Derek

A couple of weeks ago I took out a 30 days trial of Netflix. It’s been great fun watching TV shows, stand-up comedy and films on my PC, on my phone, and streamed to our television. I stumbled on a seven-part TV series called Derek, written by and starring Ricky Gervais.

I remember when I first watched The Office. I actually had no idea it was a comedy at the start. It felt so awkward and uncomfortable until I cottoned-on that this was a comedy. So I was perhaps more than a little apprehensive when I began watching Derek.

Ricky Gervais plays Derek Noakes, a 49 year old care worker at Broad Hill old folks’ home. Derek has been described by some as high-functioning autistic, by another as ‘learning disabled’, or ‘of low mental acuity with impaired language skills’. Gervais himself seemingly maintains that Derek is definitely not mentally disabled. He is, however, extraordinarily kind.

Gervais said, apparently, that the show was inspired by family members who work in care homes and with children with learning difficulties.

There is so much that could have gone wrong, so many potential opportunities to be cruel. And yet I found it one of the most profound and moving programmes I’ve watched for a long time. It moved me to tears more than once. The final episode especially, and Kev’s monologue in particular where he talks about his regrets. It’s an astonishing piece of drama, tremendous writing, and beautifully acted.

It is funny, it is sad, it is awkward, it’s rude, it’s vulnerable, it’s touching: it’s filled with the reality of every day life. I’m looking forward to series two.

My High Fidelity ‘Three EPs’ moment

This morning I stood in front of my CD bookcase pondering what to listen to on my drive to work. “I want something I’ve not listened to in a long time,” I said to myself.

My fingers danced along the top shelf. Alice in Chains? Anthrax? Apocalyptica? Audioslave? Beta Band?

The Beta Band!

More specifically, The Three EPs by The Beta Band. A compilation of the band’s first three releases: Champion VersionsThe Patty Patty Sound, and Los Amigos del Beta Bandidos.

It’s a triple-EP that was probably made most famous through its reference in the film of Nick Hornby’s novel High Fidelity. (Watch the video above.)

“I will now sell three copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band”, Rob Gordon (played by John Cusack) whispers to Dick (played by Todd Louiso), as he drops a copy of the CD into the in-store stereo.

The closest I came to experiencing that moment in real life was in February 2003. I was still living in Inverness at the time and had wandered into the HMV store in the shopping centre for a browse.

Having been looking for something interesting-looking in the metal section, I remember suddenly stopping dead in my tracks. I stood perfectly still and listened.

I wandered up to the counter; I was still wearing my black clerical shirt and dog collar as I’d wandered up the high street from the cathedral, where I was serving my curacy.

“Excuse me?” I said to the young lad behind the counter, pointing up towards a speaker above us. “Is that… is that a new Richard Thompson album you’re playing just now?”

He looked at me with a most surprised expression, then grinned, “Yeah! It’s his new album The Old Kit Bag.” It would appear that clergy are not supposed to recognise folk-rock legends.

“It’s great!” I said.

“It is,” he agreed.

“I’ll take a copy, please.”

I do hope he sold another two copies that morning.