Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Y Tu Maria Tambien, Goodbye Paradise and Fredericke Street South Shields

A good title for this piece is fishy tales of Fredricke Street. When I arrived to work in South Shields Fredericke Street was a thriving mixture of local shops, second-hand stores and specialist enterprises. Now half the buildings at the southern end of this long street perhaps with 100 business opportunities have become vacant and the buildings themselves showing every symptom of dereliction. At the northern end there is the post office, some public houses and some take aways to serve a lower income community of rented accommodation inhabited by Muslims who worship at a Mosque where Mohamed Ali had a marriage ceremony with a few days of the visit of Queen Elizabeth to mark her year on the throne. The reason for the decay has been the closure of the Plessey Factory then its reopening by another hi tech firm, then its gradually reduction of staffing through a management out to its present demise, and the rebuilding of part of the area with lower income home ownership with cars to use Asa at Shields or Morrison's at Jarrow.

(I am writing this against a background of Broadway to Bob Fosse musical theatre choreographer who died in 1987 at the comparatively early age of sixty Pyjama Game. Damn Yankees, Big Spender from Sweet Charity and my favourite where I watch the film version once a year Cabaret which he directed but was not involved with the stage production. He was involved with Chicago but had died before the film version. He was also responsible for Kiss me Kate on screen, Lenny and all that Jazz. An early musical involvement was The Bells are ringing (for me and my gal).

At the northern end of Fredericke was the Green Street L shaped area of post war development of look alike shops with flat above and which recently have an a make over and anew lease of life, although the transfusion of a mini supermarket was necessary which involved demolition of one side of Green Street to accommodate the building and car park. The advertising of the Lidl store which opened in mid December has been intensive. Lidl goes in for special offer weeks of everything from kitchen equipment to back to school and office equipment at exceptional discount price. However my interest was not in the special offer low cost staple food fare but their low cost special offer of luxury items especially fish and cured meats.

Tonight I purchased a pack of four Sea Bream for 6.49 and four sea vase at 6.99 with two packs of 200 grams of smoked salmon each 1.69. Tonight I commenced to enjoy the thick cut slices with a twist of lemon on crackers. The Italian ham slices are also excellent value but the great surprise was to find that they had a stock of Spanish Turron at 1.49 where both my British and Spanish suppliers charge around £4 for the same slab. I shall stock up for a year or two. Commencing the first Thursday of January there is to be a sale of office supplies and my eye fixed on photographic paper.

The smoked salmon was delicious in what became a fishy day as with a cup of tea on returning home I had a carton of shell on prawns and then later a defrosted bass which had been the only fish planned for the day. The main purpose of the afternoon shopping was to collect my suit from the dry cleaners after not remembering where I had put the ticket for several hours. I managed a little work but late evening was given over to two films. I have not seen Ray Barrett the Australian actor for at least ten years, the last occasion was an Aussi film which had a wild aspect but more than that I cannot remember. My first cultural encounter with Ray was when he came over the UK but again what for? This evening he was in an Australian Graham Greenish Raymond Chandler offering with a good script in which he provided the thoughtful commentary on the events of an attempted coup for commercial interests.

Then I did some research the first shock is that Ray is now 80 12 years my senior and the film Goodbye Paradise is some 20 years old and the second is that he had a role in Emergency Ward 10 as well appearing in everything that was popular during the late 50's, 60's and early 70's, Dixon of Dock Green, Thunderbirds, Dr Who, Till death do us part, Play of the month and armchair theatre. However I knew most for the over 100 appearances in the series The Troubleshooters 1965-1972 in which appeared with Geoffrey Keen and Brian Latham. And the wild film, well it was for 1976, Don's Party. Despite his age he continues to act, mostly on TV but he has a part in a major film due for release in 2008 Australia which stars Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. Good on you Ray, I mourned the fact that you went home after making your name in the UK.

The second film is a Spanish Mexican rites of passage film featuring the relationship between two young upper class Mexican teens around 17 18 before going to university and their holiday adventure with a newly wed in law whose wedding party they attend along with the President Y Tu Mama Tambien. At one level this is well trodden story as the teenagers vie for the attention and affection of the older girl whose husband has admitted an act of infidelity while away on a conference, as they head for an idyllic beach. What they do not know, nor did the husband when he phoned his admission, is that the young woman has just been told she has an incurable disease. The relationship between the young men changes when she gives herself to one of them but even when she decides to balance up it is too late and the final scene is reminiscent of so many other films, usually about college life, where a group become close but they go their separate ways, never to recapture past moments of collective harmony and shared visions and sometimes shared loves.

There is also a is a reminder that everything has its season and it is wise to accept this is so and not attempt to journey back or stay fixed at any point within one's time span, in Goodbye Paradise as Ray says goodbye to his young companion and settle for being an ex was somebody once.

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