Monthly Archives: November 2008


We went to the Scandinavian Church in Liverpool today for an Advent service. It was followed by a simple but very nice lunch organised as always by our wonderful matron Mette and her Stan, who is the best Norwegian speaking Englishman I know. Mette’s bread is wonderful, and let’s not get on to the subject of the waffles with jam and cream. We did not go home hungry.

We did not go home immediately, anyway, as it was time for Lucia practice for the children and a few intrepid older people. They do not include me. And I hope they won’t kill me for calling them older. I just mean they are not children.

Lucia practice at Gustav Adolf church, Liverpool

This is the “before” photo of how they looked today. In two weeks’ time we’ll hopefully have a real photo to show you, with everyone dressed up, and with a few more participants as well. I tend to like the practice best. They sing like angels even the first time, and everyone is relaxed, including me, and I’ve got the whole church to spread out in.

I’ll let you have a preview from last year’s Lucia, just to show what you can put together after something like three hours of practising, but with decades of tradition in your backbone.

And here is the link to last year’s blog post about the same event. The reason I’m going on about this at great length isn’t just to bore you. There is now politics involved as well.

The mother church (hah!) in Uppsala wants to close us down. To put it bluntly, they’d prefer to do their inspection trips to Thailand instead of Liverpool, and who can blame them? We have fought long and hard, and we thought that Liverpool City Council had the last word when they said that the church building is not Uppsala’s to sell, and that we can lease it from them. The word from last week’s meeting is that Uppsala not only still believe they are right, but they are bracketing us with the same motive as they have. To own and to sell for a vast sum of money. (In this economical climate? I don’t think so.) They finished the meeting with a quick look around the church for valuables, a bit like you check out aunty’s jewellery as she lies on her deathbed.

Along with regrouping for another long fight, we are gasping at the sheer Christian spirit of their behaviour. Or not, as the case may be.

Oh, and a week ago we celebrated our 125th anniversary. I don’t personally recall all those years, but it’s a well loved and important church.

and Dagger

as I’d guessed. And more angst for Gibbs, which some of his ardent fans reckon he could do without. Who better, I say.

The internet is full of spoilers, and even with the intent of avoiding them myself, I found I knew how this latest NCIS episode was going to end. If CBS describe it as someone making the ultimate sacrifice, it could only mean one thing, and it could only mean one character.


It was funny how when they needed an Abby and Gibbs in the lab scene, and Gibbs being busy elsewhere, they simply put director Vance there instead. It worked almost better, because of its fresh appeal. And we had a need for a toilet twice, which is also refreshing, because so often fictional people never seem to need to go. Have always worried about the effects of so much coffee drinking.

Abby and Vance

I like the new angry DiNozzo. He is much better than the childish fool, who has annoyed me for years.

(Photos © CBS)

UK premiere

The witch rarely gets to go to premieres of any kind, so the UK premiere of The Butterfly Tattoo made a welcome change. It was on last night at Cornerhouse in Manchester, as part of a short film festival, and whereas it wasn’t full, it was very busy. They moved the screening to cinema one, which I assume was to accommodate more people.

The film? It was good. Very good. I’d heard it was very good, and then I read a review somewhere which claimed it wasn’t, particularly. So we went with open minds, and Daughter was warned that it wouldn’t end happily. The script follows Philip Pullman’s book pretty closely, so you do get the bad end at the beginning, so to speak.

Duncan Stuart

It’s Romeo and Juliet, really. Some very intense love when boy meets girl, and then lots of confusion as they lose touch. Lots of searching, to a backdrop of someone else’s criminal behaviour, which eventually comes to have a bearing on the lives of Chris and Jenny as well.

Jessica Blake

You can tell that the film was filmed on a budget, but I wish more films were, if this is the result. There is nothing that would have been better for more money. I was particularly struck by one of the love scenes, which was blissfully quiet. In a more commercial film the couple would have found they were accompanied in the bedroom by a large orchestra. Here, there was nothing. No sound at all. Just as it should be.

The screening was followed by a Q&A with the director Phil Hawkins and some of the cast and crew, with more crew members in the audience. I was going to say that they tried to save on money by having many of them be both cast and crew, but that’s silly, as nobody got paid. I suppose it just shows how versatile they are. Who’d have thought that the drunk was actually the director himself?

The questions were along the lines of, well I don’t remember, because they were so technically knowledgeable that I didn’t even understand the questions, let alone the answers. I did get that they could only afford one camera, though. And it rained for the ball scene, and they had to hurry before the extras all died of hypothermia.

It was all done in five weeks, and I hope that cinemas all over the world will see the light and buy The Butterfly Tattoo. Philip Pullman was right to let someone young buy the rights to his book for peanuts. Sometimes enthusiasm will do more than years of experience and loads of finance. And perhaps I’m just put out that I didn’t act fast enough to buy a share or two in the film.


Haven’t done a birthday for weeks, have I? So, many happy returns to Tom Conti who is 66 today.

It’s weird, but I feel I’ve been a lifelong fan, despite the fact I probably haven’t seen Tom in all that much. It was The Glittering Prizes that started me off, over thirty years ago. Then I went to see him in bed. That was Whose Life Is It Anyway?, somewhere in Blackfriars.

More recently we’ve watched Donovan on television. Best of all, though, I Was a Rat, a few years ago. Must watch it again, soon.

Hoped to meet him at long last some years ago, when he was supposed to do a book signing in the neighbourhood, except he disappeared completely, and never showed. There was a fairly amusing explanation to this, so I forgave him when he finally got here.


and dagger? Maybe. We’ll have to wait until next week for the conclusion to this NCIS double episode. One of the best, so far, and I’ll try to avoid too many spoilers.

NCIS series 6 ep 8, 3

I still maintain that Agent Lee is far too obvious to be totally bad. The only thing that will work for me is that someone very unexpected turns out to be the one we are all wondering about. Gibbs? (Only joking.)

NCIS series 6 ep 8, 2

Tony got a turn at being something other than funny, which is more than welcome around here. There was sufficiently much double crossing for me not have worked out all the details yet. Just let me watch it another half dozen times, please.

NCIS series 6 ep 8, 1

Almost expected poor Palmer to be arrested for a moment. And how can so many special agents manage not to see that the door is closed?

(Photos © CBS)

Trams and seaweed

You want to be careful with your pseudonyms when writing things for the BBC. Bill Paterson found that the story he sent them under an assumed name, was not only accepted by them, but they told him they’d get Bill Paterson to read it. Yes, well.

The National Theatre could almost have put Bill Paterson and Ian Jack in a larger auditorium than the Cottesloe on Wednesday evening. Maybe they thought a platform reading from a book about Glasgow in the 1950s wouldn’t attract too many people. Wrong. The place was heaving, and I seemed to recognise quite a few familiar faces. I’m sure it was Miriam Margolyes sitting three feet away, but I’m too much of a coward to ask “Are you…?”

Tales From the Back Green which Bill wrote to see if he could write, as well as act and all that, sounds like a great little book. Though from last night’s reading I think that most of all I’d like it as an audio book, and if they could get that Bill Paterson to read it, I’d be grateful.

Glasgow in the summer of 1955 sounds nice enough, but three weeks of sunshine is a little bit of a tall tale, surely? Bill loved the trams, and I don’t think that makes him an anorak. Trams are awfully loveable. I’d even go so far as to agree that seaweed is also very interesting. I think the seaweed was connected with Rothesay, where I’ve actually been. Nice place.

I wasn’t taking notes, but I recall snippets about football, the pope playing the pools, and something about biscuits. This feels about right for the city where someone tried to make me put sugar on my corn flakes, the first time I visited.

With my normal flair for things I could have been second in the queue for the book signing, except I hadn’t bought one to be signed, which put a damper on things. The man was practically sitting in the ladies toilet to sign. The Cottesloe is lovely. But small.

A Roger Whittaker fan

Anybody here who reads Danish? If so, I have a link here for you. In fact, I’d suggest you have a little look even if you don’t feel very Danish minded.

As I may have mentioned once or three times before, I am a big Roger Whittaker fan. But I only listen to his music all the time and buy CDs and go to concerts and pop in to Roger’s Guestbook and to his discussion forum every now and then. Just about every day. 

There are those who take this fan business a lot further, and one such fan is Ane Marie in Denmark. She is the subject of the Jutland newspaper link above, and she has been a serious fan forever. Ane Marie now even has a room full of memorabilia, which is the positive side of getting rid of your children.

Roger Whittaker "song"

She has been to 250 concerts, and she writes to other fans all over the world. And to Roger himself. He writes back, I gather.

It seems that Ane Marie is the lucky owner of the song sheet used by Roger when he sang that Danish nursery rhyme I mentioned a while ago. It’s not the words so much as a rough idea of how he should pronounce them, because Danish is a little bit difficult. But have a go. I can assure you it sounded better than it looks.

Ane Marie is a quiet sort of fan. But I think that if you need to know the answer to something, she will know.

Children in Need

Unless I go away, it’s always hard to avoid Children in Need. Someone in this house likes watching, and once you start, it’s not all that easy to stop. I arrived in time for the slot with Doctor Who, only to find myself sitting through the whole Terry Wogan dancing thing. The witch does not dance, so admires a man who dares to do so in front of millions.

Terry Wogan Children in Need

At least I now know who Terry is. The great handicap arriving to live in this country, was that it appeared one was supposed to know him. And when you don’t know, you worry about asking, in case it’s the wrong thing to ask. Anyway, I know now. And I love him.

Doctor Who was not on time, but we have to put up with these little annoyances. It looked like a Christmassy kind of Christmas episode, and more than one sonic screw driver is always handy. Not too long to wait, now.

And it was almost worth waiting for the newsreaders. They looked pretty fetching in their Mamma Mia! costumes, but I always wonder how they feel the next day when they are reading serious news again.

Clare in the community

I really must stop photographing my newspaper…

Trying to work out if a cartoon from the Guardian belongs in culture. Probably. Found this one on Clare in the community in the wake of the US election. I love Clare. She’s so awful most of the time, but her observations on life are completely spot on. This one is on politics and a popular television series. 

Clare in the community

Another one I have long wished I’d cut out and kept is from when Angela’s Ashes was on in cinemas, so it must be a few years ago. It shows Clare and her social worker colleague exiting the cinema, looking very happy, with everyone else coming out in tears. Sad film, you know? Clare reckoned it had been a little bit of light relief.

The (NCIS) plot thickens

I’m not going to keep warning about spoilers, so don’t read this if you haven’t seen episode seven.

In the line of duty

Gibbs in bar


I’ve puzzled for a long time why Paula Cassidy never gets a mention, but after a year and a half she is vaguely acknowledged in a photo gallery of those who have died in the line of duty. Others are remembered, so why not Paula? This time she is joined by Agent Langer, so it would seem that Gibbs at least is waking up.

Agent Lee
Though why Agent Lee would be sneaking around looking so incredibly guilty if she really is, I don’t know. How come nobody has ever thought to mention Keating?

(Photos © CBS)