Category Archives: Blogs

They got her out of there

Anne Hegerty has left – by which I mean she was voted off – I’m a celebrity get me out of here. I’m glad I didn’t start watching the programme on the basis that Anne wouldn’t last long and surely I could invest a few hours watching.

She lasted and I wouldn’t have, even from the comfort of my own living room. I’m pleased Anne did so well, and hoped she’d go on to win. After all, who wants John Barrowman to be successful yet again?

(I won’t mention the other contestants, because I’ve not heard of them.)

Never having watched these celebrities compete, I have no idea what they actually do in the jungle. Possibly neither do real viewers. There’s no guarantee what you see is what happened.

I learned of Anne’s freedom on Facebook this morning, and felt both relieved and sad. A couple of weeks is a long time to go silent on social media.

Hoping to find out more, I Googled, but the stuff I found in the tabloid press made me blush. It also left me no better informed than when I started.

What makes me especially happy, is that Anne picked up new fans for doing so well among the creepy-crawlies, and that by setting a good example she has become a role model for others on the autism spectrum. For me that was an unexpected bonus of this spectacle, but if I’d stopped to consider it, I shouldn’t have been surprised. The jungle reaches further than The Chase.

On that basis I’m terribly grateful to Anne for suffering for the many, and showing the rest of the world what is possible.

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Room for art

I knew exactly where the painting was going to go. Even before it arrived in the post, planning my birthday gift to the Resident IT Consultant – who likes trains – I knew it would go on the wall, just outside the door by his desk.

Railway station by Rachel Ward

Six months on, it is still leaning against the wall, next to the television. This is less to do with me being lazy and more because I can’t bear to stop looking at it. Where it is now, I see it every time I sit down in my armchair. I like looking at it. I, too, like trains and railway stations and all that stuff.

And let’s face it, I bought the painting because I liked it. Not entirely selfless. The Resident IT Consultant generously said it could hang somewhere better [for me]. But where? In a house that really wasn’t made for more art at all, I first bought this streetscape, which I had great trouble finding space for. It now hangs next to my desk, but I had to re-home the calendar that used to live there.

Street scene by Rachel Ward

Rachel Ward, who painted both pictures, is a dangerous woman to know. I first met her in her role as a YA author, nearly ten years ago. Those books were good. Now, she paints at least as much as she writes. And she takes photos.

Where some people can barely get out of bed in the morning, Rachel takes the dog for a walk and before my Weetabix is hot, she has put that morning’s photo harvest on Facebook. They are good photos, of attractive landscapes and streetscapes. So as well as painting, Rachel turns some of her photos into cards. And Christmas cards… (You can find her art here.)

As for the railway station, the jury is still out. Where to hang it? Do I need to be able to stare at it in long daily doses?

I suspect the answer is ‘yes.’ The ‘where’ is still unknown.

Happy 10th, Culture!

How to mark the occasion of ten years of CultureWitch? Especially now that there is less action here than formerly.

The sun was shining and it was warm – for September – so we decided to drive to Göstas at Steninge for some tea and cake and a sea view.

And there was action! There is nothing quite like a bit of car park rage on a nice day. First space was taken by car coming in the way out. Second space was about to be taken by the next car coming in the way out, except I planted myself in the way. I even informed the driver he was wrong.

Silly me.

He behaved so aggressively that I said; ‘You’re going to drive into me, anyway, aren’t you?’ My survival instincts kicked in and I moved. I was quite surprised when he drove off and parked illegally at the other end of the small car park instead, not running me down.

After which we all gathered for sustenance in Göstas…

Had intended to show you one of those tiresome photos of pretty cakes, but we had wolfed them down by the time I remembered. So here are two used cake plates,

Empty plates

a  flag, and

Flag

the beach.

Steninge

Herr Ped*rsen, check the road signs next time! That round one with a horizontal bar through it means No Entry. Which means no entry. Let’s hope we are both here in another ten years.

On critics

A comment on here recently made me think. It wasn’t terribly well written (here I go again, criticising…) but I found it interesting, and it made me consider what I do on CultureWitch.

My task, as I see it, is to go on and on about NCIS and Roger Whittaker. And anything else that takes my fancy.

But then I discovered that every single blog post in the last few weeks seemed to be negative. That is all right, as not everything is good, and one should be honest. Although I do try to keep Thumper’s mother in mind and control my worst instincts.

Luckily I read Grace Dent in the Guardian. She’s their new(ish) food critic, and she had the temerity to criticise a restaurant, which apparently led to complaints.

Luckily Grace Dent had just the right words for me; ‘a critic should offer, if need be, criticism. And things closest to our hearts often get special drubbings because we know the subject backwards.’

I’m so grateful. Grace has put me back where I needed to be. I only moan about NCIS getting it wrong because I have loved them for so long and know them so well. And because they get things wrong.

That’s all.

Bye bye, Lill-Babs

Lill-Babs, aka Barbro Svensson, died this morning. She was 80 and had been one of the most popular singers in Sweden during all of my life, and she was still performing. I read an article about her only last year, about her and Lill Lindfors, another ‘old’ singer, and how they were still going strong. But even strong has to come to an end.

What I discovered in that article, was that in the 1950s as she was a rising star, she could finally afford a new better place to live; a two bedroom flat in Stockholm. She shared it with her mother, her daughter and her three brothers, because that’s how things were in those days. I was interested to read it, though, as it was the same street I lived in during my first year.

Maybe people were scandalised that Lill-Babs was a single mother at sixteen. Maybe not. I never was, as it seemed natural from my point of view.

She was a good performer with a good voice, very versatile, and she worked hard all her life. I believe we all thought of her as the girl next door.

Tack, och hej då!

The Stone of Destiny

The Resident IT Consultant rather surprised me. Back in the summer we wanted to have a few films to watch, and I asked him if there was anything he fancied getting. The response was immediate, and surprising. He wanted The Stone of Destiny.

For reasons I can’t easily explain here, he sees many more film trailers than I do. I assumed he’d come across it in the cinema during the last year or so. And then it turned out the film was almost ten years old. I was amazed he even remembered.

But of course he would, as it’s about Scottish history. We could see a trailer on YouTube, but then we hit a stone wall. In the end he sourced a Polish version online, with subtitles and everything. (If you’re really clever you can turn the subtitles off, but it was harder than it usually is.)

Ian Hamilton, Stone of Destiny

This is the true story of a group of young people from Scotland who go to London in 1950 to steal the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey. They do it on Christmas Eve (because that’s such a good time to commit a crime…). And they succeed.

Naturally.

It’s not an outstanding film or anything, but it’s fun and informative for rookie Scots. It’s got Robert Carlyle in it, and a group of relatively unknown actors (to me, anyway). I enjoyed it, and I could really feel the cold in that unheated B&B somewhere in London. The capital at Christmas looks very fine, if chilly, and then they drive north with the stone and it looks like summer near the Scottish border. That drive either took a long time, or the weather’s so much better up here. Or continuity forgot to lose the leaves on the trees.)

Stone of Destiny - film

It was not a forever triumph over the English, but it was good enough.

The film is worth seeing, especially without the subtitles. And the Resident IT Consultant got so fired up he [re]read Ian Hamilton’s book about his exploits as a young man, which we had on our Scottish shelves.

Naturally.

(Co-published with Bookwitch.)

Christmas card 2017

Christmas card

Happy Christmas!