Saturday 14 October 2023

Happy b/day to me! (Sun. 15th)


Yes, we've reached all the sevens! Can hardly believe it myself even if sometimes feeling it with increasing regularity.
Regret still unable to post any new photos, so profile pic is now two years old. Imagine still sparser hair on top and a few more furrows on the physiognomy below it. 
Incidentally, is anyone else also old enough to remember the TV series of L.A. private detectives, '77 Sunset Strip' (1958-64) - [fingers click twice!] - launched to much hoop-la at the time, though hardly ever mentioned since? ("Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb!")
Really nothing more to say - so that's all for now. Heigh-ho! (sigh) 😉

Saturday 30 September 2023

'Graham Norton Show' last night. What a treat!

I do quite like Graham Norton, but as his show (new series starting yesterday) is always on telly at way past my bedtime, I only follow it up, if at all, by watching excerpts of any particular names who get my attention, and that's quite rare as most weeks I can't be bothered. But I tuned in to catch-up this morning because I'd read that one particular person was appearing. 

I've had the 'hots' for a certain actor ever since he first started appearing in films some 20 years ago - and it's (shhhhhhhhh!) Stephen Graham! I don't know why he presses my buttons but he sure does - and it's so intense that he gives me head to toe tingles, and more than ever when he smiles. Mind you, at his 50 years, I'm more than old enough myself to be his dad, so it'll have to remain yet another unfulfillable fantasy. However, he was darned good on the sofa last night talking easily, amongst other things, about a new TV serial 'Boiling Point' set mostly in the  kitchens of a rather chi-chi restaurant, in which he is part of an ensemble cast including, incidentally, his real-life wife. I've got to give it a wee peep, at least.

So, with Stephen G. as an 'appetiser', I've just watched the entire 50 minutes of this Graham Norton Show, the first time I've done so in years!
Other guests last night included comedian/actor David Mitchell  - no, not his namesake, author of the stunning 'Cloud Atlas'. This David M. is one I've also liked for even more decades than Stephen G., though emphatically not in the same way! He wears his considerable intellect very lightly, never arrogantly. He appeared last night because he's just had his book come out which is a warts-and-all telling (particularly the former) of England's (and later, Britain's) monarchs right way back from the start, which sounds very engrossing and entertaining - even likely amusing, given the passage of time since.
I always like to go through his ever-so-readable periodic contributions in the Sunday 'Observer'. There are so many topically significant articles from a number of contributors in that newspaper that I regretfully have to skim-read some of them, but David's features are invariably a real joy to read in full, articles which need to be given the time and effort  they absolutely deserve. 

Then there was also a new name to me, Mawaan Rizwan, who just has a new, apparently surreal-ish comedy starting called 'Juice' in which he plays one half of a gay couple. I'll be giving that a look-in too. It's the first I've heard of this guy but, my goodness, he looks one hell of a head-turner - beard 'n all! He sure is easy on both the eye and ear, and good fun with it! I've just looked up his details and find he's 31, so if I'm not quite a cradle-snatcher for him (beard notwithstanding!) I'm certainly advanced enough to be his gramps!

Then there was the divine goddess herself (trumpets please!) .......'KYLIE'!, shortly to take up a season performing in Las Vegas. She didn't sing at all this time, just easily and relaxed-ly answering Graham's questions and joining in all the conversations. She actually never has to sing. For me, and many others I've no doubt, her just being there is more than sufficient. Lovely stuff!

The show closed with this year's U.K. Eurovision singer, Mae Muller (who'd finished second from last! - which she didn't deserve) singing her new release, a number which to me appealed on this my only hearing - so far. 

A most fine show, this. Must try and keep up with more of the series. Even if any are just half as enjoyable as this one was, it'll be grand.

Thursday 14 September 2023

World-renowned 'classic' writers whom I've never 'got'.

 Although there are more than three, there is a certain highly prominent trio of widely famed authors of the past, each of whom disconcertingly enjoys a most significant reputation and a large and ultra-serious band of defenders, admirers and disciples. I've tried repeatedly to understand why it is that I've never been able to get into them, yet the reason still evades me. While attempting to read and become engrossed by their novels my mind wanders away so far that I'm very soon merely reading pages upon pages of words which fail to penetrate my consciousness at all, until I'm suddenly aware of the futility of the exercise.  

1. Rudyard Kipling

I cannot comprehend why this man is so revered - above all for his children's stories, which I find dense and obscure - and boy oh boy, how I've tried! Even his most famous of all, 'The Jungle Book' (both 'Jungle Books' actually), I find indigestible, completely lacking the welcome lightness of touch which Disney brought to his cartoon (helped, of course by some awfully good songs). 

I've identical feelings towards all the 'Just So' stories. Right now I'm currently ploughing through 'Stalky & Co' and what a joyless slog it is! It's my very first attempt at this one, though I have read the aforementioned novels at least twice each. Apparently 'Stalky' is about a misbehaving group of (public)schoolboys getting up to various japes often involving their teachers or other members of the public as victims. It seems one is supposed to be entertained, even amused, by their antics but I'm finding it so hard to follow that it's leaving me cold and unmoved. But got to persevere, even though when I'm through I simply know now that I'll hardly recall any of it.

I've also read the entirety of the man's poetry, all 800+ pages of it. I have to say that most of it is rather more accessible than his stories, but that's probably because they are largely in more digestible, mostly shortish lumps.  (Btw: Some years ago a BBC national poll revealed that his poem 'If' was voted here as being the best regarded poem of all in the English language - and I wouldn't disagree that it at least is pretty good). 

2. Joseph Conrad

Have to confess that it's quite a few years since I last tried to assail this, for me, highly problematic writer - among whose works are 'Nostromo' ,'Lord Jim' and, his most celebrated of all, 'Heart of Darkness'. I'm not even sure that I managed to get right through any of them, his style of writing being maddeningly circuitous. A lot of admiration towards him is engendered by the fact that English was only his second language (after Polish) so it's undoubtedly some sort of achievement, though for me therein lies the problem. I could never get onto his 'wavelength'. If his thoughts were lucid, and I can't argue that they weren't, then to my mind they didn't translate successfully into the written word. He's definitely another author who gets my mind wandering off to unrelated, more captivating, subjects - though I would like to have another bash at 'Hearts of Darkness' before it's too late.

3. Sir Walter Scott

I get the impression, perhaps mistakenly, that this writer is particularly well regarded by non-English readers, presumably translated into whatever language is appropriate - though how translations cope with his terribly tiresome phonetic attempts at mimicking the Scottish accents through odd, unfamiliar spellings I just don't know, a technique which, whoever the writer or the accent replicated, slows one's reading down disastrously till, I at least, want to say "Oh, stuff it! I can do without this tortuous effort to work out what they mean!" 'Ivanhoe', 'Rob Roy' and 'Kidnapped' are some of his works I've tried to rise to, but I think it's only the last of these I managed to get to the end of - and that with one huge sigh of relief - and then craving for something requiring less effort to read. Mind you, like for Kipling, some of Scott's poems aren't at all bad - so long as it's not those in which he's trying to ape the Scottish accent in writing.

I could mention more writers - P.G.Wodehouse is just another who goes right over my head despite his being so adulated by many of far greater intelligence than I can boast, although he's considered by many to be the ultimate 'light-hearted' and 'gentlemanly' writer in English - but I've got to stop somewhere.

Oh, and I'm aware that I've not mentioned any female writers, though shamefully, it did take me some time to acclimatise myself to Jane Austen. Now she's no longer a 'problem' writer, thank goodness.

But never say never! If I'd written this post, say, 50 years ago, my top three 'unreadables' would quite likely have been Henry James, Thomas Hardy and............yes, even Dickens himself. However, through persistence, I gradually came to love each if them in turn. In fact all three would now doubtlessly feature in my Top 10 favourite writers of all. So one can change if one really wills it.  I merely want to experience those same admirations which other people feel, otherwise I sense missing out on something of significant worth.

Do you have any particularly 'difficult' writers? I'd love to hear some names.

Friday 28 July 2023

A horrible, pathetic 'discovery'.


Those of you who know about my feelings towards all animals may appreciate my horror and distress at yesterday finding a dead fox-cub in our small front garden beside a wheelie bin. How it died I don't know. It was only about eight inches long in body with its brush-tail a further four inches. It was under some foliage and I only found it because two of my cats were outside, both acting rather oddly and restlessly. I doubt if my own or any other cats would have been responsible for its sad demise. I couldn't bear to look at its face mainly because it may have had its eyes open. It was clearly not breathing, and as I swept it up with a hand-brush into a dust pan, grimacing all the while, there was no movement in its stiff little body. Although I couldn't look at it closely, from what I did see there were no obvious injuries. Perhaps it had starved. Nearly tipping over into tears, I double-wrapped its little body and gently placed it in the bin. What else could one do?

There's a skulk of urban foxes (I've only just found out the correct word via google) living in the park on the other side of this road. I sometimes see adult ones foraging for food from the roadside bins when I get up in the early hours to let my pussies out front. Any other cats also out at the time are, unsurprisingly, very wary of them, though the foxes themselves appear to take no interest in feline presences.

As for the poor dead one, I didn't know they would wander far out at such a young age, but somehow this poor chap did - and was fatally unlucky. Poor parents - especially for its mummy. Oh, so blisteringly sad!

Saturday 17 June 2023

Never too old to learn squash is NOT a sweet dessert fruit!


Having never in my life tasted squash until yesterday, and in my constant quest edging towards 100% veganism, I took the plunge. In fact I'd bought this curious-looking foodstuff a week ago, having heard so much about its benefits, but then didn't know what to do with it. Now all my life I'd assumed it was a fruit which, in fact, it technically truly is, but I'd assumed it would be something sweet to be incorporated into an after-dinner dessert  - no doubt because of associating it with what we used to call 'orange squash' or 'pop' ( which some still do). So yesterday, splitting it open and being surprised at how tough it was, I cut out some of the flesh which I diced and then put in a bowl, adding raspberries, blueberries and greek yoghurt. Need more be said? Yuk!!! Live and learn! Now so much wiser and, having googled said commodity, I shall cut up the rest, add olive oil, and roast it, to have as today's dinner with boiled cauli, kale and onion gravy. Now that should be better! 


Thursday 15 June 2023

Glenda Jackson passed away, at 87.


One of the most prominent, ever-present, living glittering jewels of my cultural life died today at her London home. Although it wasn't too much of a surprise considering her age, now that it's happened it feels like a punch in the gut to have now lost the conspicuous feature that she was.  . 

I was fortunate enough to have seen her live three times on stage, first in Webster's 'The White Devil' in 1976, next in Andrew Davies'  'Rose' (1980) and then in Brecht's 'Mother Courage' (1990) - not 'The House of Bernarda Alba' as I'd posted earlier. 

Her acting both on stage and on film was so consistently flawless it never failed to take my breath away. Two Oscars - for 'Women on Love' (1969) and 'A Touch of Class (1973) - and how can one possibly overlook her gloriously entertaining portrait of Mrs Tchaikovsky (that sex-crazed slut!) in 'The Music Lovers '(1971) with Richard Chamberlain also impressive as the mentally-tormented, genius composer - plus her numerous TV appearances, most famously appearing as Queen Elizabeth I in the 6 -part BBC serial of 1971. 

A lifelong socialist, she turned to politics for about 20 years, entering Parliament on the coat-tails of Tony Blair, very soon becoming a scathing critic of him, though she was made a junior minister in the early 00s. However, her political life then became, unfortunately rather low-key and she became largely invisible, though when she did appear in discussion programmes on both radio and TV she was energetically vociferous with her opinions.  Always strongly pro-gay, she was a beacon to many of us throughout the final decades of the last century when we were fighting for our equal rights.

I'd love to have seen her final stage performances - as King Lear himself, which she took to New York four years ago, but by then it had become clear that, even though she'd have wished it, she couldn't keep it up forever.  

Now she's gone, probably my own personal favourite actress of my lifetime. Thanks very much indeed, Glenda. R.I.P muchly!

Thursday 25 May 2023

My three toms all now neutered and microchipped + Tina R.I.P.

 The last 24 hours have been heavy anxiety, but it's over now  - at least until the next drama. 

Last week getting Bobby chipped wasn't too bad. He'd already been spayed when he arrived here 4.5 years ago, leading me to fear that he might already have been micro-injected, thus having an official owner, but he wasn't. He was good being checked over and didn't react to the injection. However, Sloopy, being still 'intact' when he arrived around the same time must be around 6 years old now, and still had to be done. Rather late-in-the-day for that procedure but no getting round it. Last week when I took him for his first vet check there was a heart-stopping incident when he managed to escape en route from the carrier by widening the zip fastenings and squeezing through (my fault!) and he scarpered off down the road which, luckily, wasn't too far from home so he did find his way back, even if I did dread him not daring to do so. But yesterday was the 'big day', much feared by me - the operation, after the obligatory (so cruel) 12 hours of not allowing him any food or even water. With much loud wailing as I carried him the 3/4 mile to the vet, I had to leave him there for 6 hours before collecting him, a period for which I was continually on edge. When the time came I was so relieved to hear that all had been done and without any problem. Told that if he keeps attending to his 'wound' by licking it I'd have to bring him back and have a collar fitted for, possibly, around a fortnight during which he'd have to be kept inside, which would be logistically v. difficult with a permanently open window for he and the other two to go and come as they please. However, since I brought him home, now 18 hours ago, although he has been licking himself 'there', which is hardly surprising, he hasn't been over-obsessed with doing so, so I'm now dearly hoping that the threatened further remedial action may not be necessary. He seems to be back to his old routine of being out all night - though now without having sired any more kitties to add to the population he's likely already to have done - and sleeping all day through. So, early days yet, but looking good.

Glad that's over with no major mishaps.

I'd like to have posted here new photos of Bobby and Sloopy but, darn it, I'm still unable to load photos onto this laptop. Meantime, here are two early pics of the 'boss', Patchie, who's now reached 18 years - one showing him being wary, the other he contentedly settled in.

Btw:  On this morning of hearing the deeply sad news of Tina's passing (she being a highly major feature of my own 1980s life's soundtrack, both literally and figuratively) I hadn't realised that for more than a few years she'd not only lived in Switzerland, but actually in Kussnacht, just outside of Zurich, a place I'd just happened to visit by boat briefly whilst staying for a few days in Zurich city in around 1985 (though Tina herself only started living there in the mid-1990s). Just by chance I'd happened to get off the boat at Kussnacht, which was doing a tour of Lake Zurich. It could have been anywhere else. I also learnt later that world-famed soprano Gwyneth Jones also lived there - and had probably been there at the time of my couple-of-hours visit, I believe. I only wish I'd taken some photos of Kussnacht, a relatively smallish place, while I was in it, not having fully appreciated just how attractive it was. In walking around for an hour or two, I remember lots of roses and other blooms in gardens and window boxes, perfuming the air, and it all being exceptionally clean and tidy.

'bye Tina, uniquely wonderful - thank you ever so much.