I suspect I may have blogged about this before (what do I know?) but I don’t think there’s anything to compare with 1917 for conveying the reality of the First World War. It’s said to have been filmed in one shot (actually it’s four or five shots cut together and I was treated to OH and son playing ‘spot the cut’ throughout.) But that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.
Like most films it’s better seen at the cinema, which we did when it came out, but viewing at home on a massive 4G TV comes a close second (don’t blame me, it’s the son’s TV. ) It’s hard to describe the hypnotic quality of this film. Most war films are noisy, lots of booming guns and shouting, but much of this is eerily silent. Two soldiers are sent on a mission to stop a planned attack scheduled for dawn the next day as new intel shows they’ll be walking into an ambush. Cynically they send a man whose brother is in the planned attack and he chooses a friend to go with him without knowing what he’s letting his friend in for.
Much of the action takes place in no-man’s-land as they negotiate mud, landslides, tank traps and corpses. In one of the most dramatic scenes they watch a dog fight in the air, the German plane falls and they run towards it only to see it rise from behind a dip and hurtle towards them. They scramble to safety but the plane is burning so they run to free the pilot who rewards them by shooting the first soldier. How his friend gets through, being shot at as he runs through a surreal bombed village, takes shelter with a woman and baby and then half-swims, half-drowns in the river, how he reaches the front line, how many obstacles remain before he can find the Captain and deliver the message, how he finally manages to stop the attack (given no thanks for his pains except by one kind officer) forms the rest of this utterly hypnotic story. Some images will stay with me forever.
OH and I spent the last couple of nights watching Trick, a drama about the so-called Climategate scandal of 2009. My memories of the event are somewhat hazy (let’s face it, my memories of just about everything are somewhat hazy) but I have to say, after watching it we were still none the wiser. It starred Jason Watkins, who rises in my esteem every time I see him, as Phil Jones, a highly dedicated and respected climate scientist whose emails were hacked, then presented out of context to a cohort of press and climate change deniers who used them to discredit his work.
It all centred on the word ‘trick’. In a scientific context this means a particular way of looking at data in order to get a more reliable view. But taken out of context and inserted into a tabloid it seemed like evidence of fraud. So far, so understandable. But while the story was moving it didn’t really tell us much about what actually happened, focusing instead on the pain and shame which nearly drove a good man to suicide. He was cleared in the end but reckoned the whole episode had put back the cause of climate change by ten years – ten years we could ill afford to lose.
It’s worth watching but probably a good idea to view the accompanying documentary first.
If that line doesn’t resonate with you then you’ve never seen or read Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterton. This story of a young girl adopted by benign but fanatical Christians and coming out as gay was a seminal work when it came out. It’s also very funny. One of our favourite lines is the mother saying, when asked why they don’t have an airing cupboard, ‘You don’t need an airing cupboard when you’ve got Jesus.’
This is going to make me sound desperately sad but it’s been my dream ever since we moved here to have a proper clothes airer in the utility room. I mean one that raises and lowers, instead of having a gaggle of clothes horses standing about the place that would be better stabled elsewhere or, let’s be honest, just bunging everything in the tumble dryer. I found one online, a lot cheaper than I expected, and yesterday we put it up. Well, Daniel put it up and I held the ladder. Deep joy. It now holds a load of washing which is gently drying without using extra electricity.
You know that scene at the end of The Italian Job? Well of course you do, everyone does. The lorry is balanced on the edge of a cliff and there’s no way of getting the gold off without unbalancing it and sending them all to their deaths. Well that seems like my life at the moment. I had, as you will know if you’ve been paying attention, a nasty rash right in the middle of my face. It was sore and itchy and it made me look as if I’d been mugged. Well, I solved that problem, or so I thought; I got a cream from the doctor and after 3 or 4 weeks it was almost clear. So I stopped using it. In the meantime my ears got blocked and I was having to lip read to understand what anyone was saying. Drops did not cut it, and the GP won’t syringe. So we bought a syringing kit online and used it. Success! Well, sort of: one ear got unblocked and the other improved. But in the meantime the rash has flared up again.
Maybe I should have just blown the bloody doors off…
There’s a Christmas episode of The Good Life in which Margot ends up utterly distraught. The problem? Fortnum and Mason’s have not ‘delivered’ Christmas. In those days when only milk and post were delivered, this was a comic statement in itself (no-one had yet dreamed of talking about ‘delivering’ policies or programmes.) The problem was, Fortnum’s had already delivered the lorry-load of assorted goodies but she’d sent it all back. Why? Because the tree was nine inches shorter than advertised. When they refused to deliver on Christmas day, Margot and Jerry were forced to cancel their elegant party plans and pop next door for a home reared turkey, hats made of newspaper and crackers where you had to shout Bang! yourself. It was the best Christmas ever.
So when people start panicking about Christmas not being delivered I can’t help wondering: do we really need all the chocolates, advent calendars, extra mince pies, chip and dips and the million other things indispensable to a modern Christmas? So long as we have the basics we’ll be all right, won’t we?
At the risk of sounding like an old fart, when I was a kid we made paper chains by the yard, brought out the same tree decorations year after year and played parlour games in the evening. And only the cards were delivered.
I’m playing a game of slow compost chess at the moment. Every year or so the bins need emptying from the bottom where the bread crusts, tea leaves, paper scraps, peelings and general leftovers have hopefully coalesced into a sort of nourishing brown sludge. Some of this can be put into bags and left but some needs to go into another bin – and I was all out of bins. It was time for the dalek to come back into play.
I’d abandoned it initially because the badgers kept breaking in but I’m hoping they won’t be interested in the well-rotted stuff as they seem to prefer their compost fresh. Last night passed without incident, so we’ll see.
Compost corner! Anyone remember Tiswas?