When I woke up this morning I turned the telly on for no more than five minutes. It was a daytime television programme about saving animals; one of the increasing number of shoddy documentaries which attempt to keep viewers tuned-in by creating a fake sense of jeopardy and leaving mini cliff-hangers peppered throughout the show. In this particular programme a vet called Andrew had his arm inside the lady bottom of a pregnant cow in an attempt to encourage the calf inside to turn itself to a position where it could be born without some terrible explosion of beef. I thought the scenario was probably interesting enough, but the voice-over man wanted blood; “Andrew is running out of time to save the calf... join us later to find out if he’s successful...” But I don't want to wait for two minutes whilst we see what's going on with Beth and a stranded goose only to have this utterly facile insert interrupted by a reminder, in case our tiny brains have forgotten; “coming up, will Andrew manage to save the unborn calf?” I don't friggin' care anymore. The goose has made me forget my own name, I'm so bored. Five seconds with Beth and then the voice-over man proclaims; “earlier, Andrew arrived at Hope Farm and found an unborn calf in trouble.” Yes, I remember, because I'm not mentally subnormal! I simply want to know whether Andrew is going to be successful without all this X Factor-style prick-teasing. We are no less intelligent in this country than we were 20 years ago, so why do we need to be spoon-fed like this? Why is no one complaining? Must all documentaries be dumbed down in this manner? Why do we need to be told that Andrew only has five minutes to save the world? What if it takes six? Why do the hairy bikers only have 3 days to cross the English Channel in a bath tub? Will they run out of food? Is there only enough money in the documentary budget to pay them for three days?
Pepys serenaded the lark 350 years ago with lute music and was on the Thames by 6am, heading for Greenwich and Woolwich. It was a beautiful spring day and I'm sure the river, and the countryside in that part of the world, looked absolutely glorious. Pepys was pleased to spend time with one Captain Minnes, who spoke “in fine language” and definitely had a lot to say for himself. “Among other things, he... tell me that negros drowned look white and lose their blackness, which I never heard before.” Charming.
They took a walk in Greenwich Park, where Pepys was pleased to report that the King had planted trees and made some lovely steps leading up to the Palace there.
Pepys returned home via the Royal Exchange, stayed up late, walking on the leads of his house with his wife, before summonsing a barber for a quick trim. By the time he turned in, he was cream-crackered; “so to bed very weary, which I seldom am.” No, Samuel, you’re a machine. A machine, I tell you.