Wednesday, 22 February 2012

GUEST POST! By the Legendary Frank Key, of Hooting Yard!

Today I have an astonishing treat for you! If you haven't read Frank Key before, you will want to after this! I've known him years and years, and he has only increased in wordy madness and hair fuffliness. He put this essay in excellence up on Monday at Hooting Yard, and look at my BlogList for a link to his whole site, where you will probably end up the rest of the day, reading, chortling, sniggering and generally Smiling in Joy. This sort of writing is the antidote to all that ails us. Enjoy!!!


On The Wellspring Of Debauchery

Perhaps the most neglected work of the Renaissance scholar Gabbitas Hatpinne, the thousand-plus pages of Fons de luxuria (1549) have been newly translated as The Wellspring Of Debauchery. This is a significant academic achievement, and one which should rescue Hatpinne from the oblivion that beckoned. Few read him in his lifetime, and in the four hundred years since his death those few have dwindled still further. Indeed, his new translator, Desdemona Snodgrass, suggests she may be the only person alive to have read Fons de luxuria in its entirety, and even she admits there were several occasions when she nodded off and had to go on a brisk hiking expedition in order to wake herself up so she could continue with her important task.
The Wellspring Of Debauchery attempts, at great length, to answer the question “does salacious knavery, untrammelled sauciness, and inappropriate hobnobbing in sinks of vice lead, inescapably, to the excesses of high debauch?” I will not give away Hatpinne’s conclusion here, for fear you would use that as an excuse not to read the book yourself, and in the time thus saved, you may be tempted to acts of salacious knavery and untrammelled sauciness and inappropriate hobnobbing in sinks of vice. It is much better for your moral fibre, and indeed for the fate of your immortal soul, that you have your head stuck in a very fat book. It will keep you out of mischief.

But though I do not wish to divulge the contents of this lengthy and by no means untedious work, it is perhaps worth recalling the circumstances in which it came to be written. If we have but world enough and time, we may even look into the circumstances in which it came to be translated, here in the twenty-first century space age, but let us not jump too far ahead of ourselves. In any case, Desdemona Snodgrass may not want her motives to be inquired into too pointedly. She is a sensitive soul, with many a skeleton stacked up in her closet, or so I have been told by perfidious rumour-mongers and her rivals in the groves of academe. So even if we do have time, we are not going to be discussing that episode with the siphon and the pastry cases and the Chris De Burhg [sic] bootleg tape. I have taken legal advice and I shall not be swayed.

Unlike his translator, Gabbitas Hatpinne himself is safely dead, and can be impugned without fear of litigation. Shall I therefore impugn him? It would be easy enough to do, not because he lived a life of high debauch and naughtiness, but because the likelihood is that you know nothing about him. I could thus make up all sorts of stories about his salacious knavery and untrammelled sauciness and inappropriate hobnobbing in sinks of vice, and you would soak them all up, o! credulous reader. Tempting though it may be to wend my way down that particular path to perdition, lined as it is by lightning-blasted pine trees and shrivelled lupins and blighted potato patches, swept by fearsome gales and battered by hailstones, patrolled by ravening wolves and stampeding half-starved bison, it is a path I shall turn away from, in my prissy mincing morally upright manner, I shall turn my eyes instead upon the glorious light shining atop the mountain of saintliness and piety, and begin to clamber up towards the summit, there to grasp in my unworthy paws the halo of virtue.

You see how, even without reading The Wellspring Of Debauchery, I am become a model of sanctity? For it is indeed the case that I have not been able to concentrate my mind on this hefty doorstopper of a book, with its seemingly endless paragraphs of hectoring prose. I have better things to do with my time, and, no, they do not involve salacious knavery and untrammelled sauciness and inappropriate hobnobbing in sinks of vice. Would that they did! I have occasionally wondered if I might abandon myself to a life of high debauch. Though perhaps when I say “occasionally” I ought truthfully say “often”. Indeed, just before sitting down at my escritoire to pen these timeless words, I was weighing up in my overheated brain whether to contact Desdemona Snodgrass and, under the guise of academic rigour, to seek an assignation with her, in some leafy arbour, far from prying eyes, bent on sin. Fortunate indeed that I averted the besmirchment of my soul by leaping from my escritoire and plunging my head into a pail of icy water, and then embarking on a hike through the hills in wind and rain, until such time as I had cooled my phantasmal ardour, and was ready once more to sit, and to write, and to banish all thought of Desdemona Snodgrass from my brain.

Now, with regard to the circumstances in which The Wellspring Of Debauchery was written, as I seem to recall that is what I was intending to write about before I got carried away. We have only fragmentary details of the biography of Gabbitas Hatpinne. We know neither the year of his birth nor the year of his death. We do not know where he lived, nor what he lived on, and we know nothing of his forebears or any progeny he may or may not have had. The sole traces of him that survive are a few widely-dispersed and unreliable references in fusty musty damp and dog-eared unauthorised documents found wedged in the walls of crumbling parish churches. And such references as there are may well relate to several different Gabbitases, several different Hatpinnes, and have nothing whatsoever to do with our man.

It is all a great historical conundrum. The only way it might be solved is if someone were to devote themselves to the research required to write a proper biography. It is the sort of job ideally suited to, let us pluck a name at random, Desdemona Snodgrass.

I think I shall contact her to suggest this course of action. I will arrange for us to meet, in a leafy arbour, far from prying eyes, bent on scholarship,  bent on sin.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Update on Those Pesky Resolutions (with footnotes on 80's bonkbusting novels and an important feminist book!)

I thought it was time to have a quick look at those rather pesky resolutions I instituted at the tail end of 2011, when in the grips of euphoric optimism.  It’s strange, but a whiff of any change nearby or soon to come and I feel a sense of such spaciousness in my thinking, that I feel my possibilities are greatly enlarged.  Life seems to be offering so much more; or I am suddenly feeling capable of actually grasping more – that’s more likely it.  I get out of my own way[1].

And then the New Year actually starts, and I am as crowded in the head as usual, and my attempts to make change are either stymied, or deeply compromised.  Partly by myself and my way of looking at things; partly by sheer time constraints.  And money.  Those are the Big Three of my Downfall (to be dramatic about it, as you know I do like to be!)

So, I’m going to flick through those ideas I had, and see how far I actually got with them, so far – never forgetting the year is a work in progress.  The bits I said before will be in bold, then my recoup on them.

I will spend less out, pay off more of loans and debts, and actually start to save (no matter how hard this seems).  This is going to plan – except its not working!  Isn’t that the funniest statement?!  I am saving – so far got £36  (a pound here and a pound there) in a small building society Christmas Account (i.e. I CAN’T touch it all year, until 1st December, or I disturb the small interest).  This suits me well – it’s separate form the rest of my banking which is all lumped together, and I have to set money aside separately for that.  THAT is working.  The other 2 savings accounts I set up, with my existing bank are not going so well at all.  I set up one for Family Birthdays (for presents), and one for Treats and Learning (i.e. books I can’t resist, and anything educational I see).  The problem is…that everything really does still seem to be going up in price (electricity, gas, food, the rent, this year – to name only the ones that have bugged me most obviously so far…) so that the Housekeeping money Stanley gives me is staying the same, and not coping.  And his pay hasn’t risen, so he can’t afford to give me any more.  As it is, we never go out, even for coffee, let alone lunch, anymore…no cinema (I get taken by Fry who pays out of his dole money, once every 2 months if he can afford it).  There’s no outings or expeditions of any kind: it’s just rent, travel, food, Fluffhead stuffs.  That’s it.  And what we have is barely scraping by.  So I keep dipping into what I have saved.  Any part time work I look into is, so far, either the wrong hours (i.e. no babysitting available), or so poorly paid it really would make very little difference when you consider how tired I’d be after and how this would impact on taking care of the Perennial Fluffhead.  And the Rob Peter To Pay Paul continues – I pay off the credit card minimum each month and a bit extra – but the bit extra is always deeply necessary again by the week before payday, for basic groceries…So!  Doom! Doom! DOOM!  On that resolution – so far.  You can only scrape the butter so thin before you really are just eating dry toast, you know?  But onto the next thing, to see if I’m doing any better…

I have this vague poorly thought out Master Plan idea of being the Queen of Bargains, Coupons and Discounts next year.  Now, this is going rather better.  I am being eagle-eyed and very awake indeed where this is concerned.  I am paying attention to all ‘3 for 2’s and seeing if its things I actually would use/do use – and more importantly, can I actually afford the outlay of extra ones right that minute.  The annoying thing about this, is that sometimes I can’t.  But I comfort myself with the fact that I am at least trying my best here – I am weighing up all the options.  I have so far saved, I calculated yesterday (with the aid of a calculator, and no doubt my tongue out the corner of my mouth, as I am nothing if not crap at maths), a grand total of £52 since 1st January!  That is Not Bad At All.  When you are busy taking advantage of offers (with always the proviso that they ARE things you actually need) you often lose sight of the receipts and what you actually save.  I was so encouraged by this totting up I did, I will carry on doing it, I think.  It included all these funny little Boots receipts where you get extra points on their advantage card for spending , say, £10 on vitamins or toiletries, and then me using those points to buy Fluffhead’s growing up milk, nappies etc (which was then a saving, as Boots points are 1 point = 1p, so that 100 points is literally a free £1.  It included all the Tesco and Waitrose offers where I got a discount or a free extra something, or the usual 3 for 2.  It included looking at the packaging of things and then giving limited details to a website (ticking the ‘no offers from 3rd parties’ section – always look for that) and being sent a coupon that then got me a whole or partially free thing I needed (and because Googlemail has a very good spam filter, then not being bothered by the subsequent email crap sent through, unless I chose to be).  So satisfactory progress there, I report!

Also, a Charity Shop Queen next year.  Now, I will say this one is also going very well indeed; but it’s very frustrating.  After that at length moan I had about the Charity Shops back in Paddington, I have to say that the ones here are the most helpful and cheerful places.  The prices are so LOW at the moment, that if I had sufficient money I could BoHo my entire wardrobe and have it busting with good quality and unusual colourful things for about £150, at the moment.  That’s why I’m frustrated.  I keep trying to get my books in there (and the library – where I am true to my word – they now know my name and regularly take the £1.10 fee for having reserved and sourced my loan books from elsewhere; I’m in there about 3 times a week).  You know, the books I feel I MUST buy, because I will want to re-read them, or refer to them again.  I have a very stringent book policy at the moment: Layer 1 – try and read what you have.  Ehem.  And then, layer 2 – for all popular books I might want to read, get or reserve at the library before thinking of buying.  Layer 3 – get at a charity shop if will need to re-read, as said.  I only get things from Amazon (who I am convinced, I have single-handedly saved from the pitfalls of the recession for many years now – why don’t I have a plaque or something, somewhere; a medal, praising me for supporting business?), or other online or high street shops, if they are unavailable at library or charity shops (like so many of the magic books, sewing books, history books and oddly, biographies and old blockbusting novels from the eighties[2], that I tend to read).  This means that I have spent on Amazon, so far this year £12 only (and £5 of that was a gift voucher left over from Christmas).  This IS hurting, I have to say.  My appetite for books is rapacious.  Unlike my father, who also had a bone deep need for books – he used to like to collect them and admire them and look at them.  He was always reading something, but he had thousands of books that never quite got his ‘needing a bookmark’ attention.  I always say: books call to me to be bought; then they have to call again to be read – the gap between can be years.  But they will get read.  And if they haven’t called after 5 years, they get sold on; or given away.  As do all the ones I won’t re-read.  Hence my Amazon sales.  Which are also doing ok, especially for this time of year and economic downturn.  (But since the entire profits are going into propping up the Housekeeping money, rather than buying me a life, or some more books [!!!], or paying off the credit card, it all feels a bit circular and counter productive.  But I’m not moaning about it!!  I moan about plenty, but not this.  I just wish things were ‘easier, less of a constant one step forward two steps back struggle’ as Stanley said the other day, after listening to me moan for a champion one solid hour.  His poor face at the end.) 

I want to rehabilitate my sewing machine.  And get my needles and threads out.  As I can’t really afford any news clothes (of any kind from anywhere) currently, I am getting lurid dreams when I lay in bed at night, of cannibalising my old clothes. Yes, well.  Due to one thing and another, I have had 4 days less where I could have had a couple of hours babysitting, since January, so I’m running behind.  And the prioritising goes like this: write, read, housework, nap, sew – when I get any spare time at all.  So what I have accomplished here is the readying of 5 separate cannibalisation projects: you know, as I said, tops with sleeves too short and bottoms too short are going to be lengthened in both these areas with complimentary coloured other tops.  My sewing machine still gathers dust.  Troubadour recently reunited me with most of my patterns, by large parcel post, so that the trickier jobs I can now refer to a pattern to make sure I cut right.  But I have yet to make time for it.  Which is difficult, as writing and reading are sedentary, and while sewing is too, it’s a different kind of creating – it’s more physical.  I do need to make time for this kind of variety; and for the feeling of satisfaction I would get.  If only I didn’t crave to read and write as I do.  It’s definitely like food.  I NEED to do both, regularly.  So sewing is at present languishing.

Spirituality.  I read a lot of it.  I do think on it.  I do rituals here and there.  I say to myself that my life is too full of Fluffhead and Stanley and Saint Mum and Fry and reading books and replying very late to emails from friends and trying to write stories and DOING THIS (which does take about 2 or 3 hours a time then more to add links if I am going to, and check for typos etc etc etc), to actually be properly organised about it.  Then I go around, complaining to myself that I don’t FEEL very connected to the earth, to my own Best Me, and to that intangible whatsity thing I have a notion I have felt before several times, and experienced another several, the effects of.  I need to plan things to do, regularly.  Mmmmmmmm.  Never a truer word.  Did you notice how in that priorities list above, I didn’t mention meditating, or doing altar work, or even reading spirituality?  I’m not doing very well here either, so I am still suffering exactly the same problems as I listed above there.  I still have ideas for what to plan, but my tiny little time spots get eaten by reading, writing and housework.  And exhaustion from the constant noise that comes with a Fluffhead.  The other sillier thing to note here is: I need to meditate to calm down.  Yet I feel I need to be calmed down in order to meditate successfully.  Otherwise I am just crossly (not at all unattachedly) listening to myself think thoughts, endlessly.  It’s a battle – when I know I am sposed to be just regarding each though kindly, patting it on the head and sending it on its way, like leaves floating off down an autumn stream.  Just 5 minutes – I tell myself.  And almost without exception, find myself falling asleep while sitting up, which then proves very restful indeed!  I persist, I persist.  But so far…very little joy here.  And this is due to my own lack of prioritising.  I think I feel that reading and writing propel me into another state of mind and another world, with utmost quickness and immediacy.  With my time problem, this is vital.  Taking the time to mellow into a meaningful and not just ‘going through the motions till the next thing’ spiritual practice is hard for me.  I’ll get back to you.  I’m not giving up.

I have this awful sensation of TIME’S AWASTIN’ all the time!  I find it really difficult to do nothing and just meditate, or rest.   This is a new thing, since the birth of Fluffhead.  Since I did that at late 30s, and am now 40, I have this terrible feeling of hurtling toward the Rest Of My Life, which I feel will be shorter than the bit I just did.  So that this problem still exists too.  Even when I have some time off – and my goodness, IT FLIES by, which terrifies me, making my intervals of Me Time feel seconds long; compared to the rest of my ‘shifts’ which are from the instant I get up to the instant I sleep and beyond, as Fluffhead and I wake in the night several times…Time too, is still a constant problem.  I will here mention that the creativity coach and general psychological thinker, Eric Maisel, has done some very interesting work on the problem some of us have with time.  In the Van Gogh Blues, he specifically did a chapter on this.  The horrible ‘time’s getting away, and what the hell am I doing with it?’ feeling.  He made an interesting suggestion that a lot of depressions and anxieties around this subject are the result of a loss of personal meaning in your life, which you need to recreate for yourself, daily, moment by moment, and to keep reminding yourself of.  The only way to avoid this feeling of being stuck in futility is to create your own meaning that encompasses what you do with the time you do have – the boring bits and the good bits.  I find this idea comforting and helpful – though I must say, my meaning slippage is daily, and I am never quite satisfied (as yet) with those I have created…I further mention this as he is going to do a guest post here, in April (fingers crossed, in case all goes arse over tit – he’s agreed so far).  So be excited, and interested etc.

So the routine next year will be Iyengar yoga (to add to the Hatha yoga I’ve done for a few years with varying regularity), some pilates and other stretching, and some basic beginner cardiovascular bounce about in the living room stuffs – as I am so unfit since Fluffhead.  Oh the ignominious failure of it!!  Yes, I am still overly curvaceous, and as you will note (sigh) I didn’t prioritise this on my list of what to do with a spare 10 minutes, either, did I?!  There is the fact I keep moving while hanging out with Fluffhead, for an hour at a time, just skipping about, or doing lunges (yes, look through my living room window and laugh), or basic aerobics steps.  Every day.  I time how long I am able to keep doing it before I have to sit down and help with the numbers board or the block stacking, or reading to him…And the daily walks down the hill to town and back again are unchanged.  Because the town is tiny, there isn’t far too go before you hit another hill, and if you think I am going to spend all day toiling up and down hills with Fluffhead in his tank-like pushchair and 4 pints of milk and assorted tins under in the basket…you are mistaking me for my friend Alias Indie, who regularly does Iron Man events for charity, and is the very vision of slenderliness…and she smokes 20 a day, and has exceptional taste in books and film.  What a woman!  She’s most excellent.

Ahhh….on this note of abject stinking failure I will slink away.  No summary of thoughts, to tell you that there is a moral to all this.  Only to say, hopefully, well – it’s only February, hey?  I still have time!  Change is always possible, and I didn’t fail at all these goals so far, and any of them can be modified.  Except I like them as they are, I just think I need more time.  (That is my current thinking anyway.)

No…my only and last word will be…Tomorrow will be the first ever guest post, by my Damn Good Friend and Floppy Haired Nonsense Angel, Mr.  Frank Key, of the legendary Hooting Yard.  I’m not going to link it today as I don’t want you nipping off there and seeing the exact post he said I could borrow, as he only wrote it yesterday!  Besides which, ehem, it’s on the Blogroll.  But anyway – do look forward to this, as I have selected one of his best Rhapsodies on the Improbable for you.  It made me laugh out loud, and you need to read it to brighten your day. 

No!  That’ll be my last word: there’s no such thing as Failure (with New Year’s Resolutions at any rate), there’s only Success As Yet Improbably Disguised!  On that thought of little dubious close scrutiny, I go.

[1] Alias Troubadour used to be very fond of saying, about my downer moods and phases: just because you hold up your hands and cover your eyes, or hold something up and place it between you and the sun, doesn’t mean the light isn’t still there, shining as strong as ever.  You just can’t see it, and have to take down the obstruction.  Yourself.  One of many rather good things Troubadour was wont to come out with.  (Of course, in a downery mood, it’s as useless as collecting salt in a sieve.  You aren’t at that point capable of seeing HOW to take down the obstruction; the basic logic of the idea is therefore lost on you.)

[2] Blockbusting novels from the ‘80s, hmmm…after honey, that nectar of the Gods, my next obsession this year (I am nothing if not relentlessly obsessive – I think its to do with being unable to cope with the Real World as I find it, and retreating into a Big Study of something or other, that keeps me then, relatively free from anxiety…or…you could just say I get faddy and study something to death, suck it dry, have some info in my head, and then move on to the next thing that catches my attention; without the psycho-babble, and with me a less sad seeming person.  Merely an Information Craving Person.)  Anywaaaaaaaaaaaaaay…I am knee deep in the oeuvre’s of Judith Krantz (‘Princess Daisy’ et al), Pamela Townley (little known English bonkbuster writer of same period, more famous for marrying one of the Hawkwind lads; my personal favourite being ‘Rogan’s Moor’: she's underrated!), Shirley Conran (yes, ‘Lace’, of course), Barbara Taylor Bradford (‘A Woman of Substance’ and lord knows how many more, tons!) and June Flaum Singer (‘The Debutantes’ as well as many others – she is the cruellest author of the lot, though beguiling and moreish; and oddly unlinked on the net).  It’s interesting, as this odd obsession – of re-creating my 14th year in terms of beach reading at Westgate, Littlehampton and Margate on the annueal family holiday to The Seaside started just after I read some Truly Scary and Very Depressing and Yet Full of Fight feminism – the brilliant and important Living Dolls, by Natasha WalterREAD IT!  It’s about men too, and not in a cross way.  It’s about humanity and how we are all treating each other.  Foremost – it’s about Choice: and how some choices are being fed to women as free when they are anything but.  A choice is only a choice if you genuinely are placed between at least 2 and preferably more options, and that one of them is not tipped ludicrously at you, forced like a stage magicians card trick.  And the other options then made to seem futile and isolationist…or even not mentioned to you at all.  It’s also about the worrying trend of Biological Determinism sweeping through our society today, with regard to gender roles.  Backed up by some VERY poor scientific method – by those respected as much as say, Steven Pinker.  It’s shocking and very worrying.  So I think my brain went on a severe hibernation holiday in order to process all this new info, and retreated to a place where I previously had more choice: that is – when I was growing up, all seemed possible, and all was before me; I wasn’t yet in my life, I was still regarding what might be made of it.  And oddly enough – we remember all these blockbusting 500 page doorstop novels with affectionate disdain now, 20-30 years later..but there’s plenty female self determination in those too.  It’s just (annoyingly) muddied by a constant reference to the beauty of the heroines, and a lot of what happens to them is predicated on that – the commodification of the women is relentless in these books as a result…but, especially in the case of Judith Krantz, she comments on it all the time, within the stories.  It’s a puzzle…they knew what was going on, they played on it and with it…Though I have to say: the feeling I get at the end of zipping through each one, is one of overwhelming Go Getting Optimism, if tempered by the knowledge I will not at anytime soon be a Russian Princess, or starting my own modelling agency, or crossly asking a lot of guilty looking men I took an entire book to get in one room, ‘which one of you bastards is my father?’  I doubt there’s much high drama for me, in the immediate future at any rate.)

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

On the Magnificence of Peter Wyngarde

To begin, for my first ever picture on the blog.  Do have a proper look at this exhibition of early 70’s utter cool (a famous promo pic from the time).  And note – who else can carry off leather pants in this way, and a moustache, and still be astonishingly intelligent and a slightly louche action hero also?

Now, I don’t mean for a moment to be merely dribbling over one of the most gorgeous actors still alive, in a horrible sexist way.  I would sincerely love to meet Peter Wyngarde and have, umm, a croissant and some orange juice (was thinking he’s rather older now, and may not fancy champagne or coffee, he’s in his 80’s now) with him.  I would love to chat and hear stories, and just listen to the marvellous George Sanders-esque voice .  I truly think the man is one of the best actors we had, before some people got hot under the collar that despite always being a ladies man on TV, he got arrested for some business in a toilet in Gloucester with a truck driver in 1975.  (The fact that his acting colleagues often called him – we hear, here and there – ‘Petunia Winegum’ as a nickname, testifies to the fact that being gay wasn’t a secret amongst people that knew him.)  Since some people weren’t ready to handle the fact that the leather trousers were active in a way they hadn’t expected, his career suffered and got halted, really.  What a total bloody shame!  After all those sudden 1965-67ish appearances in staples like The Avengers, The Saint, Armchair Theatre and The Prisoner, he drifted away.  Just when it was all getting going.

Now, I haven’t looked into his career in any great detail (I tend to get obsessed in that way with female iconic figures – and Christopher Lee, as a notable exception), but if he’s in something I will watch it and keep it, as he never disappoints.  Such presence, such confidence.  I think this used to be called brio, as in – full of energy, life and enthusiasm.  And class!

My earliest Peter Wyngarde memory is a masked Peter Wyngarde, as seen in Flash Gordon.  Which is one of the most perfect films ever made and I wouldn’t change a hair on its head whatsoever.  (This will be elaborated on in that other post I threatened about my 5 favourite films ever, to come).  How many people dislike this film so strongly is completely beyond me?  What does it matter that the actor playing Flash Gordon apparently wasn’t acting very well?  I thought he did fine, they didn’t paint him as a great brain – more as a character that had heart and energy; Sam Jones did fine with that brief, I reckon.  What is there to dislike about the intense, insane over colourisation:  all that GOLD, and green, and red, and orange, and shininess everywhere??  Every time I watch it I am cheered up even if the sound is down!  And if the sound is up, I get to hear Ornella Muti (who Alias Octa always described as ‘born to fuck’, in a true teenage boy way) purring and sulking, Melody Anderson cheerleading and offering Suzanne Danielle the elixir that will make a night with the Emperor Ming doable (his sexual weirdness is hinted at several times, in a rather titillating way).  And then there’s Emperor Ming himself, Max von Sydow, who despite his marvellous face makeup and great costuming, still manages attract my attention by doing more evil hand rubbing acting than anyone I have since seen in a film; more pregnant pauses before evil sneering.  And of course, Brian Blessed yelling ‘DIVE!’ (which I have recently taken to yelling at Fluffhead in the living room as we have a mattress on the floor at the moment – at my command, in badly executed Blessed-eze, Fluffhead will run full steam at the mattress and propel himself headfirst onto it bellowing with joy, and holding his Josie Jump toy from ‘Ballamory’ – as she jumps too…).  And the Queen soundtrack…the Love Capsule music is always overlooked and so sensually splendid I bought the whole soundtrack just for that, those few seconds…

And then, there’s the voice that I didn’t really identify properly until about 3 years ago.  I have watched this wonderful soul edifying frothy film of excellence about a thousand times (I never get bored of it, and it’s repeated on TV still so often, that if I catch it, it stays on), and yet, oddly, I had never really connected the cast list.  I think I forgot George Sanders was dead (RIP another great, he became bored of the ‘sweet cesspit’ of here so his suicide note said), and imagined the voice of Klytus, Ming’s state torturer, was him, somehow (freshly escaped from the Jungle Book where he was so excellent during Fry’s video childhood, as the bad Shere Khan tiger).  Then one day, I really listened (apropos of nothing the way you suddenly sometimes do), and realised that (a) George Sanders had indeed been dead since 1972, I had recently read it, and Flash Gordon was a 1980 film, and that (b) that voice didn’t really sound like George Sanders at all – it was too deep and way more nuanced.  So the fact I had been dribbling (yes, sigh, its very demeaning to me[1] to admit that I actually salivate – really – when I hear that voice, its just so delicious in tone, so fluid and suggestive of night time things) all this time over a masked person I had only just realised starred in one of my other favourite films was …well, I have a quiet life, I was very excited.  Stop laughing at me!

The other favourite film was Night of the Eagle (1962).  I can’t recommend this film highly enough.  You must have gathered by now, that I have a (debatedly healthy or not) strong interest in all things inexplicable currently, and labelled ‘supernatural’.  So any film, with a hint of this, and there I am, to have a look and a think about it.  Remember long ago when BBC2 late at night used to have those truly excellent summer horror film seasons on Saturdays, I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before?  With one old ish thing first, like I Walked With A Zombie, or Cat People, and then a more ‘modern’ one after – anything from a Christopher Lee Dracula, to a Legend of Hell House?  That’s where I first saw Night of the Eagle.  Spoiler alert!!  About a scientific and sceptical professor who is doing very well in his rising career at a small university, but is unaware this is because his wife is working protective voodoo on his behalf; as she is actually battling the forces of greedy and voracious bad magic, summoned up by the Head Teacher, Margaret Johnston.  At the end she summons a huge thoughtform eagle to get rid of Wyngarde’s character, but a wonderful contrivance with an old eight track player sends it against her instead, hence the title. End of Spoiler.  This is the face of Peter Wyngarde I had been very familiar with for years – 

 Which doesn’t look at all like the first picture, does it?  I had no idea it was the same person.  It’s a genuinely scary film, with some good jumpy moments.  I think you should all buy it, and it is available (under a fiver on Amazon UK); but for the skint amongst us, go and feast your eyes on the acting talent that is this man, on YouTube – the whole film is up there at the moment.  For years, this film was sought after by me, until Alias Alan got me a copy for Xmas a few moons back.

Another thing I had been wanting for ages (I had it when first released but then sold it, as I do tend to do when needing money; and then of course it went out of circulation and now goes for silly money on ebay) was the Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (1984).  I had been remembering my favourite episode of this (about a haunting that turns out to have been from the future not the past – ahhhhhhhh, clever!) for a while, and had a yen to see it again.  Stanley went to trouble and found the lot for me online.  I started to watch them in the day, while Fluffhead and I read ‘Spot at Home’ and ‘Pip the Puppy’ and I tried repeatedly to teach him how to draw a flower with a pencil, since he loves curvy shapes at the moment.  I was dazzled by the brilliance of the episode ‘Check Mate’, good old Susan George, and I usually hate espionage things (its all very Traditional Boy-Aimed Crud in my opinion, excepting Day of the Jackal, which I find amazing), and then an episode came on with That Voice!  Putting down my toast and honey (my other current obsession, honey), I see that Peter Wyngarde is there, complete with wonderful moustache, and robed as a devil worshipping priest.  I think it's slightly likely that he was a little bored by this acting assignment, as I have rarely seen him loucher in something; then again, it’s a very slight story (which I won’t bother to relate).  There’s a funny scene near the end of the episode (‘And the Wall Came Tumbling Down’) where Wyngarde’s character is supposed to be dead on the floor.  The scene’s focus is away from him, to the actors still alive, upright and talking, gesturing.  Of course, I was just staring at Peter Wyngarde on the floor, loving those cheekbones and eyebrows.  I don’t know how long the scene may have taken to film, but he gets bored being on the floor and makes a face, licking his lips and the tip of his moustache very obviously.  It made me laugh out loud.

In speaking of his TV and film stuffs (just a tiny selection by the way, very partisan of me), I am leaving out his notorious record, recently re-released on CD – When Sex Leers Its Inquisitive Head.  I’m not even going to attempt to tell you about this – you have to go and listen to it!  It’s a concept album, its very funny, full of social commentary, and…(well, if you’ve ever heard the spoken albums of William Shatner…?  Its nothing like those, though I adore those too, they’re marvellous, but its somehow related, in the sense of it’s being oddly unclassifiable?!)  There’s rap, to country music – imagine! There’s much talking – its got ATMOSPHERE fizzing to the tip of the champagne glass he offers you at the start…It was removed shortly after its initial re;ease, for offending loads of people with the song 'Rape'.  Listening to it as the BlackberryJuniper feminist I am...I think its not meant to be taken literally at all, and there was alot going on in there about attitudes of the times, being mocked, quite harshly.  Go and find it, and stop listening to me describing it very poorly!

But the true gem, of any length or consistency, that I have – that, as a nation, yay!, WE have, is his excellence in the ITC shows Department S, and then the spin-off Jason King, where Wyngarde is a novelist, international travelling playboy and sleuth, as only the early 70’s could dress and cast a man.  I mean, look…

 People make much of how kitsch these series are today; how camp, how unreal, how …silly.  Now.  You’re talking here, with someone who violently adores Flash Gordon, so are these things going to bother me in the slightest?  I really think not.  It is all silly, and light; and yet so disarming.  Fun.  Escapist.  Occasionally very clever in terms of story telling, and even thought provoking.  The ensemble of the team of the Department S series was great, and it’s quite shameful that it was only the one series.  Boo.  But then was Jason King, so at least my favourite character is still about.  

He would say things like ‘I abhor violence’, before gracefully launching himself across a room to box someone’s ears in that very theatrical and obviously unreal way they did in those TV days.  And his hair would not ruffle; his handkerchief would remain dandily in the pocket.  And you can’t see it, but his sleeve turnbacks would also remain blissful and unpeturbed.  I have no idea why this is so important to me; I think it ties in to my sense of screaming for order in a life of chaos!  The series’s weren’t just the usual formulaic ITC action-quirky international star of the week vehicles (well, that WAS the formula, but…).  Wyngarde’s portrayal of Jason King managed to make me actually want to BE him as this character.  As in, I added Jason King to my mental list of TV and film characters whose traits I really would do to acquire in life.   

He managed to be astonishingly arrogant, yet also vulnerable and emotional.  Intelligent, and strangely clueless at times.  And so stylish in terms of fabric and colour that I think it really did get burned into my brain forever and affect the way I see clothes even now (no, I don’t want to dress like George Sand as a result; but I really care if the colours go or not, and if the whole thing looks put together!)  (You wouldn’t know this at all from the way I dress since Fluffhead; but what can I say – there’s a raging mixed up vintage style in there, and it will explode out when I am free to be rufflier, later in life.)

I think what I saw there, in his portrayal of that character was an amazing ability to disregard the categorisations of other people, and sail through life as HIMSELF.  To not be afraid, to not be cowed, to speak out and say your piece and hold your head up whilst doing so.  And not be afraid to be clever.  (Yes, I read a lot into what I see; the brain just won’t go off.)

And then you see Peter Wyngarde’s actual life, and see that for the time he was in, he was too big to handle, too large for the life around him, for the narrow minded amongst us.  He did get cowed, in the sense that his career got stalled so badly he had to go and do theatre work abroad (grand, but what a shame we lost him HERE) and it never really recovered here when he got back.  He did loads, go and see on IMDB, or the defunct Hellfire fansite, or YouTube…I could’ve watched so much more of him.  Bloody tragic.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  I have friends on Facebook who have memories of him in pubs in Brighton in the 60’s: apparently he dressed just as wonderfully in real life, complete with the imported Sobraine cigarettes, cravats, and undisputed wit.  There’s a fan page for him on Facebook, where a picture of him was recently posted as he is now – in his 80’s the man still reeks of poise and confidence; it’s just in the bearing; and the leather trousers he is still wearing.  Ooooooooo – I envy that, I admire that!  

Long Live the Peter Wyngarde of the past, the present, and the imagination…King of Cool, and Much Under-rated Brilliant Actor.  May I take on those traits I see in him, and glide through life with the same casual insouciance and verve.  I wish I may.

[1] …not to Peter Wyngarde, who if he ever read this I am sure would just make a face of comic boredom, and think, ‘silly woman’, before reading something else.  I don’t think he would be anything other than mildly bored by the idea that a 40 year old mother of 2 has mouth incontinence on the subject and sound of him.  He’s too cool to be bothered, I’m convinced.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

What I Have Amused Myself With in January: Books and TV, Film

I haven't had any babysitting for the last 100 years.  (Warning:  I suspect I am going to be full of exaggerations today, bear with me.)  Hence, the 2 posts I have been trying very hard to write (My Favourite 5 Films and Why Aren't They Yours Too?!, and On The Magnificence of Peter Wyngarde) have been delayed.  Apologies, faithful four readers and the Russian people who are still coming by (hello!), as well as the sudden regular newcomer from Indonesia.  They will be with you soon, I hope. 

I could tell you all about Fluffhead's birthday last week, and about the wonderful crunchy frozen earth in the garden and baby magpies (or whatever the are, tiny cute things) I keep seeing there.  And my first ever hedgehog, snuffling about.  But this will take a while, and I haven't got a while.  So I shall tell you instead what I have been reading and watching, and what I thought about them, at a bit of rambly length (I snaffled this from my diary - the only thing I have had time to keep more or less up to date...but alas, all I've been noting is what I read and watch - my endless and relentless days are lost to history...)  Off we go, then...


  1. The Immigrant, by Manju Kapur (2009)
    (Excellent.  Started a little stilted, but I persisted and it became an unputdownable story of people not so different from me at all, and how they got married and then it collapsed.  All within the feelings and sensations of being in a new country with a culture and weather very obviously different, and the effects this has on your unfolding sense of self.  It ended oddly, suddenly, and I felt like there was a whole ‘nother book I would have been happy to read about Nina and Ananda’s further lives, separately. Interesting sense of Canada.)
  2. One Small Step Can Change Your Life, by Robert Maurer (2004)
    (Maybe the best mis-characterised 'self help' book I’ve read in ages.  Described how to get on with change when you really need or want to do it, but are terrified and very resistant.  The idea of tiny, beyond bitesize steps, as a way to circumnavigate your worried brain and get a new habit in place without such despair and inner criticism and the constant failure.  Small actions, small questions, small adjustments, working up to bigger ones.  It gave me the idea to exercise in the living room just by marching on the spot, no need to put any DVDs on and annoy Fluffhead – keep moving, so that while I know I am eating too much as I am bored and often lonely – at least I am exercising more to compensate.  I will see how it goes, but I think this is an approach I can really use to my benefit, in a lot of areas of life.  Though the book didn’t need to be so long – this wonderful tidbit could have been gotten across by a good essay.)
  3. How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand Up Comedian, by Stewart Lee (2010)
    (One of my favourite deconstruction of comedy comedians.  I was very struck that the cover had a quote from the Times, saying this book was 'wise', as well as funny.  This was unfortunate, as I kept waiting for the wisdom all the way through.  I laughed out loud many times; agreed with him about lots of things, and disagreed with him about others.  I was educated on several different points of view, and learned more about obscure and not-so comedians than I ever did previously.  And I loved the massively long footnotes.  And the complexity of his character, which contradicted itself in places, and tried very hard to hide while still being present.  But I didn’t find any actual ‘wisdom’.  I think this may be semantic, though – I think the Times has a different definition of wisdom to me.)
  4. Who Will Run The Frog Hospital?, by Lorrie Moore (1994)
    (An extremely well written book. Almost self indulgent in its love of words.  I was envious at the ease of it – especially the change in register of her voice between middle age and teenage. Very vivid teenage.  About a friendship, and why it was and how it was, and where it went.  And a marriage, and how we change over time.  I enjoyed this a lot, in a strange In It but also Observing It sort of way.  Lorrie Moore is one of those authors who automatically gets bought whenever she writes anything, as I like her changing style so much.)
  5. Just For The Frill of It, by Sonya Nimri (2007)
    (Bought to enable me to poach techniques and ideas, rather than lift sewing alteration projects wholesale.  In line with my plans for sewing set out in my resolutions post before the New Year.  Will serve its purpose, and has given me several ideas to modify.  Also enjoyed its good illustrations and its sassy, amusing tone.  And enjoyed laughing at the somewhat privileged upbringing of the girl who wrote it [its there in the tone of her commentaries to the pieces] - for her, the sewing was obviously about art and being clever and making things extra girly and pretty; rather than a real financial need to alter, and 'make do and mend', as it is in my case.  Far too much emphasis on making bolero cardigans out of sweaters [we don't all have tiny boobs and little waists and will look a bit like a sack shrunk on us if we wear boleros, you twentysomething girl I am clearly jealous of!]  and adding lace and ribbons to things though – a complication of things rather than a simplification of them. Still worthy, however, and I will definitely be referring to it.)
  6. Subversive Seamster, by Melissa Alvarado, Hope Meng and Melissa Rannels (2007)
    (Again, bought to poach for techniques and ideas for clothes alterations.  Enjoyed this one also – good pictures, good ideas, and more emphasis on wholesale alteration and rejigging than the last: a skirt from a winter coat, a beautiful peasant blouse from a long housedress.  Some very good ideas and will help me to look at things with a more imaginative eye – which was what I wanted.  I am full of vague creativeness, but often lack specific ideas; looking at other people’s things always makes me think ‘oh, I could do that better, if I…’ – cue changing it and making it mine.  So another good buy, and a good techniques section.)
And watching (you'll note I seem to have solidly watched TV through all January, if this list is anything to go by....What I will say is, its been bloody cold and Fluffhead was getting over his respiratory infection so was sectioned against cold air; so more staying in than usual.  Also, all the Dr Who on this list is because of him [like father, like son] - you should SEE the hysterical joy I get when I announce we are about to watch some!  And lastly, you can have TV on in the background while doing a 100 other things; reading takes proper concentration, so there's less of that than this...):

  1. Quarantine 2: Terminal (the American Remake)
    (With Fry.  Quite good.  I’d like to see the Spanish original.  Had some actual characterisation in it, which I enjoyed and is relatively rare for a modern horror.)
  2. Reginald D. Hunter Live
    (Disappointing - and I was very much expecting to like it, as I have liked all his panel show appearences I have seen.  Some jokes and stories and their callbacks were excellent.  Some just relied on stereotyping and a very poor understanding of women – cheap gags. But then, as Fry said: I would say that, as a woman.  Which leaves us nowhere…)
  3. Raven (70's kids drama)
    (Xmas present to me from Stanley.  I really liked it: the Arthurian theme – Arthurs’ save the land from environmental disasters, there's more than one of them; the silly and irrelevant usage of the zodiac; Phil Daniels as a teenager: inspired casting.  The way I gathered at the end that he was looking for the Merlin bird again to go on his next mission.  All implied, not told - TV is not like this anymore, and how great to see this then, as a visual artifact!  Very un-neat and very ambiguous altogether.  Liked that.)
  4. Mad and Bad: History of Science on TV, documentary
    (Educational, despite Stanley pointing out a number of huge gaffes in the reportage.  Robert Webb was ill picked for narration of this, I thought.  His tone was too trivial.  I liked the point that writers of TV and film always pick the doomy side of science to report, robots gone crazy; viruses out of control etc, as its better drama.  It makes you think twice about drama inculcated attitudes to science.  Which have influenced alot of my own doominess on the subject.  So food for thought here.)
  5. Whistle and I’ll Come To You (John Hurt remake)
    (I'm doing this back to front, because I didn't watch the original yet and will have to report back on that later.  Very spacious feel to this.  The hands under the door from kneeling position scared Fluffhead - who wasn't really watching it till that moment.  So a marked point in his development - have to be careful what iput on in front of him now.  Since I have yet to watch the original, so I don’t know how well they have captured the spirit of it or the story it was taken from; and whether that stuff about his wife was telegraphed too obviously or even just added for this adaptation.  If so, a good idea, but heavy handedly done.  Otherwise enjoyed this a lot – had good atmosphere.  John Hurt excellent.  Lesley Sharp strangely miscast and portentous: wasted.  But maybe the cast her because she was so good in Afterlife, and they wanted that vibe?)
  6. The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh
    (This film surprised me: everyone was out to get Edwige Fenech – the plot ended up really complicated!  There was an essay in one of the extras that used a term to describe this kind of giallo that I can’t remember now, and despite looking it up, it escapes me – its when the characters are in a sort of love triangle and the action is all about sexual and emotional turmoil.  Being Italian, they had a handy little phrase for it.  Wish I could remember.  Interesting and very enjoyable film.  Her character reminded me of a lot of women of the kind I used to know – ones that define themselves to a large degree, by their relations with their men, mostly or even only.  They seem to need a man about.  Lordy – maybe I’m even one of them in the back of my head…then again...if I only looked like Edwige it might be an option!)
  7. Almost Human
    (This giallo also surprised me – what an incredibly good thriller!  And Tomas Milian – bloody hell – what a great actor, so nasty and low and ratlike!  Very good study in some people and their morals – well shot, well acted, and totally absorbing.  Apparently this is a sub genre of giallo, called Poliziotteschi.  Fascinating stuff, may try and find more of them.  Also loved the detective actor – Henry Silva, what a great face.
  8. Children of the Stones, 70's children's drama
    (Hmm. Good atmosphere, intriguing idea….and really silly ill conceived confusing finale, which took in ammonia molecules, time traps, black holes, ‘pagan leyline centres of psychic power’, people inexplicably turning to stone, history re-writing itself and the main characters strangely sanguine about the whole thing.  It was really good and really quite execrable, all at the same time.  Most odd combination.)
  9. Intruder
    (Without lil' Fluffhead!.  This was one of the funnest horror films I’ve ever seen.  Just the perfect mix of 80’s characters and cheese, likeable people, excellent music both orchestral and synthy; and done by the Evil Dead people – even sang the same song – what is that song, ‘after all the songs we’ve sung together’?  Excellent – humour and inventive grisliness.  10/10.)
  10. Dr Who, Peter Davison – Four to Doomsday
    ( Not bad!)
  11.  Dr Who, Peter Davison – Kinda
    (Rather enjoyed.)
  12. The Silent House, horror
    (The gimmick of the one continuous shot all the way through the whole film was a good idea, but…the girl’s character was odd: and Fry swears she couldn’t have killed the dad as he was definitely upstairs while we saw her downstairs…and since he wouldn’t let me rewind to check as he had become bored, we were left as befuddled as a cinema goer would have been. A very interesting idea imperfectly executed, but worth watching IMO.)
  13.  Doctor Who: Visitation
    (Good. Quite clever I thought – and loved the Pudding Lane bit at the end.  Very good time setting and atmosphere.  The best historical Dr Who so far, in my opinion, for me.  Also, whatsisname from On The Buses, was MAGNIFICENT.)
  14.  Doctor Who: Black Orchid
    (Also good, if rather oddly short.  Looked lovely.  Beautiful Pierrot costume.)
  15. Doctor Who: Earth Shock
    (Snore.  Got very bored of the Cybermen, very quickly.  Villains who keep saying ‘destroy them’ tend to make me doze. Beryl Reid notwithstanding; though in leather – interesting!  Best thing about this one was the end – I was very shocked about Adric, even though I knew in advance it was going to happen.  Fluffhead thought the TV was broken when there was no music at the end, and gave me the remote with a stricken face…)
  16. Doctor Who: Time Flight
    (Not bad at all.  Good idea for the characters to have that discussion at the beginning about why they couldn’t go back in time and save Adric with the Tardis.  Enjoyed the planes and the pilots.)
  17. Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity
    (Oh dear oh dear.  No need of Amsterdam and generally rather poo.  Why was The Master in disguise???  I saw no reason for it, just a cheap plot device.)
  18. Downton Abbey, Series 1
    (Lent to me generously by my esteemed FB friend and human companion of Ruler of the World, Edward Cat: Alias Daisy Ginn.  Well, well.  I see exactly what the fuss was about: good and bad.  The bad was that yes, the historical details aren’t always accurate, and there are sometimes mistakes with modern details in the background peeping through quite clearly [yellow lines on roads, and such].  Also, it is so modern with its Edwardian characters as to be a bit dubious as to whether this was actually so at the time – but then, it’s a work of historical fiction, not straight historical drama.  Which brings us to the last bad thing – its a soap more than a drama, which is apparent from all the hating and worrying I found myself doing while watching it, and the tenterhooks about the next episode.   

    As to the good things about it: marvellous Maggie Smith, marvellous sets and locations, amazingly beautiful clothes, man did I want to alter and make all that – and utterly addictive.  I was umming and ahhing through the first episode about whether I was going to enjoy this, but by the end of the second one, and after having said ‘oh what a cow’ rather a lot to the screen, I found I was unable to stop watching it, and subjected Fluffhead to it as well.  He liked it, also a plus point – though he did keep screeching [a new lately thing] during softly spoken bits, which was most annoying.  So…I eventually found out what the stoic Bates’s secret was, I saw the unravelling of proud Mary and her suitor, I felt what she did to overlooked Edith at the end was awful no matter that I saw why, I watched  'the cow' O’Brien actually get some guilt for her behaviour [another excellent character], and I wondered when suffragette Sybil would start having an affair with the chauffeur.  Like Dallas, but without oil, and only one American so far, and very cliché English!  Most enjoyable.) 
  19.  Apparitions, recent supernatural drama series
    (Now, now now!  The BBC should be ASHAMED of themselves for putting their names on this.  It does sound – to me, anyway – like a brilliant idea to think of The Exorcist, and then decide to bring it up to date and make a serial of it and set it in the UK – roving exorcist fighting evil.  Etc.  Since I believe – yes BELIEVE, one of my very few, and definitely more childlike and intuitive beliefs – in the idea of disembodied... thingies out there that may be unkind and possibly bad and upset and of the mind to possess you and hurt you [this is why I still find the Evil Dead so scary, despite the plasticine scene at the end), I thought this series sounded fun to scare myself with.  Then I watched it. 

    Very watchable and well made is the best thing I can say for it.  Good production values etc. 

    But what a MOUNTAIN of Catholic [specifically] propaganda I haven’t encountered in the last hundred years!  It was like that annoying woman you see on Sunday morning politics debate shows from The Catholic Herald got together with William Peter Blatty and wrote this.  Obviously these spirits are demons, and anti the Christian God, specifically the Catholic idea of the Christian God.  And so there are some very interesting discussions between the exorcist and the priest [Martin Shaw, what were you thinking, and producing it too], of the like I haven’t experienced since I used to chat often with a brilliant Jesuit priest by the name of Father Tracy, many moons ago.  I love the twisty and sophistic logic of Jesuits.  Father Tracy was a lovely man, I adored his brain.  But this series…every single criticism that the Catholic church has had thrown at it since we became a more or less secular state here in the UK, appeared and was refuted in the most simplistic terms here.  The first episode alone made out atheists as possible agents of the devil, and ripe for possession, with their ‘anger at god’.  Shockingly, a little girl character showed the priest what she considered as the signs of her father being possessed: a copy of the God Delusion by Dawkins, a copy of God Is Not Great by the late and great fun Hitchens, a recording of the Jerry Springer opera [‘so you got yourself crucified, give yourself a biscuit’ played in the background…confusing the blasphemy of demons with the mockery of rationalism….later in the same episode, all comedians were wiped out with the line, ‘mockery and ridicule are its first line of defence’ or something very similar, don’t make me go and rewind to find it, please!…]  Doubt about some aspects of Mother Theresa’s work, doubts about the Pope’s efficacy during WWII – all the sorts of things the Catholic Church has had troubles with, all were disposed of simply and quickly, and overwhelmingly…falsely, in the face of actual verifiable real world facts.  Very odd, such an amazingly partisan piece of work getting the BBC stamp, I thought.  Then again, I’m sure their showing of the Jerry Springer opera got exactly the same reaction from the other side of shocked indignation, so…

    But I was left open mouthed that such an otherwise well made drama had such LIES in it!!  Took all the fun out of it.  And then again, again [!], the clash between modern secular rationalism, individualism, and this updated Catholic superheroness made a bit of a mockery of my own belief in disembodied thingies looking to possess people…I don’t think I had them as Christian in my head as such, though I definitely got the idea from there, from my upbringing…but…I think I see them as universal, everywhere and nowhere.  I will definitely have to think about this irrational belief of mine more now it has bumped up against modernity and a lot of the other things I definitely do think in such a jarring way.  So I can thank this odd and flawed series for making me thoughtful.  Though it didn’t scare me, which was what I had wanted! 

    Actually, in all the conversations between the priest and the demons, I kept finding myself consistently siding with the demon – as it had a brain and was using it.  The priest kept saying: ‘We do not talk with demons, we reject them unconditionally’, and when it asked him a question about something uncomfortable and difficult: ‘we do not question God, we trust Him unconditionally’.  Well.  If you don’t allow yourself to THINK, at all, that way, you are just a puppet…The old, outgoing Head Exorcist said to Martin Shaw’s new exorcist: ‘Don’t listen to them, your faith will be weakened,’ about a hundred times.  My own brain may serve me badly, and often does, but at least I try and think with what I have!  I will not be a puppet.  Question everything – even if it makes you miserable, is what I say.  Use the brain in your head; that’s what it’s for.  Humpf.)
So!  That's what I have been doing while washing up, cleaning, playing peekaboo, feeding Fluffhead (not the scary things anymore though!), tidying up and so on and so forth.  And now I'm off to check my lottery numbers and look forward to a life of much more leisure time, during which I will blog every day and eat many truffle chocolates....