Advent Roger

I have a crazy friend. Crazy is generally the best. But even so, I didn’t expect this.

This year for Advent, my friend is giving away gifts to her Facebook friends. You know, if money was no object, kind of thing. So after a safe start of a holiday in Florida and a £2,000,000 house in Devon, this morning it was my turn.

I had had my doubts. I am a notoriously difficult person, and I was mainly settling down to see what inappropriate gift ‘her money’ would provide. I take it all back! This is what I woke up to:

‘If I had money, I would offer so much of it to Roger Whittaker that he would agree to come and sing one last time, especially for you. As one of his signature songs is The Last Farewell, I would hire a tall ship and crew from Topsail to bring Roger over from the nearest port in France, where he now lives, to Leith. You and Roger would have a fine meal on board in the harbour, and Roger would sing The Last Farewell to you, before sailing away into the sunset.’

Roger Whittaker and CultureWitch

What a lucky witch I am, to have a friend like that!

She’s right. It is what I’d want. Well, maybe I’d whisper into Roger’s ear that he could pick a different song, if he felt up to it, but my goodness, what a spectacular gift!

(And for anyone who wants to help my friend get rich, do buy her books. I thoroughly recommend her Belgian trilogy for a good scare. It’s so scary I have recently learned that her husband couldn’t quite finish the last one… Here is a list of all Helen Grant’s books. They are very good. And very scary.)

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75 years of Sir Billy

What can I say? There is a lot of stuff about Billy Connolly wherever you look. I started reading his Wikipedia page and it seemed to go on, if not forever, then for quite some time.

There’s obviously even more in his wife Pamela’s book about him. It’s one of the best biographies I’ve read. It would have been interesting even if I’d never heard of Billy.

Although, it’s difficult not to have heard of Billy. He’s done so much and for so long. And what’s amazing is that he turned out so decent, after all that happened to him during his childhood.

Since his health problems in recent years, there’s been fewer opportunities to see Billy. I reckon my last ‘encounter’ was in the film What We Did On Our Holiday, where he died in the most dignified manner.

What we did on our holidays

What to say?

Happy 75th Birthday, Sir William!

NCIS – Ready or Not

Babies, bullets and bombs; they all have to come out. Somehow.

OK, I thought I’d have no more NCIS posts until I’d found something else to waffle on about, but after last week’s weird episode, here we had a perfect Thanksgiving. A bit of crime, a bit of family.

Bishop and Gibbs

They were probably asking themselves how they could avoid a Christmas baby. Or how to manage a Thanksgiving baby instead. The answer to both is make it twins and it/they will be born early. Easy.

So the babies had to be born. And they had to avoid giving them really stupid names. That’s the problem with geeks like McGee and Delilah. But that nice man had a purpose. Well, he had two, and he performed them well. But remind me never to give birth assisted by Abby. (Unlikely at my age. But you never know.)

Delilah and Abby

Bullets. Yes. It hurts when they come out. Or so I understand. Nothing John Wayne about it. And that girl; I saw what she did.

Bombs. How could they send two such twits together, to deal with a potential bomb situation? Torres, and the man from MI6 who actually buys his cranberry sauce. Not even I do that.

But all’s well that ends well.

NCIS – Trapped

Well, well. After a week that offered duds in both Washington and LA, we get a Really Good Episode of NCIS! Thank you.

Checked online to see what others thought and found two ham radio fanatics going on about how wrong they were. Oh well.

If I was going to offer criticism, I’d say that much as I like Jack Sloane, she seems to be another Nate; someone who doesn’t have that much work to do, but a nice big office in which not to do it.

NCIS - Jack and Abby

And what’s going on with Abby? Is she leading up to her departure at the end of season 15 by being weird? At least she had her usual Halloween decorations in place, and it was the actual Halloween too.

Gibbs is not annoying right now, but he’s being quite un-Gibbs-like, I feel. And I’m not getting used to McGee’s beard, by which I mean it doesn’t suit him, rather than I am surprised to see it every week. But he’s getting bolder. He even tried to be a little Gibbsy this week. Bishop was mainly Bishop; neither good nor bad. Which is probably good.

After last week’s super-embarrassing Reeves performance, he was back to slightly more normal, and even quite funny with his ‘checking his mates’ comment. Didn’t have him down as the chess-playing type. And the scriptwriters seemed to have forgotten all about last week, which is just as well, if a little sloppy.

Palmer and Torres

But it’s Torres who is growing up fast, and Palmer. Together, over the charity donations, they were a force to be reckoned with. You could see that it would go wrong, but I didn’t quite guess where it was heading towards the end. Soppy, but sweet.

What I liked about Trapped was that all the parts were good; the dogwalker, the golfplayers, the garden centre people. Even the ham fanatic and his dog were good. It worked, and they all belonged together.

More of this please!

A misspent middle age

We got to chatting about actors who have appeared twice on NCIS, Daughter and I. Purely to relax, obviously. Also obviously, actors appearing twice as different characters. She mentioned one, while I could only remember another.

He was up a ladder outside a hotel room in one episode. Very briefly. ‘I think it was in Once A Hero,’ I said. I’ll have a look. ‘That’s season four,’ Daughter pointed out. ‘I know, it’s episode eight, if I’m not mistaken.’ (She was a bit put out by that…)

And once I found him – it was Francesco Quinn – I located the other episode, which was One Shot, One Kill, where he had a slightly longer part, although he died pretty quickly there too. Reading on about Francesco I discovered that, sadly, he died in 2011. Also that he was the son of Anthony Quinn, which was obvious when I knew, but I’d never thought to look him up on IMDb before.

The actor Daughter had had in mind was Clyde Kusatsu, and when we moved on to him I remembered both his roles, but felt he wasn’t quite as obviously the same actor. Benjamin Franklin, made fun of by DiNozzo, was rather different from Ducky’s gardener and very good friend of Mrs Mallard’s, in The Tie That Binds.

In fact, the reason Francesco Quinn was so much more memorable, is that the episodes were older. That was back when we watched them ‘quite a lot.’ Whereas the gardener appeared in last year’s NCIS, which I might have watched once, maybe twice. And I absolutely couldn’t have named the season or the episode.

These days I don’t even have time to misspend my time.

NCIS – Skeleton crew

A new Hollis Mann for Gibbs! Whether on purpose or happy accident is hard to say, but all those other women paraded in front of our Special Agent have not been right. And in a way he doesn’t need a new love interest, but Jack Sloane promises to stir things up a little more than the other new female actors have done. It annoys me when new agents are too young and too pretty, but here at least we have more than a bit of simpering.

Apart from introducing Jack, we also got a really good episode. Most unusual. It was ship based, and it had a good many potential suspects. Slight bit of haunting does no harm, even if a little early for Halloween. Cute Oklahoma high school bully boy for Bishop, although I doubt we’ll see him again.

Too stormy for helicopters to fly is always good. Abby’s stupid gift idea that was very obviously going to turn out useful, was fun.

Palmer, Sloane and Gibbs

And clearly Jack comes with a past. Sometimes I feel it’d be nice to have new but uncomplicated people, without mysterious conversations with director Vance, or low cut tops showing interesting scars, but there’s probably a good story or two in there. She even instigated an elevator scene, knowing to flick the switch.

Lovely vicious mother-of-the-corpse. And speaking of corpses, we’ll do just fine with less of Ducky. Palmer is growing duckier by the week.

The camera work ‘from the ship’ was excellent. I have rarely felt so seasick, without being on a ship myself.

Afternoon tea

I’ve been craving some ‘posh’ afternoon tea for a while. Contrary to what people might believe about me, I don’t tend to do the touristy and extravagant stuff when on home ground, so not only do I not do afternoon teas, but I don’t know where to go.

When Pippi came to Edinburgh this week, she needed a tea companion, and she’d heard of Colonnades at the Signet Library, and wanted to try it. And while pretty expensive, it was about the lowest price of all the places I found online.

Colonnades at the Signet Library

The library is just off the Royal Mile, next to St Giles Cathedral, and they have two-hour sittings throughout the afternoon, so you can treat it as lunch if you start early enough. And you need the two hours. I reckon they couldn’t serve all that food faster if they tried.

Colonnades at the Signet Library

Soup in a coffee cup to begin with. Then silver cake stands with around six savoury things plus a couple of sandwiches. A second stand for the cake, meaning six sweet things and two scones with jam and clotted cream. As your arteries begin to clot I recommend a discreet doggy bag if you feel you can’t manage it all. All this can be washed down with tea, or coffee, and the optional champagne, which I’ve never understood how it goes with afternoon tea.

Once you’ve reached the end, you are rescued by a cleansing sorbet.

And I recommend a trip down the many stairs to see the toilets.