TW3 vs DW3


Album cover of his 1965 masterpiece

2  4  6  8: time to trans-substantiate

This line from Tom Lehrer’s Vatican Rag is so splendidly offensive, of such magnificent macabre merit, yet manages to tell it all.

Professor Lehrer, mathematics don while gracing lecture theatres at MIT, Harvard, UoC and Wellesley in the Fifties and Sixties, responded to his other calling by swooshing the pithiest of satirical sythings. Via jaundiced cultural critique he grated political rind from political rumps.

You need to be a millennial to have an excuse not to know his work: the reason we’ve not illustrated this Blogos with a portrait of the genius rests in virtue there ain’t one. Sure, when he was at the height of his fame; but now? Nada. A private man.

[In the Sixties, he’d worked on TW3 – or That Was The Week That Was – as had two guests on my earlier programme. It seems I thought to persuade whomever answered the phone this tenuousness was sufficient to merit a dialogue, at least.]

Which brings me to the kernel. Having received no response to a letter inviting him to a broadcast, I called a number thinking to speak with his office. Lo: the man himself answered.

The conversation was conducted on his part with infinite civility and pragmatic certainty that he would not be in dialogue with anyone on the radio for the reason he let his work speak. A killer argument. Neither then nor now can I muster a counter to its simplicity.

What wouldn’t I give to listen to his take on the #Resident; what wouldn’t we all sacrifice to have a scintilla of that lazer-like vision cut through to the very marrow of what did we do to deserve what we have