Saturday 31 December 2011

My films of 2011

Just before turning the page........
This was not only the year when my cinema visits (56) were the fewest since 1974, but was also the first year during which I've read more books (60) than seen films.
Due to that it would hardly be fair to name a 'Top 10' of films when there were relatively few contenders. However, I see in my 'register' that there were just 5 films which earned a personal score of 8/10. The entry is made immediately on returning home after viewing (my evaluation can sometimes change after time) - and it should be pointed out that they are marked in terms of the profundity and/or enjoyment of my own filmic experience rather than whether they are films of a high standard. (I wouldn't claim to be able to rule on that.) So, in order of seeing them, they are:-

'The Way' (Estevez)

'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' (Alfredson)

'Melancholia' (Von Trier')

'Contagion' (Soderbergh)  - apologies to Cubby @ Patently Queer for including this, but there you are!

'We Need to Talk about Kevin' (Ramsay)

The film I 'enjoyed' least was - with apologies to Andrew @ The Widow's World, who was knocked out by it -  I'm afraid, it bored me beyond stiff:-


There were regrets in missing two particular films which had praise lavished on them -
Tyrannosaur' (Considine) which I couldn't bear to go to when I read that in the first few minutes the excellent Peter Mullen plays a character who kicks his own dog to death. I was thinking about going but staying in the foyer until after about 10 mins, but will now have to catch up on it when TV time comes.
Also 'The Deep Blue Sea' - Terence Davies' take on Terence Rattigan's play, which I know quite well. (This gay playwright, is certainly coming back into fashion now after a few decades in the doldrums)  My excuse for not seeing this film? The timings of showings were such that I'd have returned home in the dark and my pussies would have been wondering, perhaps even fretting, about what had happened - and we couldn't have that!

So that's it with this year. Will 2012 mean more frequent cinema visits or is this an indication of my slowing down?  Can but wait and see.

Wishing an exceptionally happy 2012 to ALL visitors to my humble blog. Thank you so much for your visits, my dears. Your presences are very much appreciated indeed. (Mwah, mwah!)

Wednesday 28 December 2011


This is one of several dozen books I picked up at various car boot sales this year but one which I've only now got round to perusing. All his most acerbically entertaining ones are here - as well as new ones (at least to me), many of which raised a smile  Though I haven't been through the entire book yet, this is one which I hadn't known and which begat a loud guffaw this very morning.

The background is that Churchill and playwright Bernard Shaw enjoyed a mutual antipathy which went way beyond politics - the playwright was profoundly socialist, while Churchill, at around this time in his early political career (1914) was hopping back and forth between the Conservative and Liberal parties.

The London premiere of Shaw's latest play was a major event and Churchill was already a prominent politician by this time.

Thus, in telegrams:-

GBS to Churchill: "Two tickets reserved for you, first night Pygmalion. Bring a friend. If you have one."

C's reply: "Cannot make first night. Will come to second. If you have one."

                           ( Sounds like a case of 'handbags at dawn'!)     

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Eve nosh.

I've just devoured my main Xmas Eve meal and here are the ingredients. A special one this year - cauli, sprouts & garden peas (my 3 favourite vegs) all mixed up with Bombay pots (to give it a bit of body) with a large fried onion added. Was afraid it might turn out to be uneatably awful but it was really nice. I finished all of it and it took less than half an hour to make - a very important quality.
   For tomorrow it'll be the greatest meal ever devised - fried eggs, chips (fried potato) + in a separate bowl, baked beans, with a generous pinch or two of curry powder for that 'zing'. Could there possibly be anything nicer?

I wish a VERY happy Christmas to those who grace my blog with their presence by reading and following it. I am  honoured indeed. And may 2012 be a year of peace, happiness and harmony for each and every single one of you. Love to all.

Monday 19 December 2011

Why do false memories get to be so hard-wired?

I don't think I'd be a reliable witness to a crime or an accident taking place right in front of me. I wonder if many others feel the same way.
A couple of nights ago I watched 'The Big Lebowski' (left) for what must be the seventh or eight time. (One of my very favourite films of recent years - surely counting among the Coen brothers' very best to date.) Yet, as in other films which I re-watch, there were so many points where I was mistaken in what I thought had been the actual dialogue, as well as being in error in my recalling the visuals of certain scenes. I find this curious phenomenon in nearly all films which I watch for a second time or more. It usually takes until about the twentieth time of watching for my mind to stop resisting and to give in to mentally recording what was actually the 'truth'. In my case it's films like 'Gone with the Wind', 'Citizen Kane' and '2001 - A Space Odyssey' (which just happen to be my all-time favourite films) where my visual and aural memories have eventually gotten into sync with reality. But why does it take so long? I'd be willing to bet that my own mind is not so unusual in this.
    So if this is the situation in cases where all one's attention is fixed on what one is watching and listening to, (and with minimal distraction, hopefully), how about witnessing real life incidents  which just happen to occur unexpectedly? How can one reasonably expect to recall with accuracy such events - and give true descriptions of those involved? But, furthermore, why on earth does the mind do this? Does it serve some purpose? It's not as though one's recollection has to be 'softened' as a means of self-protection to make the recollection any more comfortable (though it might indeed be that in certain circumstances). But in witnessing a harmless film, even if it's a comedy, why does the mind keep adjusting or distorting things? There must be some reason behind it - but for the moment it beats me.

Further thought added on following day:-
I know that training in observation is (or used to be) given in the Scouts (presumably also in the Guides) - and, importantly, in the armed forces rigorous practice in acute and accurate observation and recollection is done for what might become life-and-death situations. I assume that when one has undergone such training it remains for the rest of one's life. Those of us who have not received this privilege must necessarily stumble on through our days with all the vagaries to which our undisciplined minds are subject. 

Thursday 8 December 2011

Blessed warmth is back! Oh, praise be!

After my most uncomfortable few days in quite some time, at last my landlord has got my heating back on. He was here for five hours yesterday, hammering here and there, clumping up and down the stairs to fetch this and that, eventually having to replace the pump in the central heating. Maybe not quite there yet as he reckons it will probably take a little while to settle down, but at least it's now warm enough not to have to wear parka, scarf and wooly cap indoors. (In the kitchen I had been reduced to keeping one of the stove hot-plates on just to generate a bit of heat!) My pussies are now far more content as well, probably thinking I turned off the heating deliberately just for 'fun'. Now we can all luxuriate in the cosiness. Thanks so much to those of my blog-followers who expressed their concern. Thank goodness it's over for now.

Sunday 4 December 2011

Final 'Five on the Fifth' - Winter Weekend

My contribution to Stephen Chapman's final '5 on the 5th' feature.


On the coach to Brighton (to visit Odeon to see new film 'My Week with Marilyn') using my Senior Citizen FREE bus pass - one of the compensations of getting old.

Brighton promenade - not the best weather to see it in.

Brrrrrr!  Brighton seafront in the Winter drizzle.

Brighton's skeleton of a West Pier, looking even more forlorn than usual.

'Ginger', my newest regular visitor, wants to come in out of the cold. I let him in, but pity that, because my heating''s broken down, it's as cold inside as it is out there. (My previous blog explains.)

Saturday 3 December 2011

Perfect timing - NOT!

My heating has stopped working - both water and central heating. Only found out when I got up 3 hours ago. Rang landlord an hour later, having to leave a telephone message. Far too early to start panicking yet, but he does tend to go away for days at a time. If he doesn't come today (assuming he can put it right) there's an uncomfortable time ahead. The only alternative at the moment is a single small fan heater, which hasn't been used for over 12 years, and which used to give off a spark every time it was switched off. Other than that I'll have to buy another one - and this p.m. too, being Sunday tomorrow. Oh dear! at least today is mild and tonight it's forecast to go down to 5 degrees Celsius, which is bearable with, if necessary, hot water bottle and electric blanket. But tomorrow night it's due to plunge to freezing, so that won't be any fun, both for me and the pussies. Dare not get someone else out to fix it as, considering the exorbitant prices some rogue fitters charge, I just don't have the dosh to pay for it. Oh well. Can do nothing but sit here with fingers crossed hoping that Mr Landlord will come round and work some magic.