Monday, 23 August 2010

Bridget and Journey Centre of Earth in 3D

This is the first of the three full days of my visit to London but I cannot believe that anything will match the overall experience of yesterday.

I wake around six am after a night where I cannot remember having to get up, I make myself a cup of coffee and have the croissant. Later I have the Danish Pastry and a second coffee. I log on check emails reminding that I must remember to buy Eurodraw lottery tickets before I set off for the day and then confirm that there was no play for the third day in succession in the match between leaders Durham and Nottingham. There have been no additions to Britain's Medals at the Olympics for two days. Has the national bubble burst? There have been several disappointments. It is make or break weekend.

By eight o'clock there is brilliant sunshine outside and feels that it is going to be a warm day. It raises a question about spending too much time in doors including going to the cinema but I need to pace myself to do what I want to do. On Thursday morning I made extensive notes on the film Bridget and before commencing this writing I considered if the attention given had been justified. It was a film which fitted nicely with the earlier viewing Toyko Eyes and to some extent Elegy as all three are about the human condition in which we try and balance our need for relationships with independence and a continuing sense of freedom.

The heroine of Bridget has no respect for herself, a feeling which is well justified by her previous behaviour and she focuses her life on regaining her son, rightly removed from her care by the authorities. What we learn of her life now, which confirms her unfitness as a parent and yet we quickly come to sympathise with her predicament and wish her well. I did not grasp, from my experience of the film, the cause of her delinquent and subsequent criminal behaviour as a young women. We learn that she was an erotic dancer and a tart and the mastermind of a successful million dollar bank heist which involved her first and her second husbands. The first reappears, a black man called Black who shoots and kills her second husband and injures her in front of their baby son. He wants the money which she insists she does not have or know what happened to it. Late in the film we learn she lied when cashing in the money in attempt t buy him off. The son is fostered with a Manhattan couple and their other children. A couple who are willing to allow contact visits for a thousand dollars a time and to let Bridget have the son's care without the knowledge of the authorities for half a million dollars. In England this would be lead to the foster parents being sent to prison but it would not lead to mother regaining the care of her son, unless she could show a transformation of her own behaviour over a period of time.

I thought of this when on the train to London later in the morning. I had four seats to myself when the train arrived for the 9,34 departure at East Croydon station. Then two young women with two adorable looking girls aged under five years I guessed but both capable of recognising words for children's books. One, who sat next to me with the two girls read a story with an American accent and I was struck by the intensity of the attention to two girls gave to the reading. A couple of stations before reaching London Bridge Station the other mother who had sat on one of the adjacent quartet of seats came for her daughter and explained to the other girl who enquired that they could not be together to day because she was taking her daughter to be with her daddy for the weekend, thus signalling to the train compartment and me that the parents were not living together. I knew nothing of them and their lives as couples or as parents but the strength and nature of the relationship with their daughters was such that it was evident they were exceptional parents. This did not mean they were exceptional adults who had exceptional adult relationships but I knew it would be surprising if this was not so. The North American sounding lady apologise for having spent the time reading and I briefly indicated my approval. She therefore responded when her daughter requested another story and the rest of the compartment fell into silence as it was read with some feeling, capturing again the attention of the child whose facial expression was a joy to behold. As the film begins Bridget works as secretary and performs sordid and dangerous tricks at night. She and a friend party with a group of masked men who persuade the girls to do naked press ups while they bed which will continue the longest, without telling the girls that whoever gives up first will be shot dead. Bridget is released, hands tied, blindfolded and naked, later into the morning and as a consequence loses her job. Given her background, lifestyle and intentions she does not advise the authorities and we are not told how she manages to extricate herself from the situation without their active involvement. Perhaps this situation is as uncommon in New York as it would be in London. Bridget losses her apartment ad well as her job and symbolically is forced to take a grotty room for around £75 a week in the house of a teacher, perhaps a few years older, and who turns out to be lesbian. Earning six dollars an hour as a supermarket check out girl she needs to sell her body in some way if she is to continue to see her son. She is constantly approached by customers with offers. I wonder if this also happens generally in the Big Apple and here in the UK. She take a job providing serves for the father of a customer and I may have understood the situation because I thought she was to move in in a form of marriage to the widower. She continues as a check out girl, is kind to a young man who is educationally challenged and consequently immature and accepts the offer made to her by his father. That she formally marries and lives with his son for five years, after which if he remains alive she can walk away and receive half a million dollars banked without interest, but not beforehand , although if the son, like his father, who has a heart condition, dies beforehand then the amount will be paid pro rata for the length of the marriage. They have separate rooms and she fends of his questions about the nature of marriage and becoming a parent. He is an adorable young man little different from the young girls in the train. While the film suggests she plays the role of a mother figure and playmate friend with enthusiasm, she still needs funds to continue to see her son in the meantime. She takes a job working as a peek booth girl stripping only to her pants and talking suggestively, but again this is only for a few dollars an hour so even with the two jobs and whatever financial support the son receives it is not enough to achieves her goal of a financial buy out. She is introduced to a Miami retired gangster who fixes for her to be a drug courier into the Lebanon. This involves taking in half a million dollars and bringing back the drugs. She hands over the money and is then told she is to be killed because the drugs are fake. She talks her way out of this situation and out of a capture by a border guard inside Israel. Instead of high tailing out of the country she spends time at the Wailing Wall and meets a Rabbi, who looks into her soul and says that whatever she has been her fortunes will change. On arrival home she hands over drugs which believes are fake but they are not, or at least the financiers do not say so, claiming they will be worth a million dollars on the street and reward her with twice the original feel of 50000 thousand dollars adding that the money was fake money anyway, as if they would trust such a sum with a stranger.It is at this point that the film moves quickly into its climax. She has been with the son now for four years and the father in law has died having a hear attack when at his request she turns him on at her continuing job in the peek booth. The relationship with the son also changes and they becomes lovers as well as friends. Then Black turns up for the money three months before the five years of the deal for half a million is due to be paid. She tries to get a part payment but the lawyer explains that arising from the death his role as executor is set and he has no room for manoeuvre. It is at this point she cashes in the million dollars from the bank job although we are not told if she hands over all or half the amount. I presume she uses the other half to buy her son and then plans to get away with husband and son, the half million from the marriage deal and whatever money the son is getting for his on going care from the estate of his father.The couple are woken as Black and two of his present gang break into the apartment and she kills all three before they kill them. She has also exacted revenge on the man who killed the friend in the press up game murder. The film ends as the three have got away to a beach side residence in a sunny paradise, She knows the situation is unlikely to last but she savours each moment of happiness and adolescent son and husband son enjoy beach life together and we have the impression is no longer having to use her body for money. But do any of us believe she can give up the excitement of the danger?

I left the Travel Lodge in time to buy two fresh Danish and a bottle of cold water which I transferred to the flask. £1.61 (175.42). At the station before I was able to buy the cheap day travel card but was able to do so to be on the platform in time for the first eligible train to London Bridge £7 (182. 42). At the terminal I made my way along he subterranean arcade created from a tunnel under the station where there are now various attractive food outlets including one selling olives which tempted me but at that point I was inclined to resist as still determined to get to the cinema at the Millennium Dome in plenty of time for the only showing of the 3 D edition of Journey to the centre of the earth. It is 8 years since visit's the Dome although last year on my to the Cineworld I left the Docklands Light Railway at the wrong station and was insight of the Dome. Like everyone else I had balloted for tickets and made a special trip to London and was impressed with what had been achieved and would have gladly returned again as it was not possible to see everything at the pace one would have wished. I was struck once more by the depth and vast space of the Jubilee Line stations at this part of the line. The exit to the Dome does not provide a good view the building despite a vast external concourse. This is because of building development work which is continuing on site and in the surrounding area. Because of the number of concerts at the arena which forms the central core of the arena there is a large bus and taxi area and some 2200 car parking spaces in four parks at a cost of £20 for over four hours. There the majority of people come by public transport and the underground although there is a regular and fast boat service from North Greenwich into central London about which I shall write about later. The entrance into the Dome does not indicate anything of what is within except the main entrance to arena which appeared to be four and five stories high and a large two three story building the left which housed ticket office a two storey American bar and Grill restaurant, a large area for buy merchandise related to specific events at the arena and immediate facing but at some distance in what is known as the London Piazza is the entrance to the 20000 seater stadium and where there are 10 food areas restricted to when there are events. To the left of this space there was my first surprise for here, covering two thirds of the perimeter to the arena but within the Dome is Entertainment Avenue, a wide thorough affair with three story permanent buildings closest to the sides of the dome and four tall storeys next to the Arena. These are impressive structures in their own right and whole refurbishing inside the Dome cost £350 million but for once I have no quarrel with the cost as the end result is impressive. Before commencing my visit having enquired that the Vue Cinema was within the complex, I had to go through a highly professional security system, in which all bags with phones and M3 players went through one electronic X ray system and human forms another so there was no need for personal frisking. I made my way around until reaching the second Piazza area where to one side there is the Vue Cinema Digital. The is a three story staircase to the large entrance foyer and then there is a further soaring to the roof area with a tubular lighting feature with circles of coloured lights. You have the impression of moving to somewhere special and you are not disappointed. There is a clever marketing approach in that of instead of a box office you buy tickets from the counters selling drinks, ices, sweets, pop corn and the like. The prices are midway between outer London and West End. My concessions seat was £6 plus I had to pay £1 (189.42) for the special glasses these are a strong pair of uncoloured lens in a black frame. This is the hire charge as they are collected at the end of the performance. It is several decades since I watched 3D using a red and green pair of glassed set in cardboard which one took away. I have no memory of what the effect was like. Today the effect is impressive as you get the sensation of depth but more significantly of creatures, rocks and other things coming to within inches of you. However the dimensions of the screen changes to achieve these effects so you have a more personal and intimate experience where the rest of the cinema and its audience are removed and it you alone that is involved with the events before you. In fairness it also has to be mentioned so that the film can be enjoyed as an adventure film without the 3D effect. There is a good story as a scientist and his nephew successful make the journey to the centre of the earth on the basis of the Jules Verne book as if he ahs written an account by someone who undertook the original experience. The level of my involvement was unexpected. The toilet also enters a new area and the space age hand dryer has to be experienced.It was time to explore the rest of the building with my camera and note book to hand. First restaurant at the main entrance Piazza is Guacho, Argentinean and enclosed space on two floors with external atmosphere of sophistication which is likely to put off casual visitor especially as there are no outside table, or inside tables visible. There is a tireless young woman at the front attempting to attract customers to attract customers. To the left is Raan a bar and Grill but there was no evidence of custom. This was not the situation in the rest of the Avenues as many were busy especially the majority with there outside tables. The prices were West End Holiday Tourist although there were also several excellent bargains. On the right there is also the 2000 smaller venue for live performance Indigo2 where there is a mixture of sanding and seating at tables. Tapas Tapas on the left is Spanish with a selection costing between £14 and £20 although something can be bought singular with a drink. The Thai restaurant was offering a lunchtime special for under £6, There was the Slug and Lettuce English roadhouse without TV screen whereas it was the Thai showing the Olympics. Radizio Rico is Brazilian. The Pizza Express is self explanatory and the Sushi Restaurant Wasabi popular with adult s and young people. Nandos is Nandos as everywhere as was Frankie and Benny's to one side near the Vue. Café S and M had an English café style but on a large scale and selling traditional dishes. Zizzi was a popular Italian. Next to the Vue is a French Brasserie and Jimmy Morcoss a burger speciality. Spur is American with Steaks and Ribs while the Eater Margin offered a buffet for £7.50 unlimited 20 options and £14 in the evening for 40. Iquanas is Latin American. The next surprise was a large organised and supervised children's activity area where the parent can lounge in deckchairs and watch the Olympics. There were a few benches in the main thoroughfare where I was able to enjoy two rolls with crab pate and a the cold water. Here there is also Starbucks and a sandwich, newsagent and sweet shop and hen on the left is the Tutenkhamun Exhibition on several levels with its own security and escalators. There is work going on in he third of the pediment area not opened to the public and which suggests a further of phase in development in future. I suspect this area was hoped to be used as a Super Casino. I left around and made my way to the ferry landing. This is a long walk under a covered ten like avenue and then on to the pontoon out into the river . I missed one cruiser and the next was taken out of service for a break but then two came together with everyone crowding to the first enabling the few who sensibly remain to get seats at the back.However be warned the boar is fast and functions as speed boat so there is spray and it is difficult to stand and take photo without having support. Because I had a Travel card I paid only £2.40 (191.82) proved to be a thrilling experience in what has become one fo the great City river trips in the world. I am not exaggerating and the river between Waterloo and North Greenwich has been transformed. So that one wanted to get off at anyone of the dozen stops and explore. The views of Canary Wharf, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London and the other sites will be lasting although I intend to repeat the trip as soon as I can as well as walk along the river bank.It was soon after departing that Dave came up and introduced himself. Dave is an American, about my age he suggested recent diagnosed with Diabetes having the time of his life on a world wind trip doing London in a couple of days. He had seen a show the previous night not destined for the USA, The Tutenkhamun and on his way to Greenwich. He was so engaged conversation that he early missed his stop. I had time to tell him of my stay in Greenwich thirty years ago and mutual experiences of being old. I was tempted to join him for the rest of the day when he then headed for Harwich a boat to St Petersburg. It was very difficult to take photos when the boat was moving between stops but the number of people getting and off was such that I was able to do at these times. It was just before 4pm when I arrived at Waterloo and decided to have a cup of tea before walking along to Tate Modern for a quick visit before the free concert by Barb Jungr in ballroom. I was struck by he number of people already drinking in the vast seating area on the first floor veranda overlooking the Thames, In side they were getting the Ballroom area ready with tables, table clothes, glitter on the clothes, and flame lights to create the effect of a night club space, although this was designed more the burlesque show at 10.30pm after the young audience for the Wizard of Oz summer show had departed from the evening performance, I found a settee free overlooking the ballroom and decided to reward what had been an excellent day with a pint of lager £2.40 (194.22) I was very pleasant so I decided to write and then rested my eyes although I did not sleep. Although it was approaching two hours before the performance I stayed on and moved on the ballroom when a few others came. By the time the performance commenced all the seats were taken with all those in the vast area of lounge space above. In between numbers one could also hear the sound of talk from outside the Hall and it was only when I left did I find the hundreds of tables filled by young people with hundreds of others standing overlooking the Thames drinking before whatever they were doing over the rest of the evening. Barb Jungr was born in England of mid European parentage in 1954 and has a international reputation as a nightclub singer in the mould of Edith Piaf but also jazz and blues and original interpretations of standards. She a couple of dozen albums to her name and is highly regarded by other singers but without ever achieving celebrity status among the general public. I had not heard of her beforehand. She is a skilled professional performer but was warmly applauded by the audience in a programme which ended with a delightful interpretation of Somewhere over the Rainbow after collection of songs with the theme of friendship. She is also fan of Bob Dylan and included his music as well as the songs of Nina Simone. Given that the hour long concert was free I am being uncharitable in saying that I understood why she is not and has never been a household name. There is the lack of the wow factor.I felt I was ready to return to the Travel Lodge for a picnic evening meal. I had not bargained what a beautiful evening it was and the extent of activity along the South Bank. Outside the Queen Elizabeth Hall ,the National Film Theatre and the Hayward Galleries there are the second hand book sellers on the river bank. All the riverbank seating along here were occupied including by one young woman writing in what looked like a large diary book. Near us at that point were the skate borders against the background of professional Graffiti. There was a huge queue of people waiting to get on the Millennium Wheel, The London Eye and similar number waiting to go on the river, either for the stopping speed cruisers or the eighty minute special trips. From here to just before the Blackfriars bridge and stations and past Tate Modern and the area of restaurants and art market, the designer stores there was an almost continuing line of statue artists and street musicians. Unfortunately I had exhausted the available photos on the memory and had left the other in the computer. There were some forty of these artists some exceptionally skilled drawing the crowds especially Charles Chaplin and someone in a wicker box. Some were so motionless that they was doubt they were human until money as donated when they briefly indicated approval. Under one bridge there was a group of musicians playing an hypnotic Latin American ban which drew applause and some passers by dancing. Then I came to cellist playing Marie and other pieces including music from Swan Lake I was able to sit on a bench under a tress for 15 minutes watching the evening come to an end. There were young lover and family groups. Further along the blue lights in the trees were becoming visible. To get to present Blackfriars station it is necessary to walk over the adjacent road Bridge across the Thames and one appreciates the width of river. The station is doe of a £350 million development to herald a second cross London link, It closes this weekend for engineering works but I was able to catch one fo the half hour trains towards Brighton and which only involved a stop at London bridge before East Croydon. I had timed the return well for with the sundown there was a chill, I stopped at the supermarket for a pack of ham, four rolls, some buns as there was no croissants,. I thought soup with a roll would not be enough and bought a cheese pasta without checking that it was not one where not water was poured and discovered too late that it was the microwave. I made do with the ham and two of the rolls. The total purchase was £6.20.(200.40) However I enjoyed the food and after checking the TV and the internet decided to try an early night although it was only 10 am as I wanted to try and wake up for 3am when Rebecca Arlington was attempting a second gold medal in what is her best event. It had been a day I will long remember with the only regret forgetting the second memory stick.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Beowulf Tokyo Eyes and Bridget

I begin with good news for as the inland revenue has sent a cheque for an overpayment of tax for last year, sufficient to pay fro my trip to London.

It has been a lazy start and I have still not washed and shaved and it is nearly midday, However I have prepared a stir fry for lunch and am ready to of some more work having sorted out in readiness later last night and this morning. One reason for not getting going sooner is the preoccupation with communication file and printer share between computers. I have set aside this activity and will do an hour's work before lunch.

I decided to watch the latest film of Beowulf, the most significant work of Anglo Saxon Literature about the mythological exploits of a brave and skilled fighter who conquers Grendel, a beast monster attacking a drinking hall built by the King in Denmark The beat is impervious to weapons and realising this Beowulf fights him without weapons tearing and arm from the shoulder so that the monster goes off to the marshes to die.

In revenge the beasts mother who also has the same defensive qualities as her son kills the most loyal of Beowulf's men and because of this a special sword given to him has no effect but after a long battle he severs the head of the mother which he brings back as a trophy. Later on in his kinship a slave steals a golden cup part of the treasure of a dragon who leaves his cave and burns up everything in sight in revenge. Beowulf and young man named Wiglaf do battle with the dragon which they slay but Beowulf dies from his wounds and the dragon's treasure is buried with him as ordered by Beowulf before his death.

The mother of the monster and later a dragon creature after becoming king. He also dies in this battle and buried by his retainers as a great hero. The document of some 3000 lines has been the subject of worldwide scholarship and while there is agreement that it was written in England it has been dated only between the 8th and 11th centuries.

I can only assume that the film was made for the Friday night/Saturday night teenage audience/young adult audience. The script and the acting, with one exception is as awful as it gets. In order to make the story interesting several twists are introduced. Grendel is the result of a union between the King Hrothgar played by Anthony Hopkins and the beats mother and the son rejected comes to cause havoc upon his father. Beowulf does not know this when he responds to the call from the king to rid his people of the beast. When Beowulf kills the beast in similar fashion to poem, his mother kills most of his men but not the trusted friend as in the poem. The King then asks Beowulf to destroy the mother in order for Beowulf to gain his reward, but Beowulf succumbs to the ideal female form which the mother adopts. On his return everyone accepts his boasting of how he killed the beast mother but the King senses that he has been seduced as happened to himself. No evidence of the death was brought back and Beowulf claims he hast lost the golden horn given to him by the King as his first reward.

As the beast mother has offered Beowulf becomes immediately King for having told everyone this is to be and that the Kings wife is to marry Beowulf, the king immediately commits suicide. Time passes and everyone ages including his friend Wiglaf, and then someone, a slave discovers the golden horn and brings this back to the King and in doing so breaks the pact with the beast mother that he would prosper as long as she kept the horn. This triggers the arrival of the dragon, his son, causing mayhem and as in the original work, he slays the dragon but the battles ends his life.

Beowulf was a work studied by Tolkien and influential in creating his Lord of the Rings Trilogy brought to life as a work of enduring film art and entertainment. My only thought is perhaps the creator of this nasty and worthless film is haunted by his very creations.

I worked hard but in relaxed fashion during the day photographing and registering completed sets, some 25 sets, 650 cards and around 1000 photographs

I watched two films back tip back in the evening as I slowed down although crating a few additional sets from prepared card work.

The first of these films was Tokyo Eyes. This is not a great film but held together its flimsy story well and provided an excellent insight into commentary Japanese adolescents, although he lead parts were played by experienced TV actors. It was only afterwards where reading the Wikipedia entry that I realised why the film reminded me of about de souffle (Breathless) the 1959 film, as originally it was a French scripts to be shot in Paros and was then changed to a script in Japanese and shot in Japan. The older brother of a seventeen year old girl is a policeman concerned a teenage gunman who fires shots at people without hitting them, stealing or committing other criminal acts. Before the shootings he out on thick glasses and becomes known as Four Eyes. He a computer wizard has a an enormous collection of Long Play records.

My understanding of the film is very different from that of Wikipedia. Early on the film the 17 year old believes she had identified Four eyes from a drawing made by her brother and she skips work to follow him and the enlists the help of friend to investigate further. When she witnesses the young man appear to shoot at the manager off a store her first reaction is to call her brothers and ask him to collect her, and later she tries to tell him as he rushes off to investigate the incident. However before she is able to tell policeman a relationship between the two commences, and in her infatuation she believes what he says that his intention is only to scare and that he has fixed the gun so that if you fire straight at someone it fires wide of them. She erases the telephone message and leaves another saying she has met a boy. The ending of the film is ambiguous. She does explain the situation to her brother and he agrees to take no action, understanding her infatuations and believing when se says that the but intends no harm. When the owner of the gun comes to collect the gun, it goes off and for a time we are led to believe that the boy has been shot although there is no blood. There is also a query whether the gun accidentally goes off killing someone, someone who is first encountered physically ending a relationship.

The ending of the film suggests either he was not shot or he recovers as the two appear to meet off camera in an alls well conclusion. The a story and its outcome did not matter to me. It was the insight into Japanese teenage city life today which I found engaging.

The third film Bridget has a preposterous story which also engaged despite its incredulity because of fine acting and its main star attracting our sympathies. More the film tomorrow as sleep beckons and I need to go to bed with an early start. I hope I am well prepared in order to leave the house to get to the local station by nine thirty. If the weather is poor I may take a taxi. For the fourth day in succession I had a stir fry for lunch using up vegetables unlikely to last over the weekend and then having a salad in the evening. I tried to share files between the working lap top and the desktop as they appeared to be linked on the laptop, but without success and this will be a priority when I return having come so close yet still so far.

The Quiet American and Riviera

Tuesday August 12th was a dull rain threatening day when I awoke around 8.30 and was not the kind of day to plan to watch cricket, which is just as well as a check on the TV BBC cricket Ceefax confirmed that the start as delayed because of rain.

I had allowed myself to be beaten at level two chess and this irritated so although there was much else to do I played five games and also three or four at Heats, enjoying a cup of coffee but leaving the French Toasts until after ten.

I decided upon going out in search for computer hardware to fix my laptop problems but on checking that the new glasses would not be ready until after my departure, I changed my mind and decided to use the time going out for the search on checking for information and on line deals, but only after I had attended to other outstanding matters. I need to make a list, or do I? Perhaps I should just get on with it and which is what I did.

There was no inclination to catching up with the Olympics and I left checking the latest news online. I did learn last night that Murray senior had bombed out in his first round single tie, a competition eh was not expected to win with Federer and Nadal both after an Olympic Medal. An explanation for the Murray performance against someone ranked seventy places below his top ten at six is that he was scheduled to play a doubles with his brother on the same day. A competition they have a chance of winning. They won their first round match, There has been great hype over the fourteen year old synchronised swimmer who during boot camp achieved a score which would have won the pair a silver medal whereas they finished last. His older opponent who had received done of the limelight said the young man had been overcome by nerves as he himself admitted with the TV crew focussed also on his family who were present and his other relatives in London. I suspect this was all government inspired to get ten year olds and upwards involved in sports with the aim of getting to the 2012 Olympics. If so it has badly misfired as the medial will build up the successes and pour scorn on those who promise and then under achieve. It will be interesting to see if he continues to 2012. For me the issue is whether performers have performed at their best and are beaten those who are better and whether they have put in the training and preparations required beforehand. My criticism is of those who fail to train, prepare and perform up top their level of ability. My approach would be different if participation was by amateurs or those who continue to hold full time jobs. Most of the Olympic squad are on contracts and are well paid professionals.

Later there was a British Olympic story which was worth all the medals everyone else has won. This was the effort of the only British weightlifter at the games, a woman who won a Commonwealth gold and was doing well when she developed a back problem the curse of the event but continued on despite the excruciating pain which was evident. She get my vote for the sportsperson often year and makes my point about what the Games should be about. I am not impressed by the USA Swimmer Phelps. He is obviously a physical freak and a competitive obsessive. What he does is not sportsmanship.

The good news of the day occurred when I switched the teletex and the headline was that Russia had announced it was suspending its activities in Georgia without admitting it had been shaken by international pressure led by the USA President. The situation needed tough guy talk and it appears to have worked. Later the French president who did not get a good press where he and his wife came to the UK appears to have brokered a peace deal which stops the fighting.

My attention earlier was on a radio news item that the a previous decision that compensation paid to a female rape victim had been reduced because of contributory negligence by excessive drinking, was overturned at a legal challenge. A spokesperson argued that nothing justified rape to which I would added murder and a host of others things which we should never condone.

However such statements, subsequently echoed by a government spokesperson, misses the point. We all have responsibility to protect ourselves and anyone dependent upon us, and to take all reasonable steps to that end. That means if we take unnecessary risks we should not then expect universal sympathy if things go wrong, I was reminded of this later in the evening when I watched on World Movies a little known a little known film outside of France called Riviera which starred the French actress Miou Miou with seventy films to her credit, and who plays a lonely and hard working chamber maid in a hotel. We know little of how this middle aged woman with a beautiful daughter working in sex industry ended up with this life, affected by the goings on in the rooms she cleans with guests who treats her as if she is not there or some identityless individual. This is really two films knit together as well follow the life of the daughter who longs for someone not to treat her as sex object even though she works in the sex industry and attempts to establish relationships with men who use the industry and finds herself the victim of unsolicited assaults. The mother and deals with the man who uses the greatest violence on the daughter and the daughter, does she learn from this experience alas no as in the penultimate scene she is poolside listen to music oblivious to the porn film director beating up one of the naked porn starts who had irritated him by eating and drinking while working on set. The mother well she is greeted by a manager who notices her as she is working late and asks her to call him by his Christian name which she does and suggests that that her life is about to take a more positive turn. It is not a great film, depending on an outstanding music background with brilliantly selected songs which reinforce the points being made.

I therefore will upset some by saying that it is irresponsible for young women to dress scantily and then get drunk, unless perhaps in their own home with someone they know and trust and who is in a position to protect them should an emergency arise. The same applies to those who take drugs, However I place major responsibility on the fashion, advertising and alcohol industry and to some extent on the media which operates a hypocritical double standard relying on advertise and sensational stories and who do not maintain a constant warning about the perils of engaging in risk taking behaviour of any kind.

Someone who takes advantage of such a situation should be punished but in some circumstances the victim should accept responsibility for their part and for society not to recognise this is to send a signal encouraging others to also behave irresponsibly.

The same applies to prostitution where one individual contracts to provide services to another for money. If either party fails to fulfil the contract then they should be open to civil redress and if they commit an act which was not contracted then any breach of the criminal should result in criminal action. Some service providers agree to participate in rape scenarios, bondage situations and other aggressive physical actions so the dividing line is sometimes difficult to establish. How should one approach those who hold clergy and tarts dressing up parties or roman toga parties if this is not to signal wild behaviour?

It also occurs to me that being a prostitute is a high risk occupation no different from being a front line soldier. Both occupations are necessary to society as it is. The soldier earns significantly less for greater risks but both perform essential work for society. They both however have responsibility to protect themselves and their comrades within the risk nature of their activity. Society should however recognise their respective value and offer appropriate protection and support.

The greatest responsibility rests with parents of young children caught up the world of fashion and personality and ensuring that their sons are brought up to understand the real facts of life. After that all one can do is to provide unconditional love and always be there to pick up the pieces.

I went to bed after watching the Michael Caine 2002 film the Quiet American for third time, once in theatre and once previously on TV. This is also a film at two levels. The film provides an insight into the Saigon as the French were leaving and the Americans beginning to develop their anti communist strategy, a strategy which led to civilians, old men, women and children, being blown to bits and the film ends with a montage of subsequent events.
The film is primarily a love story between a beautiful and young Vietnamese girl wanting to escape life as the dancing partner in a dance hall frequented by Westerners and Michael Caine, an aging outposted journalist whose estranged wife back in England will not give him a divorce, and a young USA secret CIA field officer who also falls in love with the girl. The girl she is adorable but is driven by her older sister who insist she must marry a Westerner and provide ticket out for the family and regards Michael as the major obstacle, encouraging the relationship with the CIA agent. The brilliance of the Graham Greene novel and in this film version of the book is that the CIA young man is highly principled and tells Michael in advance of his feelings and intentions before approaching the girl. Michael plays the moral hypocrite outraged at the involvement of the USA in the internal affairs of the Vietnamese but who assists in the assassination of the CIA man who previously helped to save Michael's life. Michael gets backs his girl who has lost her innocence and as with the daughter in Riviera and Miss Saigon in the musical will be sued and exploited before tossed aside as Westerners used to be able to treat the East. Beware though the East will gets its revenge one way or another.

During the day I attempted to connect the two lap tops through a crossover cable and decided to record what I was doing in the after the first attempted failed to work through an explanation provided on line for the cost of a dollar. I started with an internet search and PC World which provided information of external drives and flash drives but I sassiest this might not resolve if the transfer to Disk drives was not resolved anyway in which instance the problem had been solved and I could attempt to put the computer back to factory settings.

I then came across what appeared to be a free service but was in fact a 30 day trial and where after downloading on desktop I was able to control the desktop via the internet from lap top two. The on going cost of the service is about £10 a month USA funds and given that I am rarely away and that the link between internet computer is not an issue then the price is not justified and there are risks as I quickly discovered as a new printer appeared to have been added as my preferred computer. So I quickly found out how to disable the software and will attempt to remove either later today/tomorrow or when I get back.

I then found the offer of advising how to connect two XP computer together by a local crossover cable yellow coloured and this was the one that had been provided with the AOL new wireless router modem and was not longer needed with the desk top or lap top two. For one US dollar I was offered an easy step by step guide through using Pay Pal or Credit card. Recently I had been advised that my Pay Pal credit card was out of date and that a new registration was required so this was my first step and this went ahead with any difficulty. I then went back to the provider and the information was provided and printed.

Attempt 1
The first task was to close both lap tops and attach the cable.

The second was to ensure that the two differently named computers were part of the same group. This involved right clicking my computer and going to properties and then to computer name. This was done on both computer but obviously it was not necessary to change the workgroup name unless one wished to do so both computer. This involved rebooting one the computers. This process completed step 18 of a 48 step process.

The next step was interesting in that it involved the task of enabling the sharing of information between computers. This again involved going to my computer pressing the right mouse button and then the hard drive C but instead of going to properties the target was sharing information and involved two processes with the first warning of the risks of allowing data to be shared between computers and enabling this to be done.

The next important steps in the process is to determine which information is to be accessible and transferable, This involved a left mouse click on the main hard drive and focussing on documents and settings when open had to right clique on the umbrella folder to allow transfer and use and this I did selecting one only of the options available.

This brought to the final phase which was to establish that the net work link was confirmed with the two computers showing up on each others network

The problem encountered is that on computer did not show while although the other did it was not accessible

Attempt 2
There was no obvious explanation for the failure of the first attempt except for the problems with the damaged lap top. I therefore decided to repeat the process before contacting vendor to see if there were other problems which could account for the failure.

I not repeat the first task

In relation to the second I decided to simplify the computer names and change the work group name
This involved rebooting one computer twice and the other once having decided to simplify the names after changing the work group.

At this point I realised the information was relevant in relation to the previous attempt to establish a wireless net work between the desktop and the fully work laptop so investigated and change the work group name of the desk top so that all three have the same workgroup name. I had to reboot desktop for changes to take effect and poured myself a glass of red wine from a new bottle with one slice of brown seeded bread.

Having agreed that the computers should enable file sharing during the first attempt this was not required during the second as the stages had already been completed, I decided against applying this process to the desk top until I had achieve the direct link local connection process

In checking the second part of the enabling process I decided to enable all the categories of users under documents and settings on both computers

In order to communicate and use fields between computer it is necessary to go to network connections and network places and check the workgroup that has been created. Alas the same situation as attempt one occurred and my only thought is that the processes was affected by one lap remaining wireless connected. The more I thought on this this the more it seemed to be the problem but in order to repeat the process without the wire connection it would involve disabling the wireless and I feared that this would have affect my ability to go on line while I was away. So it was a heart in the mouth decision.

Attempt 3
I have hit on the problem in that when I went to the net work places and networks it was blank whereas before it had included the host lap top. The question now is can I repeat the process without moving back every. The answers is no. The website provides e mail advice and lots of other useful information which I will need to print and study. I will leave this until my return unless I make greater progress today which is unlikely.

Death at a Funeral

As an antidote to Olympic and sporting saturation I watched a film.

The choice was between a foreign language film and a comedy. I could not remember why I had added either to DVD list and decided upon the comedy, although usually I do not find advertised comedies laughing out loud funny. Death at a Funeral is described as a black comedy and although a British film, it enjoyed some success in the USA and in Australia. At first the film appears to be about what can wrong at a family funeral which brings together people who do not usually get on with each other and lead very different lives but then into this conventional mix is added a home made psychedelic hallucinogen and the secret male lover of the deceased, out to make a modest but blackmailed sum in the all the circumstances and apparent wealth of the family. The sequence of events was very English, credible and funny and therefore surprising that the film is reported to have enjoyed such success down under and across the pond.

The film brightened what quickly became a disappointing day as I struggled to do any work over eat and experienced Olympic anticlimax and saturation after just a morning. The British Judo great hope failed again in his first round match, outwitted by his opponent although there is doubt about the only score which saw him through into subsequent rounds. Our cert for a medal also failed to win through the repercharge rounds to contest the Bronze. With the Great Boxing hope sent home because he failed to make the required weight. It was not the start which the British team at the games had hoped and planned for.

There was also potential disaster with one of our great sailing medal hopes as he was caught out by a change in tide and moved down from first to tenth position in the first race, but came through to win the second so had a third position after the first of several days sailing. A British girl's sailing team in this first class of the competition also ended the two races in a good position for the week ahead

However a Chinese man murdered an American and the committed suicide while a member of the New Zealand media was attacked and both instances were being reported as taking the gloss off the opening ceremony euphoria.

South Africa rallied in the final test much affected by rain and I just was not in the mood to watch the many football friendlies especially I thought I was to watch Sunderland in Ireland but got the showings wrong although a replay is being shown in the morning.

I bought some biscots French Toasts for the trip to Portsmouth and Nottingham and then forgot to take them with me so they are being eaten for breakfast. As I will want to leave for the cricket tomorrow around 12.30 I decided to cook the chicken to day which I enjoyed with a few small roast vegetables and a small packet vegetables followed by a banana and some strawberries. I then had a glass of wine with peanuts, a few Belgian chocolate thins, a packet soup in a cup, some pasta stuffed with spinach and some grapes in an extended meal during the afternoon and evening knowing beforehand hat I would regret doing so and that I was doing so in response to feeling tired and generally discontented.

In part this arose from reviewing my financial expenditure, the cost of new glasses and the cost of the starter motor. I got a round to writing to the vehicle repairer and Hampshire Cricket to find out if the prescription sun glasses had been found and handed in. I fancied having another week away combining Durham at the Rose Bowl County championship with further visits to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Naval Harbour, but realised that with the London trip shortly I could not justify the expense. I decided to move some funds between accounts on line and made a mess of the required codes so asked for some information not realising that it would take three working days by post. I then found the missing information but the system had already locked me out and I then could not remember relevant information quick enough to use the telephone service, although eventually achieved what I had set out to do. But only after taking a lot of time.

It was not all negative activity. The thought of getting to the coach station by eight and then travelling for seven hours was such that I searched and found a cheap single fare for a ten thirty Newcastle Train which arrives early afternoon. I also discovered that putting wireless on the lap top and then attaching to the desk top based network worked, I was able to get on line in all rooms down stairs and first floor rooms. Was too lazy to try the top floor although the desk top is still modem phone connected and went off line when I first transferred the telephone to the lap top before realising that I could disconnect this and remain connected. This encourages to be being able to establish a full home wireless network system when I return from the London trip. I must think more about how I will use my time in London although Sunday is committed and Saturday is Albert Hall day and perhaps visit a South Kensington museum depending on the weather as well as doing a tour of the Hall before the concert. So far I have decided not to take my camera on this visit or the time clock, learning how to set the alarm on the phone. Nor books, or CD player and limit clothing so will take only a couple of bags.

I did do some work, played chess and hearts, and slept through early evening TV but my overall mood did not change. Another bright spot was to watch a video of one of my first MySpace music friends Margot McDonald. I cannot remember how this came to be so except that on viewing the profile I was impressed that a young female singer song writer still at performing arts school was interested in environmental and civil rights issues as well as working toward peaceful resolution of conflicts. The voice showed promise but reflected the comparative inexperience of life. Her latest Blog attached a video performance of the Cohen song Hallelujah, one of my favourite songs, and eighteen months after first listening I found that the voice had begun to show the maturity and depth which I believed was there as a fifteen year old. Voted the promising new artist in the Washington area, with two albums and has been invited to be the artist in residence at the Strathmore music centre 2008-2009, I love it when a hunch become real. My hunch is that she will make it to Glastonbury within my life time.

The trouble is that I also have an unspecified foreboding and my record of hunches is sadly a good one,. Especially with the sense of doom and disaster, although these are fortunately rare given my nature to always look on the bright side and see the best in others and in situations. This makes bad feelings more disturbing. Hopefully it remains just a feeling.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Catholic Boys

I confess I have had an itty bitty morning of indecision, torn between cricket, writing and sorting out the in tray, tending to flit around things. Kent are losing wickets again so I decided on an early lunch here at home, the remaining snack meal of bacon beans potatoes and a banana, but I also make an unhealthy cheese and salami sandwich, before going out for quick visit to Aldi and the Fredericke Street Greengocers. I buy tins of the salmon ready prepared in sauces of various kinds for salad lunches. Breadm their last couple of pints of skimmed milk, lettuce cumcumber and some fresh peaches. The xcheries at the greengrocers look delicious large and juicey but I bulk at £3 around as those in Shields centre cost less. I buy two pounds of grapes for £1.

When I arrive at the Riverside ground a great black cloud covers the ground and I observed that having hesitated about making the trip I had chosed badly. There are a few droplets as I decided on location, staning near the Members Lounge but the rain does not come although the cloud lingers. Kent were all out for 78 some 68 runs behind Durham and their last wicket pair added 20. Durham are also struggling again and no one makes over 30 and they are all our around tea time for 108 leaving Kent 176 to win. This looks impossible as they losing two wickets in first over but then there is a stand of some sixty runs for the fourth wicket and scoring begins to look easy and none of the bowlers appear threatening. It is got very cold as well as fully overcast so perhaps atmospheric conditions is the factor. Then there is a sudden collapse just when Durham is in sight of victory play is stopped for bad light conditions. Ominously one of the batsman is approaching 50 runs and the other participated in the previous last wicket rally, although they have to score sixty runs to win in the morning, the game is far from over.

Althoyugh I had taken a sandwich and coffee to the game I was still peckish around tea time and treated myself to a scone and to a slice of cake for £3. I should have bought a pound of cherries . I raised the issue of the condition of the wicket with 15 players out on the first day and as it transpired 23 on the second day. I learnt that the umpires had called in the pitch inspectors the previous evening and three had looked at the pitch before the start of play. Durham could be fined championship points for using a below standard pitch although one member was confident this would not happen because similar visits had been made to two other grounds in the season and the problem was put down to excissive rain before the pitch is covered as usually after its initial preparation but there had not been sufficient warm sub to dry it out and together with atmospheric conditionas the ball was swinging around. Durham's chance of the championship could disappear if Kent get the run or points are deducted the equivalent of the winning points or both.

I do not do much over the rest of the evening other than watch TV. For the evening meal there are chicken pieces with baked beans and a loose ice cream cone which had slipped down into another basked. A glass of wine and peanuts beforehand. I work out the information required for registering the desk top so I can ask about the memory stick reader. I hope this is a drive problem as the light comes on but I leave sorting out until tomorrow having deciding not to go the match.

I watched a film called Catholics Boys better known as Heaven Help Us when first released outside the USA in 1985 about a young man brought with his sister by grandparents following the death of both parents and where is grandmother wants him to be a priest coinciding with the visit of Pope to the USA in the 1960's. The story hinges on the young man joining the school mid way during the term and this is not clear except possibly because the parental deaths was recent. Being a mid term arrival he becomes the centre of attention by the class gang leader and bully and who has a hold on one boy who is the brains of the class. The new boy and brains become friends and both are drawn into the life style of the gang leader and their ongoing problems in the school and outside.

The film concentrates on the arrival of a new young Brother who reports the behaviour of another brother who uses the strap and also physical force against boys indiscriminately. There are a series of climaxes after the gang leader takes his father's car while he is away, the brains and two girls for a ride after the school dance, wreck the car and nearly lose their lives on a swing type bridge over the river as a boat requests passage. During this sequence the bully does not he girl the objective of the outing as she throws up all over him having being given excessive alcohol whereas brains gets the other girl. The boys frequent a local ice cream parlour with girls from the separate Catholic school, run by a school age daughter where the mother has left and the father is in a state of clinical melancholia. It is the boy's school that is sufficiently concerned at the situation which alls in the authorities who removed the father and daughter to respective care situations thus breaking up the relationship which developed between thee new boys and the girl. The final sequence involves thee cutting off of the head of a statue in the yard of school which the boys have been made to clean with tooth brushes the bird excrement. The sadistic brother start to beat the boys including the terrified brains and at this point the new intervenes and there is a punch up in front of the school and school board before the end of the term. This leads to the headmaster sacking the sadistic Brother and appointing the new young Brother in his place with the boys involved being suspended from school for the rest of the term, some two weeks. The headmaster is played by Donald Sutherland

Understandably I compared the film to my own experience at such a school about ten tears earlier than in the film when the Mass and prayers were said in Latin. Theer were some similarities in that we also had a sadistic master who gave the strap indiscriminately and for trivial reasons. He was not a Priest or Brother and disappeared immediately after the incident when several boys in the class, including myself was given the strap, because we did not pronounce it is in French to his satisfaction. There was also the group of worldly always getting into trouble picking on other boys. However I escaped from the group by being moved from the third to the second stream during the first term. However this group of boys formed about a tenth of the grade year of some sixty seventy divided into three forms and then two as the grade year progressed. The important difference is that the majority were serious students and the number of of student aiming and getting to the sixth form and into university/teacher training college and professions was about a third of the grade year. The other difference was the full range of teachers in terms of quality and effect on our lives. In my instance there was the Rome educated and trained Jesuit whose approach to modern history led me to read reports of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials. There was also the Maths Master who gave me considerable encouragement, even those I did not deliver the potential I promised at first. The film was worth watching but added nothing to my knowledge and provides an unbalanced view of Catholic education in general but it is a better film than the Secret Life of Altar Boys.

The most enjoyable experience of the day was an episode of The Unit a covert operation USA special task force, which in addition to including an current operation also features the lives of the unit and their families at home. This time it featured a group raising funds to provide free communications home for those swerving overseas. The group decide to run lottery for a modernised World War 2 Jeep where a letter to a loved one is discovered and the group then trace a fellow soldier who is alive and also his widow and invite them to the celebration fund raiser. The wife says she never received the letter and decline the offer to read it so this is undertaken by the lead organiser of the group only to discover that the affection name contained in the letter is not to the wife but the comrade in arms. Whoops.

Sunset Pass and Code of the West Zane Grey

I worked, I watched TV and I enjoyed food. At midday there were back to back westerns on Movies 4 Men, two of the kind of films shown as B first feature movies at the Odeon Wallington on Monday and Thursday evenings in the 1940's or may have been considered suitable for the Saturday morning Children's show. Both starred James Warren as the good guy and his Mexican sidekick Chito, played by John Laurens. In the first 1946 75 minute Zane Grey adventure Sunset Pass a basically nice lad is led astray and framed for murder but is saved by James Warren as an undercover agent for the express company who takes a liking for the sister of the young man. The highlight is when Chito is serenading Jane Geer as Lolita Baxter, discovers missing bank money and leaves her hanging on the branch of a tree for the greater part of a day, but she loves him. Code of the West was the second Zane Grey 75 minute offering originally published in 1936 and featuring James Warren and Chito again who return to the town where they have staked a land claim with additional grazing options just in time to prevent a merchant adventurer with £13000 dollars for banking investments in property development from being robbed by the town boss who has the Sheriff and in his pocket and is ruthless taking the land from the locals in an area where he knows the railway is coming and which can then be sold to the railway company for huge profits. The banker has an attractive and intelligent daughter who falls for James with marriage and children in mind and a wastrel of a brother spending his mother's inheritance on gambling and a chasing a saloon gal, who is in fact secretly married to the hired gun of the town's mobster. Surprise surprise all works out well and I presume this was the last of the series as wedding bells are symbolically sounded as the film ends. What great fun. The American version of Cold Case lacks the finesse and artistry of the British version but I have no idea which came first. The Unit is about an American special task force that is never admitted to exist and which demonstrates a code of brotherhood and loyalty between these highly trained assassins as we focus on the impact of their job on families including encounters of the fourth kind. Immediately following all this was an alleged true story of the difficult relationship between a selfish over indulged daughter who get a hard kicking when she discovers she has cancers but does not prove herself to be the great American woman until her own mother also contracts the diseases and she nurses the woman until the inevitable death and then in a footnote is shown to have lead a socially productive life as a photographer. There was also another Pro forty cricket match on Sky and I then listened to Sky music working on. I did not enjoy sausages with mash and onion gravy as much as I thought I would although is part of using up what is in the fridge. I eat grapes and the remainder of cherries and the rest of the prawns with salad. There was cuppa soup and bread and the rest of the Alpine cereal, the rest of the wine and some peanuts although was that the previous day? There were two versions of the half year losses declared by Northern Rock. Because more of the government loan had been repaid than anticipated the figures were considered good but a lunchtime analyst suggested otherwise as did a Conservative spokesman determined to show that the government cannot hide bad news during the summer hols. However a more positive slant was put on the situation here in the North East on the early evening magazine programme which had a curious in which a local personality suggested that we should like a dodgy and run down part of Newcastle.. The government also went ahead and published their analysis of the latest exam results although no one of any integrity has any confidence in the figures or results given the repeated spin camera of the body contracted to carry out the marking of exam submissions, alleging that the problem was small and would tackled quickly when it is said that there are thousands of papers still to be marked after boxes of them were returned to schools unmarked. The government tried to hide its embarrassment by refusing to respond to political and media questioning about this disgraceful and unacceptable situation because of complex legal and contractual issues arising. I am sure the Cabinet is even more appalled about this fiasco as they have been about all the others disasters which have flowed from the Brown Premiership since those first three months when he projected the right image of gravitas and decisiveness. However it is difficult to envisage a way out which will leave the political party with a chance of retaining power at the General Election. There was an interesting discussion which included former Cabinet Minister Norman Fowler. The main work of the day was set creation, registering the work completed since returning home and then focussing on albums covering the involvement of Durham and myself in the 2020 Final, one on the visit to the Isle of Wight and Portsmouth Harbour, a third on the visit to Nottinghamshire and the fourth a new volume on my involvement with Durham Cricket club this summer. Volumes were prepared for photographs and for registration as well as a ruthless going through the first part of the in tray. The weather forecast for the first day of the important county game between Durham and Kent starts on Wednesday when the weather forecast is a mixture of cloud and showers and where I have a dental check up midday the price of registering with the practice which is part of my local health centre development. This suggests another day as Tuesday although I am emotionally resistant. As our Olympic team heads for Beijing and the government adds to the pressure promising a bucketful for medals to make the nation proud and deflect attention from its unpopularity, one news report revealed how the Chinese government is ruthlessly restricting free speech, rounding up and keeping out of sight anyone who threatens to use the games for publicity. It is all about creating the right image and a far cry from what was envisaged when the games were resurrected. It is easy be critical and difficult to form a valid opinion without the first hand experience of what is happening across this vast federation and whose development will govern the future of mankind, replacing the USA in that position.