But is it Unifiable?

I’m a little dispirited that my favoured candidate is now out of the race. Emily Thornberry seemed to me the standout candidate and I can’t understand why she didn’t get more support, but there it is and there’s no point dwelling on it. So, of the three remaining contenders, who will be the best leader? Who will be able to convince the electorate? Who will unite the party? Is it even unifiable? Generally speaking, getting folk on the left to go in the same direction is like herding cats, because we don’t fall into line. We are naturally non-conformist – that goes with the territory, just as toeing the line goes with the territory of Toryism – and we don’t like being told what to do. By and large, I respect that; I like to make up my own mind and speak it, to put my cross where my mouth is (if you see what I mean.) But unless we can come together – in public at least – we can’t win elections.

So what’s a girl do to? In choosing a leader it’s always a toss-up between the policies you want and those which will convince the electorate: go too far in one direction and you’re just a protest movement with no power; too far in the other direction and you’re in a popularity contest with no agenda for change. It’s a problem. So it’s important to get this right – if we know what ‘right’ is…

In other news, I’ve just found out that Last Tango in Halifax is back for another series! Squee! And I’ve started a new Sherlock Holmes fanfiction story. Happy Monday.

Kirk out

Last Tango in Happy Halifax

It has come to my attention that although I’ve mentioned this series in dispatches I haven’t yet given it a full review, possibly because I hadn’t watched it all in one go before – by which I don’t literally mean all in one sitting but spread over a period of weeks. (What do we want? Compelling and well-written drama! When do we want it? Spread out over a number of weeks!)

So. Both Happy Valley and Last Tango in Halifax are written by Sally Wainwright and star (among others) Sarah Lancashire. Both feature a complex mash-up of current and ex- relationships, with in the case of HV a backdrop of crime as the main character is a police Sergeant. In LTH relationships are to the fore as two very different families smash together after two of their grandparents decide to get married. Both series feature the delights of local language and dialect in an entirely authentic, non-patronising way: imagine Alan Bennett writing Last of the Summer Wine and you’ll have a flavour.

Last Tango stars Derek Jacobi, pitch-perfect (as you’d expect) as Alan, who meets the love of his life again after sixty years of them both being married to other people. Both are now widowed and Celia (Anne Reid) is more than ready to accept his proposal after decades of unhappiness with the serially unfaithful Kenneth. So far so good, but the two families unwittingly heading for kinship could not be more different: the daughter of one is a struggling sheep farmer whilst her soon-to-be half-sister is the Headmistress of an expensive private school. There are more plots than you’d believe possible, with infuriating ex-partners (and their partners), children and friends of children, lesbian relationships, babies, deaths and a ghost that won’t quit; all of which is mashed up, twirled around and spun into a series of interconnecting stories that I simply could not stop watching even though I’d seen it all before.

Having seen all four series it was time to turn once again to Happy Valley. Oh, the joy of sets! (Box-sets, that is.) I’ll post more about this series when I’ve finished it.

Meanwhile it is, as many of you will have spotted, Valentine’s Day today so let’s spare a thought for anyone who’s alone, whether by choice or accident, whether recently separated, divorced or bereaved. It doesn’t mean we have to get all gloomy about it, just remember that not everyone is with someone.

Kirk out

A Cinema Moth

image removed on request

When the kids were little we used to see a lot of these in the garden. They’re beautiful as moths but the caterpillars are not so nice; they live on ragwort and can strip a plant to a ragged stalk in a matter of hours. They’re a daytime insect and so are really butterflies rather than moths, but to me they look like a butterfly in evening dress so I dubbed them cinema moths. It amused us to think of them as figures in red gowns and black evening cloaks clustered around the entrance to the cinema.

Alas, I too used to be a species of cinema moth, especially when I lived in Spain where the flicks are cheap and plentiful. I’d sometimes go two or three times a week (though if you were seeing an English language film you’ve have to be careful to choose a VO – a subtitled version – rather than the dubbed films which were impossible to follow.) As I’ve mentioned before I once saw Almodovar in one of these cinemas.

Even before that, and before cinemas here got horribly expensive, I’d go once or twice a week. The cinema was basically your only chance to see a film until it (maybe) came on the telly years later. If you missed it you’d have to wait and see if it ‘came round’ again as popular films sometimes did, otherwise you’d had your chance.

But nowadays I’m a bit of a sad sack when it comes to cinema-going. True, I’ve seen ‘Sorry We Missed You’ and a couple of others recently but that’s about it. I really wanted to go and see 1917 last night but things got in the way and when OH said ‘we could go another day,’ I said sadly, ‘Yes. But things always get in the way.’ Which they do. Anyway, the plan is for me to go alone to the 5.15 perf so that I make sure it actually happens. I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile in a less exciting version of our evening we watched Dr Who (so-so, not one of the best episodes) and I continued with my box set of the stonking ‘Last Tango in Halifax.’

Kirk out

Good Ovoning

I bogin my blog post to you this ovoning on tho promiso that ovory fifth lottor of the alphabot has boon roplacod by tho lottor ‘o’. It was Tho Two Ronnios who startod this, way back in 19… and I thought it was timo somoono took it up again. It’s quito spoctacularly hard not to typo the fifth lottor of the alphabot as it is the most commonly used lottor in the Onglish Languago. I can’t find the original skotch so horo is a famous ‘Mastormind‘ skotch instoad.

I have now thankfully rediscovered the letter ‘e’ and can continue as normal. I generally watch ‘Mastermind’ along with ‘University Challenge,’ the latter being in my opinion the only quiz show on TV with any intellectual rigour. There’s a real pleasure in being able to answer a handful of questions on UC; however I’m not good against the clock so only usually manage half a dozen in the general knowledge round of ‘Mastermind.’ But the so-called ‘celebrity’ version leaves a great deal to be desired: not only are the ‘celebrities’ mostly complete unknowns to me, they display a quite startling level of ignorance. When asked for the name of the 17-year-old Swedish girl who is a prominent campaigner on climate change, the actor who plays Robyn in ‘Casualty’ (I recognised her at least) could only take a stab at ‘Sharon’? Not that she actually thought it was Sharon, just that this was the first name to come to her.It’s here, about 25 mins in.

Whilst the Xmas UC is now over (much more relaxed and fun than the usual version and featuring some people who are actually famous for something) the New Year TV hasn’t really kicked in yet, apart from ‘Dr Who’. I like Jodie Whittaker a lot and this series looks to be much better than the last. But there’s a good lineup for late winter and spring; some more of Killing Eve, yet another series of ‘Line of Duty’ (which I never quite got into) and best of all, more of the deeply nourishing ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ which I absolutely love. And while I’m waiting for all this I’m enjoying once again a trawl through ‘Episodes‘ on Netflix.

So that’s all good.Once again, I wish you a happy new year.

Kirk out

PS – just to show how hard it is, I went through this three times taking out rogue letter ‘e’s and there’s still one left. Can you spot it?

And a Very Happy Nineteen to the Dozen

Yes, that’s the date today: 19/12.  One day till the shortest day and one week exactly till Christmas!!

And am I ready?


This week on the iPlayer I have once again watched ‘Film 2013’ and concluded that it ain’t what they say, it’s the way that they say it.  Come back, Barry Norman! I hear myself crying (and why not?)  The whole programme has been sofa-ed: it’s been smartarsed; it’s been kohled and mascara-ed and chatted and packaged in a ‘don’t-let-the-viewer-switch-channels’ panic.  Claudia Winkelman comes across like a ’60’s diva; all mascara and kohl and very little self-confidence, while her guests rattle off smartarse comments at nineteen to the dozen (see how I worked that in there?)  Still, it does all make some kind of sense and if you can disentangle what they’re saying from the way they’re saying it, it is worth listening to.  Viz. this week’s review of the Hobbit, summed up in the words ‘this isn’t a Tolkein trilogy, it’s a Peter Jackson trilogy.’  That one has disappeared from the iplayer, alas, and I have yet to catch up with this week’s which reviews the latest (yawn) ‘Anchorman’ and more interestingly a remake of ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’.


‘Mastermind’ continues to be compelling, even hosting a special ‘Dr Who’ edition where the chair was filled, predictably, by a succession of geeks; three men and one woman.  Endearingly they focussed on the old Dr Who’s; and although the woman didn’t do brilliantly in the first round, she won in the end as the others were terrible at general knowledge!


‘Last Tango in Halifax’ continues to fascinate, though I haven’t quite finished this episode:


And finally, thanks to both Jane and Peter for cheering me up yesterday.

Kirk out

PS  Seen anything you like on iplayer?  Let me know

Eyes Up For a Full House

And bingo!  I think we are sorted, house-wise – but I’ll leave a full description until things are properly confirmed, just in case…

Meanwhile, life on the iplayer this week has been mixed: nothing has really grabbed my attention although some programmes have been mildly enjoyable.  I’m continuing to watch ‘Last Tango in Halifax’ with a mixture of horror and fascination: it’s sort of half-way between drama and soap opera and the characters bumble from one disaster to another as their past catches up with their present and ruins their future: still, there’s enough in the way of good acting (Derek Jacobi!) and interesting story-lines to keep me watching.


There was an interesting programme about Machiavelli the other night, too, which tried to persuade us that he was not – well, as Machiavellian – as he’s painted.  It didn’t really convince me at all; I still find most of his ideas horrifying, but what was interesting was how many politicians and businessmen/women seemed to endorse them.  So I think that says a lot about the zeitgeist.

That one seems to have disappeared now, but on the radio I especially enjoyed ‘That Mitchell and Webb Sound.’  I sometimes have mixed feelings about Mitchell and Webb (the other ‘M&W’) as much of their comedy revolves around characters who continually score points off each other, and that is a trope which I find a bit wearing.  But one particular sketch was utterly brilliant; it featured a doctor dictating a letter about an operation and was full of grammatical and lexical puns:


Have a listen – it’s about 17 1/2 minutes in.  Utter brilliance.

Last night I didn’t get to watch or listen to anything at all, because after an early dinner I whisked myself straight to Duffy’s Bar for a Left Unity meeting.  Due to a football match in the bar (not literally, just on the screen) the meeting finished early, so I was able to catch most of the licensing service for Helen – erm, thingy – who is now a Pioneer Priest for the Homeless in West Leicester.  This is a brilliant role and the service was an odd mixture of Anglican formality and informal eccentricity: Helen had us all taking our shoes off for the prayers in order to experience vulnerability.  Loads of people were there including Mike (nice to see you Mike) and quite a few Martyrs folk as well.

And that was yesterday.  More news about the house tomorrow.

Kirk out

Hell and Hull AND Halifax!

Well!  Today is one of those days when a post just flings itself together; jumps out of bed, throws on a few clothes and ends up looking like a cat-walk queen – all without any effort on my part.  And today’s random ingredients that have flung themselves together are hell and Hull and Halifax.

First of all, hell.  Hell is represented on iplayer this week by a Channel 4 programme about OCD.  I watched this with our son, who has tendencies towards OCD, and found it both interesting and unusually (for reality TV) compassionate.  The idea was to pair people with obsessive cleaning rituals (some taking up to 16 hours a day and using several bottles of bleach – ugh!) with people like Mark’s Grandma, a woman who never tidied or threw anything away, EVER.*  The result was predictably explosive, but oddly compelling – and what was interesting about it was that whilst the untidy people grew and changed as a result, the tidy people didn’t: they’d parachuted in and done their stuff – cleaned and tidied and disinfected and de-moulded the place – but once they got home again they were left with their own neuroses intact.  So I felt they needed a show where the tidy people had their houses professionally untidied by the slobs.  But that didn’t seem to have happened.  Maybe it’s planned for a future series.


So much for hell.  Hull is of course represented by having won the award Leicester was pitching for, ie 2017 City of Culture.  The consensus seems to be (on Facebook at least) a brief shrug of the shoulders, a ‘good for them, they probably need it’ and a ‘we’ve got lots of culture anyway.’  Which we have – whereas all Hull has is Phillip Larkin, a great poet but the North’s miserablist answer to George Orwell.


So that’s that… and so to Halifax, where I came across an engaging drama on BBC which I hadn’t seen before.  This is the first episode of series 2 of ‘Last Tango in Halifax’.  Starring Derek Jacobi as a cheeky ageing Northerner marrying a childhood sweetheart, it’s an engaging watch and not horribly cynical and dystopian as seems de rigueur these days.

God, that makes me sound old!


So there we are – Hell and Hull and Halifax, all in one post!  Hope you enjoyed the trip.  Going to see Chris Conway tonight at the Criterion – looking forward to that.


Kirk out

*Mark has had a distressing tendency to take after her