Monday, November 09, 2009

Latest Obsession

I love the internet. It allows for the discovery of so many things you would never find or learn about otherwise. Despite my occasional lapse into Luddite musings on "what am I going to do to support myself when Civilization collapses a la 'The Road'," and "I really do need to acquire a farm and learn how to live off it exclusively," and "I wonder if I could get the Amish to adopt me," I am entirely addicted to the convenience of looking up whatever I find interesting on the spot.

This has lead to any number of UK-based entertainments, and massive quantities of historical tidbits. A week or so ago, I downloaded a BBC Radio show for my iPod, "Friday Night Comedy with Sandy Toksvig" and heard the voice of someone named Sue Perkins, who was hysterically funny. So I Wiki-d her name, and discovered a TV show she had made last year called "Supersizers Go..."

Hop over to YouTube, and I found entire episodes in 10-minute chunks. The show's premise is this: Sue and restaurant critic Giles Coren live for a week as people would in a particular time period, and eat the food of that period exclusively. They dress in the styles of the period, live in a period house, and generally do the activities and pursuits of the time as well. What adds an additional dimension of scientific interest is the fact that they go to the doctor for a checkup before and after, to see how the diet effects their health.

This is endlessly entertaining. I love history most of all in the context of how a society lives day to day... what they read, what they listen to, how they dress, what they eat. This show is NOTHING but social history, and hilariously presented at the same time; not in the "let's do an amusing show to teach children about history!" style, but because Giles and Sue are both such inventive and amusing people, their responses to some of the more appalling foods and activities is laugh-out-loud funny.

I think I've managed to watch all of the episodes, although the first one I saw, "Elizabethan," was such an eye opener, that it has given me an overarching impression for the rest of the series: Thank God we can eat vegetables. It has profoundly affected the way I regard my daily diet, and I hope will also prompt me to make some significant reductions in the junk that I typically eat.

Now, of course, I have moved on to reading Giles Coren's columns in
The Times, and although I think he needs to soften his aggressiveness a bit at times, I'm still rather charmed by the memory of how well he looks in Mr. Darcy's coat and attire, and how even in a Restoration wig or Brillcremed hair (1950s) he looks entirely at home in any period. And his habit of affectionately calling Sue "My dear" (she typically played his wife, in a rather sisterly manner) is quite appealing.