Creative Sensemaker: What to read, watch and listen to this weekend
A rundown of the books, films, music and more by Tortoise Media, the slow news agency
By Xavier Greenwood
They’re done out here, man. Man ain’t rocking with that no more.’ About halfway through Krept And Konan: We Are England (BBC iPlayer), the rappers Krept and Konan sit down to watch a 1996 sketch from David Baddiel and Frank Skinner’s BBC show Fantasy Football League. Baddiel is in blackface, wearing dreadlocks and impersonating a Black footballer called Jason Lee. Skinner is drinking from a pineapple on top of Baddiel’s head (Baddiel has since apologised for the sketch).
The same year the sketch was aired, Baddiel and Skinner released ‘Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)’ as the official song of Euro 96. In a 2016 documentary about the tournament, Baddiel and Skinner recall the moment they knew they’d made something special. England had just beaten Scotland 2-0 (thanks to that Gazza goal). ‘The DJ put the song on,’ recalled Baddiel, ‘and suddenly – we didn’t know everyone knew it – everyone started singing. Honestly, it’s an unbelievable thing.’
Twenty-five years on, Krept And Konan: We Are England follows two Black MOBO-winning rappers – Krept and Konan – on their journey to create England’s anthem for Euro 2020. Thankfully, it’s in a country that has changed for the better since 1996: it’s impossible to countenance that Baddiel and Skinner sketch being shown on the BBC today.
But racism has by no means gone away. Twice the England team has taken the knee in support of Black Lives Matter in the past week. Twice their own fans have booed them. And that’s what makes Krept and Konan’s task, to write a song that will unite a divided country in national pride, all the more powerful.
Twenty-five years on from Euro 96, football is coming home again. But, as Krept and Konan suggest, home is very different now. England’s 2020 squad is considerably more diverse than it used to be – just one Black player (Paul Ince) played regularly for England in Euro 96.
‘Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)’ is a great anthem, and it will remain so: it captures something special about the misty-eyed hope of being an England fan. But it’s about time we added a new anthem to the terraces, the pubs, the streets, and our homes – one that represents the England we all live in today.
Here are this week’s recommendations:
Feel Good (Netflix)
The semi-autobiographical brainchild of comedian and protagonist Mae Martin, Feel Good is a show about trauma, healing, addiction, love, and survival. Now in its second (and supposedly final) season, it depicts humans and how they feel towards each other in all their complexity. At its heart it’s a love story, but it’s also one of the funniest shows on TV.
World Of Wong Kar Wai (Blu-ray)
The filmic realm that the director has created over the past three decades, from As Tears Go By (1988), through Chungking Express (1994), In The Mood For Love (2000) and beyond, is a place of extreme beauty, where even the quiet glances between characters seem to be of cosmic import. Ahead of this release, there was chatter in the danker corners of the internet (where I hang out), that Wong had spoilt his own territory by reworking the colours of many of the films – and it’s true; they do look different. But they are still utterly beguiling.
Peter Hoskin, Tortoise editor
Hola Papi: How To Come Out In A Walmart Parking Lot And Other Life Lessons by John Paul Brammer
When John Paul Brammer, a queer Latino from Oklahoma, started his advice column ¡Hola Papi!, he thought it was going to be a satire. Instead, he’s created one of the most tender, thoughtful and funny places on the internet. The column sees Brammer tackling questions which range from ‘How do I mourn my “almost”?’ to ‘Is space gay?’ (‘My answer? Yeah, space is gay.’).
In a nod to ¡Hola Papi!, the book is structured as a series of advice columns, but it’s really a memoir of the author’s own life told through his responses.
A Stinging Delight: A Memoir by David Storey
David Storey died four years ago, aged 83. For many who are familiar with him, though, he will always be the young novelist, playwright and screenwriter who grew up in pre-war north England, shaping the country’s post-war culture with books like This Sporting Life. That was his time, the time of the Angry Young Men. Or was it? The brilliance of these memoirs is in the simple fact that they cover a whole life; the older, less celebrated Storey was just as perceptive and intriguing a figure.
Peter Hoskin, Tortoise editor
Since I Left You (20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) by The Avalanches
The Avalanches’ epochal debut sounds just as good 20 years since its release, when it first arrived like a bolt from the blue. It’s composed of more than 3,500 samples ranging from golf instructional videos to ship horns, but it doesn’t have a cacophonous bone in its body. The anniversary edition comes with a host of remixes and demos, including a remarkable turn from the late MF Doom. But the highlight is the Cornelius remix of ‘Since I Left You’ – the ultimate song for sunnier climes.
‘Lost Cause’ by Billie Eilish
The 19-year-old sensation has done it again. The internet has lasered in on the slumber party music video – the vintage Brown University baseball cap that Eilish wears in the video has, naturally, sold out – but the song is great in its own right. The message is simple: I used to want this person, but now I think about it they were awful. We’ve all experienced that. The writing is on point, but it’s the smooth bassline that carries the song.