6, 63 and 80

Another Happy Birthday to all three of us! That’s me – CultureWitch – who is six today. Apologies if you feel I’ve been sleeping on the job this year. I haven’t. I’ve just had a few other things to do. (What I mean is, less blogging, but not a lot of sleeping.)

Mark Harmon is 63. Some people retire then, but I’m thinking he might continue the Gibbsing for a while longer. We don’t know (or do we?) when Gibbs’s birthday is, except it happened in episode eight season three. Here he is, celebrating all alone.

Gibbs - birthday

This year we are forcing the Grandmother to observe her 80th. There will be cake and a few scones. No candle, but lashings of tea and whipped cream. And let’s hope we can abstain from singing.

(Photo © CBS)

Not so noir

Saltkråkan with corpses, is how we saw Maria Lang’s Crimes of Passion series start. Death of a Loved One was quite enjoyable, with – for me – surprisingly few cringey moments. I will never forgive them for ruining ‘my’ Christer Wijk, however. Just imagine putting Wickham in Poirot as Hastings, say. I can’t stand Ola Rapace, although he did a good job (if one wanted Christer Wijk to be that kind of a man) of looking handsome and cool.

Crimes of Passion, Death of a Loved One

Not dark enough, was the online verdict. But it is high time people realise Sweden can be both sweet and retro. Too. They love Midsomer Murders, for god’s sake. This was a normal, and period, Swedish set-up, albeit with murderers everywhere. And as the Swedish title suggests; everyone is lying. Not just the murderer.

I loved the books in my early teens, along with Agatha Christie. That’s what you need to expect, not The Killing on any Bridge whatsoever. Not even moody Wallander. Just lovely retro settings with gruesome murders.

Nothing wrong with that. Sit back and enjoy the clothes and the 1950s houses, and forget about the level of nicotine and alcohol. I’m surprised the detective was sober enough to deduce much at all. But then, it was really his unintended sidekick Puck who proved she had brains.

Two tearooms

‘Can’t you just see how it would be good to murder someone here?’ said Daughter as we strolled through Ceres (which is in Fife and not a heavenly body). I could. What she meant was that Ceres was so pretty that it might be a Scottish Midsomer. We even arrived just in time for the church fête, which was not at the church, but at the manse, I think. It looked very nice, and I hope it ended free from corpses.

We stopped to have lunch at a café which Daughter and the Resident IT Consultant had tried once before, and we had the all day breakfast, which was nice. And the café was nice. The people who ran it were pleasant and helpful.

I mention this because it was in sharp contrast to a new (at least to me) tearoom Daughter and I ended up in earlier in the week. Closer to home, it is no candidate for Midsomer, although it did appear to have the corpse. As I went up to the counter to pay, I encountered the feet and lower legs of the lady who had served us. Horizontal, they were. But since they moved, I decided she might still be alive.

After some considerable wait she realised she had to stop searching for a matching cup and saucer in what must have been an exceptionally low cupboard, and actually serve her customers. I doubt I’ll be back. The place was deserted but she still saw fit to tell us where to sit, which was at one of the two small tables for two, in the middle of the room, when there were many larger and more comfortable looking tables. If it had been busy I wouldn’t have minded so much.

I reckon there was a reason this place was empty when the others we looked in on were packed.

Goodbye to two greats

To begin with I only knew Robin Williams as the funny man in Sesame Street. I think he counted shoes, or some such thing. When I encountered him in a film later, I naively thought he’d made the jump to ‘bigger’ things. When Mork & Mindy was on television, we didn’t have one. So I never watched.

Thus I never knew him all that well. OK, I’ve seen Good Morning Vietnam, and Mrs Doubtfire and Good Will Hunting. He was good, but I don’t believe I found him enjoyable. At least not after Sesame Street. Actually, I did catch some Mork & Mindy episodes more recently, and they were fun.

Robin’s death came too soon and for the wrong reasons. Let’s hope depression will be seen in a new light from now on.

Lauren Bacall, on the other hand, lived a long life. As the Resident IT Consultant said, he was surprised to hear she was still alive. I knew that, but somehow I mainly thought of her as the young actress in To Have and Have Not, and as Mrs Humphrey Bogart. I was a great fan of hers and Humphrey’s back then. These days you don’t watch the old films anywhere near as much as they deserve.

Younger people – like Daughter – are most likely to have seen Lauren in Murder on the Orient Express.

I hope Lauren was happier than Robin was. It’s astounding to consider that she was Humphrey Bogart’s widow for virtually all of my life. Back then she was an adult and as such ‘old’ to me. It’s more recently that I’ve thought about her age and the age gap.

But enough about unimportant details. Thanks for all those marvellous films with Humphrey. I loved you both.

Past four o’clock

I have long been an admirer of the cool disregard Swedes have for business. I think it’s fine not to stoop too low, killing yourself by working hard all the time.

We went to Sigtuna today. It’s July, the big holiday month. The weather was (far too) warm and sunny. Sigtuna* is a pretty little town, and it was heaving with tourists.

At a quarter to four we decided to pop into one of the cute cafés for coffee and cake, even though it was a little early. We were thirsty and needed to sit down. Cake was lovely. Tea and coffee were good. Then they switched the lights off. And then they discovered we were still in there.

We left. It was obvious they close at four, although why they couldn’t have mentioned that when we ordered, I don’t know. As we exited into the garden, which was full of customers enjoying their afternoon, a member of staff went round chasing everyone out. Someone else held the garden gate open to make sure we all left.

Here you can see the large group of Indian tourists milling about, wondering what to do now.

Café in Sigtuna

It’s not every business that feels secure enough to evict customers quite so promptly, with not a single apology. The rhubarb cake was nice, but somehow it lost some of its wonderfulness as we filed out.

On the other hand, the park bench we found to sit on was pleasant enough, and no one told us to leave. The ducks chatted to us and the ants made me itch. A small child stuffed his toy down the drain and the girls from the council had to come and fish it out. There was a boat on the lake. It was all very nice.

*It’s where the King went to school.

Elementary, dear

We’re slowly working our way through the first season of Elementary. Quite often the Resident IT Consultant chooses something else if I ask what he wants to see. But the other night, to accompany our delayed lunch sandwiches, I decided it would be Elementary, with no choice offered.

After watching one episode, I mentioned that Daughter had already gone through all of the first season, and he suddenly decided he could watch another episode immediately.

So we did.

If that lunch hadn’t been so close to midnight, we could probably have managed a third.

Elementary is surprisingly good, for a US Sherlock. New York isn’t a bad substitute for London, either, and Dr Watson is very good. Last time I watched, I was struck by how Sheldon Cooper-ish this Sherlock Holmes is. I’d say it’s partly the actors looking similar (sort of) and partly that both characters must be somewhere on the autistic spectrum.

Cheesecake and the Big Bang

We finally returned to watching the Big Bang Theory a couple of days ago. We’ve been so busy that the end of season seven has been sitting there and sitting there and then sitting some more. But it did us a world of good to watch again.

Meanwhile Daughter has been busy looking for exoplanets (ask Raj), which is more exciting than imploding holes in space. More positive, I feel.

The Cheesecake Factory, Pasadena

And she has dined at The Cheesecake Factory. Apparently Penny wasn’t there (but we saw on BBT that she has quit waitressing to concentrate on her acting, so that must be right). In all other respects it was as she had expected. Personally I’d not thought about it much, but if I had, I might have realised it’s a big chain of restaurants. I suppose I just imagined the good folk of Pasadena to be very fond of cheesecake.