Monday, July 15, 2019

Post 331. ENGLAND WON. FEDERER LOST.


YEP. IT'S THAT TIME. 
You can't miss it in this country. 
Wimbledon and tennis tennis tennis on BBC television, at the same time as World Cup (don't ask me) Cricket which, apparently, England won by very narrowly beating New Zealand in the final. 
I gather this was 'one day' cricket: I have never watched it and I'm too bloody old to start now, but well done England, enjoy it while you can. 
As for the tennis. Well, the obvious favourite, Roger Federer, lost in the longest ever final to the reigning champion Novak Djokovic (the one whose support team looks like a police identity parade). 
They've played against each other so many times it would be decidedly déjà vu if they weren't so damned good. 
Anyway, millions watched and enjoyed it and neither of them is going home short of a few shillings and a lot of respect.
HOME. 
Our back garden has been given a bashing. 
Stuart and Dave and a rented digger have demolished what had become a mountain high mass of weed, to reveal the biggest back garden in Wootton Bridge. 
The bedraggled old shed has been broken up and burnt – to the expected complaints from the standard neighbourhood complainant (duly ignored) and some small trees have gone (at least for my lifetime). 
What will happen next? 
I haven't a clue. 
TELEVISION. 
Gentleman Jack. 
We watched Suranne Jones stride through this lively frolic and she didn't put a foot wrong. The real life character Anne Lister was clearly years before her time. 
As usual, in costume drama, the villains were starkly villainous and the pass-me-the-smelling-salts friend of the hero/ine was pretty and pathetic. 
I gather there will be another series. Good. 
Poldark (BBC One) 
In what purports to be the last series, Aidan Turner and Eleanor Tomlinson are back as the demanding goodies, with Jack Farthing still the definitive baddy. Looks like Poldark may be angling to single-handedly abolish the slave trade to America. He'll do it, too, with or without the interference of top brass.
Cheerio. Keep your powder dry.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Post 330. TOO HOT TO WRITE.

SUFFERING SUMMER ENNUI. 
And running out of rude remarks. 
Which, you may be inclined to agree, has to be a first for me.
Looked back at some of my old copy – it wasn't bad - and found that I have nothing more scathing to say about my pet hates now than I had then. 
Politicians are still self-serving troublemaking twits and reality television is still dumbed-down dross for dickheads. 
Sitting at a desk for hours hasn't done much to diminish my girth, either, but as long as I am able to do it I will. 
It has to be better for me than sitting on a sofa watching the box.
MORE IMPORTANT MATTERS. 
Daughter Roz. 
In her fight back to fitness, Roz is taking long walks with the dog Buddy and weekly trips to the gym with daughter Jess. She still gets very tired, but looks more her old self every day. 
Another baby cat
This is Betty. She is the latest addition to daughter Jac and her partner Mike's household. Don't be fooled by the little legs, apparently she can jump for England and spends unsettlingly long hours exploring her new neighbourhood. 
I like her already and I've not yet seen her. 
Well, you either dote on cats...
TELEVISION. 
We have watched: 
Forces of Nature and The Planets (on BBC Four and BBC Two respectively) presented by the eminently watchable Professor Brian Cox (above). Lots of scenes of the likeable boffin trudging across imitation alien landscapes, but still no evidence of human life beyond earth. 
We enjoyed it for all that. 
We also enjoyed Prunella Scales and Timothy West traversing the canals of Vietnam and Cambodia on their Asian Odyssey
I think they must make any of us over eighty feel deflated and inflated in equal proportion. I couldn't steer a model boat across a boating lake, so their canal barge derring-do somewhat humbles me, but their closeness and generosity of spirit then reminds me how lucky I, too, have been to spend the last fifty seven years with my Mo. 
Break a leg, West family! 
London Kills.
Another London cop series apparently shown in America before it got here. Why? It has a good cast and good scripts and deserves better than the afternoon B picture spot given it by the BBC. It ran for a week and finished. Hell, it's Wimbledon again now and nothing, but nothing, must interfere with that.
FINALLY THIS MONTH. 
The cat Shadow.
Has elected himself Guardian of the Slippers. 
It's an age thing.
Yeah, I know.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Post 329. SHADOW SOLDIERS ON.

A SHADOW OF HIMSELF.
The cat Shadow 
The old boy struggles to resist elderly impairment but sadly is no longer the indomitable lad seen in the picture. We keep him going with decent food and drink and a lot of affection. 
He has been part of our family for many years so, come what may, we'll not let him down now. 
Ah! Mistake! 
He caught a glimpse of the above and insisted I add the following contribution of his own: 
Cats need people? 
I'm Shadow, I'm the poetry cat. 
Quite handy with a verse. 
Ready, perhaps, for the knacker's yard. 
But not yet for the hearse. 
My eating habits are becoming erratic. 
I like being cuddled: 
But spend too much time static. 
And my two people pets 
Seem to give not a rap, 
So long as I gets 
To that bloody cat flap. 
As for cats needing people? 
Well, maybe it's true. 
Though never as much 
As their daft pet dogs do. 
So perhaps you'll remember 
When I finally go: 
I'm the cat who did doggerel. 
Not that nice guy below. 

(With apologies to Benjamin Zephaniah.) 
IOW FESTIVAL 2019. 
It's with us again. 
A long weekend of loud music, strobe lighting, traffic juggling, wind, and rain. Roz and Ellis have been. Neither stayed late, but they enjoyed the acts they saw. 
They'll be back there today to see Madness.
 Biffy Clyro are top group tonight. Mo and I won't go. We like Madness and I (in company with the cat Shadow) enjoy Biffy Clyro, but we'll watch them on television. 
We saw about ten minutes of Fatboy Slim's set on the box last night. My conclusion was that those in his audience who did not have an epileptic fit, would be stricken by acute deafness or, at best, a lifetime of recurrent headaches. 
We heard much of it from here and that's some three miles away. Roz assures me the fans enjoyed every moment of it. So clearly I'm not festival fan material. Nothing new there then. 
POLITICS. 
There are lies, damned lies, statistics, and politics. 
In the early days of this blog I seem to remember saying I would avoid politics. That turned out to be about as truthful as the words of most of the contenders in the current bunfight to become Prime Minister of the UK.
Leading the field right now is England's prize liar Boris Johnson, who seems to be favoured by America's prize liar Donald Trump. I think that says it all. 
SO...WHAT? 
So...many people are doing it, that's what. 
Starting a sentence with the word 'so' has become for many people the latest alternative to the insertion of the word 'like' (or the pointless effin' and blindin' spouted by many stand-up comedians) to support every point they make. 
It is an irksome affectation so it will probably go on for longer than I remain alive to swear under my breath when I hear it. 
TELEVISION. 

My Leader and I 
Have been watching The Looming Tower
No wonder the world is in such a shambles. What a shower of weird egotistical nutcases. 
And that's only the CIA and FBI. 
I have been watching Years and Years, the Russell T. Davies version of 1984. 
Every bit as frightening as Orwell. 
AND FINALLY. 
Our Roz - pictured below with her daemon, Buddy – (see Philip Pullman's Dark Materials) is making steady progress and it shows. We like the blonde look.





Friday, May 31, 2019

Post 328. LIKE BAD PENNIES

THEY KEEP TURNING UP.
I won't bother with their names. If you are a television viewer in Britain you cannot have failed to see them: 'reality' and 'chat' shows would cease to exist without them. If you are a welcome reader elsewhere in the world you will probably have seen or heard of none of them and be no worse off for it. 
Here in the UK they have transmogrified from right wing political nonentities into elected MEPs, carried into power on the newly formed Brexit Party bandwagon.
Their leader and founder once led the UK Independence Party: he is a political chancer who apparently has visions of steering this current crop of populist posers all the way to the top in the House of Commons. 
Christ help us if that ever happens. 
Should the opportunity arise, though, many bleating sheep will follow them and, given the current political scene, who knows...? 
They wouldn't get my vote. 
But I wouldn't have voted for the National Socialist German Workers' Party, either. 
HOME.
Daughter Roz (pictured over the last five months) is fast becoming her old self. Hair growing well. Weight control underway. Tiredness still a problem but sense of humour resolutely intact. Good for you, girl.
Sometimes our house resembles Isle of Wight Cats Protection, but the ambience is generally harmonious and summer is coming. 
TELEVISION. 
Gwendoline Christie (pictured) who played Brienne of Tarth was still alive when, sadly, Game of Thrones came to an end. I liked her and I'm glad she made it. 
The last episode did seem somewhat hurried, but apparently George R.R. Martin has not yet finished the book, so I guess it came down to somebody at HBO wanting their toys back. 
Never mind. 
At the weekend Montalbano returns to us on BBC Four, so there is a life after Westeros. 
In the meantime, I shall get my entertainment from the real life characters taking an offstage break below. 
Left to right they are Spike, Angel and the dog Buddy.
Footnote: I looked up The Brexit Party Manifesto on the web. It said: This page can't be displayed. Huh! 
Mind how you vote.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Post 327. ANOTHER DIRE WARNING

FROM THE READILY AFFRONTED MILITIA. 
 Danny Baker (above) has been sacked (again) by the BBC.
God help him, he posted a bloody silly picture in respect of the new royal baby. 
PC National Command (see Post 307) instantly issued a condemnation order and all anti-racist hell broke loose. The popular programme presenter rapidly discovered his mistake. What a celebrity posts online in this day and age is strictly monitored by the Readily Affronted Militia and no apology, heartfelt or resentful, will ever satisfy them. 
So he was swiftly skuttled for this moment of madness and not even a successful, post bollock dropping, gig in Nottingham can disguise the ignominy of it. 
Let's be sensible, though. He's not a terrorist. He didn't kill anybody. He just incorrectly interpreted what today's public might regard as funny. 
Well, he's a quick-witted scrapper who reputedly has many friends throughout the media, so he'll survive. 
I think the Beeb was a bit hasty. Worry about listening figures I suppose. And it can't always be easy reining in the skittish selection of moderate talent allied to massive ego that fights for fame in Broadcasting House. 
ON THE COMMERCIAL FRONT 
Jeremy Kyle hit trouble, too. A former guest on his ITV show committed suicide. 
I saw very little of Kyle, and what I did see only confirmed my opinion that all reality television, including Love Island (which has similarly led to deaths), is crap. As far back as 1968 Nigel Kneale wrote a disturbing play, The Year of the Sex Olympics, where a pathetic populace was moronically fixated on 'live' television. I am reminded of it whenever I chance upon the 'reality' stuff now. 
It should be scrapped en masse. 
What? Oh I know you don't watch it. 
You wouldn't be reading this if you did. Which nicely leads on to...
TELEVISION. 
Game of Thrones

 If ever a final series was destined to go out in a blaze of glory, this Sky Atlantic epic is the one. We had the penultimate episode at the beginning of this week and now, like a perfect holiday, we just don't want it to end. Will Peter Dinklage (above) be left alive? Will anyone?
The acting has been splendid throughout and the special effects are good enough for a blockbuster film. When it finishes we shall be hard pressed to find a replacement. Unless, that is, George R.R. Martin has a sequel up his sleeve? Keep hoping. 
We bade a fond farewell to The Durrells, too. 
They were wonderfully eccentric pre-war Brits writ large for the American market. Loved 'em and loved Corfu. 
Happy viewing, texting, whatever...

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Post 326. WAS THAT IT THEN?


HOME. 
Summer came early. 
Too early? Well it lasted right through the Easter holiday when the schools were closed. It's not supposed to do that, is it? 
This year the stick-at-homes were genuinely able to feign sympathy with the many sun seekers stuck in airport terminals. 
It was brighter here. 
Needless to say, the perpetual pessimists are of the mind that an Easter like that can only mean one thing: a lousy Summer. 
There's no pleasing some people. 
The cat Shadow woke the world at dark o'clock one morning last week when he came through the cat flap with a large (and very dead) mouse. 
How, in his dotage, he had caught/found/stolen the poor creature he did not say, but he did say, loudly, that he was still up to it, so what did I think of that? 
“I think you're a boastful, murderous little bugger,” I said. 
“And will that replace, or accompany, a pernickety old sod?” he enquired silkily. 
I really must moderate my language. 
Pernickety? 
TELEVISION. 
The Durrells. (ITV) 
Hurray! The Durrell family is back for Season 4. 
Keeley Hawes (as matriarch Louisa) and the usual excellent fellow cast, ensure that Simon Nye's Corfu romp - based on Gerald Durrell's books - is quirky and eminently watchable. 
My own favourite is young Gerry, played by Milo Parker (pictured). Love the hat. 
Make the most of them all, though. This is their last season. 
Line of Duty. (BBC One) is also nearing the end of another series. The ubiquitous Jed Mercurio's bent law enforcers are fast setting the benchmark for television police personnel. 
I know I've said this before, but it bears repeating: I have known and counted as friends many police officers over the years. There have been the occasional drinkers, the frequent philanderers, some poor marriage partakers and a few ebullient bullshitters among them, but the majority have been decent, ordinary blokes who made the best they could of an often unpopular and sometimes dangerous job. I don't think any them was corrupt. I doubt some of them could even spell the word. 
So who in Line of Duty is determined to end the career (even the life) of Superintendent Ted Hastings? And is he H? We'll probably find out next Sunday. Meanwhile we shall burn the midnight oil watching Game of Thrones (shown here on Sky Atlantic). 
The battle episode this week was the most gripping I have ever seen on television or in a cinema. Marvellous stuff. 
Can't stop. Tele to watch.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Post 325. BACK TO NORMAL

WELL, ALMOST. 
Depends what you call normal.

We were never all that normal anyway. The picture of housemate daughter Roz and her adoring dog Buddy says it all. Awash with books, clutter, and animals, we are hardly the stuff that Ideal Homes recommends. People who proudly pose in pristine palaces seldom visit us, people allergic to cats (three now) or dogs (just the one) do not visit us, and people we have come to recognise as sound friends still turn up on a regular basis to accept us as we are.
One such made her annual visit here last week when longtime friend Anne Wilkening (pictured) drove up from Cornwall to stay for a few days. 
With Roz's blessing, she slept in the room left vacant while Ellis was skiing in Austria (a school trip). 
We very much enjoyed her company and our grandson reports that he thoroughly enjoyed his time abroad. 
Success all round. 
Oh, the photo was taken in Mallorca last year, but it looks quite like the Isle of Wight and Anne doesn't alter at all.
TELEVISION. 
Line of Duty is back and as good as ever. 
Adrian Dunbar and colleagues never fail to impress and writer Jed Mercurio's obsession with dicey coppers makes for lively viewing. 
Game of Thrones is back. too. Last series. 
Will anyone still be alive when it ends? 
Along with half the world, we shall follow every twist and turn. 
READING. 
I have just finished the late Terry Pratchett's A Blink of the Screen and advise anybody who thinks they can write to read it and think again. I have also read Last Stories by the late William Trevor (a Christmas gift from our daughter Jac). The ten short (ish) stories were beautifully written, immaculately observed and, so far as I could judge, without plot or point. Well, that's life. 
Mr. Trevor (Picture below) won the Whitbread Prize three times and was four times shortlisted for the Booker. 
Anybody who thinks they can write should read him and try harder.
All being well I shall be back at the end of the month.