Monday, 23 May 2016

death of a doxy

On Saturday 7th May I finished reading Death Of A Doxy by Rex Stout; it was quite good.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

the awful truth

On Saturday 7th May we watched The Awful Truth (IMDB, Wikipedia), from 1937, which was pretty good.

I got it and a number of other old Hollywood films for my birthday, as it's my solemn intention to force my womenfolk to watch more of these old films with me - often undeservedly forgotten, having been popular and award-winning in their day, and with very good scripts and performers, and usually quite cheap when you can find them on DVD (or lurking in a daytime schedule). Cary Grant in this one doing his stuff (the Wikipedia entry suggests this film marked the appearance of his 'light comedy persona'; Leo McCarey won the Best Director Oscar for it (Irene Dunne and Ralph Bellamy were nominated for best actress and supporting actor respectively).

Saturday, 14 May 2016

bletchley park

On Monday 2nd May - a bank holiday - we went up to Bletchley Park for the day, which was well worth a visit. We didn't do it all, and may go again, courtesy of our Gift-Aid-enabled year-entry pass. Lots to read, and a good audio guide.

One of the things that struck me was for all the idea people have of them being unsung heroes, for a large number of them their work was very routine and wouldn't have felt heroic at all - particularly the women taking down encoded morse code messages all day, or the women doing essentially mechanical tasks in the running of the 'bombe' machines, and particularly those among them (and others) who deliberately were not given a full picture or understanding of what was actually going on and what they were doing.

One of my favourite Bletchley stories is a newspaper letter I saw on Twitter a year or two ago from someone who was on a tour at Bletchley and it became apparent that an old married couple on the tour had both worked there but never told the other (it was a big place). People kept the secret very thoroughly until the last 10-20 years.

I worked in Bletchley for a couple of years, around 1995-97. I knew about Bletchley Park then, but it wasn't really very widely known - the flood of books and documentaries and films came later. At that time it was only open every second weekend, and I'm certain there wasn't as much there then as there is now; having made the commute Monday to Friday, I never did it again on a Saturday.

If we do go back to finish off, and have more time, perhaps we'll go the other way from the station into Bletchley to see the old office and high street again. (I didn't have a sense of recognition at the station at all, until we were going back to the platform across the bridge to get the train back home.)

We got home too late to watch The Imitation Game that evening, as Maisie had hoped, but she and I watched it last night.

the imitation game

Last night Maisie and I watched The Imitation Game, on a DVD which she'd got as a wishlist present in December. Bethan was on a train to Shrewsbury. It wasn't bad, but not as good as it could have been.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

serpentine sackler gallery

On Saturday 30th April we went, for the first time, to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery - I still haven't been to the Serpentine Gallery. They're both free, and the Sackler is newer (opened in 2013, according to Wikipedia, in an old magazine building). We were there because we'd gone up to Hyde Park to use the hire bikes, as we've done before; last time we did it we were quite near the SSG, since there's a hire rack near it, and we had time to do it this time.

It was interesting to go in, but it wasn't a great exhibition - just another modern art exhibition, this one from Das Institut collective. The most pointed thing in it was the re-use of some old stained glass in some modern glasswork, which showed a great contrast in artistry and craftsmanship between old and new, which you think would have made the artist ashamed.

Friday, 6 May 2016

a misalliance

On Thursday 7th April I finished A Misalliance by Anita Brookner. I was somewhat disappointed.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

james nesbit on his religious upbringing

[of the cultural setting of the TV true-crime drama (murderous Northern Ireland Baptists) he's appearing in:] It’s a Christian culture that Nesbitt knows very well. “It was in my home,” he says. “My family were Presbyterians. A lot of people say ‘God-fearing’, but I always thought that I came from a very God-loving background. It was a close community, though not as close as the Baptists, but they were Christian, charitable and would go out of their way to help you. I went to church and Sunday school. We used to sing hymns around the piano on Sunday nights, which sounds extraordinary, so quaint and bizarre.”
... Nesbitt’s Howell is jolly as well – when not planning and committing murder he leads praise-giving sing-alongs on his guitar and takes the Church youth club on outings. Ask Nesbitt if he still believes in God and he says ”I always liked the gospel teaching, but the rest of it I’m not so sure about. I don’t know if there’s a big man in the sky. It was never forced upon me and I didn’t ‘move away’ from it in a kind of rebellious act. It was just that over the years its hold lessened. The world was changing, and we changed with it.”
- From an interview with James Nesbit in the Radio Times of 23 April (also online here):

Monday, 2 May 2016

morris folk club for april

It was the Morris Folk Club for April last week, on Tuesday 26th. I sang The Model Ship, Death of Queen Jane, and (literally to fill in some time until the next singer reappeared - I haven't escalated my demands to three songs a night) Lowlands Away. Went okay, though I don't think The Model Ship is going to become a folk standard anytime soon.

(I woke up on Sunday morning with Kraftwerk's The Model in my head and a conviction that it could work as a sea shanty. I made up a couple of refrains for two of the instrumental bits, and we gave it a go...)