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Life Chez Gark
chap
nmg

A bit of a life roundup for the past week. First off, the cat. She might have stayed around for an extra day, but she buggered off the following day. I suspect that it was the move from luxury single sachet cat food to multipack Waitrose own-brand cat food that did it. The garklet seems to have taken it well, and has accepted the explanation that "she's gone back to her family" (which in all truth is the most likely outcome), and hasn't settled for "she was driven away by next door's army, and is now cowering under a bush with tiny, frozen paws, etc". He still asks after her most days ("gat? ee-ow?"), which is very sweet.

The big event in the young lad's life is that he turned two on Sunday. ias has said more about this, so suffice to say that he ate too much cake and ice cream, and really enjoyed playing with my sister.

He then promptly came down with a stinking cold (proper 40-a-day cough), and had to be taken out of nursery early on Monday. We then promptly came down with it - I took yesterday off, and ias probably should also have done so. We've both been off today, and our likely disposition tomorrow is an open question.

In the past, we've both complained about our poor timing when ill; when you want a good black and white film on daytime TV, there are none to be found. Fortunately, things have been rather better this time. So far I've watched (or napped through) the following:

  • Threads: I didn't see this when it was first broadcast (although I do remember the cover of Radio Times), so I was rather grateful when ias's parents bought me the DVD for my birthday. It sounds rather daft, but I wasn't prepared for just how bleak it would be - and I'd been prepared for an awful lot. Had to pause for ten minutes in the last third and go and do something else instead. I'm very glad that I've seen it, and I'm not sure that I want to watch it again in the foreseeable future. After this, I decided that both of my choices for the next film to watch (Grave of the Fireflies, and Edge of Darkness) were probably a bit too much, so instead I watched...
  • Ratatouille: My sister bought this for the garklet, so I thought that I ought to review it before subjecting him to it. Still a bit old for him, but he should enjoy it when he's a year or so older. Generally charming, with some lovely sequences, but I felt that the critic's Proustian moment should have been properly Proustian (with a petite madeleine and a cup of tea). Whoever heard of someone going dreamy-eyed over ratatouille? But I digress.
  • Next on the list were the final two episodes of Band of Brothers. I've been watching these as BBC2 show them, and have rather enjoyed them. Yes, it's a military soap (as a yoof, I was hooked on Tour of Duty), but it works well, mainly because of the talking head interviews with the veterans of E Coy (most of whom appear as characters in the series). The impression I have is that it's fairly historically accurate, and the series certainly deserves all of the plaudits that have been heaped on it.
  • Today's treat was not just a black and white film, but one that made my top of one of my Top Five lists: Went the Day Well. Still a cracking film, and an interesting contrast to Band of Brothers.

Also seen on Monday was Pom Poko, a Ghibli film about tanuki (Japanese raccoons). Rather fun, although the dubbing was rather coy at times; the tanuki's oversized testicles were referred to as a "raccoon pouch".


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I know Threads is hard and bleak, but I'm glad you have it. Because it may be hard for the garklet and my newborn niece to understand that there was once quite overpowering threat of global destruction. But as long as you have that to show him and if I get the chance to share some of my nuclear war fictional books, then this new generation might learn from history. So that makes the emotional effort of watching something like Threads worthwhile. Are you going to take the garklet to the Secret Nuclear Bunker when he's older ?

this new generation might learn from history

No other generation did, why should this one be any different?

I was 11/12 when Threads was on, and it utterly freaked me out. That along with a really detailed documentary around the same time about the effect of a single warhead detonating one mile above St Pauls, which was terrifing - and then at the end said "but of coure this one warhead, when in reality it would be dozens of warheads all over London, many of wich landing and adding nuclear fallout...". I remember trying to persuade my father that we REALLY needed a nuclear shelter in the garden.

Oh I read Children of the Dust and When the Wind Blows. And saw Threads. Oh and Z for Zachariah too. The whole idea of life as we knew it completely disappearing fascinated me.

I'm not saying start talking about it as soon as they are at school. But when they're about fifteen, sixteen. Then they should know that it's not so much that there hasn't been global conflict and peace but that the way we deal with conflict has changed.

I just wonder what kind of world these children will live in.

I remember trying to persuade my father that we REALLY needed a nuclear shelter in the garden

I think that I've mentally designated a fallout room and inner refuge in every house I've lived in.

We went to the bunker while ias was pregnant with him. I'll probably wait until he's at least ten before taking him.

btw, what fiction do you have? The ones that spring immediately to mind are Z for Zachariah and A Canticle for Leibowitz (and of course When the Wind Blows).

I haven't read Canticle for Leibowitz, but I have heard of it.

I read a book called Children of the Dust, which was about a direct survivor, a child born in a bunker and one born on the outside. It was OK. Not great Literature. I don't have as much SF as you two probably have.

The Bunker is interesting but it did smell very strange. Didn't like the smell.

There's no denying that 70's drama were a laugh a minute.

Fancy a packet of crisps?
Nah, I don't like Prawn Cocktail.

I'm imagining a post-apocalyptic version of Abigail's Party. It isn't pretty.

An amusing thought, what alarms me is the notion that dramas reflect the times in which they are made. Our ill economy and the fears of a greek style collapse implies we are due to get lots of dramas over the next few years that are relentlessly grim and downbeat.

I can see an epic tale featuring Christopher Eccleston, John Simm and Robert Carlyle as three homeless men sheltering in the ruins of a northern factory where they spend 1 1/2 hours being angry at each other. The end.

I've read about Threads before, and while I have a somewhat morbid appreciation of all things nuclear war (I once spent an evening when I should have been working on some inconsequential undergraduate coursework or other reading interviews with survivors of the Japanese bombings instead, and articles on the effects of increasing radiation poisoning are always fascinating), I think the soap-opera social grounding that probably makes it as a film would annoy me far too much.

(It's also interesting to read about the censorship troubles making earlier films like The War Game and The Day After.)

The War Game is next on my list to see.

I had an interesting conversation with my dad a few years ago, on the subject of his National Service. He did most of his service in (I think) Dortmund then Woolwich, where he served as the company clerk of Chestnut Troop, A Battery of the Royal Horse Artillery. He has joked that, if he'd been involved in any ceremonial procession in which the RHA was marching with its guns, the order of precedence would have meant that (as the first clerk in Chestnut Troop, itself the first battery of the RHA), he would have been marching very close to the head of the British Army (only the Household Cavalry march ahead of the RHA, but only when the RHA are without their guns).

At the end of his service, he spent a few months undergoing civil defence training, which was mainly about rescuing people from collapsed buildings in the wake of the inevitable Soviet nuclear strike on the UK. The public information and training films from the same period (the early 1950s) treated a nuclear attack as something survivable, which with hindsight seems rather optimistic, but I suppose that you're unlikely to get civil defence troops to do much if you give them an accurate estimate of their likelihood of survival, and that of those that they're trying to help.

I'll bring Threads in today, if you want to borrow it.

The Royal Horse Artillery - Princess Anne with a gun.

It was Sexton SPGs during my dad's time.

To add lighter tone at five our eldest loves Ratatouille: so I expect yours will to in a short while.

It won't take long, for certain.

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Alas, this was on TV, so I suspect that the subtitles would have been a transcription of the dub.

I rather surprised myself by watching and enjoying Went The Day Well too, having read its rave reviews in Radio Times. I found the relish with which they all slaughtered the 'Nazis' surprising, until I considered it was a war time film. No doubt cinemas full of people cheered at the time.

Band of Brothers' accuracy is a bit of a debating topic.

Quite apart from Ambrose's notoriety as an completely and entirely accidental plagiarist, he's also a bit of a hacky historian.

He interviewed some of the E Company men, but on occasions the ones he didn't interview have different recollections of events.

And then he deliberately "fictionalises" some of them stuff.

And then the TV crew gets hold of it all...

There is a site somewhere which details some of the more noticeable errors and omissions.

One big one I remember is that the young chap who was shot in the throat by a sniper and died a couple of days later (2nd episode?) in fact was shot in the shoulder, recovered, was demobbed, re-enlisted, fought in the Korean war, was demobbed, re-enlisted, taught at jump school and only then died of cancer.

~Katie

Cheers Katie - should have known you'd have the gen on BoB.

I was hedging my bets by describing it as 'fairly historically accurate'. For example the depiction of the Ardennes Offensive in BoB was probably more accurate than that shown in Battle fo the Bulge (not difficult, true). Not sure how the depiction of the Normandy landings (specifically the parachute landings) compares to The Longest Day, so that might count as a draw.

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