Monday, 14 December 2009
I may just have forgotten to mention that, this Xmas, I am vacationing in Brazil! And, in fact I am here already.... hoorah! Yep, I started my hols last Friday (I have 3 week´s break, which is definitely one of the positives abou my job). I´m writing to you from the lounge of Gustavo´s parents´s house in Uberaba, Minas Gerais, where we are currently staying and it´s very good to be here ... Being a holiday I´m planning on doing as little work as possible so may well have a lot of time on my hands, hence can update this blog a bit more! I will try to upload some pics in the next couple of weeks so you can see what I´ve been up to ... yes this is my first ever Xmas in South America and I´m not sorry one little bit to be missing it in old Blighty ... sorry to rub it in folks!!
We´re in Uberaba for the next week or so, then after that we will be travelling further north to the state of Bahia, to a place called Porto Seguro, which is meant to be a bit of a tropical paradise. Gustavo, me and some of his family have hired a big house with a pool there (mmm mmm mmm) and will be staying there from about 23rd Dec through to 3rd Jan i.e. over the Xmas and New Year period!! It´s going to be really interesting and different spending the festive season here, not least being in a 30-40 degree climate!! Yaaaay!! Having said that, it´s raining here at the moment, which is a bit ironic ... there better be lots of tan-inducing sunshine before I come back or else!
A few other things:
- Yesterday Gustavo´s parents had lots of family and friends en cassa for a Sunday barbecue. This is a bit of a tradition over here. They have a back yard where we all sat whilst the (real?) men cooked lots of delicious meats on the barbie (and I´m telling you, the meat here tastes so much better than in old Blighty). Much beer and food was consumed and lots of chat and laughter took place ... trouble is I can´t speak Portuguese very well but still managed to have a great time! The barbies here last much longer than they might at home - people start coming over at lunch time, drop by during the day and the whole thing doesn´t tend to finish til the early morning hours ... a very social affair!
- As you might have figured, I will be missing Dr Who over Xmas - oh nooooooooo!! However am planning on getting my Mum to record it for me, so don´t forget Mother if you´re reading this! I guess the recompense of being in Brazil just about makes up for it.
- I´ve already caught the latest telenovella being broadcast in Brazil, Caras & Bocas, (Faces & Mouths - great title!) - Brazilians really go in for their melodramatic soaps and this one seems to be no exception. Last time I was here there was one on called Paraiso Tropical. The difference between Brazilian and English soaps is that these ones only tend to run for about 9 months, after which they finish and a brand new one starts up. Somehow I don´t think they could cope with the longevity of Eastenders and Coronation Steet. And you don´t always have to understand the language to pick up on the OTT acting and situations - in one episode I saw the other day, somebody sabotaged a wedding by releasing a load of spiders into an air vent which then proceeded to overrun the wedding venue and frighten all the guests - like you do. The spiders looked suspiciously CGI to me ...
- On a much more serious note, Steve, I was very sorry to hear about you losing your grandfather. He sounded like a real battler and that he had a good innings. Hope you´re bearing up and have a good Xmas in spite of your loss.
Well that´s about it for now, but will write again soon. Ciaou for now!
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Every second of the night,
I live another life.
These dreams, that sleep when it's cold outside.
Every moment I'm awake,
The further I'm away.
Remember THAT one folks? I can't help but refer back to Heart's fabulously cheesy ballad, cos last night I had a very bizarre dream. Or more like nightmare.
I dreamt I was on a passenger train with a friend. I was looking out of the window and we were going past fields. In the fields stood a large number of stone monoliths of different designs. Some were cross shaped like Christ's crucifix. Others resembled the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some were like the stones from The Stones of Blood. Whatever their shape, they were all tall, imposing and sinister-looking and I remember experiencing a feeling of real dread when I looked at them.
The next thing I knew, the stones were all standing inside the passenger carriage. Lining the aisle; surrounding the seats; up close and very personal (well, as personal as something made out of stone can be). The closeness of their proximity was totally unnerving and I knew they were coming to get me and my friend. I told him to close his eyes and I did the same. I told him to pray with all his might - together we would will the stones to go away but we really had to concentrate hard to achieve this. After a few seconds I opened my eyes (in the dream that is) and to my relief, all of the stones had vanished. Then I woke up for real.
Ugggh!! As you might imagine, I didn't really like that dream very much. Perhaps it was brought on by re-watching Blink last week. Or of course, like so many dreams/nightmares, it probably had some deeper, more profound significance. I'm still trying to work out what.
What have been some of your most scary or significant dreams?
Sunday, 22 November 2009
A: Because the nation loves a tacky novelty act who can put on a variety of silly (but entertaining) styles and performances e.g. Ghosbusters, Wham. The fact that John and Edward (very traditional English names) can't sing for toffee is a mere footnote to their camp brilliance. *
And what's your response, my lovely jubblies??
* Actually that's only the partial truth. "Camp brilliance" is a rather charitable comment to make, I feel...
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Maybe I'm going off on a slight tangent here.
The real point of this post is to offer my ruminations on the aforementioned DW Special "The Waters of Mars", shown last weekend. I watched it on the day of broadcast and again last night, accompanied by a few glasses of the old vino, on BBC iPlayer. First time round I thought it was good but not great, however the second time viewing convinced me that it was, in fact, VERY good indeed (and it wasn't just the wine that converted me).
Much, much, better than the somewhat corny "Planet of The Dead" (London bus gets transported to alien planet with Zoe Slater in a leather catsuit) or pedestrian, obvious kiddie-pleaser "The Next Doctor" (Cybermen, David Morrisey and Dervla Kirwan in Victorian-set tale). I was starting to get worried. A downward trend seemed to have occurred in the Wonderful World of Who.
However, "The Waters of Mars" was worlds apart in terms of story writing, style and overall quality. Unlike the previous DW specials, this one felt much more adult, whilst still possessing enough qualities to appeal to the younger viewers. AND it was proper sci-fi with a futuristic space base, just like Moonbase Alpha.
First off, the story, whilst not mind-blowingly complex, was still an interesting one. A group of pioneering humans have set up the first ever manned base on the solar system world of Mars, but then fall prey, one by one, to a nasty virus contained within the planet's water. The transformation of the humans into raving, craggy-faced loony monsters was not only a masterpiece of make-up, they also looked genuinely scary....and the spitting out water bits (or should I say spitting out waterfalls) has never made something so innocuous as H2O look so horrid. Not to mention deadly (one drop, like the one that fell on Roman, was all it took to cause a fatal transformation).
Once the Dr and the Mars crew had clocked that Mars wasn't the best place to hang out, the story did kind of reduce into a "let's all get off the planet before we die" type situation, reminiscent of "Alien" or any 1970s disaster movie. However there was still room for plenty of decent character interaction and dramatic moments. In terms of performances, Lindsay Duncan put in a sterling showing as Captain Adelaide Brooke and made for the best "companion" in a long time (well she wasn't really a companion was she?) Lindsay D brought a brittle realism to the role and unlike the previously stereotypical, upper class Lady Whats-her-face of "Planet of the Dead" and the black girl who didn't do very much at all in "The Next Doctor", Adelaide seemed much more credible and real; a hardened-by-experience commander on an alien world. (Much better than Cindy-in-space Michelle Collins in "42", too). The back story bit when Adelaide describes seeing the Dalek through her bedroom window, which then flies off was cool ... and as the Dr astutely mentions later on, the sparing of her life could have meant that the Dalek foresaw that she was doomed to die later on in life.
The revelation that Adelaide and the rest of her team were all going to die gave added weight to the drama, not to mention Adelaide's conviction that she had to accept her fate - for me, this was where things fell down a little though. Would she really have been so ready to accept the word of a total stranger that 21st November 2059 was the day she was going to die? What evidence did she have to go on, apart from the word of the Doc? This flaw aside, Linday D and David T sparked off one another very well and the penultimate scene in the snow back on Earth made for difficult, disturbing viewing: "The Time Lord Victorious is wrong!". More on that in a bit.
David Tennant gave, what was for me, one of his best ever performances. By turns humorous, witty, concerned, deciding to let history run its course, then realising that he couldn't after all, hell-bent on saving the remaining homo sapppy-ones, foolishly arrogant and finally remorseful and regretful, the Dr ran the whole gamut of emotions in this story. I might not be one of DT's biggest fans but he can do drama very well when he wants to. The scenes in the second half of the story when the Mars team were running around trying to escape from the base/planet, whilst the Dr stood outside in his spacesuit, listening to their frantic dialogue were very well done, mainly due to some great facial acting from DT looking haunted and troubled, constrained by his own inertia. And then the scene back on Earth with Adelaide, in which he starts to brag about how he could do anything, whilst having to deal with her scorn - followed by shock, disbelief and belief when Adelaide shoots herself and he's confronted by the vision of an Ood (reminded me of Banquo's ghost in Macbeth or the ghost of Hamlet's Dad in Hamlet) gave DT the opportunity to play it to the max. It's the eyes that do it - if you watch carefully in the bit when he's mouthing off to Adelaide about being the "Time Lord Victorious", whilst the Doc's words and manner seem to indicate confidence, his eyes say otherwise - there's an uncertainty undercutting all of that bravado. Thinking about it, you can't blame the Dr for snapping and refusing to obey the laws of time yet again. Especially if saving people's lives comes into the equation? But the arrogance that the Doc showed as a result of this was unnerving, and that's what made the whole thing so much more interesting - playing God comes at a price. The very final scene with the Dr in the TARDIS, listening to the sound of the cloister bell, and then defiantly declaring "No!" and setting the controls to take him somewhere else was a great cliffhanger. What will happen next?
Getting back to the rest of the story, the supporting characters were all decent enough, having enough personality without taking over the narrative. Peter "Neighbours" O'Brien was suitably grizzled as Ed Gold and the rest of the team were a (perhaps self-consciously tokenistic?) cross section of people from different races and cultures.
There was some great dialogue on display, another aspect that set "Waters of Mars" above the previous episodes. For instance:
Adelaide: State your name, rank and intention.
The Dr: The Dr. Dr. Fun.
(Think about it).
The Dr: I hate funny robots.
(Well "Gadget" was kind of annoying. Not exactly funny, though).
The episode also boasted some excellent and expansive sets - the base control room and the huge garden contained under the Dome for instance (actually the latter was apparently filmed in the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, so wasn't a set after all). Proper-looking sci-fi. Okay, so the Mars planetscape bits were a bit obviously CGI in places but still quite impressive and panoramic.
And that's about it - as said, the best DW in quite some time.
And we got an intriguing trailer for the Xmas 2-parter at the end!
But guess what? I'm going to be in Brazil when it's broadcast!! So I've just GOT to get someone to record it for me... Any takers, out there, my lovelies??
Shakira. Shakira. Shakira. (Not 3 times ... ) Have just downloaded her "She Wolf" album and actually quite like it. Okay, it's a bit stereotypically Latino and I know that the hip-wiggling one is considered corny in some quarters ... I can see why. To be honest the only real song that's grabbed me thus far is the title track which has a cool retro feel to it, some funky, clipped guitar and a sultry vocal from the Columbian one (ironically though, I don't like the vocal bit on the chorus which makes Mistress Shakira sound like a high-pitched toddler). I can't stop playing this one.
Cheryl Cole's debut album, 3 Words. Again, the Girls-Aloud-X-Factor-bouncer-bashing one has her detractors. One thing I'll concede: she hasn't got a great voice and the likelihood is that it's been put through a machine on the album in order to pass muster. Although I do think the album cover (above) is pretty stunning - Ms C is definitely one attractive lady, even if she sometimes acts like she knows it rather too much. I really like "Fight For This Love" too and the recent performance on X Factor was ace. And the rest of Chezzer's new album is surprisingly good - title track "3 Words" has a subtle, building insistency, "Parachute" an elegant, waltzy feel (even if it is in 4/4 time), "Make Me Cry" is disco-funk, "Stand Up" is the track most akin to Girls Aloud and most of the remaining tracks manage to cut the mustard as well. Decent pop music that rewards more than one listen. Not the BEST pop music in the universe, mind, but still worthy of your attention.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
...is what I was doing last night, down one of my favourite bars, called Escape (snapshot above). After the week I'd had, a night out was definitely needed. Am feeling slightly fragile today but it was worth it!!
I've been frequenting the place for years, in fact my hubbie was the one to introduce me to Escape, if memory serves correctly. And here's why I like it:
- It's very central, in the centre of buzzy / trendy / gay-mecca Soho - but fortunately, unlike other "swank" establishments in the same district, it doesn't attract too many of the "I'm so cool, rich and trendy I'm up my own a*se" types. The clientele there are pretty laid back and friendly and every time me and Gustavo have been, we've ended up having conversations with complete and utter strangers (who we usually never see again, but it's better than sitting there all night with no one to talk to and adds to the enjoyment - I'm a social butterfly really.)
- It's small and intimate - some people are fond of huge, sprawling night clubs but Escape is basically just one (fairly small-sized) room. Sounds like a nightmare to some and admittedly it does get packed when at total capacity, but I really like the cosiness of the place. In fact the size is probably what creates the friendlier atmosphere.
- They play a fab mix of music, both modern and retro. Sample songs last night included: "She Wolf" - Shakira, "Voulez Vous" - ABBA, "I Gotta Feeling" - David Guetta, "Ma Baker" - Boney M, "Like A Virgin" - Madonna, "Poker Face" - Lady Gaga, "Jump" - Pointer Sisters, etc. Sometimes they show videos which play a camp counterpart to the songs, even though they're something totally different e.g. clips of Alexis and Krystle from Dynasty engaging in catfights. Hilarious!!
- It's a gay bar!! Gay bar!! Gay bar!! Which is obviously a good thing for me and others. However it still attracts a very mixed crowd i.e. quite a lot of straight people, many of whom are women. And why not?? Last night we befriended a trio of ladies from North London who were GREAT fun and FANTASTIC dancers - in an indie, quirky sort of way. I even took one of the girl's numbers and suggested meeting up again (gosh, people WILL talk). I've never been much of a fan of male-only establishments and it can sometimes create a bad atmosphere - very testosterone-charged, macho and unfriendly with chock loads of posey gay men all vying and competing for attention. It sounds like a cliche but I love having women around me, not just gay boys! And if we really are moving towards an equal, diverse and accepting society, all people should be able to frequent the same places I think. Okay, so you get the occasionally homophobic types who want to come and "laugh at the gays", well yeah, they should be barred. But as long as people have the right attitude and beliefs, why shouldn't they be there??
Anyways. I did have a good time and now I shall go and nurse my hangover. (Actually I've got a ton of marking to do, noooooooo!! Fortunately I have Dr Who to look forward to later on, some light at the end of the (time?) tunnel). Hope your respective weekends have been going well, my fruities.
One final question: What's YOUR favourite watering hole? Where is it? What's good about it? (Er, that's more than one question). The Cheeser wants to know! Answers on a comment please....
And you know what? Looking back at the title of this post, I STILL don't know if that's the correct spelling of "boogie" with "ing" at the end. Anyone got any ideas about that one?!
Friday, 6 November 2009
It's been so bloody long, I've actually forgotten what Dr Who is.
I wasn't that enamoured with "Planet of the Dead" (the last DW Special offering - God, it seems like decades since that one was on) but "The Waters of Mars" is looking a whole lot more promising. And posh bird and classy actress Lindsay Duncan is onboard this time. All sounds good.
Then we've only got to wait until Xmas a for a masterly two-parter and the departure of one David Tennant / arrival of a certain Matt Smith!
ETA for "The Waters of Mars": Sunday 15 November, BBC1. Yaaay!!
As Shakespeare once wrote.
Do you not agree, my lovelies?
Talking of which, the other night I went to ... the theatre!! For the first in what seemed like a very long time. Well I did take my A level students to the Globe a few weeks ago which was fun, but that was more educational and we didn't actually see a performance ...
Anyway the play in question was The Comedians by Trevor Griffiths. on at the Lyric in Hammersmith. Great theatre with an alternative style, decently-priced tickets, lovely food in the caff, but awful trying to negotiate a car round Hammersmith (I ended up on the way to Heathrow thanks to the nightmare one-way system). Anyway, that's besides the point. The play, as it turned out was pretty good, starring none other than Matthew Kelly, who certainly proved his acting credentials in this, being miles away from his zany "Game For a Laff" persona of yonder: Reece Sheersmith from "The League of Gentlemen" and former "Comic Strip Presents" star Keith Allen, who I haven't seen in anything for yonks and is now looking considerably older. The plot concerns six trainee stand-up comics due to take to the stage for the first time - assembling in a school classroom after hours and presided over by "coach" Matthew K; in the following act they then all do their "stint" on stage; then there's a post-performance reunion back in the school with the best comedians being offered contracts. It was very well-observed and performed - but contrary to expectations probably brought on by the title, not all about comedy. There's one particular bit I won't say too much about, but which involves the chap in the picture above - his "comic act" is the total reverse, being deeply (and I mean deeply) disturbing, uncomfortable, yet somehow rivetting, viewing. But as the friend who accompanied me to the play commented so accurately, the story shows the price you have to pay if you choose to live by your own standards rather than by those of society - that is to say, it's the two comedians who both perform to the lowest denominator who end up the 'winners' and the other, less "conventional" comics achieve nothing. Sod's law eh?
Anyway I won't say any more, but it's one worth seeing. And I really should be like fellow bloggers Nora and Alan and go the theatre more often. Or maybe just get out more, full stop!
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Stephen Gately's funeral took place today. Yet another tragic loss to have occured this year, following the deaths of both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett a few months back. He was only 33. By way of (admittedly very small) recompense, the post mortem has since revealed that his death wasn't from drug-related causes, so at least the stereotype of gay men as drug-popping thrill seekers hasn't been perpetuated this time round. However this hasn't stopped some of the newspapers printing nasty and narrow-minded articles like the one Lubin Odana reports on.
I was never a huge Boyzone fan (my hubbie is!) finding their music pretty bland and boring but it's still a sad way for one so young to go. His husband must be absolutely devastated. And by all accounts, Stephen G sounded like a very nice chap indeed. By coincidence he was born on the same day as me (17th March) - a Pisces - and I bet if I'd ever met him we would have had a lot in common - sensitivity, a kind-heart, creative approach and open-mindedness for one (all typical Piscean traits - and yes, I do believe in astrology up to a point). Yep, I think we would have clicked. Louis Walsh has been quoted as saying that Gately was the "glue that held Boyzone together". And when it came to looks Mr Gately was a genuine cutie - those pretty boy features and dreamy expression certainly did it for me and many others I should imagine. RIP Stephen. What do the rest of us think about it?
Friday, 16 October 2009
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you .... Mrs Erica Davidson, the original reigning queen of Wentworth!
Superbly camp, not to say superbly coiffed, governor of Wentworth, in the Googie Withers vein, for the first half of the series. Erica was well-educated, well-heeled and well-spoken in equal measures. Her upper class demeanour and manners kind of set her at odds with some of the other rough and ready characters in Prisoner though and that’s what makes her so hilariously incongruous – like having an upper class home counties housewife from a Noel Coward play pop up on your local council estate. Nevertheless Erica was a staunch but fair governor, dedicated to her profession and often pioneering various work release programmes to improve the lot of the Wentworth women, most of which fell apart in spite of her good intentions.
Erica holds court behind her favourite place - her desk
Standard Erica scenes usually took place in her office, with Mrs D sat behind her desk reprimanding either a prisoner or officer in imperious fashion (she wasn’t afraid to criticise the conduct of her staff) or making an all-important trip to her filing cabinet.
Look, I'm sorry darlings, but I DON'T have any tinnies in my fridge, so just put the guns down, okay yaaaaaah??
She did get her fair share of the drama though - being shot at by terrorists and kidnapped by radical students for instance - one of my all time favourite Erica plotlines leading to some hilarious scenes in which the students break into Erica's house (erm, where they did they find out her address?) take her to a secret hideaway, force her to wear a boiler suit (were they trying to turn her into a lesbo?) and - GASP!! - cut off some locks of her hair!!
And as for a love life, well, Erica was such a professional she barely had time for one. Her first husband was briefly seen in a restaurant, never to return (as actress Patsy King wryly put it, he was probably still there, covered in cobwebs). Then Erica had a fling with factory owner Andrew Reynolds, but that went tits up when it transpired he was still married.
We sometimes saw Erica in her lovely, chintzy home too:
We sometimes saw Erica in her lovely, chintzy home too:
Erica looking rather sulky considering that her blouse matches so wonderfully with her sofa covers ... or perhaps that's the reason why ....
Erica looking rather sulky considering that her blouse matches so wonderfully with her sofa covers ... or perhaps that's the reason why ....
Going back to her job, Erica was also often seen in conference with the “man from the Department” Ted Douglas, played by none other than Harold Bishop from Neighbours, but a much nastier, more officious version and she often received a ticking off from him for f*cking up the prison administration yet again. So much so that in episode 360, she was inexplicably dismissed from her post as governor. Noooo!!
La Davidson back with a vengeance! Back, back, BACK!!
Fortunately this wasn’t the last we’d seen of Mrs D as she later returned as a general representative of the Department, called back to Wentworth to investigate the corrupt regime of new governor Joan Ferguson. Typical Erica lines included: ““May I remind you”. “That will be all, Miss Bennett!” “Thank you” (in appropriate cut-glass tones). Yes she could be a bit of a caricature at times but we loved Erica!
If you want to read an excellent summary of Eric’s character, try here.
And did you know that there is also a blog dedicated entirely to the wonderful (or should I say goddess-like) actress who played Erica, Patsy King? Try here:
It’s a goodie with some fab photos of the lady in question and some Erica/Patsy faces! And I’ve been in email contact with the blog’s creator, Eva, who is a lovely lady!
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... Mrs Ann Reynolds!
The second major governor of Wentworth after Erica, Ann stayed with the show until the end. She was a much more toned-down governor than Erica and positively normal compared to her camp (and rather more caricatured) predecessor. That didn’t mean she was boring (although I confess of the two governors, Erica was my favourite). Ann still had her merits and was a good egg with the women’s best interests at heart.
When she first arrives at Wentworth, Ann’s appointment as governor comes as a shock, particularly to officers Meg, Colleen and Joan, who have all applied for the position! Colleen and Ann don’t hit it off particularly well, as Ann prefers to prioritise paperwork over the prisoners, thus leading to conflict between the two. However they manage to resolve their differences. Meanwhile, the conniving Joan Ferguson feeds Ann lots of juicy gossip and unpleasantries regarding her work colleagues, in an attempt to influence her…
Ann getting stuck into her new job by interrogating mullet-headed nasty Nola
Ann proved to be a fair and just governor who, like Erica, attempted to pioneer several prison reform programmes that invariably went wrong – prison fetes, women’s choir outings etc. She also had to face the usual stiff opposition from Joan, who sought every opportunity to supplant Ann as governor. Eventually she gets wise to Joan’s devious ways and is supportive of attempts to get rid of her. One of my favourite scenes occurs after Ann has twigged that Joan is in cahoots with fellow nasty officer, Rodney Adams. Ann calls Rodney into her office and tells him that he'd better watch his behaviour, "Otherwise I'll have you out of here faster than you can say Joan Ferguson!" You go, lady.
On the personal side, Mrs R (or “Reyno” as she became known) endured some problems of her own, one of the most challenging being breast cancer. This storyline was presented quite well, not least due to actress Gerda Nicholson’s sterling performance. And in terms of lovers, Ann fared slightly better than her predecessor, having relationships with half-way house manager Wally Wallis (yes that was his real name) and later a bikie priest, Dan Moulton! Neither attachment lasted long though…We also got to meet Ann’s grown up children from her previous marriage, Paul, a photographer with a Princess Diana hair cut and her hilariously flouncy, prima-donna daughter (and 80s’ style victim - just look at the photo below):
Meg Jackson nee Morris
Meg and "vinegar" Vera - the original warders
The perennially “nice” prison warder and the moral centre of “Prisoner”. Meg was firm but fair and unlike most of the other officers, actually had a positive attitude toward the inmates of Wentworth and was an advocate of prisoner rehabilitation. So much so, that one stage she left Wentworth to become a social worker. Wow-eee.
Elspeth Ballyntyne, who played Meg, also holds the unique record of being the only actress to stay with the show throughout its entire 7 year run, as of course did Meg.
When the show starts off, Meg is happily married to Bill, who also happens to work at Wentworth too as a psychiatrist. Their son, Marty (played by a horrible looking pig-faced actor) doesn’t like the fact that they are spending so much time away from home and rebels. Fortunately he clears off and makes several on and off returns over the years, played by different actors (a classic soap staple). On the last occasion, Marty turns up at Wentworth as a trainee officer, much to his Mum’s horror! However she soon adjusts to the idea…
Whilst it was nice to see a prison officer with a positive attitude, Meg could be a bit of crashing bore and her rather prim, preachy, do-gooder persona (“Mrs Bleeding Hearts Morris” as the Freak once aptly described her) did at times grate. Of course being a soap character, the good ones get punished the most and over the years many bad things happened to Meg – in only the second episode of Prisoner, husband Bill is stabbed to death with a pair of scissors by a jealous crim leaving Meg a widow; her second husband leaves her when he decided he didn’t like having a working wife, a subsequent boyfriend is shot in the legs and permanently disabled, then leaves her, she’s raped, blown up in a disused factory and at one point, even becomes a temporary inmate at Wentworth! Well, happiness in the world of soaps is NEVER eternal. One of the most interesting storylines involving Meg occurs when twisted prison psychiatrist Jonathan Edmunds brainwashes her into becoming a “bad screw”, causing her to start treating the prisoners badly, which includes slapping rebellious Reb Keen. I wish that had lasted a bit longer.
Dear old Meggy-pops also suffered from some baaaaad dress sense. In the early episodes she sports some hilariously tacky outfits including a flared blue trouser suit and other similar style monstrosities:
See what I mean?? By the end of the show’s run she’s looking a bit more “with it” and has got herself a very nice layered 80s “do”:
God bless Saint Meg!!
Vera Bennett aka Vinegar Tits
Vera in a rare, semi-smiling moment
Mentioned previously, the first of the “nasty” screws at Wentworth and possessor of a decidedly sour personality, hence the moniker which Frankie Doyle christens her with. Whilst hardly corrupt in the style of succeeding officer Joan Ferguson, Vera certainly had a permanently negative view of the Wentworth women, regarding them as little more than animals and taking the opportunity to exert her authority wherever and whenever she could. She seldom cracked a smile, preferring to put down the inmates with another snide and unpleasant comment. She was also quite a manipulator and enjoyed stirring up trouble amongst the women (though having said that she could hardly be said to be corrupt like her successor, Joan Ferguson). Of course it all boiled down to psychology and family background – Vera’s Mother was hardly the loving type and much of Vera’s “personal” life revolved around looking after her, giving her very little time for herself or anyone else. Vera’s Mum soon dies leaving Vera all alone.
Vera also has very few successful or lasting relationships with men – the last person she dates before she left the show – fellow officer Terry Harrison – ends up getting shot! Oh woe, thy name is Vera Bennett.
Miss Bennett also had her hair drawn back in a tight bun which she rarely let down – surely symbolic of her personality – and on those occasions in which Vera appears “glammed up” she actually looks semi-attractive, but it doesn’t last (here she is getting spectacularly plastered down her local bar):
Disco diva Vera getting plastered down her local Aussie watering hole
After some 224 episodes Vera leaves Wentworth to become governor of Barnhurst where we can only imagine she relishes cracking the whip even more in her position “at the top”.
Jim Fletcher aka Fletch the Letch
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you ... Fletch the Letch!!
First of the major male “screw" characters who appeared in the early episodes and lasted for a considerable stretch in the show. Tall, slightly ginga and sporting a Freddie Mercury style look (and therefore not the horniest of the male warders for me - Steve Fawkner is surely far more deserving of that category - see below). When Jimbolina first arrives he's a bit of a cold fish and it transpires that he once fought in Vietnam which has had a bit of a traumatising effect on him - cue scenes in a bar with Dr Greg Miller (the prison's resident Doc) downing lots of whiskeys and saying how he's haunted by the noise of the guns and the helicopters ... heavvvvvvy, man. He also has a phobia for blood and the colour red. However in honoured Prisoner fashion these character "elements" soon get totally forgotten and Jim begins to develop into a relatively ordinary individual.
I love the way Blossom's behive stays marvellously intact, even after a heavy sesh with the Fletchster...
The women of Wentworth are somewhat creeped out by him at the start though and keep thinking that he's "perving" on them, hence their delightful moniker "Fletch the Letch". Although it turns out that Jim's married with kids, he has an on-off relationship with his wife and not much later on he sh&gs ex inmate and prozzie Blossom Crabtree (great name - that's her above having bedroom shenanigans with the Fletchster). So the Letch label actually proves true after all - although it's all in the name of getting hold of a key to a safety deposit box - perhaps it could be argued that there's one more than one box involved in this equation however (think about it). In fact Jim has a bit of an eye for the ladies and later on becomes more than a little interested in young and sultry Caroline Simpson when she's imprisoned along with her Mum for stabbing her husband. Then there's Michelle Parks, an athelete Jim takes such a fancy to, he unwittingly helps her find a fake alibi for a crime she DID commit and she gets off scot free. Jim, you drongo!!
Jim and fellow officers Meg and Vera (loving Meg's naff pointing-at-the-bullet holes pose). And Jim looks ULTRA suave with those sexy earphones...
Whilst well played by Gerard Maguire, one of Jim's least appealing qualities was his homophobia. Though not exactly of the tub-thumping "Kill all queers and dykes" variety, he didn't like particularly having Judy Bryant around, owing to the fact that she was a lesbian and thought that she'd try to seduce every female inmate in sight. Very open-minded of you there, Jim.
Fletch does however have his fair share of tragedy when his family are all killed by a parcel bomb planted by none other than Alf from Home and Away (or the same actor, any road). Much later he gets the job promotion he deserves when he's made Governor of a Boys Remand Centre, Beechmont and also giving him the chance to be a kind of surrogate Dad?
Colleen Powell aka Po-face
Colleen was christened "Po-face" because of the, well, po-faced, serious facial expression she frequently wore (though unlike old Vinegar Vera she did actually crack a smile every now and then). She was another of my favourite screws. Famous for her inadequate hair slides and pock-marked face, Colleen started off as a nasty and aggressive prison officer in the Vera mould before gradually mellowing as time went on - it was all dependent on the whim of the script-writers really. Colleen made fleeting appearances to begin with and then evolved into a full time character.
Her first major plotline involved a whinging prisoner called Alison who inadvertently assaults Colleen, causing her to press charges and make her life hell.
Later we found out that Colleen was actually semi-human when we see her husband and kids, including crimp-haired daughter Jennifer who is kidnapped by criminals (always an attempt to “humanise” a character). Things got complicated when one of the kidnappers is put in Wentworth leading to tension for Colleen.
Colleen’s somewhat dry, sarcastic persona comes in handy later on when she and some of the other officers team up against the corrupt Joan Ferguson. It doesn’t work out long term, but she and Meg in particular remain united in their dislike of their trouble-making colleague, particularly when Joan slags off Meg and Colleen to the new governor Ann Reynolds. When Colleen and Meg find out, they are furious and have a go at Joan, who says: "Of course I was forgetting how well we all get on, wasn't I?" to which Colleen retorts: “I’d like to remind the bitch…with a sledgehammer”. Very subtle.
Her most trying times come later when all of her family are blown up by a bomb and she starts drinking on the job to cope (with excellent and convincing scenes from Judith McGrath who played Colleen). Luckily in the fortunate tradition of soaps Colleen lands on her feet when her house sells for a grand amount and she uses the proceeds to go round the world on a cruise.
Ladies and Gentlemen ... I give you ... La Freak! She's unique! She's far from meek! She's tres chic!!
I’ve already written about the fabulous Freak, so if you want to know more, go here.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you .... Steve "Spunko" Fawkner!!
In a show filled with decidedly unsexy individuals, Mr Fawkner was a veritable sex god. The handsome, dark haired young officer with the cheeky grin arrived after Vera had left and naturally became a favourite with the female inmates, who referred to him as “spunko” amongst other things. Generally good-natured and fair, Steve could exert authority when needed, but made the mistake of having an affair with one of the prisoners, Sandy Edwards, which got him into some strife.
Nice bod, not sure about the Jim Jams ...
The highlight of Steve’s appearances occurred during a prison riot in which the women stripped Steve to his underpants (probably the most miniscule pair of briefs you ever saw) and flung him in a cell. Unfortunately it didn’t progress any further than that as he quickly covered himself up with some jim jam bottoms. Boring!
Steve later exited the programme when he became implicated in a plot to get rid of Joan “The Freak”
Other officers worthy of a quick mention:
The first "bent" screw of Wentworth who appeared in the very early episodes. It transpires that Anne's conspiring with a prisoner to bring drugs into Wentworth and she's promptly given the boot. However not too much later Vera happens upon Anne in bar and gets invited to one of her parties - where it turns out she's working as a drug dealer. Then, in the ultimate of ironies, Ann gets banged up in Wentworth as a prisoner. Top dog Bea Smith, never one to take kindly to drug pushers, has a scrap with her, resulting in Ann stabbing Bea, then running off and hiding in one of the laundry's dryers, into which she gets accidentally locked ... and suffocates to death. Not a nice way to go, really.
Joyce inducting ... Boy George?!
Comedy element prison officer who started off as a bit part before graduating to full time character. Sported a somewhat severe bob haircut and big spectacles. The character grew more comic over time and rather less than believable as a prison officer e.g. when she later revealed a talent for tap dancing and had an affair with prison cook played by the same guy as Gail Robinson's Dad in Neighbours. Still kind of endearing though and definitely an officer with her heart in the right place.
Home and Awaaaaaaay!! With you each - oh sorry, wrong soap ...
Trainee officer who was cr*p at her job, tried to imitate Vera and failed miserably. Played by the same actress who later played dopey inmate Daphne and also Pippa Number 2 in Home & Away.
I'm sleazy! I'm seriously nasty! And I'm Scottish! (Scottish personages please note: The 3 things aren't necessarily connected ...)
Nasty Scots prison warder and a really unpleasant piece of work. Tried to pressurise Doreen into selling her house, then revealed his sadistic streak when he threw Judy Bryant’s girlfriend Sharon down a stairwell, breaking her neck. Suspended from duty when suspicion fell on him but Jude had the misfortune of running into him twice whilst “on the outside”, leading to some nail-biting scenes. However the sleazy Scotsman got his comeuppance when Judy sprays him in the eyes with an aerosol can and he then falls down a stairwell, leaving Judy to declare: "This one's for Sharon ... and Dor ... and me, and all the women you've bashed and hurt." Way to go, Jude.
Cos you're freeeeee! To do what you want to do!! (As long as I can bump you off in the process...)
Another psychotic male screw (where DO they get them from? Doesn't their Personnel dept know how to vet new staff??) this time with a seemingly “good” persona, espousing the rights of the prison women and how they deserved freedom. In fact his idea of “freedom” was killing the ladies and stashing their bodies in the prison boiler room…Nice. The revelation that David was in fact the killer lead to a thrilling prison garden cliffhanger with Lizzie Birdsworth unwittingly discovering a dead body in the undergrowth, telling Mr Bridges what she'd found and the nasty man himsefl pulling a knife out in front of her declaring: "No Lizzie...not one body...there are now TWO!" Ugggh.
'Allo there! I'm from oooop North but now I've gone down under!! (Erm, perhaps that needs rephrasing ...)
A prison officer from none other than Yorkshire, England and a good egg to boot. Ended up having a relationship with another good egg, Meg. Unfortunately this wasn't allowed to blossom when poor Mr C was shot in the legs by a runaway convict and decided a relationship with Mrs Morris just wasn't going to work, so promptly buggered off. Eeeh bah gum!!
And that's it for now, me old maties! Hope you liked it!! I'm off to the dunny for a smoko with Lizzie ...
Friday, 9 October 2009
Meanwhile it's quite interesting that this time round, there seems to have been a distinct lack of publicity re: Series Five. Usually by this time we've been given names of stories, guest stars, etc. The last major bit of news was the casting of Karen Gillan. But this time it seems that we're being deliberately kept in the dark (unless it's all in DWM and I've been missing something??) Oh well, all adds to the excitement and anticipation, I guess...
Saturday, 26 September 2009
Oh dear. As I was saying over on Steve's blog I have kind of, or rather I HAVE, lost the will and energy to blog recently. Perhaps this is a blogging mid-life crisis!
Basically my job is taking up a lot of my time and energy leaving me with little space for other stuff. Weekends are too short and there always seem to be massive amounts of things to do. I'm tired in the evenings when I get home and then I have to do stuff like marking and preparing. Mmmm all sounds too familiar, eh?? But it's true. And in addition to all of that, I've also been overwhelmed with a real "can't be bothered" attitude of late - I'm finding it pretty hard to muster up both the inclination and enthusiasm to write blog posts at present. Sound like a right old drama queen don't I? Oh woe is me!
I have to add (and this is going to sound quite self-pitying and maybe even childish) the fact that I haven't been receiving many comments from other bloggers has also been something of a determining factor. It feels like what I'm writing is a bit of a waste of time and no-one's interested. A lot of people who used to stop by and leave welcome contributions seem to have vanished into the ether. Conversely, some other bloggers I know receive tons of comments/feedback on their sites, which has left me thinking that the subject matter and content of my own site is a no-no to most and perhaps even boring. On the other hand, there ARE other blogs out there which also receive 0 comments, so I guess I should take solace from the fact that I'm not the only one. These people soldier on and write posts on what they know and love, regardless! They don't give a damn!! And of course just because people don't leave comments on your site doesn't mean they're not reading your stuff. All of this is probably a case of Cheeser paranoia. But it hasn't helped and I do feel quite disheartened...!
SO. I don't want to shut down this old (or rather fairly new) blog. So what I'm proposing is to carry on writing posts but just a bit less regularly. Perhaps once a month. I don't want to go away entirely!
Have a great weekend whatever you're up to...
Saturday, 12 September 2009
Today, I had my first driving lesson on the motorway!! Wooohooo!! Erm, hang on, I hear you say, but he's passed his driving test already hasn't he? So what's he doing taking more lessons?? Well, when I was learning with my instructor we never got to the "going on the motorway" stage as it's not part of the whole requirements thing needed to take your test. So my instructor kindly offered to give me a few extra lessons to get me accustomed to life in the fast lane...
I must say I was rather nervous about it - it's a different ball game to going at 30mph max in the middle of a town or city. Actually, confession time folks. A couple of weeks ago on the Bank Holiday just gone - owing to the gorgeousness of the weather - me and Gustavo drove down to Brighton via the motorway. So that was actually my first official experience on the speedway. Today it started to make more sense...
What do I like about motorway driving?
1. The speed with which you can get from A to B. It's kind of exhilarating, as well as useful, to be zipping along so quickly.
2. It's pretty straightforward in terms of driving i.e. no traffic lights, roundabouts, T junctions etc. (Kind of stating the obvious really, aren't I?!?)
What don't I like about it?
1. Somewhat paradoxically, the speed with which one is required to drive and the speed of the cars around you. I know you can't get away from it, but it's a bit scary.
2. Moving out into a faster lane when there are cars very close to you. You've just got to use your common sense, give lots of time, indicate to the drivers behind you and then do it (as my instructor kept telling me). But I still find it a bit nerve-wracking.
3. The thought of having an accident because of 1. and 2.
4. It's rather mundane and monotonous to be driving along a continuous strip of road without much decent to look at.
5. It can get pretty tiring having to concentrate whilst driving for long periods. All I can say is thank God for Little Chef.
Erm. That's about it. But I'm sure it all comes down to practise really - it's a confidence booster. Next month I'm planning on making a couple of trips to see friends which will most likely entail using the motorway, so it can't be avoided forever...
Meanwhile I started teaching my new classes at college this week. Most of the students seem pleasant although it's still early days (!) and I haven't met them all yet! Lots of work and prep to do - oh what a life!!
Anyway, as Calvin Harris (or rather his diva singer) puts it so eloquently, I'm gonna buy shoes and I'm ready for the weekend! (Well, actually, the first part isn't strictly true...)
Have a good one everyone....
Saturday, 5 September 2009
And check out the clever vid for the title track (just ignore the silly "OUT NOW!!!" banner - I couldn't find another version):
Against my better judgement, I got sucked into the BB vortex this time round and ended up watching quite a lot of it. There were some entertaining individuals in there, admittedly - Rodrigo the Brazilian Barbie with a short temper; Charlie the camp Geordie who enjoyed a decidedly tempestuous love/hate relationship with Rodrigo; the camper-still David (God though, his voice was seriously grating) ... erm, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the only inhabitants of the house were a load of gay men. There was also of course Noireen (I thought she was a horrible, cold bitch, quite frankly), the weird Sree, the horribly aggressive and truculent Marcus, the tatooed, shave-headed and sometimes motherly Lisa (and another sexual deviant!) and the way out and funkily dressed Siavash. Talking of the latter, I actually liked him a lot and he would have been my first choice for winner. Yet somehow I never felt like we got to know the "real" Siavash - he was a little too laid back and detached about everything for his own good and sometimes I got the impression he was a bit of a fence sitter - a stronger personality needed to come to the fore. And as for Sophie - well she was fun and quite sweet but I'd say her personality was even less dazzling - and that's not me trying to be bitchy - there just didn't seem to be enough character there to warrant her winning. I reckon, anyway.
Meanwhile, you might or might not be aware that BB is due to be axed - or to be more precise, Channel 4 has made the decision that the 2010 series will be the last and they won't be renewing their contract with the show beyond that. Lost Boy has already written an incisive post on this topic ... So I wonder what C4 will come up with by way of a replacement, then? Suggestions, anyone??
A fascinating way to start off the pictorial journey .... it's a train!! A Dutch one, that is. You've gotta admit they're different to our English counterparts. They're double deckers, for a start. Rather funky design, I think. We could do with some over here as it would definitely help solve the overcrowding on trains problem... Anyway this was right at the start of our holiday, getting the train from Schipol airport to the centre of Amsterdam.
Once we'd arrived in Amsterdam proper, what better way to start things off than a boat trip round the fair city?? I've visted 7 or 8 times previously and never done the canal ride thing.
Houses as seen from the boat. I just love the style of building in Amsterdam. I'd be a bit scared parking my car right next to a canal though.
More lovely tall Dutch buldings. My Dad lives in one actually. Lucky him.
A famous couple of buildings, apparently. Can't remember what they are, though??
Another tall building. Obsessed? Moi?
This rather odd looking construction (the green thing on the right) is called Nemo. It's a Science Museum for kiddies (but of course adults can visit too) with lots of fun interactive exhibits. And you can actually go up on the roof, have a drinkie and take in the view!
See? A nice place to sip a cocktail and survey the scenery...
The Town Hall in Amsterdam in the very famous Dam Square. Peter Davison once ran across the square in a certain Dr Who story, with rice crispies all over his face, frightening the local Dutch people. Had to put in a Who reference somewhere, didn't I??
Gustavo in front of monument, Dam Square.
And now...for some "interesting" exhibits. Yes ladies and gentlemen, we visited the "legendary" Erotic Museum in the Red Light District. Well, we had time to kill and it was a mere 5 Euros entry fee. I'm bad at making excuses...Now, what does the above sculpture remind you of??
One of the more tasteful paintings in the place. Honestly!!
An interesting way to put out one's washing...
Madge's legendary "Sex" book managed to get inclusion!
Loved this naughty master and maid tableau...
A lady of the night, looking, frankly, very bored. No clients today then, love??
A hunk bathes his honey. At least that's what it looks like...
She's a bit scarey-looking though, isn't she? Perhaps she's annoyed that he forgot the Radox bubble bath.
Who's the hunk on the left and the vixen on the right??
Oh my! The vixen now has a different face!! And what a fetching outfit!!
Hang on - it's all change again...
An unusual way to ride a bike...I should really delete this one...my blog might get shut down...
Phew! That's QUITE enough rudeness. Here we find some lovely flowerbeds in the famous Vondel Park.
A lovely bandstand.
Another day, we (me, Gustavo and my Dad) did a long bike ride to some places on the outskirts of Amsterdam, then went on to the Dutch coast! On the way we saw these VERY cute Dutch houses....
Kind of like a Dutch Stepford I think. By the way if you're wondering about the weird green hue on the camera, I changed the colour and forgot to switch it back...gives the place a suitably eerie, dream-like look though, doesn't it?!
Gustavo lying near a field of sheep. As you do.
One of the aforementioned sheep. Awwww. I bet Amanda likes this one, given her tendency to take in stray cats!!
Back in Amsteram - a classic view from a bridge and me with a not so classic protruding belly.
Lovely Chinese restaurant down near the Central Station.
The Central Library in Amsterdam or Openbare Bibliotheek as it's known, from where I brought you this post. Love the modern, open plan design inside and groovy lights!!
More groovy lights!!
Yet more groovy lights and a downstairs bit.
Okay, that's it for now...I shall return shortly with some more Amsterdam piccies....!!