Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lest We Forget

Someone asked me last night if I had any relatives in the war(s). To my knowledge I do not. I guess I may have some distant relatives who served, but we were always a relatively disparate family. I did not know most of my relatives past first status. After I was about 9 or 10, I rarely had any contact with most of my uncles, aunts and cousins. My only regular contact with extended family was my mother's brother (half-brother I think), his wife and their two children.

To my further shame, I don't know what my father's military experience was. There's this photo of him in uniform, and a few others, so he had some association with the military. But I'm pretty sure he never saw any action. If either of my grand-fathers were in the war, I never heard about it. They both died before I was old enough to think about such things.

So apart from the usual fascination young boys have for war and blowing things up, and a philosophical interest in the concept, I have not had much to do with war, or even things military.

Some years back I discovered a deep connection with the American War Between the States (the Civil War that was mostly anything but civil). Until then, most of what I had seen or heard about war came from movies, TV, and Commando comics. Which, one has to agree, do nothing to portray the reality of war. It was not until I began to study the Civil War that I started to get an idea of just what war was really like. The horror. The death and destruction. The terror. The potential for

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spot the Tourist - Cycle Trips of Death

Spot the Tourist - cycles in Hagley Park

With all due respect I cannot imagine a worse holiday than cycling around some foreign country.

Notwithstanding a violation of the Number One Universal Rule that states thou shalt not work on your holiday, I am firmly in the school that says a "holiday" must be spent in a swanky hotel, sipping Harvey Wallbangers by the pool (not the sea...another blog post). Otherwise it's not a "holiday"! Cycling around some foreign country seems to me to be the ultimate self-flagellation.

When I worked at the airport, with frightening regularity - I'm talking every day - we would watch cycle tourists arrive from overseas, struggle through Customs and MAF with those huge boxes that look like manila envelopes. They'd transport them perpendicular on the trolleys and knock little children and old ladies over, and if the tyres weren't full of heroin or cocaine, they'd make their way to the dedicated "cycle assembly" area. Well, some of them would. The majority simply opened up their box in the middle of the arrivals greeting area and started to assemble their bikes right there in the middle of the crowd.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Calendar Girls (not the strip club)

 "No front bottoms!" "Flesh sells!" "Can anyone see my nipples?"

These may be (in)famous lines from one of the West End's most popular plays, currently on stage at The Court Theatre (and until April 28).

Surely everyone, by now, knows the story? Conservative (ostensibly) Yorkshire Women's Institute ladies turn Calendar Girls for the good cause of raising money for Cancer research and, perhaps, the naughtier cause of spicing up their lives? You've seen the movie.

Having lost her husband to the dreaded disease, Annie's (Annie Whittle) and BFF Chris' (Jude Gibson) motivations are clear. The others', a cross section of femininity from elegantly ancient Jessie (Janice Gray) through anxiously demure Ruth (Avril Thresh) and confident page-three-lookalike Celia (Ali Harper), to the belligerently effervescent Cora (Juliet Reynolds-Midgley who is *whispers* my favourite of the sextet!) motivations are not so obvious, except for the want of supporting their friend.

What ensues is titillating mirth at its best.