Monthly Archives: June 2011

Do unto your children what your parents did unto you

And by that I mean nothing more sinister than parking them in front of a television screen with a bag of crisps, while you engage in more adult behaviour. By which I mean food and drink. Or you could always leave them outside the restaurant in your parked car. In the dark. While you eat.

It’s (British) adult behaviour at its weirdest.

I was enraged – yet again – by the Guardian’s travel section on ‘Where to stay’ by Sally Shalam. The lovely hotel with the wonderful food that she writes about is great if you’re encumbered by children. ‘En route to the restaurant, we spot a TV area with books and videos – you could park the kids here and have what a menu on the bar calls “posh afternoon tea”‘.

Quite. Of course you could. Did the grandparents not want to mind the little darlings then? There must have been some purpose to them being with you? Perhaps they look cute in the holiday snaps?

It’s hardly surprising British children don’t learn to go places or eat normal adult food. They’re never included.

We’re such clueless idiots that we’ve taken Offspring to most things we’ve done, however pitiful the number of those occasions might be. If we eat out they come too. If they weren’t invited to daytime ‘parties’ we tended not to go either. There was the family wedding that was to be so perfect they banned children. (To be honest, I would probably not have enjoyed it, had I attended.)

The – fancy – hotel that expected the child below the age of 12 to dine at the children’s hour, on baked beans and the like, while the older child was welcome(ish) in the real dining room at the later time. We insisted on the baked beans and the child to be allowed to dine with her family. Was she meant to sit alone in the hotel room while we ate?

They got their revenge the next morning when the waiter snootily informed us the establishment was far too grand to serve baked beans. At all.

As a little witch I was always included in adult dos, and taken to proper restaurants. I somehow grew up with the idea that Mother-of-witch liked my company. I somehow find I quite like the company of Offspring, too. Now that they are old enough to be left alone in hotel rooms, I still don’t feel it’s the point of holidays.

We always made it very clear on invitations to parties that we actively wanted people to bring their children. Generally they arrived childless, because they ‘knew we didn’t really mean it’. As hosts you look a wee bit stupid having hired that bouncy castle, but never mind.

So whether children, when they grow up, do what their parents did because it feels natural, or because they want revenge, I have no idea. But it’s good that a liberal newspaper like the Guardian is at the forefront of parents’ lib.

Getting a babysitter is one solution, though I tended to feel I wanted to enjoy Offspring’s company rather than leaving that to someone else.

And if you’re really pushed, I suggest you lock them in the car outside the restaurant. A bag of crisps will suffice while the adults force some nice food down themselves. (In fairness, I have only seen this once. It might not be a widespread tradition.)

Midsummer madness

I am fairly sure I felt the earth move. Suitable, I suppose, in a café that warns of nudity and not to enter the doors to the right or the left unless you too intend to strip off. But that’s only if you have paid to use the sauna, with a subsequent dip in the sea underneath.

We were a week early, last weekend, when trying to have coffee at our favourite outdoor place in Varberg. Even the other nearby café had yet to open for the summer. Surely someone is getting their timing wrong?

So we tried the Kallbadhus café, which is the ‘cold bath house’ to you. In June it’s not so bad, but GP Cousin goes every day of the year. So did Uncle until recently, and there could be a reason for his 93 years.

Varbergs Kallbadhus

For us wimps, it’s the café that’s the more tempting, and this one does waffles with jam and cream. Very nice, and comparatively cheap.

And it was open for business, which does make a difference when you want something.

The geological sensation might be the waves?

Svartir Englar

We had just about given up on any more excitement on television this week. There were a few things on channels us cheapskates don’t have, but otherwise it was the zip and nada scenario one gets used to after a while.

I did notice Black Angels on my first read-through of what was on last night, but with no additional information thought no further. Once I saw the highlights in yesterday’s paper it was another business altogether. Icelandic crime series! Perfect for the visiting Icelandic crime fan and his mother.

The only fly in our television ointment is that contrary to our hopeful predictions, the first two episodes (of six) were not standalone ones. So we have a need for the remaining four, as we are unable to stay another four weeks.

Svartir Englar

It was bleak. And dreary. It was what you’d expect of sudden death in Iceland, even pre economic crash. There were many millions mentioned at all times (money being the root of all evil), and even taking into account the minuscule Icelandic krona, it amounted to millions.

Man falls off block of flats. It might not be suicide, so the police investigate, despite funds for such frivolity being limited. It’s a bit bleak.

And they had the standard cliché of young detective, son of older and by now dead but respected policeman. It was Ben Cooper and Joona Linna all over. And dear Arni had an unfortunate tendency to fall into bed with the beautiful suspect. But at least he’s not also fancying himself in bed with his female colleague, of the standard family/husband/babysitting problems.

Add some deadly Lithuanians, drugs and violence, and a boss with health issues and another detective who suffers from severe homophobia, and you have a nice little mix.

One fascinating thing about Icelandic drama is that they must have a very limited group of actors from which to cast for every single thing they do. And I was intrigued by the idea of police school. They can’t have enough policemen to have a school, surely?

The Icelandic language at times sounds almost Swedish and the rest of the time it’s more like Italian with some extra ð and þ. It’s interesting. If they could only keep their ash to themselves. There was a scene last night featuring an empty airport, which set me off on ash thoughts.

NCIS – Collateral Damage

It’s uncanny seeing Agent Lee walk again, but that’s revisiting older episodes for you. With hindsight I could see Gibbs was studying her even more than I did two and a half years ago.

Dwayne and DiNozzo

Dwayne Wilson

But what I really wanted to say after watching Collateral Damage again was that as we could do with some more characters to love, how about letting Dwayne Wilson return, as a fully fledged agent? He was one of those I would have liked to see more of back then. We didn’t, so an alternative could be a return for season nine.

Even DiNozzo couldn’t get the better of him, and despite being more of a Gibbs type, I think Vance liked the idea of him. Even if Vance wants more McGees than DiNozzos. Or as Gibbs said, people more like Vance than like Gibbs.

Good for Gibbs – and Wilson – that Ducky can analyse their best sides. And DiNozzo should leave his ears and the vending machine alone. No poking or banging.

Roger Whittaker – Minnenas television

Sveriges Radio TV

Now, wasn’t that lucky? Me and Son arriving on the very day that Swedish television broadcast an old recording of Roger Whittaker performing in a pub in Stockholm.

Yes, it was.

Roger Whittaker - Minnenas Television

They had rolled out ‘retired’ presenter Arne Weise for this, which shows the importance of the occasion. They even seemed to know about Roger’s recent farewell tour in Germany, which is why they showed this half hour programme again.

Thank you! Very nice.

Roger Whittaker - Minnenas Television

First Roger is seen wandering through some Stockholm concrete townscape (so 1972) before he peeps through the door to the pub.

It’s a weird kind of time travel, as I never saw him perform when he was that young. Still – or even then – a fondness for strongly coloured shirts. The songs were a standard selection of early favourites. (Well, Roger could hardly sing later songs, could he?)

Roger Whittaker - Minnenas Television

For a half hour programme it’s not bad to have got in nine songs. I suspect they cut out some of the chat, although Roger does a fair bit of it, including teaching the audience to whistle.

Roger Whittaker - Minnenas Television

The songs were: Blowing in the Wind, From Both Sides Now, New World in the Morning, Why, Mexican Whistler, What Love Is, Early One Morning, Michael Row the Boat Ashore, and My Song.

Roger Whittaker - Minnenas Television

NCIS – Pyramid

Were you feeling shortchanged when I mentioned the last three episodes of NCIS season eight and then only blogged about two? Well, you were, but it was intentional as I felt it needed two posts.

Gibbs, Ducky and Palmer

In a way I felt slightly shortchanged, too, after Pyramid. I know we have to have cliffhangers for the summer, but this was more like ‘was this all?’, except perhaps for the very end. For something where we were promised a big body count, I expected more bodies. For a while there I was sacrificing our darling Palmer, since all the signs suggested someone had to go.

Palmer

The elevator scene didn’t make that idea any less likely. But where, oh where, did they train Palmer to drop at the wink of an eyelid? Especially a de-bespectacled Palmer. How did he even see the wink? And how brave he was!

So, we have a new satnav. Very nice, we thought. At least until he got a bit tougher with Vance. We loved Matt Craven as the lunar module builder in From the Earth to the Moon, but as Secretary Jarvis he looks older and greyer and tougher.

Should we assume poor DiNozzo will have to go after more of Ziva’s boyfriends, with potentially disastrous results? Again. Or upset his own lady friend? Again. P*ss off his own team? Again. Plenty of scope there.

DiNozzo, McGee and Gibbs

With dear E J gone – sort of – will there be anything on that thing she cut out of Levin’s arm, or was that just a teaser as well? Glad to see the end of her uncle Davenport. The first time we met the Sec Nav he was as one expects powerful people to be. Since then he’s just gone softly and weirdly downhill.

Two sets of engagements rings in the last three episodes. The empty one for Ziva (how romantic was that??) and the ‘too small’ one for DiNozzo’s old Baltimore love. I reckon she said no. And Ziva should, too.

Gibbs

They do nice funerals at NCIS. It’s sad when people die, but they do dress up well in black. For a brief moment it looked to me as if Franks had got himself a third daughter-in-law, but on closer inspection she was the same as the last time. I suppose Gibbs will have to take over now…

(Photos © CBS)

NCIS – Baltimore and Swan Song

After my early and very uncharacteristic speculation on the end of season eight of NCIS, it’s taken me unforgivably long to do what I almost wanted to call a post mortem on the last three episodes. But NCIS didn’t die, so no PM necessary. Lots of people died, though, and if they don’t give us a few new and loveable recurring characters, we soon won’t have anyone we love for them to kill off, if and when the need arises.

DiNozzo in Baltimore

In Baltimore they did a far better job than usual of going back in time. DiNozzo looked fine and even Gibbs didn’t look too ridiculous as his somewhat younger self. It makes sense that they had a case ‘together’ before Di Nozzo joined NCIS, a bit like Kate protecting the President when she and Gibbs crossed paths.

Nice touch to travel in time so that they could bring Pacci back, even for just a few minutes.

Gibbs

What is it that makes the rain fall as though it’s the Niagara whenever someone really close is killed off? Gibbs looks especially sad with water pouring all over his face, and his ability to speak to dead people has not diminished. But I felt they were trying to soften the blow about Franks’ demise with his ghostly appearance at the scene of the crime.

In fact, Franks looked healthier as a ghost than he did alive, what with them having to prove he was so ill we wouldn’t mind him dying. And that group hug in the lift was rather sweet, if somewhat uncharacteristic for Ziva.

McGee, DiNozzo, Ziva and Abby

We saw just enough of Agent Levin to help us feel sad he ‘had to go’. I know they said it was going to be a big body count, but I don’t feel it was as bad as all that. It was more who, than how many.

(Photos © CBS)

Who’s River?

It’s not applying myself enough that caused me not to ‘see it coming’. I just wasn’t speculating, reckoning – quite rightly – that if I watched A Good Man Goes To War I’d find out a thing or two.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have spent a considerable time under the impression that River Song is the Doctor’s wife. Maybe she isn’t, or perhaps she is. Was. Will be. It’s not important. I just watch for the temporary fun of it.

River Song

This was a good Moffat-y episode and an acceptable cliffhanger for the summer. The headless things barely registered, but according to sources close to me, they are capable of causing sleeplessness. I suppose the tied-up sacks instead of heads is a little yucky.

Headless Monks

I have a childish fondness for the kinds of script that call for lots of people to get together, re-uniting against some shared enemy or other. This was a good one in that respect. Lots of people. Trouble is I didn’t remember half of them. This probably means I’ve just proved myself an absolutely useless Doctor Who fan.

Pulverising people is not terribly scary, though. ‘Are you my mummy’ type things do it so much better.

Rory

And I maintain that Rory is an asset. Especially as an old Roman. Move over, Amy!

Tony Christie at the Plaza

I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t, even if he had. ‘Buggered off’, that is, if Tony Christie had sung Amarillo at the beginning. He was worried we would, but some people actually like all his singing and not just (Is This the Way to) Amarillo?

Tony Christie at the Stockport Plaza

Tony made sure we knew he was not a tribute, but the real thing. We could tell. (Although 40 years ago I loved him dearly, but had no idea what he looked like, due to the vagaries of Swedish magazines.) He was on painkillers (or so he said). Well, that made two of us, sweetie. And I was still among the younger ones in the audience, which is something I say with less frequency as the years wear on. And Daughter cringed and hoped she wouldn’t see anyone she knew. As if!

The Fitzgerald chap (Yeah, I’m shocked too. I thought the cool Christie was his real name…) always dreamed of singing with a big band, and last night he had nine people on stage with him. Hope it was big enough. Tony’s Now’s The Time 50th anniversary tour started off with Avenues and Alleyways, before someone shouted from the right(quite a noisy audience). By then I’d seen off the St John Ambulance men next to me, although admittedly they would have been useful for immediate resuscitation.

He has a new album out. He mentioned it quite a lot. New songs were sandwiched in between old hits and pretty good they sounded too. I don’t always like new stuff the first time, but Tony’s album sounds promising. It seems Daughter needs to buy it.

Tony danced nimbly, which isn’t bad for a 50th tour. Who’d have thought that time forty years ago when I sat with my ear pressed to the radio listening to Oppopoppa, with Tony singing live under a bare sky, that I would be here at the Plaza listening to him still? Admittedly, there was a large chunk of time in between when I too thought he might be dead. It seems he was only touring on the continent, where they appreciate singers a bit more.

Tony Christie at the Stockport Plaza

After Las Vegas and the new Nobody in the World, my photographer worked out she’d chosen the wrong camera. But I thought, what’s one more (or less) old man in a grey suit? I don’t mean that, but it reassured me.

‘That voice’ sounded as marvellous as ever in Don’t Go Down to Reno. New song The Key of You followed, and I could tell that the Resident IT Consultant who had been dragged there kicking and screaming, and who prefers Bach, wasn’t totally unhappy. Tony sang stuff from his Made in Sheffield album as well. We had Danger is a Woman in Love and a Sammy Davis Jr number, for which Tony shrank in stature and moved (almost) like Sammy.

Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast and Shop Around (from his recent West End musical experience) finished the first half. Tony has not yet had a super injunction, so if someone could oblige?

After a very long twenty minute interval (could be an age thing?) we were back to Now’s the Time and I Did What I Did For Maria (I must admit here to having liked Chirpy chirpy cheep cheep, back in the days…), followed by Like Sister and Brother, Working Overtime and then a future charity track for – I think – Afghan Heroes.

Tony may not want to write his memoirs, but he shared some of his life with us. We heard about the years in Spain when he was partly believed to be dead, about when Jarvis Cocker called, and then the Comic Relief effect of Peter Kay and Amarillo. Tony topped all sorts of things all at once, including ringtone downloads. It’s the price for wearing Peter Kay’s suit, I say.

Tony Christie at the Stockport Plaza

Now he’s working his socks off to forget the 15 years of being ‘dead’ and in Walk Like a Panther he certainly panthered along very convincingly. There was a duet with Michelle, Seven Hills, and some more reminiscing about being 17 and not wanting to join the Glee club to sing for old people. Glad he got over that particular dislike.

In Jezebel Tony yet again demonstrated looking almost blown over. He sang leaning backwards, seemingly a small step from falling over. Human Leagues’ Louise and I Thank You were last before he had to do ‘that song’, Amarillo. For which the audience actually stood up and danced a little in the aisles, almost German style.

You’d think there is nothing which can follow Amarillo, but there is. Solitaire can. And it did.

Tony Christie at the Stockport Plaza

Then we went home, after depositing money in the buckets on the way out. That was for the Plaza and its future, not Tony. He seems to be doing well enough, for a completely ignored singer.

If only I could have visualised this back then, when all I could manage was sitting close to the radio, wondering what he looked like, that man with the nice voice and the fantastic songs.