BLOG NO; 48 “THE WRONG TROUSERS”

Here we go again – “Apologies For Absence”.  I am sure you have been anxiously scanning your In-Boxes for signs of this Blog – only to be disappointed, day after day.  I can explain.  I have been having Christmas.  And New Year – as have all of you.  Other Things Have Been Happening, haven’t they?  (Oh, get a life, why don’t you…?)

I hope the Festering Season went as well as can be expected – expectations usually being high – only to be defeated by reality.

But speaking selfishly I enjoyed myself;  Christmas Day was spent at the Hobbit Cottage with a blazing fire, mulled wine and some hot sausage rolls and mince-pies brought in fresh from the oven by Jim’s next-door-neighbour all in her Christmas pinny.  Pressies were unwrapped, coffee was made and Jim’s speciality egg-and-bacon sandwiches appeared and disappeared – as did the mulled wine – and suddenly it was time for Her Maj.  After that we struggled into party-gear for evening dinner in our local smart (and expensive) hotel.   £90-a-head.  Oo-er, Missus.  But we got Buck’s Fizzes included, plus a four-course meal and coffee.  So we didn’t feel robbed, exactly.

Having decided to do no Christmas cooking (hence the visit to the Hotel) I had guests for Boxing Day – Jim and his son Quentin and my bezzie mate, Sandy.  So I did some Christmas cooking after all.  Ah well, the best-laid plans of thingy and wotsit gang aft pear-shaped.

For my Boxing-Day gathering I wore my new, velvet, green trousers, freshly-arrived by Mail Order from “The House of Bruar” (a Scottish company with excellent credentials.) Since I get too hot in trousers AND tights I tend to wear Pop-Sox underneath (you need to know this although you might think it Too Much Information) – meaning the top part of the trousers were in contact with my bare thighs.  (Sorry…) By the evening I had a rash from  knee to hip which itched like Hades, turned a bright shade of red and then kept me awake all night.  I’m not stupid;  I immediately identified the inside of the new trousers as the cause of the problem, took myself to the Pharmacy and returned, armed with E45, a Hydrocortisone cream and E45 Itch-Relief.  In three days the crisis was over, and the trousers taken to the cleaners.  Ah. but the tale does not end there.  Since I never do anything by halves I had ordered THREE pairs of these trousers;  one pair in a Christmassy red, which I wore on Christmas Day with no trouble at all, one pair in bottle-green and another pair in olive-green.  The bottle-green pair were the offenders and at the cleaners, but, a few days later I could be seen sporting the olive-green pair – later going to bed to itch and scratch most of the night.  Luckily I had plenty of unguents to spread all over.  Three days later, and the problem had disappeared.  Now I am left wondering what on earth this irritant was?  I suppose it must be the green dye they used – since the red pair gave me no trouble.    Any ideas?  (Answers on a postcard please….)

Anyway – all the jollity is now over, the decorations put away in their boxes and the Christmas Cards waiting for me to go through them and answer those who wrote me a letter inside.  (I mean a personal letter;  not one of those PR sheets people send, advertising their families.)  I am childish enough to hate it when all the pretties are down.  I miss my tree, with the fairy on the top.  That fairy is a piece of social history now;  bought in Shepherd’s Bush Market, round the corner from TV Centre, in 1974 she was.  That’s a lifetime ago.  Wonder where it all went?

But although mourning the Death of Christmas, I had a bit of merriment at Epiphany, when, on a chilly January Sunday I joined a coachload of other old ladies going to Brighton to see “HOLIDAY ON ICE” with friend, Sandy (see Para 4 above).

This is a beautiful spectacle with no intellectual content AT ALL (so quite restful in that regard.)  I love ice-dancing nearly as much as ballet-dancing – and there are similarities.  This year’s theme was “TIME” – all choreographed by DAVID LIU (who also choreographs for the Ice Theatre in New York) and performed with expert grace and skill by a young team of skaters from all corners of the globe.  It was a delight and sensibly formed of two hour-long halves with a nice lengthy interval in between so elderly bladders could get emptied.  (Sorry, again, but a spade is a spade…)  The whole afternoon was a completely joyous and stress-free experience.  We loved it.

So the days have flashed by bringing us to mid-January, the prospect of a cold snap and snow – and Jude’s lumbago week.  I know how much you enjoy reading about my various ailments and that you are going to miss my dilating upon ACID-REFLUX (because it’s better), so here is Something Completely Different.  My osteopath suggested, 6 weeks ago, that I should WALK from the basement of my block of flats to Floor 2 after parking my car, thus  getting some exercise and increasimg my “core strength”  I took her advice, but I think with too much enthusiasm because i managed to pull a muscle in my groin.  Over the weeks, this has morphed into tremendous discomfort in my left buttock (sorry, once more – I seem to have become a real pain-in-the-bum) which now presents itself like a red-hot poker going round and round in that area, affecting my left thigh (there I go again) and giving me a stiff and elderly walk and difficult nights  – as it’s uncomfortable.  I believe the hot-poker effect is probably caused by a trapped nerve and all I can say is, let’s none of us get old.  Because things happen.  On the other hand – I’m still here!  Which leads me to

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM – GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;

After their jolly Christmas, Jude et Jim stayed up to see the New Year in – eating Jude’s End-Of-Christmas-Risotto (ham, turkey, sausage, stuffing…. anything left over, really) and drinking a tiny bottle of Prosecco between them.  They watched the national fireworks on telly and the local fireworks through the sitting-room windows, fell into bed around 1.00.a.m., and, at 11.00.a.m. watched the lovely New Year’s Day concert from Vienna. So, their Festive Season has, as John Le Mesurier said on his deathbed about his life “all been rather lovely..”

But the insanity of the Awards Season is now upon us, so Jude’s DVD-Player decided to celebrate by going U/S.  Jude suspected this was due to the heavy-gang from Sky installing a new Sky player in April, at the same time disconnecting other hardware with gay abandon.  Jude did not feel like a lengthy telephone conversation with the Believe-In-Better people themselves – which would inevitably involve her doing gymnastic manoeuvres behind her telly – pressing buttons with her big toe while holding down another button at the front of the set with her elbow….. (you-ve been there too, have you?) so decided to escape to the Hobbit Cottage (where all electronic devices were working normally) with a copy of her BAFTA screener for “DARKEST HOUR”  in her bandbag.

OMG – what a good film – and what a brilliant history lesson too (unlike “DUNKIRK” which missed several tricks on that score).

Jude was there at the time, in fact (well – only just; she was extremely young, natch) and, in 1940, the period upon which the action is focused, her only memory is that “we” were going to win and that Good Old Churchill would get us through.  Apparently this was by no means a certainty in anybody’s mind at that time – in particular HM Government which had managed to weld itself into some sort of emergency coalition, and installed Winston as Prime Minister, much against the better judgement of most of its members.

GARY OLDMAN plays CHURCHILL in a tour-de-force performance which will undoubtedly win him “Best Actor”, and KRISTIN SCOTT-THOMAS is his redoubtable wife, CLEMMIE in another performance which will probably bring her awards;  although (as Jude was there at the time – see above!) Jude’s memory of Clemmie was of a much more heavyweight personality than Scott-Thomas’s mildly ditzy and flirtatious offering.  That the Churchill’s were deeply in love and that their relationship was full of both tenderness and humour is not in dispute, however,  and is sensitively shown in the film.  But, it would appear, we nearly lost the war due to the Cabinet’s insistence on peace-negotiations with Hitler.  Churchill’s reply,  “When will the lesson be learned?  You cannot negotiate with the tiger when your head is in its mouth…” went some way to persuading them that confrontation was the only option.   ‘His thunderous prose is accurately represented – I believe it has been said by someone somewhere that “Churchall mobilised the English language and took it to war” and as a tiny child I remember his voice booming through the speakers of our small radio “Hitler says we are like a chicken whose neck is being wrung;  some chicken, some neck…” and the awed and positive response from my parents.  “Good old Churchill – he’ll get us through..”

Jude et Jim hugely admired the historical accuracy of this film (with the exception of one scene on the Underground where Churchill gathers the opinion of the British public as to whether they wished for conflict or appeasement) but perhaps it can be excused on the grounds of “Artistic Licence”.  They both learned many things they did not know about those days in early summer, 1940 when the freedom of the world was in the balance. Jude had no idea how fine that balance was – but she was very, very, young at the time…..

The writer, ANTHONY MCCARTEN should get an award for his brilliant script and deserves special mention.  The excellent Direction is by JOE WRIGHT.

Other members of the cast include BEN MENDELSOHN as GEORGE VI, SAMUEL WEST as  ANTHONY EDEN,  DAVID SCHOFIELD as CLEMENT ATTLEE and RONALD PICKUP as NEVILLE CHAMBERLAIN.

Jude’s problems with her DVD Player were later solved by the excellent Don Foster, who happened to have a few hours free and managed to untangle the entrails of her “Home Cinema” system – discarding a large part of the small bowel, which appeared to be redundant to its successful function.  (Don Foster – the electrician – remember him?  Find him in earlier posts! – if you can be bothered to trawl through.)

And talking about entrails, is anybody watching BBC 2’s programme “SURGEONS; THE EDGE OF LIFE”?  Quite staggering – but not for the squeamish.

TIPS FOR OVER-SEVENTIES;

Be extremely careful about what you allow to touch your naked thighs……

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BLOG NUMBER 47; FLASH- IN- THE- PAN

Oh my ears and whiskers – it appears that a month has passed since I last posted and we have moved from fireworks to Christmas Trees in no time at all.  All in a flash.  Which could have some relevance since my Writers’ Group – now re-launched as chalkcircle.co.org. are engaged in writing “Flash Fiction” for future uploading on the web.  I have therefore been working on my contributions to this initiative and it’s been time-consuming.

We spent a morning discussing our rebranding (previously we had been “Sussex Scribes”) and decided “Chalk Circle” was the best suggestion – after discarding “Sussex Flashers” with regret, as non-viable.

“Flash Fiction” is a new genre – and very suited to the rush-rush, short-attention-span  age we live in since 500 words is the limit.  Your story should leave the reader wrong-footed and somewhat discombobulated and must NOT end with a joke or a death.  Hmm.  Quite a tough brief.  But I have managed three pieces.  If the group approves them they will be uploaded onto our website, so you should be able to read them.  I will try and provide you with a link.

So, obvs. you have spotted the Christmas Trees popping up everywhere (gets earlier and earlier every year, doesn’t it?) But this year I am not doing Christmas – or as “Margot” once memorably said in “The Good Life” –“Christmas is cancelled”.   Well not totally cancelled – you can have it if you like – but I am defo. Not Doing It.  For how many years have I got into the oven with the turkey on 25th December, together with the roast spuds and parsnips, later spending hot hours stirring bread-sauce and gravy?   50 I think.  Time to retire.  No more goose-stuffed-with-a-duck-stuffed-with-a-rabbit-stuffed-with-a-dormouse-stuffed-with-a-cockroach.  Them days is over.  This year we are going to a local hotel at 6.30.p.m., (sit down at 7.00.) and letting them do it all.  We get Father Christmas and carols thrown in I believe.

“What will you do with Christmas Morning?” – I hear you ask.  On Christmas Day I shall moysie over to Hobbitland and to the Hobbit Cottage and its huge log-fire, for an opening-pressie session, some mulled-wine and one of Mr.Hobbit’s speciality egg-and-bacon sarnies.  After that, some slumping in front of the telly, watching re-runs of “Morecambe & Wise”  and the Queen’s Speech is indicated.  All this may or may not be done accompanied by Mr.Hobbit’s son, who may, or may not, be over from Singapore, where he works as a Graphics Designer.  The reason we are unsure is that, having declared his intention three weeks ago, of visiting the Old Folks over Crimbo, we have been unable to verify his movements since.  That’s how it is with the youngsters (OK, he’s 50) nowadays, doncha find?  Yesterday, he telephoned his Dad and left a message saying, “Ring me back” – but as he omitted to leave a telephone number that presented Mr.Hobbit with a problem.  Duh….

A large section of my extended family is now Finnish (they all went to finnishing school) so their Christmases are spent in Helsinki feasting on reindeer meat on Christmas Eve and taking the little ones to visit Father Christmas in his own home.  So as we were not going to see them for this year’s festivities and as we all needed to view the new baby, they hit upon an excellent idea for a family get-together featuring turkey-gobbling.  Thanksgiving Sunday.  We have no links with the Pilgrim Fathers, we just like each other and we like turkey, so it seemed a good idea.  And it was so successful we are likely to repeat it year-on-year, if my nephew can tolerate the thought of cooking Christmas Dinner for ten people again.  He was a Cooking-Christmas- Dinner virgin – and he excelled himself, from the bird to the bread-sauce.   And my happiest memory of that afternoon is Jim, on all fours so that he can get level with the new arrival in his baby-bouncer, doing a full-on conversational male bonding-session.  Tavi is eight months old, and Jim slightly younger.

Apart from that excitement there has been the excitement of the “Noel Bridge Party”.  To some of you the phrase “Bridge-Party” may sound like an oxymoron but to elderly, bridge-playing British citizens it is big fun,  so long as it is accompanied by Christmas dinner, paper-hats, alcohol, evening dress, raffle-tickets and prizes.  Tick for all six in this case.  Listen – it’s a free country.  Whatever floats your boat….

Usually I have some political or social comment to make about here.  However, the BREXIT scene is so grim and worrying that I am not going to spoil the festive fun by mentioning it.  The “Royal Engagement” is more jolly so let’s focus on that.  Endless interviews with dear Harry who, despite early promise, has become a truly boring royal do not delight me, but I rather like the look and the sound of his lady-love.  I think she may bring light and life to the Windsor family so I wish them well.  What’s not to love?

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM – GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;

Jim had a birthday this week.  But there was some confusion surrounding the date.  He thought he was going to be 82 on Tuesday 5th December – but, in fact,  his birthday fell on Monday December 4th, December 4th being the day upon which he was born. Sadly, Jude had booked herself up for the whole of December 4th – morning, afternoon and evening – but she blamed Jim for getting the date wrong.  As one would.  So there was not much celebrating on Monday for him.  He was also chagrined to be told that his age was now 83.

Jude is nothing if not loving and kind-hearted and realising December 4th was going to be a day on which she had to be engaged elsewhere, offered to give him a jolly birthday supper at home on Sunday, December 3rd and cooked him his favourite sea-bass, pan-fried and served with suckertash (yes – there really is a dish called “suckertash; it is not just a silly word invented by Sylvester the Cat)  followed by chocolate ice-cream so he was a happy hobbit.  He also received a small present from Jude – a gismo he can attach to his Smart Phone and watch things in “Virtual Reality”.  Jim likes nothing better than a gadget to play with and this kept him diverted most of the afternoon.  Until he realised he needed to purchase two spare parts to make it work properly.  Well, how was Jude to know?  Jude doesn’t do electronic gismos.

He did also get taken to his favourite restaurant the week before, for five courses followed by a bill with three figures at the bottom – all paid by Jude. Why the week before?  Because it is Christmas and the only table Jude could get was in November.  It is a tiny restaurant so getting booked-out is a frequent occurrence for the two guys who run it – which is excellent for them

Then there was the visit to the little Cinema in Uckfield where they saw “PADDINGTON 2”.  This is described as “A British Live-Action CGI animated adventure film” and it is full of thrills and spills involving one of this country’s favourite bears getting into a mess.  And no bear knows better how to get into a mess than Paddington.  Although Jude spent 31 years in the business, the miracle of CGI (computer-generated-imagery) is a mystery to her.  In her day they did “stop-frame animation” where little puppets were moved a fraction of an inch at a time while a film shot was taken – when, eventually, the whole film was run the little figures moved.  And it took a whole week to produce 3 minutes.  Jude knows about this because she used to do it.  Hour after hour after hour of it.  Believe it or not, it was rather fun.

Anyway, these visual effects were wondrous to behold, Paddington lived and breathed and walked among us – or he walked among the cast on the screen.

The plot concerns Paddington’s wish to earn money so he can purchases a rare “pop-up” book about London landmarks to give to his Aunt Lucie for her 100th birthday.  (Aaaahhh)  This involves him in window-cleaning (messy) hairdressing (also messy) and other occupations with assorted catastrophic (and messy) results.  Unfortunately this book is spotted by arch-villain, faded actor PHOENIX BUCHANAN, as a source of coded clues to hidden treasure and he steals it from the bookseller.  Paddington is wrongly convicted of the theft and ends up in prison (Aaaahhh) separated from his beloved and long-suffering human family – the Browns.  But being Paddington he brings life and fun to the prison (Aaahhh), eventually gets involved in a break-out, followed by a mad train chase after the wicked Phoenix Buchanan to retrieve the book – and it all ends well with the Browns reclaiming their orphaned bear, and a visit from Aunt Lucie, who, now she is visiting London for her 100th birthday, doesn’t need a pop-up book of London landmarks anyway.

The magical Visual Effects are by FRAMESTONE, the Director is PAUL KING and the Producer is DAVID HEYMAN (who produced “PADDINGTON 1”).  Lovely HUGH BONNEVILLE plays “Mr.Brown” and the wicked PHOENIX BUCHANAN is played by HUGH GRANT.  BEN WISHAW is the voice of PADDINGTON and IMELDA STAUNTON the voice of AUNT LUCIE.

Jude et Jim thought this was a very sweet film, just managing to stay the right side of yucky, which ought to be a big Christmas Box-Office success.  Jude et Jim were the oldest members of an audience where the average age appeared to be 3-and-a-half.  And all audience-members loved it.  Of course. Who did the most trips to the loo during the action, the three-year-olds or Jude et Jim, is open to debate.(Jude et Jim were drinking Diet Coke…the three-year-olds?  Well, they were just three-year-olds – needing a wee is what they do.)

MICHAEL BOND (BBC Cameraman) first invented and wrote about PADDINGTON -this script was written by PAUL KING and SIMON FARNABY.

Go on – take the kids.

Jude et Jim ended up, as usual, in the Cinema Restaurant opposite the picture-house and filled their faces with nice food, before driving home.

TIPS FOR OVER SEVENTY-YEAR-OLDS;   Do not go to the special Children’s Showing of a children’s film;  they will all be going to the loo when you want to.

 

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BLOG NUMBER 46; ‘HANDS, KNEES & BOOMPS-A-DAISY..’

What is going on? Both Government and Opposition parties are full of Handy-Andy’s pressing against female MP’s., journalists,  and researchers in broom-cupboards, bars and back-benches… Or so it seems.  Oh dear – the insane world of Gilbert & Sullivan springs to mind, as it often does when I contemplate politics in the UK.  I give you an aria from “THE MIKADO”

“Our great Mikado, virtuous man,

When he to rule our land began

Resolved to try a plan whereby

Young men might best be steadied;

So he decreed, in words succint,

That all who flirted, leered or winked,

Unless connubially linked

Should forthwith be beheaded……..

This stern decree, you’ll understand

Caused great dismay throughout the land,

For young and old and shy and bold were equally affected. 

The youth who winked a roving eye, or breathed an unconnubial sigh,

Was thereupon condemned to die –

He usually objected…..”

And so on – ad infinitum.

I saw Ann Widdicombe’s thunderstruck face on the TV this morning – a lady I rarely agree with, except in the matter of the deliciousness of Indian Buffet Restaurants – and she was trumpeting “I don’t know what this is all about – I truly think we have lost the plot..”

Right. Now, I suppose I would think a bit like that, being the generation that I am and having gone through all this in Auntie Beeb throughout the ’70’s. ’80’s, and yes, even the beginning of the ’90’s.  And of course it was intolerable and unjustifiable and of course it is time light was shone on it and a stop was put to what is, the misuse of power.  And I take the misuse of power for sexual purposes extremely seriously.  But we need to draw a line between that behaviour and general flirtatiousness.  Flirtatiousness in the work-place adds a bit of seasoning to the daily grind – and I mean flirtatiousness, NOT creepiness.  But how to tell them apart?  I guess that’s something which is just a gut reaction and young people, of whatever sex, must just learn to navigate between them as the rest of us had to when we were young.  If that sounds unsympathetic I suppose it IS a little.  To be fair, Parliament is a different sort of work-place from most others, and the institution of Human Resources Officers at Westminster is obviously overdue.  But I worry that, if this goes on, our MP’s and our Ministers will be literally without balls – and we need ballsy people in Government.  Or do I mean people with “backbone?”  No – I think I mean fully alive, functioning members of the human-race with red-blood circulating rather than skimmed milk.  Human beings are flawed and faulty creatures – but I would not want to see them replaced by automata.

However, bullying in the workplace is always out of order, whatever form it takes, so “OFF WITH THEIR HEADS”.

After that artful bit of fence-sitting I shall move on to something I feel less-conflicted about.  Getting older.  Doncha just love it?  This last week I have both arrived for a podiatry appointment a whole week too early and arrived for a manicure appointment a whole hour too late.  Plus I have no idea where my navy-blue anorak with the moth-eaten fur-collar is.  Not in the coats cupboard, not in my car, not in Jim’s car – duh….? On Saturday I could not remember where I had parked the car in Sainsbury’s car park and forgot to buy the milk, which was one of the reasons I had gone to Sainsbury’s anway.  On the plus side, I can still remember the name of the Prime-Minister (though how much longer that name is going to be “Theresa May” is open to question), still remember the surnames on the roll-call we used to call out at school – (ALEXANDER; BARKER; BIGNAL, BOURNE, COX; DRAPER; EAGLE; FARNBOROUGH; FERRY; FRANKS…etc.) and, still sing the ENTIRE first act of “The Mikado” – see above – from memory.  You may wonder why I have this particular skill (if it can be called that).  It is because my father, a G.& S. enthusiast, was collecting the whole opera on the old-fashioned ’78’ discs you played with a fibre gramophone-needle and had got as far as the FINALE of Act 1 when the Second World War broke out and he had to discontinue his collection.  At the same time the family received the gift of a book called “The Mikado” – beautifully illustrated by someone famous – which, apart from the story of how it came to be written, contained the ENTIRE LIBRETTO.  That, combined with the records, taught me, aged 8, the entire first act of ‘The Mikado’.  Fortunately, I am rarely called upon to render it.

Then there is The Return of The Acid-Reflux.  Somehow I feel this condition is going to be a frequent visitor.  It may have something to do with the Tapas meal Jim and I had last Tuesday, consisting of Chicken Thighs in Honey; Pork Meat Balls; Prawns in Bacon; “Patatas Bravas”; Chicken Croquettes and Deep-Fried King Prawns with Aioli – this last ordered in error – I meant to get the “Padrone Peppers”.   It was all delicious, but my stomach warned me at 4.00.a.m. not to do it again.  So a diet of steamed fish and mashed potatoes beckons for the future – to which I say “No Way, Jose…”  I am ‘mainlining’ on the Gaviscon Advance at the moment – which is a small price to pay for the occasional Tapas meal in my opinion.  (Don’t nag – it’s my life…)

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM – GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;

Jude et Jim went to the cinema once more – not to the Multiplex, but to a smaller, and scruffier venue in the town centre where parking is impossible.  (Which is how the tapas meal got involved; the “Flamenco” being situated on a useful road with free parking after 6.00.pm. where we left Jim’s vehicle at 5.00., paying for 1 hour,  with the idea of eating afterwards.  A Cunning Plan.)

“THE DEATH OF STALIN”  seems to have divided the critics.  John Suchet, on “Classic FM” reported that he and his wife went to see it and, while the rest of the cinema was rocking with laughter they failed to get the joke!

However, Peter Bradshaw of “THE GUARDIAN” describes it as “A brilliant Horror-Satire“;  and it calls itself  a “Period Black Comedy Drama”

This film is directed by ARMANDO IANNUCCI and anyone familiar with the hilarious television sit-com “THE THICK OF IT” will realise what manner of film this is.  Biting, political satire. Set around the death of the Dictator, Joseph Stalin in 1953 it chronicles the power struggle between various squabbling communist political figures that emanated from this sudden event – so unexpected that it renders them as shocked, bewildered and scared as orphaned children. However the fight for the position of Leader of the Soviet Union escalates rapidly and no holds are barred.  What follows is pretty funny, but everyone fights dirty.  At the centre of the machinations is the evil LAURENTLY BERIA, played with malevolence by SIMON RUSSELL BEALE;  NIKITA KHURSHEV is played by STEVE BUSCEMI, and the long-suffering VYACHESLAV MOLOTOV by an unrecognisable (to me) MICHAEL PALIN.  We also meet Stalin’s shell-shocked daughter, SVETLANA, in an Ophelia-like performance from ANDREA RISBOROUGH;  JEFFREY TAMBOOR plays GEORG MALENKOV, ADRIAN MCLOUGHLIN is JOSEPH STALIN and RUPERT FRIEND his pistol-waving, manic son.

What can one say?  You either laugh, or you don’t get it.  Jude et Jim laughed a lot – especially through the earlier part of the film during which at some point in the action one of the ghastly crew of plotters says “I can’t remember who’s alive and who’s dead…”

However, Jude felt uncertain at times as to whether Iannucci’s manic/ironic touch with political drama is absolutely suited to the viciousness of the Russian scene – when you compare that arena with the (comparably) decent, though often reprehensible, goings-on in our own parliament.  You will understand what I mean when I tell you that the awful Beria is eventually assassinated in the most brutal fashion by his comrades – his body set alight with careless relish by the rest of them.  That bit didn’t make either Jude or Jim laugh, it has to said.   All the same, funny or or not, this film is a brilliant lesson in historical fact.  Beware the Russian Bear – that’s all.

Jude et Jim then had some more culture at a delightful Craft and Pottery ‘Private View’ in the English Wine Centre in Alfriston – genteel glasses of red or white – or Elderflower Cordial which Jude enjoyed a lot; little nibbles and a chance to see some wonderful work by local artists;  quilting, silverwork, tapestry, knitting, ceramics and pottery.  And all at top-dollar prices, Jude regrets to say, although such work is probably worth it.  But only a couple of small Christmas presents were bought by J.& J. – two pottery ‘pulls’ for the ends of light cords (Jim) and a small, hand-embroidered cushion of great charm and delicacy by Jude.  They then went down the lane to the comfy, country hotel at the end, and had a Bar-Meal by a blazing fire.  A lovely evening out.

Jim stayed the weekend and did lots of essential ‘Jim-Jobs’ for Jude (probably quite similar to those Peter May performs for Theresa…) including installing her new Router and fixing the brass-hooks for her curtain tie-backs.  Jude cooked him Chicken Paprika and rice and he distinguished himself by driving home in the embroidered, velvet bedroom slippers he keeps at Jude’s for casual weekends.  A neat pair of Chelsea Boots are now sitting in her hall, awaiting their owner.  (See Para 6 re “Getting Older”…)

HINTS FOR OVER-SEVENTY-YEAR-OLDS;  You can really get used to Gaviscon ‘Advance’.. it isn’t all that bad.

 

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BLOG NUMBER 45 “ISLAND IN THE SUN….”

Majorca Oct 2017 052  I have returned from Majorca bronzed and fit(ish) – see photo – more of which later under the Ongoing Saga of Jude et Jim.

However, the country I have returned to appears to be in chaos, with no clear view of its future, a party in Government which thinks it more important to squabble than govern and no plan for BREXIT, with a tragic figure at its head.  Poor woman!  Why did she even want to be PM?  It was obvious that she had an impossible task in front of her from the outset.  The elephant in the room is the dreaded Single Market.  We can’t be ‘in’ it unless we accept Free Movement – something the GBP (Great British Public) voted against when they voted “Out” of the EU;  so, in order to preserve some semblance of democracy, we must not be part of it;  but if we are NOT part of it, economic catastrophe threatens.  I bet Dave is sitting in his shed, scribbling away at his memoirs, wiping the sweat from his brow.  He managed to escape  just in time before the excrement hit the ventilation, innit?

But is there any human-being, of whatever political persuasion, who didn’t feel sympathy for poor Darling Buds Of May?  What a total nightmare that final conference speech was – it could have been scripted for “The Thick Of It”.  And what a nice husband she has, leaping onto the podium immediately after she finished to hug and comfort her.  Or maybe you didn’t notice?  Being something of a specialist in husbands, I noticed, and gave him ten-out-of-ten.

She will struggle on.  She is a good, honorable woman, with no charisma at all, and she is a poor communicator.  But she has grim tenacity, a sense of duty and I think she is a good negotiator. Let’s be honest, Who Else Is There?  Survey the pool of political talent swimming around  – of whichever political party.  Do you spot anyone of Olympic, or even County standard?  No.  Thought not.

Luckily, I do not have to make any decisions about the country, or the Conservative Party’s future, being a Woman of No Importance, thank God – but my circumscribed little life is not without its high-spots.  For instance, I have joined the On-Line Bankers.  Oh yes indeed.  I have at last  dragged myself, kicking and screaming, into the 21st Century.  Well, in the end, you’ve got to get with it.  My Bank’s local branch in Eastbourne has now turned into the inside of Dr.Who’s ‘Tardis’ – even were I able to manage all the high-tech. machinery at my disposal there is nowhere to park the car – so I drive another twelve miles to a smaller branch, as yet unmodernised but threatening to do so any minute – where it is possible to park for two hours if you are lucky enough to grab a space.  I needed to transfer funds from my ‘Everyday Saver’ into my Bill Account so that I could draw a cheque on the Bill Account to pay for my Service Charge (a ginormous £4K)  towards which I save £400 per month into the aforementioned Everyday Saver (oh, DO keep up – it’s fascinating) and as I talked to the cashier behind her little window I realised it all could be done so much more easily electronically, so she did it for me.  Before My Very Eyes, tapping on her keyboard. In no time the necessary money was taken from one place and whizzed to another place – no cheques were written, no envelopes addressed, stamped or posted.  Jus’ Like That my bill was paid!  So, unguardedly, I said, “I really ought to start On-Line banking” and before I could stop her she had signed me up, got me a Membership Number, sent off for the little gismo I will need to use as I manage my enormous wealth in front of my small P.C., handed me all the paperwork and told me it was easy and not to be frightened of it she kept telling her Mum to do it…  And I reeled home wondering what I had done.

Apart from the fact that I tried doing it BEFORE receiving the gismo, about which I had forgotten, and was confused because I could not get into my accounts as they didn’t know who I was – APART from that, my first attempt at a transaction went well.  OK – to be honest, it actually took ONE HOUR to pay a small bill to the Chauffeur Service that drives Jude et Jim to Gatwick and back for the Majorcan holiday – during the course of which I needed to call the Helpline and have long and mostly unintelligible conversations with a polite Indian gentleman.  You know how it is.  Anyway, as he spoke I noticed how I could solve the problem on screen, so was able to thank him, put the phone down, and continue to NEXT.  The whole operation took longer than it should because of my regrettable habit of trying to enter codes into the gismo, which should have been entered into the computer – and vice-versa – but, hey, I got there and eventually I proudly transferred the sum of £180 to the Chauffeur Company’s Account Number.  Only problem was, that when I peered at the bill again, I realised it was for £160 not £180 – (should’ve gone to SpecSavers).  I have told them to keep the extra in recognition of Services Rendered.  Phew….  But it is useful to be able to look at your accounts when you want to check balances, instead of waiting for Bank Statements, or asking the ATM to furnish you with a print-out.  As a result of this new facility I have realised that my Current Account holds loads more money than it needs to;  so I have gone out and spent a lot of it at my favourite Emporium – Marks and Sparks.  Good, eh?

 

But it must be said that, notwithstanding my new abilities re.On-Line Banking (which may yet end in disaster as I am inclined to put the decimal point in the wrong place;  it is not, therefore, impossible that the next payment I make will be for ONE-THOUSAND AND SEVENTEEN POUNDS instead of ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTEEN POUNDS) I remain depressed about my lack of computer skills generally.  As I write, my new tablet sits beside me forlornly having told me frequently and plaintively that it has no internet connection.  My question is “Why the Hell not?” – but it can’t answer that.  The last time I used it the internet connection was healthy and available.  So what has happened while I have been in Majorca.  Is this a major sulk because I didn’t take it with me?  Or is it something more complicated?

Mr.Hobbit has kindly sent me a video (he tells me) which will show me precisely how to reinstate google and all its usefulnesses – but so far I have not dared read it as I fear I won’t understand it.  Duh….  Mr.Hobbit has excellent, and self-taught computer skills, which I admire and envy – in fact, the reason you are getting photos with this Blog is entirely due to his assistance.  So stand by for another one, as you read

 

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM, GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;

Majorca Oct 2017 058

Obviously the main event was the trip to two made to Majorca – only a week, but a lovely one.  Here is a picture of Jim Flexing His Mussels, which Jude thought you might enjoy. Well, he certainly did –  (enjoy the mussels….).  What is there to say? Majorca is a gentle, lovely holiday island – no poisonous snakes; no volcanoes;  no earthquakes (as far as Jude knows); no malaria-carrying mosquitos; no Ebola – the list goes on.

Plus the sun (nearly) always shines.  Jude’s Time-Share Villa is air-conditioned so she can keep her bedroom at the temperature she enjoys (60 degs.F) and Jim can turn the heat up in his.  Occasionally the two meet in one room or the other for a siesta or what they term ‘cuddles’ – but otherwise sleeping solo is the order of the week and a good job too!  The time was spent exploring in a hired Nissan car, swimming in the pools, eating in the restaurants, sunbathing in the little garden and preparing meals in the excellent kitchen (pizzas, since you ask – oh, and beans-on-toast).

There are Places of Interest on Majorca – but Jude has already been to Palma Cathedral and to the Monastery where Chopin and George Sands spent a miserable winter (read “A Winter in Majorca” to discover how little she enjoyed it) – but the question is why go to Majorca in NOVEMBER with a man who is terminally ill with consumption and expect to have fun?  Therefore,  J.&J. spent the time, hedonistically enjoying beaches, freshly-squeezed and iced orange juice, ice-cream, paella – oh, and MUSSELS.

As to Culture – there was none – unless you count watching “Coronation Street” on the Villa tellly in the evenings.  However, in the weeks since my last post, Jude et Jim have seen two films, both worthy of mention.

The first was “VICTORIA & ABDUL” – described as a “biographic comedy-drama” about Queen Victoria’s final years and her friendship with her Indian Servant, ABDUL KARIM (played by ALI FAZAN).  JUDI DENCH plays QUEEN VICTORIA yet again and it must be said that her performance steals the show, although  EDDIE IZARD makes an excellent job of the unpleasant “BERTIE” – later King Edward VII.

Victoria is in her declining years (78) and it is the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee (1897) when young Abdul is sent from India  (“We want someone tall…”) where he is a Clerk in a prison, literate, presentable and, yes, tall, so therefore a suitable choice, to present the Queen with a celebratory Diamond Jubilee medal, especially struck for the occasion, proclaiming her as The Empress of India.  This is to be given to her after dinner one evening and Abdul’s instructions are to bow, and absolutely Not To Meet The Queen’s Eyes.  This he proves unable to do and his melting eyes and her aging ones engage, and he gives her his shattering smile.  Victoria is hooked, and regains her interest and enthusiasm for life as their friendship develops.  This film is funny – the puffing outrage and fury of the court and of Prince Bertie and the rest of the royal family at this incongruous and unsuitable alliance is hilarious.  However I suppose one must remember the humiliation of the Indian nation under the British Raj at the time and one criticism of the film is that it is “a cute royal fantasy” where the Queen is portrayed as innocent of any of the injustices meted out regularly by her representatives in India.  But the film is not politically-driven it is character-driven and the evolution of this strange and genuine friendship is beautifully and amusingly shown.  Jude et Jim laughed a lot – and cried a little.  On the Queen’s death, three years later  “Bertie” the court and the Royal Family behaved with vicious cruelty to Abdul and his wife, banishing them back to India and burning his treasured letters from the Queen.

The Director is STEPHEN FREARS, the writer, LEE HALL and the film is based on a book by SHRABAN BASER.  Cinematography by DANNY COHEN.

Also worthy of mention is “GOODBYE CHRISTOPHER ROBIN” – again dividing the critics somewhat.  There are those who consider the cult of “Winnie-the-Pooh” and AA Milne’s tales and poems written around his young son, to be beneath serious notice with their emphasis on the Middle Class ethos, Nannies, stuffed toys and blissful walks in the woods where the sun always shines – but Jude tells those people to calm down, abandon class-consciousness and concentrate on the delightful works of philosophy that the “Pooh” books are.  Jude was brought up on “ Winnie-the-Pooh” the way some people are brought up on the Bible.  She didn’t have a Nannie but that did not mean she was unable to empathise, from the age of 4, with works so  intrinsically funny and observant of human nature. Therefore, those of you who don’t agree can stop reading here!  And we are not forgetting that one of Jude’s literary heroines, DOROTHY PARKER, reviewing the first of these books in “The New Yorker”, under her soubriquet of “CONSTANT READER” simply used the words “tonstant weeder throwed up”.  It’s a point of view – but it’s not Jude’s.

Having got that point sorted it must be said that Jude et Jim loved this film and thought it was tender and insightful – excellently cast and acted, beautifully shot and well-directed.  “There aren’t many films that demonstrate how a phenomenal professional success can also be the most catastrophic personal failure…” (The Economist”).  Jude agrees with that wholeheartedly and it is the reason the film is so touching and perceptive.

A.A.Milne, was a well-known writer already by the time he was jettisoned into the bloodshed and horror of the First World War.  Like many returned soldiers he suffered shell-shock – and with this came writer’s block.  He and his family moved to the Sussex countryside in the hope of giving him the peace-of-mind and space to write again.  But It wasn’t until, after his wife left him alone, with their small son, Christopher-Robin  for a few weeks, while she visited friends in London, that he found the inspiration to begin writing again.  And as he played with his son in Ashdown Forest, with his son’s teddy-bear and his son’s stuffed donkey and piglet, and his son’s stuffed tiger the creative juices began to flow once more.  Everyone knows of the stories Alistair Milne wrote as a result of this.  And they may delight in those tales, as most of the world did, or they may not.  However, what they may not know is the effect on Christopher Robin himself, and the father-son relationship between them.

This film shows, how from the initial euphoria of success, the bad effects on Chistopher grow.  Obviously Christopher Robin Milne was a sensitive, intelligent, introspective child – just the wrong sort of child to be thrust into the limelight with all the furore of publicity, special “appearances” and photographs of “the real Christopher Robin”.  The child felt he was being “shared” with the world, while all he wanted was the love and esteem of his mother and father, and, particularly, of his beloved Nannie.  As soon as he went to boarding school the other boys pounced on him, teasing him “Christopher Robin is saying his prayers!” they yelled, as they thumped him.  And so it went on into adult life.

The film is at pains to say that Christopher-Robin married happily and went on to run a bookshop in Dartmouth.  Apparently he never personally kept any of the royalties due to him as a result of the sales of his father’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” books.  However, Jude  remembers an interview he gave, when in his sixties on one of the BBC’s arts programmes – and he was a sad man who could not forget how his childhood had been forever foisted on him so that he could never shake it off.  It was an unforgettable image.

Jude, therefore, viewed the film with this background in mind.  CHRISTOPHER-ROBIN is beautifully played by ALEX LAWTHER,  A.A.MILNE by DOMHNALL GLEESON, MRS.MILNE (DAPHNE de SELINCOURT) is played by MARGOT ROBBIE and KELLY MACDONALD is NANNY.  The Director is SIMON CURTIS, the writer FRANK COTRELL-BOYCE and the cinematography is by BEN SMITHARD.

Jude et Jim strongly recommend you go and see it.

TIPS FOR THE OVER-SEVENTIES;  If you take up On-Line Banking, remember the point of the decimal-point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLOG NO 44; THE LAST OF THE SUMMER WHINE…

No – I’m not whining this time.  That was last time.  This time I am full of the joys of autumn and getting ready for my holiday in Majorca where I shall capture the last of the sunshine (Temperature is 27 degs.C. in Palma as I write).

However, is it me, or has what is laughingly called our summer, vanished rather quickly and with great suddenness this year?  The wind is blowing steadily from the north-west today, and although the sun is out there is a distinct nip in the air.  Well, suits me guys. At least it will be an end to the sleeping-upside down season.  And my lovely Majorcan time-share villa has AIR/CON and  two double-beds as big as football pitches – so all should be cool and comfortable indoors at night with no fighting over bed-sharing.  Mr.and Mrs.Hobbit will get a room each, both set to the temperature they sleep in best and  on their return, the dreaded weather-forecasting- lady’s phrase “uncomfortable for sleeping” should have become a distant memory.  Plus Selfridge’s Christmas Shop will already have been open for two months.   Deep joy.

And how am I – I hear you ask?  After my visit to land of the elderly and infirm over the last couple of months?  The sciatica has departed – the acid-reflux is no more and all that is left to remind me that I am an octogenarian is the painful spot at the top of my spine – or the bottom of my neck, depending on how you want to look at it, as it were – that my doctor thinks is arthritis.  And he isn’t the only one, as I think it is arthritis too.  Not a good spot to get it and you will no doubt be hearing more of this affliction in due course. All in good time.

Last month saw the annual Air Show which has been a feature of this town for many years now and means most sensible residents get the Hell out to avoid ear-splitting noises overhead and a complete lack of parking spaces.  It lasts for four days so is, in fact, difficult to avoid and my mantra has long been “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Therefore  I held my usual genteel lunch-party on Day Three for those of my friends obsessed by high-powered aircraft, “wing-walking” and parachuting – passions which are a mystery to me but my friends are my friends and they put up with my peculiarities so it is only fair that I should put up with theirs.  Lots of sarnies got guzzled plus one or two mini pork-pies and bits of quiche;  Prosecco was offered but turned down in favour of diet Coke and coffee – and people scrambled for the best places on my (three) balconies holding their binoculars and their cameras with every appearance of having a good time. It has to be said that my block of flats has about the best view of this event that it is possible to get so no wonder I am urged to have this Bit of a Do every year. In truth my friends tend to telephone me in July to dictate which day of the weekend is most convenient for them to attend so will I hold ‘my’ party on that particular day.  Put like that it seems selfish not to lay it on once more – and, as I say, my friends are my friends. And they are cherished.  I just don’t get the thing with the aeroplanes……….

After all that excitement, further excitement offered in the shape of a trip to London to celebrate a friend’s birthday.  Another friend.  Not an air-show enthusiastic friend.  This one is fonder of Sean the Sheep than sky-diving –  (look – it’s an amiable weakness) – and she is particularly keen on dining “al-fresco” – Out-Of-Doors to you.  To which end she booked lunch at a restaurant on the river at Kingston-Upon-Thames a delightful town but something of a pain to reach from East Sussex – especially if you consider the state of  the Southern Region train-service at present.   I thought of driving up only to be told by my excellent osteopath that I was NOT to drive long distances for the time-being in case I did the Pelvic-Twist once more.  So I googled the journey via public transport and it looked simple enough..  Southern Region train to Clapham Junction – then an overground train out to Kingston – taxi from the station to the restaurant.  Easy-peasy.

And that’s where Southern Region Trains stepped in.  They managed to provide a train which departed on time and which I boarded happily, newspaper under arm, at 1000 hours.  But the further up the line it progressed the slower it ran.  Until it announced there were “signal problems” ahead.  It glided into Gatwick Airport, shuddered to a halt and announced “This train is terminating here.  Passengers who wish to continue their onward journey to Victoria should cross to Platform 2 and catch the next train from there. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”  Yeah.  Right.

I crossed to Platform 2 obediently, with all my fellow-passengers, of whom there were many.  In fact the train had arrived at Gatwick packed to the luggage-racks with people and baggage.  But we waited, patiently, as only the Great British Public can do – until the next train arrived, as promised, for the “onward journey” – and, it was also packed to the luggage racks with people and baggage.  Nevertheless, we were encouraged to push our way on board, and were indeed helped from behind by zealous Southern Region staff.

But this octogenarian paused and considered the scene and concluded that it all looked too much like the Hillsborough disaster for her liking.  Then she had a definite Senior Moment, came over all wobbly and decided to miss this opportunity of travelling with her face squashed into somebody’s soft-topped suitcase, bum-to-bum with a load of strangers.  Yes.  I may be old but I’m not stupid.  So I backed off and found somebody in a Southern Rail uniform and asked what my best option was.  To wait for the next train or to go home.  The Southern Rail uniform explained, politely and kindly, that there were “Signal problems ahead, and a broken-down train outside London Bridge causing delays.”  So I got my answer.  “Which Platform for the train back to East Sussex please?” I enquired.  He directed me to Platform 7, where a different sort of chaos reigned.  There was a Brighton train due, and an Eastbourne train due, but no-one was certain which one was coming first and anyway they were both an hour delayed……

So, long story short, eventually I boarded the correct train, travelling south, and I was, by this time, unsurprisingly, in need of a wee.  I sought out the Disabled Loo, which was the nearest one, to find a lot of teenagers sitting outside it, blocking the entrance.  However, the teenagers were quick to explain that the loo was “broken”, “not working”, whatever. They were quite sure of this which is why they were sitting with their backs against it.

I wondered off down the train, but was intercepted by a nice young female Southern Rail Guard who asked me where I was travelling to.  When I told her I was going to the end of the line, she looked concerned.  “The other public toilet on board is closed as it’s got no water,” she said.  I asked her if she was telling me that I was travelling on a train with NO PUBLIC LAVATORIES at all.  And her answer was “yes”.  Nice one.

However, she had a Cunning Plan, because at Hayward’s Heath, the next stop, there was a public loo in the middle of the platform “behind the sweet-shop”.  At Hayward’s Heath the train would stop for 4 minutes while they attached extra coaches, so, with luck and a following wind I should be able to disembark, visit the loo and get back on board again. Unfortunately she also told a great many other passenger, mostly mums with kids, the same thing.  Consequently, this tiny loo behind the sweet shop on Platform 2 at Hayward’s Heath became very popular indeed – with a queue of uncomfortable people waiting outside it – mostly with crossed legs.

Anyway, three cheers for the nice Southern Region lady guard as she counted us all back on again, even though it meant delaying the delayed train further.  And when I thanked her, and added “I bet you hate your job today,” she replied “I don’t mind it, so long as I can help people..”  What a star!

Finally, comfortably settled and on my way home again I rang my friend to explain myself.  (Well, it meant I could say what I’ve always wanted to say on a mobile phone; “I’m on the train….”)  Then I had to explain it was the train HOME – not the train for Kingston-on-Thames.  She was very understanding but told me the restaurant was celebrating a 10-year Anniversary with an anniversary menu which included confit duck with Dauphinoise Potatoes – and also that another guest at the lunch had got lucky on the lottery and was footing the bill for EVERYONE.    Duhhhh……..  Thanks Southern Region.

My comment on this experience is that the franchise has lost complete control of the network anyway – never mind the strikes – the whole system is having a nervous breakdown. – It is manned by nice, caring, hard-working people who are at their wits’ end. – and the two warring sides have not yet met IN THE SAME ROOM to discuss the problems.  Think this is gonna take some time.

Apart from another birthday party, in an Indian Restaurant nearer to home – in fact, only 8 miles away – my time has been occupied by getting ready for the Majorcan holiday (qv). The flights have been booked, the hire-car organised and the Euros procured – sadly each Euro is worth considerably less than Euros were last year – and I have had my hair cut and coloured a fetching shade of burgundy – in a style which even Jim cannot fail to notice.  Next is the leg-wax (ouch) and the toe-nail and finger-nail paint.  Then I am ready.  And we are only going for a week…..

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM, GERIATRIC LOVEBIRDS;

Jude et Jim have been veritable Culture Vultures over the last three weeks and taken in two films which were on Jude’s “Must See” list.

The first, “A MAN CALLED OVE””was a delightful Swedish film, starring ROLF LASSGAARD” as the emponymous OVE, and obligingly provided with excellent subtitles since it was in Swedish (natch).  Jude finds subtitles a huge relief as she often struggles to follow the dialogue – something which is entirely due to the poor quality of film-recording and dubbing these days, and absolutely nothing to do with the fact that she has a hearing problem.  So there.

The film is an adaption from the best-selling novel of the same name by FREDRIK BACKMAN and is directed by HAMMES HOLM.  I suppose it could be summarised as the tale of a tiresome old grump – but it nevertheless is charming, touching and very funny. OVE is a late-sixties retiree with strict principles and a short fuse who spends his time enforcing community rules originally devised by himself when he first moved into this residential complex of bungalows;  visiting his wife’s grave and, from time to time trying to hang himself in his sitting room.  His suicidal attempts are always interrupted at the last minute – usually by a neighbour who is NOT complying with the aforementioned ‘rules’ in some way or another.  OVE is played with humanity and humour so you could call this a Black Comedy with a Big Heart – that is, if you enjoy cliches.  All the same, that is what it is.  Luckily for Ove his miserable life is enhanced unexpectedly by a lively family of new neighbours moving in and breaking ALL the rules, of course, with their badly-behaved kids, their ineffective Dad and their pregnant Persian Mama (BAHAR PARS).  Flashbacks to the young, newly-married Ove (FILIP BERG) put the whole story into context and are very cleverly managed.  So miserable Ove is on a journey from grief to happpiness, against his will and against his better judgement.  And it is very funny to watch.

Is there a happy ending?  Well – yes and no.  Go and see it for yourselves.  Jude et Jim loved it, although they had to travel 20 miles out of town to find a cinema that was showing it.  Still, as that town had an Italian Restaurant that served Spaghetti and Giant Meatballs there was an opportunity for a nice meal out as well.

After the success of that trip, they felt emboldened to visit the local Multiplex to see “THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM” – based on the book “DAN LENO & THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM” by PETER ACKROYD (1994)

As its title suggest this is a Gothic Horror-Thriller set in Victorian London with the action taking place in the Music Halls of the time, involving real figures from the past (DAN LENO – played by DOUGLAS BOOTH) – and a host of fictitious characters.  The Director is JUAN CARLOS MEDINA who should be congratulated on exactly capturing the atmosphere of the period in a brilliantly convincing way.

Jude  knew nothing about Dan Leno, so she Wikipedia’d him and it seems he was born GEORGE WILD GALVIN in the 1860’s and died, aged 42, in 1904.  In 1903 he was committed to a lunatic asylum after what today we would have called a nervous breakdown – so there are doubts about his mental stability.

The Dan Leno in THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM is definitely somewhat flaky and appears to be involved in the East End serial killings which are the background to this macabre tale. Mixed up with burlesque, comedy, Music Hall acts, the serial killers’ rampage of violence goes on, unchecked – until they bring in INSPECTOR KILDARE of Scotland Yard (played by BILL NIGHY).  This is a colourful film – not least because it is extremely gory, but it is well-done and full of suspense.  OO DUNNIT? you ask – frequently.  BILL NIGHY is Jude’s hero as  every single word that he uttered could be heard and clearly understood and the same cannot be said of other members of the cast – in particular OLIVIA COOKE, in the part of LIZZIE CREE, widow of one of the suspects and a major “plot carrying”role. Jude has to complain that she heard not one single word this young woman spoke and thus the plot was extremely difficult to follow.  And it wasn’t just Jude.  Jim said he couldn’t hear her either.

There is a huge shock/horror ending to this grotesque romp through the old days of Music Hall and the vice-dens of Victorian London.  But neither Jude nor Jim is going to reveal it as they are not SPOILERS.  It isn’t for the faint-hearted however, or those who don’t like blood and sexual-violence.  Which is most of us, I suppose.  But it is all exaggerated and so much larger than life that somehow this film gets away with it.

Plus it was a good excuse to visit the Thai Restaurant on the Harbour, which as regular readers of this post will know is one of Jude et Jim’s faves.  Jude’s stomach (having only recently recovered from Acid-Reflux, see above) was a bit shocked,  at first asking “You want me to digest deep-fried WHAT?” – but it settled down to the old routine very quickly. Goodness knows how many calories get devoured at one sitting here – but they are all quite delicious so who’s counting?

TIPS FOR OVER-SEVENTIES;

Do not undertake train journeys involving Southern Region – that is, if you wish to arrive anywhere with certainty.

 

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BLOG NO. 43; “OLD AGE IS ANOTHER COUNTRY”…

Yes, indeed.  And unfortunately I have been travelling around this country for the last three weeks.  The rest of the quotation is, “They Do Things Differently There” and I can confirm should my readers have been in any doubt, that this indeed is the case.

For instance – old people walk with a limp and a stick (TICK); old people have to take a lot of tablets (TICK); old people think slowly and hold up the queue scrabbling for their change (TICK); old people cannot stand for long periods (TICK), old people have aches in places other people don’t even have places (TICK);  old people FEEL old (TICK)……..  Do I need to go on?

On the other hand, the people who live in this old-age country are kind, gentle and interesting, many of them my best friends.  So it’s not all bad.  Although I used to think I was a tourist, not a permanent resident.

But I am like the old lady who swallowed a fly;  I keep swallowing more things to compensate for the effects of the earlier things I have swallowed.  And you know what happened to that old lady.  She swallowed a bloody HORSE (,,,,”She’s dead, of course..”

OK – this needn’t take long, and ought not to or you will all nod off since it isn’t exactly a vibrant tale, nor full of thrills, erotic love or forbidden romance – (that will come later – see “JUDE ET JIM” at the end of this post.)

So, in brief, the twisted pelvis became sciatica; the pain of the sciatica was so intense I had to take heavy-duty pain-killers (see Blog No.42); the heavy-duty pain-killers caused severe acid reflux resulting in taking more medication – which is where we are now. NEW READERS START HERE…  The medication is totally disgusting if taken in liquid form and just about bearable if chewed in tablet form (strawberry flavour).  I am not sure which is worse; swallowing the filthy draught and then getting on with dinner, or chewing the tablets while eating so that every meal is strawberry-flavoured.  Anyway, I should be better after 10 days and if not, says the Doctor cheerfully, “We start to worry…”

I am not used to being old is the problem.  For instance, two weeks ago, after being UNtwisted and de-sciatica-ed by Helen, my osteopath, I felt so youthful that I went shopping (well, it was a long time since I had done my Supermarket shop) and manhandled four heavy bags into the car, out of the car, into the lift and into the flat, heaving them onto the working surface to unpack, unpacked them, put everything away and then collapsed with a return of pelvis-twist and sciatic pain once more.  You see? That was not what an old-person should have done  But I thought I was the same as I had always been and acted accordingly.  Feel better – go back to normal.  WRONG!  I suppose it is just a new stage in your life, like being a parent, perhaps, that you know nothing about at the start and have to learn to manage.  So now I am learning – the hard way. And the rules are tough; No swimming breast-stroke any more; no curling up on the sofa with legs under you any more, no crossing your legs any more, no hoovering, polishing, lifting, carrying anything any more and no long car-drives.  For the next six weeks.  And swallow your filthy medicine and be grateful all this isn’t worse.

Enough of that.  How about we turn our attention to more cheerful matters?  There’s North Korea, brilliantly expanding its nuclear expertise, (WELL DONE, NORTH KOREA); there’s BREXIT and the realisation that whatever the Best Deal For Britain might be it will never be on offer and that leading members of the Government have no idea how to achieve it anyway, so have all gone on their hols (“I won’t think about that today – I’ll think about that tomorrow…” -wasn’t that Scarlett O-Hara’s mantra in “Gone With The Wind”?  Didn’t end all that well for her, I recall.)  So, when The EU says, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn..” we may well be at a loss for a reply.  To put it mildly.

Are you cheered?  No,  didn’t think you would be.  How about a nice book?

Since I have been grounded for three weeks there has been nothing for it but to get my head stuck into some reading – which is one of life’s pleasures and one I seem to do less and less of.  However, let me recommend to you “A novel about the sparks that illuminate the dark; of wisdom, compassion, defiance and courage..” (Daily Mail).  This is “THE TOBACCONIST” by ROBERT SEETHALLER, set in 1937, following 17-year-old Franz, as he leaves his home in the idyllically beautiful Austrian lake district, for Vienna, to be apprenticed to an elderly tobacconist, among whose regulars is Professor Freud.  The real Professor Freud.  Franz is fictitious, but Freud lived and the interaction between the fictional character and the real-life character is delicately and realistically achieved. Freud is an old man at the time, and suffering from his final illness (cancer of the jaw) but his willingness to dispense romantic advice to the young Franz, as well as his predeliction for cigars, about which Franz has now accumulated considerable knowledge, forges a bond between them.  We see the tobacconist, Franz, the aging Freud and the citizenry of Vienna all swept along by the tide of fearful events of that year and the atmosphere and mood of the times is vividly conveyed.  This book is tender and elegiac, wise and moving and told with a dry wit that enhances, rather than disguises the sadness of its story.  It has been translated by CHARLOTTE COLLINS, who should be congratulated on losing nothing of its poetic resonance in the process.

Here is Franz, in conversation with the Professor, about love;  in particular the first love in his young life, a wandering Bohemian vaudeville entertainer called Anezka, whom he thought he loved, but now he isn’t sure.

“All right, then” said Freud. “I suggest that, to begin with, we clarify the terminology.  I suspect that when we talk about your love, what we really mean is your libido.”

“My what?”

“Your libido.  This is the force that drives people after a certain age.  It causes as much joy as it does pain, and to put it in simple terms, with men it is located in their trousers.”

“With you too?”

“My libido was conquered long ago,” sighed the professor. 

Yes – full of wisdom, tenderness, insight…And apart from all that, folks, you simply cannot put it down.  I loved it.

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM; GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;

Jim has had his second, and highly successful, cataract operation.  he says he had not realised that colours had become muddy to him and that now, the world looks like a freshly-cleaned Old Master.  He is happy, youthful, bouncy and wanting to play.  Well, bully for him.  Unfortunately Jude is miserable, elderly, sedentary and wanting to be left alone.  So all his youthful vigour is being expended on doing Jude’s hoovering, Jude’s dusting, Jude’s kitchen-floor swabbing and Jude’s duvet-changing.  But that’s Hobbits for you.  They will turn their hand to anything and are always there to help – except when they are at home making marmalade.

All the same, Jude limped off with him to see “DUNKIRK” last week. This is written, co-produced and directed by CHRISTOPHER NOLAN.  Jude is always suspicious of films which trumpet the name of one person as being responsible for ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING and in this case her suspicions were justified.  As you might guess, this is a large-scale “spectacular” about the rescue of many hundreds of thousands of British troops from the Normandy beaches in early stages of the Second World War by the “little ships” belonging to ordinary Brits and their kids.  And if you can’t make a gripping, fantastic film out of that story you shouldn’t be in the business.  But Christopher Nolan managed it.  What a missed opportunity!

He wrote the script, we are told, from three different perspectives, land, sea and air, with little dialogue, intending to create suspense through visuals, and music.  The visuals are wonderful, the music is stirring, but the suspense is missing.  The cinematography is by HOYTE VAN HOYTEMA on 65mm.large format film stock.  It is a joy to behold, and if anyone wants to sit back and watch, and listen to the stereo-sound and get involved in the action – then fine.  But none of the characters have any interior lives, so the effect is rather like a strip cartoon on page two of your local paper. Lots of big faces doing stuff…

One or two glaring errors stood out to Jude;  we see one of the ‘ordinary Brits’, played by MARK RYLANCE in his little ship pootling across the Channel on his way to Dunkirk – and THERE ARE NO OTHER LITTLE SHIPS AROUND HIM.  No.  Not one to be seen.  He could have been alone – “a painted ship upon a painted ocean”… (“THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER” if you were wondering.)   It also seems absurd to employ such an excellent (and expensive) actor as KENNETH BRANAGH and give him nothing more to do that raise a pair of binoculars to his eyes.

Jude found it quite a relief not to have to strain to hear dialogue, something with which she frequently has difficulty, and if you just want to watch spectacle – this is the film for you.

Jude et Jim then went to their fave. Thai Restaurant on the Marina.  But that was before Jude developed the acid-reflux.  ~At present all she can contemplate is small quantities of mashed potato – and maybe some ice-cream.  But not together – and prefaced by two strawberry-flavoured Gaviscon tablets.

Isn’t life a scream?

TIPS FOR OVER-SEVENTIES;   Act your AGE, for goodness sake!

 

 

https://jujujudy.wordpress.com/

BLOG NO.42; TWISTING AGAIN, LIKE I DID LAST YEAR….

Keen readers of these posts may recall that, in April last year, I reported twisting my pelvis – due to some enthusiastic hoovering.  I have to admit that not much hoovering gets done by me, and when it IS done it is done with a light-weight dust-buster thingy – not a heavy piece of industrial equipment like my good friend and regular cleaner Keef (mentioned in Blog No.26.) uses.  All the same, I did get going at the carpet last week as I was expecting visitors and didn’t want the place to look too crumby.  (Literally – crumbs accumulate underneath and in front of my sofa, due to my regrettable habit of eating my breakfast toast and marmalade there, while watching “BREAKFAST” – together with the occasional nibbling of crisps and/or nuts in the same spot while drinking a spritzer in the evening – only done to keep Jim company, of course…)

So a little light hoovering was done – at least, I thought it was light – but since, the next morning, I was struck by severe pain in my waist and my left buttock rendering me practically immobile, I suppose it was more energetic than I had intended.  However, I was seeing my osteopath, Helen, (see Blog 26) a few days later so I hobbled around, relying on paracetamol and ibuprofen at regular intervals for 48 hours until my appointment with her.  And, guess what?   She said I had twisted my pelvis and had I been hoovering again, and honesty compelled me to answer in the affirmative.  So she did her Untwisting The Jude routine,  I rolled off the couch and exited her consulting room and was stabbed by more agonising pain in the bum (appropriate, really, since good friends tell me that I am one) as I got into the car.  Telling myself this was probably the after-effects of the treatment I went home and gulped down some more paracetamol. Then followed three days of total Hell, Dear Reader, involving awful nights where I could not change position in bed without getting out of the bed and getting back into it again; where I could only lie on my right side – and eventually could not lie on any side at all; where I trailed through the flat at 3.00.a.m. looking for a more comfortable sleeping place and couldn’t find one – followed by miserable, sleep-deprived and painful days. There is only so much of this a girl can tolerate so I got onto my doctor and begged him for pain-killers and he mildly explained that a regime of ibuprofemn and paracetamol are not going to cut it when your problem is sciatica and sent me the blessed Tramadol – a Restricted Drug (oo-er, missus) – and Naproxen – a heavy-duty NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) which I have been happily popping for three days now.  “I feel no pain” as someone once said – trouble is, I don’t feel anything much.  Things like “It’s time to get up”, “It’s time to go to the shops” and “It’s time to do some hoovering”.  You know the sort of thing.  Anyway, if you ever get a fearsome pain in your bottom, which radiates all down the back of your leg and wraps itself round your ankle, giving you pins and needles in your foot – that’s sciatica.  Definitely to be avoided at all times if possible. My osteopath has admitted that, occasionally, when re-positioning a part of the body, another part goes wonky.  She admits this is probably what happened.  However, as I have been seeing her for fifteen years and never, ever has such a mishap occurred after treatment I am letting her off, even though it is obvs. HER FAULT.  The business of UNtrapping my trapped sciatic nerve has already begun, and I hope to be back in full working order shortly.

OK – that is all the bad news dealt with.  The good news is that I have been able to slump in front of the telly, partially-comatose, watching the wonderful 2017 Wimbledon, in all the gorgeous sunshine and with all the tremulous hopes of a Brit. in one of the Finals.  Hopes dashed, of course.  Someone should tell that Venus Williams that she is too old to be playing as well as she is and she should move over for younger players, like Johanna Konta. And the less said about poor old Andy’s hip problem, the better.

Otherwise, and before I crippled myself, I have been playing a lot of games – principally SCRABBLE, with a good friend who is recovering from a bout of illness and finds playing Scrabble very therapeutic.  We are so fast that we can play three games in four hours.  It would be three hours, but one has to stop for tea hasn’t one?    Then there is the Bridge.  When I took this game up I did not expect to become addicted, since it relies, among other things, on rapid mental-arithmetic skills.  Which I don’t have.  But last week I accumulated EIGHTEEN English Bridge Union Points  These are of no scholastic, academic or professional value at all, and only mean anything to other Bridge players, but if you earn enough of them you become a Club Bridge Master – followed by a Local Bridge Master, going onwards and upwards to the dizzy heights of International Bridge Master.  Do you get it?  It’s like the Black-Belt Judo system I suppose.  So, with my 18 points earned last week I think I am poised for promotion to Club Master – the lowest rank admittedly, but as I have only been playing for 20 years (!) it’s a good result.  For me, with my slow mental arithmetic skills.  Come on, cut me some slack why don’t you?

THE ONGOING SAGA OF JUDE ET JIM, GERIATRIC LOVE-BIRDS;

Jude et Jim have been quite culturally active of late.  Two weeks ago they visited the Devonshire Park Theatre down here, and saw “ONE MAN, TWO GUV’NORS”.  This first opened in London in 2011, so none of the original cast were in it, but I have to say that the young fairly-unknowns who performed it were gutsy, energetic, funny and well-honed in their craft and Jude et Jim had a wonderful evening.

ONE MAN, TWO GUV’NORS” is written by RICHARD BEAN, based on “THE SERVANT OF TWO MASTERS” by CARLO GOLDONI, who wrote it in 1743, as a Commedia dell’arte comedy, and called it “IL SERVITORE DI DUE PADRONI” – as he would, being Italian.

Bean’s version is set in Brighton in 1963, where an out-of-work skiffle-player, FRANCIS HENSHALL gets himself separately employed by two men, ROSCOE CRABBE, a gangster and STANLEY STUBBERS an upper-class twit, whom he tries to keep apart in case they discover his duplicity.  The situation is further complicated because ROSCOE is really RACHEL, Roscoe’s twin sister – Roscoe having been murdered by Rachel’s boyfriend, who is STANLEY STUBBERS.  Do I need to go much further?  This is true, old-fashioned farce, and there is a laugh in every line, as they say.  Example;  CHARLIE-THE-DUCK (another gangster), speaking of his daughter, PAULINE, who is engaged, against her will, to ROSCOE (who is anyway another girl – do keep up…) says “They have tried, but they can’t make a brick thicker..”

There is a great deal of “audience participation”, where several unlucky members of the public get hauled onto the stage to get involved in the action – and the show is  interspersed throughout by rock music of the 1960’s, all performed by these talented young players, live.

A great evening in the Theatre and what theatre is all about – in Jude’s opinion, anyway. The evening was prefaced by a pre-theatre supper in the local tapas-bar, tapas being Jude’s fave food, she being a “grazer” by nature.  Put her in front of a mezze, for e.g. and she is in heaven.  (Jude is certain you are fascinated by such detail, but Jim is not. So what does he know, anyway?)

Having had their fill of the theatre, it was time for a trip to the pictures once more, to see “BABY DRIVER”, written and directed by EDGAR WRIGHT and starring the lovely KEVIN SPACEY.  This was another farce, I think you could say, with lots of fast-moving “Keystone Cops”-type car-chases – described as an”Action/Comedy Film”. The eponymous “BABY” is a getaway driver to a master-mind Heist-Planner (played by KEVIN SPACEY), and is a fresh-faced youth (played by ANSEL ELGORT) of good, not-to-say sweet, character, who lives with his foster-father, JOSEPH – played by C.J.JONES – and suffers from tinnitus, due to a childhood accident.  He wears earphones playing music into his head to block out the tinnitus, and is the fastest, most skilful driver on the block – hence his constant employment by the Heist-Planner and his gangs. Jude et Jim could see the worth of this film, and appreciated the ironic script, but sadly it suffered from the fault of many films these days, words that could not be heard above the sound of the effects and music, and were further rendered incomprehensible by lines mumbled in an American accent.  It was fairly difficult to follow the plot therefore, but this did not matter that much as the effects were wondrous to behold and it will definitely appeal to those who like their films jam-packed with gun-fights, explosions and car-crashes. Plus, there is a happy ending.  And Kevin Spacey is great – – you can hear every word he says, too.

After this excitement, Jude was struck down by Sciatica (QV) so that was the end of her social life for this month – although there is a July Garden Party she intends to wobble over to – if Jim holds her up.

TIPS FOR OVER-SEVENTY-YEAR-OLDS;

It has to be, “Resist the urge to do the hoovering, strong though it may be.”

  

 

https://jujujudy.wordpress.com/