Quickfire reviews

wecrashed and the dropout

What is it with these TV shows about cheaters and scammers? We seem to be inundated with them all of a sudden. It’s almost as if the world is being run by liars and scoundrels and the response from the creatives is to make TV shows about scam artists and fabulists who eventually got found out.

Anyway, I can’t watch ’em. I’m not against a ripped-from-the-headlines narratives, but I can’t get worked up about this world of venture capital and wild financial speculation. It’s all pretend money being moved around by greedy people and they’re all hideous, forever and ever, amen.

So I watched two episodes of The Dropout (Disney+) and gave up on it, and then I watched about four minutes of wecrashed (TV+) before giving up on that. I don’t even know if the wecrashed thing was really a scam or whether it was just stupidity. Maybe it’s just business I’m not interested in: I very quickly gave up on Succession and although I did watch Halt and Catch Fire it was only because there was nothing else on at the time. Stuff about business always reminds me of that Fry and Laurie Uttoxeter-set spoof about hard drinking and hard talking businessmen (John and Peter). Talking of Stephen Fry, he’s in The Dropout, which was another reason not to watch it, for me.

The Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris

Over the past few months, I’ve been ploughing through Harris’ three novels based on the life of Marcus Tullius Cicero, as told in the voice of his slave Tiro, who is said the be the inventor of shorthand, and several abbreviations still in use to day, etc. See what I did there?

Anyway, like Harris’ other books based on real historical characters, I went into this having my doubts. There are three books: Imperium, Lustrum, and Dictator. The first volume tells the story of Cicero’s early political career, his ambition, to the point where he’s elected Consul in 63BCE. It really is like the rise of New Labour to the triumph of 1997. The second volume starts at that high point, but immediately foreshadows the disasters to follow, as Cicero ends up being outmanoeuvred by his rivals and has to go into exile. And the final volume traces Rome’s slide from ridiculously bureaucratic republic into the chaos of civil war, the rise of Caesar and the chaos following his assassination.

Cicero himself is a preening egotist who frequently outsmarts himself and ends up being weighed down by actions taken in good faith which nevertheless return to haunt (and haunt) him. Just like Tony Blair. Romans! When they’re not stabbing each other in the back, they’re poisoning each other or whipping up a mob.

Anyway, the trilogy is quite enjoyable, but it is a lot of Cicero.

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