Sunday, 6 September 2009

Film Awards: and A walk through town and a foorball match

“I have gone through my day in this way before coming to the subject which connects with others of the past ten days, the nature of being and the rules with live by or do not. I am in a dilemma over the what was recently said by the Archbishop of Canterbury before an audience of senior lawyers a week before the opening of the General synod or council of the Church of England and Protestant Anglicans around the world. My understanding is that he was suggesting that there ought to be debate about the extent to which the core principles of different faiths should be taken into account when forming the civil law of the country.

The emphasis is on civil law although the rational implication is that it should be taken into account in criminal law and from that it is only a short step to saying account and precedence should be given to these fundamentals in all aspects of political and social life. It is a sound argument to say that if a religion is valid as a system of rules and beliefs to live human life then it should govern every aspect of ones life and that if those of different religions can agree on common matters then these should become the governing basis for the society, especially if it is the majority view expressed through their representative democracy, or hybrid system such as the British which while giving token supremacy to the elected House of Commons continues to give considerable weight to House of unelected and appointed Lords, the advice of the Monarch and her Privy Council in the context of also accepting the supremacy of the rule of law as interpreted by the judiciary.

I have no problem with this and would prefer to live in such an environment as one wholly secular, especially if the alternative is a fascist dictatorship of the right or left, or one driven by secret bodies or uncontrolled capitalism.

My objection is about any ology or religion which seeks to impose one set of beliefs and one way of living on everyone else and where religions have tended to do this if they have the power as much as any right or left dictatorship or simple I am in charge dictatorship obey me or perish along with your family, friends and any supporters.

I am only comfortable if there is recognition of human and natural rights based on knowledge, understanding tolerance and respect for individuality. All life has value and should protected and valued as far as possible. What will appear contradictory to many is that I also accept that governments must govern with the function to collectively further the interests of everyone for whom they have responsibility Given our knowledge of human behaviour we all need to be realistic about the implications of this, as Government will concentrate on international solutions before national and national solutions and then before regional and local and neighbourhood.

However fromt he individual viewpoint ones interest comes first and usually those of aprtenrs, children and parents take precedence over that, then perhaps local community including local chirch and social groups with which one is associated and only the local and national interests and then the international.

The reality is that democratic government has to be representative government as we cannot afford to spend all out time in debate and trying to reach not just a consensus but agreement with everyone else. The majority are often wrong with horrendous consequences but if you set yourself up against the majority you must also accept the consequences. And thus I am on the side of the Archbishop, and the head of Catholic Church who has come out in support and against the ultra conservatives of the kind that wish the world was still flat and the inquisition was still in control.”

I wrote this at the end of my daily remembering but it seemed more important than the rest so I have switched the piece to the beginning.”

Sunday February 10th 2008 did not become the spring day forecast until mid morning but the sun was shinning when I was ready for a walk after lunch, and set off through North Marine Park where the crocuses and daffodils are beginning to peak out through the grass on large bank from the roadway, and where along Ocean Road there are several large beds of planted spring flowers to delight the eye and boost the spirit.

On my way home to call in at Asda I walked along Ocean Road and was struck by the popularity of the award wining fish ansd chip restaurant with prices to match, over £10 for large a cod or place. There was also queue of a dozen at its take away next door and similar queues at two other establishments along the same street although it was approaching 3pm in the afternoon. Most, if not all the other restaurants were not open. My visit to Asda was only for fruit and unlike other visits, usually later in weekday afternoons or early evenings trhere were mini queues at all check outs with everyone having substantial quantities of purchases. There was also a queue of five others at the hand basket till. The hill home proved a challenge and indicating the stone that has been put on since achieving the maximum reduction a year ago, including the half stone since the death of my mother. The problem, apart from the absence of regular walking activity is that with having such long days I have needed to eat more over all, coupled with eating energy yielding food when tired. I must begin to do less work, more exercise which does not become counter productive and of course eat less. I need to achieve the break through step. I have struggled and continue to struggle to do so since before Christmas. Good intention is not sufficient.

On the journey along Ocean Road I was struck by the frequency of changes among the restaurants and places of entertainment which are coming together in one area opposite the two storey Asda complex. At the commencement of the pedestrian area there is one of those bars in a building where all the windows have been sealed in order to dampen the noise and hide the activity within There. There is another proclaiming that it opens on Fridays and Saturday at the corner of the road leading to the John Wright centre and the Jane Fry Centres, to ensure that it distinguished from the closed boarded up establishments in other parts of the town. Next to the one opposite Asda trhere is an older three storey building which appears to have been gutted internally over time and then repaired and where the ground floor at least is being prepared for another entertainment facility called Palma, or something similar indicating a Mediterranean setting matching the recently opened Ocean Bar with the older Glitter Ball night spot of sixties, seventies and eighties music above. A couple of doorways further the restaurant which always seemed popular during the day with tables for smokers on the pavement has closed its doors. On my walk around Sunderland on Saturday, before the match, I also noticed similar changes with the closure of two pubs in the High Street a popular small day time restaurant with a traditional arrangement of tables with four chairs, up for sale although nearby several day time bars and pubs, especially those showing live sports or identified with Sunderland football club with posters, banners and pictures, including the Porterfield and Deano's were packed with people standing in the street outside drinking. I went to what appeared to be a converted bank, or former traditional stone covered office building which has been converted into a large bar and restaurant full of large TVs and projection screens and where half a pint of Fosters cost me only 75p and I would have got an additional concession with a student card. That lunchtime the place was full of Mackems Aston Villa supporters thrilled as the team scored goal after goal against Newcastle the other team I support Newcastle.' This is not a country for those with no or many allegiances. It is a country for old men.

Afterwards I walked back through town across the Wear river bridge to where the majority of spectators were on the concourse drinking and watching the closing minutes of Aston Villa's triumph and the subsequent realisation of Newcastle supporters, as they commented on the game in a regional after match review that the club had now joined the potential relegation clubs and where the recent form suggested they were quickly becoming the more likely candidates for the big fall just as Sunderland the Boro are edging there way into the top half of the relegation group. Everyone sitting around me agreed that Widnes were the superior al-round tea and should have scored at least four to six goals and taken the three points leaving us worried, but hopeful that Deano would recreate the winning streak of last year. Fortunately for us a mixture of poor finishing, a couple of brilliant saves and a lot of luck as balls screeched and whizzed inches away or hit woodwork and came back, enabled Sunderland to take the lead with an unmarked bullet header towards the end of the first half although it was some 34 minutes before anyone in the Sunderland team had a shot at goal. After the interval Widnes came out determined and played us off the park and we just did not believe the number of chances or that it would be our day, until one of the new men, bought from Charlton of the lower division came on as a substitute and made a breathtaking diagonal cross field pass to someone who teed up the ball and hit an unstoppable rocket over twenty yards on the underside of the cross bar and into the back of the net. The fourth home win in succession has provided a fighting chance of another year of the same unless proven premiership and world class players can be attracted to play for the city.

The morning had commenced leisurely and for a moment I thought the mist would clear early to enable a before lunch walk, but it quickly returned so I did some writing, watched political programmes and then decided on lunch and watching the first half of the Manchester derby uniting the city in memory of the event some fifty years ago of the Munich air disaster when the backbone of the Manchester team lost their lives and others were miraculously rescued and survived including the great Bobby Charlton who was in the stands and under much camera surveillance during the game in which Manchester city ended winners 2.1 for the first time in some three decades and of doing the double over their closest rivals. There is a different feel among the crowds of the two Manchester teams with the City being closer to Sunderland and Newcastle becoming closer to Man U, although it is questionable if Manchester United would be able to command the same degree of loyal support with a similar record of failure and poor performances before their home general and hospitality driven supporters.

On Saturday evening I watched the semi final of the tribute artist contest in which my forecast of the better performances was matched by that of the commentators and voting public. It is good to be with the majority and not always finding that one is swimming against the tide. I was delighted that the Frank Sinatra van driver has come of age, improving his performances each week, although I expect the winner to be Dusty Springfield. In the evening it was turn of the ice dancing although I enjoyed some of the 30th anniversary of the Antiques Roadshow where one man revealed his collection of Beatrice Potter original drawings and colourings, some 23, estimated to have a value of a quarter of a million pounds compared to detailed original framed drawings of the walker and writer Wainwright which had been bought for £35 and were said to be were a couple of hundreds or so. There was also a perfect pot with a value of £10000 and a 1960 contemporary art work bought for £3000, originally purchased by a company as a commission for a few hundred and now estimated to have a value of over £40000. The most intriguing lot was a collection of native American Indian memorabilia, one object of priceless historical value and which had been passed to a friend to meet the costs of looking after a horse after the death of its owner. I also enjoyed Lark Rise to Candleford with a moving story of how a major disappointment in a love relationship embittered and changed someone until he found loving care in his hour of need in the most unlikeliest of circumstances.

The decision was then taken to concentrate on the British Film Academy Awards which this year were held at the Royal Opera House boasting the longest red carpet said to exist in Europe and where in addition to extensive coverage of the arriving stars on both the Sky and BBC news channels but also this year by the full works USA entertainment channel, involving Ryan Seacrest of American Idol, two other interviewers and commentators in a long standing relationship, a fashion expert and fourteen cameras with the programme going to some 100 counties and several hundred million viewers. The Baftas bigtime has arrive because of the cancellation of one major award ceremony in the USA and fear that the Screen Writers strike would also result in the abandonment of the Oscars. Certainly there was better turn out of successful nominees than previously. What next well there is the Royal Albert Hall, but the new Wembley will be a bridge too far.

There were two moments of potential disaster when the fashion guru slammed he outfit of Tilda Swinton whose performance in Michael Clayton won her the best supporting female actor award. And who was hen interviewed by the long standing together couple and where previously they had ask everyone who had made their outfit and then said great, how wonderful you look etc. Tilda was given a distinctively oriental look with white powdered face, no doubt in homage to the developing interest in the far East for Hollywood although the costume was more Geisha than Forbidden City.

The whole business of the Red Carpet is an odd event on which fans scream as they catch sight of the celebrities of the moment, and ignore some of the greats of other years from lack of immediate recognition. There are banks of cameras and photojournalists, people with lists of who to look out for and who will be available for interview and the stars some who are genuinely amazed to be considered with the rest of their peers, some gracious and willing to try and give spontaneous and enthusiastic answers to the same question and then there was Kevin Spacey and Jeff Blum) spelling ? With the former barely containing his boredom and he latter his bemusement, as they plugged the coming Old Vic play where Spacey is the Artistic Director and prepared for a joint presentation for the award of Best film which surprising went to Atonement where the Dunkirk scene was filmed on Redcar beach. However the main reason for sticking with the programme was to see if Marion Cotillard( spelling ? a again) the in early twenties pretty actress would win the Best female actor award for her brilliant and truly extraordinary performance of Edith Piaf as she went from 19 to 47 and into physical and emotional declined. Everyone else other than the actress was rooting for her including Ms Knightly also nominated for the same award, and her gesture increased my estimation of her several fold as a consequence and there was the elegant and cultured Daniel Day Lewis playing another black character role and finally a fellowship award to another actor who is capable of transforming their facial and physical appearance, Sir Anthony Hopkins.

In order to watch the Baftas I was willing to sacrifice for one night the second episode of the penultimate series of Lost until discovering that there was a multi play with quarterly hour starts from ( and until11pm. I set the programme for the 11pm start with one minute to spare and then watch the last ten minutes of the Baftas on a separate television. The decision to watch the rest of the episodes was a good one as so much was revealed which tied in and up issues raised in the end of last series episodes and some of what has puzzled before. A part of four individuals arrive by helicopter on the island, three using parachutes, after the call signal had been received on the freighter from the advance drop of the young woman, killed by Locke under the influence of the island force, supported by Ben who argues that the visitors have not come as rescuers and will destroy everyone living on the island. Through the usual process of flashbacks we learn that the identity of the discovered plane at the bottom of the ocean with no survivors is not the same plane in a different dimension but that someone or organisation has gone to the trouble and expense to create a fake including skeletal decaying bodies. The identity of the pilot is challenged by the man who was due to fly it but had to drop out presumably because he was judged incapable because of an alcohol problem ansd we learn that he is pilot of the helicopters. There is a women archaeologist whop with learn has been investigating the discovery of the skeleton of a polar bear in the desert and an emblem of the same organisation who were researching on the island The advance drop was of a girl who appears top have been a proven action woman and appointed leader of the group and her brother who has a machine with appears to be able to communicate with the souls of the dead, especially those who are troubled. And the background of the other individual in the party was not disclosed or I cannot remember but who admits that they have not come as a rescue mission but to find Ben and to disable the transmission device(s).. Locke reveals how Ben's bullet passed through his and where his donated kidney would have been and that his interest in learning the nature of he monster he experience in the first series.

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