Thursday 17 April 2014

Double double

Here's a couple of pictures.  One is a screen shot from the Danny Boyle film Trance (a sort of low-rent Inception...sorry Danny), and the other one I took three years ago.  I quite like that we both had an eye for the same shot.  You too can take the same picture at Southwark tube station

Last night we went to see The Double, another Richard Ayoade creation.  We (as in I) thoroughly enjoyed his first film Submarine and so we (as in we) have been very excited at the prospect of this film.  He's a remarkably talented man.  So having seen it, opinions are split:  me vs everyone else in the house.  It's based on a Dostoyevsky book of the same name so was never going to be an easy watch.  But for me it was brilliant.  It had all the characteristics and hallmarks of a short (I love watching short films) and managed to maintain the emotional and visual intensity over a full 90 minutes.  Beautifully acted, beautifully filmed, it conjured up a stunning environment (reminiscent of the best of Terry Gilliam) which conveyed the protagonist's descent into madness.

Tuesday 15 April 2014

Full of gas

The nightmare that is British Gas and National Grid has continued.

The boiler installation was finished on Friday.  By Saturday it wasn't working.  The engineer who was called out made it very clear that he wasn't happy to come out.  Essentially he did a Bill Gates...switched it off and switched it on again before he disappeared into the night.  When it stopped working again on Sunday, he refused to return.  The woman at the end of the line at British Gas claimed that as they'd used a sub contractor, it wasn't a British Gas problem.  Fortunately it was The Cat's Mother who was talking to her as my reply would have referenced her parentage.   Monday morning was spent sending e-mails to various British Gas employees who to a greater or lesser extent have contributed to the debacle of the last few months.  I included the CEO just for the hell of it.  Of course I don't expect a reply.  I did get various replies on their Facebook page...such is the power of social media.

First there was the man who patched the pavement, then the man that patched the road, then the man that took away the road signs, then the man that filled in the trench, then the man sent to remove the safety barriers.  He noticed that the paving had not been replaced so took only the barriers on the drive.  National Grid are *required* by their own rules to complete the restoration within five days of completion of work. So in a classic case of 'double plus plus speak', they sent a second notification of completion six days after the first to give themselves a further five days.  Orwell would be proud.

Friday night was a charity whist drive which just feels like the sort of things my parents would do.  I might have enjoyed it, but that doesn't stop me feeling conflicted.  What made me giggle was just how competitive some people could I just put down one card after another not caring whether I won or lost, but that did seem to hack some people could tell the competitive ones by their steely looks and how closely they held their cards to their chest.

An interesting dynamic this week as The Cat has brought her boyfriend home for four days.  We'd have liked to have been introduced to him before he was imposed on us almost a week, but young love is particularly self-centred.  He was squirreled away upstairs when he arrived without a 'hi', brought down to meet and greet The Cat's Mother whilst I was elsewhere for half an hour and then he re-materialised an hour or two later for dinner.  I met him for the first time over a nice piece of beef and some brussel sprouts.  He's a pleasant enough fellow which is good.  Your offspring's choice of partner is always interesting.  The Boy always assumes I'm opposed to whoever he has turned his fancy to...not at all...I'm happy if he's happy. But I doubt he'll ever believe that.  This is the first time The Cat has brought a boy home, so I do wonder what thought she has put into it...or whether she hasn't felt the need to.  The Cat's Mother has been on tenterhooks all week about the whole thing.  The Family all expect me to exploit her nervousness, but I can see she's fragile.  So much as it goes against the grain my sense of humour has been kept firmly to myself.

Back in the USSR, it's quite sad to see the instability that has enveloped the Ukraine.  Some of this has undoubtedly been brought about the corruptness of the Ukrainian political class, but some of it clearly comes from Mr Putin and his henchmen, and yet another part of it certainly comes from the expansionist policies of the West.  What seems completely unfortunate is that we are moving back to an age that I am sure we had all hoped was history.  West vs East, the Iron Curtain, the Cold war.  It does feel that the greed and ambition of the politicians is once more taking us a long a difficult, dangerous path.  My best guess is that some or all of eastern Ukraine will fall to Russian control leaving a legacy of mistrust and antagonism that will continue for decades.  Does anyone remember Sochi?  Yes, the winter Olympics were supposed to be a show piece for the modern Russian state...but instead is more likely to be compared to Berlin 1936.  In the twenty-first century that does seem a bitter pill to swallow.

Back in the UK, evidently schools in Birmingham and Bradford are all coming under influence and control of Muslims who are imposing Muslim values and Islamic teachings rather than British values.  Well of course, that is wrong.  But the question is what are British values?  I've long said that we have been failed by politicians who have failed to create a vision of Britain now and for the future.  At best the waters are muddy...too long as the liberal approach taken hold without recognising that most people want to live within a clear set of rules, regulations and cultural values. This sort of thing is bound to happen when large parts of our society have stronger allegiances to their own value set because they down have something else to focus on.  I expect this particular problem will be dealt with whilst the bigger issues continue to be ignored....