Monday, 28 November 2011

Sad news that Ken Russell is no more


So this sensational odd-ball of a British film director has left us, at the age of 84.
His films were always such an 'event' in the late 60s/early 70s - always controversial, maddening to many, and certainly never to be ignored. When they were released they were so eye-popping in terms of visuals on those huge cinema screens in pre-multiplex days. One hardly dared to blink for fear of missing something!
Those I show here are the films which, in my opinion, show him at the very peak of his art (I've no doubt that some may deride my choices - particularly including 'Valentino' and 'The Boy Friend', two films which Russell himself detested. Even 'Tommy', I find, gets somewhat wearing to watch after an hour or so.). Pity that, in my opinion, in the 70s he lost the plot big-time and never recovered. His films then became for me, if not parodies of a parody, then, frankly boring - surely one of the ultimate crimes in film-making!
But he has left a canon of work which, in terms of lapel-grabbing images has rarely been equalled, let alone surpassed.
Ken Russell - a name that deserves to be remembered for a very long time.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Warning: Absolutely NOT for nervous types!

Scroll down -

.......and again....
 Just a little further.......

Nearly there......

                                                                                                      (Tee hee!)

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tom Cullen, Welsh actor - What a hottie!

I wasn't aware of this 26-year old until today. I've just returned from seeing the new film 'Weekend' which has received, as far as I can see, universally positive reviews. It concerns a two-day (hence the title) gay affair. To tell the truth I found the film itself on the edge of boring but was absolutely transfixed by this sensationally good looker. I've given the film as a whole a 6/10 on Imdb - the average score given by contributors at the time was 8.4. But in my books 'hotties' don't come much hotter than this Mr Cullen. Definitely earns a "Phwarrrrrrr!"

The film is a virtual two-hander and here is my beauty with his co-actor, the pretty nice Chris New - though when it comes to a choice between the two, well, although New certainly isn't bad, there's just no competition!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Mini Me-me.

Q: Have you ever had sex with a cardinal?

A: I don't think so.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

An historical challenge to be relished.

 During the 1960s there started a wave of publishing series of magazines in weekly instalments devoted to one specialised subject. One of the very first was 'The History of the English Speaking Peoples', taking as its template and title the 112 chapters of the multi-volume work by Winston Churchill. (Incidentally, many people are not aware that Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, though rather in recognition of his previous writings rather than for this breath-takingly ambitious and admirable work.)
    I had collected all 112 editions which cover the immense span of history between Julius Caesar's Roman invasions of these islands (in 55 B.C.E. and the following year) right up to the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
 Just a few days ago these magazines of mine saw the light of day again for the first time since I parcelled them up in Oxford prior to my emigrating to Germany in 1988. My eyes moistened when seeing them once more. There has been so much water under the bridge for me in the intervening years - status and financial comfort and security lost, but most poignantly, the loss of very nearly every one of the few friends I had, both in England and other parts of Europe..
    I tried to keep up with reading the magazines as they were first published one by one, but eventually fell behind. Then in the late 70s I gave it another go, this time getting up to the 17th century and the English Civil Wars, but then had to put the project aside.
   Now, inspired by the re-broadcast on one of the BBC's digital radio channels, entitled 'This Scepter'd Isle' in bite-sized 15 mins instalments, again based on the same chapters by Winston Churchill, with readings not only from his work but also from other historical sources relating to the period, I'm giving the challenge another shot - which could well be my final chance.

The magazines also fill in those areas where Churchill is inadequate, weak or he just ignores, with articles by other historians. For example here on the left is the start of an article on Britain's pre-Roman inhabitants, showing a giant figure chalked into an English hillside, which is still renowned as a favourite tourist site, though I can't think why, of an early warrior brandishing his big stick. (If you're not familiar with this, the 'Cerne Abbis Giant', look closely!.
                 Each magazine is a veritable treasure-trove of information and reading them sits well with my lifelong unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I plan to read one mag (with all its articles) per week  Really looking forward to this!

Just as a post-script, at secondary school the history we were taught covered the period from the ascent of the Tudor Dynasty (from Henry VII in 1485) up to the Unification of Germany in 1870. Though we learned a lot about the French Revolution and the Napoleonic era, there was precious little said about the American War of Independence, which seems rather curious now. Also, given the range of dates, there was, of course, no coverage of either of the two world wars. (I believe that for some time now all children are taught at least something about World War 2). When I was at school, the 1939-45 conflict was still raw in the minds of many families and all of my teachers would have lived through it. Perhaps the dust hadn't quite settled enough.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

My boorish barney with a Bible-pusher

Just a couple of hours ago I had a brief, heated exchange on the doorstep. Well, more accurately, it was I who became the 'heated' one.
Before my own memory starts modifying and embellishing the event in my own favour and against the Bible Lady, here is my best word-for-word recollection of the conversation.
(There were actually two callers, the one I talked to being middle-aged, the other much younger - presumably a 'novice' there to learn the ropes).

BIBLE LADY: "Good morning. We are asking around the neighbourhood for people's views on the Bible. Have you ever....."           

ME: (starting calmly and with a cordial self-satisfied, 'I-know-it-all' smirk) "Actually I've read the Bible six times cover-to-cover in three different versions - and each time it gets more and more preposterous. It's the reason I lost my faith." (Oh, too clever by half! - and why did I say "lost my faith" instead of "discarded", which I am always telling others to use, and which would have been nearer the truth?)

SHE: (After slight delay - of surprise? - But she smiling also.) "Oh, why do you find it 'preposterous'."

ME: "Well, for one thing, Jesus fell so far short of a 'good example'. He said nothing about having love for animals. He even ate them, for Christ's sake." (Even if it was a valid point, it wasn't the best idea to pull this one out of the hat first. And to top it off with a blasphemy wasn't so savvy in the circumstances either).

SHE: (staying calm, unlike me.) "So are you a vegetarian then?"

ME: (voice rising) "Yes, and have been for fifty years!"

SHE: "Oh, I was a vegetarian for twelve years....."

ME: (starting to shout) "Well get back to it then!" (oh dear!)

SHE: "You really love animals?"

ME: (showing additional signs of frustration at this going in a direction I didn't want.) "YES!" (and then adding, just in case she was going to write me off as a rabid animal-rights terrorist-sympathiser) "And I love people too!"  (Oh cringe! Was it really necessary to say that?- Then, trying to drag it back.....)   "And I've read the Koran nine times - and it's the same old shit!" (My voice now quivering and getting higher-pitched.)

SHE: (her calm enviably sustained - her young companion looking on, dumbstruck) "I was wondering if I could just leave you with this leaflet......."

ME: (practically shrieking like a banshee) "NO YOU CAN'T!". (I slam door in her face).


And that was it. The whole mini-exchange probably lasted less than one minute tops, but it got my heart pounding like mad. I was, more than anything, annoyed at myself for rising to the bait, letting my blood pressure shoot up. Even after I'd got back upstairs, looking out of the window and seeing them walking to the next house, I felt an intense urge to call out to them - "And I suppose you think that the earth is less than ten thousand years old and that Adam and Eve really existed - and with the dinosaurs!" (Even now I half-regret I didn't.)

   I didn't  get round to knowing what denomination they were peddling, but it's a fair bet that they were J.W.s.

It would be too easy to say that I was only mad at the lady herself  - even though that was indeed the case. But not so much for her pushing the Bible. It's the fact that she kept her composure while I, in that short time,  completely lost it. I feel embarrassed, ashamed, even sullied by my own reaction. How much better I could have dealt with the situation if I'd also maintained my own equilibrium. But it pains me to have to concede ultimately - she was the one who'd 'won'! (Damn and blast it!!!)

But BEWARE, Mrs Bible-Lady - my dander is up! If you ever so much as dare to come round here again, I'll present such a model of self-composure, and then you'll see how I can really give you 'what for'.  Just you wait!  HAH!!!