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August means my birthday, so I thought I'd put together some birthday memories from years gone by :)
Not my actual 0th birthday, but ten days after I was born - my first photo, with Mum and Julia (and Coco).
On or around my 3rd birthday, which occurred on this holiday in Great Yarmouth. That's me in the groovy bloomers, with sister Julia and cousins Gerry and Sue (to whom we are still close). I remember going out on a boat with Uncle Geoff and Gerry, and crying because I was scared.
(I've just realised that Julia was wearing said bloomers in the photo above. The curse of the second child - you don't get to wear new clothes!)
My 18th. I remember being most pleased with that jumper - it was £1 in a Miss Selfridge sale the year before. Light blue sparkles going darker towards the top. Well, it was 1970s. Kept it for years.
22nd. Staying in a hotel in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire. Can't believe I ever had that much hair!
My 29th birthday party. The 2 litre bottles of Websters/Adnams beer show what a classy bash it was. This is me clearing up afterwards. Sort of.
My not-so-big 3-0. I was going through nasty divorce at the time and not in the mood for partying, but my friends Ruth and Lesley took me out for dinner at Luigi's, which was the best authentic pizza restaurant that ever existed. I can still remember the Napolitana. Olives and anchovies.
35th - The Foundry pub, Northampton. Always loved this photo, not least of all because there aren't many of me, my brother and sister all together.
My 36th. In the Rubicon casino, Northampton, which my then-boyfriend Marcus (standing) used to frequent. Opposite me is my friend Abi, but I don't know who the bloke is - some gambling mate of Marcus's.
Those who spent many hours at the Rubicon used to think it was great that they got free lavish meals (great breakfasts, or three course lunch/dinner), never considering that they'd paid for them a hundred times over....!
On my 37th it rained all day! Had stayed at my friend John's house the night before, and in the morning were walking the three or four miles home. Then the downpour came - had to give up and get on a bus, and we were so drenched, dripping onto the floor, that all the passengers laughed when we got on.
38th - the aforementioned friend John threw a party for me at his house :)
Abi, John and my brother, Eddie.
My 40th - had a party at our house that started in the early afternoon, so that my parents and people with children - like my best friend from school, Ruth - could come before it got too raucous.
Much later... it's my party and I'll pole dance round the coat stand if I want to.
Then-husband and I spent the whole night in the garden because lots of people wanted to stay over and all the beds and sofas were taken.
43rd - in the King's Head, Cromer, Norfolk; had moved there two years before. The very beautiful Claire (on the right) had the same birthday as me, and we would usually have a drink together at some point during the day. Claire's mum Kirsty was the landlady of the Kings Head.
Birthdays in Cromer entailed drifting from one of the six pubs to another, and being bought drinks, I seem to remember. A very small town where everyone knew everyone, and life centred around licensed premises!
45th - actually the day after. In Sheringham, about five miles up the coast from Cromer. Julia and me at our friend Denise's cafe. I loved that top I'm wearing but someone nicked it off my washing line.
48th - a blowy night on Cromer pier, with Julia and John (and Steve who took the picture). There's a bar at the end of the pier, but many people just take bottles of wine etc to drink at the tables outside. Amazed it's allowed, but have had many a jolly afternoon/evening there!
The square pale yellow-ish building next to the long grey one in the background is where I lived at the time, a flat on the ground floor. Moved out a month later because it was cold and damp - but I loved living there, and being able to look out on the sea.
A couple of days after my 50th. Turkey. Too hot to wear make-up! (and yes, I'm wearing the same dress as I was in the picture from two years before!).
Little bit of background here: the holiday was actually a 50th birthday present from my employers - but I could only go to Turkey, as that was where their main suppliers were located (thus, business expense). Six weeks later, I told them I was leaving (to move to where I live now), so they scoured MySpace for evidence of a reason not to pay my final month's salary, thus recouping any money they'd spent on the holiday.
The offending pictures? A toy rabbit in various places around the engineering establishment. They got me on health and safety, and wasting work time.
Offending rabbit. He had his own MySpace page.
52nd. Love this photo! In our flat where I live now, with dear husband.
Another 'milestone' birthday (no numbers mentioned!) - an idyllic few days spent in Cromer for get-togethers with old friends Still the same - the afternoon traipsing from pub to pub, albeit more low key than when I was younger!
The latest in my series of mini TV and film reviews, with trailers and 'where to watch'. If you have trouble finding where any show/film is available in your country, this is a good site: Justwatch. Just put the name of the show into the search, and choose your country further down, from the drop-down menu. It shows where you can stream, buy or rent.
However... I've found it to be not absolutely up to date at all times. Sometimes I've had better results simply putting 'where can I watch ***' into the search engine, or going to the programme's own site, if it has one.
If you would like to see more posts, please click here: Lately I've Been Watching. If you get as far as the bottom, 'Older Posts' will take you to more.
Documentary: What is a woman?
5* plus ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(Available to watch HERE. Worth whatever it costs. )
Can't stop thinking about this, and may have to watch it again. Aside from asking the title question to a variety of people (including a gender studies university professor, a doctor who performs sex change operations and a therapist who gives hormone-altering drugs to children), Matt Walsh examines the current trend for encouraging children into the idea that they may need to 'transition' if they show a tendency towards behaviours traditionally associated with the opposite sex, or if they're unsure of themselves, or experiencing social anxiety, whatever.
We also see interviews with the other side of the medical/psychiatric profession who consider such practices abhorrent, and a trans man who, seven years down the line, has become an activist against the industry.
Incidentally, not one of the people asked could answer the question, or even appeared to understand why 'It's anyone who wants to become one' was not an answer. When Walsh said, 'Yes, but what do they want to become? How do you define the word 'woman'?', he received blank looks.
Limited Series: The Offer
(Paramount + )
About the making of The Godfather, taken from the book about the same by Al Ruddy, the producer. It's fascinating - and alarming how the film that is considered by many to be the best of all time, so nearly failed to be made. Stars Miles Teller, with whom I am not familiar, as Ruddy, Burn Gorman (a favourite of mine), Juno Temple - and Dan Fogler, aka Luke in TWD, as Francis Ford Coppola - he is terrific!
If you love The Godfather, you must watch it - it's great!
The first couple of episodes are an alternative reality, in which the moon landing didn't happen in the way we were shown on TV, because the Russians got there first. But, unlike in our dimension, in which American men allegedly made a leap for mankind so giant that in 55 years no one's followed it up, in For All Mankind the space programme speeds ahead at full throttle. It's about how family relationships are affected, about power struggles, media attention, and Cold War style shenanigans.
Joel Kinnaman's character, astronaut Ed Baldwin, is my favourite, and I also love Sonya Walger as Molly Cobb, a woman who fears her life may be over if she can't fly. If you've watched it, my least favourite is Karen Baldwin, wife of Ed. Never stops whining.
Miniseries: The Midwich Cuckoos
(UK: Sky, Now, Virgin. Not in US. Aus: Stan)
Updated version of the famous John Wyndham story. Keeley Hawes and Max Beesley star; they're both as good as one would expect. I liked it, but found some parts a bit unconvincing. And no, I don't mean the children with the glowing eyes.
Might have been better if they'd set it in the time it was written. Not everything needs updating!
Miniseries: The Staircase
(UK: Sky, Now. US: HBO Max)
Drama about Michael Peterson (Colin Firth) who was found guilty of murdering his wife Kathleen (Toni Collette). I knew the basic story because I've seen the documentary series about it, and it left me with many unanswered questions - that's the trouble with true life stories, you don't get neat endings!
It was strange to see an older Colin Firth, now looking quite jowly and so different from his housewives' heartthrob heyday. He was excellent, of course, and managed to make Peterson come across as shady, devious and unlikable. Toni Collette's Kathleen was lovely. Also stars Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones) as Margaret, Peterson's adopted daughter - how beautiful she is. Oh, and the ever-fabulous Michael Stuhlbarg (Arnold Rothstein in Boardwalk Empire, Richard Sackler in Dopesick) as Peterson's defence lawyer.
The story unfolds by going back and forth in time, which is so effective, as the full picture comes together. Gripped all the way through, I was.
Comedy Series: Barry - Season 3
(US: HBO max, Directv. UK: Sky, Now, Virgin)
I love Bill Hader, and this series is great - the paid hitman who discovers a desire to become an actor. Ghastly girlfriend Sally reaches a peak of ghastliness, then improves massively towards the end. Lots of violence. Good stuff, but I still like the first season best.
Comedy Series: Hacks - Season 2
(UK: Amazon. US: HBO Max)
Jean Smart is marvellous as Deborah Vance, the stand-up comedian whose career is beginning its downslide. Outspoken and bullshit-allergic, she's a perfect foil for her co-writer Ava, who has read and consumed the Woke Millennial handbook and followed its instructions to the letter. Very funny and entertaining all the way through; sadly, there was a certain finality to the last episode which makes me think that there will be no more.
Series: Bosch: Legacy - Season 1
Spin-off from the excellent Bosch series, in which Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver) is retired from LAPD and is now a PI. So glad to see that his daughter Maddie (Madison Lintz) is given main character billing - she's now a rookie cop. I've always loved the character of Maddie; Madison Lintz manages to make her totally real and right for her age, but never, ever bratty or irritating (Carol would be proud!). Also stars Mimi Rogers as lawyer Honey Chandler - shame that Jamie Hector only gets a cameo role, though.
The first series comprises several storylines, all of which are explored in every episode. There's something about it that isn't quite as sharp as the original series (it's missing a feeling of authenticity, somehow), but I still really liked it - and Season 1 ends on a terrific cliffhanger.
I have zero interest in football and never followed any of the 'Gazzamania' at the time, but this was such a good documentary. Showed how Paul Gascoigne was massively exploited, manipulated by the media to become the darling of the tabloids, then subsequently destroyed by them. He just seemed like a really nice guy, a simple northern lad with a great talent who was out of his depth the moment he became a national treasure. Of course one cannot condone the drunken brawling and physical violence towards his wife, but it seems that the tabloids and Mrs Gascoigne herself milked it for all they could.
Comedy Series: South Park: The Streaming Wars
Season 25 Episode 7 - Parts 1 and 2
I was really disappointed in this; is it because of the change to Paramount+? It felt like the show has gone mainstream rather than keeping up with the fearlessness of earlier seasons. Kind of stilted, with a fair bit of subliminal messaging going on that, previously, they would have taken the piss out of. Like it's sold out. There was a completely different feel to it; I think I only laughed once or twice. Turning Randy into 'Karen' seemed tired and too late, and just wasn't funny - South Park used to be way ahead, satirising stuff almost before we knew it was happening. Hope this isn't the shape of things to come.
btw, last night I watched some of the very early ones again - it wasn't my imagination, they really were much better!
Miniseries: Behind Her Eyes
Six episodes, from a book of the same name by Sarah Pinborough. Louise accidentally becomes entangled with a husband and wife, as lover to the husband and new bff to the wife. Obviously, this will all end in tears. There's a load of stuff about astral projection which got a bit too outlandish for me - not least of all the way that everyone who needed to learn how to do it for the plot to work, did so with the greatest of ease. Like, they'd just lie down and woo-hoo, off they'd go, floating through the ether.
Despite being unconvinced by all these disembodied neon-lit souls flying around London and the Home Counties, the end twist was very good, a real surprise. I'm not sure if it might make for major plot holes, though, if one was to go back over the whole story, knowing what one discovered at the end. It is good, though; entertaining.
Film: Beavis & Butthead Do The Universe
Very funny and well-observed. If you love B & B, you will not be disappointed. Not for the easily offended.
Film:The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
(UK: Virgin or rent on Apple +. US: Rent Apple, Amazon, Google, many others)
Curious film starring Nicholas Cage as a fictional version of Nicholas Cage (like Larry David does in Curb Your enthusiasm!), in which he is terrified of being past his best, a total pain in the arse, and gets involved with a crime boss played by the totally lush Pedro Pascal. Some of it is hilarious, though it didn't all work for me. Worth a watch, though.
Series: The Lazarus Project
I know it seems a little unfair to review a series with 1* having only seen the first episode, but a review is just a person's opinion, and I thought this was dire with a capital D.
Those who run the top secret Lazarus Project - represented by a woman who says 'fuck' rather self-consciously and far too often - know that the world has already ended several times. Each time, Lazarus is able to turn back the clock and make the apocalypse not happen. Usual messaging going on, like how JFK would have provoked nuclear war with Russia. Usual white woman with black man couple as main characters (I'm sure if I was an alien I would assume, from watching our telly over the past few years, that not only must all Earth couples be of mixed race, but the desired combination is white woman - black man. FYI, the actual ratio of mixed race couples in the real life population is around 1 in 10, in both the UK and the US).
The actual premise is not a bad idea, and appealed to me, but not like this. The acting is dreadful, but this could be, in part, down to the appalling dialogue and direction. The beginning, when the main character finds that he keep living days over again, is so rushed it's ridiculous. Happens a couple of times, he explains the phenomenon to his ghastly wife, and within a day or so she threatens to leave him if he doesn't agree to see a shrink, then the next morning she's off. Like, in about three days.
The introduction of the woman from Lazarus is ridiculous. She appears out of an alleyway in smoke (or so it seems) and says a load of clichéd stuff. It was more like a spoof.
Incidentally, have you noticed that the word 'fuck' is being used more often on television in normal speech over the past year or so? Regardless of class, age, station in life, social circle, too many characters use it as just a run-of-the-mill adjective/expletive, including the type of person who probably wouldn't say it at all, and in unlikely circumstances. Parents in front of children, children swearing in front of parents with no reprimand. Is this to dull our sensitivities? What next?