Category Archives: Television

Getting the giggles

I had no idea what it was about, but coming across this YouTube clip a few days ago, my spirits lifted. Considerably.

Having watched it again, I still don’t really know, which is understandable as I don’t watch This Morning. But I’m sure most of us recognise the situation; where something that is often very minor, suddenly makes you laugh until you cry and you can’t stop. When eventually you do stop, it’s the work of a split second to get going again. As Phillip and Holly do here.

I don’t often refer to such laughter and abandonment on Bookwitch, but I seem to recall the tulips. The memory of them still make me feel very jolly. What was so good that time was sharing the merriment with someone. I’d like to think I departed from that job, being remembered for being fun.

(Yeah, I know. You’re surprised, because these days I look quite thundery most of the time. But that’s only on the outside.)

I have a collection of cuttings, collected from all over the place. They are very funny. At least, I think so. They are the kind that would make me laugh all by myself, needing to wipe away tears of laughter. There isn’t usually any need to actually look at them, as the memory of first finding them can be enough to set me off. (The pineapple juice?)

I suppose I assumed we were all a bit like that. Not necessarily collecting cuttings, but enjoying a good explosion of laughter when it hits you.

Many years ago, I decided to be proactive at finding some social life after we’d moved to a new town. I had seen an article in the Guardian about the National Women’s Register, and it sounded like just my kind of thing.

The first meeting was OK, if nothing special. The next meeting really tickled me, as the topic was going to be funny things that make us laugh. I brought my whole collection.

It didn’t take me long to discover that what these women found funny was, well, not very funny. There were no laughs and my cuttings stayed in my bag.

Now, tulips, on the other hand…

And Golden Wonder potatoes!

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Between one M.A.S.H. and another

The other day, Son became one year older. This happens every now and then, to many of us.

30 badge

I got him a card, with a badge, with a number, which he wore for at least an hour or two. The Resident IT Consultant served up some Indian food, which was all the more welcome as we had banned Son and Dodo from coming here to eat on New Year’s Eve, due to lurgies.

pink tulips

And – having put them on the Resident IT Consultant’s shopping list – I was supplied with the tulips I’ve always hankered after on this day, feeling I needed to be rewarded for my contribution to all this.

I drew the line at baking a cake, though. I got some small caterpillars for our elevenses, of which I was able to eat the broken-off corner of one caterpillar ear. I reminisced about M.A.S.H. which was the last thing I watched before Son arrived, and it was also his very first television programme, mere hours after being introduced to his home. I have always been proud of how well I organised my television viewing, with no missed episodes while I was ‘doing’ other things.

caterpillars

This year, after the caterpillars, Dodo and Son went to Dundee to celebrate. As you do.

How to rewrite books, and other Christmas television

Due to, erm, technical difficulties when trying to access Christmas University Challenge, we were faced with something unpleasant on live television last night. Several times, due to several technical hitches, before Jeremy Paxman was able to tease some more of his volunteer ‘celebrities.’ As he said, some of them really weren’t very good at this.

The unpleasant live snippets happened around a quarter to eight on Boxing Day on BBC One. Without thinking very much about it, I registered I was seeing something I really would not choose to watch. At any time. Then it suddenly dawned on me what I was seeing; the 2018 Christmas David Walliams children’s book dramatisation. In a way I was glad, because it explained why I found it so unpalatable.

On social media I read people’s comments on the new ABC Murders, with the new Poirot. They really didn’t seem to like it. It wasn’t merely a case of the BBC rewriting an Agatha Christie, but a dislike for an un-Poirot-like Poirot, and getting the retro bits wrong, and the cosy murders were too noir. Or so I believe, anyway. I might not bother, but will stick with Paxman.

We watched Carols from King’s on Christmas Eve, followed by the reindeer in Norway, which struck me as a thoroughly Nordic kind of entertainment. Slow. Cold and white. But sort of fascinating. The reindeer herders had to stop traffic on the E6 for them to cross the road. Luckily it’s not as busy in northern Norway as it is in our bit of Sweden, or even near Rome, when the E6 went to Rome. (I’m not sure why and when it stopped. The E6. To Rome.)

When we arrived at Son’s and Dodo’s on Christmas Day, we discovered the elder Dodos were watching Carols from King’s. That was swiftly followed by the full Reindeer walking through Norway, again. They crossed the E6 again. Again, it was quite restful as entertainment goes. And much pleasanter than the DW misogyny the following day.

Is War Over?

David Almond’s new, short, book War Is Over is mainly about young John, who in 1918 keeps being told that he is at war. He – rightly – feels he is too young to be at war, as are German children. Whatever the adults say.

This story is mostly about the perception of Germans, and about the ‘cowards’ who earned themselves white feathers, like John’s friend Dorothy’s uncle, who hides in the woods, because he has dared suggest Germans are also people.

John is a lovely boy, and I hope he grew up to do something about this hatred of foreigners.

David Almond and David Litchfield, War Is Over

The book is richly illustrated by David Litchfield, and you’d want to read the book if only to look at and enjoy his illustrations. They are pure art, and so beautiful.


And then, thinking about how Germans apparently are not human beings like the British, I caught some of the Remembrance Sunday ceremony on television yesterday. I watched as afterwards, the President* of Germany led members of the British Royal family away from the Cenotaph.

My mind almost boggled. Here we had been remembering two wars against Germany, and here was the President of that former enemy country, not only present, but important enough that he went before the Royals. I almost had time for the thought ‘isn’t it great how far we have all come for this to be seen as the norm?’

And then I remembered what the politicians are busy doing right now.

(*His name is Frank-Walter Steinmeier, if you didn’t know. I didn’t either.)

Did I know that?

No, generally not. Or at least, I didn’t remember it. Not even to the extent that when it got mentioned again (really?) there was some flutter of recognition.

Anyway.

I asked Son if he saw any Nobel laureates at the Gothenburg Book Fair. He didn’t. I only asked because the Resident IT Consultant and I spent a recent afternoon getting rid of books. We got to one by Orhan Pamuk, and I checked it for a signature. Nope. ‘He signed a book?’ ‘Yes, we kept coming across him everywhere for a couple of years,’ I said. And then I spied another Pamuk book, which was allowed to stay, but I wanted to know if the imagined signature was in that one. It was.

I asked Son if he saw any archbishops. He didn’t. But he did add that he was annoyed at having had to miss an event with K G Hammar, seeing as he’d translated something that the emeritus archbishop had written about Dag Hammarskjöld. ‘I didn’t know that.’ ‘Yes, you did,’ he said. (I later asked the Resident IT Consultant what he knew. He knew nothing.)

Son did see, and have a drink with, Andreas Norman, whose thrillers he has translated. Seems the first one, Into a Raging Blaze, is – potentially – very close to becoming a television series. Move over The Killing, The Bridge!

I have also had reports back from School Friend, who was enthusiastic about her two events – with Stina Wollter, and Anna and Ola Rosling – and Pippi, who apparently met an author whose mother she used to play with when they were children. So, as I said, it’s a small country.

Designated Survivor

For the past week or so it’s like I’ve had itching powder in my clothes. I ‘just’ want to read more. Can’t concentrate on anything.

‘What is it?’ I hear you ask. ‘And who wrote it?’

I don’t fully know who wrote it. Might have been David Guggenheim. Or maybe he ‘only’ came up with the idea. This is television, and it’s not even brand new.

Thank goodness. Had it been totally fresh I’d have had to wait a week between my reads, as it were. This is ABC’s Designated Survivor, first broadcast 2016 to 2017, and now on Netflix.

The thing is, it’s very, very good. And we’ve been watching an episode every evening. I refused the Resident IT Consultant’s rash request that we watch two in a row. We needed to eke it out.

Checking on IMDb it looks like there are countless writers. Perhaps not one for each episode, but lots of them, taking turns. But it works. I see no gaps, and it’s all extremely taut. This will be why I keep feeling I need to get back to my book, and each time I realise it’s not a book, and I only get 40 minutes a day.

Kiefer Sutherland as Tom Kirkman, ©ABC

I have no idea if season two is as good. I’ve suggested we leave it until autumn, and that we watch something else in the meantime. I don’t know if this will work.

The really worrying thing is that the idea was presumably hatched when everyone expected a different political climate both in the White House and elsewhere. And with hindsight, that beautiful tool, we know that it went in a completely different direction and you sort of wince.

But it’s still good. If this was a book I suspect it wouldn’t have got published. That’s how good it is. Most television seems to be the mediocre stuff publishers feed us every day.

This year’s Bloody [Scotland] plans

If you thought that rubbing shoulders with crime writers at the Coo in Stirling, during the Bloody Scotland weekend in late September, sounds like fun, you can forget it. The event sold out in no time at all.

But there’s other daft stuff you could do, unless you delay so that these other events also sell out. Personally I fear this might happen more than I’d find convenient. You know, I don’t want to commit just yet. But I don’t want to be left without, either.

Bloody Scotland

There’s more than one event where crime writers do something else, like sing. Or pretend to be a television quiz show. There is even a musical, written by Sophie Hannah and Annette Armitage, which to begin with I believed to last seven and a half hours, but it’s just two ‘sittings’ so to speak. Or there’s the cast and crew of Agatha Raisin. You can go to the football. I haven’t yet, but there is no saying how long I can hold out.

If you fancy more ‘ordinary’ events where authors talk about their books, look no further. Bloody Scotland has a lot of them. I see James Oswald has a new detective. (I don’t like change!) There’s an event on breaking barriers with three Asian authors and one Icelandic one. Or there are more Icelanders in a separate event, if you prefer.

They have Swedes. Well, they have one real Swede, Christoffer Carlsson, from my neck of woods. He’s nice. Although not so sure about his murders. Then there is a French fake Swede, but who writes about Falkenberg, which I highly approve of. And someone else foreign who at least lives in Sweden.

It’s 2018, so violence against women has to be addressed. Our favourite pathologist is coming back. So is Pitch Perfect, where they let the hopefuls in. The Kiwis are coming, and Chris Brookmyre has got a new name as he writes with his wife.

They also offer some of the biggest names in the business, but you’ll need to read the rest of the programme yourselves. And come and see the torchlit procession on the Friday night!

Bloody Scotland Torchlight Procession