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Life Chez Gark

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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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.

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