Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Music Has the Power

Olympic Stadium, Sydney

Funny how music has the power to transport you in time, change your emotions and make you relive good times.

It's raining here, it's chilly too and I was feeling a little bit down after all our lovely sunshine. I was listening to Ken Bruce on Radio 2 and then he played Kylie Minoghue singing "On a Night Like This". Suddenly I was back in the summer of 2000 at the closing ceremony of the fantastic Sydney Olympic Games. I might add I didn't have the good fortune to actually be there. Sadly, I was only watching it on telly, but it was still wonderful.

I remembered how great those Olympics were and that closing ceremony was just perfect. Remember that fabulous Priscilla Queen of the Desert bus, the Strictly Ballroom dancers, the surfers and the fabulous Kylie Minoghue? You just knew watching and listening to her that this was going to remake her and it did.

Thanks Sydney and Kylie, it was a great night to finish a fabulous Olympic Games and you made me feel much better today!

Unfortunately the embedding for this You Tube video doesn't work. Ignore the initial commentary, German I think, just relive the feelings and delight in that fabulous golden frock!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Watching the Detectives

I like the telly!

Well I did identify it as one of my guilty pleasures a little while back. I try not to watch daytime telly too much as I don’t get anything done. However during the daytime now that Wanted Down Under has finished, I really only watch Diagnosis Murder. Yes I know it’s a bit lightweight in the drama stakes and it’s often corny, but I love it. So now I’m listening to the radio in the morning, Radio 2 of course!

When I started to think about my telly watching, I realised that I mainly watch comedy and crime dramas as I don’t like the reality and talent type of programmes and I’m not into the soaps. There’s not a lot of decent comedy around so it’s mainly crime drama that I watch now.

What am I watching in the crime drama stakes at night? Well I’ve been watching Lewis, Inspector Morse’s old sidekick. It’s not quite in the same league as Morse however it's good but sadly it’s finished. Well there were only six, two hour episodes. I do like the two hour programme format that they introduced with Inspector Morse, they get more story into it and you don’t feel they’re cramming everything in to the last five minutes.

I’m also watching the new series of The Number One Detective Agency I posted about recently. I do love it. The scenery is great, the music is lovely and the characters are just wonderful.

Ashes to Ashes is back again thank goodness. It’s not as gripping as Life on Mars, but it’s good and funny too.

When I think back over the years there have been so many good TV crime drama series. The first one I remember was Dixon of Dock Green with the lovely Jack Warner as Sergeant Dixon. He was everybody’s idea of a what a British bobby should be like, even though he was well over retirement age when he made the series. I think it was that one that got me hooked on crime dramas!

Over the years there have been dozens I’ve enjoyed, some I never could take to and a few that I’ve loved. At Easter ITV3 had a programme on the Top Cops where you voted online for your favourite TV Cop Show. Well that’s what it said and although I missed the voting for the top fifty, I thought I’d get to see some of my favourites I haven’t seen in years. Well I watched for three hours and guess what? I didn’t get to see some of my favourites! I won't bore you with the whole fifty, only the top ten. Here they are:

10 - The Sweeney with Jack Regan and George Carter from the Flying Squad who were just about as bad as the villains they were chasing, rough and tough. Not one of my favourites.

9 - Rebus – the alcoholic troubled and tormented cop. Again not one I took to.
8 - Sherlock Holmes - He was played by over 100 actors but most popular has been Jeremy Brett. Still great to watch after al these years.

7 - Foyle’s War with Christopher Foyle the gentle, quiet and unassuming detective during second world war. One of my all time favourites and they're bringing him back for another series.

6 - Inspector Frost – A crumpled, dishevelled character who irritates everyone especially his boss, Superintendent Mullett. I love the humour and the real feel to this series.
5 - Inspector Morse – This has got to be the most intelligent and classy TV detective series ever made and in the wonderful setting of Oxford. I didn't take to it at first but I can watch it now over and over again now, and I do. First class TV!
4 - Midsomer Murders – Once described as Miss Marple on acid! This series makes rural England more dangerous than downtown Basra! However very easy viewing.
3 - Poirot – I love David Suchet as Poirot, he's amazing. It's a wonderfully produced series with beautiful clothes, wonderful touches of humour, brilliant actors and lovely thirties settings.
2 - Life on Mars – Oh this was one you couldn’t miss! You had to see whether Sam Tyler, the modern politically correct cop came out of his coma and got back to the 21st Century after an accident had sent him back to the perils of seventies policing. Brilliant and compulsive viewing.
1- The Professionals – Bodie and Doyle working for CI5 in an action packed programme full of car chases, fights and guns in the seventies. Not one I felt a great liking for and I find it hard to believe that this was the number one in the vote. In fact I find it impossible.

No I don't believe this was a fair ballot, not because The Professionals came out on top. It's because the fifty were selected for you and you could only vote for those that somebody at ITV had selected. What a swizz!

You probably noticed that all the top ten were British programmes, well there were lots of American ones in the top fifty such as Kojak, Magnum and Columbo. However I can tell you that some of my favourites didn't make the top fifty. Why? Because they were not included in the list!

Whatever happened to Harry O for goodness sake? I loved this series. Probably the best American TV detective series ever made. So which prize pratt at ITV 3 didn't include him?

Oh and what about The Rockford Files? Yes I know his character wasn't as well drawn as Harry O but it was great viewing and there were nice touches of humour.

Monk wasn't in the list, nor was Cannon, Due South and neither was the wonderful Newcastle based 55 Degrees North. So I think it’s time for me to whack off an email to ITV 3 to tell them what I think about their so called Top Fifty cop shows.

In the meantime I think I might take a nostalgia trip and do a few postings on my favourite detective shows. Watch this space!

Credit: Harry O photo front cover of The High Cost of Living - Lee Hayes

Thursday, 23 April 2009

It's Saint George's Day!

Flag of Saint George

It might be Saint George's Day and although he's the patron saint of England, it's not a public holiday so not much in the way of celebrations or people wearing the national flower, a red rose. Why not?
Well I think that's weird because the other countries that are part of the United Kingdom celebrate their patron saints days. You're more likely to see a Saint Patrick's Day parade on March 17th in England, than any celebration of Saint George on 23rd April. So why don't we celebrate Saint George's Day?
A recent survey show that little is known about England's national day being "celebrated" today and it's not really surprising given that there is so little about it publicised and celebrated. In the poll carried out by This England magazine:
  • Seven out of 10 young people in England have no idea when St George's Day falls

  • 40% said they did not know why St George is the patron saint of England

  • One in eight people said they found it embarrassing to see the St George Cross flying, due to the patriotic symbol having been hijacked by extremists for their own benefits
There is a real danger that in future, St George's Day could be deemed irrelevant to the younger generations of English people. So much for the Citizenship lessons that are part of the National Curriculum they've been delivering in school for the last few years!
The survey also reported that the majority of English people think that all St George ever did was kill a dragon. So what do we really know about Saint George?
Historians have debated the exact details of the birth of Saint George for over a century, the approximate date of his death is subject to debate.

It is likely that Saint George was born to a Christian noble family in Nicomedia, during the late third century between about 275 AD and 285 AD, and he died in Lydda, Palestine. His father, Geronzio, was a Roman army official from Cappadocia and his mother was from Palestine. They were both Christians and from noble families of Anici, so by this the child was raised with Christian beliefs.

They decided to call him George, meaning "worker of the land". At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother, Policronia, died. Then George decided to go to Nicomedeia, the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier.

Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father, Geronzio — one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedeia.

In the year AD 302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. But George objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best Tribune and the son of his best official, Geronzio. George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ.

Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Pagan gods. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted.

Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.

What about the best-known story about Saint George, his fight with a dragon? According to Wiki it's a myth brought back with the Crusaders.
Extracted from Wiki

We aren't the only ones to hold Saint George in high esteem. He's also patron saint of Aragon, Catalonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Greece, Lithuania, Palestine, Portugal, and Russia, as well as the cities of Amersfoort, Barcelona, Beirut, Bteghrine, Cáceres, Ferrara, Freiburg, Genoa, Ljubljana, Gozo, Pomorie, Qormi, Lod and Moscow.

Barcelona and Saint George

In Barcelona he's known as
Sant Jordi and guess what? The day is Barcelona's Valentine's day, a day when kissometer readings go off the charts. They celebrate the fact that Sant Jordi allegedly slew a dragon about to devour a beautiful princess south of Barcelona. From the dragon's blood sprouted a rosebush, from which the hero plucked the prettiest for the princess. So they have had a traditional Rose Festival celebrated in Barcelona since the Middle Ages to honour chivalry and romantic love. It's a day for men and mice alike to give their true loves roses.
In 1923, the lovers' fest merged with International Book Day to mark the anniversary of the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare on 23rd April 1616. (23rd April was also WIlliam Shakespeare's birthday). Over four million roses and half a million books are sold in Catalunya on Sant Jordi's Day, men giving their inamoratas roses and the ladies giving books in return. Bookstalls run the length of the Rambla, and despite the fact that April 23rd is an official workday, nearly all of Barcelona manages to play hookey and wander.

Spanish Property World

Now maybe we should all take a leaf out that book if you pardon the pun. Well let's face it, they really do know how to party in Barcelona!

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam  a lot to buy it for me...