Monthly Archives: August 2011

Wagamama

First day back from Edinburgh and the Resident IT Consultant required my presence for a meal out. I have always resisted Wagamama on the grounds that I’m allergic to so much Far Eastern food. Better safe than sorry, is a good if somewhat boring concept.

But I decided to be brave and try it. Looked online and they listed the dishes that are msg-free. The only thing about that is that I never know whether to trust people who make promises like that.

In actual fact, the food was OK. The service was OK. I did feel the place was very noisy, and I’m too old for sitting on benches. Although, at least my feet touched the ground, which is something. It was hard to find the place. There was lift from street level, going down. Did we want M or B?

Was this an intelligence test? Went to B, but it looked like a gym. Tried M. That was the toilets. Back to B. It was the restaurant, albeit looking and sounding like a school refectory. And a gym.

Other than that little confusion, it was OK, as I said. Not sure I will haste back, even if all the desserts are msg-free. Don’t think our waiter knew what msg is; only that they have a list. What puzzles me is why someone with a list doesn’t simply eradicate msg from the menu. They recognise it’s a problem. So why use it? Food has flavour on its own.

I knew I knew her

Did I sit opposite her on a train recently? That was the question. I felt I ‘knew’ her so well, the woman who swept down Shandwick Place in Edinburgh on Saturday morning. Daughter and I were going in the opposite direction, but I got enough of a good look at her. I knew I knew her.

But was it the train? I sort of felt it was recently and I sort of felt she was Swedish. Or the train was, at any rate. But what would she be doing in Edinburgh? OK, so lots of Swedes like Scotland and maybe she was here on holiday. But she strode very purposefully, and alone.

If I hadn’t sat opposite her on a train, maybe she was from the television? Yes, that could be it. Once I’d decided that much, I ‘knew’ that it was a crime series. I felt she was the wronged woman, caught up in something. So, was she British after all? But what could we have watched, that was so recent? Besides NCIS, I watch very little. Surely not Doctor Who?

I discussed the conundrum with Daughter, who hadn’t noticed her. (That didn’t make the discussion any easier.) Suddenly I felt sure it was Wallander. The Swedish, Krister Henriksson Wallander. She was his romantic interest in season one. She was the one who behaved ‘badly’, letting poor Wallander down.

But which episode? It took a lot of googling back and forth until I found the right one, and then some more before deciding which was the right female. Armed with the name Cecilia Nilsson it was easy to find her photo, and then you google name and Edinburgh, and hey presto.

There she was, being praised for her one woman show performed in silence (and in the nude if the picture was anything to go by).

Cecilia Nilsson

So I was right. Except it wasn’t a train. But close.

Pliny the elder

Another year, another photo of Simon Callow. This time a non-shaky (well almost) photo that was not taken by the useless witch, so much better for it.

Simon Callow

You could tell someone ‘big’ was about to come by the large number of photographers who had come out of the woodwork. And Simon was only a little late, and was swiftly rushed on to the next session, which in turn had to be swift to allow for there being an event minutes later.

Simon Callow, My Life in Pieces

There is another biography of this actor, about whom I know so little. To me it’s enough that he was Caroline Lawrence’s Pliny in the Roman Mysteries.

It’s a cultural thing

Röda Kvarn, Borås

I couldn’t remember why, but I did know I desperately did not want to see Black Swan. Which was a shame, as it was the only film on at Borås Röda Kvarn, when School Friend asked if we wanted to come with her. Daughter sacrificed herself and went along, while I stayed at home ‘away’ and blogged and stole sweet stuff in my host’s larder.

When she returned, Daughter said I’d been right to stay away. Something to do with a nail file (?) and legs?

Röda Kvarn, Borås

Anyway, I asked her to take a few pictures of this lovely Art Deco cinema, which played such an important part in my past. It’s where Aunt and Uncle Cinema worked, and where as a child I was able to see many films free of charge.

I really must return one day when there is a ‘friendlier’ film on.

As a cultural counter to this film business, Son went along to a football match with Mr School Friend. Elfsborg were playing Göteborg IFK. Naturally they won. So the ‘boys’ were satisfied. Even I was satisfied, and that’s despite needing to sit through all the sports news on television in order to see all the goals from the match.

Guest art

Art

We’re sleeping in the New Librarian’s old room. It’s now an ‘artist’s studio’, so on the shelves there are no longer the New Librarian’s books, but art. Always nice to look at, when ‘sleeping’.

Art

Sometimes I even sit and blog at the paint stained desk in there.

As for the bed, it’s the most comfortable I’ve known. It’s damned hard stealing a bed unobtrusively. I would if could.

Art

Midsomer-in-the-Marsh

The best thing about blogging is ‘meeting’ so many interesting people. Ones who are just like me, only lovelier and more exciting. One such friend is author Linda Sargent, who lives somewhere nearish Oxford. She sent me a Christmas card (at Christmas time, I hasten to add), in the shape of a photo of the house she lives in. This is what I said about it: ‘What a beautiful house! Very Midsomer, although hopefully without the dead bodies.’ 

As we all know, I am a witch. That’s why this week Linda’s house was full of corpses (maybe) and Barnaby (the new one). And a few other people. Green with envy, I asked Linda for a first person account of the murderous proceedings, so here she is:

Midsomer-in-the-Marsh: A Rare Bird – August 2011

“Are you really sure you’re up for this?” our landlady asked after we’d decided that we were prepared to turn our house and garden over to the Midsomer Murders team for a day. Well, over a period of three days almost; one to set-up and “dress” the dining room and car-port (magically transformed into a bird-watcher’s studio), one to film and one to dismantle – or strike, as it’s called in the business. It was a good question, though, and she was asking from an informed point of view, since she’s also a film maker and knows what a disruptive process it can be, but as a friend of mine said when we were talking about it beforehand, “Anything interesting in life tends to be disruptive.” True! And since we are all, in some fashion, involved in the story-making fields, we said, “Yes”.

It all began back in June with a note through the letterbox from the location department of Bentley Productions saying they were looking for properties similar to ours for possible use in the upcoming series of Midsomer Murders. We contacted them and there followed a few visits to check us and the house out; first the director and the art/props man, who took one look and obviously decided fairly quickly that not much would have to be done to make the place look like the home of a slightly untidy, techie bird watching chap – a lone parent bringing up a ballet-mad little girl. Then came the recce with fifteen of the team arriving by coach, including the sound man who was thrilled when Andy, my partner in crime, produced an oscilloscope after the director (who looked uncannily like an older version of my rheumatologist) had waved his arms about saying he wanted the character to be staring at some sort of screen with a moving green light thingy. Two weeks later the art team arrived and spent a large chunk of the day setting up, mostly in the car-port, building a false wall and filling the place with monitors, shelves and the soon-to-be famous oscilloscope. Meanwhile, the art director replaced some of our ornaments with some others, a few unnervingly similar, plus photos of the little girl and her ballet certificate next to a wooden swan. Off came our bits on the fridge and one went some of “her” drawings and three soft toys – a giraffe, a bear and a tiny hedgehog – were scattered in the sitting room window seat. Tea was drunk, Kit-Kats were eaten, Asda was visited and lunch eaten in our sunny yard.

Midsomer Murders - on location

We reset our alarm for 6 a.m. the next day and everything was ready.

At 7 a.m. the crew were already building the filming tower in the drive across the road, the Stop/Go traffic signs were in place, the village recreation ground was stashed with lorries, plus the essential catering truck. Shooting was due to begin with exterior shots, but the weather decided otherwise, perhaps, as I tactlessly observed, because they’d renamed our village Midsomer-in-the-Marsh. Soon the team (around thirty of them) were filling the house, big plastic mats were unrolled across our floors, the camera was temporarily parked in the kitchen, the three actors, Neil Dudgeon/DCI Barnaby, Jason Hughes/DS Ben Jones, Paul Bigley/bird-watcher (suspect?) introduced themselves and everyone was very friendly and gracious, aware that they were in our space, pretending to be theirs, but only for a day.

Midsomer Murders - on location

Several short scenes for what will probably amount to around five minutes of film time were rehearsed, rehearsed again, shot, re-shot, shot again from the other direction, the actors trying to keep the same momentum and expression every time. Shirts were changed, lunch was eaten, Chelsea buns were shared, the sun came out – but in the wrong place, so a “flag” was erected to pretend it wasn’t where it actually was. We were invited to sit outside and watch and listen (pic) on the monitors, just behind the continuity lady whose eyes were trained on every detail and hand gesture the actors made. It’s no longer, “Lights, camera, action!” Although they do say “Action!” and there is a clapboard and Take 1, 2, etc. – here it was “Turnover, turning, speed”, and the runners guarding the exits to keep everyone quiet during the takes.

Finally, it was 7 p.m. and more or less everyone had left, including the lovely Kerry in charge of location for the day, who’d insisted on sweeping the floor, making sure we were happy. We were.

The next day, the props team arrived to clear and restore everything, and leaving us with a warm glow by telling us we were in their top five. Phew!

A friend in the business had advised us to go out for the day, because filming can be a laborious, repetitive process, but not for us. We can go to the pub any day, however, this was surely a one-off, time to play pretend in a bigger way. Sometimes in our old cottage I’d go outside in the evening and stare in through the window, as if it was a stranger’s house, secretly proud it was ours looking, as it did, so cosy and inviting. Yes, that was what it was like. And afterwards, although we were unaccountably tired from a day of sitting around watching others work, we also felt a little sad.

But now, the caravan has moved on, and even the neighbourhood dogs are quiet…

(Episode title: A Rare Bird.)

We’ll have to look out for that one.

Craving NCIS

It’s very illogical. But then, craving things usually is.

Here on holiday we have limited television channels to watch. So we don’t get channel 3, which is the one that shows NCIS. It’s also on channel 8, which we don’t get either. Both show repeats, seeing as it’s summer and not much happens.

I have seen every episode of the eight seasons made so far. I have old episodes with me that I can watch. But despite the fact that I can pick any one I want, I still feel this twinge of dissatisfaction when I read the television guide and see what’s on.

There’s one on most nights, with a late repeat, and if I wanted to I could match the one offered on television. But I usually make my own choice, depending on how I feel, or how many times I’ve watched a particular episode.

NCIS

The good thing about that is picking ones I somehow feel I like less than others, because I generally find that there is some aspect of the episode in question that I especially enjoy.

As I said, so illogical.

(Photo © CBS)

Frisk-ier than ever

When Daughter saw the prices asked for Thomas Frisk’s art today, she came to the conclusion that ‘she could do that too’. I was less surprised, because Thomas is good, and he has to have money to live. Unfortunately, so do we, so no buying.

We needed to entertain GP Cousin and Swiss Lady, which is why I suggested the new Thomas Frisk exhibition in Halmstad, at Galleri Art-On. I’m only ever a ‘little girl’ to GP Cousin, so he might well have had his doubts about my suggestion, but I think he was won over. It’s an excellent exhibition, and I’d struggle to pick a single piece I wouldn’t want to own.

There were ones that I absolutely loved, but all were good.

Between us, Daughter and I and Swiss Lady, as well as the other visitor there, fell for the same picture. Despite Swiss Lady claiming to have a wall waiting for something large, she too loved the washbasin picture, which also happened to be a more ‘normal’ size.

Ever the sexist, GP Cousin explained away our fondness for it by saying its colours were girly. Hah. OK, there was pink and purple, but mostly not. Mostly it’s the same grey and monochrome industrial grunginess as usual with Thomas. In other words, perfectly wonderful.

I have blogged previously about Thomas, and I feel the washbasin would complement my earlier toilet print very nicely. But I’m not fussy. Any of the other paintings would be quite acceptable. However, some of them would need to come with a new wall to hang them on. The wayward shopping trolley was good.

So were the ceramic industrial ‘details’ Thomas had made, to match what’s at the exhibition venue. All I can say is that before my electrician removed them for something modern and bland and white, I too had light switches like Thomas’s. I could have killed him. The electrician, I mean.

I’m going to need to send Daughter to study for Thomas, and then she can – maybe – produce industrial grunge directly for me. Free of charge. She did study with Thomas once before, because he’s a very kind man, and at about age 10 she angled for lessons when we met him. She was too young. Now she’d be more than ready for some knowhow on ceramic light switches, and how to best portray a WC.

Teeth

I’ve got teeth on the mind. Well, actually, mine are in my mouth, where they belong. But I think about them. Especially when they hurt. But it’s not those teeth I meant, really. Although I swear by Swedish dentists, and I took my teeth to see one of them yesterday.

What I’ve really been saying and thinking this last week is that Swedes have no teeth (other than those beautiful, well looked after things they chew with). The most recent thing to make me think toothless thoughts was the article in the paper last week, detailing how a listed shop building in Halmstad was stripped of what made it special. And nobody can do a bl**dy thing about it!

Storgatan 29, Halmstad - Hallandsposten

It’s like chopping down trees. Once they’re gone they’re gone. In this case the town’s ‘listed buildings person’ discovered the violated shop front and felt sad. So he told the newspaper about it. What he should do is make more fuss, more often and more usefully. It’s not he first time I’ve seen him feeling ‘sad’ in the paper.

Anyway, I was thinking how toothless he and others are, unable to deal with this kind of thing. I was thinking of the bus driver who feebly told the teenage louts to ‘stop it’, and then shrank back and did no more. I’m thinking about all sorts of other people who should be doing things and don’t.

The paper ran an article on the student who had to move because she couldn’t stand the noise all night long from the other students (!). You’ll be relieved to hear that the landlord did nothing. And we are talking big, local authority type landlord, not a private individual.

This is in interesting contrast with my cultural shock when staying with friends who live in flats. I’ve been an exile so long and adopted these dreadful foreign habits until I no longer know what’s proper. I told one host I’d have a shower later, and received a pitying smile. Actually, I’d better shower straight away, as you aren’t allowed to after 11pm. Then there was the other friend who informed me I couldn’t use the toilet in the night. Or at least not flush. My mind immediately turned to number twos…

But all this was put right when I read this morning’s paper. I have found someone with teeth! The guard on a train threw an 11-year-old girl off the train for not having a ticket. The ticket was with an adult, who just happened to have gone to the toilet. (See, toilets again! Nothing but trouble.) The girl spoke hardly any Swedish, so couldn’t explain. Off the train she went.

The police appear to have spent twelve hours searching for her. Luckily she was still alive when found.

I then recalled the guard on my most recent train. He had teeth too. He also used them against a passenger, who also happened to be foreign. And ticketless. And my goodness, but the woman didn’t even have a credit card! I know this because he shouted so loudly at the polite – albeit so foreign – woman.

But in order to be kind to train guards, who I am sure are really lovely people, I will mention the one I encountered in June. I’m afraid it’s to do with toilets again. Neither of the train’s two toilets worked so when the train arrived where we got off, the helpful guard had called ahead and ‘those who need a wee (yes, really) can go to the front of the train (at this point my mind boggled with the unspoken possibilities…) where they will receive help.’ In actual fact, they were guided to the station staff facilities, and if they were lucky the train waited for them.