Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Raiders of the South Seas, Higher Grond, Magic in the Water, The Undefeated and the Great St Trinian Train Robbery.

I am back to wanting to write about the trivia of my experience before trying to write something of significance for me and could therefore begin this piece different ways. Now for example I should abandon writing anything an go out for a brisk walk in the cold blue sun shinning morning of the day before Christmas eve. I thought I needed to go for a walk to buy some sauce to make a dish for Monday with the half of chicken breast from the roast for today. I then checked and discovered that I had a bottle of a concoction for pasta which will do with some rice if I decide that Christmas Eve should be a practical kind of day the foresight to buy a second bottle of a concoction intended for pasta. I shall stay in and do some work and thinking while watching the Great St Trinian's Train Robbery.

This film is being shown by clever programme planners who know that a new St Trinian's film is being released at the cinema? Who are these films aimed for, especially this latest to contribution to our individual betterment and understanding of the importance of all girl residential schools, their staff and their problems? The first films were vehicles for Margaret Rutherford and Joyce Grenfell about delinquent girls with parents who cannot be bothered to bring up their children or care what they do or who looks after them. An entirely appropriate subject for Christmas consideration in any year. I know I am being a spoil sport.

The opening of the mid 1960's film features a gang of train robbers stashing two and half million under the floor boards of a derelict building and then switches to the Ministry of Education where the civil servants are applauding the arrival a Labour Government because it will mean the abolition of all private schools especially St Trinian's. However they have not bargained for a Minister who has a special relationship with the former head of the school who has turned to a more tradition occupation shall we say. He insists on a giving the school a second chance new labour type of grant for £80000 circ 1966 prices, several millions today. Even in those days there are baby doll bedtime wear and gym slips so one wonders what present cinematic inflation will lead to! Alas I am likely to be departed before the new one will appear on the small screen. Time for lunch with seasonal quality over quantity. Some smoked salmon and Italian ham with some sauce included in the purchased pack.

I did not expect to experience such a good night after sleeping through the Hitchhikers guide and staying up to just before 3am, There was one waking in darkness and then again around 7,30 feeling awake again but I decided a Sunday lie in which worked as it was just before 9 am when I awoke again feeling fresh and ready for work

Ho Ho Ho I decided this was the day to begin to win 101 games of chess against the computer. This is rather like running 100 yards in under 10 seconds or 100 metres in under 9. You did it once, you still know how to run, but you forget the concentrated effort you put it to do it for the first time. I must remember never to use the reset button on the Chess game because it seems to reset every level so that this morning I commenced with a blank series although on the bright side this means no draws and no losses to remind me that once I was good enough to lay and win without losing or drawing games along the way. I like to look back and reflect but I am not sure nostalgia is good for the soul.

Back to St Trinian's after the opening frisson the film became a traditional cops robbers experience plus Trinian's girls involving trains. It also has a 1960's offensive racist moment about having a Pakistan English accent. The girls get the reward money, the baddies get caught and the teachers go back to their former occupations and the government Minister his come uppance. The film features Frankie Howard and a young George Cole long before the Minder Days.

The afternoon fare was a New Zealand wartime boy's adventure film Raiders of the South Seas. The story concerns community attitudes towards an Italian treasure hunter off the coast of New Zealand as World War 2 breaks out. His craft is fitted with an imaginative Captain Nemo type auto pilot which enables him to sail the craft on his own as well as undertake diving operations. The community are supportive towards the Mayor whose son has joined up and fighting in North Africa. However he is the baddie and a ruthless one at that for when the young people become suspicious of his smuggling activities to fuel the black market he is the force behind a witch hunt against the Italian which leads to being prepared to kill the young people when they attempt to thwart his attempt to tranship the merchandise. The outcome is inevitable and includes the essential ingredient of a parent who does not listen and adventuresome young people become the heroes. Oh for Enid Blyton and the famous Five or Biggles. I could switch off the telly and listen to the Leone Lewis LP.]

I then watched the first part of Higher Ground. I liked John Denver's music and he used a greater part of his life to promote environmental issues in the US and abroad. His documentary about Alaska was influential but I am not sure about the 1988 film Higher Ground which was a pilot for a TV series. Although he appeared in several films singing and playing his guitar he was no actor and this a conventional story of someone driven into illegal activity who pays the price leaving a wife and son. John is the man to bring justice and perhaps marital and fatherly solace. However I then remembered that the Newcastle Derby game was on TV but should have stuck with the film although the game reminded of the wise decision not to invest £500 in a season ticket and experience disappointment after disappointment. Even though the Sunderland offering has also been a disappointment I have faith in Roy making it and big Sam not. Boxing Day could be a humiliation though.

This is rapidly become a family film day with Magic in the Water which featured a creature, bit of a whale, bit of a dolphin wit a kind heart, and this time the baddies are dumpers of toxic waste and this time the dad who is a psychiatrist who is trying to write a book on vacation and cannot get passed the full stop after writing the words chapter 1 until he starts to find himself as a child again, gets in touch with his children and with the creature from the deep.

The final film of the day was The Undefeated with the great man himself who they called the Duke, John Wayne as an ex Yankee Colonel turning to wild horse collecting for the army whose agents want only 500 and the 3000 available, offering only two thirds of the market price. He chooses to sell the herd instead to the Mexican President whose army is about to rebel at his dependence on the French. Wayne then encounters a Confederate Colonel played by Rock Hudson with a moustache who for some reason I confuse with Gregory Peck and who is also seeking to do a deal with the Mexican President to allow his men and their families have a new start and guerrilla opportunities against the new United States and men such as John Wayne. There is a young love sub plot (just to rub in how racist were the southerners) involving the daughter of the Dixieland colonel and the adopted Indian son of Wayne the new American, and the two enemies are drawn together a series of developments which sees various battles against renegades and the French. However the Colonels their men and their families are forced to return home empty handed but the richer for the experience to the benefit of their new nation.

There were then several competing interests with top of the list of films Pans Labyrinth and two and half hour version of Vanity Fair. I settled for some work and occasional looking at another of the 30th Anniversary Antique Roadshows and the lasts episode of the Queen at work although the programme concentrated on the Royal Firm with interviews with the three sons and daughter, the children of Prince Charles and Diana, the Duke and other relatives. The programme was very effective in its contention that we get value for money although the aim is for excellence rather than an economy model. I tried to work out the number of combined visits to organisations and plaque openings carried out by the Royal Firm and believe it is of the order of 5 to 7 a day between 1500 and 2000 a year which created a difficulty for the Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire who admitted to one of the visiting Royals that their sister had come the previous day. Based on the series a good case was made but the gulf between the careful modernization according to changing times and the average yob on the street is wider than ever. Spare a thought this Christmas for the Lord Lieutenants of your nation and all those expensive hats.

No so young Leon the winner of the X factor who we followed through his week after being the victor in what some are claiming to be a fixed vote, I can see if one wanted a winner with a good story and potential rather than a winner who came across as too professional and destined to make it regardless of the competition. Surely they would not dare try it on with the public paying voting system after all the fuss earlier in the year. The same was said about political party donations. That one has gone quiet as well. The instant adoration of young Scottish females for Leon was incredible. And he continues to come across as a decent young guy who will look after his mum and family and not go down the Amy Winehouse route. But then he will sound like Michael Bubble and not Amy Winehouse and there is a difference.

For several years when my enthusiasm for British Football waned I became interested in American Football, their national game along with Baseball and basket ball. I supported two teams such is my way, the San Francisco 49's and the Washington redskins and I have the shirts and made trips to watch pre seasons games at Wembley. Continuing my support through to the attempt to create a British and European league based on out of season and former American game stars. This resulted in a few Brits making it over there, I mention this because I stayed up to watch the Washington game against Minnesota but went to bed before the second quarter ended but with my team was 16.0 up and had a score denied over a coach appeal. Now if in our national game we could lodge appeals against scored goals on the basis of a managers appeal as there is now in cricket, that would be interesting.

This continued to be a good food day and I enjoyed half chicken crown with trimmings and divided the remaining roast spuds between today and Christmas Day It is time to remember a supper of cold meats sent from Gib before midnight mass at which the community turned up in standing room only numbers. I have been trying to avoid writing about Christmas because I will upset others as well as myself if I do.

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