Sunday, 30 October 2011

Contagion – Spoiler Alert

A reasonable attempt at a thriller that has a large range of threads and you feel that they are going to draw together in a breathless finale but instead it slowly coughs its way to the end leaving more questions than answers. For instance – what was the punishment for the doctor telling his wife about the contagion, what happens to the village in China, how will Matt Damon cope with his cheating wife’s death, what are the consequences for the girl going out and meeting her boyfriend, will Laurence Fishburne suffer for his decision to give up his antidote and wander the streets when he has no immunity. All in all a bit disjointed and a bit frustrating, a film with promise that does not quite deliver. 


A wedding is an expensive business and when you are spending x thousand pounds you would expect businesses to want your business and have a level of customer service that makes you want to spend your money with them. This however is not always the case. At 1 venue it took over two weeks to provide us with a quote for the wedding. We had popped in for an approximate quote but then spend a lot of time on what meal we would like and then took so long to send it we thought we had been forgotten. In other places we travelled 20 miles to find it was already booked, a fact they couldn’t tell us over the phone. A florist told us there were no blue flowers in spring whilst others have told us there are plenty of options. The photographer we say today kept forgetting what year the wedding was and whilst showing us his work on a HD TV kept worrying about the music he was playing. Maybe think about how you present yourself before your customer arrives. If you want my business present yourself properly.

Things I have leant this week

1.      Wich means place, it can either be associated with dairy farming or salt production

2.      Dunwich used to be the one of the largest settlements in the East and one of the largest ports.

3.      A large storm destroyed most of Dunwich leaving a bay where there had been a town before

4.      Southwold lighthouse has at least 133 steps and is one of the least well organised tours you can go on

5.      The light on the lighthouse can be seen 16 miles away. If the light is white you are safe, if it is red you are in danger

6.      There is an organisation in Suffolk that promote kite making and flying

7.      Kite surfing looks like a lot of fun

8.      Southwold buried its cannons so that the Germans would not have a pre-text to bomb them in the Second World War

9.      The large areas of open space in Southwold were left as fire breaks after the great fire of Southwold.

10.  There are no pubs in Southwold that are not linked to Adnams

11.  In the winter the population of Southwold shrinks to less than a 1000 due to the number of second homes in the area.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy

Well the setting and colour palette of grey and brown was very 70’s. The preponderance of smokers and the hazy of blue in each room looked authentic. The cragginess of the actors and the world weariness of the characters they played seemed to be genuine. The fact that the script was non-linear and was set in a variety of cities with a range of city vistas pulled from the Seventies, the quality of the actors on show and the topic of spying and “moles” should have been right up my alley. The fact I was noticing these things means I was not swept away by the storyline and not gripped. I should have been but I wasn’t and the reasons for that I can’t fathom or comprehend. Maybe it was that there was George Smiley and in a James Bond way you know it can’t be him, can’t die, will find out which makes the plot a little predictable or maybe casting the most famous actor as the baddie which otherwise was a fairly minor part put a massive arrow over his head, I mean it’s Colin Firth playing 6th lead after winning an Oscar or maybe I just didn’t care about the characters of their fate.

The Hollow

This was done by a local dramatic company. It is odd how expectations change with the setting. At one point a character came on stage too early and saw something they shouldn’t have. About two minutes later you find out this was deliberate but at the time I thought it was a mistake by the actress. Maybe the quality of the performance affecting my thinking in this matter. The play was also remarkable for the whistling maid who came on and tidied the set whilst everyone else was changing costume, kind of denoting time passing. She was whistling Elvis with the sight of it causing a little puzzlement and then strange mirth in the audience. As a play it is not one of Agatha Christie’s best. It does not feature any of the great detectives although you feel that she could have turned one of the characters into a long running character if she had not already got a few to write about. In many ways it reminded me of The Seven Dials Mystery and Lady Eileen “Bundle” Brent who is my favourite Christie character slightly ahead of Tommy and Tuppence Beresford.

Guys and Dolls

This was a local production and as such was good if a little uneven in tone. The best actors were really good, such as the performance of Sky Masterson, whereas some of the other characters were a little miscast and lacked chemistry with the other actors on stage. The wise cracking hoods made for some of the best lines in the show and some of the stand out characters. AS this is the first time I have seen the show I was not sure if it is intentional that some of the key scenes happen off stage and are referenced by the actors on the stage. Neither the scene where Sky convinces Sister Sarah to go to Havana nor the scene where they get married occurred on stage and as they are two of the key scenes this struck me as slightly odd. In conclusion, it was good for a local production.

Season’s Greetings

Yes – it is about Christmas and I can’t abide talk of Christmas before 1st December but as a comedy goes this one is brilliant. A whole family surviving under one roof for Christmas with all the different generations getting along or sparking off each other. The characters are well drawn from the odd uncle who is perceived to have failed as a doctor who traditional does a puppet play that is dreaded, the older relative causing chaos in someone else’s kitchen, the strange visitor, the allegations of cheating in the board games, the haggard parents trying to deal with excited children and what can happen under the mistletoe after a glass of vino. Very entertaining and even if I did feel a bit humbug it was well worth the trip.

The Madness of King George III

Rarely have I been moved to give a standing ovation and I would have for the performance of David Haig in the lead role. I didn’t as I don’t think it is fair on the people sitting behind me. The quality of his performance was outstanding both in vocal tone, facial and body expression and mannerisms. The difference between the pain free king with his confident manner, air of command and the addition of wot wot and hey hey to the end of each sentence was in direct contrast to the tortured soul that was being bled and blistered, restrained and gagged with a whining tone, pleading body language and self-pitying tone. The acting to portray those two roles was as I have already stated outstanding and it was difficult to take your eyes of the performance.
I was also interested in the way that government interacted with royalty. The king had got to a position where the prime minister depending on whom the king was. George III favoured Pitt the Younger, his son and potential regent favoured Fox as he shared his values of partying. Without the lack of love between the two the Royal Pavilion in Brighton would not have been built.
With a lot of dramas the comedy is the element that really drives the show. At one point Mr King commenting on his painful stomach tells Mrs King (the Queen) that he will attempt a fart and when one of the footmen is sacked it is suggested he help out at a grocery store but as he comments who ever heard of Fortnum and Papendiek.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Films this summer

Two films stand out. Horrible bosses was a reasonable comedy with a neat-ish twist at the end. Kevin Spacey stole the show and acted everyone else of the screen but ultimately the horribleness of the bosses was too unbelievable to make it realistic. The slutty boss and the drug fuelled boss were too over the top although the other one was evil enough. There are so many horrible things real bosses do there was no need to invent unbelievable characters to fulfil the roles.

Super 8 was really good. The idea of the kids making a film and accidentally filming a scene they are not supposed so was so well done it was brilliant. The inventiveness of the kids when shooting the film was shown really well and that kind of single-mindedness seems to be lost in childhood these days. I loved the end scenes when they show the fill and the way half the audience had to try and come back to the the auditorium to watch it as they all left early. Thoroughly recommended.

Too much shopping?

This summer has seen the following things happen

1. A house needs furnishing including furniture, curtains and varied haberdashery
2. I needed to buy an engagement ring
3. We need to find a wedding venue

All of these required shopping and a lot of comparing. Strangely it has been enjoyable, I mean not as good as other activities, but not as bad as I thought apart from the sore feet.

Kittens Day 1 to 4

So on Wednesday we collected the two kittens. After we had kind of bullied a charity (a bit rude of us but frankly it had been nearly three weeks) we went to pick them up. On the first day they were very shy and after they had come out of the carrier they headed for the box and stayed there until their tummies told them that they had to find the source of the smell. The black and white, who for the rest of this post and maybe his life we shall call Marmite, was first out and has since shown that he will launch head first into any situation. Currently he loves running across the floor and sliding into the target and then anything beyond it.

The second, who for the rest of the post we shall call Box, was more shy and spent time in the box. Over the next few days they have developed their personalities. Marmite is very bold, chases anything, loves to climb on people, loves to be held, can purr for Britain and usually carries on after you have put him down. Box will tolerate being held and has stopped scrabbling. She usually tests things first before attacking. The only thing that Box does better is jumping. She launches herself on to the scratching post everytime whereas Marmite tries to climb it, falls off, scrabbles at the post and usually is left hanging on to the post with one foot.
Saturday update - firstly the kittens have started to play with each other rather than just ignore each other. Marmite loves chasing Box's tail and there have been a couple of wrestling matches. Box usually wins and when Marmite was in her basket Box ambushed him. Held him down and then licked his face. At night they have been chasing their shadows and been very interested in their reflections in the doors and the laptop cover. Marmite killed and ate a flying insect that happened to close. They have been very playful and come to you when you have a treat.
I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Trip to Brighton - Picture of the Day (Sunday)

Rottingdean is a beautiful village with lots of old buildings, the Kipling gardens, the windmill and the coast. The view across the village pond to the windmill on the hill was lovely. However the village was amazingly busy and the house prices were somewhat ridiculous.

Trip to Brighton - Picture of the day (Friday)

For decadence the Royal Pavilion is sumptuous but it is the way that it relates to the role of tourism that interested me especially. The way that George IV made the area popular and the way that people visited it for the healing properties of slat water baths. This and the royal patronage allowed Brighton to grow. This continued until the advent of the railway allowed the urban working class to visit, Brighton grew and became less exclusive and the Royals feeling too exposed and needing more space for all the children forced Victoria to sell it and return to Buckingham Palace.

Trip to Brighton - Picture of the day (Tuesday)

A trip to the marina district to see what was there. You can use the electric railway although this leaves you some way away from the centre and with no obvious way of getting there. It was a bit disappointing. There were a few unique shops but too many chains and too many empty shops. The flats reminded me of every new river/ coastal development such as Riverside Norwich, Ipswich and Swansea. The most interesting thing was seeing the boats for sale and how much they cost especially the ugly ones.

Trip to Brighton = Picture of the day Monday

So the thing that happened on Monday was the early alarm call courtesy of the seagulls. Thanks a bunch. We spent the rest of the day mooching around finding out what was there are a quick look around the shops.
A also decided that all sea gulls could be divided into evil and good. This is a good one, something to do with the eyes and the legs.

Trip to Brighton - Picture of the day Saturday

The glamorous life of a lifeguard in the UK

Brighton sea life centre = Picture of the day Thursday

An interesting place set under the promenade in a Victorian arches. There were a range of exhibits but the ones that were outstanding were.

1. The turtles - large and graceful projecting a powerful sense of calm.
2. The rays - the way that they playfully came to the surface and were very interested in the outside world
3. The sea horses - the lots of different sized ones were cool.

Two areas that they have to work on.
1. The queueing system in the rain was slow and damp
2. The boat trip - how did we get all the way there without realising we had to book. If you go I suggest booking the trip - then seeing the other exhibits - then going back and taking the trip.

What is normal?

We stayed in Kemptown - the bohemian end of Brighton (according to Wikipedia) where you are expected to be outrageous and if you don't wear a silly hat, strange coloured t-shirt or interesting hair both on your head and facial then you kind of stand out. It raises the question that if everyone is outrageous does that make it the new normal?


I am loving the row between the police and the government on the policing of the riot. The government want a flashy top US cop with experience to deal with it. An impressive record in cities mainly achieved through flooding the streets with cops and inflating their budgets whilst annoying his boss and in riots using large numbers of armed police and soldiers. The fact that we don't have armed police, budget cuts and where able to stop the riots after two nights means he might not be able to be as successful. He also has had to resign in the past due to accepting multiple unauthorized trips from corporations and individuals - a problem both MP's and police have already been suffering from. Is this correct idea?


There has been a lot of twaddle talked about the riots. They were horrific for the people involved. The deaths were tragedies and the loss of properties and livelihoods difficult for people to get over. The idea that this represents a lost generation with little hope seems to be a huge overstatement for the whole country. It seems to be focused in a few areas of the most deprived areas of the largest cities. After two nights it was done and the communities came together to help solve this issue.

The over-reaction seems to be centred on the fact that it happened in London so it was easy for the journalists to reach and that social media allowed images and ideas to be spread quickly mushrooming the impact that people were feeling. If 24 hour, Internet home pages facebook updates and tweets are all telling you about the riots they seem disproportionately worse. It also allowed it to spread worldwide quickly.

Remember the 20 days of rioting in Paris in 2005 from October 27th to November 15th. Thought not!
Everyday I work with lots of children who have a variety of backgrounds, work hard and didn't riot. A minority does not a lost generation make.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Lord Mayor’s Procession

Last week for A’s birthday I asked the Lord Mayor to organise a procession and a series of events for her. He agreed. It started on Friday night with A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare performed by Paston College. The performance was a bit uneven with some of the better students performing really well especially Bottom and Oberon. Some of the other performances were a bit weak but the other entertainment was well timed. As Puck is anointing the eyelids of the sleeping Athenians so that they would fall in love with next thing they saw behind them half way up the castle mound were two pigeons. As the actors got friendlier then so did the pigeons with cooing, head bobs, stroking each other necks and then with a flutter of feathers the deed was done. I am not sure that any of the other people other than A and I saw it but it was so funny and relevant to the plot we lost it. There was also some gymnastic moves by a less than sylph life fairy that made my wince.

The next day was the procession featuring the weird and wonderful including Chloe Smith MP and the Star Wars Appreciation Society amongst others. In the evening was a Take That tribute with fake Robbie being much better stage presence and crowd involvement than fake Take That. They were fine but they lacked a little sparkle and their play list was not all of the greatest hits.

The following day was more Shakespeare with Taming of the Shrew. This was performed by a professional company and they gave a really good performance. This was also in the Castle Gardens and it started in beautiful sunlight. They had a set-up where they started as a twenties garden party the day after women had been given the vote and as other troupes had not turned up they did the play. At times they would come back on the stage and talk to the crowd whilst other characters changed costumes. They were really good and they played the roles really well. The weather on the other hand did not play ball and the sunshine soon turned to heavy downfall. The actors like the true professionals they are carried on and also ad-libbed in lines about the rain especially when they had to lie/sit or kneel on the soaking ground. As the rain fell plastic macs were given out but A and I had craftily (luckily) positioned ourselves under a tree and therefore as the rain fell we were kept dry. Genius!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

It’s a strange feeling to come to the end of a series that you have invested so much time in. It was fun to see the actors at the end of a journey where they have done so much growing both as characters and as real people. As Emma Watson said on the news she has been Hermione for so long she now has to figure out who she is. I really enjoyed the film. Having read the book ruins some of the suspense of what is about to happen but the director has made a good job of putting it on the screen with all the requisite number of bangs, crashes, magic, deaths and a spectacular denouement. The final scenes are also kind of cool with the idea that a circle has been joined and that some institutions like a school can step outside of time. The only downside was that it was difficult to see what happened to some of the characters except to know that they died.

I have always wondered about the kind of schooling that is portrayed with a very strict set of rules and a curriculum that is heavy of didactic teaching. Why do children like to read and enjoy the exact opposite of what we are trying to do in schools?

The film we saw was in 3D and I have some issues with. Firstly, it makes you thing about a particular effect and that disrupts the narrative arc of the story as you thing how pointy or floaty something is. The subtitles looked very strange. The second was that as I put my head on A’s shoulder everything went blurry and it appears they only work when your head is very level. We also saw it IMAX and the massive screen makes it a great viewing experience and I think that would be a much better medium for future films and move away from 3D.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Jack Warner

Jack Warner has resigned for FIFA and the corruption charges have been dropped and FIFA presume him innocent. The rest of the work presume him guilty and so guilty the only way for him to be innocent is to resign. Indeed surely he should fight and clear his name unless it is so tarnished it would be impossible.

What is fair?

The Olympic tickets have been given out using a ballot.
Everyone could apply for any ticket and they were given out at random. This means everyone had an equal chance of getting a ticket this leads to some people getting lots and some people getting none. To me this is fair as everyone had an equal chance and there is no interference in the process. To A this unfair as lots of people missed out. To her fair would be that every gets one thing they asked for. This means that everyone gets one ticket but to me this is unfair as some people might get the first round of the handball and as this is their one ticket and therefore have no chance of the 100m final.
Neither is particularly brilliant.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tory NHS plans

1. If doctors are not treating patients but managing budgets this is a waste of their time and expertise
2. If shareholders are taking 10% profits from any transaction with the NHS this means that tax payers are not getting value for money. Think Southern Cross.

Bergh Apton

Just down the road is a small village called Bergh Apton which every three years hosts a sculpture trail. It is a chance to have a look at the gardens of fourteen houses around the village as well as see some sculptures of varying quality. In some of the gardens there is live music (like a klezmer band) and some traditional skills such as a falconer, wood turner and an amazing illustrator. At three miles long it is not for the faint of heart but some of the views are well worth it. I liked some of the mirror sculptures and animal sculptures the most and have put some of my favourites below.


As a present my sister got me a trip around the rugby stadium in Twickenham. Apart from being an immense stadium there were some really interesting little stories.I was impressed with the way that the stadium tries to work with the community around it so that they can use the facilities and are also not inconvenienced by the matches that occur. Other facts like you can by a season ticket for £10000 but you still have to pay for the tickets on top of that. You get the money back in 70 years. I had a push on a scrum machine and proved I could still do it but really need to get a straighter back.
The best fact of all was that when Prince William and Harry turn up in jeans, baseball cap and rugby shirt they are not allowed in the royal box due to the dress code and have to sit in the row in front.

Wizard of Oz

We went to see the Wizard of Oz in London and to see the winner of the talent show that was on BBC1. Overall I thought the show was good but felt a bit simplistic and the songs whilst famous got a fraction repetitive. The use of Michael Crawford was also a bit wasted and for effect. The stage and special effects were very good with the dog stealing the show. Even when the dog was lying quietly on the stage all eyes were drawn towards it. Danielle's performance was good but not outstanding with some excellent choreography and some cute Munchkins.

As with a lot of things the back story is actually as interesting as the show.
There is an idea that the book contained an allegory of the late 19th-century bimetallism debate regarding monetary policy. At the beginning of the novel, Dorothy is swept from her farm to Oz by a cyclone, which was frequently compared to the Free Silver movement in author's time. The Yellow Brick Road represents the gold standard and the Silver Shoes (changed to ruby in the film) which enable Dorothy to travel more comfortably symbolizes the Populist Party's desire to construct a bimetallic standard of both gold and silver in place of the gold standard. She learns that to return home, she must reach the Emerald City, Oz's political center, to speak to the Wizard, representing the President of the United States. While journeying to the Emerald City, she encounters a scarecrow, who represents a farmer; a woodman made of tin, who represents a worker dehumanized by industrialization; and a cowardly lion, who represents William Jennings Bryan, a prominent leader of the silverite movement.

The villains of the story, the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Witch of the East, represent the wealthy railroad and oil barons of the American West and the financial and banking interests of the eastern U.S. respectively. Both these groups opposed Populist efforts to move the U.S. to a bimetallic monetary standard since this would have devalued the dollar and made investments less valuable. Workers and poor farmers supported the move away from the gold standard as this would have lessened their crushing debt burdens.

The Populist party sought to build a coalition of southern and midwestern tenant farmers and northern industrial workers. These groups are represented in the book by the Good Witches of the North and South. "Oz" is the abbreviated form of ounce, a standard measure of gold.

This allegory appears to be bollocks however.

Olympic Tickets

I got some of the tickets that I bid for. I have got £140 of the £500 I wanted. Now some of the things we wanted were

Gymnastics at £40.00
Athleticscat £40.00
Basketball at £40.00
Cycling - at £100.00
Equestrian at £70.00
Hockey at £40.00
Swimming at £100.00
Synchronised Swimming at £60.00
Handball at £40.00

so it looks like I have got 1 of swimming or cycling and equestrianism and synchronised swimming are out. As these were not the most popular sessions I am a bit suprised not to get more but then they were the cheap seats and probably limited.

How to make a decision

Buying or trying to buy furniture has highlighted some differences in the way that A and I go about decision making. I was looking at the size of the furniture and whether it would fit the gaps. A looked at the colour and whether the furniture looked good. What this means is I found some ugly furniture that was the right size whereas A found some lovely furniture but that would not fit. Somehow it looks like between us we might have found what we were looking for.

Ronan is from Poringland - and he came 2nd

In talent shows they always seem to film where the contestant comes from and it seems a bit corny and staged when they interview locals who are asking you to vote for a town’s favourite son or daughter. That was Ronan of Poringland got into the BGT final and now there are Vote Ronan signs all over the place such as Budgens, scout hut, community centre etc. In the car park of the supermarket was a trailer advertising the candidate. Sadly it looks like the teen singing vote was split.

BGT = crap

As I write this I have watched two talent shows. I am not a big fan of this type of TV but have been roped into it by A. On BBC is the show So You Think You Can Dance where a group of dancers get handpicked from a variety of dancing styles and ask to work with a range of partners in a number of different styles. At the semi final stage the standard is amazing and still the judges criticise and ask for improvement. On ITV is Britain’s got Talent where a range of talent some good, some awful and voted for. A range of sycophantic judges tell them how good they are despite the quality. Dances could be out of time and singers not hit all the notes (Simon Cowell’s words) but yet they still get in. The whole thing seems to be judged not on how good they are but how much money they can make. A lot of acts get just 24 hours to come up with something the same but different. In my opinion there is no contest as to which is best but only one gets the headlines and seems to continue. Shame

Friday, 20 May 2011

Inside the Human Body

It is a fascinating program charting the different ways that the body deals with situations.
Some of the more fascinating people include the woman who had triplets each in their own amniotic sack and the reasons why this is so unlikely. A girl who at age 8 can speak 11 languages as her brain has been brought up that way. The girl with only half a brain who has had the other half removed due to illness and the fact that she has a "normal life".
There are also some other facts like the egg that formed you was made by your mum's body when she was inside her mothers body and the brain of a teenager gets a big kick out of risk taking.
The big controversy in the show was showing a gentleman dying and the point of death, It was done in a sensitive and compassionate manner and was incredibly moving to watch but it was so unremarkable visually you wonder if the furore of showing it was worth the hassle that has to some extent overshadowed a excellent program.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011


Still no sign of the money for Olympic tickets has disappeared. Rather than go for all really popular stuff we went for things that might not be so well attended with a couple of top things just in case. Fingers crossed.
The flame is coming to Norwich but it is the week when I am usually in Cambridge but it is coming to Cambridge the day after I am back in Norwich. Typical

Sunday, 8 May 2011

The easy way out

The problem with a lot of drama is it stops when it is about to get interesting. So in Tristan and Isolde after deflowering the queen and betraying the country the rogue dies. It would be far more interesting if the character had stayed alive and there had been complex and emotional stories of power and state to resolve.

In the latest Criminal Minds the hero spy turned FBI agent could have to deal with the problematic issues of lying to her colleagues and the aftermath of the revelations about her past but no. The character is lost and we lose a potential area of plot.

In future scriptwriters please take the more complex path.

Things I learnt today

1. Vicars don't like bending over.
2. It doesn't matter if you muck up the wedding vows a bit as long as the vicar thinks you are sincere
3. You are supposed to say I will but you don't have to
4. There are very few reasons that people can object to the wedding. Age isn't one of them as this should have been brought up when the banns were announced
5. If you are going to object make sure there is evidence
6. Brides tend to giggle and grooms tend to well up.
7. It is troth to rhyme with growth not troth to rhyme with froth
8. You don't have to be confirmed to have communion in the CofE
9. There is a boat that floats around the canals of the UK selling cheese.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Anatomy of fake quotation.

The quotation that I used in a previous post and attributed to Martin Luther King does belong to him but not all of it. A teacher posted her thoughts and then the quote. At some point the punctuation separating them got stripped out so they became indistinguishable and then it was tweeted to 1.7 million people. The speed at which information can be spread is now so fast that one accidental quote went round the world.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Reflections on the Royal wedding

Probably just about perfect especially the more natural reactions from the people involved. key moments included the bridesmaids with her hands over her ears (I would keep an eye on her development as both the teachers in the room suspect there maybe an issue), the natural look of the trees in the abbey, the elegance of the bride which suited both the person and the occasion, attractiveness of the bridesmaid, cheekiness unkempt look of the best man to the crowds and the crowd lined streets. I particularly liked the wow moment from Princess Catherine as she stepped on the balcony and Boris Johnson offer of a tandem as a wedding present.
These were some of the more icon moments

PS I don't own these photos and I am not making any money from them. Copyright is help by other people.

The death of Osama

I was struggling to decide what to think about the death. It is true he masterminded a heinous crime and continued to preach death and hatred and while I suspect he would have struggled to be taken alive I would have liked the people involved to try a little harder. As it is his death solves nothing, changes nothing and probably only pleases those that mistake justice for vengeance. I would also be surprised if it brought any kind of release or ending to the families involved. It does not bring their loved ones back and does not erase the pain or manner of their death. I think Martin Luther King (as so often) sums it up well when he said

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy...Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, 29 April 2011

The Royal Wedding

This is what Britain does well.

The pomp, the ceremony, the rules, the arguments over implementing the rules, the slightly barmy conditions on who is and isn't invited (as he is not the heir to the throne it is not a state occasion) and the questions over the weather.

It makes me proud to be British to see the enthusiasm with which it has been received and the crowds that have been collected with all the bunting.

It maybe sentimental and a bit soppy but they seem to genuinely be in love and well suited from what you can tell from the outside so lets celebrate the union and if you are not interested keep quiet and don't spoil their special day.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The blog is back

So after moving house and having no internet for a while the blog is back and this is the first blog from a phone so there maybe mobile blogging as well.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Celebrity Teaching Programmes

I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver. He has taken 15 unemployed people and created a restaurant giving people careers and he has tried to improve diets within schools in both the UK and the USA. These are both areas that he is familiar with and has an expertise in. I am less impressed with his latest venture where he gets experts in their field to teach a group of children who have been failed by mainstream education. There are a number of reasons why the idea does not really work.

1. The "teachers" have access to unrealistic budgets and facilities. To help making drama more real they get to use the Globe theatre stage and to teach history they use part of the Anglo-Saxon horde.

2. They appear to have one class to deal with rather than 5 classes per day, 5 days a week

3. By introducing the cameras they behaviour of all is fundamentally changed. Some kids will improve as they don't want to look like an idiot whilst others will see it as opportunity to play up to the cameras (if they are really noticeable this might lead some doors opening in other places)

4. After a while everyone leaves and the support and interest fades, a lot of these issues can't be addressed in a short-term piecemeal approach.

I suppose there is a bit of annoyance on my part. I have been to restaurants but won't lecture Jamie on how to run a kitchen/ restaurant and I guess I don't like the arrogance of people who think because I went to school once I can successfully teach a group of children. My hope is that at least one kid benefits from the experience.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Never Let Me Go

A film about a group of clones that are produced to provide body parts for regular humans but this and the moral, ethical and spiritual questions that are raised are used as a backdrop for an unlikely love story that seemed unlikely and never really convinced me they were more than friends. The film also did not quite seem to make enough of the original premise leaving far too many unanswered questions like "Why did they not run away" or have enough emotion to sustain a love story meaning the film fell between the two. I suspect that the book on which it was based may address some of these questions in more detail but the film did not have the time or energy to do so in sufficient quantity to make a good film.

Propeller Company do Comedy of Errors

The all male cast of the Propeller theatre company brought their version of The Comedy of Errors to the Theatre Royal in Norwich. A farce by William Shakespeare using two sets of twins separated at birth and the mishaps that occur when they meet up in a series of coincidences throughout the city bringing in a wife, goldsmith, a merchant and an abbess. Propeller have two main aims, the first is being faithful to the text and the second is having a fairly minimalist set with most people on stage in some role at some point (this year it was mainly as Mexican tourists!). All of the cast also play a musical instrument that is used to emphasis words or phrases in the script.

In review it was a bit uneven. Some bits of it were really funny and some of the modern additions to the script and set really worked however some of the lines were delivered so quickly that the became incomprehensible and despite the nature of the farce some of it was too manic and some of the themes that they wanted us to get did not really work. An example of this was a lunatic who is supposed to cure other lunatics portrayed as a US TV evangelist who ended up running through the audience naked with a sparkler in his bum!

At the end the cast came on stage to do a question and audience which was quite interesting and in the break came into the foyer at the interval to do a concert in aid of Save the Children so fair to the cast for being good sports.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

6 Nations

My prediction is


Top try scorer Chris Ashton
Most Swallow dives - Chris Ashton
Most tellings off - Chris Ashton

I love the way that Chris Ashton scores his tries and tweaks Martin Johnston's nose. It has also allowed MJ to show his more human side in the way he man manages the squad. Too often he is seem as dour but he was handed a squad going nowhere and has turned it around with some amazing back play and dummy runners everywhere.


Generally this has been going badly with a number of losses, some bad some worse than that until last week we met UEA2. UEA students are generally fit and bouncy but lack tactical knowledge and some inherent skills. There tactic was so predictable it was easy to intercept or work out who was going to shoot and out team could counter. When they did get a shot off it was in a basketball style which is different to the two handed shooting korfball is known for. This leads to a slight inaccuracy as usually you are shooting higher and without the help of a backboard.
I also scored twice from the half way line which were so deflating for the opposition they let us win.


Well the time came and went and no email of doom appeared in my pigeon hole. I am tempted to say luckily but the amount of hard work and effort that went it to maintaining the number of people choosing Geography and History in the school means luck was only a small part of it. Some colleagues have decided to take retirement or voluntary redundancy due to their age or home circumstances. The axe appears to have fallen most heavily on the support staff. BEST who do a lot of the parental liaison and individual work with poorly behaved children are being trimmed and when you consider the four of them have worked side by side as a team to find yourself being interviewed for your job against them must be horrendous. It is always easy to suggest that there are too many managers or support staff in the public sector (NHS managers always seem to be hit hardest in the media) but anything that means that front line staff can spend more time on being on the front line is good in my books. This years some of the easy options have been reduced - next year if funding is cut again then they will be cutting deeper and harder.

Jeremy Dylan

If you look at my post on Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins (BSATCOP) the director of the film has made a comment. How cool is that - even raising the issue if whether there is a cauldron at all!! I am considering adding "as read by film directors" to the title.

True Grit 2

There are some excellent performances from the kid and when did Matt Damon turn into an actor with such range. He can do grizzled western Texas Ranger and also doing a down on his luck medium in touch with the spirits. The landscape and pared back cinematography also made you feel that they were heading into a wild remote desolate untamed area. The large number of minor characters also is amusing including a beaten horse trader, a small child getting a kicking,an undertaker, a man wearing a bear head and a cowboy who only makes animal noises. The score is memorable and based on 19th century hymns and kind of sticks in your head.
To be improved my two wishes would be for more dialogue between the good and bad characters as they seem to take a long time to get to that point and then ends fairly quickly. I would also like to have seen Mattie's strong and unbreakable faith in right and wrong be more thoroughly tested by the situations that the "Wild West" put her in. After all at times she broke 1 or more of the Ten Commandments but did not seem unduly affected by it.

True Grit

A clever western film with an excellent dialogue between the characters with some real thought provoking ideas.

First Lawyer: Mr. Cogburn, did you find a bottle with a hundred and twenty-five dollars in it?
Cross-examining Lawyer: Objection your Honor, Leading
Judge Parker: Sustained. Rephrase the question.
First Lawyer: What happened then?
Rooster Cogburn: [slightly annoyed] I found a bottle with a hundred and twenty-five dollars in it.

Rooster Cogburn: [LaBoeuf has been talking about malum prohibitum and malum in se] It astonishes me that Mr. LaBoeuf has been shot, trampled, and nearly bitten his tongue off, and yet not only does he continue to talk but he spills the banks of English.

Col. Stonehill: I do not entertain hypotheticals. The world itself is vexing enough.

Mattie Ross: [cutting the rope on the tree] Why did they hang him so high?
Rooster Cogburn: I do not know. Possibly in the belief it'd make him more dead.

Mattie Ross: If I had killed Chaney, I would not be in this fix; but my gun misfired.
Lucky Ned Pepper: [Chuckling] They will do it. It will embarrass you every time. Most girls like to play pretties, but you like guns do you?
Mattie Ross: I do not care a thing about guns, if I did, I would have one that worked.

Mattie Ross: I guess I have a $10 horse. Tell Col. Stonehill I said 'Thank you'.
Stableboy: No ma'am. He said he don't never want to hear your name again!

Cross-examining Lawyer: So, you say that when Amos Wharton raised his axe, you backed away from him.
Rooster Cogburn: That's right.
Cross-examining Lawyer: In what direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: Backwards. I always go backwards when I back up.

Rooster Cogburn: We'll sleep here and follow in the morning.
Mattie Ross: But we promised to bury the poor soul inside!
Rooster Cogburn: Ground's too hard. Them men wanted a decent burial, they should have got themselves killed in summer.

Rooster Cogburn: That didn't pan out.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Reduced Shakespeare Company

Does the complete works of Shakespeare in 90 mins (apart from Coriolanus) because it sounds rude. With gags like that and go get them attitude the three interpid actors launched head long into their task. With balcony scenes on step ladders, drowning in cups of water and more than one sword fight the pace was quick with the comedy variable. Trying to combine all of the comedies into one sketch did not really work whislt combinig all of the histories into a rugby match did. Some sketches got the full speeches such as To be or Not be or Be Not or Be To (when they did Hamlet backwards) whilst others did not even get there most famous line. Overall it was a little uneven but with enough laugh out loud moments to have a great evening. Oh and puppets having sex (but more of that in later posts)

The other key moments include all of the female charcters vomiting into the audience when they die, apoligising to the dummy when the knocked it's head against the scenery and having A (and others) shouting how much they want to have babies!!!!!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Fiddler on the roof 2.

Last week we went to see Fiddler on the Roof by the local operatic society. My expectations weren't that high but it was absolutely fabulous. The writing was brilliant and I have listed some of them below. The scenes when Tevye talks to God in a kind of monologue on his situation are particularly witty. The most surprising thing, however, was the quality of the acting which was superb. John McInnes was especially brilliant as Tevye with the accent, mannerisms and world weary air being the highlight of the show.

We were also sat right at the front so we were slightly below the stage which gave the whole thing a slightly strange feeling especially when the dry ice drifted across the stage and into the front row. We could also see the conductor clearly and see his interaction with the orchestra and crowd and we could also see what the orchestra were doing when they weren't playing. In one instance the trumpet player had one note to play in a song and payed whilst holding her phone, everyone else had a book or other hobby to take part in.

Great lines from Fiddler on the Roof

Perchik: Money is the world's curse.
Tevye: May the Lord smite me with it. And may I never recover

[to God]
Tevye: I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?

Lazar Wolf: How is your brother-in-law? In America?
Tevye: Oh, he's doing very well.
Lazar Wolf: Oh, he wrote you?
Tevye: No, not lately.
Lazar Wolf: Then how do you know?
Tevye: If he was doing badly, he would write.

Motel: [on being evicted] Rabbi, we've been waiting all our lives for the Messiah. Wouldn't now be a good time for Him to come?
Rabbi: We'll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let's start packing.

Perchik: There's a question... A certain question I want to discuss with you.
Hodel: Yes?
Perchik: It's a political question.
Hodel: What is it?
Perchik: The question of... marriage.
Hodel: Is this a political question?
Perchik: Well, yes. Yes, everything's political. Like everything else, the relationship between a man and a woman has a socioeconomic base. Marriage must be founded on mutual beliefs. A common attitude and philosophy towards society...
Hodel: - And affection?
Perchik: Well, yes, of course. That is also necessary. Such a relationship can have positive social values. When two people face the world with unity and solidarity...
Hodel: And affection?
Perchik: Yes, that is an important element! At any rate, I... I personally am in favour of such a socioeconomic relationship.
Hodel: I think... you are asking me to marry you.
Perchik: Well... in a theoretical sense... yes. I am.
Hodel: I was hoping you were.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguinss

Following a throwaway line on the best hour of wittertainment you get per week it was suggested that in the light of the Harry Potter movies anyone who made a film starring x and the x could make money and people would even go and see a film called Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins. At which point an Australian film maker created such a film and has had the permiere recently. The only question it fails to answer is how many penguins you can fit into a cauldron. See more here.

Rules for visiting the cinema

Should be viewed at this location.


A film about death and whether there is a place people go when they die.


The acting especially the little kid and Matt Damon. Despite being lampooned in Teen America for a lack of range he produced a well judged performance especially when he is pleading not to give a reading to Cookery Girl.

The sets - London, Paris and San Francisco all used well show-casing the locations.

Effects - a good tsunami effect

The actress Cecile de France (Cecile of France) actually coming from Belgium.

Clint Eastwood's direction which felt unfussy and allows the characters to act naturally

Not being scared to use sub-titles (treating the audience with some respect)

The final scene


The plot lost the way a bit in the middle and could have used some cropping to maintain the interest

Product placement especially an airline, make of phone and a search engine

The teenagers who were generally teen-agish throughout the film and broke the Kermode-Mayo film code especially running down the aisle to get to the toilet quicker.

RIP DI Barnaby

Despite the strange plots, the incredible death toll, the crazy driving and having a daughter called Cully Midsomer Murders never failed to provide an entertaining couple of hours and most of that is the calming reassuring presence of John Nettles, an actor I have been acquainted with since mum used to swoon over during Bergerac. His solid, dependable, unflappable character with a heavily sacrastic overtone was a joy to watch amongst the strange plot lines. The other characteristic was the strange village names that were on display Elverton-cum-Latterley, Midsomer Magna, Morton Shallows and Burwood Mantle amongst my favourites.

It is no wonder that they were good as early episodes were written by Anthony Horowitz who is responsible for screen-writing a lot of the early Poirot series and Foyle's War as well as a large number of novels.

The final questions include how will he go, with a heart attack like Morse, retired like Frost or buried like Taggart and whether the seires can continue without the major star.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011


A story of a woman training for two separate ballet roles one pure and good, the other dark and sinister or a woman claiming her life from her domineering mother and maturing rather later than others or a woman;s breakdown into mental illness or a horror movie. I suggest you watch the film to decide.

The use of suggestive imagery to try and represent multiple themes is prevalent throughout the film from the murdering of her alternate/ understudy as a sign that she had put aside the worries of competition to the attacking of her mother depicting the choice to have a full and longer career. The main idea is that the nothing is at seems and everything has a double or treble meaning.

At the end of the film A and I had a discussion about whether or not a film such as this can be entertaining. I prefer a film to be more straightforward and if there is any imagery in the film it is designed to trick the viewer rather than to hide more subtle messages. If there is to be escapism then it is to far away lands and improbable tails rather than the inside of a tortured soul. On the other hand A likes a film that can be analysed in seventeen different ways and happily reads books dealing with the work of social workers.

In conclusion the acting was good and what Natalie Portman but herself through, or at least appeared to, was immense. The plot was winding and twisty and posed a number of theoretical issues to debate and consider but was it entertaining? Reasonably but maybe the subject of ballet just made it lack a little something.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Surveyors - Angry 1

My buyer has decided to lower the offer based on the survey she undertook and I feel it is negligent in truly assessing the value of the house as is so full of caveats its sole aim seems to be to cover his own back. For instance - the house may suffer from damp but there is no obvious source. (I couldn't find any damp but just in case I will mention it) It is also full of some non-sequiters such as the house was visited on a fine day...the guttering is rusted and leaks. It doesn't leak, it is rusty but it will do the job. The house does not have a mini circuit breaker - this is not a building regualtion but will make the house safer.
Ultimately this is not a new house but how politik is it to argue over £3000 in a market like this. After all taking it off the market may not result in a higher price and there is no guarentee that a different surveyor would not find more wrong. It may be useful to take this but demand some goodwill in return. After all it would be nice to live here until the new house is ready.


If a woman goes to law school to free her brother from prison for a crime he did not commit then the levels of suspense in the film are not going to be high.
Is she going to pass the course or might she fail?
Is she going to find the box of evidence that might be destroyed?
Is the evidence going to be enough to free her brother even when they consider he might be an associate?
Are the witnesses going to be proved to be liars?
Despite this it was strangely enjoyable with some nice looking visuals in Massachusetts and competent acting especially from Minnie Driver and Hilary Swank (who I convinced myself was Kirsten Johnson). The character of Kenny Waters had a few laughs and altogether it was a solid film. The only point of suspense was who actually committed the murder but as it was based in a true story and the case is still open they could not answer that.
In real life Kenny was killed six months after release when he fell from a 15 foot wall he was walking along the top of.

The King's Speech

This is a must see film. The characterisation is excellent and you firmly believe in the people and the change that they undergo. The humour that is subtly woven through out the film was delightful and a reminder that a film does not have to hit you over the head to make you laugh out loud. The acting is also amazing. Colin Firth plays a stammerer to perfection and it does not seem put on or comedic in the way Ronny Barker's stammer did in Open All Hours. The rest of the cast were also very good and when you have the talent of Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffery Rush, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon and Dererk Jacobi on hand then directing must be easy.
The one area that I was worried about was the accuracy of the film and despite some issues, such as the role of Winston Churchill, theses did not affect my viewing of the film in the same way that it did in a film such as Robin Hood.
The film also glosses over some historical facts such as the Royal families support for appeasement but this seems to have been a common view at the time. It also showed how Britain and the monarchy have changed in the last 50 years and the way that family dynamics and issues such as divorce have created new issues for families to deal with and none more in the public eye than the House of Windsor.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Letter to Chloe Smith MP for North Norwich

Dear Miss Smith

Today we found out that 6 full time members of staff are going to be lost from the best performing secondary school in your constituency.

This is due to the changes in funding that your party have put forward and the mishandling of education policy by Michael Gove.

It seems inconceivable that you could continue to support the funding of unproven “free schools” such as the two proposed for Central Norwich, the continuation of increased funding for failing academies and the setting up of a blinkered technical university college all at the expense of the school that has had its best ever year.

If you care that the students get the best education possible then you need to ensure that cuts do not get made in real terms to school budgets as these reduce the potential number of courses that are run, stretching the brightest, as well as support for the weakest being who will be taught in larger classes.

I realise that as a junior MP you have little say on a national scale but on a local level you could make a real difference. Some of the funding that used to be given to schools directly, such as school specialism money, is now being given to a central “pot” and then redistributed. It is imperative that all schools retains all of that previous funding level and there is not an administration charge made or the money redistributed generally. Do not let successful schools be sacrificed on the altar of political ideology but fight for proper levels of funding for all schools.
Your sincerely

Guy Mortimer

Monday, 3 January 2011

Horsey Gap

Horsey (pronounced Hawsey not Horse-y) is a very small village on the North Norfolk Coast where there is a small gap through the sand dunes. It would be particularly unremarkable if not for the seals that have decided that the beach is a perfect place to give birth to their pups. With a lot of other people we decided to go and see the seals today. After having a drink at the strangest coffee shop in Norfolk (and that is saying stuff) walked out to the dunes and found a pretty neat set up. The beach is roped off but you can walk along the dunes and see all of the pups. There is a seal warden there to supervise, although this did not stop people stepping over the barrier to get a closer look! The seals arrange themselves all the way along the beach so it is easy to see them. We also saw a barn owl on the way home to add to the experience.

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Pete was one of those actors who always elevated the drama that he was starring in. Despite being very recognisable with a very craggy face he never played the same type of role twice and never in the same way. After a while you stopped noticing it was him and you got lost in the character that he was portraying. Despite being in two of my favourite films in Inception and Usual Suspects it was as Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill in two Sharpe episodes that I will remember him - after all he killed Teresa, Richard Sharpe's wife.

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