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I absolutely loved Sir Tom Stoppard's Professional Foul, his verbally dazzling comedy of ideas about British ethical philosophers invited to an academic conference in Communist Prague, when it was first shown in BBC 2 in 1977. I hadn't seen it since, until I stumbled across it last night on YouTube. It's here. I NEVER watch TV - haven't for many years - or by extension watch video clips on the internet thingy - but I switched it on and was hooked. It's wonderful and completely undated, though, of course, of its time. To me it seems very recent, but Czechoslovakia was Communist, they smoked on planes and there was no Google Translate. When the Czech dissident, working as a cleaner, gives Barkworth his samizdat treatise it's in hard copy.

Tom Stoppard is a genius and such fun - is he England's one good living playwright? Possibly the only conservative one who is also a highbrow. The left-wing ones, like David Hare, etc., etc. are so utterly dire one wonders how they ever got anything staged or got into the business, yet they did.

There was a very sad moment in Professional Foul where Peter Barkworth's character, a professor of ethics at Cambridge (in those days being a professor was a rare distinction) says: 

'There are a lot of things wrong with England but it is still not a serious offence against the state to put forward a philosophical argument that does not find favour with the government.' 
This was true in 1977 but is not true any more. 

In 1977 Eastern Europe was unfree and non-Marxist political ideas could not be freely discussed. Now it is much freer than England and much less left-wing.

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