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Children of men

What a great film.

Good enough to want to see again, immediately.

Also, apart from all the obvious stuff that struck me, it made me feel nostalgia about John Wyndham stories. Nice, plain speaking middle class (white) chap, up against the horrors of the science fiction future, which included fertility, pregnancy and babies - it had Wyndham written all over it. Ad then it turned out to be from a story by P.D. James! Which I'd entirely forgotten since it came out.

Anyway. Very interesting. Clive Owen - much better than I thought he ever would be; Michael Caine - just wonderful. Wonderful. Art direction absolutely spot on, and the direction itself... well. Interesting, amazing, tnse, inspiring.... a great science fiction story, well told.

Meanwhile - James still chesty, Nora still clear.

24th September and counting

Well. James has started wheezing. First cold of the season has brought his asthma out of the sun-drenched  temporary retirement it was enjoying. He's currently asleep (steamer busy pumping out hot water in to the bedroom atmosphere).

It's all downhill from here for oooh, 7 months or so. If only we could up sticks to Morocco* for the winter.


*Insert interchangeable hot, dry, interesting/cheap location here.

Oompa doompa doopity don't

As I write, I am watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", in preparation for Nora watching it, and beginning her journey toward the land of media criticism, having already experienced Tim Burton's film t'other week. Several times.

God, it's awful. I mean it's really bad, in the way that in the sixties for some reason, all films for children had to have songs all over the place, and veer toward gross sentimentalism. Except... well. That was what I was going to write, but as soon as Gene Wilder hit the screen, the revolting awfulness seemed to almost become tolerable. It was during the era that Wilder was at his strangely charismatic best, and he gets the slightly shambolic, awesome, creative magician just about right. There's a delicious, Dahl nastiness in there too but oh God the songs are awful. Weirdly, written by Anthony Newly! That would make John (my Dad) snort down the phone from Perpignan, and sit back in his chair, with a glass of wine, relating Anthony Newly tales from a film and TV past, topped off with Gene Wilder and inevitably, Mel Brooks.

It does make for a reappreciation of Tim Burton's film, which (excluding the dreadful backstory making the whole story about a psychological journey to "family" and ugh, God, I can well imagine what Roald Dahl would have said about that) in comparison to this disaster area is a beautiful realisation of the novel.Tim Burton is one of those directors whose films you look forward to with relish, but who leaves you only half satisfied, time and time again. Art direction, always magificent. Costumes, glorious; leading ladies somewhat inevitable; imagination like a flowing chocolate river BUT in thisw case, The big, and I mean really BIG problem is - and oh, as a full blooded female in her thirties I'm horrified to say this: Johnny Depp. The adult-child-savant-object that Depp created is a freakshow. Amusing, but a charisma free zone. Wilder knew that Wonka had to be arresting, extraordinary, startling, brittle and full of energy. Depp's Wonka looks as if he's about to die of consumption, with a mental age of 11. It just don't work. Too studied, too inhuman and it just doesn't wash.

The really interesting thing was that Nora didn't think much of him either. He wasn't the Quentin Blake inspired  Wonka that she thought up. Good for you Nor.

She knows we recorded the Wilder film, which means we've got to let her sit through it, even though it's monstrously over-long and terrible.  Hopefully  she'll think it's bloody awful.

The relationship between celebrity and the British tabloid / throwaway press

For those not in the UK or indeed, London, there is a new phenomena which has threatened to make the national "key cities" distribution of Metro look like an era of comparative Guardian reading in comparison. Every evening as people rush to tube stations in order to flatten themselves in to any vehicle moving away from their workplace as fast as possible, they are assaulted at street level by desperate beggars, who plead, and thrust free copies of "London Lite" or "The London Paper" in the space under your armpit, or perhaps in to the carrier bag you're holding, before you can say no.

In Paddington these poor bastards aren't too bad, but I had the misfortune to run in to a couple at Leicester Square today and it felt like I was being mugged by a telephone saleman from Carphone Warehouse. No, no, get off me, I don't want your damned "newspaper"!

These papers that masquerade as actual 'news' carriers tend to focus on unverifiable lies about famous people, and paperazzi pictures of famous people. It doesn't actually matter to them what those people are famous for. Pop star, scientist, journalist, parent of a potentially murdered 3 year old... if you are known, for any reason, it seems, you are not just fair game but you are now a verifiable target of attack. Because that's what it feels like now.  If you in any aspect of your job seek to gain the attention of the press, it seems that the editors of these loo paper alternatives have decided that it is their moral right to photograph every inanity of your life, and potentially drive you to the edge of your sanity whilst doing so. And fuck! That makes such grrrrrrreat newspaper coverage, we sure thank you kind people for letting us photomontage your breakdowns!

The McCanns (parents of the young child who went missing in Portugal, as if you didn't remember) have been subjected to a daily barrage of totally unverifiable gossip from Police "sources" stating as fact that for example, her body was dumped in the sea and will never be found; they drugged her and they've got the evidence to prove it, etc, etc - all front page headline news, interspersed with the revelations that 'Kate McCann is on the verge of cracking up'. Jaysus, is it any fucking wonder? Turns out there's no evidence to speak of, the Judges see no reason why they should be interviewed again and the Police are busy trying to find what happened to the poor child.  The absence of actual news forced these god awful rags to actually make up the news and parade it as it it were true.

Now if they're talking about Amy Winehouse (who is frankly, un-newsworthy in any respect unless she wins an award some place - in which case a thing has happened, therefore there is some actual news associated with her), which they do, *daily*, they focus on the girl's supposed drug addiction, and  alcoholic "binges" as if it was of any importance whatsoever. To anyone. To the extent that this somewhat slight woman, who has released 1 album, must be surrounded by photographers everywhere she ever goes. I ask the obvious question: is it any wonder that she's a bit freaked out by it all? I mean, wouldn't you be? Did she sign up to "Celebrity Big Brother"? Is attempting to forge a career as a serious singer of serious songs (look, I'm not that keen a listener by the way, but at least she's more interesting than American chart R&B) equivalent to  hawking your miserable, talentless profile in order to  talk about "Cake"? I mean you'd have to be a cold hearted bastard to somehow concoct a reality where that is true.

According to these new gospels, there is no difference *at all*. Well. I say that. There is a difference - it really helps if you're a woman. If you're a woman, and famous for anything at all that involves smiling (which actually means you might not ever have done anything worthy of note of any description, but you might have a famous Dad, for example) you can now never, ever become inebriated in public again. If you a man, please, go ahead and lead your perfectly average life when off duty from doing your potentially famous day job. You may be subjected to a single photographer politely taking your photo when you leave The Ivy, but unless you are a self confessed talentless moron, who is merely desperate to be famous (a la  that Johnny Tourette object), or you make such a vile / violent arse of yourself it simply cannot be ignored, these free sheets will wave you past, whilst they wait to dog every single footstep of Kate Moss, Lily Allen, Girls Aloud, Amy "wino" (ho ho! D'you see what we did there!) Winehouse, Kelly Osbourne, the hapless teenage daughters of Bob Geldof....

... and so on. No one is that interesting!

I sometimes think about what it must be like for these people, because they are now in a rat trap from which they can't escape. Britney Spears now has no option but to retire, but where in the past, the likes of Tiffany, or Debbie Gibson, were allowed to leave the spotlight and live out their lives in a manner of their choosing, Britney's entire life seems to have become forfeit. The poor, stupid kid is so fucked she seems incapable of dragging herself away from the trainwreck. Will she be driven to a suicide attempt? it'll be great news if she does. Front page! How about Kate McCann? Look at these photos, she looks so strained... go on Kate. Do it. Do it for the boys in the press, eh?

It's sickening.

...and I read them, along with every other fucker, when I've forgotten my book.

And thus sayeth the child

After we read "Hop on Pop" for the first time in ages...

Cup... cup pup!

Bless Dr Seuss. And I do.

Plus, a kind of rasping version of "Conkers" is occurring, as well as, I dread to say it "Macapaca".

Sigh. Nora didn't even watch TV until she was nearly 2!

So I made up for it today by getting a blow up globe from Stanfords, which was duly played with excessively in the bath.

But something's definitely happening with James' speech - it's changed in the last couple of weeks. There are consonants and definable sounds sprouting all over the place, other than the default yodelling rise and fall of "Yoouuuueyyyyyyaaahhhh" or indeed "Bubbow"  - the multi-purpose phrase for all circular situations.

It's the Autumn

Colds are descending.

I wonder whether we should get the kids the flu jab, what with their wheezinesses?

James' tummy has huge tracts of red sore places, such that they look almost like fungal blooms on the skin. He has a horrible day the other day, when he was so sore, when I started putting his usual gunge on his skin, he screamed in agony, and we sat, singing nursery rhymes, slapping cold flannels on his tummy, in front of the sink.

Not the best moment.

We're going to have a checkup.

In other news, I am gearing up to go and see my Doc about mood swings. I'm hoping that she'll understand how well I know my circumstances, and my... not acute problem, but strong problem, put it that way.

Mr Mackay

went swimming, at 8pm. I was downstairs making my sandwiches for tomorrow.

At 10.45pm, after Heroes had finished (allow me that one indulgence... on top of the many others, please),  The unease had grown enough for me to ring his mobile to see where the hell he could have got to.

The swimming baths are less than 10 minutes walk from our house, and they close at 10.

His phone rang and rang and went to answerphone.

I gave it another 5 minutes.

I began pacing the floor, nervously, various worst case scenarios beginning to inveigle my mind with nasty, awful thoughts.

I phoned him again. It answered.

A weak voice said "Hello" - I could only just work out what it said... "Mackay! Darling, where are you?!"

A croaky voice answered slowly: "I am in my bed".

He never even got out of the door. Went to sleep instead.

I laughed.

Serendipity, you fuck


We started watching The Sopranos years after it started, and we rented the DVD's (look, downloading is fine, but for a nice night in, crowding round my laptop is not my idea of a good time). easons came and went, and suddenly, we found ourselves starting the last series.

Only to finish the last commercially available DVD on Friday, just 2 days prior to the first of the last 9 episodes appearing on E4.

How the hell did *that* happen?!

Fireworks advice for a curious 3 1/2 year old

We're not going to be able to avoid it this year.

Nora is insatiably curious about everything she comes in to contact with, and she's already mentioned fireworks, with regard to general autumnal type 'stuff'.

I've done a lot of innoculation against firework shock via facebook photos and frankly terrible uTube videos. But what do do? We live approx 5 minutes from Streatham Common, where they do a fireworks display every year. Un/fortunately, they let them off at the top end, near us. It's a double edged sword for two specific reasons. Good reason = close to home, easy to get her back indoors if she freaks out (highly likely) plus, we don't have to go too near the common, in order to get a prety good view of the fireworks. Bad reason = it's so close, the noise levels outside are astonishing, and if you are slightly nervy wee Nora, very, very frightening indeed.

The biggest difficulty is that we live in amongst rows of old Edwardian houses, which are tall, with high roofs, precluding any, and I mean ANY enjoyment of fireworks from inside a nice comforting bedroom, looking out of the window (particularly since we live in a downstairs flat). So we are going to have to venture outside with her, go to the end of our road, and hope for the best. Also hope to God that the local neighbours don't choose to have bloody backgarden fireworks on the same night. I have no wish to be running the gammut of a bunch of booming explosions, whilst belting home with a terrified Nora - which is not past the realms of possibility. She is a nervy wee thing, after all.

I love fireworks, and I know she instinctively wants to love them. It's a question of whether, franlkly, we can keep her away from them for another year. A nearly 5 year old Nor will be alot more able to handle wehat's going on than the nearly 4 version. This year's model has every intention of being big, grown up and brave about anything you throw at her. Unfortunately once the throwing starts, she tends to freak completely.

Hmmmm. We'll see.

meanwhile, I've promised Nor that we will do a jack o'lantern. There's absolutely no chance that she's going to do trick or treating (we don't know enough kids locally to make it worrthwhile for her - next year she'll be at a different, more local nursery and it'll all be very different) but what I'm thinking is, we could make 2 or 3 jacks, place them on the front wondowsills and then she can help give out sweeties or whatever for half an hour before a slightly late bedtime. Maybe she can do that in a costume? Hmmm.

btw - did you know that the first jack o'lanterns were made out of turnips, not pumpkins? Your strange but true fact for today.

James' first "swim"

A little later than Nor, but James lived up to expectations by not crying, clinging like a bloody limpet for most of the time, but when forced (ie: held out a little), kicking his legs and not really appearing to be too scared at all.


And Nora, well not only can Nora swim, I mean, swim with her armbands on (and apparently, McK has been letting a teeny amount of air out of them. I suggested that we get her on to holding out a couple of those polystyrene boards to improve her leg kicking before he goes too much further, so that the transition from one to the other is relatively seamless. Jaysus though, will her hands even be big enough to hold 2?

She's so proud, and I don't blame her.

My God. She has no limits, at her age. She just Does Stuff. And carries on doing it, in a completely unselfconscious way. Please, oh all encompassing physics of the universe (sort of thing), please innoculate my daughter against that sucubus of evil, Fear of Failure. Please let me not end up planting the brain disease of dodgy self esteem inside her by accident.