Saturday, June 27, 2009

Angels, Flies and a Little Bit of Feeling.

There's been some sad news this week with the premature death of two icons of the modern era, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

Charlie's Angels, which was the TV series that made a star out of Farrah, was huge in the UK when I was a teenager, as indeed it was all over the world. I don't suppose there were many girls who didn't imagine themselves as a sexy crime fighting cop or secret agent at some point. Of course, I never grew out of this bad habit which maybe why I spend a lot of time sticking bananas in my friend's ribs and shouting "Freeze or the chocolate bar gets it." (The chocolate bar "gets it" anyway but I just like that "power" feeling.)

Now I'll be honest, I never imagined myself as the stunning Farrah (Yep, even I know when I'm on a losing streak), more of a sultry Jacyln Smith but with the brains of Kate Jackson - but with short hair. Yep, I had short hair back then - and I mean "short" - not quite as short as Demi Moore in GI Jane (ie - bald) but pretty damn short.

Now Farrah and Jaclyn were very sexy ladies but like many girls one couldn't help admire the brainy, quick witted Kate. Although, to be honest, I never seen a woman who looks so unattractive in jodhpurs. Now is it just me who thinks that? In my experience men can't take their eyes of a woman in jodhpurs but somehow they just didn't seem to work on Kate. Hmm... I'm thinking that maybe my aversion to her jodhpurs is why I never had the inclination to learn horse riding. (Oh yes, and the thought of having to muck out the stables.)

Jaclyn, Kate, Farrah... and those jodhpurs.

But despite all the frivolity and fluffiness of Charlie's Angels, it really was a rather ground breaking. Prior to it, I can't really think of any TV shows where woman were the main crime fighters or who didn't wear specs or a twin set and pearls. I suppose it was really the forerunner to Cagney and Lacey in the US and The Gentle Touch in the UK, where for the first time in television, women were really seen in a grittier, more realistic, crime fighting situations. Of course, these days television has many actresses taking on more challenging investigative roles. Here in the UK, both Helen Mirren and Amanda Burton are hugely popular as a result of their respective roles in Prime Suspect and Silent Witness.

It's a shame that while the original Charlie's Angels broke the mould, so to speak, it was perhaps let down by the 2 movies of the show, starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Lui. The characters may have been fun and flirty as per the original series but other than that they didn't really reflect the way women have developed in this genre which I'm sure with the right script could have been achieved. In fact, if I'm being honest, I would put the two films in my top 5 worst films of all time. They are a complete load of utter tosh! In fact, I would go so far to say that if I had the choice of shovelling up **** on the pavement or watching Charlie's Angels Full Throttle I'd rather shovel up ****.

Now that is rather opinionated of me I know, but when researching this post I came across this quote from Tom Green (who starred in the first film) which rather justifies my viewpoint. Tom says in his autiobiography that the script for Charlie's Angels was "the biggest piece of shit [he'd] ever read." Apparently, he only signed to do it because Drew Barrymore flirted with him. They later married and (perhaps not surprisingly) divorced.

Hmm... now I can't help imagining that it must have been hell for Tom on a Saturday night when Drew wanted to watch a rerun of Charlie's Angels. Maybe he picked his toenails for pleasure instead? Or took out the trash? Maybe he worked on a sequel entitled Charlie's Angels; Judgement Day. Strangely enough , I also discovered there was also a fire at Tom and Drew's house from which, luckily, they both escaped. However, a nagging thought crossed my mind that maybe Tom wanted to top himself or, at the very least, that the pile of burning DVDs got out of hand.

Either way, he had a lucky break.

Of course, while the films of Charlie's Angels didn't do justice to the original series or the development of females in this genre, Farrah went on to do some very creditable work. I know when I saw her in Extremities in the mid 80s I was surprised at the quality of her acting. Indeed, over the course of her career she was nominated for 6 Golden Globe awards and 3 Emmys although she never took the final accolades. One can't help but wonder whether, in acting terms, she was as much hindered as helped by her iconic tresses and stunning smile.

Farrah Fawcett 1947 - 2009

I guess with such extraordinary looks it's no wonder Farrah lived such an eventful life and I've no doubt that someday her life will be translated into film.

Talking of films I'm sure films buffs like me will be relieved to know (and you may have missed this story due to the news of the demise of Michael Jackson) but fortunately...

Jeff Goldblum is not dead! Hurrah!

Well folks, I've gotta admit I'm a fan of quirky, fast talking Jeff so I was pretty relieved to read that the rumour he'd fallen of a cliff on the set of a film was a hoax. A pretty mean hoax too - one can't help but imagine what Jeff's friends and relatives might have thought on seeing the rumours abound on the internet. I don't know what it is about Jeff even though he so often plays geeky nerds I still kinda like him. (Hmm.. could be something to do with crazy sex scene in The Tall Guy with Emma Thompson though.) However, I do personally hold him responsible for my phobia about flies. Yep, ever since I saw The Fly I've travelled around with a fly swatter in my handbag and my body coated with insect repellent. Not pleasant I know, but thought of a huge blowfly buzzing around my chocolate bars is enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. So while I guess I feel the same way about Jeff and flies as I do about Kate and her Jodhpurs I'm as pleased as punch he's not dead and I'm hoping he'll be gracing our screens for a good while longer.

But of course, the biggest story this week has been the sudden and dramatic death of Michael Jackson. People all over the world have been eulogising about Michael but the truth is no one will ever really know what went on inside his head. So rather than write my own tribute I'm going to play one of his songs. But I'm going to go back to the beginning and to the glory days with The Jackson Five and play Can You Feel It.

Yep, I can feel it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

24 Hours.

Yesterday, I had a wonderful day. For the first time I met not one, but two of my blogging friends in real life!

Paul Burman and his wife, Sian, are on a world tour but fortunately found time to pop in for lunch chez Mrs T! In addition, another blog buddy, Mike French, the editor of The View From Here and also my good friend Mrs A joined us to help sample the culinary delights on offer. (Obviously purchased and not home made.) There was much talk and laughter and I was so pleased to have had this brief opportunity to meet up with Paul, Sian and Mike.

Paul, I surmised, even though we have only communicatied by blog and email, knows me rather too well as he came bearing special gifts including a Thomas the Tank Magazine (complete with domino set), a lovely wooden bookmark, a boomerang (for the boys obviously) a tea towel to help me in my domestic chores (ho hum) and some Australian wine. What more could a gal ask for?! (Well except chocolate - but I am on a diet so maybe that's just as well!)

But today, I reflect on how quickly things change and how we must enjoy each day we have, for time is so very precious.

This morning I took Tash, the children's favourite cat, for an emergency vets appointment. I'm waiting for the result of the Xray this morning. But in my heart I know the answer will not be good. The time will come shortly when I will have to take the decision we would all rather not make. But I will not let her suffer, and I am glad that she has will not have a protracted decline like Little Miss Tigga.

This is gonna be a tough one after the deaths last year of my in-laws, Divya, my mother and only a few weeks ago Little Miss Tigga. The boys loved Tash; she was the perfect family pet. It is going to be hard telling them that she is gone.

Time for tears.

A very recent photo of Tash and Ben.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Pina Colada Please!

Has anyone tried a Pina Colada? I've just looked at the recipe; 2 shots of white rum, 4 shots of pineapple juice, 1 shot of cream and one shot of coconut cream.

I've got to be honest; it sounds a little sickly to me. I've never been that keen on creamy drinks although in my younger days I did enjoy the occasional Bailey's Irish Cream. These days I tend to go for the hard stuff - like diluted Persil Automatic or Mr Muscle Sink Unblocker.

You know it's amazing what you can get hooked on in a recession.

Sometimes I even get hooked on the back on the door - usually it's because Mr T is fed up with me.

Anyway, the fact that I might not like Pina Coladas didn't stop me fantasizing about one during my latest BBC article Say "No" to Camping which if you've overdosed on the booze whilst reading this and can't put two and two together is basically me whinging on about the horrors of camping. But one thing I forgot to mention in the article and I feel it is my duty to inform you for sake of family harmony....

Never, ever, go camping with relatives.

Three years ago I was persuaded against my better judgement ( Read "Nagged to death") by my family and my sister in law and her partner into camping for 2 whole excruciating weeks in the Isle of Wight.

Now I am not a camping person; indeed I would rather leap naked off the Eiffel Tower than go camping. I'm just not cut out for it. What the hell is the point of going on a holiday where you have to plan it like a military operation? And all that stuff you have to take with you - it is worse than having a newborn baby and having to take all that baby paraphernalia with you just in case the world slips into an ice age or there's an acute heatwave on your way to the supermarket. Yes, camping is a lot worse because you have to take all that stuff AND the kitchen sink.

So anyway, as you can imagine, not being exactly happy about camping in the first place I was even more disconcerted to be informed on the day that we should drive in convoy with my S-i-L taking pole position because she had been to the Isle of Wight a number of times and knew the route.

Now unfortunately, driving in convoy is one of my pet hates - I'm an independent sort of gal and I'd rather muddle my way through things than play Follow-My-Leader. Anyway, in this case it was particularly annoying. Why, I hear you ask?

Because the car I was driving had satellite navigation.

Yes, I know, it makes no sense. And further, ask yourself this question - Would you want me driving behind you?

No, I wouldn't either.

Anyway, for the sake of family relations I decided to begrudgingly conform and duly did what I was told and in the course of time we arrived in the Isle of Wight. Whereupon I decided to get my own back. Now there were 3 cars in the convoy, My S-I-L, Mr T and myself and the kids.(Yep, I pulled the short straw - there's a surprise.) But my car (Well Mr T's) was the only one with Sat Nav, so as my S-I-L had not actually been to the particular area of the Isle of Wight where we were going I informed everyone that it was now their turn to follow me.

Ha! Yes, I know it's a petty revenge. But sometimes a gal's gotta do these things for her sanity. And it made sense did it not??

So, the boys and I were happily driving along following the instructions from that nice lady on sat nav when suddenly I noticed that both my S-I-L and Mr T have disappeared.

Obviously, I was thinking that they couldn't keep up with Mrs T's speedy driving and so I duly pulled in and waited.

And waited. And waited. And waited.

Eventually, after some more waiting, I got on the mobile phone;

"Where are you? Are you lost?"

The reponse;

"Oh, we decided to go another way. We're already at the campsite putting the tent up."

Now obviously I didn't curse in front of the boys but here's what I was thinking;

"~*!* ~* **##!**~!"

Well to continue... myself and the young masters duly arrived at the campsite, having been given the leaflet about which area we can camp in as there are a number of areas for different purposes. (ie with electric, without electric etc etc.) I followed the instructions from Mr T (it's a big camp site) and eventually the boys and I arrived to find Mr T & Co putting up this enormous tent.

Well you might think I was lucky to have missed out on the arduous task of erecting the tent. But no, instead I was thinking....

Why are they erecting the tent in the wrong place?

Yes, I'm sure you've all had similar moments when you know someone is wrong but then have to go about telling them nicely so they don't get shirty with you.

Of course some folks take a lot of persuading. Humph. However, once I'd got Mr T on board with my theory ( This required alternating between looking gobsmacked, waving leaflet, pointing at electric point we haven't paid for, repeatedly asking them if they've read the leaflet and generally looking throughly pissed off.) then the tent was then dismantled and erected in the place it should have been.

Now I should have been gloating with my victory but alas by then Master Ben had disappeared, dusk was beginning to fall and we were only a short distance from the sea.

As you can imagine, Mrs T was not feeling good. In fact Mrs T was feeling pretty bad.

Well as you know Master Ben is safe and well so all's well that ends well.

But Mrs T has a long memory and let me tell you it will be a long, long time before she ever, ever steps over the threshold of a tent again. It's luxury 5 star from now on! I'm too old and far too sophisticated for all that boy scout stuff. Yep, the boys will have to the boy thing together whilst I clear off to The Hilton. Hurrah!

Blimey, that was mega whinge wasn't it?! Anyway if you want some more reasons why you should never go camping check out my BBC article. In the meantime, I actually popped in to play this song which I remembered whilst I was writing it. You know it's been years since the last time I heard this song and I'd forgotten just how good it was.

But as we say in the UK... It's a corker!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Political Scandals and a Dollar Cure

Last week I was driving through the stately village of Woburn, the home of the Duke of Bedford and Woburn Abbey when suddenly Master Ben cried out;

"Look, TV cameras!"

As I had my eyes fixed on the car in front (just for a change) I didn't see the cameras but I supposed that it was nothing unusual as historic Woburn Abbey and its famous safari park have been the subject of many documentaries. However, on our return several hours later, just as we coming through Woburn again, we were listening to the local radio news and the announcer declared something to the effect of;

" David Van Day has been in Woburn today canvassing political opinion. The former 80s popstar is considering standing at the next election."

At which point, I nearly had a fourth car crash.

Let me explain - as I know many of you across the world will have no idea who I am talking about.

My earliest memory of David goes back a lot further than most. Because as a child I think one of my first, but definitely my first truly memorable outing to the theatre, was a trip to see the comedian Freddie Starr. Freddie was then in his heyday producing chaotic, highly comical routines which famously included impressions of Elvis Presley and Adolf Hitler. (This may account for my fetish for comedy jackboots.) Freddie's supporting act was a successful cabaret act called Guys "n" Dolls which featured the young David Van Day.

This was the start of a career that has spanned 30 years in show business, firstly with Guy's "n" Dolls, laterly with Bucks Fizz and a number of reality TV shows including I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and Reborn in the USA but principally as one half of the 80s pop duo Dollar where he sang alongside Thereze Bazar his former partner in Guys "n"Dolls.

Dollar had a number of hits between 1978 and 1988 but peaked in the early eighties with a series of songs produced by Trevor Horn of Buggles fame. Here's my favourite from this period Mirror, Mirror

So all in all, David's had a pretty colourful life. There have been acrimonious band departures, court cases, vitriolic reality shows and tabloid headlines and I'm sure he's learnt a hell of a lot along the way.

But do I want him as a Member of Parliament?


Well, it would take a LOT to convince me that David is a suitable candidate. I've have nothing against celebrities standing as MPs. In fact, I'm personally in favour of candidates coming into politics late in life having made their own way in the world and being in a situation to offer their services to causes they feel strongly about. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Glenda Jackson are two good examples of well known personalities who have successfully made this career change. However, there's no way I would want to see numerous celebrities standing for election, diluting the political system for the sake of cheap publicity. I'd like to see more candidates from business, the armed forces and education; people who are used to making serious decisions. I'm fed up seeing MPs who were born into it or recruited straight from university.

I rarely touch upon politics as you know, but for weeks now our newspapers have been dominated by a political scandal that shows no signs of abating. Without a shadow of a doubt it is the final nail in the coffin for the current Labour Government. Currently, 4 serving cabinet ministers have resigned their positions as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons. This is the tip of the iceberg though; I have actually lost count of the number of politicians who are "standing down" at the next election for "personal reasons."

The truth is they have all been fiddling their expenses and have now been ousted. Yep, there have been claims for employing relatives, ice cube trays, horse manure, toilet seats, pornographic videos and even a duck house.

Yes...a duck house! Obviously a vitally important necessity without which Sir Peter Viggers, Tory MP for Gosport, couldn't do his job properly. And what's more it was a floating duck house - boy those were lucky ducks! Maybe I'm being cynical - maybe Sir Peter was planning to sail down the Thames on it to avoid traffic congestion. You know, I've tried a similar tactic with Mr T and requested more pocket money for my chocolate bars but he just said I was just pulling a fast one.

The duck house, manure and pornographic videos are just the silly claims though. Sadly, there are claims far worse. For example, there are claims for second mortgages that didn't even exist!

This whole sorry saga is turning out to be a shameful affair for both the major parties. It will now take an absolute miracle for the public, many who are cash strapped and facing redundancy, to forget this blatant abuse of MPs' privileges. It is time for clearout of these second rate, conceited politicians who have abused the trust that has been placed in them. I am not the only one who hopes that the next election will introduce a new breed of politicians for whom politics is a genuine vocation and not just a meal ticket to power and prosperity.

But how do we go about attracting the right candidates? No simple answer there - but it would surely help if MPs were paid a suitable sum for the responsibilities the job entails. A back bencher is paid £66,00 pa which although significantly above the national average is not sufficient to attract better quality candidates. I'm not excusing the behaviour of the offenders, some of whom are independently wealthy, but it would certainly help to open up the field.

In the meantime, I welcome the interest of sincere people into the political arena. Esther Rantzen, the TV presenter is considering throwing her glove into the arena in Luton South, the constituency of the disgraced Margaret Moran. (Moran claimed £22, 500 for treating dry rot at her and her husband's home in Southampton after already making claims for homes in Luton and London.) We need more informed people to challenge the status quo, more independent candidates who do not conform to the party whips and are not afraid to speak their own minds.

Personally, I'm all in favour of Michael Winner, producer of the Death Wish movies, standing as MP. The whole country knows he's a pompous old goat at times but hell what fun we would have! Michael says he would "purge The House and send the PC idiots to Gulag" Hmm... sounds pretty good to me and if he made Saturday nights compulsory Champers Night (which is highly likely) I'm sure the whole country would be falling over themselves to vote for him!

Joking aside, politics is a serious matter and never more than now when there are so many truly global concerns. We need strong, effective leadership but leadership which commands our respect and demonstrates true integrity. With an election on the horizon next year it is time for the major parties to clear out the dead wood and take a leaf from the Americans and Barack Obama.

It is time for change.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Just a quickie....

Yep, I'm extraordinarily busy at the moment so my writing has suffered. The tennis and cricket seasons are in full swing which means I'm out every evening as usual but also almost the entire weekend with some sort of sporting affair. Also, Master Sam is in the middle of exams so during the day I'm ferrying him around too. Then with all those other things a mother has to do my precious time for writing has just been gradually dwindling away. I'm going to try and keep posting though-even if the posts turn out much shorter than usual. (Huge sighs of relief across the world.)

However, even with all these things going on I have found time for some sucking.

Yep, sucking.

Yep, Delmonte have produced a limited edition fruit smoothie lolly in the shape of Daniel Craig. MMMMmmm.... personally I like my lollies quite firm so I can give them a really good lick. The last thing a gal wants is a lolly that dribbles too much. Sooo messy! I like the purple head though..what a good idea doing pomegranate, blueberry and cranberry flavours. Yummy! And can you believe this ? They are only a 100 calories - wow I could suck on Daniel all day and still not gain any weight. Fantastic!

Well must dash... gotta stock up at Tescos before they run out......

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...