That Friday Feeling: Walking Home From Work

The walk home from school, university, or work always had some musical accompaniment for me. Not with an actual music playing device but more some ear worm or song that had been repeatedly demanding my attention at the time. I suppose you could say, in a movie going way, a song track of my life but that seems quite a trite concept… and yet here I am posting about such a thing. It’s changed over time how I felt with each step in life but here is a haphazard guess at what the key tone was at each point in life when making that triumphant beginning to the weekend. I recalled this advert and so it inspired this post:

These songs don’t necessarily represent themselves, as some would be quite anachronistic in that sense, but rather the frame of mind I was in when leaving ‘work’ on Friday and taking that walk home to begin the weekend.

When I was in school: The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

The walk would be about 15 minutes long. The weekend was an organic part of the week and as I had enjoyed time in school so came the time when school was set aside and endless hours enjoying life replaced classes. Certain days would be ‘bad’ because of certain classes occurring on those days. Not that I had any which I disliked as much as just the timing of them. For example Physical Education ending first period or fourth, with us only having five minutes between classes to get from one location to the next across the school’s horseshoe shape campus (along the single narrow pathways between the Upper and Lower School campuses, overfilled by 1000+ pupils at a time) was always bad as the teachers never gave a fair amount of time to change back out of the schools PE uniform (usually the school’s rugby jersey with shorts and trainers). Home Technology (Home Ec for any American readers) at the end of the day and being held back to clean the equipment because I was one of the few not to go home on the bus was also bad the once or twice I got made to do this which was unfair. But it was all organic. Just as we flowed from discussing works of literature to performing science experiments to speaking foreign languages from one hour to the next so the working school week drifting melodically into the weekend was a natural state and everything was good. Yes even with the weekly melodrama of being an adolescent life was good. So many things happening in so short a time life seemed to last forever. Though I spent no time with anyone outside school time It was a welcome break in which to recharge my batteries. Overstimulation numbs me and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When I was in University: Redline OST – RedLine Day (featuring Rob Laufer)

I am cheating a bit by ignoring my first year of university. And the second to an extent too. None the less the lecture would end and I would begin the twenty five minute walk to the bus station going past the rugby grounds, Patti Pavilion with its garden, the prison, numerous hotels and (depending on the route) the theatre or a large Tesco next to the dual carriageway to arrive at the central bus station. Due to the timing I either had to stay waiting at the appropriate area for fifty minutes for the bus so I could be the first o or go around the shopping centre right by it for a while. Sometimes I waited and sometimes I went for a look around the shops. On the rare occasion I got to the bus in time and got a seat thus saving an hour. As I walked out of the university via the dual carriageway entrance, or out of Singleton Park, I would be daydreaming of fantastical things and laughing to myself full of joy. Life was good and the bus trip provided over forty five minutes of quiet reflection watching the scenes of South Wales fly by. Nothing could get me down and I didn’t mind that I never made friends as I didn’t stay on campus or in any halls of residence like many of the others.

However this ends the period of life when ‘that Friday feeling’ was always part of the week.

I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
Excerpt from Invictus by William Ernest Henley

When I was unemployed but occasionally going out still: Nouvelle Vague – Making Plans For Nigel (Cover)

One day merged into the next so there was no true ‘end of the work week’ during these times. This was the first period of unemployment after university before getting the first job. There was a sense of sweet melancholia about the entire period. The walk home took about fifteen minutes. I was unemployed but so were many other people immediately after finishing university. You were looking for that first chance to make your stake in the world. Even if you were just one of the faceless number, as long as you had people you liked working with, then everything was manageable. Life was full of potential it was just a question of where it would take you. Times were a little daunting but everything was a silver lining and a step towards finding your place in the sun. This cover probably applies to nowadays while the original by XTC applies to Friday’s at the end of an intense week where things have had to be done with little margin for error so it felt like there was a set scheme to how things progressed.

Walking home from Work (the first job):  Mr Loco – Hombre Religioso

Simply getting the job was enough. The walk home took about fifteen minutes uphill. The people were nice although they all treated me as ‘the kid’. Things were steady and fun with a few conversations during the work hours and nothing stressful. High workload. Training people in using a newly integrated system. It was a learning experience and I enjoyed it. Except… I never felt a part of it as I was temporary. Eventually my contract covering maternity leave of two employees came to an end and there was no place available to me due to the economic down turn a month earlier… but I had faith it would all be okay.

Second period of unemployment due to the economic downturn in 2008: Rule of Rose OST – A Love Suicide

The second period of unemployment seemed to drag with no real purpose. In a house. In a room. Sign on. Repeat. There was no money to go do things and be alive. The rest of the world moved on but stagnation eventually set in. Something broke permanently now. The walk home took thirty five minutes. It was melancholy but unlike the first time now there were many others out of work and they had years of experience where I could only offer potential. Employers changed from wanting the potential of individuals to invest in and no long on the television did you hear constantly the vocal complains of middle aged people about how they were being overlooked for younger employment opportunities. No, now it was the ‘safe bet’ employers wanted. Employees with commitments already tying them down and more malleable to walking the line no matter the demands made on them. But there were moments of hope. It was more about the recruitment agencies petty attitudes at this time than employers being logical. With so many out of work they could treat you how they liked and if they didn’t like the cut of your jib it was a quick, unchallengeable, letter to the job centre and you had no benefits to live on. Many lived in fear. I find recruitment agencies to be filled with the cruellest bottom feeders of society but that is a story for another time. In short give up on your dreams, don’t even work on them in your personal time. You owe the world your life. You owe your ‘betters’ your life. You owe it to agressive people. You owe it to people willing to use violence. You are a cog in the machine and should accept you will never make anything of yourself. Anyone will be able to take your job and you should be thankful we are hear to put up with you and helping you find a job by supervising your activities to make sure you are not just slobbing about only applying for over 15 jobs a week… I mean how lazy are you? If you are unemployed you are scum and are treated as such.

Except you are not. But they will ‘break you down to build you up’… except by the point its time to build you back up the time limit has already expired. It is an industry meant to help people but instead it is populated by people kicking you when you are already down. One day one of the worst one’s I had the displeasure of having to deal with ( and who stopped me getting a job ironically) was stood outside the job centre and clicked her fingers at me as if to beckon a dog. Another kept telling me how it was a temporary job until she got on her training course in September as if to imply how easy it was to get a job by rubbing it in my face she had one. It is ironic an industry meant to alleviate pressures on social services in fact has generated far worse consequences through poor implementation and sub-contracting to third party private groups looking to make profit not provide a service to the individual. People don’t fear unemployment but the people they will have to deal with so I suppose it is a further irony that in fact the recruitment agencies are achieving what the Government wants if not by the method they wish it to be done in.

Walking home from work now: The Divine Comedy – The Booklovers

I don’t really have music playing in the back of my head walking home some days. The walk is twenty five minutes long. In fact it was the exact same walk as when I was unemployed but there is some purpose to it now as the weekend is finite. It’s more about making sense of thing now. There are other obligations now and not enough time to fulfil them all. Time management and prioritising what needs to be done versus what I would like to be done. I ultimately don’t feel there is a choice in anything as I put others ahead of myself though it is not acknowledged. The chorus is something I often quote to myself. I don’t know if it makes things better but there is hope in its lyrics. The greatest evil of Pandora’s box left behind when all the others had fled. The song is in the context (along with the album it is from) of a couple spending a day together and discussing their views (which in the case of this song is them discussing authors) and joking around.

Alternate ‘Friday’s walk home from work’ songs:

  •  Nobuo Uematsu- Terra’s Theme (with lyrics) from Final Fantasy VI:

Actually this is the song that often goes through my mind. When a lot has gone on but I look forward to resting in the knowledge the next week will be better. On such Fridays I probably dont have any plans and know not much will happen. Life is a journey and while this moment might not be all thrills and spills it is nonetheless one step closer to something good. one step further on the grand quest of life.

  • Jamie Lidell – Compass

When there is something to go home for. Unlike Terra’s theme getting home was the point and not just a stop gap to the next life event. Its hopeful yet a little melancholic because even looking forward there is a mild fear that when you arrive it may no long be yours… a beautiful song.

  • Jose Gonzalez – Far Away

This is perhaps the closest to a daily song although in a positive way. Tired from the day but going home to rest and repeat the same tasks tomorrow. A steady ongoing rhythm of life.

  • Mr Bungle – Pink Cigarette

… because there needs to be a joke entry as the ‘just-had-a-bad-day’ song in the mix too just for completeness sake. I like the song but definitely it would be worrying to be singing this to yourself walking home.


So what have we learned? I used to play a few classic computer games and am aware of anime. That I apparently don’t just live for the weekend, as some do, but for the next event however far away it might seem in hope. Really this tells you nothing specifically yet gives you a vague sense of everything all at the same time doesn’t it?

Next time… food or drink… Ooh wait no! Something else hopefully!

Twelve Angry Men

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelve_Angry_Men

Following its record breaking West End run, this powerful new production of Reginald Rose’s gripping courtroom thriller Twelve Angry Men has been hailed as the “classiest, most intelligent drama in the West End”. It brings to the stage the taut brilliance of the 1957 three-time Academy Award nominated film which starred Henry Fonda and is considered to be one of the great ‘must-see’ movies of all time.

A jury has murder on their minds and a life in their hands as they decide the fate of a young delinquent accused of killing his father. But what appears to be an open and shut case soon becomes a huge dilemma as prejudices and preconceived ideas about the accused, the trial and each other turn the tables every which way, until the nail-biting climax…

Tom Conti is one of the most respected and celebrated actors of his generation. Unforgettable as the leading man in hit films such as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Shirley Valentine, he has also appeared as a myriad of different characters on both the big and small screens as well as on stage. Recent movies include The Dark Knight Rises and Street Dance. Awards include the Olivier Award and Tony Award for his stage performance in Whose Life is it Anyway? and a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his role in Reuben Reuben. He and Dame Judi Dench were recently jointly voted the Most Popular Actors in the West End in the last 25 years.

Now it’s your turn to witness a ‘BRILLIANT’, ‘RIVETING’, ‘TRIUMPH’of a show.

The play concerns the deliberations of the jury of a homicide trial. At the beginning, they have a nearly unanimous decision of guilty, with a single dissenter in Juror 8 questioning the validity of the evidence they were presented with in the court room, who throughout the play sows a seed of reasonable doubt. It was first made as a 1954 teleplay by Reginald Rose for the Studio One anthology television series, and was aired as a CBS live production on 20 September 1954. The drama was later rewritten for the stage in 1955 under the same title.

Here is a simple diagram of the stage layout as best I could remember it.

12 angry men stage layout

The blue bars at the top are windows with in the second half have water drizzling down them to represent the ongoing storm outside. The red bars are the tables. The central one revolved during the performance (and the direction is gradually turned in doing a full revolution by the end).The yellow circles with the lines are chairs. The yellow bars are the benches. The green bar is the coat rail. The brown bars are the doors (the left most was a toilet cubicle leading off stage). The triangles are where the lighting pillars were. The hexagon, with a blue circle, was the water cooler. The rounded corner squares with blue inner squares were the wash hand basins where a few conversations occurred as asides between some jurors.

The set design is effective and there is no scenery which blocks you view of events on stage. Similar to a recent production of ‘Dial M for Murder’ I saw there seems to be a trend to rotate scenes on stage to, at best, provide a visually different perspective on events, or worst, keep modern attention deficit audiences visually stimulated. During the intermission there was more than one conversation I heard from other groups discussing how they noticed the central table being rotated and debating whether it was the cast doing this of the turning circle of the stage floor (it was the stage floor which has a rotating circle where the table and chairs surrounding it were placed).

The Cast are: – Juror 1: Andrew Frame, Juror 2: David Calvitto, Juror 3: Andrew Lancel, Juror 4: Robert Duncan, Juror 5: Alexander Forsyth, Juror 6: Mark Carter, Juror 7: Sean Power, Juror 8: Tom Conti, Juror 9: Paul Beech, Juror 10: Denis Lill, Juror 11: Edward Halsted, Juror 12: Gareth David-Lloyd and Guard: Jon Carver.

The performance lasts approximately 2 hours 10 minutes including a 20 minute interval.
This production of Twelve Angry Men was first performed on 4 October 2013 in The HOUSE at Birmingham Repertory Theatre. First performance at the Garrick Theatre: 7 November 2013

Each member of the jury represents a different aspect of society:

Juror 1: The Foreman: (Andrew Frame) The jury foreman, somewhat preoccupied with his duties; proves to be accommodating to others. An assistant high school football coach. Tends to attempt to prevent heated arguments. Ninth to enter a vote of not guilty. He represents the balance of debate within the American legal system where the Socratic Method is employed. Each side gets to voice its side but, unlike the impassioned speeches we are used to seeing in American court room dramas, to be done so in a measured manner of comment and rebuttal. His voting later indicates that not only possible, but reasonable, doubt has been cast on the reliability of the case. Though he represents a balanced view by being told he is an assistant highschool football coach we are also being informed of his character as an individual i.e. he is a team player, an authoritarian who respects the authority of his superiors. This is why he holds out as long as he does until voting not guilty – not because he cannot see Juror 8’s logic but that in a sense he believes as there has been a murderer so there must be a culprit and the song is the only one ever presented during the play. Only when all the evidence is easily challenged and the verdict of guilty will lead a highly likely, if not innocent then at least justified murder done in self-defence, boy to being executed.

Juror 2: (David Calvitto) A meek and unpretentious bank clerk who is at first domineered by others but finds his voice as the discussion goes on. Fifth to enter a vote of not guilty. He represents those in society who fear to make their voices heard and more often than not go with the general consensus which can lead to bad consequences as seen with the people of Germany who did not challenge the Nazi party though many knew what was happening in their name was wrong. To be honest I don’t really remember much of this character ironically.

Juror 3: (Andrew Lancell) A businessman and distraught father, opinionated and stubborn with a temper; the antagonist. Twelfth to enter a vote of not guilty. A person ruled by his emotions and unable to be logically objective as a jury member. He sees the defendant as a potential version of his son and in seeing this wishes to excise the thought of it by punishing him. He therefore is the worst sort of person for jury duty as he cannot view the case by its own merits but rather brings to it all his inherent prejudices which influence his actions. As a businessman he is a respectable member of society so he is worse than some of the more negatively portrayed jurors as there is a façade of respectability when we are often presented with his being the least rational. The end of the first act concludes with him becoming violently angry with juror 8, who has constantly tested him, leading him to shouting ‘I’ll kill him’ while being restrained by other jurors. This declaration proves Juror 8’s point that someone will passionately declare this though it is rhetoric and does not mean the person has any intent in actually doing this.

Juror 4: (Robert Duncan) A rational stockbroker, unflappable, self-assured, and analytical. Eleventh to enter a vote of not guilty. Perhaps the most logical of the jurors but one who needs to have all the evidence be refutable before he will change his vote. In doing this we are shown that although rational he still favours the status quo of believing that as no evidence has been provided in the defendants defence then what does exist must be the only matters considered. This shows the fallacy then of being a completely rational person as, unlike Juror 8 who challenges based on the weakness of the evidence, we find with this character that omission is not taken into consideration. To him only what is presented to him exists and in doing this he is easily misguided for example when the female defendant shows signs of being a glasses wearer but doesn’t do so in court and the matter that she may not have seen what she believes she saw is brought into contention.

Juror 5: (Alexander Forsyth) A soft-spoken young man from a violent slum, in the book a Milwaukee Brewers fan, in the movies and on Broadway, a Baltimore Orioles fan. Third to enter a vote of not guilty. This juror represents empathy towards others in decision making as he can identify with the defendants situation having come from a similar background. He is the one who is first accused of changing his vote due to this and although he is not it is one of the earliest reassessments that occur in the play. Why then did he vote guilty initially? Because of social pressure perhaps? There was a crime there must be a culprit though of course at the end of the play we are only told of and concerned by the decision to acquit the defendant not with who did or did not commit the murder.

Juror 6: (Mark Carter) A house painter, tough but principled and respectful. Sixth to enter a vote of not guilty. He often stands up to others when they become outspoken and aggressive. He is the common man of the play representing that people understand the difference between right and wrong but are ruled over by the majority. He therefore is the middle ground of all the jurors and so it is no coincidence he therefore is the ‘middle’ most vote during the entire process.

Juror 7: (Sean Power) A salesman, sports fan, superficial and indifferent to the deliberations. Seventh to enter a vote of not guilty. A person who does not care for the verdict as long as he gets to do what he wants. He is the most distraught at the start of the play as having to discuss the verdict means he won’t be able to go see the sports game he has tickets for. When during the second part a storm means the game is a wash out he becomes more amicable and quiet. However it should be noted his reason for voting not guilty is not so much out of a belief that the defendant is innocent as much as to ‘tip the scales’ so that he is with the majority and thus ‘hedging his bets’. He therefore represents the sort of person who nowadays can often be heard saying ‘what is the point of voting? It doesn’t affect my life’. A short sighted individual only concerned with their own matters and apathetic to others.

Juror 8: (Tom Conti) An architect, the first dissenter and protagonist. Identified as “Davis” at the end. The first to enter a vote of not guilty thus setting off the events of the play. He sees the flaw in the logic of the evidence provided and does not go with the majority and vote with them for an easy life as others may have. We are told he is an architect, a professional, and in doing so we are presented with the bias of the play unfortunately in that many of the professional people are logical while the working classes are ruled by their prejudices and emotions (with two key exceptions in Jurors 3 (too emotionally guided), 4 (too rational and unable to imagine the alternatives not presented). Of course this is not an ironclad rule and we see during the course of events various facets to each character but it does seem to be an overarching aspect to the play where the working class characters will shout while the professionals will speak far more calmly. It is possible it was just the production I saw which gave this impression however. Juror 8 is the idealised protagonist, a person who will stand for what is right no matter how much opposition there is, who never is really challenged successfully in his views though on at least one occasion he actively antagonises a juror into anger to get the reaction of being told ‘I’ll kill him!’ so he is not without a dark side.

Juror 9: (Paul Beech) A wise and observant elderly man. Identified as “McCardle” at the end. Second to enter a vote of not guilty. Someone who has much life experience and perhaps is suggested to have become more liberal with age. He sides with Juror 8 not completely out of agreement but because there is the possibility of there being something to what he has said in challenging the status quo. He however waits until the secret ballot before agreeing showing us that although the older generation may still have a standpoint to provide the are easily put to one side and require others to be the ‘hot blooded’ individual to cast the first stone. He is a figure of respect throughout the play though it is only in offering support and perspective via his life experience in contrast to the younger members of the jury.

Juror 10: (Denis Lill) A garage owner; a pushy and loud mouthed bigot. Tenth to enter a vote of not guilty. The stereotypical working class figure as written by the middle classes. His saving grace in the play is that unlike the businessman Juror 3 he is not expected to know better and thus although he also allows his prejudice to rule his logic he is more excused for it that the ‘antagonist’ Juror 3.

Juror 11: (Edward Halstead) A thoughtful German watchmaker and naturalized American citizen. Fourth to enter a vote of not guilty. He provides a perspective from outside American society. In practise this shows that when he is presented with a fair challenge to the majority view. The play was originally written in 1957 so it is hard to not assume the character was not in Germany during the Nazi regime. Is this then the playwright’s commentary on how the people of Germany, by now fully aware of the atrocities performed in their name, are not ambivalent to other’s suffering and should not be held personally responsible for what the regime did? He provides wordy contributions as if to enact the freedom of speech he has gained in America which was denied to him in Germany. Though it is not addressed as aggressively as it may have been in a real life version of this situation you can imagine he has faced persecution and prejudice and in doing so can identify with being unfairly judged. He therefore represents sympathy where Juror 5 represented empathy.

Juror 12: (Gareth David-Lloyd) A wisecracking, indecisive advertising executive. Eighth to enter a vote of not guilty. He talks big but his vote is easily changed from one to the next. As an advertising executive we see how easily swayed he is in his opinion in order to appease the majority. He switches it back and forth in a matter of minutes based on only small changes in opinion in the others. The playwright no doubt is commenting on the façade of respectable society which so easily can be swayed by external forces.

The Guard: (Jon Carver). I am not sure if he is the voice at the start of the play, when the ensemble are sat on the benches at the front of the stage ‘in court’ being informed, along with the audience, what their deliberation requires. That it must be a unanimous vote in this case, due to it being a homicide, so they must have unanimous agreement amongst themselves whether the 16 year old defendant is guilty of murdering his father or not. His only real role in the play is to bring on required items like the knife and the floor plan of the apartments.

Review: As it is an ensemble play it feels unfair to cite one person over another as standing out in the play. Indeed, if anything, standing out would be detrimental to the piece. Tom Conti’s voice doesn’t tonally lend itself to doing a satisfying American accent unfortunately although a few of the others also adopt broad American accents that we would associate with the 1950s so it is in keeping with the others. Gareth David-Lloyd, of the more prominent characters, has one of the better accents and I have to admit I would not have realised he was the same person who played Torchwood’s Ianto unless I had seen his name in the brochure.

If I had one criticism it would be the revolving central table. Similar to a recent production of ‘Dial M for Murder’ I saw there seems to be a trend to rotate scenes on stage to, at best, provide a visually different perspective on events, or worst, keep modern attention deficit audiences visually stimulated. During the intermission there was more than one conversation I heard from other groups discussing how they noticed the central table being rotated and debating whether it was the cast doing this of the turning circle of the stage floor (it was the stage floor). It seemed very distracting and, to me, a poor choice as there are multiple other pieces of scenery which remain static throughout the play thus giving the impression the table turning is happening in the reality of the play and not being commented on by anyone as ridiculous as that is to read. Very much in the style of chamber dramas, plays occurring in a single room, there felt no need to include the revolving table.

Regarding the marketing its clear they have superimposed replacement actors heads onto the cast of the original run. some of it is okay but on the whole it all seems slapdash and really makes the posters look ugly thoguh i appreciate it is not as if people will look as closely as I did or actually be bothered about it. I am just one of those people who notices these things and lament the loss of the time when marketing involved more than just using basic photshop skills to edit a photograph while abusing filters and basic typography settings. Film posters are far more guilty of this than stage productions however i will admit.

I enjoyed it as a morality play and felt the cast is quite strong. If you get a chance to see it by all means do though I think it is heavily reliant not only in casting good actors but in them working well as an ensemble so there can be no guarantee that big names will result in satisfying performances. I thought this production did well and certainly has received a wide number of accolades. If you can catch it during its tour it is definitely worth going to see.


Next time on the misadventures of blogging… a food or drink review.

Thoughts While Visiting Cardiff On A Quiet Saturday In February

Opticians are always young women. Where do they go afterwards? Optometry isn’t something you just study in order to go work somewhere for a few years then move onto another career… Do any men do optometry? Maybe it is just me and all I see are young women in this career? I went into a number of stores and passed by a few opticians and I saw no male staff.

John Lewis: More makeup means a woman looks like she has more of a jib… an attitude displayed by the jutting out of the lower lip in a defiant manner though there is nothing to challenge the in their immediate vacinity as they only go certain places, wih certain people so such a gesture is a display of a close minded individual indicating their prejudice to anyone who does not fit into their social caste. In hindsight maybe she was just a very confident shoplifter who made people around her think she was meant to be there unlike someone with a heavy coat and deep, opaque, bag wandering around with ‘eagle eyed action man’ darting glances observing their surroundings.

St Davids II Shopping Centre: Store workers are dressing very casually recently… no it would be more appropriate to say they are dressing stylishly but it is increasingly hard to tell who is or is not employed at the shop. I saw a girl with fake tan, platinum blonde hair and wearing a white dress with smudges of primary colours on it and only realised she worked in the shop when she started to handle stock by the arm full. One day someone walked up to me and asked me to help them as if I were a member of staff when I wasn’t. As much as I wanted to go along with it and lead them into purchasing the least appropriate item my morality stopped me and I informed them to go hence to the nearest optometrist and purchase a pair of corrective eye lens with which to better conduct themselves. Also to perform an act of masochistic onanism upon themselves post haste. I find shops are too casual nowadays.

Card Shop: I saw a card with a very funny phrase. I noted it down on my phone and will use it in due course. I suppose I could do that with any card that had a good idea. Especially those Hipster lookin gones where the image is a very basic doodle of a joke. Its all just a question of morality as I doubt the staff will walk up to you and ask what you are doing just assuming you are texting someone and it is none of their business.

Park Plaza: Privileged women enter the reception taking one of the few footstools for themselves across the room next to one of the open fires. The youngest looking one, face reddened by makeup and skin cleansers removing the top layer of dead skin fro her face, looks blankly ahead in doing this act. Hair crisply styled, grey hoodie, leather gilet and jeggings. All very expensive items no doubt but also very generic looking. Tall. Very, very, thin. Model, sickly, physique unfit to bear children without medical intervention. The caesarean scar no doubt would be a badge of honour for their motherhood being too posh to push’ unlike the common folk they view as cattle, worthy only being beasts of burden, to ensure their ongoing lives of luxuriating being sustainable. Her companions who did less look older due to makeup and what looked like dyed blond hair contrasted against black shawls hiding their physiques apart from tree trunk legs held in by calf high boots.

They read self-help books. They look the sort. On audiobook of course while they work out at the gym, if not running down the narrow country road holding up traffic, to ensure as many people as possible see them leading a ‘morally responsible’ healthy life as endorsed by social doctrine. It is the only tie sweat is allowed even if it means purchasing non-running makeup to wear especially for this act.

‘Own the space you inhabit’ – self-help books often state such a mantra but in practise it is an endorsement of acting in a sociopathic manner. It is a vicious circle in which the advice tells you to act like those who do not consider you and in turn you become such a person to someone else who themselves goes seeking advice only to be told to do the same and thus the ouroboros of societal behaviour perpetuates itself leading to a loss of humanity for the sake of perceiving one’s self as ‘alive’ according to the perceptions of others.

It’s a vicious circle. The polite etiquette the British are known for is gradually being eroded away and will be lost one day. Every generation fears this believing it will happen within their life time but although it is put aside as a foolish notion it is happening much in the way that even with beaches the coast is gradually eroding away gradually no matter how slowly it is perceived to be doing so. It can be padded and defended with certain concrete defensives but one day it will be irrevocably lost. What Henry James’ generation feared in ‘Daisy Miller’, where we adopt the brashness of American societies ever revolving need for conquest and self-empowerment, will finally come to pass.

In thinking that I am being unfair with this notion I dismiss it and go to the toilet.

There are three urinals against the wall. A man in the standard uniform of t-shirt and blue jeans of the casual relaxed yet casual smart man stands at the central urinal with his legs wide apart. ‘Own the space you inhabit’. He is breaching the understood social convention to use the furthest urinal and leave at least one urinal empty between users. In the scenario he should have taken the furthest and I the one furthest from him. But no instead he had all three to himself.

I go into the lone cubicle and do not hear the taps nor the hand drier, the latter being directly outside the cubicle, being operated so I have to assume he also left without cleaning his hands. Obviously he intends , like a feral dog, to smear his scent all over the place to mark his territory I suppose. The hand drier has that slow uncomfortable heat like the breathe of an old age pensioner invading your personal space speaking to you or hugging you in a deathlike grasp betraying their age.

Outside Walking from Queens Street towards the New Theatre: Along a wrought iron fence walks an old woman. Face like crumpled leather. Hair dyed gregarious ginger. Spindle legs hang out of a very heavy fur coat giving the impression she is in fact wearing a modifiyed gorilla costume. Danging out of the arms are her hands clad in red leather gloves and a cigarette hangs lazily from her right hand the smoke and ash drifting onto everyone behind her wake.

Two compatriots walk with her. They are of similar age in luminously sun-bleached yellow and pink padded coats respectively. They walk three abreast spaced just enough to give the impression you could wak past them but in approaching realising you do not in fact have enough space to do so. By which point the still warm ash has drifted onto any exposed skin burning you.

I thought I saw my English teacher from my first year of Secondary School. If so she hadn’t aged so it couldn’t be her. She always looked like the stereotype of what you would expect a young female literary student to look like. She had a doctorate when she taught me. Why would someone with a doctorate teach in a Comprehensive School? I didnt know then and I don’t know now.

Apparently there are only 500 ‘real’ people in the world and everyone else is just a bit player. However there are multiple coexisting dramatis personae consisting of 500 people all overlapping so it is not the cause of an existentialist crisis for anyone.


A few days away.

Nothing to say.

Here is a rambling number of notes.

I read too many things but Charles Bukowski and Daniil Kharms.

More to follow. What it is cannot be said… because I do not know.

Short Movie Reviews: February 2015

Evil Dead (2013)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evil_Dead_%282013_film%29

An interesting, but ultimately flawed, attempt to recreate something without understanding what made the originals classics of the horror genre. Directed by Fede Alvarez. It is a modern horror remake of a classic of the genre so it was always going to be difficult for it to stand on its own without severe scrutiny. Guess my reaction. As with all these remakes the original caught the zeitgeist of some aspect of society’s fears. Rosemary’s Baby did it when fears about Satanism were prevalent due to media scares (even the nice old couple next door could be part of a cult), Halloween did it when fear of serial killers in middle America’s suburban ‘white picket fence’ communities was commonplace due to more media scares (if someone goes on a killing spree you won’t be able to stop them) and ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ raised fear of how powerless adults were to prevent paedophile access to their children after even more media scares (the murders being in the children’s dreams and caused by a hidden shame). Ultimately this makes me thing the next successful horror series will be about Russian radical Islamist (Chechen?) immigrant terrorists if the media scare trend is anything to go by…

The original Evil Dead was grittier, darker and more bleak than many of its contemporaries (except of course Texas Chainsaw Massacre) but the series is of course best known for Evil Dead 2 (basically the same story but with black humour) and Army of Darkness (basically a comedy adventure with horror elements). The message troughout the series overall was to revel in the absurdity of the situation which had a decidedly H P Lovecraft perspective in how there is little, if anything, you can do to fight it – except of course Ash, an everyman action hero, is placed into the scenario and thus disrupts the usual fatalist tone such stories undergo by their end.

The remake removes this figure we vie for and identify with yet retains, if not embellishes, the ‘tree rape’ scene Sam Raimi has always said he regrets. If anything the sequel is perhaps more influenced by Lovecraft’s tone of fatalism but in having over the top gore it also undermines itself. The trailers, especially the red band ones, gave away everything, and I mean everything, interesting about the film and so it was more a ‘tick the boxes’ process than something to enjoy. The only thing I can say is that applying gender studies to the film we find instead of Ash’s phallic chainsaw finale we get the gynocidal fountains of blood as Mia wrenchs her own arm off unrealistically as she was pinned under the upturned vehicle and she cleaves the demon in twain. I am not sure if the demon was meant to look like her or the girl from the introduction sequence. I swear during the introduction sequence burning the old woman is speaking Welsh. The final scene is just red on red and its hard to distinguish anything really. It’s as if the saw Kubrick’s adaption of The Shining and thoguht the elevator scene needed to be used in other scenarios.

Where the original series was in the tone of the grand guignol, leaving the audience entertained and satisfied, the remake is merely plodding scenes, impressive in their imagery but fatally flawed in their setup, where we just wait to see who survives if anyone and feel a loss of nostalgia when the stinger closes at the end of the credits with Ash speaking the phrase ‘Groovy’. Well made but not something you will bother seeing again.

The Woman In Black (2012)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Woman_in_Black_%282012_film%29

A Classic ghost story masterfully told. It is directed by James Watkins, the screenplay is by Jane Goldman and is based on Susan Hill’s novel of the same name. It is made by Hammer and is a fantastic addition to their back catalogue. A classic ghost story which relies more on its atmosphere than on jump scares (though it uses a few and this is one of the few situations where they are vindicated). Daniel Radcliffe gives a fantastic performance proving he is more than capable of emerging from out of the shadow his role as Harry Potter risked overshadowing his skill. The terribly airbrushed cover photo they insist on using for the posters and DVD cover really doesn’t do this film justice. Hopefully one day they will revisit the marketing and create a more fitting image.

The cinematography is fantastic and it really shows the passion everyone involved had for the project. I have the DVD and the commentary is admittedly quite dull though they do note a few things you may miss and give some details about where they acquired the automatons from. The other extras are nice additions including Radcliffe reading the winner of a ghost story writing competition.

The Rambler (2013)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rambler_%28film%29

Jacob’s Ladder occurring during a road movie directed by Calvin Reeder. I have the DVD which is very bare bones to the point it doesn’t even have subtitles. Either you will love it or hate it. It is not a film that will explain itself to you.

Think of Lynch or Croenburg during the 1980s and you have a good measure of what to expect. It is something you probably won’t fully appreciate on one viewing despite the impression you may get. It deserves more love and is a promising start from its director.

Whats Up Doc? (1972)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27s_Up,_Doc%3F_%281972_film%29

A screwball comedy directed by Peter Bogdanovich. It is fantastic light hearted fun and did the ‘Manic Pixie Girl’ before that was a thing with the likes of Zooey Deschanel taking on such roles. You can see how Barbara Streisand was the it girl back then.

It is one of the classics of American cinema and easy to follow. It shows how a lot of the ‘screwball comedies’ of recent years don’t quite get that the audience need to like the characters so you can’t just keep having everyone be a sociopathic man child running around causing trouble. Having one in your film works and no doubt they will be a fan favourite but too much exposure is a bad thing in such cases.

The Great Race (1965)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Race

A classic directed by Blake Edwards. I didn’t know of it but caught it on TV. Fantastic fun light hearted fun. The comedic villains inspired Dick Dastardly and Muttley of the Wacky Races. Natalie Wood… speaking Russian for a brief moment 😀 Although it is a bit sad that she is meant to be a suffragette styled Gibson girl and ultimately is left running around in her stockings later on. Also yes Peter Falk (Columbo) is Max the henchman. Oddly it should be noted Max influenced Muttley and Columbo influenced Mumbly (similar to Muttley but a detective) so apparently Hanna-Barbara adored Falk…

A really entertaining film with great set pieces and I actually ended up watching it twice over two days and didn’t mind. There need to be more comedic villains like these even if it seems a bit silly by today’s standard. Good honest clean fun.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Spy_Who_Loved_Me_%28film%29

‘James Bond’d Ocean Adventure’. A James Bond film starring Roger Moore. Features fan favourite henchman Jaws. Barbara Bach is the eye candy this time. This is the one that starts with the ski chase ending in Bond leaping off a cliff and using a Union Jack parachute.

A classic Bond film. What happens? Bond goes around making quips while bedding beautiful women, fighting eccentric villains, going to exotic locales, driving a car that turns into a submarine, drinking expensive drinks. I have no idea it’s a haze… It’s the ‘James Bond and the Ocean Adventure’ entry in the series.

The Wind Rises / Kaze Tachinu (2013)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wind_Rises

Studio Ghibli so obviously the animation is beyond question in terms of quality. Although it is often said to be a biopic of Jiro Hirokoshi, designer of the ‘zero’ aeroplane which the Japanese used during World War II, it is more based on the fictionalised account in the short story ‘The Wind Has Risen’ by Tatsuo Hori, with a few of Hiro’s characteristics like smoking which Hirokoshi did not share.

A beautiful film, but also one that has an ongoing trace of sadness, throughout it. Hirokoshi achieved his dream of designing a world class aeroplane only to see it used as an instrument of war. As people draw parallels between this film and Hayao Miyazaki’s retirement (but he has said that before so no one believes him) maybe Miyazaki also looks wistfully at the Japnese animation industry he has been so influential in and yet perhaps is not proud of playing his part in establishing.

Moonraker (1979)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonraker_%28film%29

‘James Bond In Space’. Roger Moore as James Bond and Henchman Jaws appears again. Jaws gets a girl and presumably burns up in re-entry after the camera gives him a happy ending while elsewhere Q makes a double entendre about Band attempting re-entry as he has sex, on the monitoring system watched by military staff, with the Bond girl of the film.

I enjoyed it but it is one of the more ridiculous entries in the series but at least it realises this and has a bit of fun with the idea.

Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark (2010)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don%27t_Be_Afraid_of_the_Dark_%282010_film%29

An excellent dark fantasy film. The sort of thing that is rated for older audiences but is the sort of thing which children will enjoy a few sleepless nights over.

Influenced by Arthur Machen and Algenon Blackwood this lends itself more to the traditional style of horror story combined with fables. A classic film which will only gain more of a reputation over time. I just wish thet didnt put Guillemo DelToro’s name all over it as if it was his work alone when he is just producing it…

She’s The Man (2006)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/She%27s_the_Man

An adaption of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night apparently. If you remember how ‘10 Things I Hate About You’ successfully modernised ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ with strong performances from its leads you can just forget that here.

Amanda Byrnes and the insistence on comedy over narrative lead this from bad to worse. Friends of mine, while severely drunk and not knowing what it was, went to see this in cinema when it was released and immediately regretted it. That was a more entertaining and inspiring a story in that one single line than this entire film. It won’t make people seek out Shakespeare’s work nor will anyone remember it as soon as the credits roll.

Balls Of Fury (2007)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balls_of_Fury

‘Hey guys I have this crazy idea for a film. Chinese triad death tournament but instead of fighting like in Fists of Fury they play ping pong’ that was the pitch and the reaction was ‘duuuuude pass me the roach before I lose my high’.

It has a few good low brow jokes at the start but quickly runs out of idea. Also Maggie Q’s character goes from hating the lead to being literally clinging onto him with her legs over one scene. I know it is meant to be a parody film but if the parodies fail and the narrative drive fail you are just left watching a car crash. Its a 5 minute sketch dragged out. They should have kept Christopher Walken’s involvement out of the promotions as it is too obvious who the big bad is and so the biggest joke of the film ie the xenophobic blind mentor trained a ‘gwai-lo’ as his best student is completely ruined even before seeing the film. If you want to see a film about ping-pong watch the 2002 Japanese film.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guardians_of_the_Galaxy_%28film%29

Marvel make a feel good team up film with relatively unknown characters and it works. I think James Gunn worked his magic on this and made a fun film even more successful.

I think what works for it, unlike the sequels of the bigger name films, is it doesn’t take itself seriously, we don’t have expectations of the characters and while it’s never going to be on anyone’s top ten of all time films it is a fun ride which often choses to defy conventions without becoming overly involved in its own narrative mythology. It’s a feel good science fiction adventure film and to be honest what with the Star Wars prequels drowning in their inability to be satisfactory let alone good this film is not only welcome but likely to long outlast the films of Marvel’s big name characters.

Kwaidan (1965)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwaidan_%28film%29

Based on 4 stories from Lafcadio Hearn’s collected Japanese ghost stories. No he isn’t a relation of mine sadly. The stories featured are The Black Hair, The Woman of the Snow, Hoichi the Earless and In A Cup of Tea.

A masterpiece of world cinema. Slow pacing to build the tone of the stories and although you could easily read the stories in a few minutes I feel the film really gives such a heightened experience. Thoroughly enjoyable. I for a long time didn’t really find anything to lure me back to Japanese cinema due to the recent pandering to certain audiences and over use of cheap CGI but this reminds me of the calibre they are capable of. The cinematography alone is worth watching this film.

Ai To Mokoto / For Love’s Sake (2012)

Directed by Takashi Miike. He is never scared of mixing it up admittedly. There isn’t a proper Wikipedia page for the film and little English language information online about it. It is based on a 1970s manga.

It parodies various famous Japanese songs and the entire thing plays up on how ridiculous the entire genre of high school love is. Does it faithfully adapt the manga or is it satirising it? I don’t know as the manga has never been translated, officially or by amateurs, so it is anyone’s guess.

It starts out great with a number of impressive scenes and musical numbers but kind of loses itself by the end with the main guy beating up a hoard of Schoolgirl gang members for about 10 minutes. Basically imagine the supercut of the American remake of The Wicker Man where Nicholas Cage goes around punching a community of women in the face endlessly and you can guess what the end of the film began to look like.

The main guy doesn’t love the main girl. She treats him more as a project to improve him from being the working class ruffian he is in comparison to her upper class privileged background. Long story short the film ends with him knifed by a teacher he punched (actually a famous Japanese wrestler in real life) and bleeds out as he goes to the girl. He dies at the end. He hates the upper class and ultimately it’s because of the girls interfering in his life he is on the verge of death and she hugs him thinking he finally loves her back. It reminded me of Memories of Matsuko… a film which to me should be renamed ‘Hey Suicide is Painless Compared to a Tragic Life’. Go watch it. Then tell me you disagree. The trailer for that is a lie…


‘Oh hey just to keep the blog running over with regular updates why don’t I do mini reviews of films I have seen recently?’

No.

Bad idea. It actually took longer than some of the more considered posts. Not that I consider them for more than a day or two and those ones are obvious. *cough*ultralongFrozenpost*cough*

Next time it will be another random topic.

BEET IT – Organic Beetroot Juice

On the side of the carton is the following warning:

Be aware: Drinking beetroot juice may turn your urine pink – this is quite normal!

So as usual, interspersed with a few comments, let me quote all the information of the side of the carton so you can read it at your leisure rather than being one of thosse awkward looking people who stands in the isle reading the side of packaging like a neurotically obcessive calorie counter.

[Sorry but if you want to lose weight just move about more, not exercise necessarily, just find some excuse to me moving constantly and your body will burn it off without you noticing. you would be surprised how effective it is. Also snack less. you don’t even realise how much you are taking in as it is such an instinctive thing to graze when food is present in case you dont know where your next meal is coming from. Except of course, nowadays, we are not hunter gathers so that instinct is no longer vital, day to day, unless you find yourself in exceptional circumstances like traversing vast uninhabited areas, famine or war…]

***
Soil Association Organic
GB – ORG – 05 EU agriculture
25 fl oz / 750ml
£3.69 from Tesco

… that’s expensive. If companie’s put words like ‘organic’ on their produce they think they can charge ridiculous prices.
***

150ml of BEET IT organic beetroot juice provides one of your daily portions of fruit and vegetables.

VEGETARIAN

BEET IT ORGANIC BEETROOT IS BEST KEPT AND SERVED CHILLED. ONCE OPENNED KEEP REFIDGERATED AND USE WITHIN FIVE DAYS.

The juice has been pasteurised and contains no preservatives.

Be aware: Drinking beetroot juice may turn your urine pink – this is quite normal!

…I just assume that after the initial release of this drink they were inundated by people calling their customer care lie complaining or worried that their urine had become tinged by it. The red colour compound betanin is not broken down in the body, and in higher concentrations may temporarily cause urine and stool to assume a reddish colour; in the case of urine this is called beeturia. This effect may cause distress and concern due to the visual similarity to hematuria (blood in the urine) or blood in the stool, but is completely harmless and will subside once the food is out of the system. So it is understandable that people unfamiliar with it were worried but to go to the length of telling the producer, which I assume is what happened, is clearly just a ploy to get free produce. A jaded view but there are such people out there and this ‘warning’ is clearly meant to be a clear sign of contempt for those people.

***

Why Organic?

Organic farming uses traditional methods like crop rotation and natural pest control rather than pesticides and chemical fertilisers which can end up in the final produce. Artificial preservatives and additives are also a no-no. And we end up with the best tasting juice on the market – why compromise?

Organic beetroot and apple juice

Ingredients: Pressed organic beetroot juice (90%), pressed organic apple juice (10%). Not from concentrate.

We add a small amount of apple juice to smooth the natural earthy taste of freshly pressed beetroot juice. BEET IT retains both the distinctive taste and smell of fresh beetroot. As well as benefiting from great quality ingredients, we want you to really enjoy drinking BEET IT!

***

Nutritional Information:

Servings per pack: 3
Serving size 250ml

Average quantity… : …per serving / …per100ml
Energy: 430kJ/103kcal / 172kJ/41kcal
Fat: <0.1g / <0.1g
Of which saturates: <0.1g / <0.1g
Carbohydrates: 23g / 9.2g
Of which sugars: 22.5g / 9.0g
Protein: 2.3g / 0.9g
Salt: 0.1g / <0.1g

*Contains naturally occurring sugars.

[Similar nutritional information and localised contact information for other countries is available in Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Portuguese, French and Spanish.]

The natural dietary nitrate varies significantly from batch to batch, but with 90% beetroot juice in beet It, the nitrate content will on average be 0.8g per litre.

***

BEET IT is a registered trademark of James White Drinks Ltd, White’s Fruit Farm, Ashboacking, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP6 9JS, UK
Tel: +44(0)1473 890111 Web: http://www.jameswhite.co.uk

Australia: Trialia Foods Australia, 424 Princess Highway, Noble Park North, Victoria 3174, Australia
Tel: +61 3 97011666 Web: http://www.trialiafoods.com

Product of UK / Patents pending

***

JAMES WHITE FINE PRESSED FRUIT JUICES

James White Drinks started more than 25 years ago pressing fantastic single variety apple juices – Bramley, Cox and Russet. We are based at Whites Fruit Farm just north of Ipswich in Suffolk. In 1996, we launched Big Tom, our fabulous spicy tomato juice, which was granted a Royal Warrant by HM The Queen in 2002. Soon after, we started bottling beetroot juice, which we now increasingly supply worldwide.

In 2007 we were approached by a group of scientists who were carrying out both medical and sports performance scientific research with beetroot juice. We are very privileged now to be supplying research projects at many universities all over the world. It has been a very exciting experience and their published research findings have attracted much media interest.
For More information about current research and interest from the sporting world, visit http://www.beet-it.com

Please do visit ww.jameswhite.co.uk to learn about our full range of wonderful pressed juices and see some pictures of our new beetroot pressing plant – the first ond only one of its kind in the UK. Help us turn East Anglia purple!

Lawrence Mallinson

***

Review: It tastes like beetroots obviously so either you will be okay with it depending on if you like beetroots or not. If you do not know what beetroot tastes like then… sweet initial taste an earthy tone once it is on the tongue… to be honest just go try some beetroot for yourself if you don’t already know the taste (in Britain it wouldn’t be surprising to find out someone has never tried it although my grandmother eat them almost constantly). The 10% apple juice is apparently added to ‘smooth the natural earthy taste of freshly pressed beetroot juice’. It is a refreshing juice with an earthy residual aftertaste but once you are used to it the taste is quite pleasant. The price is more alarming than anything, even for a market leading premium product, so maybe try an alternative if you are looking to make beetroot juice a regular part of your diet.

***

Information about the humble beetroot:

In preliminary research, beetroot juice reduced blood pressure in hypertensive individuals and so may have an effect on mechanisms of cardiovascular disease.

Dietary nitrate, such as that from consuming beets, may be a source for the biological messenger nitric oxide which induces the endothelium of arteries to signal smooth muscle, triggering vasodilation and increased blood flow.

The beetroot is the taproot portion of the beet plant, also known in North America as the table beet, garden beet, red or golden beet, or informally simply as the beet. It is several of the cultivated varieties of beet (Beta vulgaris) grown for their edible taproots and their greens. These varieties have been classified as B. vulgaris subsp. vulgaris Conditiva Group. Other than as a food, its uses include food coloring and as a medicinal plant. Many beet products are made from other Beta vulgaris varieties, particularly sugar beet.

Beetroot is an excellent source of folate and a good source of manganese, and contains betaines which may function to reduce the concentration of homocysteine, a homolog of the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine. High circulating levels of homocysteine may be harmful to blood vessels and thus contribute to the development of heart disease, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease. This hypothesis is controversial as it has not yet been established whether homocysteine itself is harmful or is just an indicator of increased risk for heart disease.

The usually deep purple roots of beetroot are eaten either grilled, boiled, or roasted as a cooked vegetable, cold as a salad after cooking and adding oil and vinegar, or raw and shredded, either alone or combined with any salad vegetable. A large proportion of the commercial production is processed into boiled and sterilised beets or into pickles. In Eastern Europe, beet soup, such as borscht, is a popular dish. In Indian cuisine, chopped, cooked, spiced beet is a common side dish. Yellow-coloured beetroots are grown on a very small scale for home consumption.

The green, leafy portion of the beet is also edible. It is most commonly served boiled or steamed, in which case it has a taste and texture similar to spinach. Those selected should be bulbs that are unmarked, avoiding those with overly limp leaves or wrinkled skins, both of which are signs of dehydration.

Beetroot can be peeled, steamed, and then eaten warm with butter as a delicacy; cooked, pickled, and then eaten cold as a condiment; or peeled, shredded raw, and then eaten as a salad. Pickled beets are a traditional food of the American South, and are often served on a hamburger in Australia,[4] New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates.

A traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dish is pickled beet egg. Hard-boiled eggs are refrigerated in the liquid left over from pickling beets and allowed to marinate until the eggs turn a deep pink-red colour.

In Poland, beet is combined with horseradish to form popular ćwikła, which is traditionally used with cold cuts and sandwiches, but often also added to a meal consisting of meat and potatoes.

When beet juice is used, it is most stable in foods with a low water content, such as frozen novelties and fruit fillings. Betanins, obtained from the roots, are used industrially as red food colourants, e.g. to intensify the colour of tomato paste, sauces, desserts, jams and jellies, ice cream, sweets, and breakfast cereals. Beetroot can also be used to make wine.
Food shortages in Europe following World War I caused great hardships, including cases of mangelwurzel disease, as relief workers called it. It was a consequence of eating only beets.


Next time… I don’t know what I will post. Nothing involving beetroots that’s for sure.

It reminded me of that 1990’s cartoon ‘Doug’ where the characters seemed obsessed with ‘beets’. There was a character called Beebe Bluff as seen in this clip who had a highpitched screeching voice who was the resident ‘over privileged’ stereotype and her design is very beet inspired it seems:

Obviously Jim Jinkins, the creator of the series, had issues with them for some reason and was working through them during the series. It was such a pretentious show and I never liked the colour palette used nor, if I am honest, the character designs although it had its moments. I think there were just too many ‘reflecting on my schooldays’ kind of shows at the time like ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘Boy Meets World’ (well okay the last one isn’t really but in tone is was very similar). ‘Hey Arnold’ was quite similar but that at least had heart even if sometimes it was a bit heavyhanded in how it addressed certain topics.

Valentine’s Day: Who is The Man, The Myth, The Dilution of Traditions?

Who is Saint Valentine?

Saint Valentine (Latin – Valentinius) is a widely recognized third-century Roman saint commemorated on February 14 and associated since the High Middle Ages with the tradition of courtly love. But of course nowadays the celebration of his feast day is overshadowed by petty commercialism and the suggestion for men to take this opportunity in hoping women are mindlessly adherent to social conventions and displays of contrived romance. Upon reception of a card and gift, be it chocolates or flowers, he will have the rare opportunity to pursue ‘avenues less explored’ in an intimate relationship *cough*youknowwhatImean*cough*. If I am honest I am surprised Durex has not had a big campaign this year like they have recently. Perhaps due to the release of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ film they felt it was redundant to do so. Certainly BBC Breakfast this week seemed a little too interested in the film and speaking of it as if it were a social phenomenon rather than just a rather popular, if universally acknowledged as weakly written, bit of saucy literature in the tradition of works like ‘Moll Flanders’, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ and many other scandalously erotic (to their contemporary audience) classics of English literature.

So here we will just breakdown who the saint is in a sort of quasi-bullet point info dump for easy reading and comprehension.

Name: Saint Valentine
Rank: Bishop and Martyr
Born: unknown
Died: Traditionally ca. 269
Venerated in: Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Western-Rite Orthodox Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism, and individual protestant churches including Baptist
Feast: February 14 (Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Churches) or July 30 (Eastern Orthodox Church)
Attributes: birds; roses; bishop with a crippled or a child with epilepsy at his feet; bishop with a rooster nearby; bishop refusing to adore an idol; bishop being beheaded; priest bearing a sword; priest holding a sun; priest giving sight to a blind girl.
Patronage: affianced couples, against fainting, bee keepers, happy marriages, love, plague, epilepsy.

So those attributes are quite interesting… you don’t hear mention of most of those if you asked someone what they associate with him in secular coverage. Certainly he has epilepsy as one of his ongoing concerns it seems. Birds seem to be one of his iconographic symbols although I tend to associate them far more with St Francis of Assisi though you could easily say birds as symbols of communing with the divine is a universal image.

All that is reliably known of Saint Valentine commemorated on February 14 is his name and that he was martyred and buried at a cemetery on the Via Flaminia close to the Milvian bridge to the north of Rome on that day. It is uncertain whether St. Valentine is to be identified as one saint or the conflation of two saints of the same name. Several different martyrologies have been added to later hagiographies that are unreliable.

…So we don’t know very much and what we did know is more based on the mythology which has evolved than the man himself. If anything he is even more fictionalised then than Saint Nicholas as Father Christmas…

Because so little is known of him, in 1969 the Roman Catholic Church removed his name from the General Roman Calendar, leaving his liturgical celebration to local calendars. The Roman Catholic Church continues to recognize him as a saint, listing him as such in the February 14 entry in the Roman Martyrology, and authorizing liturgical veneration of him on February 14 in any place where that day is not devoted to some other obligatory celebration in accordance with the rule that on such a day the Mass may be that of any saint listed in the Martyrology for that day. Use of the pre-1970 liturgical calendar is also authorized under the conditions indicated in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 2007. Saint Valentine’s Church in Rome, built in 1960 for the needs of the Olympic Village, continues as a modern, well-visited parish church.

…’we have nothing better to put on that day so why not give it to Saint Valentine?’ seems to have been the logic applied then…

Saint Valentine’s Day, the Feast of Saint Valentine, is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Saint Valentine the Presbyter of Rome is celebrated on July 6 and Hieromartyr Valentine (Bishop of Interamna, Terni in Italy) is celebrated on July 30. Notwithstanding, because of the relative obscurity of these two saints in the East, members of the Greek Orthodox Church named Valentinos (male) or Valentina (female) may observe their name day on the Western ecclesiastical calendar date of February 14.

The name “Valentine”, derived from valens (worthy, strong, powerful), was popular in Late Antiquity. About eleven other saints having the name Valentine are commemorated in the Roman Catholic Church. Some Eastern Churches of the Western rite may provide still other different lists of Saint Valentines. The Roman martyrology lists only seven who died on days other than February 14: a priest from Viterbo (November 3); a bishop from Raetia who died in about 450 (January 7); a fifth-century priest and hermit (July 4); a Spanish hermit who died in about 715 (October 25); Valentine Berrio Ochoa, martyred in 1861 (November 24); and Valentine Jaunzarás Gómez, martyred in 1936 (September 18). It also lists a virgin, Saint Valentina, who was martyred in 308 (July 25) in Caesarea, Palestine.

Lots and lots of Valentine’s exist! Take your pick and if you are named Valentine, in the masculine or feminine form, then it’s a good excuse to have a party. I don’t mind that as much as the ‘day of obligatory romantic gesturing’ that it has become to many now in secular society as ‘just a bit of fun’ or blatant excuse for an argument.

So what is St Valentine’s Day then?

English 18th-century antiquarians Alban Butler and Francis Douce, noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine’s identity, suggested that Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia (mid-February in Rome) although many more recent researcher have dismissed this idea. Many of the current legends that characterize Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.

Professor Jack B. Oruch charges that the traditions associated with “Valentine’s Day”, documented in Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Foules and set in the fictional context of an old tradition, did not exist before Chaucer. He argues that the speculative explanation of sentimental customs, posing as historical fact, had their origins among 18th-century antiquaries, notably Alban Butler, the author of Butler’s Lives of Saints, and have been perpetuated even by respectable modern scholars. In the French 14th-century manuscript illumination from a Vies des Saints, Saint Valentine, bishop of Terni, oversees the construction of his basilica at Terni; there is no suggestion here that the bishop was a patron of lovers.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).

In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children, in order to ward off Saint Valentine’s Malady (fainting, epilepsy and other seizure disorders). The charm usually takes the form of a metal key and is commonly used in the province of Padua, Italy.  It was once common in southern Germany, eastern Switzerland, Austria, and northern Italy to appeal to him to heal fainting, epilepsy and seizure disorders, thus they became known for this reason as Saint Valentine’s affliction.

In a ceremony at the Oratorio di San Giorgio, a small chapel in Monselice, Padua, on Saint Valentine’s Day each year, small golden keys are given to children to ward off epilepsy Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. During the Middle Ages it was believed that birds paired couples in mid-February. This was then associated with the romance of Valentine. Although all these legends may differ in ways, Valentine’s day is widely recognized as a day for romance and devotion.


That’s not a comprehensive breakdown of who Saint Vantine was nor what Valentine’s Day is but hopefully it’s a bit more than we knew before today

I guess it’s a good enough excuse, if one be needed, to make romantic displays. However doing it on an assigned day makes the gesture, to my mind, hollow. Acts of true love, if such a thing could be defined, are small and personal not grandiose. I hope you enjoy the day if you celebrate it and if you are alone bear in mind, just as with Christmas, you shouldn’t let the saturation of the media beguile you into believing the image you are presented with is the norm. It is an ideal they use to compel you to be a compliant consumerist.

Shakespearean styled modern Essex banter would be an interesting thing to arise as a modern tradition. It would be a fun way for someone to write something funny, yet poetic, without the odd attitude which gets ingrained in people during school lessons where teachers cover very little, if any, poetry. I find that a sad matter and it is a vicious circle as each generation of teahcers influences the next generation until poetry is an alien concept along with things like philosophy. They are ‘soft subjects’ and ironically a more sciencetifically orientated education, in both the sciences but by creating ‘criteria’ to be achieved in the arts subjects has people more logical and by that extent more ‘cut-throat’ because people can objectify how muc or little harming others is detrimental to oneself. You get the achievement of high grades but it holds no value to you and is discarded as soon ad it is deemed non-essential. It is a vicious circle society wide devaluing having higher, non-personally orientated, goals. It gives rise to faux sycophants and a mercenary attitude in interactions. We are a generation of Othello’s Iago if you will…

Back to the point, they used to have a regular sketch involving ‘the only way is Shakespeare’ on ‘Live At The Electric’ on BBC3 but unfortunately what few videos there were seem to have gone now. I wish there was more use of this idea as it is quite funny to hear the modernised equivalents of Shakespeare’s use of language

The Businessman and the Artist: A Fairy Tale

Once upon a time there lived a very poor artist on the roadside from the country to the city. Everyday a very rich businessman would pass him by as her went to work from his country home to his city office.

The car would drive past noisily each day and the fumes from the exhaust would dirty the air outside the roadside shack where the artist lived and worked every day.

One day the businessman stopped and looked at the artist’s wares.

“How much do these cost?” asked the businessman.
“They are free to whomsoever wants them” said the artist.
“I’ll take them all then!” said the businessman.

The next day the businessman came again and again there were pieces on display outside the artist’s home.
“How much will these cost?” he asked again.
“Free to whomsoever wants them” said the artist.
So again the businessman took the lot.

Each day the businessman would take the artist’s works for free and every day the artist would make more because he believed in art for art’s sake.

Every day the businessman, without the artist’s knowledge, would promote the artworks and impress upon people that they were worth something and ensured them one day they would be worth more. He would sell them for lots and lots of money but he never gave the artist a penny. Each day the artist would create more pieces just for the sake of art itself for people to enjoy but never ask for payment not even a penny.

Each and every day this continued for a long, long time. The businessman would arrive in his car and ask “How much do these cost?” and each and every day the artist would reply “Free to whomsoever wants them” before the businessman would take the lot.

The businessman got more and more rich and more and more greedy. The artist got more and more poor ad more and more sick. More and more people wanted the artworks so the businessman sold them more and more and not one penny did he give the artist.

One day the businessman approached the artist and asked “How much will it cost for you to produce more?”
“I can only produce so much a day” said the artist.
“But people want more so you must make more!” demanded the businessman.
“I cannot do that”, replied the artist, “each piece takes the time it takes to make. I can make no more than I already do.”
“But you must” insisted the businessman. “People want these artworks. I can give them so you need not leave your home”.
The artist considered this and accepted what the business man said.

So the artist made more and more art each and every day for free while the businessman made more and more money selling them for more and more money. More and more the artist struggled to keep up with demand and more and more the businessman pushed the artist to produce even more and more art pieces for him to sell.

One day the businessman arrived in his car and saw no artwork. He looked at the road and there were no artworks. He looked in the doorway of the roadside shack where the artist resided and found no artworks. He looked behind the curtain that separated the bed of the artist from the rest of the room and found no artworks.

What he did find was the artist. The artist was dead. Dead from overwork. Dead from exhaustion. Dead because he could not keep up with the demand the businessman placed on him.

The businessman was very sad. What would he do? The source of the artwork was gone. What could he do? If someone found out the artist was dead they would tell the people who owned the artworks he had sold them? What should he do? He went and made sure to collect everything the poor artist owned and hid it away so no one would find it.

So the artist was dead. The businessman told everyone he knew the artist was dead. They were all very sad too that the artist was dead.

Then the businessman told everyone he knew that he had the last works of the artist. He showed them to his investors, he showed them to those who bought the others and he showed them to important people in order to impress them with how cultured he was. He showed them to whomsoever wanted to look and admire them. But they could not have them!

No, because these were the last works of the artist and so very, very, precious they were! They were, after all, the pension investment the businessman now had made for his retirement! He would keep them for himself and no one would ever, ever, own them except him as long as they became more and more valuable over time.

When he was very, very, old he would take them out of the dark, cold, lonely vault where he had stored them and he would sell them. By then they would be very, very, valuable and only then would he sell them to whomsoever wanted them, if they could afford them, and he would live happily ever after.

The end.


😦

An Edward Gorey kind of story…

A cautionary tale to not give away your talent for free as people will not appreciate it and only expect more of you. The artist paid for his artistry with his life and the businessman paid for his business acumen with his humanity. A rather dark, if realistic, morality lesson then. More akin to the German Marchen (wonder tale) albeit without any fantastical elements present. A morality tale perhaps is the most astute term to use. or an Aesop like fable… It’s a vignette… let’s leave it at that.

I did not edit it very well and went overboard with the repetition we nowadays expect in classic fairy tales.
I dreamt this up years ago but only now have I bothered to write it down. This is the first and likely only draft of this story.

Opinions? Comments? More than welcome.