Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year's Eve

I'll let you into a secret. I'm a bit iffy about New Year celebrations and the coming of a New Year.

2010, for instance, has been a bit of a goer. Plenty happening on the life-death front. The Old Man attempting to shake things up again.

But... there's been a bit of a rebirth too.... Hey! I cannot forget the creation of this very Blog. The renewing of old friendships brought about by The Old Man's dramatic turn..... And then ...... there is my revitalised film career, courtesy of Mrs Doonuthin.

Speaking of which - you will soon be thrilled by another work. In which - The Old Man and me fail to keep a straight face when presented by Mrs Doonuthin's clay critters. It's entitled "Audition" and will be coming to your screen soon.

In the meantime I would like to say:

"Happy New Year - and a very successful rebirth to all you good people."

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Time for a Walk

Long Rock Beach. The tide is in. The wind is strong and from the east. Seaweed piled high in hillocks along the sands. Dogs dashing about everywhere. One is left to run up and down, up and down, along the tide edge - keeping a small flock of waders flying and on the move all the time. The dog's owner stands above on the footpath watching it's obsessive runs. Naturally, I feel for the birds. I know the dog won't get them. But it's winter. Hard times for birds to eat enough to keep their energy up. And here's this obsessive dog and it's vacant owner - running this little flock backwards and forwards.....

The Old Man and me turn back and watch a cormorant diving in the calm patches of the fairly rough sea. Quite close in to shore, it dives and surfaces - keeping pace with our slow walk back along the beach path.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mrs Doonuthin's Doings

Aargh! What is that?

The Old Man takes pity on Mrs Doonuthin and gives her a huge box of modelling clay for Christmas, don't he.

So I gets up this morning to find this thing stomping about the dining table.

Can I take this development I ask myself?
Still, I notice with satisfaction that the box of plasticine is labelled "suitable for 3 year olds". Ha! I should say so.
That would just about be Mrs Doonuthin's mental age, say I.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

GreyDoll and The Old Man wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas
...... and, please, can we have some Peace.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Beard Up

Christmas is coming.

Birthday Present

OK. So you may know that The Doll is a Sagittarian.
So yes, recently I did indeed have a birthday.
And I have to say that a kind admirer (he knows who he is) has sent me a DVD of La Traviata as wished for in the Diva Post (click here for reminder of that). And I would like to take this opportunity to say:

"Thank you indeed, kind Sir, it will be duly watched - and I shall be munching violet creams whilst I do so."

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Loony Solstice

I'm roused from a dozing sleep this morning by The Old Man shouting:

"Do you want to see the lunar eclipse?"

And how can a girl refuse?

Staggering to a window, fuddled up in me dressing gown, I stare where The Old Man is pointing into the dawny dark blue sky. There - a small orangey dot is pulsating.

"Hang on. I need me glasses." I stagger off and hobble back wearing the specs.

"Ooh yes." say I, as all is revealed and I see a full white moon being eaten into by the orangish shadow of the Earth.

We stand side by side in the west-facing window, me secretly hugging the warm radiator, and watch the slow and absorbing sight of the full lunar eclipse.

Neighbours' security lights flash on and off; the rubbish cart comes rumbling up the hill, a man leaps out, takes a neighbour's bin bag and hurling it into the back of the cart jumps into the cab, reverses the cart, and rumbles off; a neighbour comes out, tells off someone inside their house before returning, their security lights flash on and off; someone else comes out - looks around- goes back inside their house.

Above these events, two moonstruck faces stare out of a window into the early morning winter sky above the West Penwith hills. And the silver moon is slowly eaten up by a red shadow .... until a cloud bank and increasingly daylit sky finishes the show.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

R.I.P. Captain Beefheart

Following the news of Captain Beefheart's death on Friday, I fully expected to be blasted out of the room by The Old Man's vinyl version of the man himself's "Trout Mask Replica". But so far it hasn't quite happened. Although the record itself is sitting... waiting ... on the dining table next to The Old Man's hi-fi kit.

Myself, I was a Frank Zappa girl and did not pursue Beefheart separately. But, as I have said before, The Old Man often shows great discernment in these matters. So I await the inevitable "Trout Mask" session with interest.

If you are wondering what I am talking about... try the Captain Beefheart Radar Station for more info.

The Juggernaut Approaches

I know that you all is very busy. Howzit going on preparing for Juggernaut Christmas? Howzit going preparing for Juggernaut Christmas in the snow and ice?

This is to show that I can be a sympathetic person. And therefore I can understand if..... No-one wants to read my blog!

The Holy terror of the approaching Juggernaut .... and the added fact that I am capable only of talking about the querulous states of health of Me and The Old Man. (Who now sports a fetching gloss of Vaseline over the little hole made when they took a skin sample from a suspicious patch next to his nose. Is there no end to the medical accoutrements he sports, swallows or lathers himself with?)

I tell you - this blog has become very lugubrious and boring. If I was You reading Me - I would not bother checking in that often either.

Except for the odd possibility of a cartoon or something.

And on that subject, Mrs Doonuthin is getting more and more anxious to be doin more work with Moi in this creative area.... but she too appears to be knee-deep in Christmas cards, broken pens and ink blots, sellotape and screwed up paper. Though she did pause this morning to listen to Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs" again - this time with Nick Park (of Wallace & Grommit).

What's that dreadful sound?
Oh-Oh! It's the rattling wheels of Juggernaut Christmas being hauled towards us on icy roads.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Mrs Doonuthin's L-Plate Films: Christmas Morning

Christmas Morning from Mrs D on Vimeo.

By way of apology for my pathetic ramblings about The Old Man's bad back and earwax. Sheesh!
Here comes another one of my Star Acting roles.
And that mangy cat.

Mrs Doonuthin hopes that this will work on whatever you try using to watch it.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Donkey Work

So I'm very sorry that I don't seem to be keepin up to date very well here.

When The Old Man has a bad back... Oooh ... Aargh... Ouch.... He still has to shop on a regular basis. But....
He can't necessarily lift that much, can he? Or carry, like? So he has to have a donkey, don't he? And who is that donkey?
Well .... me, innit.
And what this means is that I do my jobs - and a good portion of his as well, don't I? Least that's what it most certainly feels like. And people meet and greet him, and sympathise .... and swap back pain notes. And I stand there, patiently.... with my arms slowly stre-e-e-tch-ing.

But I broke away yesterday and got him to let me out the car in Penzance.
"I'll catch the bus back." says I. And I did some Christmas shopping. And it was quite successful.

Truro? Schmuro!
Penzance has it all.
But I am very relieved to have managed some of that.

Have you managed any Christmas shopping yet?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Green Grass at Last

Ha! The snow has melted here. Careful of the slippy ice though.

Back to driving into town and stocking up the larder. The Old Man is oohing and aarghing around with a cane to help ease him and his bad back from one place to another. But what the heck. It's reason for yet another medical appointment. This time with a student in tow. How The Old Man loves an audience.

Oh yeah. And you'll find Frances Wood's Desert Island Discs here.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Moods and Weather

It is cold. As it is with most of you.

I am going stir-crazy with an icy lane and an increasingly immobile Old Man - whose back now hurts. I keep assuring him that it IS just back ache;(he can't see the crossed fingers behind my own back); issue him with a hot water bottle to strap to the spot; and tell him to move about a bit more.
I am all sweetness and light (well .... kind of...) and full of reasonable, sensible thoughts. And it is driving me crazy. But we have heat and food.

Our kind neighbour has offered to bring us back stuff from town - and he is going there by bus. It makes me feel very guilty. So - I have just snapped a temper and puzzled The Old Man a great deal. He is twitching for his newspaper, bird food, and milk.

I just scurry to my laptop and write this kinda stuff.

On another note - I am enjoying creeping around after Mrs Doonuthin at Vimeo and watching animation videos. Am also enjoying catching up with some of the blogs that I am following. You can find my Blog List over there, on the right hand side bar. Give them a go.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Stop Press: Desert Island Discs, 5 Dec 2010

Would you believe it. One of Greydoll's friends and helpers from the summer medical crisis is gonna be on Desert Island Discs!

I'm so excited. I'm such a fame-chaser.

Listen to the lady on Sunday 5th Dec 11.15 Radio 4.
It's an order.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

It Still Snows

The Old Man gets anxious about his newspaper. This is a daily fix that he cannot do without. He keeps pacing to the window and eyeing the ice in the lane like a blackbird cocking its head for the sound of a worm. If the ice turns to slush, he can get in his car and creep off towards the nearest newspaper point. After a while he gives up the project.

But late afternoon and The Old Man comes in to see me in the "sun room". He is distinctly moist of eye. He is also clutching his daily newspaper and a large bag of bird food. A neighbour has just returned from town and has remembered The Old Man's daily necessities.

The Old Man mops his eyes and retires to the fire with his paper.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Shouting and Waving

The latest trick that The Old Man is playing on me - is one of growing deaf. This is a periodic habit. His perfect Virgoan earholes and their twisting byways are wonderfully tuned for his woofers, tweeters, and hi-fi-ness but the day to day maunderings of the Greydoll gradually lose their power to penetrate His Majesty's hearing.

It is true that The Old Man has always been a martyr to wax. And one nurse says "Yes, time to do something about that." But the latest says that all is OK in there.

I panic. I see myself doomed to a life of poking him in the back to make him turn around and look at me when I'm speaking. And none of this is helped by his infuriating propensity for ..... talking. I mean, I enter the room to tell him something and he is already speaking - with his eyes still glued to the telly or his newspaper. Leaving me gasping and flapping like a stranded fish.

Please, please, don't do this to me. Don't leave me with a deaf chatterbox. Please find and extricate some bungage from those earholes. Please let him hear me once more. Blood pressure, warfarin, heart dodginess, general occasional frailty. OK. OK. I've accepted that. Nursey stands to attention. But please don't bless me with deafness on The Old Man's part.

I see it now. Greydoll quietly expiring in the corner of the room underneath a fallen wardrobe or something. The Old Man, still delivering a lecture on the failings of the current government whilst absorbed by the television screen. Completely oblivious to the Greydoll's fate.

Despite all her shouting and waving.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Down by the Water's Edge

The other day we go for that walk down Long Rock Beach. A beautiful cold, calm November day with the tide well out.

See. I took a photo for you to catch the feel.

Now, I like to take my cheap old binoculars to see what's what. The Old Man pours scorn on them but tis me what has to look and tell him what's going on out there. Cos I have no pride. I am cheap. And usually cheerful.

So - a large bird flying along between the sea's edge and some rocks further out - catches my eye. I peer through the glasses. "Hey," says I to The Old Man, "There's a heron flying along over the sea."

A while later I train my glasses back to the sea's edge. I'm surprised by what I see. The grey heron, stately and elegant, wading slowly along in the shallows - parallel to the shore. Head up, beak straight ahead, ignoring the odd dive-bombing crow - the bird is beautiful and somehow out of place.
I have never before seen a heron wade in the sea.

By the way, remember I was puzzlin over the three birds I saw in the same place the other week? (Click here that post.) Great Divers or geese? And we don't do geese much?
The Cornishman paper runs a little "birds seen" spot each week which gets it's data from the Sennen Birdwatch website (click here to have a look at that). So, it listed three pale-bellied Brent geese seen off Marazion. Reckon that was them. Oh I'm such an anorak.......

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Listening to Lenny

The other night we wuz watching the Tony Palmer documentary of Leonard Cohen's 1972 World Tour on BBC4. The Old Man has a hankering to see this and is thinkin of the Leonard Cohen numbers he likes.

I am not so sure. There's no doubt Leonard Cohen's songs are a signature of the 1960s - 70s. And as such, I hear them through a veil of recall. A West Country flat inhabited by a crew of female art students who drift through the "mattress on the floor" rooms, whilst again and again Suzanne takes Lenny down by the river and feeds him ... "tea and oranges that come all the way from China..."

His moody good looks; sweaters, raincoats, and cigarette smoke.

But it has to be said that I grow increasingly impatient as I watch the documentary. The pontificating and poetising; clips of general "Hey let's be cool about this..." stuff; the chaos of letting it all hang out. And some truly awful pomposity. I grunt and shuffle as the documentary finishes. And the Old Man says:

"Perhaps you don't like Cohen as much as I do."

Then the next programme starts up which is a recording of Cohen's 2008-9 World Tour. And we say - well why not watch a little of this as well. On stage the lights go up. And out comes this 74 year old geezer in a sharp suit and a snap-brimmed fedora. He steps up to the microphone .... and nails it.

Drink, hard times, and five years or so in a Zen monastery have maybe contributed to the honing process. Same songs reworked, and smoking along with great musicians behind him. Yes. The old guy floors 'em. And... Bam!
He got me.

He might get you too. Try clicking here for a YouTube clip from the 2008-9 tour.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Travels with my Film-Life: Tehran

So this is a bit more ... risky. Last night we were in Tehran, courtesy of the film: "No One Knows About Persian Cats" by Bahman Ghobadi. And we watch two young Iranian "Indie Rock" musicians try to gather band members and "documents" that will enable them to get to their gig in London.

We sample the underground music scene of Tehran in cellars, construction sites and rooftop hide-aways. We listen to heavy metal, rap, jazz and fusion traditional music. Real musicians playing for themselves, each other - and their secret audiences. As they dream of being somewhere where they can play openly; somewhere - as one character puts it- " ... on an island ... with stew for breakfast and stew for lunch... "

The pace heats up as the deadline approaches for the two young musicians to leave for their gig. Beautifully shot, stuffed full of music, and sweeping us into the drama we rush towards the dramatic ending. If you want to see the trailer - click here.

Now I'm glad to get my timid bones home.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

I Lost my Head

No, but seriously. I have been SO overworked by that control freak, Mrs Doonuthin ... that I just snap. And here I am - head lolling all over the place.

Mrs Doonuthin screams. As usual. Pours herself a glass of red and fixes me with a steely glare.

Half hour later... after surgical procedures that I will not recount ... my head's back on. Bit stiff. But that's only to be expected.

I suppose the woman is useful for some things.
And The Old Man is well impressed.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Listen to That.

The Old Man and me go down to the beach again today. I take some binoculars so that I can see what birds are about.
No. I'm not much good at telling which from what.
No. Wouldn't class meself as a twitcher.

Anyway I spend some time peering at three quite large, dark, blobs bobbing about at the sea's edge, off away. At one point at least one comes on land and seems a bit... waddly. Too long a neck for a duck.

But what? Maybe Great Northern Divers? Mmmn, would they get out the water? Maybe Geese? Though we don't do Geese much down here. Wild ones that is.

But it got me thinking about bird calls. And the call of the Great Northern Diver has this... spine-tingling feel for me. I have heard one calling ... off Gunwalloe Fishing Cove that was. Eery and mysterious. And so is the Curlew's call. I hear that down Devoran way, or sometimes over at Hayle estuary.

For a heart-lifter I recommend a Skylark, as that composer man wrote - "ascending". We hear them over in the fields on the old Porthleven road near Rinsey. Buzzards calling make me look up. See them wheeling about over our hill.

And I surely do like my Jenny Wren, Robin, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Blackbird and Thrush. I likes all sorts. Even the Singing Rook (click here for that Post).

But the northern sound of the Curlew or the Great Northern Diver (or Loon - I kid you not) makes me go all goose flesh, if you'll pardon the expression. And have you ever stood under a flight of starlings as they wheel their amoeba formation over your head? That's goose-fleshy too. It's just the sound of... wing feather whoosh.

You can listen to some bird song yourselves by clicking my link for The Virtual Bird and picking your bird.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Exhausting Life of a Film Star

That Mrs Doonuthin is strugglin on, in the most chaotic way, tryin to play film-maker.

Consequently I spend nearly the whole day last Sunday... lyin on a bed pretending to sleep and turn and yawn and wriggle. Waiting for that pesky cat to jump on me.... and pretending to be all delighted with the mangy thing. Talk about an Oscar-winning performance.

And Mrs Doonuthin herself is pullin what's left of her hair out and literally re-arranging the furniture on set. So The Old Man has to come along and advise the witless creature about focal points and rearrange the set so she can see it through the camera.

I tell you it is emotionally exhausting containing one's great acting talents and energies amid the chaos and boredom of the film set. Quite enervating.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Foxy, Foxy

So yesterday, Foxy is underneath the bird feeder again. Bold as brass. Middle of the day. Eatin the bird seed.

Yes, Foxy has got a bit of a limp. It stays under the feeder for a long time, moving off when it gets nervous, but coming back each time. It shovels up the spilt bird seed, then sits for a bit in the sun - havin a scratch.

Truth is ... the day before ... I find a very dismembered mammal body. On the grass, but covered with brown day-lily leaves ... so ... deliberately covered. I have to say that I think the victim may have been a small rat - but there's not much left to identify it by - except fur and size. I wonder who could or would do this? A cat? Or the fox? Anyway, I duly bury the remains.

Today The Old Man is chatting on the phone to a friend, and tells him about the foxy visits. The Old Man asks about the covered remains, and Friend thinks Foxy would do this... hiding the "body" and leaving some more "food" for seconds.

Sorry, Foxy. I believe I have buried your dinner. And whilst not being keen on murder and mayhem in the garden, I am a bit anxious at the possible evidence of rat ... and a bit grateful to Foxy for polishing it off in the most useful way.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

A Dreadful Realisation

And that realisation is that ... It's Christmas next month.
And also .... I have done no Christmas shopping.
And I do mean ... None.

This is no joke.

This is particularly no joke in the case of The Old Man. Because his Christmas presents are a nightmare. And they are a nightmare because The Old Man is the Most Particular Receiver of Presents.

He is a Virgo. He is most precise in his requirements. He delights in proudly telling me childhood stories of unwrapping presents in front of his relation-givers... and tossing aside those presents which did not meet his exacting young requirements.

At the same time he is fond of recounting an occasion when he was given a spinning top... and went into hysterics with delight. Really. According to his version, the family doctor explained that he must not be denied that which he desires .... or else.

He wonders why I dread Christmas and his birthday.

I have given up surprising him. It is not worth it. Instead I prime a list of his "desires" sometime in August, and hope that he will have forgotten what he said that he wanted by December.

And whilst, with luck, this avoids the tossing aside of undesired gifts. (Though not always.) I am left with a sense of failure. As I have never truly surprised and delighted him with a gift he did not expect. And what is worse - he is very good at surprising me with a desired and unexpected gift, including once .... a deckchair for my midwinter birthday. And I was ... truly delighted.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

In the Garden

I just looked out into the garden. Under the bird feeder I can see a rusty red back. Too coarse a fur for a cat. Maybe a dog? But I know who it is. It is the fox.

And the fox is there - in daylight - eating the spilt birdseed under the feeder.

I try to take a photo with my phone. The fox is too far away for the camera really. And I take a while because I don't want to disturb it. It's only birdseed. Must be hungry.

Eventually the fox hears the noise of the camera. It looks up at me - a long moment. I take another picture. And that's enough for the fox. It turns and lopes away. I see it has a slight limp. Maybe that's why it risks birdseed in a midday garden.

A magpie sees it off, landing on a nearby post and shouting "And don't come back, Foxy." Or the magpie equivalent.
Have you ever seen a magpie creep up on a fox and pull its tail?
I have.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The Trials of Mrs Doonuthin

You see... I can't get any sense out of Mrs Doonuthin still. I am beginning to doubt placing the fate of my career in her hands... film wise.

It's not as if she is even getting to grips with the film-making software on her new laptop.

No, she's still pratting around with the computer itself and it's own software or "Operating System" as she so grandly calls it. It's a new version of Windows - for her - and she keeps looking all over the place for the bits she wants. I mean, I have sneaked into her workroom and watched her in action. She keeps shrieking as little windows pop up silently and tell her something she doesn't understand.

Not too mention that she is "in between laptops" and therefore can't find what she wants because it's "on the other one".

I am seriously beginning to doubt her powers of organisation.

Anyway, she gets the animation software (AnimatorDV Simple), that she had already started to use, onto the new laptop... only to find that it wouldn't operate. It was fine on the old Windows XP laptop - but not on 64bit Windows 7 with loadsa RAM. That's because she was trialling a freebie, wasn't she.
Savin' the Money.
All the more for glasses of "Red" and tortilla chips, yes?

Seriously. She had started to make a go of it, I suppose.
You can check out her efforts on "The Cat" post by clicking here. But even THAT won't work if you're trying to view it on an IPhone. (Thank you for feedback, david r.)

You see, that's ANOTHER thing she hasn't quite mastered. Namely, what kind of file to turn the animation into - so that everyone can see it working regardless of what they are viewing it on.

But back to current problems. She downloads a trial of one of AnimatorHD's current programs. And can't understand it, can she.

Pause for un-animated eye-roll.

So now she is on yet another trial software download - this time a version of Stop Motion Pro.

Or at least she makes out that's what she's doing. But really she is still puzzling over and prettifying her new laptop. What colour will that desktop be? To Firefox or not to Firefox? What FireFox Persona shall she have? Shall she alter the sound scheme? What other software would she like to install. Will it be pretty?

This woman is not a serious proposition.
And I am still WAITING.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Love Life of Birds

You know everyone goes on about Spring and the birds and the bees? All that lovey-doveying and twittering?

Keeping a close eye on the goings on in local bird life, I can tell you that they don't start up in Spring.

No, No. The planners amongst them start sorting out the spouse and nesting thing in the Autumn. I have seen sparrows dragging each other out of the potential nest sight by the wing this time of year. Fierce squawkings, screamings and tail pulling amongst the pushy ones in the sparrow community. We even put up our sparrow box in the autumn - hoping someone would check it out. And they did. And they came back and nested in it. I think it would have been too late by the spring. But then I am a Know-It-All in case you hadn't noticed.

I am reminded of this autumnal courtship stuff when The Old Man (Yes - he who shall be reported) points out the activity of a couple of rooks he has spotted - on a telephone wire at the end of the garden. They sidle up to each other, perusing their mutual "fitness" so to speak. There is a moment of eye-gazing and beak closeness. Then one starts the exaggerated bowing and tail-spreading thing. You know the routine? (For more detail read my Post on Wood Pigeon Wooing with this here click.) Finally there is the mock "feeding" routine. You can imagine how it goes, can't you. After all animal nature .... is in us all.

"Would my little wookiewookie like a sunflower seed?" say he, bowing and scraping.

"What is this? A seed?" say she squinting at offering. "I expect at least a leatherjacket. A fat caterpillar or something else exquisite. But a seed. A seed from that feeder over there. All ten wing flaps away. You cheapskate. You are not fit to father my rooklets. Feh. I'm off. "

And she flaps away - leaving her would-be suitor looking a little glum, all alone on his telephone wire.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Indian Summer but Feeling Very Crabby

It is indeed a bit of an Indian summer. The Rook is singing. There are wheatears (birds - not corn) on the granite blocks of Long Rock beach. The sky is blue. The Old Man has finally got his drugs sorted out...

Oh but I am crabby today.

First frost last night. Central heating up the pole.

And that Mrs Doonuthin... still all at sea with her animatin' and computer. And... she says she's gotta make space in her workroom to make a "set" and lights and stuff. So she's wanderin' around with bits of fabric and arty rubbish from some previous endeavour and getting all confused about where to put things. And getting very irritable, I might add.

And of course that makes me very crabby. This is no way to treat a Star... moi. No respect. No consideration. I am bored. I want to get on with things.

But what respect do I get from my audience, let alone the Technical Person?
None. Not only have people pleaded with me not to stop with the news of the Old Man. (I wasn't going to stop with the news of The Old Man.) One email even requested MORE of him and his doings.

See that Old Man there - with his starring role and witty opinions? Do I take up my valuable time to report on his doings and sayings? Do I honour his trials and tribulations with my reportage?
I certainly do. But apparently that makes me - a mere amanuensis. The Old Man is the centre of this Blog and the concern of all who read my Posts.

I have nurtured a CUCKOO.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Richard Cook at The Exchange

Just wanted to say that there is an exhibition to enjoy at The Exchange in Penzance: the landscape paintings of Richard Cook.

Large scale canvases with subdued colours; paint - thick and voluptuous but still suggesting light; always a sense of the landscape being described in the rhythm of the paint marks. These paintings are shown together with a series of vivid, fluid, large framed water colours and a series of watercolour sketchbooks. The exhibition is on til the end of December.

At the same time there is a joint show of Richard Cook's work, together with that of his late wife, Zia Partou, at the Wills Lane Gallery, St Ives. This exhibition is on to 14 th Nov. Check their website (click above link) for opening times. But I fully intend to go and take a look. Zia Partou's work was also exhibited at The Exchange - Dec 2008 - February 2009. I loved it so much I visited three times to drink her paintings in.

And while I'm in St Ives I'm going to check the Millennium's upcoming exhibition of figurative prints and paintings by Marcelle Hanselaar. A much darker, Bosch-like view of the world.

Monday, 11 October 2010

The State of The Old Man

OK. I give up. Some of you probably want to know about The Old Man's health progress. The truth is - that I am not sure really.

Everyone we meet, who knows him, says how well he is looking - that it is unbelievable that he could have been so ill this summer. He is doing more and more. Some cooking now. Sunday, he took pity on an Old Grey Doll and did the washin' up.

But he has his flakier days.

Last week he trots along to the Heart Nurse, for the second of his regular four-weekly visits.... And she tells him that his heart is worse on the function front than it was on his last visit. And he comes home and mentions this to me. And I feel like clocking her one.

Medical people don't appear to have any idea what it means for someone who is battling away on the health front - when they airily make a bald statement which they believe to be factually correct, but can be somewhat brutal. I mean, good for them. I admire their medical skills and knowledge. But they know how to take the precious wind out of a previously billowing sail.

Chugging along, we thought we were. Chugging along.

The Old Man is philosophical. And brings to bear upon the problem his years of experience of being poked about and scanned for this and that. In particular, he says, the scan that she's basing her pronouncement upon could be different each time you take it... and the technician who did it recently was different from the one who did the scan in August. And it can be their difference of interpretation alone that could emphasise that difference.

See how subtle we get when we are trying to "be reasonable" about stuff?

But I'm still growling and snarling. I could swing for the Nurse and I could swing for The Old Man's Cardiologist.

Because what the whole medical world agrees upon.... or at least that portion of it which has examined him.... is that he needs to have another drug reinstated as soon as possible. This is the drug that his Cardiologist said needed to be reinstated back in August when he saw The Old Man. But the Cardiologist refused to prescribe it. (see the Old Man's Prescription Post). He says the prescribing is for the Heart Nurse to do.

The Heart Nurse does indeed want The Old Man to be taking this drug. But it's not actually in her power to generate the prescription. The prescription, she says, must come from the GP.

Now the GP wants him to be on this drug also (as does the Surgeon) but..... he thinks he will just write to the Cardiologist to make sure.... As will the Heart Nurse.

How long will this circular "pass the prescription parcel" be going on for?

And it's not as if this is a new drug for The Old Man. He was on it before the operation. They all think he should be on it now. So what's the problem?

In truth, people, this and the distraction of Mrs Doonuthin distracted state and her technical preoccupations..... is why I haven't been posting quite so often this last week. I am feeling a bit anxious I expect. A little crestfallen. A little like a Grey Doll living with an Old Man.

Certainly, when The Heart Nurse's view is recounted to me by The Old Man, I feel a little low.
Then in recounting to The Old Man why I feel a little low..... I shout myself into a headache.

The optician has suggested that I get my blood pressure checked. Because of the pretty little lights that I see running along across my vision every now and then.

"Though it's probably a headacheless migraine." she says.

Oh, forget it. Getting my blood pressure checked - would just raise my blood pressure.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

You Can't Get the Help....

No indeed but you can't get the help these days. If you are wondering what's going on here. Why am I not communicating with my public?

Blame it on the help. That Mrs Doonuthin. Apparently she decided she needed a new laptop. She got one. Now she's parked in front of it... sighin and moanin that she's gotta do this. Gotta do that. Can't understand this...bla-di-blah. And so on.

I'm bored. I'm just waitin for her to get her act together.

And you know what?

When I do check up on her.... she's chokin on her tortilla chips larfin at animashun DVDs what she is playing on the thing.

You just cannot get the help these days.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Old Man's Word Power

The Old Man has an interesting command of language. A friend of his once accused him of having "an overactive thesaurus".

So this morning he is reciting chunks of his daily paper to me - as he frequently does. And I say: "So what did so-and-so do before he did that?"

Old Man says: "He was a columnarist."
We both look at each other and start to snigger.
"What's that?" say I.
"Someone who writes about architecture." say quick as a flash Old Man.

Monday, 4 October 2010

When Stardom?

I work like a ... a... I work really hard the other day for that film.
Lookin all charmin and playing with the cat.
Where did she get the cat, that Mrs Doonuthin? That cat .... that cat gets petted ... and fed tidbits ... and choochy-chooed at....
Me? Nada. Not a tortilla chip. Not a glass of red. And certainly NOT a chair with me name on the back.

The production values are a bit naff, aren't they. Talk about a beginner. Sheesh.

But everyone wants to be a star round here. The other day I speaks to The Old Man about me encouraging Mrs Doonuthin to start up another Blog (preferably somewhere far, far away from here). So's she can talk about makin her films and stuff.

And he looks at me all horrified.

"What. Leave my Blog?" say he.
"Whose Blog?" say I.
"It's got all my medical history on it." say he.

Sheesh. Everybody wants to be a star.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Mrs Doonuthin's L-Plate Films: The Cat

Mmmn.... Not quite the star vehicle I fancied. A bit rough I say. See... she hasn't got the hang of converting things so's she can put them on my Blog.

You just can't get the staff these days.

But can you see it? Can you play it? Let Mrs Cecil B DeMille know would ya?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Travels with my Film-Life: Rome

Just so's you know, we's still travellin in Europe with our film DVDs. We stayed a bit longer in Spain - with Almovadar and his "Dirty Habits". Madrid in the 1980s... with nuns.

Yeah - I know I'm waving at you from Gaudi's Barcelona - but you gotta look around a bit while you're here. Anybody care to remind me of some films set in Barcelona I could check on? I'd love to go back there for a visit.

Then The Old Man and me pops along to post-war Rome for an evening with Visconti and Anna Magnani and "Bellissima".

In which Cinecitta film studios is overrun by mothers pushing forward their little girls to audition for a film. It's all very hysterical. Everybody gesticulates a lot - children cry - men shout - and spivs spiv..... and.... I am exhausted at the end of it, you know? All I want is to put my feet up and drink a glass of Italian red and inhale a plate of pasta. Mama mia.

Monday, 27 September 2010

The Song of the Rook

I likes rooks. People quite often don't. And I think that quite often rooks are mistakenly called "crows", (although they are a member of the wider crow family - along with magpies, jackdaws, jays, and the chough).

But rooks are often in a group. And crows are solitary. Rooks have pale beaks, not black beaks. And they're more fond of a nice tasty leatherjacket grub than a frog or chick (I think). That's what I know of rooks anyway.

Oh... and they've got this great pouch in their beaks. When they're feeding they can cram extra stuff into this pouch like a mini-pelican sack under the lower beak. We used to think there was something wrong with the bird's beak when we first spotted one loading up in this fashion. But it's just extra carrying power for taking food back to the nest.

True - I wouldn't want to live under a rookery. A lot of droppings and a lot of cawing discussion. Also - young rooks are very demanding about being fed by parent - which makes them loud and annoying. But I expect that's what Mama Rook thinks as well.

Anyway. Rooks sing.

True, it's not what most people think of as bird song, but I'm sure it's a territorial song. Just like a robin or a blackbird. And OK maybe an acquired taste, but I am touched by a singing rook.

We have one who comes regularly to the lane. And he is known to neighbours who watch out for the star turn. He'll stand on the aerial and give forth - not loud cawing- but a softer succession of cries and mutters and chucks and clicks. Then he flies off to another nearby high spot, a tree or a telegraph pole and he repeats his performance. For all the world just as a blackbird might do. And with just as much joie de vivre - in a rookish way.

You don't believe me? Just checked in The Old Man's copy of "Crow Country" by Mark Cocker. And there the writer quotes his friend, the late Derek Goodwin, on the subject of rook operatics:

"Various soft, cawing, gurgling, rattling and crackling calls are uttered and the general effect is very much like that of a singing starling, only louder..."


Saturday, 25 September 2010

Into the Eye of the Dragonfly....

No. No suspicious substances.
Nor is we listening to The Incredible string Band.

"How sweet to be a cloud, in the blu..uu..ue."

But Old man and me take a walk just now, looking for blackberries. And The Old Man calls out and addresses something in the road - as is his custom.

I go back and look down.
On its back in the road is a huge dragonfly. Perfect. I can see its long abdomen moving in and out. The black stripe on blue widening and narrowing. Is that its breathing?

"I think it's just stunned. I bet it was that caravan." The Old Man says.

No traffic has passed us for a while... the last thing that does - is a car towing an old caravan with mossy windows. The caravan takes up most the country road.

"Move it out the road..."

I am nervous. The dragonfly looks so huge. With its four wings outspread, it covers most of the palm of my hand. I manage to pick it up and move it, turning it over as I lay it on the grassy verge. It lies there. It's legs moving a little. Its body moving with its breath. And I look into its huge eyes.

Another world.
A huge, slightly misted-looking, goldfish bowl of a lensy eye.
I am transfixed.

P.S. If you want to see what sort of dragonfly I think it is - click here.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

The State of Mrs Doonuthin

So .... it having gone very quiet in Mrs Doonuthin's room.... I peep in.
The computer seems to be merrily chatting along to itself. Everything looks as per usual.

Except - maybe for Mrs Doonuthin herself. (Though on second thoughts - I dunno.)

She's slumped over her desk. Snoring away. One hand curled around a glass of "red" and a tortilla chip clutched protectively in the other.

Looks like she had a rough night.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Where was I?

Excuse me people. But I just had to get that Mrs Doonuthin back where she belongs -


It is, I believe, "Little Grey Doll's" Blog is it not?
It is NOT "Mrs Doonuthin's" Blog.
I have things to do and places to be. And one of those places is right here - with you.

P.S. The lesson of this story about tinkering with computers is .... Don't.
Mrs Doonuthin has been "tinkering" for hours. I can hear her screams from the next room. Oh well - at least it will take her mind of those Tortilla Chips.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Mrs Doonuthin has some Tech Problems

I currently view Grey Doll's Blog using as Web Browser - Mozilla FireFox 3.6. And everything seems to be working OK.

Today I thought I'd be a good girl and check to see what her Blog looks like using Internet Explorer 8 as Web Browser. Unfortunately I see that the embedded videos aren't showing an image and therefore aren't playable on Internet Explorer 8 on my PC.

It seems to make no difference whether the videos are "You Tube inserts" or Little Grey Doll's "in-house" video.

Is this a security setting issue I ask myself?

I've checked out the problem on Blogger Help and it does indeed seem to be an ongoing issue for some other - now very angry - bloggers as well (since January 2010 in fact) - with no resolution in sight. And it seems to vary from blogger to blogger as to which Browsers do not show the video images.

I've tried some of the techie solutions proffered by other users on the Help site - but I'm a newbie - not HTML proficient - and it didn't seem to cure the problem for me.

I know that this will come as a great blow to Little Grey Doll's vision of a Blogospheric film career. So I would be grateful if I could get feedback on whether you can "see" the videos or not, and play them. And which browser you use to do so (or not as the case may be).

You'll find a sample You Tube video at the Red Shoes Post.
And Grey Doll's own embedded video at No Paparazzi Post.

A grateful thank you for any feedback that can be given.

Edit: 22 Sept 2010: Please give feedback on any browser problems via the comment box on Technical Director Page (click here for link).

Grey Doll is fed up with me hanging around here!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Daily Grind

Go to the dentist's on Friday. The usual six month inspection of Grey Doll's elderly teeth.

I say I've got a tooth playing up again.
They inform me - it's because I grind my teeth.

The Grey Doll grinds her teeth.

Now who - reading this Blog - would guess that the Grey Doll would ever dream of grinding her teeth.

Tank Girl Revisited

The other day, when The Old Man goes to be fitted with yet another piece of 24 hour recording machinery at the Hospital in Penzance (see 15th Sept Post here) .... I go for a mooch.

And I mooch into the Bookshop.

And this Bookshop is called Books Plus. And there, as I go "mooch, mooch" I spot the Graphic Novel or rather the Comic Series of "Tank Girl" by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. This is a "remastered" edition and on the shelf .... are Volumes 1 & 2.

So I puts down the book on "How to Make Handbags" don't I, and I buys Vol 1 of Tank Girl instead.

Cos I haven't read a bit of Tank Girl for years. And didn't I only just the other week talk about that circus, Archaos, and it's crazy Mad Max - Tank Girl post-apocalyptic feel? (See that Post here)

And I guess you know.... or anyway I'm telling you now..... that Jamie Hewlett is the guy who co-created the "virtual" band Gorillaz along with Damon Albarn.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Mrs Doonuthin Speaks

I would just like to say..... that any forthcoming attempts at movie vehicles for The Grey Doll are entirely my fault.

I shall be attempting - for the foreseeable future - to make them using the free software ANIMATORDV SIMPLE+ available from Animator HD.

I am currently using a perfectly functioning (but 7 years old) laptop running Windows XP SP3 with a princely 512 MB RAM.

Surprisingly - connected to a Microsoft LifeCam VX-2000 - it made something. (Click here to glimpse the 3 second "movie".)

I am on a learning curve of cliff-steep proportions. Please let me know if you cannot view the animation as I'm still new to video file formats, etc for the web.

Now - I have to go before Grey Doll sweeps in and accuses me of hogging the limelight.

Stars must be kept sweet.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

More Marvin the Paranoid Android ....

Today - we is Portable ECG Man.

This morning The Old Man had to go to the Hospital in Penzance to be fitted with a 24 hour heart recorder.

This time he does not wheeze or make mechanical noises of any kind. He does not go "Peep-Peep".
(Click here to read the Android post).

This time Portable ECG Man is silent in the machinery of his recording.

BUT - he does have to have a piece of paper on which he has to write down everything that he is doing:

12.09 pm Sit Down; 12.32 pm Eat lunch; 12.46 pm Stand Up; 12.47 pm Walk around a bit......

He IS The Walking Recorder. It gives a whole new meaning to the word "journalist". And it could prove a little inconvenient.

But that would make a good plot line for one of those Hollywood films, wouldn't it. With Ben Affleck or Ben Stiller or Ben someone and probly Jennifer Anniston.... There would be romance, there would be comedy. And we could call it a Rom-Com.

The Hospital said for The Old Man to make particularly sure that he records any "events" he may have. This made me nervous. At our age a lot of things could come into the category of "event".

But he said he thought they meant a palpitation or something.

Well.... at least he's having to keep his pencil sharp.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

No Paparazzi

Hey! I'm not ready to be filmed yet.

And for sure that Mrs Doonuthin is not ready to make a film yet.

I should say.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Travels with my Film-Life: Spain

We don't get out much anymore. Well... shopping, there's always shopping. And doctors. And hospitals. And occasionally - a bit of scenery.

But culturally... going out is a bit of a rarity. Such as the Kneehigh "Red Shoes" last month (click here for that Post). Normally... films, theatre, music - going out to see - no - not much.

Consequently our door mat is a frequent receiver of packages of DVDs and CDs. And I do all my Sagittarian foreign travel in front of a telly screen. I am currently visiting Spain with Pedro Almodovar and that is a very colourful experience. Me and The Old Man are inhaling his films on a regular basis. Last night was "Tie me up, Tie me down".

What I have been very slow in realising is that, along with the sexuality, murder, wit, music and lurve.... there is all this sumptuous and beautiful colour and composition. Great slabs of colour march through his settings, often in geometrical shapes like paintings - blinds, windows, walls and posters. I love just to LOOK at his films.

And then .....there is all that aforesaid sexuality, murder, wit, music and lurve....

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Listen Again with Greydoll

Did you catch the Radio 4 programme on Archaos this morning?

Archaos being the crazy French circus I told you about in the Circus Nights post?


You've got seven days to listen again - or is that six days now?
And you can do that by clicking here.

A Crowded Schedule

Just in case you thought you would pop in for a cup of tea or something... forget it. We - or at least The Old Man and sometimes me - are never in. The reason being that the whole medical world finally wishes to inspect him for something or other.

The other day we do the 2-hour drive thing to the hospital where The Old Man had his heart valve operation. This is for the surgeon to inspect him. We have to get there two hours before the actual appointment, in order to have some tests - which take half an hour. So an awful lot of tea is drunk before - at the end of the afternoon - we finally get in to see Mr Surgeon (after insisting it was him that The Old Man sees... not someone else on his team... after all there had been a bit of a "do" after the op; a small matter of life or death.)

We see Mr Surgeon and break the news of The Old Man's cardiac arrest and two week stay in our own hospital. This is all news to Mr Surgeon, who duly looks solemn and takes some notes. Mr Surgeon says that "lessons must be learnt" - by whom, I am unsure - and also informs The Old Man that he has "an atrium the size of a bucket" (? -me neither) The Old Man seems inordinately pleased with this observation. Mr Surgeon also has a view on medication, unlike The Old Man's Cornwall based cardiologist, and the Old Man is relieved to hear it. All in all The Old Man seems very pleased to have seen Mr Surgeon and is very impressed by the tweed jacket.

And after a whole 15 minute audience with Mr Surgeon we return to the car and do the 2-hour drive back home. I insist we stop off to get chips and stuff - cos it is about 7pm when we get home and I for one am too knackered to cook from a standing start.

It is very tiring being companion and observer.

Today the Old man is summoned to see the Heart Nurse.
He also gets a letter with an appointment one day next week, he knows not why, to be strapped into some other portable contraption (see blood pressure recording post) - this time to record his heart.
He's got an appointment with the Stroke Nurse next week as well.
And the GP.
And on the one free day next week, I've got the dentist.

So - we're not home, right?

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Lost in Space

I'm reading a sci-fi book again. Or rather... trying to. And it's a shame but I can't get into it.
The book is "Against a Dark Background" by Iain M. Banks. And I thought that I really liked Banks, but...

I know that I've read the book before, and I remember enjoying it. I don't remember the plot too well so I thought - hey I'll give it a go again. But this time I just can't get lost in it. The characters are really starting to annoy me. They seem thin and schematic. I can't see them or feel them. And I'm struggling in a welter of exotic settings, names and broken time sequences.

Why am I so disappointed? Or do I mean- disconcerted? I thought of Iain M. Banks as a really good sci-fi writer. (And yes, I know that he also writes straight fiction as plain old Iain Banks. And is therefore no slouch in the writing game.)

I'll have to dip into another one, won't I? To find out if I have irrevocably lost the taste for Banksian sci-fi; or if it is just that this particular book doesn't stretch to a rerun.

It might mean that I can't revisit other old favourites: Sheri Tepper, C.J. Cherryh, Ken McLeod, Colin Greenland, William Gibson...

Maybe I need to try some sterner stuff. Some classics. Bradbury, J.G. Ballard, Lem. I've read Bradbury and Ballard, years ago - and keep meaning to try Lem's "Solaris". (Owned and praised by The Old Man. Who doesn't like sci-fi - so don't know where that leaves me there.)

What do you do when one of your favourite snacks loses its lip-smacking delight? Where do you turn when your booky comfort food leaves you fat and flat?

Monday, 6 September 2010

Circus Nights with Archaos

I see there's going to be a radio programme about Archaos (Thursday,9 Sept 11:30 BBC Radio 4).
An anarchic, punk, "never be the same again will the circus"- Circus; its founder, Pierrot Bidon, died earlier this year. There's an exhibition about Archaos from 9-12th September in London. Sadly we's too decrepit to get there at the moment. But you can click here to find out more.

Me and The Old Man went to see Archaos - at Highbury Fields - way back around 1990. I think we saw them a couple of times....

They got plenty of publicity about their juggling with chainsaws. And yes - they did. The Old Man saw the chainsaw juggler drinking quite well in the beer tent prior to chucking the chainsaws about.

Archaos thrived on its dangerous, heavy-metal reputation. Clowns clad in corrugated iron - chased each other with sledge hammers. Trucks and banged up cars filled the tent with diesel and exhaust fumes. A fork-lift trapeze act. (Click here to see with your own eyes, if you don't believe me.) But then I remember a juggler who worked with matchboxes, matches and finaled by lighting a cigarette with a juggled lighted match.

From the grotesque to the delicate. Outlandish, outrageous and dark... They conjured up the post-apocalyptic world of Mad Max and Tank Girl. Oh yeah we saw them - and we've got the T-shirts to prove it.

Read more about Archaos by clicking here for an article in the Independent.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Happy Birthday Old Man

Just so's you know.
It is The Old Man's birthday today.
Basically, I congratulated him on reaching it this year.

The Old Man as Marvin the Paranoid Android...

...brain the size of a planet... You know? Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? The radio version? Because of the sound effects. Wheeze, wheeze, clank.

I say this because he has been fitted with a 24 hour blood pressure recording device. It's supposed to take readings every half hour.

So there he is - wandering around with a plastic box on his belt and a tube snaking up over his T-shirt... which, I suppose, is connected to one of those armband thingies.

And every half hour this wheezing, flatulent sound starts up. The Old Man goes rigid and stands to attention - as if suffering from some form of "petit mal". Then, more often than not, the spectacle finales with a high-pitched peep-peep-peep as the machine fails to find any recordable blood pressure and registers an error message instead.

Good job we haven't got tickets for a concert.

I would have to spray him silver and try to pass him off as a member of a 1980s art-rock tribute band.