Monthly Archives: August 2009

Becoming Jane

Whereas I wouldn’t have rushed to see Becoming Jane in the cinema, it was of sufficient interest to watch on television. Lots of stars, most of whom I don’t actually dislike, and the vaguely biographical romance of Jane Austen. Though I couldn’t help but think that it was a scriptwriter’s playground, being able to come up with an alternative Pride and Prejudice.

Also, being an awkward customer, I kept sitting there thinking Devil Wears Prada. Babe. Narnia. Harry Potter. Mr Billie Piper. Torchwood. And so on. But it was a nice outing for lots of names.

And then near the end I had to open my big mouth and say that ‘they don’t actually get married…’


The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, again

What would we do without bloggers? Thanks to Karen at Eurocrime I now know that not only has she already seen the film based on Stieg Larsson’s book at a special viewing (not fair, is all I can say), but it seems as if it will make it here after all. Next year. But you’re not in a hurry, are you?

I have re-instructed Son on the subject of buying the DVD. He says he will. He did ask how to send it to me, now that Sweden has got rid of its post offices. Fair question. I reckon he’ll be OK going to the supermarket queue and hope for the best.


We’ve been going without any NCIS for weeks. One week, at least.

The Edinburgh International Book Festival is great. But we’re busy and we are exhausted. No time to snatch even an old episode with our old friends from NCIS. We’re in fact so busy that we hardly have time to think of anything other than how to get to the next author/event/book signing.


Soon back to normal. And it’s not even too long until the start of the new NCIS season. Four weeks today, if I’m not misinformed.

Photo © CBS

Pumpkin scones

‘They don’t do things like scones’, said Son scornfully. This was after I had reported buying a really very nice scone at Stirling station’s Pumpkin café last year. It came as a real saviour at the time, because I badly needed something properly nice, rather than just sweet and fattening, with a cup of tea, to take on the train. Fatigue had stopped me popping into M&S, and some witchy twitch clearly prevented me from getting a Costa something or other. I inadvertently saved myself for the scone.

The station also has handy ledges on the platform where you can put your tea down, unwrap your scone and butter it with the knife and butter supplied.

Son decided that there must be someone with business ambition at the Stirling Pumpkin who bakes scones to sell. Did I mention they taste  home made?

Ten months on I was in even more dire need of a lovely scone, so hoped with all my heart that the scones would still be available. They were.

But I do wonder if all Pumpkins sell scones, because I couldn’t help noticing that the Haymarket branch had scones, albeit the industrial, plastic variety. So what Stirling has are home made quality scones, that are actually worth buying. And I hope I’m not jinxing future scone supplies by telling you all this.

Pranzo di Ferragosto

Long live the ‘Mamma’! And a reasonably long life for her loving son, as well.

I could be an Italian mamma. I would love to sit and be waited on by my lovely offspring. I must have gone wrong somewhere. On the other hand, it’s quite nice to be left alone at times. But when I’m really old, unlike now, I need an Italian son. Please?

Didn’t have the faintest idea of what to make of the new film at Cornerhouse, Mid-August Lunch. But that was before I went to see it. It’s absolutely lovely!

Gianni is pretty old to be still living with his mamma, and she is positively ancient. They have no money, because he can’t work (!) because he’s looking after mamma. Then he’s ‘black mailed’ into letting another man’s mamma come and stay. And she doesn’t come alone. After which the flood gates open, and there is no end to mammas.

He shops and he cooks and he cajoles. Old women are never easy, though there is a reason for that. Several together is still not easy, and Gianni is over sixty, after all.

Ferragosto seems to be an August holiday, which requires special food. It leads to surprising developments amongst the women and Gianni.

Gianni's ladies

I did think this was a heaven sent film for old actresses, but it turns out that none of the ladies were professionals. Maybe that’s why it works so well. Gianni plays himself, more or less. He is the director of the film, and except for one professional actor, the others are his old friends.

You’ll live longer if you give up the smoking, Gianni.

Wallander is the new ABBA

Coincidence being what it is, when we went to Space school on Sunday to retrieve Daughter, we met a second cousin of the Resident IT Consultant’s. He was there to retrieve his daughter, a third cousin to Daughter, who is also into space.

When you meet people they usually say how much they love ABBA. That’s because they want to be kind about my country of origin. Now that has changed to people saying how much they enjoy the Wallander on television. Especially the Swedish version, currently on BBC 4. This was the case with he second cousin, as well.

Take that, Kenneth Branagh! They like the ‘foreign’ original better than the foreign (to me) BBC version.

If you are one of my faithful followers, you may have noticed my complete lack of success in getting to a cinema showing Män som hatar kvinnor (The girl with the dragon tattoo). My last failed opportunity was in July, when I ended up eating Norwegian waffles instead. I consoled myself with the thought that I could watch it when it comes to Britain, later.

That was until I read this: ‘cinema distributors in the US and Britain remain reluctant to bring over a low-budget, Swedish film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that already exists. In parts of Europe this film has pushed the second Dan Brown film, Angels and Demons, off the top of the box-office chart. But why squander the chance to make really big money by screening a subtitled version before the book receives the full treatment from a top US studio?’

The Americans want to make big money by making their own. Which they of course think will be better than that sad ‘low-budget’ film. It’s not low-budget! It’s just not Hollywood! But taking a leaf out of the Wallander v Wallander, erm, book; maybe the low-budget solution is the best one?

So, looking at the possibility of not seeing the blasted film at all any time soon, I even instructed Son to see if I could download it on the internet. Very illegal, but what’s a witch to do when her money can’t be spent? But you can’t. There was a Spanish version floating about, I understand.

He said ‘why not buy it?’, thinking that was a practical option. Because it’s not out yet. That’s why. But the good news is – I hope – that it’s out next week. And in a useful sort of way Son is going in that direction, so one of his first tasks will be to pop into a shop and then to pop a DVD in the post home to mother.

Tourist trap

The date slice – I think it was date slice – was really very good, but it was about the only redeeming factor about Spencer’s of Ashbourne.

I’m not naïve most of the time. I know that tea somewhere like the middle of Ashbourne on a Sunday in August will be over-priced and not necessarily marvellous. On our way home from Leicester we tried to escape the M1 roadworks by returning by one of the other routes. I felt that one good thing about driving along ‘real’ roads would be that we could stop for some much wanted tea somewhere decent.

The parking of the car could have led to car park rage, but didn’t. The black car didn’t even try to run me down, but I bet they would have liked to. So, straight into the haven of Spencer’s tearoom in the market square.

Lovely date slice. The Bakewell tart was more treacle tart, but that could be my mistake. The pots of tea were seriously skimpy for parched throats. Milk with it was skimpier still. The staff were too busy fighting with each other to notice customers wanting to pay. I suppose that’s what you get with a tearoomful of 16-year-olds working for you.

The tearoom will have been nice and traditional once. The upstairs, which was closed, had lovely table cloths and lace and nice furniture. The open downstairs bit was more ‘burger tearoom’ style, with loud muzak.

They don’t need the tourists to return. There will be new ones tomorrow. The locals probably know of somewhere else to go. Or they buy the date loaf and take it home.

And that’s not all…

How many 70-year-olds can I cram into the one week? I wasn’t going to do any more, but the sheer coincidence of finding that my fellow Hallé stuffer G is 70 today, means that I will mention him here. Who else, except possibly his equally zany brother D, would think to come and stuff envelopes for the Hallé on any birthday, let alone a significant one like this?

Though, when you think of it, the birthday boy got his photo taken with the rest of the stuffers, and the biscuits were ginger. Especially nice ginger ones, which sort of made up for the lack of cream cake. I suppose the cream might have got into the envelopes, and that wouldn’t be good.

Happy 70th, G! And why don’t you relax with some nice Mozart tonight?

Oz is 70, too

Things kept happening in 1939, didn’t they?

Over breakfast I learned that The Wizard of Oz premiered seventy years ago today. Didn’t realise it was quite that old. In fact, didn’t realise Judy Garland would have been quite that old, either.

And since I seem to specialise in blogging about that which I don’t know, nobody will be surprised to hear that I’ve never watched this must-see film. I’d like to say I will one day, but it doesn’t tempt me. I’m in good company; with Philip Pullman being another who hasn’t.

Is it OK if I don’t?

Kate O’Mara is 70

I can’t believe Kate O’Mara is 70! She’s the type of actress who you somehow feel will never grow old. I don’t mean the alternative either. I don’t know what I mean, in actual fact.

Kate isn’t someone I have seen a lot of, and I’m not her greatest fan or anything, but she is significant. Back in 1970 the witch visited Pen Friend in Surrey, and Pen Friend’s mother had a whole lot of entertainment up her sleeve. One of which was a trip to the theatre. I think it may have been in Bromley. I was quite hazy both about where I was and where I was taken.

We saw Ten Little… Oops. What is the correct title for Agatha Christie’s novel these days? Anyway. You know the one I mean. People keep dropping dead. Kate O’Mara was in it, as the beautiful young lady. And they cheated and let her survive, so there was a kiss with another survivor who was very handsome.

I didn’t pay a lot of attention to Kate, really. As far as I was concerned, the excitement was attending real live theatre in England. But soon afterwards I was watching The Brothers on television, and I was surprised to see Kate there. I didn’t know that television stars also acted live on the stage. There was a lot I didn’t know. But it was exciting.

Happy 70th, Kate!