Everything to Lose

Source: Frances Partridge, Everything to Lose: Diaries 1945-1960 (London: Victor Gollancz, 1985), pp. 332-333

Text: July 13th. [1959] Ralph came with me to London for the night, Burgo driving up with Robert. Ralph was reading Burgo’s translation in the train, I Robert’s new novel.

Visiting Robert’s flat, we admired his new carpet, chair, and moving Irish gramophone records. then came the television set, but ah! there we were unable to follow him. He showed us Tonight, said to be one of the best programmes. It certainly riveted one’s attention in a horrid, compulsive sort of way, yet I was bored and rather disgusted, and longed to be able to unhook my gaze from this little fussy square of confusion and noise on the other side of the room. It’s so old-fashioned and amateurish! ‘Ah, here’s one of the great television personalities – the best-known face in England!’ said Robert, and a charmless countenance with the manner of a Hoover-salesman dominated the screen. lt’s contemptible, it has nowhere near caught up with any of the other modes of expression; it’s the LCM of the common man, one’s mind has to shrink to get inside it. It’s as lightweight as a feather duster, yet vast numbers of people are daily and hourly beaten on the head with it.

Comments: Frances Partridge (1900-2004) was a writer, translator, diarist and member of the Bloomsbury Group. Robert is the broadcaster Robert Kee; Ralph is her husband; Burgo their son. Tonight was a popular BBC current affairs series, broadcast 1957-1965. The main presenter was Cliff Michelmore. LCM stands for ‘least common multiple’.

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