Category Archives: Blogs

Advent Roger

I have a crazy friend. Crazy is generally the best. But even so, I didn’t expect this.

This year for Advent, my friend is giving away gifts to her Facebook friends. You know, if money was no object, kind of thing. So after a safe start of a holiday in Florida and a £2,000,000 house in Devon, this morning it was my turn.

I had had my doubts. I am a notoriously difficult person, and I was mainly settling down to see what inappropriate gift ‘her money’ would provide. I take it all back! This is what I woke up to:

‘If I had money, I would offer so much of it to Roger Whittaker that he would agree to come and sing one last time, especially for you. As one of his signature songs is The Last Farewell, I would hire a tall ship and crew from Topsail to bring Roger over from the nearest port in France, where he now lives, to Leith. You and Roger would have a fine meal on board in the harbour, and Roger would sing The Last Farewell to you, before sailing away into the sunset.’

Roger Whittaker and CultureWitch

What a lucky witch I am, to have a friend like that!

She’s right. It is what I’d want. Well, maybe I’d whisper into Roger’s ear that he could pick a different song, if he felt up to it, but my goodness, what a spectacular gift!

(And for anyone who wants to help my friend get rich, do buy her books. I thoroughly recommend her Belgian trilogy for a good scare. It’s so scary I have recently learned that her husband couldn’t quite finish the last one… Here is a list of all Helen Grant’s books. They are very good. And very scary.)

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Nine years and counting

Or fourteen, if you prefer.

As we are about to embark of season fifteen of NCIS, I trust Gibbs is still all right somewhere in South America, whether he’s been in trouble for a few hours or the four months since we left him and McGee.

NCIS - Gibbs and McGee

Not that I have been counting the weeks, nor am I having a countdown to the season start, which I believe is on September 26th.

But for today Mark Harmon is 66, which is a rather witchy number, and CultureWitch is nine. Let’s hope we can both manage another year. To be perfectly honest, it’s not only NCIS that needs to get a grip. So do I. I mean, Culture does.

Happy Birthdays to us!

Bye to the Saint, Ivanhoe and 007

Roger Moore died earlier today. He’s not someone I have thought very much about in recent years, but when I was a child and teenager he was right up there with the best.

Most people refer to him as James Bond, but his 007 days were almost a bit late for me. I’d liked Ivanhoe, and I’d loved The Saint, and sort of enjoyed The Persuaders. But that’s quite a bit of screen entertainment from one man, and enough to cover many of my early years.

Roger was a good 007; I think it’s mainly that I was never big on Bond.

But almost nine years ago when Roger appeared in Cheltenham, there was no question but we had to go to his event. He’d just turned 80 at the time, and had a book out, I believe, which is why he appeared at a book festival.

He showed his age, which I suppose is unavoidable, but his acting skills carried him through. The one thing that surprised me was his dislike of Hjördis Niven. Well, no. More that he didn’t mind airing it publicly.

Roger Moore

Goodbye to this handsome man who gave us so many screen adventures!

Christmas card

Advent candles

Wishing you a Happy Christmas!

Happy 8th, dear Culture!

Yeah, it’s not quite the done thing to wish yourself a happy birthday. Even when yourself is your blog. But CultureWitch is eight today, and I almost forgot, because I’ve been masterminding some windows for a week.

And anything to get my mind off windows right now!

As is customary around here, a Happy Birthday to Mark Harmon as well. He is 65 today and by rights ought to retire, but it seems he’s good for a bit longer. After all, it was only earlier this year that he had the First Lady guest star on NCIS.

Michelle Obama and Mark Harmon

That is worth celebrating. The fact that Michelle Obama is an NCIS fan, along with the rest of us, and not afraid to admit it.

So, Happy cake eating to all!

NCIS 300th cake

(Photos © CBS)

Keeping us guessing

I don’t like uncertainty much. And when someone has spilled beans, I prefer for those to be the beans, and not red herrings. Or a side dish.

I’m fairly certain Clayton Reeves was introduced to us as taking over from DiNozzo, even though I felt it seemed unlikely on an immediate basis, what with him being MI6. But we had Ziva and Mossad and that worked. And they half offered us a female FBI agent in the spring, without saying on what basis. I assumed it was that DiNozzo has left big footsteps and more than one might be needed to fill his boots (if I am allowed to throw footwear around like this).

And then we learn they have Wilmer Valderrama lined up, seemingly for the same part; taking over from our annoying-but-will-be-missed agent. It’s cunning having someone who already is an agent with NCIS, but who has a reason for not ever having come up in discussions. Deep cover, indeed. I don’t know him from anything, but I’m sure he’s OK. Looks a bit too DiNozzo-ish, perhaps.

This appears not to be all. There is another regular (or semi-regular?) character on the way. Another female, Jennifer Esposito. Another name that means nothing to me. Again, she might be fantastic. But I hate having so many new people all at once. And I’d like a slightly less perfect looking woman to join; someone older, uglier, maybe shorter and fatter. Same goes for the men, obviously.

If these characters all turn up at the same time, it will be more the old team getting used to them, rather than the new ones having to fit in with an existing team. While not being all eggs in one basket, which can be good, I see a whole lot of baskets out there.

And I’m not that hungry.

Music en route

The bad thing about the Edinburgh festival season during August is that travelling turns into a nightmare. I find myself choosing not to go to events at times or days of the week when I suspect travelling will undo any good the event might offer.

So yesterday my trusted photographer and I picked a train earlier than we had to, just so we could go on the King’s Cross train, with four or five times as many coaches as the local one. It was even worth waiting for it as it ran late, just not to get squashed on the little train.

As the Resident IT Consultant dropped us off it was mayhem by the station entrance. There was an interview being conducted on the pavement, complete with BBC camera and everything. Loads of people wearing t-shirts or hoodies with Stirling Orchestra on the back, and an unusual number of double basses for a railway station. Even in August.

I remembered reading something in the local paper about the orchestra; they had been chosen for something special. My photographer googled as we waited and could tell me they were going to London to take part in All Together Now: The Great Orchestra Challenge, a ‘four-part series, which will celebrate the breadth and quality of amateur orchestral playing across the UK, will follow five orchestras as they compete for a place in the Grand Final. It will begin on BBC Four at the end of August, with the final episode to be broadcast on BBC Two.’

That’s pretty good, and I’m sufficiently pleased for them that I didn’t even mind the squeeze on the train. The double basses and the stools, etc, got stowed elsewhere, and it was only the smaller instruments that were all over the place, along with the BBC crew’s junk, carefully blocking the Edinburgh exit door…

Now, if they could only have whipped out their instruments and serenaded us as we went!