Monthly Archives: May 2009

That’s odd

Slight sense of confused déjà vu here. A week ago I recorded Night At The Museum, when it was on television. Daughter and I watched it with dinner last night. (Yes, I know you think we only ever eat and watch.) So I definitely know it was on. Then I read today’s programme, and it seems it’s on again. Same channel, same film. Can’t have enough of a … thing.

I’m cynical enough to feel it was on at all, in order to boost interest in the sequel currently in the cinema. So is the sequel doing really badly and needs even more help? Is it advertising? According to the Guardian review of the sequel, it’s a very bad film. According to the Guardian television guide, the sequel is much better. I know where I stand, then.

It wasn’t a great film, but it was quite enjoyable, if predictable. But I had this deep thought afterwards, that it’s OK with fun and fluff. My life may not have been enriched by last night’s dinner entertainment, but neither did it feel like a chore to sit through.

Maybe the historical aspect of the museum will tempt a child somewhere to take an interest in history, which I understand is a failing school subject. Daughter was fairly taken with the Mummy, though not her own, obviously. Ben Stiller is a reliable kind of actor, except I rather went off him in Dodgeball the other week.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit

Cornerhouse are going for a younger audience this summer, and the half term offering of Sounds Like Teen Spirit is a good place to begin. This film, or popumentary, may be about something ‘light and fluffy’ like the Junior Eurovision Song Contest, but it was enough to bring an old witch to tears. I think I may have choked a bit over the lovely little girl from Georgia, too. Sorry about any disturbance from the back of the auditorium.

Junior Eurovision is a fairly well kept secret, by the looks of it, and the 2007 version in this film seemed to be primarily for the newer and less known countries of Europe, with a few exceptions. The film crew followed the contestants from Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Georgia before their journey to Rotterdam, and then during the contest in Holland.

Sounds Like Teen Spirit

Very interesting to see how diverse their home backgrounds were, from the Belgian one which was very much like Britain, to the poverty in Georgia. But no matter where they come from, these children can sing. The boy from Cyprus was charming, and his little sister was adorable. One of the Bulgarian girls spoke American English, courtesy of her American school, but she worried mostly about her absent father. The Belgians were the oldest, and less cute, at 15, but very professional, and with a good song. I didn’t quite get what the Basmati rice was for. And then there was the girl from Georgia, whose orthodox priest loves Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, but who had to travel to Rotterdam without her mother, who couldn’t leave her toddler behind. I suspect they had no money, either.

Lovely, lovely documentary.

Vera and Kenneth

In one short week – more like a nine day week, now that I think of it, so not very short after all – Offspring have totally re-organised their rooms. It has made the witch who witnessed it all, reminisce about the past, while things have been got rid of in cold blood. Nursery rhymes, for instance.

When Son was a fairly recent arrival, the Resident IT Consultant felt there should be nursery rhymes to listen to. With me offering foreign songs, and himself unable to rise above ‘pom-pom-pom’, and not in tune, it had to be something sung by someone else. He went shopping, and came home with a collection cassette of the standard nursery rhymes, sung by Vera Lynn and Kenneth McKellar. His feeling was that not just anyone should be allowed to sing to important babies.

Son and Daughter were both subjected to this cassette, until they could retaliate with ABBA and Keane and S Club and Athlete. At the time I knew very little about Vera Lynn. More about Kenneth McKellar, since friend Pippi is a big fan, and I had even been to a concert and heard the man live.

Vera Lynn was just a name to me, however, and I strongly suspected that her popularity during the war was more to do with having a pretty face. Just shows what an idiot I am. It may have been only nursery rhymes, but that cassette made me a big fan of hers. Wonderful voice. Absolutely wonderful.

I allowed myself to graduate on to some more grown-up songs, and got to know the most popular songs from the war. Then I moved on to more recent music, and everything Vera sings is great. I just wish she hadn’t decided to retire from singing at the age of eighty. It’s amazing how someone can keep such a powerful voice so long.

And the early cassette brain washing paid off. At least Son knew from a very tender age that those war songs were sung by ‘that lady’.

We didn’t see John Barrowman this time

With iTunes on shuffle it takes a while before any given track comes round when there are four thousand of them to choose from. So I’ll take it as a good sign that Tuesday evening’s blog session at the kitchen table (rather than from the Bridgewater Hall) offered up John Barrowman with my own favourite of his songs, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.

John Barrowman Manchester 2008

To be honest, I’m not a big fan, but when you live with one, then you automatically pick things up. And that song is one picked-up thing.

I should be grateful to be alive, since I didn’t buy tickets for Tuesday’s concert on the basis that I wasn’t going to be in the country this week (except I am). Some sort of amends will have to be thought up.

When’s the next concert tour?

For angels and witches

After my attempt at being posh over tea last week, it’s high time to lower the tone in these parts. I shouldn’t advertise, since I receive money from nobody, but in general terms I find I quite like the ‘baking’ of Mr K (he who has a literary surname). And I’m a snob who prefers home baking.

Speaking of which, I remember giving Bryanston Boy afternoon tea many years ago. I had recently arrived in this country, and was able to offer BB tea ‘at home’, rather than meeting in a café as we’d done for years. So I did what any normal girl would do, and made a cake. ‘This is very nice Madeira’, said BB, smacking his lips and eating several slices. ‘Did you get it from Marks & Spencer?’ Just before hitting him over the head with something hard, I realised it was a compliment. ‘You don’t get better than M&S cake’, and his imagination didn’t reach further than buying it.

Where was I? Oh, yes, snobs and Mr K. Son came back one day with lots of sweet things he had bought. One of which was a packet of Angel Slices, which I had never tried, on account of the pink icing and the violently pink and yellow sponge cake underneath.

Then one day I had a sudden sweet craving, and the Angel Slices were closest, so to speak. Wonderful! It wasn’t quite the nicest cake I’ve ever eaten, but it was a pleasant surprise. I will be eating those again.

Everlasting Moments

Or Maria Larssons eviga ögonblick, as they say in Sweden. Daughter ‘found’ this film when wasting time on the internet as usual, and we’ve been waiting for a couple of months for it to turn up in Britain. It’s on at Cornerhouse right now, so three members of the witch household traipsed through a dug-up Manchester on this unexpectedly sunny Saturday afternoon.

Everlasting Moments

This story about a female photographer in Sweden a hundred years ago makes a good film. I think it’s based on somebody real, and it certainly had real events incorporated into the plot, like the bomb on the boat. Maria has a drunken and violent husband, who has no understanding for her fascination with her camera, and certainly doesn’t appreciate how good she is with it. That understanding comes from the Danish owner of the photographer’s shop.

Maria herself is Finnish, and the film was made with funding from all the Nordic countries, which is probably why there are actors from all participating areas, including some dialogue in Finnish. The story takes place in Malmö and its surroundings, and most of the Swedish characters speak ‘Skånska’, which is the Malmö accent.

The drunken husband is played by Mikael Persbrandt, who is in practically every Swedish film these days. The minor roles are filled by major actors, and the charming photographer – with an adorably morose looking dog – has more recently been seen in James Bond. Not that I noticed Jesper Christensen there, or in Flame and Citron, but I assume he counts as Denmark’s star contribution.

It’s a Jan Troell film, and it shows. I do wish it could have got rid of the sepia effect, though. It just looked so dull at all times. The sun shone in those days too, even though photos are black and white, or sepia. And today’s translator note is that the horse was not ‘full of mischief’, but ‘reliable’.

Aliyah, end of another NCIS season


After all that build-up of how NCIS was going to end, it fell a little bit flat, I think. Unless something drastic was going to take place, it could only end one way, and it did. DiNozzo continued to be less of a buffoon, which is good.  

DiNozzo down

Still some uncertainty as to whether the good Director Vance is good or bad, or possibly just human and a little of both.

For the first time ever, almost, Gibbs seemed a little lost, and the script writers tweaking the meaning of things that happened years ago, to suit more recent developments, seemed a little far fetched.

Bourbon and basement

As season finale cliffhangers go, this was a minor one. But it will do to make us speculate over the summer.

(Photos © CBS)

Posh tea

As I mentioned the Earl Grey this morning, un-drunk though it was while the paroxysms lasted, I felt a little guilty. Is Earl Grey posh? I only used the name to avoid writing plain old ‘tea’. If it had been Darjeeling, Rooibos or PG Tips, I’d have said so. I just happen to like Earl Grey.

The young witch used to frequent Cranks, whenever her travels took her to London. (That was most of the time.) You would walk along the self service counter, order your tea, and then receive it a step or two further on. On one occasion I reached out for the mug standing on the counter, only to be informed by the ‘lady’ on my right that it was her tea. ‘It’s Earl Grey’, she sniffed at me, ‘and I don’t think you’d like that…’ I wasn’t quick enough to say anything other than ‘sorry’. Stupid me.

In more recent years I’ve been despairing of Earl Grey in cafés. Tastes of nothing, most of the time. The local bookshop served the most divine Earl Grey when they first opened. Then I gather the customers complained that it actually tasted of something, so they switched to Twinings-no-flavour-EG. I liked the original tea so much that I contacted the wholesaler and bought their minimum order of 500 tea bags. Soon time to order some more.

I’m so common, despite drinking Earl Grey, that I have it with milk. Often you get asked if you want it with milk or lemon. Once, at Lakeland in Handforth, I asked the waitress if she’d forgotten my milk, when none seemed to be forthcoming. ‘With Earl Grey?’, she asked in a tone worthy of Lady Bracknell on the subject of handbags. The shame of it.

For my daily tipple it’s Earl Grey loose leaf tea from Sainsbury’s. It used to be Jackson’s of Piccadilly.

Norway – lots of points

I should have seen it coming, but was so busy with other things that I didn’t even have time to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. It’s the 17th of May today, so it’s really quite appropriate that Norway should win on the eve of their National Day. And high time too, after so many disastrous events in the past.

I found this clip on a blog with Norwegian roots, and I know you won’t be able to understand most of it, but it’s so sweet. It’s Alexander Rybak being interviewed on Norwegian television earlier this year.

They had even dug up information on the girl Alexander sings about in his winning song, but it seems their love is no more. Then they go on to embarrass the boy further by showing an old video of him playing the violin at the age of nine. Parents!

And he’s getting so many text messages that he can’t reply to them all. Some of them from girls who would like to replace the one in the song.

I’m amazed that an act that includes playing the violin, by someone who is fully clothed, can win anything these days. There’s still hope.

Give us a hand

MH hands 3
MH hands 2
MH hands 1

I don’t know what you want them for. But I do like to provide what people search for, and a surprising number of you want Mark Harmon’s hands. Hitherto I haven’t had any hands, to the best of my knowledge, so have no idea why you’ve ended up chez witch in the first place. But here are three sets of hands. The same set of hands in three versions, since I don’t think Mark Harmon’s got more than two. Hands.