Murder only slightly foul


Other Gert’s piece about cosy murders made this Gert think about George Orwell’s classic essay The Decline Of The English Murder:

It is Sunday afternoon, preferably before the war. The wife is already asleep in the armchair, and the children have been sent out for a nice long walk. You put your feet up on the sofa, settle your spectacles on your nose, and open the News of the World. Roast beef and Yorkshire, or roast pork and apple sauce, followed up by suet pudding and driven home, as it were, by a cup of mahogany-brown tea, have put you in just the right mood. Your pipe is drawing sweetly, the sofa cushions are soft underneath you, the fire is well alight, the air is warm and stagnant. In these blissful circumstances, what is it that you want to read about?

Naturally, about a murder. 

The murders readers wallowed in were generally crimes of passion, and Orwell seems to think that’s what they should be: crimes as serious as murder should have strong emotions behind them.

What on earth would he think of the cosy murder series? 

And what counts as “strong emotions” these days? Being dissed on social media?  Having your “freedom” thwarted? Your dog being beaten in the dogshow? Having to see a politician’s grinning mug on TV every day? (Now you’re talking…)

While I’m on this rant, let me bring up another burning issue.  I’ve passed many hours on the sofa during lockdown listening to Peter Robinson’s DI Banks series. Please, please tell me why Banks, described as a small, dark, sinewy man with vivid blue eyes, should be played in the TV series by the tall melancholy slab that is Stephen Tomlinson? Not to cast nasturtiums at Tomlinson as an actor, but – HE IS NOT BANKS!

Thank you for listening. I’ll go and lie down now.

Image: Old Book illustrations

6 thoughts on “Murder only slightly foul

  1. If you were in the state described by Orwell, it would take a pretty dramatic murder to keep you awake until the second chapter.

    I am sadly unfamiliar with DI Banks, so cannot comment (or even appreciate) the discussion about Tominson’s appropriateness to the role.

    Thanks Gert —

    1. It would be interesting to know the factors that play in to choosing a particular actor for a character part – presumably if someone’s a very big name that helps, but I don’t think he was particularly well-known, and he is so extremely different from the original character. Of course, the TV program is a different beast entirely and I presume Peter Robinson just trousered the cash and didn’t worry about it too much.

  2. Much as I like Stephen Tomlinson as an actor, he does sound miscast here. A little like Rowan Atkinson as the rather robust Inspector Maigret – he just doesn’t fit with my image from Simenon’s books!

    1. I was just talking about this the other day with a friend and we were reminiscing fondly about the original version. Actually Rowan Atkinson was better than I expected. I can’t remember from the books any physical description of Maigret but I agree we think of him as a large man.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s