This is a true story.

Good whatever time it is,

“She used her body just like a bandage;
She used my body just like a wound” – Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are, Meat Loaf

I’m lay watching The Big Lebowski. I’ve finished three seasons of Fargo in the last few weeks. The original series based on the movie was fantastic. The second was equally addictive viewing. The third starring Ewan McGregor (from Perth) and David Thewlis (of Blackpool) was less enthralling but largely watchable. The black comedy crime drama is certainly well filmed, scripted and produced. Martin Freeman (from Aldershot) stars opposite Kirsten Dunst (Small Soldiers and Jumanji) reminds me that some child actors go on to better things. Allison Holman, Colin Hanks, Ted Danson and a host of others make for great casting. Billy Bob Thornton definitely gains points for portraying the word sinister.

This week has seen my first wild tortoise spotting. I moved the miniature mobile speed bump off the road to about twenty metres into forest grasses. I have the mosquito bites to show for it. That evening’s wander sighted many toads, frogs, moths and a few mantids.

I wasn’t going to watch the fourth series of Fargo until I spied Ben Whishaw (from Bedfordshire) is amongst the Star-studded cast. Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland is represented by singer Jessie Buckley. The original Joel and Ethan Cohen brothers have a long list of great movies as directors, producers and so on. What makes me a great fan is their script writing ability. They’ve written the script for Bridge of Spies for Steven Spielberg, and rumour has it that. a Scarface remake is under their pens. Joel, without Ethan, will be involved in The Tragedy of Macbeth. Denzel Washington as Macbeth is intriguing.

Anyway, when you can’t ride a bike, kick a ball and feel utterly energy – devoid, then movies are a good escape. That and the musical writings of the late Jim Steinman. No matter what, Jim Steinman’s music is all coming back to me now. Those who haven’t listened to his works, sang by others, should read ’em and weep. Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart and Meat Loaf‘s Bat Out of Hell are essential playlist features. Steinman was a highly influential lyricist, playwright and composer. He dabbled as a solo artist and expertly produced Sisters of Mercy and Take That amongst others.

“There are times I think I see him peeling out of the dark,
I think he’s right behind me now and he’s gaining ground” – Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are, Meat Loaf

Jim Steinman, 1/11/1947 – 19/4/2021

Enjoy your [insert time period]

Deadwood.

How do / 你好

My mentor and colleague Mr Ben recommended a heap of movies and TV series to watch. One such collection was series one to three of Deadwood. Followed by the movie, of the same name. For reasons that I can’t explain, I had, until this year, not watched a single episode of this period drama. I knew it to be a western (that is cowboys and settlements) within new territories or the U.S.A. I also knew Ian McShane to be a lead actor. That was pretty much it.

Set in the real town of Deadwood, South Dakota during the 1870s, the TV adaptation features many legendary real life legends such as Wild Bill Hicock, the brothers Earp, and Calamity Jane. It also features a tonne of bad language, nudity and violence portraying a town’s foundation and fluctuations. The series throws in gold Rush stories, smallpox, Cornish miners and a whole host of historic visitation to the region.

Al Swearengen played by Ian McShane is a lovable villain. At times a hero, at others a demigod. Swearengen’s real life twin brother doesn’t get a nod in. McShane had a few changes from his real life character, accompanied by monologues and dialogues to twist a thousand twirling tongues, went on to win a Golden Globe Award. 36 episodes and a movie filmed a decade after the last TV show, stand in good faith. It’s a sizeable dramatic American Western. Brian Cox, the actor, alongside Timothy Olyphant, Titus Welliver (Borsch) and an ensembles of familiar faces deliver rousing performances throughout.

HBO also shot Rome, a TV series set around Roman time Italy and its empire. National Geographic TV had Vikings. Deadwood slots in nicely as a part historic, part fictional account of civilisation coming together (like they did in The Gem saloon). The finale of the Deadwood TV series never came. Closure would take a movie some time later. Mr Wu’s pigs needed feeding after all.

The movie ditches history entirely. It’s a TV series sequel, complete with flashbacks. Deadwood is dead. Long live the Western. The finale movie was more like a nostalgic Christmas special. It didn’t have as much bite as the original series flow but it had warmth and heart. It displayed great progression in the growth of the town. However it was most enjoyable. I’ll miss the varied closing credit music pieces.

再见 / Goodbye

Unoriginal movie idea #1.

(on screen text) From the studio that brought you Schindler’s List…*

(further text) Just when you thought it was safe to go back into your bed. **

(yet more text and probably audio descriptive mode) They’re here, they’re everywhere. You’re not allowed to swear. [Not a football chant. Dramatic drumroll type music will play followed by a few seconds silence and then the title both swoops and crawls in.]

MOSQUROACHES

Or should we call it…

COCKQUITOES

(both can be working titles m whilst we figure out any problems with both)

(Narrator, deep booming voice like Mariah Carey)  One mad scientist managed to take the eating parts of a terrifying cockroach and add them to the humble flying mosquito. It didn’t end there though. Soon enough a hybrid was born and it kept reproducing. Suddenly science was defied and the laboratory of birth overrun… (all scrolling text, a bit like Star Wars but less warmth and more fluttering)

(camera pans) a huge shadow cockroach mandible swoops over the screen which then slowly turns into a proboscis of a mosquito

(BBC Wildlife Guru Sir David Attenborough*** narrates, standing by a lake, looking all tranquil) We used to think of mosquitoes as pests. We used to dilly and dally at their annoyance.

(mosquito bites Sir Dave who carries on talking) Ah, shit! Kill them all, the annoying little blood-sucking bastards. (Sir Dave runs away itching himself)

(cameras swoops upwards along an abandoned McDonald’s restaurant… cockroaches spill over the wall, running and then flying away… with their newfound mosquito wings…  the sky fills with darkness as they take flight)

Text flashes in the cloud of mosquito X cockroach insect cloud:

STARRING WILL SMITH+, RALPH FIENNES^, SIR SACHA BARON-COHEN, KATE WINSLET, DANNY DYER, KOREAN BAND BLACKPINK, and introducing JUDY DENCH.

Coming soon: 2000hrs, 2nd February 2022.

*Huge assumptions that they’ll be interested.   **Spielberg won’t be too pleased, once again. ***Spared at no expense? +optimistic guess. ^There’s always a Fiennes knocking around.

Obviously, it’s work in progress. If I’d been a Douyin or TikTok user the trailer would be ready by now, but I’m not…

Superman vs. Peter Pan

How do! / 你好 (nĭ hăo) / Namaste / Welcome!

“In the decade of the 1930s, even the great city of Metropolis was not spared the ravages of the worldwide depression. In the times of fear and confusion the job of informing the public was the responsibility of the Daily Planet. A great metropolitan newspaper, whose reputation for clarity and truth had become a symbol of hope for the city of Metropolis.” – Narration, by a boy, Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie made many of us believe a man could fly. Christopher Reeve’s warm portrayal of the extra-terrestrial sent to Earth was to many the greatest superhero of our generation. Well, all until Michael Keaton stepped in as the Dark Knight in Batman. Fast forwards to the 2000s and it seems that Marvel have serialised their comic arsenal to release a new character on a weekly basis. Even the latest Bad Boys (For Life) movie seemed to be swimming in CGI reminiscent of Marvel’s reign of fire.

“Dream, Believe, Dare, Do.” – Walter Elias Disney’s motto.

But, for those born in the late 70s and early 80s there will be a few of us that were treated to Christopher Reeve’s black lock of hair, a very-much clean-cut James Bond-type character. Director Richard Donner and Superman: The Movie squeezed over 300 million US dollars from the box offices, for a movie that cost but a sixth of that. 143 minutes of fantasy and fiction leapt out of the screen much like the scrolling title words and stars’ names. Filmed between the U.K., Panama, Switzerland and U.S.A., this movie was epic. The dark contrast of life being released from a dying planet, and evil being cast to the Phantom Zone, stemmed a story arc which leapt faster than a speeding bullet featuring comic and soft scenes amongst the pile-driving action. It was like watching a wrestling superstar cuddle a kitten.

“Some people can read War and Peace and come away thinking it’s a simple adventure story. Others can read the ingredients on a chewing gum wrapper and unlock the secrets of the universe.” – Lex Luthor; Superman: The Movie

Superman: The Movie claimed a few awards for best visual effects, a BAFTA (Most Promising Newcomer to Leading Film Roles; and Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema Award) and numerous nominations. John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra’s score is dramatic and distinct. Mario Puzo’s story shuffles between serious issues and wastes little of the cast. Margot Kidder, Glenn Ford, Gene Hackman and Ned Beatty were big names. Terence Stamp would haunt many kids dreams for years to come. Marlon Brando was a global megastar and such was his feeling, he would never reappear in a Superman movie, as he was too buys suing for extra shares of the profits.

“Good form, Mr. Smee? Blast good form! Did Pan show good form when he did this to me?” – Peter Pan, Disney movie, 1953.

Mild mannered reporter Clark Kent starts life in The Daily Planet, before later appearing in cape and pants over his leggings. Many scenes were filmed at the world-famous Pinewood Studios. The Fortress of Solitude was on 007’s stage. British stunt double Vic Armstrong was there for Christopher Reeve for the first two movies.

“..children know such a lot now, they soon don’t believe in fairies, and every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies,’ there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

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Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman. Richard Donner presented a snapshot of 1950s America, subtle humour in modern day Metropolis and the icy cold sci-fi realm of Krypton. The journey was created perfectly for the movies – and although the 2013 movie Man of Steel tried to start again. Jerome Siegel, just like Kal-El (Clark Joseph Kent and  Superman) used pseudonyms (Joe Carter and Jerry Ess) and was born to Jewish immigrants. This wonderful writer dreamed up Superman and with Canadian comic book artist Joseph Shuster by June 1938 Superman ascended into Action Comics #1. Until the 1980s the man of steel dominated the superhero genre of U.S. comic books.

“Stars are beautiful, but they may not take part in anything, they must just look on forever.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Superman drew on many influences. Sci-fi gave some great pointers. Fritz Lang’s 1927 move Metropolis birthed a city within Superman’s eventual realm. Douglas Fairbanks as Zorro influenced the look, although arguably, that caped crusader was closer to the caped crusader, Batman. The geeky barbershop-look of slapstick comedian Harold Lloyd and his mild-mannered persona gave us Clark Kent. Siegel and Shuster’s trawling of pulp fiction, comics and popular media expanded in so many details. Perhaps Peter Pan, as a character from so many stage performances had some influence in there. After all J.M. Barrie’s wonderfully complex character had kids leaping from seats and beds following earlier performances. Much like Superman: The Movie, Peter Pan made many believe that they could fly.

Lois: “Clark…says you’re just a figment of somebody’s imagination, like Peter Pan.” / Superman: “Clark?…Who’s that, your boyfriend?” / Lois: “Clark!? Oh, Clark. No, he’s nothing, he’s just, uh…” / Superman: “Peter Pan, huh? Peter Pan flew with children, Lois. In a fairy-tale.” Scene as Christopher Reeves plays Superman before he’s about to take Lois flying around the city of Metropolis. Superman: The Movie

Peter Pan is complex and rightfully so. The ninth of ten children, Sir James Matthew Barrie, 1st Baronet, had already lost two siblings before birth. This short-statured man from Kirriemuir in Angus, when aged 6, lost his older brother David the day before David would have turned 14 years old. With his mother’s favourite forever-absent, J.M. often imitated and tried to fill David’s place. By the age of eight, his eldest siblings were his teachers at the coeducational Glasgow Academy and six years or so later at Dumfries Academy. Somehow he managed to kick back against his conservative Calvinist Victorian family and crack in with his dream of writing. The University of Edinburgh beckoned, and he graduated with an M.A. in literature during April 1882. After some journalism, unpopular fiction and hard graft he turned his eyes to playwriting. By 1894 he was married and with a Saint Bernard puppy, and had worked with Sherlock Holmes’s creator Arthur Conan Doyle.

“Ostensibly a holiday entertainment for children but really a play for grown-up people” – Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw

The premiere date of 27 December 1904 of Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up arrived. Neverland was with us all – and a stark contrast to late Victorian and early Edwardian times. The Peter Pan models were extended and adapted throughout the years and the novel Peter and Wendy was inevitably released in 1911, with illustrations by F. D. Bedford. The two previous novels The Little White Bird and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens are two equally delightful run outs for the boy who wouldn’t age or grow up. There is another outing in When Wendy Grew Up – An Afterthought. After that, popular culture claimed Pan for a silent movie in 1924, before Disney came knocking in 1953. The thrills of mermaids, fairies, Native Americans and pirates gained global viewers. J.M. Barrie himself commissioned sculptor Sir George James Frampton (he did the lions outside of the British Museum and Dr Barnardo’s Memorial) in 1912. The May Day surprise was a gift to the children of London.

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Some years ago, I was lucky enough to wander through a dusk-lit Kensington Gardens and see the statue of Peter Pan. Six identical moulds were taken and can be found from Liverpool (U.K.), Canada’s Ontario to Camden, and New Jersey. St. John’s, Newfoundland, Brussels (Belgium) and Perth (Australia) complete the list of original replicas. There are multiple statues of various designs globally also. Great Ormond Street Hospital has its own interpretation and rightfully so. Ever since 1929, all the rights and copyrights were given to Great Ormond Street Hospital. The boy who would be a child forever could inspire and keep those in need, some company.

“When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laugh broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

J.M. Barrie died in Manchester, well Manchester Street, Marylebone, that London on the 19th of June 1937. This was a man who had had Jerome K. Jerome as a friend; had divorced in 1909 and the hugely influential Llewelyn Davies family. George, John, Peter, Michael and Nicholas. Perhaps J.M. Barrie wanted to be a child forever. Perhaps Peter Pan was pretending to want to be forever young or showing off to his beautiful Wendy. Wendy was mature enough to surely see his insecurities. She displays great compassions as Peter Pan struts around his gaff, Neverland and does almost anything he wants. The land of adventures are at his command. The Darling family take his attention a little, but it does feel that Peter Pan would soon grow distracted of them and return to Neverland to do whatever he feels. Peter Pan is the antihero, to the hero of Superman. The two are alike, yet so far apart. Superman is a simple and clear character, with little conflict within. Peter Pan is like me, selfish and confused, and searching for a never-ending youth to hide from everyday burdens like responsibility and grown-up stuff.

“To die would be an awfully big adventure.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Today, in China, it was Children’s Day and we watched the Disney retelling of Peter Pan, complete with lost boys, manipulation and an upset Captain Hook because Peter Pan had cut off his hand and fed it to a crocodile with a timepiece. Eton College-educated Captain Hook seems devoted to bringing Peter Pan down. The Neverland story goes on and on and on, with endless retellings and reinterpretations or works based on Peter Pan and company. The right to collect royalties in eternity under precise and explicit provisos in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 mean that Peter Pan is the gift that keeps giving to Great Ormond Street Hospital. Superman, however, is the $5.48 billion cash card of DC Comics and Warner Bros.

“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.” – Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie

Happy New Year: MMXX

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do / S’mae / Namaste

MMXX is here. It sounds like a rapper. This year is a leap year. This all assumes that you and I follow the Gregorian calender – and the Common Era (CE: previously known as AD, year of the lord and all that). Other calenders and timelines are available.The Byzantine calendar is somewhere between the years 7528 and 7529. China’s calender is much more confusing. The years 己亥年 (Earth Pig) 4716 or 4656 to 庚子年 (Metal Rat) 4717 or 4657 with us. Ghostsbusters will return as a franchise, following the original two movies.

A new decade begins with hope (and fireworks, bushfires and other shameful carry ons from 2019). The Holocene calendar says 12020 but Unix time mentions the numbers 1577836800 – 1609459199. I’m going to keep 2020 in mind. It is far more simple. However, when I got to Nepal on the 18th of January, I will be landing in Kathmandu in the Nepali year of 2076 (according to Bikram Sambat’s calendar).

The U.K. is scheduled to leave the E.U. on the last day of this month. I will be relegated from a citizen of Europe to just a British person. It’s coming home was played at London’s slightly smoky firework displays (although the BBC coated over the smoke cloud) and this year will see England get knocked out at the UEFA Euro 2020 tournament staged across E.U. countries, and the U.K. Perhaps some Irish kids will open their 1996 time capsuleand pull out a copy of that song by The Lightning Seeds just in time for the football tournament. Or, it can also be used at Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics

This year NASA will aim to launch a mission to Mars to check out if it is habitable. Perhaps as the probe returns to Earth, it will find Earth is no longer habitable, as climate change and November’s Presidential Election may have swallowed up the last dregs of breathable air for humanity. However, Norway is paying Liberia to stop cutting down trees. A new hope?

As we enter the 2020s, keep in mind Morpheus from The Matrix said to Neo, “in the early 21st century mankind united in celebration when they created Artificial Intelligence”. Half-Life 2 is set around now, as was monster battling robot war movie Pacific Rim. Writer Ralph Peters penned that an alliance of Japan, South Africa, and the Arab Islamic Union, a confederation of militant Islamic states would be at war with the U.S.A. His novel, penned in 1991 was named The War in 2020. Snore-inducing dragon movie Reign of Fire also gave this year a dramatic post-apocalyptic science fantasy setting.  Terrahawks by Gerry Anderson and co, saw Earth defending itself. We should also beware the Knights of God, a fascist religious order with origins in 1987 television. But don’t worry too much Johnny Mnemonic is set next year. And in 2022, the gold from Fort Knox that Goldfinger said was useless, should be okay – the same year Geostorm is expected to hit. By 2029, the T-800 and a T-1000 will head back to kill either Sarah or John Connor, this giving a bodybuilder some work that will eventually lead him to be the 38th Governor of California. And finally, according to Data, the reunification of Ireland is achieved in 2024., Star Trek: The Next Generation (“The High Ground“). So, this decade isn’t all that bad!

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye / Hwyl Fawr / Dhanyabaad / Alavidā

 

Add Vim or Gin & Tonic?

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do / S’mae / Namaste

WHO AM I?

“Everything in life is difficult: Being young, being old.” – Dag, TV series 3, episode 4 opening credits.

What is the meaning of life? Such a common question. I wonder why that is always the big question. Is the answer really 42? Many in religion argue that a scientific mind is a major cause of an individual’s crisis in meaning. Is it that there is almost a denial that an interplay of gases, chemicals, genetics and biology can lead to a meaning? Our amoeba cousins are prime examples of life. The humble farmed hogs being hunted the leopards of Mumbai too. Look outside and see a butterfly flutter by, and there is the answer. Survival. Google the wrong term without a safe search and you’ll no doubt stumble on the other answer: propagation.

Without completely telling religion where to scatter, I won’t force my beliefs on those who believe. Rag’n’Boneman will back me up. I’m only human, after all. I do however favour a logical and scientific approach to life, and higher beings don’t exist in it. No prophets, Gods, Goddesses, Deities, immortals, idols, or divine beings for me. I do believe in nature as a force. Holy beings are a no. Caterpillars changing to butterflies are a yes. The bible is young. God, the one Him and He that is mentioned in the new and old testament is quite modern, which I find strange and a little questionable.

Depressingly life is quite simple, and it seems us numpty humanoids complicate things. Is the glass half full? No. Is the glass half empty? No. The glass exists, with something neither incomplete nor complete inside it. It can house more or less than the state it was in before two simple questions were presented. Is the glass full of water and air in an unbalanced state? Is the water warm, cold or hot? Who put the question into a glass? Why not a whiskey tumbler? Are tumblers a glass? How many other glasses are stood full nearby? Can the question apply to tins of Costa Coffee x Coca Cola? Will that make it into a Costa Express machine to be delivered free one day?

Books, movies and songs have always been good companions. I fear that I will let others down, or myself down. I need a ray of sunshine to pick me up. Other people’s wonderful creations give me hope. They are my sunshine on a dark day. I’m in a foreign land where not everyone speaks my tongue. Few do. Even then if I can speak with someone, no matter how close they are, I cannot be sure that they truly understand me. Linguistic and cultural barriers exist in regions, countries, political beliefs and thoughts too. My humour is not Andy Warhol, and not Billy Connolly. It is just me, plain old and simple me. To have fingers put upon emotions, by others, and shared before eventually reaching you is simply delightful.

“Almost everything will work again of you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott, novelist

The trick of life is surviving it by feeling achievement. Somewhere in our DNA is an answer to a problem. Perhaps we don’t know of it. Perhaps we never will. Perhaps our species will have evolved time and time again rendering that answer obsolete. Relationships in our lives may dip, ebb or fade away. That’s life. Kick it in the dick and move on or engage in conversation. Have a natter with a good friend – or help your significant other to understand you using words. If that fails, there are alternative lifestyles like nudist camps, swinging, or cycling around the world jobless. Not every mould of lifestyle choice will fit everyone. Find that extra vim. If something feels dead end and meaningless, change the goalposts and seek the verve and vigour that you need. Too many people die with regrets. To quote William Wallace in Braveheart, “Every man dies, but not every man really lives” or something similar to that. Goodbye triviality, hello exuberance.

“Animals, poor things, eat in order to survive: we, lucky things, do that too, but we also have Abbey Crunch biscuits, Armagnac, selle d’agneau, tortilla chips, sauce béarnaise, Vimto, hot buttered crumpets, Chateau Margaux, ginger-snaps, risotto nero and peanut-butter sandwiches — these things have nothing to do with survival and everything to do with pleasure.” – Stephen Fry, Moab Is My Washpot

For me, I think people around the world would love a bit more understanding and togetherness. There are all too many bullets to chests, too many factories billowing crap into the air and too little respect being shown by leaders to their people. More empathy, less greed and a dab of extra worth wouldn’t harm anyone. No need to power up a supercomputer for 7.5 million years. However, we can still dream and look to the stars for hope or worship our chosen beliefs.

When I was at university and failed my first year, I felt lost. Why was I suddenly studying Behavioural Biology, far from home, running up a debt that clouded my hunger to study? I didn’t have a clue if it would get a me a career or a pathway into “the real world” (as students would often say). I did know one thing. Here I was far from home. Independent. Going solo. The reading of books and the routine of lectures wasn’t for me. I stumbled through years of studying and almost zero revision. Did I feel that I had failed? No. It was a challenge and I was out of my comfort zone. I learnt about myself in more ways than I thought possible. The wisdom of hindsight has taught me that.

THE EMPIRE ON WHICH THE SUN NEVER SETS

With more opportunity people are free to find their purpose. As it stands Braveheart is being remade on the streets of Hong Kong, in a historically flipped up situation made by Great Britain. The British Empire, at its peak in 1920, covered almost a quarter of the Earth’s surface area. After losing 13 colonies to the U.S.A.’s birth in 1783, Britain headed east and towards Africa. The Pacific was ripe for picking. For 99 years, starting in 1815, Britain became the Team America: World Police of the day. As Britain became challenged by Germany and the U.S.A.’s rise, the cracks that allowed the outbreak of the Great War were laid. In 1922 Ireland became free of British rule. Other territories would soon follow. Britain’s eastern empire fell with Japan sweeping over the supposedly impregnable Singapore, sewing the foundations for New Zealand and Australis to go alone, eventually.

Decolonisation, a decline in the nation’s strength and crisis after crisis (India, Palestine, Suez, the Malayan emergency, the Cold War, the Falklands…) haunted Britain – and the scars are visible today. Ireland and Northern Ireland remain divided and with Brexit impending the real threat of further trouble threatens the U.K. like a dark cloud. And if anything is to go by, the troubles will be back, because Rambo, Charlies Angels, the Terminator and Top Gun are still in the cinemas. Do we keep making the same mistakes in order to sell movies?

By 1983, Britain held 13 or 14 overseas territories. Penguins, Indian Ocean post boxes, a rock in Spain and a place near a triangle make for a nice holiday. Three islands have no residents but retain some scientific or military presence. Perhaps, Area 52 is located on one of these islands. Five of the territories are claimed by other nations. Interestingly, 52 former colonies protectorates are still party to the archaic Commonwealth of Nations. That Commonwealth is non-political, apparently. The U.K.’s royal family still head 16 states too, making their divorce from the U.K. most bizarre.

In the U.K., I worked for Aviva Insurance, for about 5 years. It didn’t feel meaningless and they were an okay employer. The corporate machine offers comfort for a not-so-amazing salary. Internal transfers are plentiful, but promotion in an age of very few people retiring, or moving on, didn’t help me. The work wasn’t too significant to me and my enthusiasm dropped, but to Joe Public and my colleagues, I kept plugging away, not like a robot, and not with any ambition. At this stage I’d lost ambition completely. Communication with other people and understanding were concepts that I was enjoying. This would start me on a pathway to teaching in China. A place where I would miss my favourite drink Vimto.

Vimto & Maine Road (Manchester City’s former home ground) have an unusual connection: Vimto. In 1851, the U.S. state of Maine was the first to outlaw alcoholic beverages. Manchester City Football Club’s then owners named the new ground’s road after this U.S. state. Temperance was quite a popular social campaign, much like Twitter campaigns like Jake Parker’s Inktober. That temperance movement made Vimto popular in the U.K. and gave Vimto a gateway to the world. The Middle East embraced Vimto long before Manchester City were heard of. The Saudi company, Abdulla Aujan & Brothers, had the sole rights in 1920s – and in a place with no letter V in their alphabet. A strong movement of division that brought about togetherness in a way…

Casting aside an ego, or stoning to death a worry, over time, my mind has finally understood that worries help nothing. Yet, I still worry from time to time. On buffering my soul and a kind of system reboot, I synch in time with my interests – and then look at the challenge freshly, dealing with it at a suitable pace. My pace. Not the pace of anyone else. You can only be yourself. With that, you can find yourself. And in Wales, I had the chance at Aberystwyth to discover and uncover myself.

EUROPEAN BENEFITS vs. EUROPEAN

The EU objective one funding was the best thing to happen to Wales. Without those projects being continually supported and the preservation funds for other cultural projects then central UK government will not listen so easily… division is a big problem and a stupid democratic vote, based on lies and bull pooh has done nothing but destabilise the UK – and division is everywhere. The people are too busy to notice the profits made by those who really benefit from this joke of a situation. If people need to campaign and protest against a silly democratic moment, so be it. An ill-informed minority of victorious voters will determine the future of the people? No. Is that remotely fair? No. Is it a fair to cancel Brexit? No. Remember, if you have been mis-sold PPI, you were entitled to claim the money back. So, the chance to force a legal process and decision into being over-turned is also democratic. Good luck with your 14 days money back refunds on trousers at Asda in the future. So many knock-on effects will happen.

Map it out. Our heads endured puzzlement and the pro-Brexit campaigners did not give clear reason to leave. The remain campaign dug a web of truth and lies to battle back. The leavers and the remain side argued until the cows came home. Then, someone bet on this, that and the other, standing to make a lot from the destructive nature of a messy divorce. The media twisted, turned, repeated, replayed and shot out word after word of noise. A campaign of vilifying and anti-heroism ran head on into a white-headed knight with a weaker than broken past record. That’s where we are now. Britain is no longer great. It is heading for isolation and absolute irrelevance as politically respectable nations go.

Isolation is not good for me. I am a loner when I choose to be. I am an outsider in my mind, but part of the team when I am welcomed or when I am welcoming others to the team. I like the natural flip on and out of things that some call being a social butterfly. I share an intimate and open friendship with my best friend Dan. I won’t hold back from telling him anything. With past, present and if-it-happens-it-happens possible future relationships, I hold back. I fear being hurt; I fear giving too much. My past experiences, and I know I have never been perfect – and Lord knows how many mistakes that have been made, have been made, but deep down I have never wanted to hurt anyone. I can be selfish and distant. Concealing my head in the sands, as the world goes by, is proof that I am part Ostrich. If I feel too constricted and less free, I tend to hide away or feel anxious. There is an itch where there should be calm. My eagerness to cycle off forever in the style of Forrest Gump running away, becomes a serious thought. At least I understand me. Well, most of the time.

The human brain is complex. It can handle algorithms, algebra and aardvarks. Confusion can reign supreme over absolutely anything and it can be caused by the weather, girls, boys, life and money – amongst a larger list of factors. There are poems, songs and crossword answers stuck inside our head. We just have to find the time to let it all out. Dripping it out like a slow roasted coffee works for some. Blurting it out like a Slipknot machine gun lyric for others. The same two options may work for one or the other at any given time.

The unfamiliar and strange don’t scare me. I worry more about monotony and uniformity. I don’t want to be a rebel outcast, but I do want to do my own thing. I enjoy being a service and teaching. I enjoy writing, even if it is to no-one in particular. This writing serves me well, it is the warm-up, the cool-down and the practice for work in progress. When work in progress becomes actual work, then I will feel that I have made an actual progress. There is method to my madness. In the meantime, I want to be like those who have left a mark on me. The influences I felt as a child. Mr Jones who encouraged me at primary school in Chapel Street; strict Mr Meheran at Reddish Vale Secondary School; Mr Tony Mack at the same school; the very warm and wonderful Miss Roe, and Mr Kershaw at Chapel Street. I can’t be a lifeboatman or a laser eye surgeon, but I do hope that I can be a good memory.

A good memory of someone can help you spring out of bed in the morning. To take that memory and magnify it, tell it, share it and hope that it will improve someone. If a 16-year old Skye Terrier called Greyfriars Bobby can have his story told for over one a half centuries, there has to be good reason. Warm memories of our grandparents help them to live on through ourselves. As child becomes parent, the parent becomes the grandparent and a cheesy way of saying the circle of life continues. Otherwise, we’d be cold, lost at sea, and trapped in eternal darkness with monsters snapping at the end of our bed, waiting for a foot to lower into their bleak and unwelcoming mouths. Our harmony is in life. Life is wonderful and whilst the meanings may be simple and the answers to our daily grind may seem far away, we are NOT alone.

I like to focus my students upon being honest. I try to stress teamwork and community over finances and ability. We’ll build a city map with castles and dreamscapes, rather than focus on calculus and repetition of words. We’ll build a city map with castles and dreamscapes, rather than focus on calculus and repetition of words. I want the minds that I encounter not to be afraid of introspection and going it alone. Let each student show their talents step by step and here we go. Goodbye dreariness and hello variety. With Tip the Dog’s story in our hearts, we’re ready to jump out of bed tomorrow…

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye / Hwyl Fawr / Dhanyabaad / Alavidā

Mum.

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do / S’mae / Namaste

To quote Salford’s Jason Manford, his autobiography is called Brung Up Proper: My Autobiography. Without the words my autobiography, that’s how I feel. I feel ‘brung up proper”. My reasoning is simple. My mother did a great job. Now let’s drop the word mother and never use the American word mom. Mum, that’s what I call her. That’s who she is. Always will be. Dad and Mum in spring 1982 did something that my imagination will not entertain a single thought for. About 9 months later, out popped me. Dad’s second successful sperm. Asa won the race in Dad’s previous marriage. Good luck at winning a race now Asa, I’m faster and fitter! I think. Anyway, here I was and Mum, previously known as Elaine became a mam, not mom. We’re not American.

Mum and Dad divorced before I was old enough to dash Lego away. Although, I last bought a Ghostbusters Lego set three years ago, so that’s no barometer for my life. Anyway, somewhere in my infant years at New Moston Primary School, I found out life was not going to be all happy families. I suddenly had no father at home, and Mum was left to carry the burden: me.

Mum juggled hard and cooked reasonably well. I grew. New shoes always found my feet, even if I was a titleholder at breaking those shoes soon after. Some of those pairs of shoes managed a whole week without damage. Once? Weekend Dad was there as often as he could be, but Mum was always there to pick up the crying boy waiting at the window all day. Mum would ensure I could see wildlife in the park and chase around for me, when I stumbled over fences to look at dead birds on forbidden embankments. The dangers that I encountered only made Mum more of a great guide. With my endless energy, I’d launch myself over the sofa into the walls and no doubt give Mum occasion to talk with the Social Services. Those awkward moments probably followed Corn Flakes mixed with washing-up liquid in the toilet bowls and peaceful baths in the sink.

Mum, accompanied by my boyhood companion Pup the wonder dog and Basil the cat (until he ran away, probably through ear trauma) raised me. The many days getting me to focus at schoolwork gave me somewhere to channel my energy. In 1988, my sister Astrid arrived and we’d all share the affections of a great mum.

After Mum’s circumstances changed, we ended up moving from Warbeck Road in Moston to Range Street in Clayton. Here life became a little more tough and bumpy. I started at Clayton Brook Primary School and encountered some bullying. I can’t recall too much of life there, just a few summer sports day events and my first task writing a list of words beginning with the letters st. That and the maths books being too easy.

Almost as soon as my arrival at Clayton Brook, life moved us over to Levenshulme. Now with a younger brother in Paul. Mum completed studies via the Open University and enjoyed many tough years working for the Citizens Advice Bureau, initially on a voluntary basis before going fulltime. Mum’s social studies course has served her well ever since. Her love of cacti, succulents, and the garden is in full bloom. Sometimes some stitching is evident amongst her growing hobbies. Mum has travelled more and more, even going overseas to Cyprus and Malta. What’s next for Mum? The world is still her oyster. My Mum is brilliant – and she can go anywhere and do anything she likes, especially with her own powerful mind.

Mynah interruption

This writing was begun on the 20th of June. However, I am continuing now, a day later, due to writer’s block. The writer’s block in this situation being a mynah bird. It dropped into a class yesterday and following some commotion, ended up bunking at my place for the night. The playful bird nibbled my ear a few times and released its bowels on my shoulders more than a few times. We talked, we laughed, and we played but thankfully today I have been aware that the school gardener is the owner. Some pesky students let it out of its cage. All’s well that ends well, right?

“In the information society, nobody thinks. We expected to banish paper, but we actually banished thought.” ― Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park

Anyway I think considering I lived in there locations before I hit puberty and struggled at university, the fact that I am not a street cleaner or serving French Fries in the American eMbassy is testament to how Mum has always been a great friend for me – and put up with my teenage and youthful mishaps for far too long. She has listened to my problems, given great advice and acted as a great example. Also, Mum likes good music – and that has influenced me greatly. Without James, REM and Pulp, Led Zeppelin, Scottish-born Finley Quaye, and others my life would be less colourful. Mum let me watch London’s Burning on a Sunday night, passed my regular 9pm bedtime from an early age. Other comedy shows and a few great movies were permitted from time to time. Mum braved rains and flooding to see Ghostbusters 2 with me at The Roxy Cinema in 1989, took me and my mate Neil to Blackpool, and gave me Jurassic Park and Congo, to date my two favourite novels.

“It’s hard to decide who’s truly brilliant; it’s easier to see who’s driven, which in the long run may be more important.” ― Michael Crichton, Congo

Mum let me hang out with Peter and Dan. At times there was trouble and the odd broken thing or two, but throughout we formed unbreakable friendships despite testing their resilience from time to time. These friendships gave stability to my life. Mum encouraged us all. That’s how I ended up at university and ever since then I have been trying to be independent and pretending to grow up. If I ever crack this life, it will because Mum helped me to do it.

 

Meanwhile, after a great friendly tournament managed by Aaron and Murray’s F.C. last weekend, we had a game versus a Korean team midweek. Both dates were roasting. 90% humidity and mid-30s temperatures do that. Work has been going deep into injury time. By that, the last few kicks of the game of work will involve exams – and I need to prepare one final science paper and then mark it. Next week is my final student-facing week. Summer awaits soon after. Kind of. Well, after Friday the 12th of July.

Aaron, of Murray’s F.C. and general Dongcheng fame, mentioned his mate had some goods impounded on their way from Oman. The customs rules for importing or deliveries to China state: anything marked as ‘Made in China’ cannot be sent to China. Good look returning things to China. When I told Aaron the story of some of my unrecived parcels to China, he said how I’ve had some interesting and weird times. Spot on. It is an odd place. Especially, to send a parcel.

In closing, I want to wish everyone a happy Shaun Goater Day. FEED THE GOAT.

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye / Hwyl Fawr / Dhanyabaad / Alavidā

Favourite Flicks

你好/ Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do / S’mae,

In 2019, Velvet Buzzsaw, starring Jake Gyllenhaal arrives on general release in February. The arty feel of the trailer made me think of some of my favourite movies. I also gandered a dozen other trailers, include Men In Black International, which in its first edition was refreshing and great fun. Pet Sematary as a remake excites me too. Hellboy as yet another remodelling seems okay too. It does make me think that new ideas for Hollywood are limited but you’ll still see me watching Godzilla: King Of The Monsters in May. Triple Frontier, The Mustang and Bird Box follow tested formulas and throw in solid casts, but they carry much anticipation. I do like a good movie though. In 2020, maybe Ghostbusters 3 will be marvelous – with the teaser adding familiar noises and music. Who knows?

In 1993, Jurassic Park was my first truly antipcated movie. I’d been glued to the novel years before and now I wanted to see the words on the big screen. Mum and I went to the Davenport Cinema near Stockport. The cinema has since been demolished. I remember that the screen was massive, and the old theatre style was beautiful. It had become too expensive to maintain. I grew up having watched few movies, unless you count Dot and The Kangaroo. Movies rarely interested me. Watership Down had probably freaked me out too much – and then The Plague Dogs – too much you know, erm, grimness. At least the former had a great song!

Movies that I like that are probably on almost everyone’s list include: Braveheart, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Silence of the Lambs, Titanic, Toy Story, Schindler’s List, The Lion King, The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, Groundhog Day, Heat, Fargo, 10 Things I Hate About You, Trainspotting, Brassed Off, The Fugitive, Goldeneye, Mrs Doubtfire, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Goodfellas, Forrest Gump, The Green Mile, Bad Boys, The Iron Giant, and Con Air. I’m sure you can pick this entire collection up on DVD for less than £10 now. I watched Saving Private Ryan with my Granddad. It was the only time I seen him cry. The realism was all too much for someone who had seen it up close and personal.

Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full-trance mediums, the Loch Ness Monster and the theory of Atlantis?

In 1984, the world had new heroes. The Ghostbusters. Just like 1984’s Gremlins, 1990‘s Gremlins 2: The New Batch, 1985‘s Goonies and 1989‘s Ghostbusters 2, I had a winter’s day movie. Great entertainment and fun, that you can watch time and time again, are hard to come by in a movie. Flash Gordon sits in there too, alongside the Back to The Future trilogy. From my year of birth, 1982‘s E.T. – the Extra Terrestrial is on that list but give me a tissue. A tissue to watch 1942‘s Bambi too. From 1988 onwards, The Naked Gun triology just requires a light-hearted laugh. 1980‘s Blues Brothers wins on that count too.

‘Little Sir Echo, how yo you do?’ – Bing Crosby, 1939

Night Train to Murder starred Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise and came out in 1985. It was written by the comedy duo too, alongside the original James Bond Casino Royale director Joseph McGrath. Well one of them. There were about six! His credits included the Beatles’ music videos, The Goon Show and Rising Damp. Night Train to Murder would be his final movie. 16 TV appearances would follow and two writing jobs. The Glaswegian went near silent. Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise’s TV movie. One half of the duo was ill during filming of this movie and soon after in May of 1984. Roger Brierley, Richard Vernon and Pamela Salem co-star. The film would be the fourth and final expected big screen outing for Morecambe and Wise. Due to Eric’s death, it became a TV release in 1985. The closing moment of the TV movie sees Morecambe and Wise walking away together. There never was another televised gig.

 

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [卧虎藏龙] gave international audiences something unseen before. Hovering, fluttering and graciousness seemed to be hand in hand with violence, menace and misery. Warriors, destiny and mythology gave Michelle Yeoh [杨紫琼] good reason to shake off the Bond Girl moniker. That same year, of 2000, saw Snatch hit the screens. As me and my best mate Dan watched, the movie entertained us. Momento came out too. Gladiator may have ruled the screens but Requiem For A Dream would carry as great a memory in time. Cast Away was epic.

Y Tu Mamá También, came out in 2001. This Mexican road movie is essential viewing. Donnie Darko was a very indie film with a great indie score. A beautifully dark movie. Black Hawk Down was a fine example of a bleak war movie. A Beautiful Mind, was as the title said.

City of God (Cicade de Deus), has great street chases, raw energy, a lack of Hollywood gloss and shows realism that modern gangland movies can only dream of. This 2002 movie is a snapshot of a Latin America that the tourism boards will hate. Another movie that I can’t reverse watching was Irréversible. It made me feel physically sick. Powerfully forlorn cinema. The camera shots and soundtrack are dizzying. Perhaps look up Daft Punks’ Thomas Bangalter and his solo work. Many a film critic said it was, “a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable” – and some labelled in homophobic. I just found it dizzying and extreme. The Bourne Identity was simple to follow, with a great sequence of pursuits throughout. In some ways it was James Bond without the boobs. 28 Days Later and Signs added to the cinematic splendour.

In 2003, Oldboy leapt off screens from Korea. It was remade many years later. Avoid that. The best in this case is the original. Prepare to be shocked. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released too, with one of the best soundtracks for some time. Bad Boys 2 probably marked my last VHS owned.

In 2004, Downfall, was made and suddenly Hitler’s angry map scene would occupy an endless flow of memes. Kill Bill: Volume 1 wasn’t just released – it was practically flung at you like a dagger. The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Terminal completed a good year. Ttosi landed in 2005. It is hugely emotive, dynamic and lives up to its meaning of thug. Redemption may or may not be earned. Lord Of War added wit and seriousness to the world of arms dealing.

The Lives of Others released in 2006 is worth a look. Of course, you are being watched – just like the antagonists on screen. That same year Pan’s Labyrinth became quite mainstream for a foreign movie. The movie is up there on the good ground with David Bowie in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. Batman Begins kept my love of mainstream movies that year. It also gave us Little Miss Sunshine, and Letters from Iwo Jima.

In 2007, The Bourne Ultimatum made great contrast to the movie adaptation of Into The Wild, perhaps my favourite tragic book of all time. Sunshine was great viewing too. The Western movie 3:10 to Yuma ranked highly on my watchlist. 2008’s guilty pleasure for me was Iron Man. If only we knew what was to come!? Slumdog Millionnaire was an instant hit and the soundtrack made my MP3 player soonafter. Lion’s Den was the most gripping movie of the year. Like Stars on Earth is the sweetest teacher-themed movie of all time. The Baader Meinhof Complex is brutal and wonderful in equal proportions. If you needed a taste of mental health awareness – though extreme, Belgain film Ben X had it.

Three Idiots was a surprise. It was neither Bollywood, nor Hollywood. I’ve tried watching many Indian and Pakistani movies. None have succeeded in keeping my attention, until Three Idiots arrived in 2009. There is a buddy movie feel that Trains, Planes & Automobiles successfully caught – as did the Canadian production Due South. Tragedy and warmth drips from the screen. District 9 added a valid and tangible story to the usual CGI-gone-mad state of movies of this period. The Secret in Their Eyes was a particularly good thriller. The White Ribbon, set before World War One is a mystery that both grips whilst it presents oddity and intrigue.

127 Hours was not as long as the title suggested and with a soundtrack to suit the true story, the movie whistled by in no time at all. In 2010, the book was promptly picked up afterwards. Incendies followed twins returning to their former middle-eastern homes. Biutiful was a great and disturbing movie that awoke the imagination. Can you imagine knowing how you will die? Javier Bardem was hypnotically mesmerising.

The following year of 2011 gave many awards to Drive, and rightfully so. Moneyball added some baseball to my viewing but the story was wonderful, so I let the U.S. version of rounders slip without a worry. Super 8 surprised me with how good a feel it could generate. The Intouchables was heart-warming and witty – and in 2017 the formula of a caregiver with an aristocratic quadriplegic was remade with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

In 2012, The Dark Knight Rises, wasn’t quite as the previous two Christopher Nolan incarnations of Batman. Still it is a favourite. Skyfall made up for that. At last a Bond movie with a real bite to it. The Hunt gave us a look at how creepy Mads Mikkelsen can appear.

Captain Phillips told audiences, in 2013, a story of Somalian pirates. Tom Hanks stars. When he performs well, the audience always feels it. Accolades and awards followed. The Man of Steel reinvented Superman before DC Comiscs trashed that in almosy every instalment since. All Is Lost, scored by Alex Ebert, lasted 105 minutes – and starred just Robert Redford. It was not last time watching that masterpiece. Pacific Rim followed a Transformer, Power Rangers, Godzilla feel but kept me inside a Colchester cinema out of a heatwave. I enjoyed the movie greatly. It was one of my guilty pleasures that year.

In 2014, Boyhood gave probably the most original piece of cinema for a long, long time. The coming-of-age drama had been shot over an epic period spanning more than a decade. Nightcrawler added thrills and gave the pulse a work-out. Gone Girl was another great thriller. Godzilla was okay, just okay. Birdman was a wonderful comedy and The Theory of Everything was positively riveting. American Sniper told a sorry story well.

The Revenant in 2015 was powerful and moody. The Martian was atmospheric and moving. Spectre started great but fizzeld out. Idris Elba’s Beasts Of No Nations, opened discussions and eyes to an otherwise ignored world within the 21st century. Everest, tried to bundle together many accounts of a disaster offering a respectful disaster and made a wonderful IMAX feature. 2016 reinvigorated the Jurassic Park machine by bringing is Jurassic World, a rollercoaster of a movie. In 2016, Deadpool refreshed the graphic novel/superhero genre with a splash of bad taste and violence. The Jungle Book, in live-action was almost a frame by frame copy of the cartoon by Disney but it added sweetness to the silver screen. Suicide Squad added wit to the overly-full genre of superhero outings. Star Wars: Rogue One was a good war movie, albeit with a scifi backdrop. Tom Hanks once again wowed audiences with his performance in Sully.

Dunkirk was visually stunning and well shot in 2017. Wonder Woman challenged gender roles for superhero main stars and also added some good drama between the CGI sheets. Logan added a geriatric take the hero genre. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing Missouri swept away many awards and rightly so. War for the Planet of the Apes concluded a great trilogy remaking. The Darkest Hour gave the excellent Gary Oldman a vehicle to display his varied talents. Disney added a live action beauty in Beauty & The Beast.

In 2018, Bohemian Rhapsody added a loveable rock star to our screens. Freddie Mercury was extragavant, complex, talented and had a voice like so few. This movie captured the magic and gave voice to a story that many didn’t know. I didn’t know that Farrokh Bulsara was born in Zanzibar and went on to become the lead singer of Queen.

 

再见/ Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye / Hwyl Fawr