The England of old

The Normans’ family business was a problem early on when the young Barry attended the public school Hurstpierpoint College. The school did not accept the sons of tradespeople, and there was a lengthy debate over whether film editing was a trade. Norman later moved to Highgate School, which had no such qualms.

Perhaps trivial but there are good reasons why I’m not a conservative.

And this isn’t a bad thing to have someone say about you, this last line:

PERSONAL FOOTNOTE: Much as I usually agreed with him, Barry didn’t always get it right. Early in his TV career he reviewed, rather negatively, a film called That’ll Be The Day (starring David Essex) which was my first foray into screenwriting. A big admirer of Film ’73, I was devastated. It was the film’s first review and I was in despair.
His judgment wasn’t shared by other critics, so when asked by a friend what I thought of the reviews, I said: ‘Well, everyone seemed to like it apart from that **** Barry Norman’, using the rudest word I knew.
A few weeks later I was at a party when Barry, whom I’d never met, approached and introduced himself, smiling broadly. ‘Hello, Ray. I’m that **** Barry Norman.’
We both had to laugh, and I drove him to catch his train that night. We would remain good friends whenever we met over the succeeding decades.
Because, he really was a lovely man.

19 comments on “The England of old

  1. Perhaps trivial but there are good reasons why I’m not a conservative.

    That prejudice is just as easily found in John Stewart Mill’s work as any conservative.

    Myself, as the son of a family well below a tradesperson, I regret the loss of that biased England. Petty bigotries might be unpleasant but they are part of the full rich tapestry of life that made Britain a truly diverse and interesting place.

  2. Barry was born in 1933. The people judging his family’s trade were born in the 19th century. Whatever your definition of conservative (or did you mean big-C?), it has changed an awful lot since then.

  3. He made one of my favourite film books, his Top 100 Films of the Century. It’s a really great list for anyone wanting to broaden their viewing. It’s got classic Hollywood, great foreign cinema, low budget, and big budget stuff. Everything from Rashomon to E.T., to Snow White and Napoleon. And it’s not just a list of films. Each gets an interesting page talking about it. Its a good read.

    And his style on TV welcomed all. It took me time to warm to Mark Kermode because he’s kinda prickly. He comes across as an arse. He actually knows his stuff and is very fair, but you felt comfortable with Barry Norman from the start. He was a genial, relaxed host.

  4. Tbf, as a Pot Noodle eating prole I’m much fonder of olden days top-hatted toff conservatism – which at least had standards – than the modern-day version.

    The likes of Slavfinder General Louise Mensch and big-faced clown David Cameron define “being conservative” as, variously, feminism, xenophilia, and surprise gay marriage legislation. I’m not sure how this is supposed to differ from progressivism, it sounds like the B-side.

    So long Barry, and thanks for all the pickles.

  5. The Inimitable Steve,

    “The likes of Slavfinder General Louise Mensch and big-faced clown David Cameron define “being conservative” as, variously, feminism, xenophilia, and surprise gay marriage legislation. I’m not sure how this is supposed to differ from progressivism, it sounds like the B-side.”

    It’s not really the Conservative party except in name. It’s the liberal party of old, but with some debate over how far to take economic liberalism.

    I had a social the other day with the party and most of the workers are Hayek/Friedman fanboys, not blue rinse queer-birching types.

    Of course, watching activity this weekend, it looks like the PLP are going to be utter surrender monkeys and do anything to try and win the votes of the young, like adopting the worst policies of Comrade Corbyn, even though the young will never vote for us YOU FUCKING TWATS.

  6. The Inimitable Steve,

    That said, I really like Jacob Rees-Mogg for the same reasons as Mark E Smith, Keith Floyd and Grace Jones in that he has no filter. He is unashamedly posh, but at the same time, devastates people in interviews because he actually knows his shit while they assume he’s going to be Upper Class Twit of the Week.

    I mean, you have Samantha Cameron complaining today that she can’t afford fancy clothes for her kids “because I have kids and a mortgage”. It’s such a laughable attempt at appearing like a prole, when you find out that it’s a mortgage for £3.5m.

  7. I always rated Highgate School way above Hurstpierpoint …
    I rarely watch TV but when my wife called me down to listen to Barry Norman he was always worth it, both for style and content.

  8. I liked Barry Norman’s show but of course he was pissed on by the BBC.

    In favour of a clown like Johnathon Ross FFS. And then that dozy brunette from the dancing farce.

    I like the story that Barry Norman told about Bridget Bardot.

    Back in the early 60s when she was all the rage he was over in Caen or somewhere south of France-ish at a press conference of BB’s in an up-market hotel.

    She was on her own and he was the only young man there as all the other journalists were old soaks who only wanted to get the thing over so they could dive back into a bottle.

    The conference ended, the soaks fled and suddenly it was just Mr Norman and BB.

    They chatted for a while and the she asked him if he would like to come up to her room to play cards.

    To his eternal regret and self-castigation he said no–he had to send the report into his paper.

    The real reason he admitted later was that he simply couldn’t believe that Bridget Bardot wanted to shag HIM.

    He regretted his dumb decision all his life.

    I would have taken the chance. Altho’ with life being what it is I bet when I got up there all she really would have wanted to play cards. Not before or after but instead of.

  9. I got pretty fed up with Bazza parading his Bush Derangement Syndrome on the thinnest pretexts, or none, in the Radio Times. And why not?

  10. “a clown like Johnathon Ross FFS”

    No such person. However, the BBC Film programme was once presented by Jonathan Ross.

  11. BiS – I too like the Moggster, he seems like a genuinely nice bloke.

    I liked Keith Floyd too

  12. @TIS

    Which flavour of Pot Noodle?

    I like the Chicken & Mushroom and always keep a couple in kitchen for when the urge hits.

  13. Surely we all have regrets over an opportunity (or two) missed.

    I know I do. Wasn’t BB but still… the regrets stay with me to this day.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.