Monthly Archives: December 2014



It’s a fun concept to have the Earl from Downton fighting Mrs Coulter over a bear, with some assistance from the Doctor. Paddington was lovely. I’d heard he would be, but you still want to make sure.

Going to see Paddington was our New Year’s Eve treat, and it was (shock, horror) our first cinema outing after moving. We will be back soon again, and as the car parking has been paid until tomorrow lunch time, perhaps we should hurry.

I don’t know the book about Paddington as well as I ought to, but on the plus side that meant I didn’t have to sit there wondering why they left things out or why they put new things in. It was all rather sweet, and I now feel I have a deeper understanding of the background to the marmalade.

The bear jokes were funny and obvious, and so much better for it. ‘Bear left!’

There is something deliciously scary having Nicole Kidman looking like a sweet, young thing, and being so truly bad. And Hugh Bonneville didn’t really have to alter his Downton personality. The Earl would also disapprove of a bear moving in, until he saw the light and changed his mind and started loving the bear.

Mrs Brown was perfectly cast, and I’d love for Sally Hawkins to be my mummy, too. London looked great (if fairly romantically portrayed), and little Paddington was a charming young man. Bear, sorry.

Peter Capaldi was fantastic, and I’m only pointing that out because I’ve not seen him in much. And when I move to London, I’ll go and live in that street, too. Please?


A last kettle

There was a slight disadvantage to sitting on row five when they used their large water ‘pistol’ from the stage. It reached. Very well, too. Although I didn’t do what many parents did, which was to hold their children in front of them as shields. Some parents they turned out to be!

The Singing Kettle at Stirling Albert Halls

I – on the other hand – was an exemplary parent and brought my baby girl to what has been advertised as the last tour for The Singing Kettle. She probably hadn’t been since the millennium concert at the Albert Halls in Stirling, which means it had been a 15 year gap. Contrary to what Daughter thought, you can actually go to these shows as an adult. Neither of us fell over, bumped our heads and cried, nor did we require help to go to the toilet.

It was good. Apart – possibly – from the water and the fact that The Singing Kettle will be no more. It was a tonic, on a Monday morning after Christmas, with plenty of grinning and laughing, not to mention singing. I did draw the line at rocking my poor head from left to right and forwards and back, going over the Irish Sea.

The Singing Kettle mug

Despite there being no Artie and Cilla anymore, Kevin and Anya did a great job, ably assisted by the still baby-faced Gary and his purple trombone. Anya is testament to the strength of the brand, having herself been one of the audience participants, being invited onto the stage. (She clearly never left, which was something I did think about as parents blithely let their offspring wander off with these strangers, in order to perform on stage with them. Did they see them again? ‘The tiniest ever’ Diddle in the first half was the smallest, cutest participant I have ever seen. A little confused maybe, but so keen, and later seen trying to return on stage again.)

We knew some of the songs (because back then we were pros) and some not, as they were possibly using new material as well as recycling old songs forever. Daughter had forgotten Bunny Fou Fou, but not I. And you have to love Music Man (even without Cilla…).

The preparing and cooking (and subsequent burning) of the turkey made an impression on the younger part of the audience, especially cleaning it with a toilet brush. The snowman who sneezed all over and the galloping reindeer, not to mention the adorable yellow ducks (including tiny Diddle) helped make this a very visual show.

But we weren’t allowed to take pictures (if I’d been Diddle’s mother, I’d have taken a photo of him in his duck costume anyway!) so we don’t have much to show you. Daughter did hit the merchandise stall as soon as we arrived, however. It might be her last opportunity.

The Singing Kettle mug

There was some Hokey Cokey at the end, and a fitting finale of pushing Granny off the bus. (As if we would…)

If you’ve never seen The Singing Kettle live, I feel sorry for you. We used to travel across half the country for them, whereas now it was a mere walk away.

Christmas with NCIS – Love and death

Poor McGee. We could tell early on that not all was well. But it was a strange kind of episode, and while snowy, it was basically a little too sad for Christmas.


OK, they rolled out some old villains and half of Gibbs’s rules, and saved on the filming by giving us plenty of flash-backs to rules in the past.

McGee and Abby


It can be nice to revisit old stories, but this felt like too much photo album and too little new real episode. Not so much of a Christmas one if you ignore the snow.

But it was based on families. Fathers and sons.

Bad Santas

Sam Hanna

That went for LA as well. Flimsy-ish script, but with many personal touches. Very sweet, pretty surprising, but where on earth do they go from here?

Deeks, Kensi, Hanna and Michelle

Granger sharing more than a drink with Hetty. I believe that was an innuendo I spied there.

Granger and Hetty

Nell and Eric? Really? And Deeks and Kensi too.

Eric and Nell

Kensi and Deeks

Even Callen.


This much happy ever after cannot work. What were they thinking? It’s lovely, but what do they do now?

(Photos © CBS)

Happy Christmas from me to you!

At Waverley

I could hear them as I came down the escalator at Waverley station yesterday evening. It wasn’t piped music at high volume, it was a real carol concert in the waitingroom area. Whereas I had intended to sit anyway – spending my spare half hour reading a book and eating my sandwich – I sat down where I could see and hear better.

And I wasn’t the only one. It’s not every dark December eve you have the Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus serenading commuters on their way home. Personally I’d be willing to miss my train for this kind of thing. Luckily, I didn’t have to make that decision, as I wasn’t travelling right then. I was able to just sit and enjoy.

There were mince pies on offer. The singers were warmly wrapped against the storm, rather like the von Trapp family. There was the 17.26 to Dunblane from platform ten to contend with, but they sang on, almost drowning out the announcements for departing trains.

I was sitting there thinking ‘if only I had a camera’ when I realised that I did in fact have a camera, because I was on my way to a cultural event.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus

It’s not only that choirs of this kind sing better than most; it’s that they have had the services of someone who knows how to arrange even the simplest of songs. True, most of the carols were from the more serious end of the seasonal repertoire, but I have never heard We Wish You A Merry Christmas sound like that. It’s a song that makes me roll my eyes when 10-year-old boys come to the door, hoping for money for a halfheartedly performed version.

The Resident IT Consultant thinks I’m a fool for not minding hanging around railway stations. Even when all I get is a seat, my own sandwich and my book, I’m satisfied. Having a professional choral concert offered like this is sheer bliss.

Scottish Chamber Orchestra Chorus

Isn’t that Koothrappali?

The Christmas tree is up, and the Christmas music is playing. The latter on the iPod and thanks to my lack of technical skills, the first run-through of seasonal music arrived alphabetically.

One of the letter A albums made me feel I as though I was listening to a friend. It’s strange how voices work. It’s almost like smell. You are transported somewhere else. The thing is, though, that the man I ‘felt’ was serenading me with all the standard Christmas songs was Raj Koothrappali. You know, our favourite astrophysicist off television’s Big Bang Theory. Ludicrous, of course. Can Kunal Nayyar even sing? And if he can, does it sound like when he speaks?

Because the man who reminds me of Raj, was none other than Andrea Bocelli. The more I listened, the more I could only visualise Raj’s face to go with the voice.

When Daughter returned home to assist with the tree, I demanded that she consider whether it was Raj singing on the iPod. She concentrated, and after a while she burst out laughing, because she could hear it too.

So I’m not completely crazy.

I recognise that people don’t talk like they sing, or vice versa. But for voice personality, that’s Koothrappali in my front room, singing about snow and reindeer and holy nights. I wouldn’t have it any other way.