How the Hay Literature Festival 2015 Ruined Hay-On-Wye for Me

I love the town of Hay-on-Wye where they have a large number of bookshops containing books on every subject you could imagine and often many you hadn’t even realised existed. Every visit to a shop is a new learning experience and in the tranquil setting you will find respite from the all too busy world. Every year I go to the Hay-On-Wye Literature Festival. I may not from now on. The world has found this oasis and seeks to drink it dry of its charm in the passage of a week.

I used to be a much smaller event with talks by a few people but always you were drawn to going into the town filled with its labyrinthine shops filled from floor to ceiling with eclectic collections of books ranging on any and every subject you could imagine if only you were willing to take the time to look through the stacks thoroughly. But my experience this year has cast a shadow over this place. To a bibliophile this town would sound like some unknowable heaven on earth but… celebrity and faux, waxing lyrical, philosophical rhetoric are the order of the day.

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Such immense crowds. Crowds the level of which, if we were talking of battery farmed live stock, would be unacceptable. I disdain it. Stephen Fry walked past me with an assistant guiding him like a sheep dog. I remember five years ago when he pranced around like a majestic stag free of restrained but not anymore. People gawp and coo. He and Jude Law, along with a few others, were reading letters of emotion and wit. This is a recurring event now apparently though it always feels like a easy to do schedule filler rather than something to be made prominent at the event. Sandi Toksvig walks quickly onto the stage to read her assigned letters but doesn’t remain for the applause afterwards as the others did. Far too busy now. This year I note they recieve roses made of paper when they were given long stem white roses in previous years. I see one of these tokens left discraded on the floor of the event bookshop later on. A sign of the times. The pace of the entire festival used to be leisurely and flowing but now it is all timed and erratic. No longer are you absorbing the occassion but rushing to the next fix of stimulation. This letter reading started fifteen minutes late, not accounting the time to get people into their seats, and so many people had to leave early to get to their next event on time. There is no real apology made except to acknowledge they will have a slight reordering of the readings.

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Too many people. The book shops seem to be charging more now. The main event book shop charges far too much yet you can hardly approach the shelves to see the books of the Event’s writers selling their wares.

I go to listen to a BBC Radio Wales programme being aired live. As I enter a steward repeatedly stabs at my shoulder with her talon like a bird of prey stripping flesh from bone. I turn around and she excuses herself. Did she think I was someone she knew? Was I trespassing following the other four people who were with me? I will never know. People don’t explain themselves when the authority of a neon yellow reflective tabard gives them the illusion of authority. I sit in the audience and Violet Skies sings a few songs in front of us. Later the presenter and his hench-persons declare there is going to be food next and won’t that be nice for us the audience? A single plate tours around the front row of the audience, who are people clearly associated with the BBC radio staff, but no one else gets a sniff of the veal sticks they are eating. It goes without saying that watching them eat was a highlight. (Violet Skies actually was and deserves support).

I saw some interesting books. Do you remember the books in school that were hardback B5 sized copies used year after year to teach set texts, usually something by William Shakespeare? Well there was one of modernism and the occult…. oh how I wanted it but the ticket price was £55! I thought it was a mistake and checked the other copies, but no, that really was its price for a measly 175 or so pages. I should add this was a newly published book in the main event bookshop yet somehow was £55. It made no sense. Also, at the exit, there was a stall manned by two Americans. They were trying to sell subscriptions to the international edition of the New York Times. The girl was the definition of a pixie hair cut with buzz cut side panels, thick black framed glasses, hipster stereotype and the guy a mass market John Hamm with casual wear perma-stubble ken doll. I saw a woman in the event bookshop buying lots of those ‘a simple guide to…’ type books en-masse. She wanted a working knowledge to discuss the topic but not enough to actually have any real knowledge of it. Posers everywhere. Rhetoric will be the stain of this age of humanity…. just as Socrates and Plato feared all that time ago in ancient Greece. Why know about a topic when you can just act as though you do. All the respect without the blood, sweat and tears of academic endeavour whether formal or informal. If given the test by Socrates of whether they desired knowledge as much as air many people here would fail.

So I didn’t enjoy. Apart from the ‘reading of letters’ event there was a talk about the Ukraine crisis with Russian journalists. It was sold out. I wonder how many attending actually had a long-term interest in the region, how many were just attending as it is a current event and how many just wanted sound bites to use of a dinner party should the topic ever arise. Faux-intelligentsia: a coffee in one hand, iPhone in their blazer pocket and a hemp bag in the other filled with the event freebies.


I finally made it to the town and heard an upbeat instrumental of Katyusha playing in a tent… I walked over and they got to the chorus and LA LA LA LA LAL AL ALALALALLALALALALLAA. They didn’t know the lyrics? Why LALALALALLALALALALALALLA? What was for a moment a glimpse of hope was dashed. On tables outside the tent people sell overpriced random rusty tat in hopes the hipsters will think it artistic and retro-chic. I remember a previous year when a drunk German sat in the nearby pub and espoused how we, here, are a stupid, inferior, mongrel race made up of the entrails of every invader’s unwanted spoils of war left behind to rot. The pub in question we went to for a drink. The barmaid said it was cheaper to buy the bottle than two glasses of wine so this advice was accepted. A round of drinks consisting of two cokes and the bottle turned out to be £19.50. For those who do not live in Britain the average round of these drinks would be about £7.50 up to £15 depending on the venue. Was this a one-off ‘event premium’ pricng stategy? I do not know but we go to the beer garden and already these sweet drinks are bitter to the taste buds. Somehow I look back and am less offended by that bigoted German than what I have seen today.

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One shop had an interesting, eclectic, interior. All the bookshops contain novelty but this one actually had chairs to sit in as you read. It is my favourite shop and I always buy from it… except on this visit as I was so demoralised by my experiences of the festival site. It stands across the road from the pulp fiction, crime and murder mystery specialist ‘Murder and Mayhem’ bookshop (with chalk outline drawn on the road outside it). Books pouring out of every crevice and on all topics. Books which you did not know existed and yet entrance you immediately. The prices here were fair unlike elsewhere. I do not give its name because you should discover this town for yourself and enjoy the experience of discovering its hidden wonders firsthand.

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However, to avoid you thinking I was going to end on a positive note, let me warn you of one shop not to purchase from. Booths, the self-declared ‘biggest second-hand bookshop in the world’, will overcharge and belittle you for daring to ask for anything not immediately apparent. The claim is of course a lie, a little boast allowed under law, to entertain the notion of encouraging your custom. This year it was closed at 5pm….. The arrogance of a second hand bookshop to do such a thing on a festival day as if to suggest they do not need customers and you should be grateful they allow you to enter. I hate that place. Once I had seen a book there and remembered the cover so asked the shop assistant to look up ‘Isobel’ a novel about a Scottish witch and let me see the google image results. Repeatedly he kept asking for the author’s name. Of course I did not know this otherwise I could have easily found it on the racks in the basement hence why I now was asking for his assistance. No he insisted he needed the name. He looks on Wikipedia for a moment but to no avail. We are still stood looking at the screen. I again ask him to look on google images. He relents after 10 minutes and the third image on the search? The cover of the book I was looking for with the author’s name! So he finally uses this name on the database and tells me they do not have it but can order it from them (for a premium). I decline and make my escape. They overcharge here for things that are not even rare. Architecturally the interior is stylish yet modern and the café is nice but I do not support this shop since this experiment in getting blood from a stone.

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During the festival the town is filled with hipsters. Hipsters of all ages, shapes and sizes. I felt dirty. This was not the celebration of literature, wit and knowledge but a cold exercise in placating the sycophantic, self-congratulating middle class ego with a sizeable disposable income.

The rest of the year this town is an oasis for the literate bibliophile seeking adventure and willing to spend an entire day trawling shelf upon shelf of unexpected books on topics that you would think too niche to be contemplated for publishing.

The festival is just there for star chasers, the bourgeois and people who need to be doing something to justify their elitist attitude the rest of the year. I doubt any of the books bought by the event speakers get read and just gather dust on the shelves waiting for the time they will grace the shelves, en-masse , of one of the numerous bookshops here at a far reduced price. I like this town but it is like a beach side town during the summer holidays during this festival.

https://www.hayfestival.com/wales/index.aspx?skinid=2&currencysetting=GBP&localesetting=en-GB&resetfilters=true


Other people poison your life. Yet humans are a social creature. But we build large caves in which to hoard our belongings. The selfish gene has gone grown stronger with the passing of generations and soon it will be a cancer leading to our downfall as a species if we cannot overcome it.

Eurovision Song Contest 2015

I have posted videos of each entrant, in order of performance, during the grand finale with my own comments as I was watching the programme live. In the end it seemed far more earnest this year and therefore less fun. It comes across as if the acts are trying to promote their own career to a wider international audience, which would happen anyway, than providing an enjoyable performance. There were far less ‘fun’ acts than in any previous years I can remember – perhaps because with the advent of the internet and digital downloads having an international career is far more possible compared to previous generations.

1-Slovenia: Maraaya: Here For You: Good upbeat song but the wind machine blowing her overly stiff hair and the unintentionally sinister diamond armed dancer were not necessary.

2 France – Lisa Angell: N’oubliez Pas: Bleak. Reminded me of ‘downer’ bad ending credits for some computer games if you made bad choices or even ones where it’s a sad end as the hero died but the future now holds hope thanks to their noble sacrifice. A good song but not something that will do well at Eurovision.

3 Israel: Nadav Guedj: Golden Boy: It sounded like an out of tune 90s boy band and although the production was good it fell flat for me.

4 Estonia: Elina Born & Stig Rästa: Goodbye To Yesterday: The singing was really good and I liked it immensely. I noted she even shed a tear while singing. Staged or not that was a nice detail. I would actually like to hear more from them.

5 UK: Electro Velvet: Still In Love With You: Nice upbeat 1920s style electro-swing piece and the neon clothing light effects in the ultraviolet light went really well. We are not going to win but at least we are showing we can be original and give people something to remember without being ridiculous. Ironically considering how often Terry Wogan complained about the cheesiness in the past we are the cheesy novelty entry this year it feels like in retrospect. But it was fun and we are improving year on year since the disapproval after the Middle East conflict…


6 Armenia: Genealogy: Face The Shadow: an awkward mix of voices with a clock theme throughout the performance. They didn’t seem to harmonise and it seems like a catastrophe for them on the night and rather awkward from an audience perspective as they didn’t gel as a group. I think one of them was from Wales as it was made up from people of Armenian ancestry from around Europe internally selected by the Public Television of Armenia to sing Face The Shadow, a “powerful anthem about peace, unity, and love”

7 Lithuania: Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila: This Time: Good fun and energy. Potential winner? A good duet nonetheless. Lithuania initially wanted a solo entry to represent them in the contest, but double act Monika Linkytė and Vaidas Baumila won over both TV viewers and the professional jury with their duet.

8 Serbia : Bojana Stamenov: Beauty Never Lies: Good song. Very fat girl. Can tell from her face she would be very attractive if she got her weight under control. Sadly she starts screaming and there is a euro electro-disco part towards the end which ruins it. One male dancer has the beard and topknot look which is popular amongst hipsters right now. She beat two other candidates in the Serbian national selection, but Bojana Stamenov isn’t just a powerful voice – she’s also deft hand at knitting and cooking… She ate them and will become a crazy cat lady after the show.

9 Norway: Mørland & Debrah Scarlett: A Monster Like Me: Good mellow toned song however the singers seem to be off key at the start possibly. He warbles while she croons. It’s a very nice song and the further they go the better it gets but those opening moments…

10 Sweden: Måns Zelmerlöw: Heroes: Pop with electro folk: Very nice front projection effects. The bookies favourite and to be honest mine too at this stage in the contest it blows everything else out of the water.

11 Cyprus: John Karriyannis: One Thing I Should Have Done: Classic pop love song effort. The sort of thing you wouldn’t mind on the radio on a Sunday afternoon but nothing that stands out.

12 Australia: Guy Sabastian: Tonight Again: Upbeat modern pop song clearly having fun and unpressured. Obviously not going to win but hopefully they have enjoyed the event.

13 Belgium: Loïc Nottet: Rhythm Inside: slow, hipster influenced, modern pop song: I like it but many people probably won’t remember it tomorrow.

14 Austria: The Makemakes: I Am Yours: Slow start but a classic song you could imagine from previous years of Eurovision and you would want to know the name of. Setting the inside of the Piano on fire adds nothing to the perfornance as its not as if he is playing it so frantically the strings sponaniously ignite in a cartoonish style. The host nation always hobbles themselves however as I doubt anyone wants to host it a few years on the trot.. It became dull towards the end.

15 Greece: Maria Elena Ktriakou: One Last Breathe: classic Eurovision song style of grandiose pop music. Not much to say really. Good effort but nothing to grab peoples votes.

16 Montenegro: Knez: Adio: enjoyable. At least they are not singing in English… it has an element of Montenegro’s musical culture in it. This is how it should be i.e. representing your nation not trying to be all things to all people. Not going to win but respectable.

17 Germany: Ann Sophie: Black Smoke: R&B influenced as many seem to be this year in tone. Good but no doubt forgettable. She stepped in at the last moment as the one who was going to do it decided not to in the end. Good on her for doing this and you wouldn’t know about the change.

18 Poland: Monika Kuszyńska: In The Name Of Love: Last year it was Donatan & Cleo – ‘My Słowianie – We Are Slavic’ giving us the message hot blooded Slavic girls are the best in every way and do everything the best (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, get the dirty old man vote) with busty ‘milk churning’ milkmaid for those who don’t understand the lyrics to get the message of what they are saying. This year they have a singer in a wheelchair…Poland must love making everyone feel awkward. They are trolling the contest. There is no other explaination for these acts. I wonder how they will upstage this entry – a choir of children with learning difficulties, a quadriplegic playing the mouth organ and a dance troop of Alzheimer’s afflicted old age octogenarians next year? I really want to believe Poland, like Britain, don’t take the contest seriously, but they actually actually send in entries to mess with voters rather than just moan in the commentary. Last year it was the ‘dad’ vote, this year the ‘if you don’t vote for us its discrimination against the diabled’ moral guilt vote. That aside it is a good song with the uprising anthemic quality you expect of Eurovision entries. “Monika Kuszyńska brings with her a strong Eurovision message: she wants to “to build the bridge of tolerance in the name of love” with her performance” – i.e. Poland want to see how far they can push it before being kicked out by pretending they don’t know its trolling.

19 Latvia: Aminata: Love Injected: the classic Eurovision singer with an ‘overly extravagant dress’. Nice designs flashing in the background. Generic Eurovision entry. A wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. One of the definitive ‘also ran’ entries of this year. The song title is indeed either poor english or a very dark suggestion of what the song is really about.

20 Romania: Voltaj: De La Capat/ All Over Again: A lot of the songs have this echoing anthemic thing going on this year. Again credit due to them as they don’t sing in English. Don’t know about the monochrome look… Has a sort of ‘song you hear on an advert’ quality meant to be inspirational in those 30 seconds they play it’s chorus but you get sick of it after a while and people still remember the song years later with distain. Oh there is a bit of English… well that’s okay I guess thoguh everyone singing in English seems disingenuous.

21 Spain: Edurne: Amanecer: She is Manchester United’s Goalkeeper’s girlfriend apparently – Nice visuals. Sung in Spanish. I could see this winning. The dancer/stagehand in the dark holding her cloak, pretending to be the wind and pull the cloak off, is obviously there despite their staging efforts. Then there is the reveal of the ‘classic leg revealing’ dress. Then there is a bit of dancing in an instrumental part just to keep the energy going which is a good mix between static and dynamic aspects to give a rounded performance. Spain are obviously going all out to win this year. Really working the crowd well and got a good reception.

22 Hungary: Boggie: Wars For Nothing: Serious message time. This will be sung over a video of starving war torn communities during a charity video. It’s a really sharp change in tone from the Spanish song entry. Its good but would have been better placed after one of the more subdued earlier entries. Austria decided the running order and no doubt knew the reaction this would get after the previous song. I’m not saying anything suspicious was happening just that you would never put these songs together if you had any sense… also to English speakers Boggie is just a hilarious name in contrast to the song’s serious message sadly. A moral victor raising issues but will go nowhere in the votes.

23 Georgia: Nina Sublatti: Warrior: Rock chick entry. Smoke screen and the heavy flashing effects are obscuring her on stage. Gothy warrior look – 🙂 phwoar! (I’ve been watching a lot of early 90s music videos so this look is kind of fixed in my head at the moment as a very appealing look) This more energetic song could have done with backing dancers as the staging seems a bit too bare with just her there obscured by the dry ice smoke. If not for that then this would have been the song and performance I would personally consider song of the night though it wouldn’t win (I mean it’s not as impressive as when Lordi entered and won – which makes me think they may have been a quasi-joke entry except they really went for it and won everyone over which they richly deserved). Warrior is the sort of energetic song I can imagine being the theme song to an action adventure series. Another person whose works I will be checking out. Actually singing in English which I didn’t realise initially.

24 Azerbaijan: Elnur Huseynov: Hour Of The Wolf: A very nice slower song and the ballet dancers were very good. It will be forgotten as its very ‘now’ however. A very ‘American pop singer going solo’ style song.

25 Russia: Polina Gagarina: A Million Voices: Going for the victory hard. Anthemic drum beat call to alms (yes not ‘arms’ – its wordsplay… I have explained the joke and it now lies dead like a dissected frog on a lab table), with a refrain and choral section. The drummer does look like Andrew WK pre-nosebleed however. Excellent song. No one stands a chance. If it doesn’t win it will be top three at the very least. They definitely put a lot of work into it although people like a bit of a show too so the all-white look might not work too well to get everyone’s votes). It’ll be interesting to see how Ukraine votes in regards to them considering they were always [12 points] block voting for each other in the past. Russia women always seem to have a lot of beauty marks on their skin in contrast to other countries – maybe its just they don’t cover them up with foundation, etc, makeup… She looks a bit like a more ‘Welsh’ version of Katherine Jenkins (who of course is Welsh but not ethnically ‘crab face’ Welsh i.e. small, squared, jawline and chin).

26 Albania: Elhaida Dani: I’m Alive: Already screwed before they began due to Russia’s absolute winning over of the audience. It’s very nice with a slower lead in. Absolute cleavage with a masking screen. It’s a very good song and if the running order was different it would have stood a better chance but it seems Austria has made the running order bottom heavy with all the impressive ones towards the end.

27 Italy: Il Volo: Grande Amore: Boy band look – apparently pop opera band. Ladykillers. Was a very good song I would like to hear again. Being the last probably means they are dead in the water sadly. They could easily win it though as they were very distinct should people not overlook them.

‘Voting time’ entertainment: Orchestras, male voice and female voice choirs, people whose heads were bridges (as if someone played Silent Hill 2 and got ideas…). The venue was ‘green’ i.e. in a big tent. Actually went really well on the night although if it rained it would go down in the history of the contest as one of the bad venues. I wonder if they destroyed the rain clouds by scattering silver into them as you can do if need be. Then they have a thirteen year old boy sing acapella. The traditional visit to the greenroom where you just know some acts have gone back and drunk as much as they can with some assurance they won’t have to perform, in the unlikely event they win, because there is no chance. Conchita Wurst featured far more this year than past winners were featured previously. Yes you have bearded woman Austria, yes she won the contest but she isn’t a great presenter so stop milking her.

Votes: Always the slow bit where the commentators complain about the block voting… I can’t be bothered to edit this bit so it may come across as quite cruel but then if you haven’t ever heard the British commentaries by Terry Wogan (who once called two presenters Dr Death and his assistant) or Graham Norton then I assure you I am being nice. HA ha ha one of them disappeared from technical faults so the presenters had to come back to them later. Russia are getting a lot of cheers until they are in the lead then there’s the drone of boos. (To be honest at least it’s not automatically boos like leaving housemates get on the British edition of Big Brother…) Moldova score giver has a very 1970s star trek parody porn star look… Russia/Italy/Sweden are in a three horse race for victory when we are only 8 of 40 countries into the running… the hosts remind everyone that tonight is about the music not politics regarding Russia being booed – which would have been nice if the hosts years ago said that in defence of the UK when there was the Middle East Conflict but then we didn’t get one vote and as Oscar Wilde once said “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about”. Estonia vote announcer phwoar extravagant necklace but link went down. Wow Austria’s technical side is terrible with all these connection issues… Armenia vote announcer phwoar… Sweden Announcer looked like she escaped from a 1970s sci-fi series… Germany’s vote announcer looks like the opera diva from the adventures of Tintin… I notice Conchita Wurst is sat with the Russian group to ensure getting more screen time… Australia announcer is an anorexic lady of East Asian descent… COVER YOUR ARMS… Oh, Wurst is there to do the midway interview… Polina speaks very good English (I mean I assume she is Russian and not just representing them as other countries have done in the past coughEnglbertHumperdickcoughCelineDioncough)… Spain phwoar nice dress with Moroccan kind of panel patterning… Austria cutesy dorky face… Macedonia gave Albania 12 points and they didn’t cheer or thank them which is poor sportsmanship (althoguh they may not have known the cameras were on them admittedly)… Slovenia votes announcer loos like if Celine Dion dressed up as 1970-80s Cher … Hungary’s vote announcer has the loo of a middle aged mother of two ‘on a night out with her girlfriends and has done her hair and makeup’… UK announcer Nigella Lawson looks like a privileged twit with a broach over her major selling points but does the votes in foreign languages which was nice gesture. She still just seems to ‘be there’ and do very little nowadays… Georgia’s vote announcer has a 1980s lead vocalist look – AND THEY LOST HER… Lithuania’s vote announcer is mid-twenties to early thirties but styling herself as a cutesy tween and looks a little creepy with the clawed hands… Netherlands’ vote announcer dress looks bad with ultra-ultimate cleavage down to crotch with exposed spanks on the lower half as if she had the same dress as Albania’s singer and had to adjust it quickly… Poland’s vote announcer phwoar flower ring crown and showing the cleavage – Graham Norton noted she was the milkmaid from last year’s Polish entry so apparently he can recognise that cleavage anywhere (he is gay for those who don’t know who he is and does the commentary for Eurovision now Terry Wogan retired a few years ago)… She’s obviously making sure people don’t forget about last year’s entry although her face is a bit sharply featured it seems due to how she did her makeup or she had a really disturbingly severe face lift… Sweden now pull ahead of Russia and look like they may become runaway leaders… Russia announcer is Dmitri Shepelev with Action Man Eagle Eyes feature tries to joke about giving Russia 12 points and it didn’t go down well though he seemed nice… San Marino vote announcer showing the cleavage off with a low neckline lace dress and low hanging necklace… At this point it is clear Sweden has won but we still have a countries left… Iceland vote announcer her arms look as thick as her waist which is really disturbing though it’s because of dark panels on the sides of her dress… then the German commentator invades Graham Norton’s coverage and he doesn’t know why… Sweden is announced the winners though there were a few more countries left and ones they had skipped… Norway vote announcer has liquorice sweets patterned shoulder pads tried to joke falling off screen but fails and told to hurry up since the results are obvious and everyone wants to go home now… Portugal vote announcer phwoar though shiny skin and pastel pink dotted dress make her look like a Barbie wannabee… Estonia vote announcer Tanja phwoar with nice necklace most women would want… Georgia vote announcer Natia Bunturi phwoar with the 1980s band lead vocalist look… Yes these vote announcing bits are boring and have bad attempts at humour…

TL;DR: Sweden won with 300+ points though it was a close run thing with Russia up until the end and Italy just behind them. United Kingdom got 5 points ultimately. This year’s winner is given a crystal microphone.

The entrants have been taking it far too seriously the past couple of years and the show is no longer fun, the spectacle of the extravagantly staged performances isn’t as wonderful and eclectic as it once was in past years. Either you have the classic songs, the modern songs or the ‘sod it its not like we will win’ songs nowadays. Austria really messed up the international connections repeatedly and it really won’t be forgotten by the organisers in future so hopefully they will review what happened and ensure it doesn’t occur again as such faults should be a thing of the past.


Comment, Like, Follow – All are Welcome 🙂

I will tidy this entry up when the chance arises in the next few days but thought it best to just put the initial version up now. (Did that and can’t be bothered to alter it any further now)… Yes I use phwoar alot recently… I did a lot in the ‘Far From The Madding Crowd’ review too… Go read more of my stuff if you like.

Mini Film Reviews May 2015

Byzantium (2012) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantium_%28film%29

An average vampire film, very much in the vein of Interview with a Vampire, starring Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan which many will feel is more concerned at character development at the cost of maintaining dramatic momentum. A very good central cast and scenic cinematography raise it above what it otherwise would be. It is enjoyable for a one time watch but there is nothing to bring you back.

Berberian Sound Studio (2012) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berberian_Sound_Studio

A psychological horror film which experiments with the concept of sound. By being focused more on the audio experience than its visuals you do not get the tired ‘quiet, quiet LOUD!’ experience which has turned many away from the genre of late. Definitely worth experiencing at least once as it is original and suspenseful. Toby Jones as always is an excellent actor. Go watch it!

The Fog (2005) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fog_%282005_film%29

A modern horror remake. John Carpenter’s original came out after his success with Halloween so it was never going to get the credit it deserved but go watch that rather than this even if a lot of its content may seem dated by now. You will, even all these years later, see Tom Welling and think ‘hey it’s that guy from Smallville’. An okay TV movie but really if they could edit it and show it earlier in the day for kids to watch it would get a better audience than it deserves.

The Holy Mountain (1973) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_Mountain_%281973_film%29

Alejandro Jodorowsky’s masterpiece of surreal fantasy depicting the occult alchemist journey to enlightenment based on Ascent of Mount Carmel by John of the Cross and Mount Analogue by René Daumal, who was a student of George Gurdjieff. . Visually arresting even if it isn’t your kind of film you will still have a story to tell people of the wonders you have seen. I know much of the imagery used and its context so it is not as ‘surreal’ as some may claim although not having this knowledge in no way will make the film less visually engaging. GO WATCH IT!

The Hangover (2009) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hangover

Good standalone film. Would have been a classic in the style of many late 1970s/early 1980s comedies but unfortunately the modern trend in Hollywood of running concepts into the ground with sequels has diluted its impact. Watch this and don’t both with the sequels unless they are on television and you have nothing else to do.

Elfie Hopkins (2012) film DVD http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfie_Hopkins

Nancy Drew with swearing and cannibals in a quasi-Welsh town. Some characters have Welsh accents and some don’t. You could argue its set on the border with England but the setting seems too remote. There are some good performances, especially Gwyneth Keyworth, but it ultimately feels like a film that had good potential and not the budget to achieve it. The tone also feels uneven as if it is not sure if it should take itself seriously or not yet wants to emulate the uneasiness David Lynch is famed for using in his works like Blue Velvet or even Twin Peaks. Even worse it leaves a lot of questions unanswered about what happened to some plot points raised as if to suggest they were setting up to make this a series which unfortunately failed with this first effort. The ‘Little Munchkin’ short film, also starring Gwyneth Keyworth, included on the DVD offers a more compact story which I feel the film wanted to recreate but something went wrong along the way sadly.

License To Kill (1989) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Licence_to_Kill

James Bond played by Timothy Dalton. If this film was made today it would fare far better but back in the 80s it was deemed too dark and realistic for a character who was associated with Roger Moore’s dry quips by this point. Not a terrible film, just not as enjoyable as others of the series. The exterior shots of the meditation centre are suitably grandiose and we get a performance from a young Benicio del Toro but otherwise it’s a bit too involved in trying to be serious without any scenes for the audience to take a breather from the events.

Lost In Space (1998) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_in_Space_%28film%29

Underacting and every character has at least one jerkass moment. If you want an example why films of the late 1990s are not liked look no further than this sterling example of the era’s faults. The lurid bleeding colour palette. The disrespect to the source material. The story which assumes there would be sequels (Dr Smith is still infected and eventually going to turn into ‘future’ Smith). The chemistry between the actors is appalling. You ultimately don’t care, or even want harm to befall, the characters. Of course at the end of the film Dr Smith is still infected and likely to turn into a ‘future Smith’ but ultimately as it is never resolved here we can just assume he eventually eat all the others. Just remember that if you ever have to watch this.

Neighbour No.13 / Rinjin 13-go (2005) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Neighbor_No._Thirteen

Japanese Horror. A dark psychological film. Begins with good imagery of a man being tortured in a room in the middle of a grey landscape representing the inner turmoil of the central character but then becomes very mundane and overly serious (as seen in the trailer). At the 1 hour 30 minutes mark a character looks down a toilet at a giant piece of faeces. Also there is some black face at one point. It is a classic example of Japanese story telling where they have a great original idea and then give up on it and make something unremarkable. It is one of my biggest issues with the Japanese entertainment industry – they have no fear in producing original ideas but then seem to fear to truly follow through with distinctive narratives from that point onwards in many cases thus leaving you with stories that often feel drawn out. The Japanese are known for having long lingering shots and letting a story breathe, unlike any break neck paced American works, but sometimes it just feels like its padding the length of a story unnecessarily.

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirit:_Stallion_of_the_Cimarron

It would be better without Spirit’s inner monologue. I assume it was a studio decision but the animation could have easily carried the narrative. Well-made but being so centred on horses will limit its appeal. It is the sort of story I imagine being made into an animated film in the 1970s. If anything, on a technical side, it reminds me of the computer game industry where they might make games more as a way to experiment with new systems or technology that is available to them – in this case this film is a ‘tech demo’ of how to successfully animate horses with an eye to using the technique in later works.

Sword Of Sherwood Forest (1960) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sword_of_Sherwood_Forest

Fun, light hearted, take on the Robin Hood stories by Hammer films. It probably seems quite dated by today’s standards but was a fun romp. If you like a bit of hamm[er]y acting and cheesy story there is nothing wrong with this twist on the classic tale.

The Princess And The Frog (2009) Disney. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Princess_and_the_Frog

Tiana is a complete blow hard. Being the straight man is one thing but she becomes a buzz killer at every point with her overly repeated moral message ‘you have to work hard to get what you want’ though in true Disney fashion she marries the prince in the end and thus gets what she wants via him immediately. Ironically the character of Charlotte, the spoilt friend who gets whatever she wants immediately and acts childishly, delivers a far more sincere message – though she has the opportunity to kiss the prince and achieve her dreams she puts them aside for Tiana as she values her friendship more than being selfish. Ray, the fire bug, is an awkwardly implemented character as he is often presented as the entertainment and gets killed in quite a sudden, extremely violent for a children’s film, manner. It is to empathise to the audience that things have gotten serious and there is no more time for fun but it seemed the sort of thing censors would have had serious concerns about in any other companies output. This was Disney’s last effort to test the viability of traditional 2D animation against the emergence of 3D and it is a tragedy that the quality seen here is going to be a forgotten bygone for many children growing up now. From a technical stand point even Studio Ghibli cannot match the quality of animation seen here. The songs are more jazz based which is something Disney hasn’t done often before but many of these songs are of great quality and it is a shame they haven’t caught on unlike other soundtracks. Actually there is a bit of hypocrisy I notice now seeing the trailer – Tiana crushes the frog Prince Naveen with a book and it is intentional slapstick comedy while Dr Facilier crushing Ray towards the end is presented as serious drama and a sign of his wickedness. This seems to be the point when Disney suddenly realised they needed to revise their classic storytelling tropes and so in Frozen we got sisterly love and rejection of the prince (albeit very poorly implemented as discussed in one of my prior posts).


Comment, Like, Follow me – All are welcome! I haven’t posted for a while admittedly. Part two will come in a couple of days.

The Last Call Tour – Mary Black supported by Sharon Shannon

The Farewell Tour of Mary Black supported by Sharon Shannon. Held at St Davids Hall, Cardiff on 15th May 2015.

They both perform Celtic folk music. Mary sang mostly ballads supported by her band but I preferred Sharon’s completely instrumental support/warm up act where she played the melodeon (diatonic button accordion) and had one very skilled guy playing the guitar and piano simultaneously. It was a very enjoyable evening although it had more of an older crowd if I am honest. Certainly I would go see Sharon Shannon again albeit I think such music is better suited to a venue where you can get up and dance a bit if you want as a few did in the aisles eventually.

Although Mary said she would still be performing in Ireland after this farewell tour the entire concept of farewell tours means nothing nowadays considering how many artists have said it was their final tour only to then have a few more and joke about how each one with definitely be the final one. She’ll be touring again soon enough no doubt. If anything the final tour or performance often doesn’t get recognised until far later when there is no further concerts.

As for the venue the auditorium has good seating with plenty of leg space however I think sometimes some sound technicians have a bit of an issue with the venue’s acoustics during some performances I have attended here in the past. The bar refused to take orders for the interval until they were ready – which was two minutes after they were asked as apparently the protocol is they announce it over the intercom at a set time first then take the orders which is poor customer service when they had at best 5 people at the bar to be serving. After the event they had Mary signing and taking photos in a very low lit area which was bad enough to happen except the theatre manager himself was stood right there for over 15 minutes fully aware of this and made no effort to move the stool and free standing background to a nearby well lit area which was shameful. He later went to help advise how to set up the next day’s Punjabi community event offering anyone interested a taste of their culture but did not lift a finger to help them. There is a ‘friends corner’ which doubles as a autograph table and very well lit merchandise area where Sharon Shannon could be found both during the interval and after the show signing and taking photos with everyone whether they bought anything or not. Poor effort by St David’s Hall on the night but it didn’t spoil anyone’s enthusiasm. The musicians themselves exemplified that Irish informal friendliness and charm you hear so much about.

A great evening of Irish folk music only slightly marred by poor venue management decisions.

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Mary Black (born 23 May 1955) is an Irish singer. She is well known as an interpreter of both folk and contemporary material which has made her a major recording artist in her native Ireland, and in many other parts of the world. For a number of years, ‘What Hi-Fi?’ magazine considered Black’s voice to be so pure, that it was used as an audiophile benchmark for comparing the sound quality of different high fidelity systems. Music critic and lyricist Michael Leahy once said: “Over the years, Mary Black has come to define what many people see as the essence of Irish woman singers: profound, slightly ethereal and beyond the reaches of trends.” Today, Black is held in high esteem in her native Ireland and beyond and is regarded as one of the most important Irish vocalists of her generation.

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

Sharon Shannon (born 12 November 1968 in Ruan, County Clare) is an Irish musician. She is best known for her work with the accordion and for her fiddle technique. She also plays the tin whistle and melodeon. Her 1991 album Sharon Shannon is the best selling album of traditional Irish music ever released there. Beginning with Irish folk music, her work demonstrates a wide-ranging number of musical influences, including reggae, cajun music, Portuguese music, and French Canadian music. Her single What You Make It (da, da, da, da) featured hip hop music artists. She won the lifetime achievement award at the 2009 Meteor Awards.

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


There was a longer draft but my computer shutdown suddenly and I lost it all. You may not have heard of either of these Irish musicians so its a good introduction to them at least.

Barb Jungr at St Donats Art Centre

Held at St Donats Art Centre on 10th May 2015 – http://www.stdonats.com/

Barb Jungr accompanied by Simon Morris on the Piano – http://www.barbjungr.com/

Barb Jungr (born 9 May 1954) is an English singer-songwriter, composer and writer, of Czech and German parentage. She is known as a chansonnière, or singer of chansons—in the sense of classic, lyric-driven French songs; in the broader sense of European songs in the cabaret style; and in the even broader sense of a diverse range of songs interpreted in this style. She has become best known for her work with, or “interpretations” of, the songs of Bob Dylan. A song-stylist incorporating jazz and blues, her approach often includes radical re-readings of known writers as well as original material.

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The performance was held at St Donats Art Centre, formerly Tithe Barn of the historical St. Donat’s Castle, within the modern glass walled bar area of the art centre on a small stage, looking out towards the shoreline. I had assumed it was going to be in the barn stage area but the slowly dying light of day outside was a very pleasant backdrop to any performance and the house lights increased in accordance without being intrusive. They also lit one or two tea light candles on some tables but not all. It didn’t really add anything when you have the sunset in the background.

The seating was cabaret style so it was 4 chairs around each table. Somehow, though we booked the tickets all together, they had 2 people on one table and another on a separate table. In fact the couple who walked in after us forced us off the table we were sat at! Poor seating arrangement as it wasn’t a sold out performance and there were 4 or 5 tables left empty at the back. The barn would have been far more appropriate for it as it and has cabaret seating too at other performances I have attended here.

At the bar they said they didn’t have orange juice and offered an orange tango instead! But I had a tea so that’s beside the point…

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Disabled access: Although there is an art gallery on a higher floor there is easily available access for all events for anyone using wheelchairs or otherwise unable to use stairs. Both the bar area and the barn are ground floor so there should be no difficulty of access. Also there was a guy sat on one of the front tables with, I believe, autism who got concerned as he and the pianist as they were both named Simon. At one point he called out saying “My name’s Simon and you are Simon. But I am Simon… Hello.” Barb dealt with him well by making a comment on how there are so many people in the world and we can share names with others which is wonderful. So That was very skilfully dealt with by her I felt and helped him feel included in proceedings without there being a delay in the performance, and most importantly, him becoming worried and upset. Three times he had to go away with his aunt/grandmother but it didn’t disrupt proceedings. I felt a little sad for him although I think he was enjoying as he moved his hand in time with the music and Barb (and of course Simon the piano player) said hello thus dispelling what could have been a bit of a tense moment for them as an unexpected disruption. Professionalism like that should be commended.

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Review: I went in blind as I was told it was Cohen/Dylan songs and that was all I knew. The medleys were okay but due to her singing style, where she put emphasis in odd places and gesticulated in a very awkward way, it was really off putting. If she had been accompanied by more than just Simon on the piano I think it would have worked far better than what was the final performance. Also she seemed overly casually dressed and considering the tickets were £15 I would expect the performer to not look like they just stepped off the field from Glastonbury. Bitchy but the ticket price was too high for what we got from the venue and performance. I actually felt that if this were in a theatre or there were more people I would have left during the intermission – which at least one of the tables towards the front actually did. I didn’t like the re-imagining of ‘First We Take Manhattan’ which I have always really liked. They did a slower version of it, and in concept I have always thought that doing the song that way would be very effective (though the point of the song is that instrumentally it’s meant to be very upbeat, with a fast tempo, contrasting with the lyrics’ darker tone) but somehow it just didn’t ‘click’ with me… The way they did it though it was like karaoke… This is very rare for me to totally dislike an event but I cannot deny that sadly I did not enjoy and it was not based solely on not liking Barb’s singing but the overall experience as noted above with the seating and service at the bar. Simon was good in accompanying Barb but as mentioned previously there is only so much you can do as the sole instrumental accompaniment. It just wasn’t my thing on the night and apart from two students, who snuck onto a back table during the second half, I was the youngest there by 25 years easily. I’m sure Barb is far better in the right venue with the right accompaniment so this really felt like it was ‘local gig’ level not a professional.

It’s a very nice venue and doesn’t get much support. Although they consider themselves rural they do get many good acts there but really don’t seem to be able to penetrate the market due to bigger and more central venues drowning them out though you will find similar acts passing through. From the posters I saw signed on the walls they do have acts I would really like to see e.g. the Webb Sisters. I chalk it up as one bad experience and will be checking their site out again for future events. I have been here before and gone in the barn stage area just off the entrance and certainly feel Barb would have done better in there as it is more intimate and suitable for an act like hers compared to the quite large bar area looking out on the shoreline which seems more suited for a more ‘get up and dance’ friendly band performance.

Far From The Madding Crowd (2015)

In Victorian England, the independent and headstrong farm owner Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer; Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a prosperous and mature bachelor.

Cast:
Carey Mulligan as Bathsheba Everdene
Matthias Schoenaerts as Gabriel Oak
Michael Sheen as William Boldwood
Tom Sturridge as Sergeant Frank Troy
Juno Temple as Fanny Robin
Rowan Hedley as Maryann Money
Chris Gallarus as Billy Smallbury
Connor Webb as Merchant
Penny-Jane Swift as Mrs. Coggan
Rosie Masson as Soberness Miller
Alex Channon as Temperance Miller
Shaun Ward as Farmer
Roderick Swift as Everdene farmer
Don J Whistance as Constable
Jamie Lee-Hill as Laban Tall

The editing is done at a break neck pace, before you have a chance to absorb one scene you are sharply cut to the next as if you were watching a heavily edited version of a longer film or the ‘____:the movie’ edited version of a television series. There are some scenes towards the end, without giving anything away to a story first published in 1874, I felt were given absolutely no time to breathe and were being rushed in order to bring a close to the film. For example where a character is put in a gaol cell which is very artistically done but it is only put in context during the following scene through expository dialogue. This seemed very lazy as the film prior to this was able to follow Chekov’s maxim that you show ‘show, don’t tell’ when developing a narrative even at its hectic pace. At the very least the last act seems all too quick in tying up all the loose ends to the detriment of the pacing otherwise.

The cinematography of the landscape is exceptional but for the most part you will think of this as a film having been made to the standard of the BBC Drama department in its recent productions. There is not one scene that is not beautifully framed and it reminded me of Joe Wright’s 2005 film adaption of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley very often as there is a very similar soft focus and predominantly sepia yet vividly coloured palette throughout with the lighting ensuring night time scenes are sufficiently dark without being incomprehensible. However it should be noted as soon as you are aware BBC Films were involved in the production you will inevitably be comparing it to recent television series such as Sherlock, Poldark, etc. It is of the same high production quality level with a slightly more cinematic style in places but you shouldn’t expect anything extraordinarily different from the standard set by the BBC’s various recent television series.

The costumes are colourful and very good though I would question their historical accuracy as Bathsheba has a leather riding jacket – it may very well be historically accurate but just not something you associate with the period. You probably will not note this when watching it though.

The casting is excellent with special note to Matthias Schoenaerts whose performance as Oaks is intense yet unthreatening in contrast to Tom Sturridge’s more light footed and flighty portrayal of Troy. Anyone familiar with Terence Stamp’s portrayal of Troy in the 1967 adaption will probably feel Sturridge’s portrayal doesn’t hold up but I feel the film maker is making him appeal to contemporary audiences and of course what is appealing differs between generations but I feel both versions are in keeping with the character although apparently the 1967 ‘sword dance’ scene is more erotically charged and in keeping with the novel (the scene is a seduction of Troy symbolically deflowering Bathsheba by thrusting his phallic sword towards her and cutting her hair at its climax) while the modern adaption is more akin to a schoolboy showing off which ironically is another way the scene could be interpreted so it is just a matter of style choice between the adaptions. Michael Sheen is also good but I find he is better when he has more eccentric characters to portray and a reserved role like this, while performed to a high standard, doesn’t make the best use of his skills. Not at all a weak performance but I feel the other men had more to work with in their scenes. Cary Mulligan is serviceable in the role but I never really supported her as she came across overly stiff and stale. The transition from her living with the aunt, getting the farm and later on doesn’t suggest a transition of time or development in the character yet in the dialogue we are told it has definitely passed and she has a different outlook on life. Due to the down turning of her mouth the beauty mark / mole really irritated me as I kept thinking that it looked like some left over crumb of food – not a fair criticism but nonetheless it did. Far from a bad performance but it felt like a young actress being made to portray an older role as her voice is notably deeper than in her other roles and her mannerisms were very stiffly acted rather than natural which didn’t feel in keeping with this character who is not of the societal set but very salt of the earth putting on the airs of society when it is necessary.

The central characters in brief are:

Bathsheba – the stoic proto-feminist heroine. We see this character archetype time and time again in any number of similar novels with a similar narrative framework i.e. A woman who is challenging the gender assigned roles of society yet still finding herself needing to conform to them through an appropriate marriage.

This character heavily reminded me of being in the same mould as Pride and Prejudice’s Elizabeth Bennett. Both have suitors who initially approach them for marriage and who they turn away as they feel they have no need for them but later warm to and marry. In this film the suitors seem to ask her to marry them within the first 10 minutes of meeting her!

“Hello Bathesheba… oh my… you are… the most beautiful, intelligent, self-sufficient woman i have ever met… will you marry me?”

If this was not based on a Thomas Hardy novel but written today it would be no more respected than Twilight and its ilk due to the ‘Mary Sue’ nature of the central character. The later stories have inherited wholesale the exact narrative structure unchanged since it developed centuries ago! Back then it was a struggle for women to be viewed as people in their own right, not the property of the men they marry, but the copied narrative rings falsely today in a contemporary Western society where many of the key conflicts have been addressed, if not made redundant, by societal change via the Suffragette movement’s achievements and Feminism.

Just as the classic monomyth universally depicts a hero going on an adventure, in a decisive crisis wins a victory and then comes home changed or transformed so this narrative adapts it to a woman’s version within the traditional social structure as she comes from simple, but respectable, origins to a position of respectability and society wherein she now has the option of marrying her choice of potential suitors amongst whom we usually find the trifecta of the following:

  • The morally, but not socially, prefered choice (Oak/ Mr Darcy),
  • The traditional ‘provded for by an older man’ option, in a respectable but unappealing choice (Boldwood/Mr Collins)
  • The dashing, sexually attractive, worldly soldier who is dangerous (Troy/ George Wickham)

Gabriel Oak: A former small farm owner who suffers tragedy when he loses his flock of sheep and ends up working for Bathsheba as her shephard. During his service he offers his opinion on her life and althoguh there is colnflict between them he always puts the farm and others ahead of his own desires.

He offered marriage when he was a farm owner and she was with her aunt on a small neighbouring farm. Later on, i.e. he majority of the film, he works as her shepherd and proves himself a good, unselfish man, who gives her his opinion but never forces her hand. A man who is physically and morally strong. Seems to ha ve been simplified from the book. I kept thinking how he no doubt influenced the character of Mellors in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

William Boldwood: When Bathsheba inherits her uncles farm he owns the neighbouring one which is far larger and so he is more a landowner who never dirties his hands compared to Oak.

After Bathsheba’s lady persuades her to send him a valentines which has no true intent behind it he offers marriage. She tells him wait. He waits. He later asks again (due to the pacing of the film it doesn’t seem a long time but I am assuming some months or years have passed) and she rebukes him again. A tragic figure ultimately though it would ruin the closing of the story if I told you it. The way Bathsheba treats him does make her morally repugnant and it is never really addressed but instead he is made to seem the ‘bad’ one as he follows societal norms and assumes she would want to marry someone of a similar social standing. There is a scene where Bathsheba and Oak look through his rooms and see he purchased items on the assumption she would agree to his proposial finally as if to suggest he was ‘stakerish’ in nature though it would make sense in the societal norm and in another story being showered which such gifts would be a ‘heartwarming’ scene not a tragic note as it is presented as here.

Sergeant Frank Troy: Young sexy, worldy, experienced soldier who ultimately teaches the female protagonist the ways of the world taking her innocence, yes in both moral and physical ways, but his association with her is restrictive and so he betrays her or uses her in order to fund his worldly ways such as gambling or drinking heavily.

As seen in Pride and Prejudice’s George Wickham and Anna Karenina’s Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky (a cavalry officer). She marries him but he still idolises a former lover named Fanny Robin, who through sheer poor luck, did not arrive at the church in time to marry him, so he assumed he had been jilted and thus sought his next lover and was married within 9 months with tragic consequences. The ‘Danish handshake’ was a bit more than earlier adaptions would have had but it seemed fitting due to the scene and character involved.

Review Summary: It is a very cinematic film so definitely go see it there if you can. Although it has a long run time it will pass quickly. I found the shifts from scene to scene far to blunt and so it felt like a collection of scenes rather than a flowing narrative. Go watch the 1967 version for a good film, watch this for a modern adaption but ultimately the book is the best place for the story. Good adaption but far to sharply edited to the point you don’t have time to appreciate scenes or absorb what is gone on before the next event is underway. The music is also very fitting and enjoyable.

TL;DR: Beautiful scenes decorated with something for the ladies in the forms of Matthias Schoenaerts PHWOAR, Tom Sturridge PHWOAR and Michael Sheen PHW- um, well I guess he appeals to ladies of particular tastes…

The British General Election Process 2015

So it’s that time again…

This year Facebook lets you put a thing on your page to say ‘yes I’m a voter’. That just seems like such a needlessly arrogant thing to have. Not because you have exercised your civic right, if not duty, but that in posting this are you not casting judgement on those who have not? Some are not eligible and it seems damning to demean them with your morally onanistic self-regard.

But then again there are those who could have voted but chose not to often for ridiculous reasons including, but not exclusively: Someone told me not to as a protest e.g. Russell Brand which is no different than political apathy as an act due to the same result; ‘they’re all the same’ – which leads to extreme far right parties getting power as they did in France; ‘couldn’t be bothered’ – deserve whatever the socio-political results are for them due to their apathy. Yet no doubt these self declared vox populi are the same people who will be down the pub later loudly condemning the government for their actions and having an opinion on everything declaring ‘if I ran things it would be different!’ But they don’t because they couldn’t even take the most basic political step of voting let alone running for political positions. The only way they would have power is through force and is the practise of tyranny so perhaps its best these people stay away from politics and accept what more, hopefully, level headed people have voted for.

The British voting process in brief step-by-step:

  1. Walk to the Scout’s Hall nearby… There are a lot of polling stations around the county and you could have voted by post if you notified them with enough warning. (You should look up some of the odd places they use due to a lack of suitable public places available).
  2. Give the card with my voting details on it to a staff member… I don’t have to – It says so on the card you don’t have to present it. They don’t check your ID. You could be anyone as long as you had a name of a local resident and got there before them. I took the card and they took it from me… so is it required or not? They check it. Still no proof you are who you say you are… well except I know one of the polling staff so they may acknowledge the name and face don’t match.
  3. (Take a moment to note the badly dog-eared doorstop sized novels lying next to a selection of gossip magazines and a few half eaten packets of biscuits.)
  4. They cross my name off the register… with a pen and ruler. It doesn’t seem the most sophisticated way of marking off who has voted.
  5. They give me a piece of paper with the candidates listed and say cross one box only… lest you spoil your vote and it is discarded.
  6. Go to the voting booth… i.e. a high table you stand at which has screens on it so no one can see what you are doing.
  7. Cross a box with a stubby pencil that really should be given a bit of a sharpening during the day… There must have been injuries in the past. Maybe they should replace it with a stamp or that ‘dented paper’ system that caused a lot of spoiled papers during USA elections when Dubya was given the presidency.
    Fold the paper… It feels pointless but I suppose it keeps anyone in the immediate vicinity seeing/guessing who you voted for.
  8. Put it in the ballot box… Probably need to shove it in a bit later on in the day as all the folded sheets will have unfurled inside thus filing the potential space.
  9. Leave… They say thanks, you say thanks, we all thank each other on participating in the political process (look at some of the children’s artwork which adorns the walls as I leave bright luminous things mixed with felt pvc glue stuck collages).
  10. (Back into the car park of the red brick Scouts Hall and a short walk back home…
  11. Bask in the self-righteous glow of having done your civic duty once more. Maybe watch the election night tv including channel 4’s alternative converage i.e. satirical comedy while BBC is serious and everyone else… are a mystery.

In the end the Conservative party won a majority which surprised many, Ed Balls quit as Labour leader, Nick Clegg quit as Lib Dem Leader in results which could easily make you think its the end of the Lib Dem party as they lost so many seats, Nigel Farrage stepped down as UKIP leader, the SNP dominated Scotland and took many seats and it was close run but there were no coalitions which seemed inevitable to commentators.

But of course what you want isn’t analysis but fun! You want interactivity!

Here is the Political Compass quiz to go do. It’s been around ten years now! It is lots of fun! Available in English, Spanish, Portuguese and German… you would think they would do at least one new language per year. Waste of potential market potential there unless other nations have their own version…
http://www.politicalcompass.org/

Here is Political Compass’ assessment of the parties for the UK’s 2015 General Election.
http://www.politicalcompass.org/uk2015

Get your friends to do it too and compare notes! Maybe (i.e. more than likely) you’ll have similar views but maybe, MAYBE, you will have completely contrasting views and get into a very heated debate a.k.a the stuff of dinner parties that started off oh so well until someone had one too many drinks. Oh the thrill of it is palpable… or not. At least it wouldn’t be as bad as this…


As for my own political views… well that is my business and not something that affects this blog 🙂

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