Wednesday, 8 December 2010


I visited the City of Sunderland on Tuesday by bus saving myself a few pounds by not using petrol or paying parking. I decided to combine a hair cut, fixing my glasses and getting a photograph for my driving licence renewal with going to see the film Australia. I had planned to see this film when it was released, but other activities and films became my interest I forgot about this film until checking what was on at the Empire Cinema and finding that there was only a 1.30 pm performance suggesting this was perhaps the last week or penultimate week of showing. I therefore reorganised by day setting off soon after 10am on the new mission.

It will seem silly to refer to a bus trip of some dozen miles and some shopping and visiting the cinema as a mission, but it required a time table and more walking activity than undertaken over recent months. I alighted from the bus at Binns department store which had come close to closing a couple of time in recent years with the intention of going to an established barbers around the corner and this provided the unexpected as it was closed down. Because of its location it been busy throughout the day with a wait even though there five or six chairs in operation, in addition to a Ladies salon next door. The atmosphere was traditional as was the service. I could not understand the reasons for the closure especially as I did not know of any other barber on this side of town where the offices of solicitors an accountants were located close the High Street with the banks and estate agents and other shopping. Later on walkabout discovered a government agency training unit for hairdressing which may be one explanation.

I had also visited barbers on the opposite part of the city centre close to the bus station but this had become unisex styling saloon Abandoning the haircut I made my way to Specsavers, resisting the temptation to call in at the Chinese buffet for a lunch which if you wished you could sit eating from the here areas of appetising dishes laid out There was a small queue of enthusiasts waiting for opening. There are two parallel street between the bus station, the adjacent road with the barbers and a main road leading out of the city centre towards Durham. In this area there has always been a number of restaurants opening and closing, changing the focus of the business, adjusting to growth in the student population at the university complex and the creation of the main expansion centre on the river bank over the bridge at Monkwearmouth. It seemed to me that there were more closure than on my infrequent previous visits.

I went to Specsavers to sort out the problem of the new pair of glasses chaffing the skin on the bridge of my nose to the extent of constant discomfort. I had switched back to my previous pair, only drop then and damage one of the nose pads which meant there was a different area of discomfort. I advised the main reception desk who took my name and then sat in the down stairs waiting area until a fitting assistant was free and this only took a couple of minutes and I had just time to take out my mobile phone to check out the time before being called, taking the phone, a newspaper and an small umbrella with me and placing these on the bar like counter. Both pairs were sorted within a matter of minutes and I was escorted to the till near the front of the shop by the assistant where I thought I had put down the phone, the newspaper and the umbrella to get a £20 note from a pocket. The till receipt is timed at 11.44 so I had not been in the store for more than fifteen minutes. I then made my to entrance and remembering that I had not checked the time went for my phone which I could not find after checking the various pockets in my coast and inner jacket. Perhaps I had not picked it up from the till counter and it had slid over the top of the desk. No it was not there and had not been handed in. I went back to the waiting seating, took of my coat and went through each pocket twice and then those in my inner jackets and trousers. There was no phone. I went to the main reception counter to ask if it been handed there and then checked the two other public areas of counters before departing upset that either a member of the public and seen and seized the phone before leaving or it had been taken by a member of staff.

There was nothing more to be done at the time. I went into the covered shopping centre, The Bridges where at Boots I bought a pack of fat reduced sandwiches, a bottle of still water and fat reduced crisps for £2.99 and found myself a seat to enjoy them. There are half a dozen sellers of mobile phones in the shopping centre in two areas and I had walked up and down where I knew T Mobile was located without finding it. It had moved to the second area and there I bought a new phone for £35, which included an initial top up of £10 pay as you go, this was less than the cost of the original phone but seemed to have the same features including a camera and a trainee assistant, who was a university student and Tottenham Hotspur football fan arranged for my old number and credit to be transferred within this same price although usually this would have cost an additional £10. From saving a few pounds by taking the bus I had lost one item of £5O and paid out another £35. It was time for the pictures and I forgot to learn how to turn off the phone until entering the theatre where it was too dark to read the instructions. Unlike my previous two phones this one is more difficult to turn on and off which is a good thing when lose in a pocket The upsetting aspect was not the expenditure but the loss of family texts which included news of the birth of a grandson/

As with my visit to Milk I had only a vague notion of what this film was about except that it had an epic quality running for 2 hours and 45 mins and covered the history of the development of the country. I like Australian films which tend to be direct and uncomplicated. And this one has the same quality. I have also been fascinated by the Aboriginal who like the American Indian had an understanding and commune with nature which seemed to be on a different wavelength from those borne in Europe. From the film Walkabout in which Jenny Agguter and her brother encounter an Aboriginal boy on his Walkabout to the more recent film about the practice of taking away the children of Aboriginals into oppressive institutions to westernise them away from their historical lifestyle, Australia had been trying to come to terms with the crimes it committed against its original inhabitants over a shocking period of decades when it stole peoples lives as well as their lands. That the policy was actively supported by the religions of the Middle East, Europe and North America only confirms the moral bankruptcy of the white skins during the past century.

Australia is a film which sets out this view in a way which most reviewers failed to appreciate as the first part of the film covers the official policy of abducting children from their parents and placing them in concentrating camps as World War II breaks out, British colonial society aided by the churches holds a charity function to raise funds to send the abducted children to an island situation in the front line of an assault from Japan and then those behind the policy experience the wrath of God when the Japanese bomb the city of Darwin in attack similar to that of Pearl Harbour. The children survive the adult oppressors and symbolically achieve as sense of justice killing the chief protagonist as he is about to try and kill the spirit of the Aboriginal people.

This moral tale of crime and punishment is covered by glorious cinema photography which emphasises how inhospitable the land is to all those who attempt to exploit and misuse without understanding, respecting and renewing. The plot concerns a female member of the British Aristocracy who sails to Oz (Nicole Kidman) to sort out her husband who is attempting to cattle ranch to fund the estate back home as well as engage in his interest in the ladies. She arrives to find that he has been murdered allegedly by an aboriginal magic man who is the grandfather of a servant woman at the ranch who has a child by the white foreman. This nasty bit of work has no redeeming features in that he is in league with the local big wig crook who appears to have got power and status by killing rivals and corrupting the police and state officials. The foreman has not only killed the owner, and aided the passing of unbranded stock over to the big wig but has run off the entire herd onto bigwig lands. The motive ‘for this treachery is that big wig wants a monopoly and the foreman plans to marry big wigs daughter and take the Aristocrats land for his won use. He has also fathered an amazing half cast child who has inherited something of the power of his grandfather.

While this is all happening Nicole arrives in Darwin and finds that her escort is a drover who married an aboriginal who died from TB because she was not eligible for the medicine of the whites. He is ostracised by the white establishment because of this although he represents one of the few figures of integrity among the white population. He is also an untamed character who is scornful of the new arrival until she si able to prove her metal. The precipitating cause of the conflict is that the two cattle and horse breeders are competing fir a 1500 head contract with the army, When Nicole finds out about this situation she sacks foreman and hires the drover to roundup the herd and drive it to Darwin, Along the way they encounter foeman and friends who attempt to stampede the heard over a cliff and then poison the waterholes.

This is where the boy and his grandfather prove their value by preventing all but a couple of animals from going over the cliff and then stopping the heard from charging over the precipice. Grandfather then leads lead them across a desert, Lawrence of Arabia style, to where there is uncontaminated water, in time to teach Darwin and load the cattle on the army ship seconds before Big Wig is able to thus nullify the contract. The successful trio return to the ranch where they lead an idyllic life, having fallen in love and treating the young boy as their own.

But having tasted the Garden of Eden tragedy and villainy befall them. The foreman kills his father in law to be, marries the daughter and inherits Big Wig estates, wealth and power. He then sets the police to capture his son but is foiled although this does result in the death of the boy’s mother. Nicole then drives drover away when she refuses to let the boy join his grandfather for Walkabout and the boy and grandfather are captured by the police, the grandfather accused of murder and boy sent off to the prison island. Thus Nicole is also punished for trying to impose a white culture and authority on this land but also punishes the boy and his grandfather by not having drover to hand to immediately rescue them.

There is then the redemption closing phase of the film, Drover who is away with his Aboriginal brother in law on a six month mission for the army is challenged over his running away from Nicole and not ensuring that the boy is safe and the two men return to Darwin just after it has been blitzed, Nicole is considered dead until it is realised she had changed shift with the wife of foreman in an attempt to go in search of the boy who is at risk on the island. His grandfather has been let out of the cell because of the bombing raid. A priest, drover and his brother in law commandeer a fishing boat to go to the island to find out if the boys are alive, They are and they are rescued although his uncle loses in life as Japanese forces comb the island killing whoever they find. Back at Darwin the army is evacuating the survivors from the anticipated Japanese assault, and Nicole is about to leave when she believes she heard singing out in the harbour as the rescue vessel arrives back.

In addition to understanding their environment, Magic Man grandfather and grandson have the capacity to communicate at a distance, called singing, a ability available to others prepared to integrate properly with the environment and in a splendid near ending the trio are reunited and return to the ranch, after Foreman is prevented from killing his son by grandfather. The final moment is when Nicole is able to entrust her “adopted” son to Grandfather for the walkabout, thus there is reconciliation and redemption as white Australia comes to terms with its crimes and begins the process of restitution.

Sunderland City was for several years with a cinema as the various interests battle their way to the disability of the public who had to go to Bolden, in South Tyneside, out to Washington or into Newcastle or Durham. Given that Sunderland as the largest population of the five Tyne Wear Administrative authorities was a disgrace. An area close to the Wear Bridge and just off the main shopping centre which include the general post office depot was cleared to make way for the cinema in a building which includes a night club and four restaurants including Frankie and Benny‘s and Nandos. The two others have had a chequered history opening and closing a couple of times with both now closed. Adjacent to the cinema is a separate building which is primarily a multi storey car park but includes a casino.. There was a vacant area of land opposite the car park which is now a multi storey blocks of flats with a Bowling Alley built in to the ground floor. I only paid £3.95 for my ticket a regular price for all uses on Tuesdays. There was also leaflet advertising that at 11am on Wednesday there is a special showing for the over the 60’s for £3 and this includes free coffee or tea beforehand. There was even a two for one offer for the first two showings of the season. The films are not current but of quality including the Boy with stripped Pyjamas and the Other Boleyn Girl. The three month season also includes Mama Mia.

It was close on six pm when I arrived home and made a stir fry with the remaining chicken followed by half the carton of grapes. This si noteworthy because of the tendency to eat a whole carton at one sitting. By having it is another small step in changing the quantity as well as nature of food being consumed. For breakfast I had cereal an a couple of slices of the gammon but there was no snacking otherwise. As if to mark an overall good day I completed a run of 101 games of Spider patience level one having taken 446 games and winning a total of 433 games to do so. I had come close before with a run of 93 games and I thought I had failed on reach 87 games in this run when I undid the play back to start, intended to save the position overnight but closed it thus thinking I had ended the run, but not so, Meanwhile my run of games of Hearts continues to be amazing for after achieving 101 wins out of 101 games played this increased to 202 out of 202 and 303 out of 303. The total is not over 350 out of 350. However the play at Chess continues to fail somewhere between runs of fifty to eighty.

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