Category Archives: Blogs

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.

Advertisements

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!

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.)

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!