The story of the man who stopped at each spot in his local supermarket is the epitome of confinement entertainment
‘It’s really you,’ said my girlfriend, reading the story of Gareth Wild, who last week completed his mission to park in every parking spot at the local Sainsbury’s supermarket in Bromley, south-east London. I accepted it well – it’s completely me. Wild used the satellite view of the parking lot to make several stages of color-coded diagrams and then a spreadsheet, and finally on Tuesday, he tweeted that he had parked in all 211 eligible slots and completed his magnum opus.
“I find pleasure in the small banal things in life,” Wild told the Daily Mirror. Clearly, I am not the only person who can relate. These past 13 months or so have been a blank canvas for finding entertainment in places where it previously could not, or should not, have been found. That is why banana bread and yeast starters became popular and later became popular. That’s why my local Hobbycraft still has a line to rival Ibiza’s summer hot spots, though it must be said, with a much more friendly drawing board queen and more wool punters.
Last April, a much warmer month than this year’s icy spring tease, we sat in our London apartment, unsure whether it was safe to be outside or whether it was illegal to sit on a bench. I think it was around that time that the vans started patrolling the city parks, telling people through loudspeakers that if they weren’t there to exercise, they had to go home.
We didn’t have a garden, so Club Tropicana was born. Two camping chairs, unfolded and placed in front of an open bedroom window. A packet of chips, torn and left on the windowsill to share and two cold beers brought on a tray, while the late afternoon sun shone through the glass.
We play Wham! and pretended that we were in a pub garden. I’m admitting it because it was a little fantasy, but it helped. There was fun and sunshine, enough for everyone. Sometimes I think of it as the high point of blocking creativity. I know, deep down, that it was low too.
You might think that Gareth Wild winning the Parking Olympics could only have been reached at a time when a pandemic had slowed life down to a snail’s pace for many of us, but no: surprisingly, he says the pandemic actually meant that it took longer. He had reasonably assumed that he could do that in four years. In the end, he needed six. It may have been a “banal little thing”, but sometimes banality is beautiful.
Orson Welles could bear being usurped by a bear?
It was a bad week for Orson Welles, although I doubt he cares much after his magnum opus, Citizen Kane, lost his position as the highest rated movie on the Rotten Tomatoes website. For 80 years, Citizen Kane has been widely considered to be one of the best films ever made and therefore has a 100% “fresh” rating on the site. But never trust a bear in a canvas coat, because, thanks to a combination of jelly and the power of historical research, Citizen Kane lost his rating of 100% fresh, dropping to 99% fresh and falling behind the work press that is Paddington 2.
The reshuffle came when researchers found a 1941 review of Citizen Kane published in the Chicago Tribune by a pseudonym reviewer, Mae Tinee, who was less impressed than most. “His sacrifice of simplicity to eccentricity robs him of the distinction and the overall value of entertainment,” wrote Tinee, oblivious to the effect it would have on the film’s evaluations so many years later.
I love contrary reviews and there is no list that I will click faster than “classic star reviews”. Mary McCarthy famously punched The Handmaid’s Tale in the New York Times in 1986 for her feeble characterization and lack of imagination, but I also like Amazon’s “don’t worry, bore” criticism left on the sales page of a long and pretentious “classic” “They are succinct and not always wrong. Spending 80 years in the first place is a reasonable period of success for Citizen Kane and, let’s be honest about it, Paddington 2 is a worthy candidate. Have you seen Hugh Grant’s dance?
Nigella Lawson, Cook, Eat, Award
If the nominees for the Must-see Moment of TV Baftas award, voted by the people, are taking the pulse of the British public, then I wonder if the British public should consider calling 111. It’s an extremely disparate selection of things, but I suppose it is. an accurate picture of what was an extremely crazy year.
Diversity was nominated for her choreography inspired by Black Lives Matter in Britain’s Got Talent, despite the ridiculous frenzy of complaints to Ofcom surrounding her. There is a nod to the blockbuster stuff in scenes from Bridgerton and The Mandalorian, while its British meat and potatoes are all present and correct in nods to EastEnders and Gogglebox.
But, brilliantly, Nigella Lawson was also nominated. Not for a shocking twist or the explosive culmination of a long-lasting storyline, but for the way she jokingly said “microwave” as “meecro-wah-vey” in Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella. I really hope I win a Bafta, not only to see what they record for the prize, but also to prove that in this meme culture, sometimes a good gag camp can be as successful as a show on a multimillion dollar budget.