just as I must have my Selma-time. But a podgramme, thinking aside (which I assume must be natural for you by now, having has so much practice), is only about 25 minutes. Let it be known: it’s at least 75 minutes of enjoyment at this end. That’s not a bad ratio.

    Now. I wonder if terriers drink whiskey. Maybe Minnie the Moocher will help…

  35. alina says:

    I’m two months late in discovering your Podgrams. However, it’s been a pleasure. “Wallpaper” is probably my favourite of the three, as in addition to being thought-provoking it also does a nice job of evoking a mood.

    I’ve always had a soft spot for Oscar Wilde, but I have to admit I’d generally assumed he was somewhat shallow, if brilliant and spectacular. It was the film (“Wilde”) which first made me think about him in more detail, and now your podcast…

    In some ways, I think his bons mots resemble miniature masks. They sound controversial and sweepingly general, whilst concealing unexpected angles on what is widely taken for granted. They are not literally true, and usually focus on only one aspect of the area they pretend to tackle (hence, I guess, the sense of flippancy and superficiality), but have the great merit of being surprising and challenging. The attempt to uncover the ‘meaning’ of Wilde’s aphorisms is rather odd, because once you get past the provocative-sounding form, the thoughts behind it are actually quite reasonable. But it takes a shock to bring them to light in the first place.

    Of course the ugliness of wallpapers was not the reason for the Civil War or for violence in America. In a literal sense, Wilde’s response was elusive rather than precise. But it indirectly achieved two things: 1. it pointed out that there wasn’t a simple answer to the question of American aggression; and 2. it emphasised the influence of aesthetics on human thought and behaviour. However, this is not to say he believed that people who surround themselves with beautiful things are good and vice-versa. I am pretty sure he would never have conflated aesthetics and morals, or assumed that beauty or ugliness were the only factors relevant to the way in which people think and/or act. But they do have an impact, and that was a surprising connection to make in that particular context.

    I guess that Oscar Wilde’s witticisms urge you to think rather than provide you with answers.

  36. Mija says:

    Welcome back. Time does fly when one’s not blogging.

    Wonderful talk. I’d heard it, but it was great fun to read it as well.

    For the first few years of my partner (now husband) and my relationship, we argued about the value of television. Or rather he argued for its value and I called it trash. I couldn’t understand how he found anything worthy, or at least enough worth while to defend what to me seemed a mostly mindless medium.

    And then I came to live for a while with him in Britain. And then he came to live with me in the US. There are many wonderful things about the US, but our television, especially our network television isn’t one of them.

    Should anyone ever be in doubt as to whether the BBC fee is worth its money, they should come and watch broadcast tv in the US for a few months. I’d happily pay it now if we could.

  37. curious_george says:

    Hello Mr. Fry,

    I don’t know whether this is off topic but I just want to say that I really like your idea of a documentary about the US (apart from the America parodies you did w/ Hugh Laurie, I absolutely LOVE the “Ass” skit). It’s good to know that there are intellectual actors, unlike a lot of what we have seen in Hollywood (names, please?). I live in Philadelphia and I was just wondering if you have visited this city. Also, I noticed that you lived in New York City for some time. How do the Brits perceive NYC, or what’s your take on it in comparison to the rest of America? Sometimes when I visit New York I feel like I’m almost in a foreign country. It’s probably one of the few places in the world where I can hear a dozen or so languages on a short walk. Do you think you will be doing a TV program(me) (that was to satisfy British spelling) on NYC as well? Or a comedy show that involves that city?

  38. theotherblog says:

    RE: Your COMPLIANCE Podcast

    The kiwis have a nice (and practical) convention of describing “www” as “dub-dub-dub” as in the first part of “dubble you”…

  39. silkys says:

    Dear Mr Fry…….
    I am the daughter of the late Vivian Stanshall. We need you to consider a very important part. I have no way of contacting you, as I am in the states. I have emailed Neil Innes and am waiting to hear from him. But if you could reply to me asap, you would be very happy you did. The part is you up and down, all around. Please, Please contact me. I will be very stupid now and leave my email……(and for all others, I will erase it as soon as Mr Fry replys)………..silkys@eiobooks.com.
    If this is not you and your assistant, then please, please let him know who I am. I’m quite sure he’ll at least lend an ear.

    Thank you sooooooo much!!!!!!!

    Silky Stanshall

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