Saturday, 4 March 2017

Brookner on Television

Well, I live in the world, like everybody has to...
Resolutely he turned on the television, watched a gardening programme, a cookery programme, a serial about policemen, and one about firemen. The exercise had done its work; he was now back in the present.
The Next Big Thing, Ch. 7

The serial about firemen was probably London's Burning. The other was surely The Bill, a police procedural Anita Brookner was a viewer of. 'I have ... learned to look away from flashing blue lights which punctuate the opening sequence of The Bill on television,' she wrote in a review of Oliver Sacks's Migraine (Spectator article, 1993).

Television for Brookner characters acts as an antidote to introspection and ennui. It is often surprising to find them switching on. But it's a reminder that for all their abstraction, their lives of the mind, they live in the here and now: Brooknerian lives are real lives.

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