Head on a Stick?

Gosh, I’m so conflicted this morning – there’s just so much I want to talk about.  First off, I want to pay tribute to a local man, Dr Muhammad Taufiq Al Sattar.  He’s the man who returned from Dublin to Leicester a couple of weeks ago to find his whole family dead in a fire.  For that to happen by accident is bad enough; but it was almost certainly murder.  Worse still, it’s thought to have been a revenge attack.  And yet more appallingly, it was a case of mistaken identity, so they say.  I find it utterly chilling and horrifying that someone could so casually set a fire and kill an entire family without even checking that they had the right house.  Voldemort himself could not have done worse.

And yet – when interviewed on Today this morning, Dr Al Sattar was incredible.  Full of compassionate remembrance of his family; full of admiration for his wife and love for his children; full of sadness and regret that he couldn’t yet hold a funeral – he spoke for fifteen minutes, and yet in spite of his pain not one word escaped him of bitterness or anger or recrimination.  He spoke about the perpetrator not at all – and I was so full of admiration for him that I just had to share it with you.


That’s the programme site, though the interview won’t be up till later.  It was broadcast about 8.10.

So before I heard that I was going to tell you about a man with his head on a stick.  But first I shall do what I should have done yesterday and talk about what I saw on i-player this week.  There were four really noteworthy things:

1.  Heavenly Creatures.  I’ve seen this film before, the first big thing Kate Winslet ever did.  It’s the true story of a couple of girls in New Zealand who have a vivid life of the imagination, develop an obsessively close and lesbian relationship and end up killing the mother of one of them.  It’s a compelling and chilling film and worth watching for the New Zealand scenery alone:


2.  Rev.  Rev was on Netflix, though it is sometimes on i-player; it’s an utterly brilliant series and much truer to life than The Vicar of Dibley: I found out the other night at the PCC social that the character is actually an amalgam of two real vicars who work in London:


3.  I can’t find this now, but there was a fascinating programme about the Sagas which exploded my ideas about these stories: chiefly that a) they were all about men and that b) women were treated horribly in all of them.  The Icelandic language is fascinating; and apparently one in ten Icelanders is a published author.

Maybe I should go there!

4.  Citizen Kane

Well!  What can I say about this that hasn’t been said already?  Nothing, I suspect, but I did succeed in the end in getting Daniel to watch some of it, and he pronounced what he saw ‘awesome.’  What struck me on this viewing was not only the dramatic use of light and shade to underpin the moral nature of the tale; but the inhuman scale of the architecture.  Apart from the newspaper office, nothing is on a human scale; the people are dwarfed by the buildings, especially the large mansion Kane builds to contain his wife, which becomes an echoing mausoleum full of statues.  So on the off-chance that you haven’t seen this – or haven’t watched it recently, do so immediately:


And finally, the man with his head on a stick.  Well, in days of yore when I was a youth, there used to be a column in the newspapers called ‘Lonely Hearts’ which mostly consisted of people looking for potential partners.  In those days, there being no email, people would either write or else phone a number and dictate their ads to a telephonist.  Typical ads would read something like this:

‘Man, ’40’s, outgoing, fun-loving, into boats and swimming, seeks woman similar age for fun and possible relationship.’

Or else: ‘woman, 30’s, divorced no children, seeks warm, caring man for walks in the park and watching films.’

Apparently, though, some telephonists were less literate than others; for when a man phoned through with this wording:

‘Man, 30’s, outgoing, hedonistic….’

this is what he got:

‘Man, 30’s, outgoing, head on a stick…’

I laughed for days at that one.

Kirk out


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