Friday 19 March 2010

A shambles

Just for a change...nothing from me about another mistake....but instead a picture:

The Shambles in York has been voted Britain's prettiest street. I remember going there as a student to visit some friends at the Uni. Well yes, the buildings are lovely, and the narrow, twisty street is quite endearing. But for heavens sake...look at all those estate agent boards and the ice cream signs...they don't exactly enhance the look of the place. Naturally, I'm biased twoards the Lanes in Brighton anyway. But in any case, shouldn't this street clutter be controlled?

Sorry...bad night's sleep last night. Need to let off steam!

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Covered in glory

I've always enjoyed the cinema, but when the boy came to live with me on a permanent basis it became difficult to juggle single-fatherhood with an active social life. As a consequence I became a regular buyer of DVDs, and watched them on a projector that would beam a picture six foot across on to the sitting room wall. If I'd bought a popcorn machine, I'd have been in seventh heaven. This arrangement worked pretty well when he was younger and going to bed at 8, then 8.30, 9.00 and even 9.30. But by the time he was heading up to bed at around 10, my film watching days seemed to be over - it didn't seem fair (or something I wanted to happen) for him to be consigned to another room whilst I indulged in the latest 15 or 18 certificate movie. So although I've continued to buy DVDs, they seem to pile up on the shelf unopened, unwatched and unloved. A friend lent me a fabulous Korean film called Oldboy which after three months I've returned...unwatched.

It was with some excitement that I sat down last night and opened a Christmas present and slotted it into the DVD player. I'm a great fan of Tarantino, and having missed his latest at the Odeon, I was really looking forward to seeing Inglorious Basterds. And indeed, it pretty much started as I expected - a pastiche of everything that's bad about American War movies - poor title graphics, mono soundtrack...and I really liked the touch of having all the production team given Italian names...very good. It carried on, and the voices were nearly synced, the acting was the prefect take on B movie woodenness. The characters were caricatures - and the acting suitably wooden. I loved some of the explosions with bodies flying up into the sky obviously attached to wires - and the bit which made me laugh out loud was when the renegades came across a group of naked women, who turned on them with machine guns. Gratuitous it was and well done - although a bit like Deathproof, it was a joke difficult to sustain over the course of the whole film.

After an hour I was puzzling about the absence of Brad Pitt, and couldn't quite figure out who had won an Oscar for best supporting actor...I called to the boy and asked if he could Google it. He picked up the packaging and asked what I was watching. "Inglorious Basterds" I said. "Oh the one with Brad Pitt?" he replied. "Uh huh" I said. He looked at the packaging to reveal the terrible, terrible truth. "This isn't the one with Brad Pitt in. That's Inglorious Basterds. This is the original Inglorious Bastards. You're watching the wrong film."

Indeed I had been. For a whole hour. A whole hour of my life in a state of confusion and mis-understanding.

He was quite matter of fact about it. Obviously parents are stupid, so mistakes like that are inevitable.

I blame Santa. He has a lot to answer for.

Monday 15 March 2010

An almighty cock-up

In a Coals to Newcastle moment, we are off to Russia in a couple of weeks, and amongst our party of 14, everyone has decided to bring a bottle of vodka. Not just any vodka, but our list so far includes rhubarb vodka, horseradish vodka, cucumber vodka and (for the kids - allegedly) toffee vodka. No doubt this list will grow longer as the holiday gets ever nearer. And no doubt it will all be a lot cheaper when we get there. I'm taking whisky.

Sometime in the deep distant past last year, the boy was booked to go on Adventurous Training with the school cadets. It was so long ago that we didn't have a calendar or a diary to put the dates we noted them down on a piece of paper kept on the kitchen window.

Our Russian trip was recently booked with the dates having shifted a few times to try and co-ordinate everyone. And that's where the problems started. Although we only noticed last week. I am never the most organised of people, but this is about the worst I've managed.

We return from the land of the Tsars two days after the boy is due to depart to the North of England. And that would mean he will miss the activities he most wants to do do - mountain biking and gully walking.

So we have been searching high and low for a flight to return us early to Blighty. Of the flights on offer, we thought it best to avoid the £4000 British Airways flight - naturally only because they may well be on strike! And I've heard of the safety record of some of the Russian airlines.

There were a variety of cheap flights that would take us to exciting airports for a connecting flight - Warsaw, Copenhagen, Vienna, Paris and so on...and at a not unreasonable actually it started to become a bit of an adventure (or so I told the boy). The journey time was around six hours, which is not too bad...although Alitalia suggested an 18 hour flight...not sure where it went to, but I'm guessing it was somewhere hot and south of the equator. But as it happens, the travel agent has come up with a direct flight, and the cost of that is saved against the accommodation we no longer require.

The downside though, is that we land at half past five in the afternoon, and to get the boy to his destination we will need to drive directly up to the deep, distant frozen north - the school bus will have left a few hours before. It's a six hour drive...and much as I love the Jeep, it's not a high-speed autobahn cruiser.

This I regard as punishment for my own ineptitude (I have decided to ignore the suggestion from someone who shall not be named, that it is the boy's own fault for not spotting the problem..."Teenagers need to take more responsibility for themselves").

Now all I need to do is work out exactly where we've got to get to...these places tend to be a little off the beaten track...and we'll be trying to find it in the dark. Hopefully with all his training, the boy will be able to read a map...

It will be a long day indeed. I may need that vodka....