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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!

From cake to Cecil

The whole thing began with cake, but I forget quite how we ended up on the subject of homemade versus bought cake, and the effect of certain television programmes. But when we really should have been tidying books, we got lost in odd – and old – memories, much to the surprise and interest of Daughter.

It was my madeira cake – back in 1982 – which led us to my old friend No Filmstar. It was he who admired my cake so much he reckoned it had to be an M&S cake. For some reason Daughter required more information, and slowly, step by step, we arrived at the sculptor Cecil Thomas.

At first I couldn’t remember his name, but the Resident IT Consultant knew we’d looked him up before, in a past where there was no Google. But with the few facts we had, Daughter eventually found him and his impressive work and reputation.

Having known so little back then, it was interesting learning more. I met No Filmstar soon after Thomas’s death in 1976, and whereas he was mentioned now and again, I never knew any real facts. No Filmstar was one of the somewhat strange individuals hanging out in Queensway, back in the day when the young witch began witching.

So we moved sideways from the sculptor to the other people, including Dulcie and Mrs MacLean, and I remembered more about Mrs Hop and Cyril with the guinea pigs, and the old couple with the dog, and I realised what an odd life these people had, eating out every night, because they hadn’t the means to cook where they lived (most likely just a room). It seemed a bit glamorous then, but now I feel mostly sorry for them.

It’s the idea of being so ‘posh’ that you don’t go to work – other than charitably – but live ‘frugally’ off an inheritance, which inevitably dwindles as you go, that seems strange.

As always, I wish I could get the photos out, but I stuffed them all in a box when we moved, so can’t easily find individual ones, and the last letter I received in connection with these people I threw out a couple of months ago…

Except, Dulcie the 1st, who was eventually replaced by her niece Dulcie the 2nd, recently caused Bookwitch to receive a contact email from someone who could turn into Dulcie the 3rd, if her name wasn’t something else.

And I know none of this makes sense. I’m merely reminiscing. There was a Russian spy – whose name I forget – in there too.

A very long time ago

I was at the dentist’s yesterday morning, and managed to pay some attention to what was on the radio, while also being crowned and glued and whatnot.

They were looking back on the long career of Terry Wogan. Radio Two, not the dentist. So there were snippets from Eurovision, with a pretty hilarious voting commentary between Norway and Sweden.

And then Terry was heard to reminisce on the big changes to Eurovision after ABBA won in 1974. They played Waterloo, and while I didn’t quite lie there singing along, it was still fun.

The dentist asked me if I could remember this. I said that yes, of course, I could. I didn’t tell him exactly where I was or what I was doing, but I do remember. I wasn’t an ABBA fan in those days. (My dentist, who is a very lovely dentist, won’t have been born then.)

And the next thing he asked was whether the members of ABBA were well known in Sweden before Waterloo. I said they were, but didn’t dare point out I’d been a fan of BB almost ten years earlier. And more recently one of the As. He’s very good with general knowledge stuff and irrelevant facts, and can manage a long conversation on exoplanets if he has to. But clearly not ancient ABBA facts.

You had to have been there.

Happy 2015 Christmas

I hope you all have a nice Christmas, just the way you like it.

Blue bauble