Tuesday, 31 August 2010


I was going to ramble on a bit more about animation....

But it's been beautiful weather this weekend and a girl has to sort out her garden some time. Like... mowing the grass, thinning out the bamboo, pulling up nettles and brambles and bindweed.
Then a girl mops her brow and sets to sorting out the runners on the strawberry plants, feeding the courgette and squash plants, and the snail ravaged beans.

So here I am - hot, sweaty, and tired.

I hear the chattering of swallows and look up into the blue sky. The birds are spiralling in a thermal above me. Many more than the usual three or four. Some are swooping over the rooves; but others are much higher up - little marks in the sky.

The other day, over at Long Rock, I heard the whistling and clacking of starlings. They were all rowed up on the telephone wires.

Swallows gathering to leave. Starlings arriving. Summer is turning into autumn.

Friday, 27 August 2010


So when you feel blue...

and then the sun comes out.

You just have to get out into it.

...take a deep breath...

....and unwind.

The Old Man's Prescription

So in case I left you hangin' there. Let me assure you that The Old Man trudged back to his GP and explained about the dilemma of where he should get his drugs.
He also explained that being dried out like a prune left him feeling really woozy with low blood pressure.

The GP rolled his eyes at the verdicts of Hospital Folk when it comes to who's in charge of prescriptions.

And sweet as a lamb, took over the job.

Between them - GP and the Old Man are working out a new regime, and for now - The Old Man is relieved.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

One of Those Days

Did you ever get one of those days...?

When you feel like you could really bite somebody's head off?

And that maybe....

You're not in charge of the boat?

Monday, 23 August 2010

Animated Discussions with Mrs Doonuthin

OK. So I have finally cornered Mrs Doonuthin. And she has admitted that she is thinking of getting some software for making films.

The method for making such films would be "Stop Motion Animation".

I feel like this is a phrase to be sung 60s style. Three ladies in sequined mini dresses. Hair piled high. Loads of eyeliner. False eyelashes. Doo-Wah. Swivel. Point... "STOP" - sing they. Groove, turn, dip, shuffle. "MOSHUN... ANIMASHUN... Doo-Wah." Heads down, shimmy forward, other arm raised and ... point...
"STOP!" sing they, "...Moshunanimashun-wo-wo-yeah-yea-ea-eah....."

En-ny-way. What... you ask - is "Stop motion animation"?
I'll tell you more next time.
But think.... Wallace and Gromit or Peter and the Wolf or
... a button rolling round a cotton reel, more like.

The problem is that Mrs Doonuthin's equipment is a bit old. I mean that her laptop computer - though fit and healthy - does not have the memory ... or the oomph ... for Doowah-stopmotion-animashun.

Wo-yeah. And don't we all feel like that some days? Not enough memory. Not enough oomph. It's Greydoll territory.

So Mrs Doonuthin having considered the alternatives: a more basic software program; installing more oomph into her existing laptop; installing more memory - has decided that she may just have to get herself ..... a new laptop.

So then - which one? Sigh.

There has been much reading of magazines and studying laptop specs and software specs. And much going round in circles.

I'll let you know how she gets on. If she ever makes her mind up that is. At the moment, she's still going round in circles....talking to herself.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The Old Man's Prescription

Goosey Goosey Gander, whither shall you wander?
Upstairs, downstairs ... and anywhere that will give me my drugs.....

The Old Man goes to see his heart consultant yesterday. A long-awaited appointment in which he hopes to find out more info and to get his medication reviewed because - as he expresses it - he "feels as dry as a chip" with all these diuretics...

When I meet up with him again later, he says he hasn't learnt much more really. Valve working OK. No fluid where it shouldn't be. Heart function not improved really... but maybe not able to tell for another six months... There's a comfort. Not.

Ah Yes. The Consultant agrees that it's time his diuretic drugs (water tablets) are altered. And there is another drug (ACE inhibitor) that should be reinstated.

Good, says Old Man. So where's the new prescription?

Oh No, says Consultant. I shall not be prescribing your medication. That will be the Heart Failure Nurse. I shall write and let her know this.

It takes a while to sink in to The Old Man's noddle (like - this morning) just how angry he is about this.

For years - decades even - it has been the consultant in charge of his heart condition who has prescribed his medication. He had assumed this was still the case.

The GP, at The Old Man's appointment this very week, made it clear that the consultant prescribes the medication, not the GP.

But The Old Man's Consultant is saying that it's not him (the Consultant) who prescribes - it is the Heart Nurse. (Who has made no contact since we saw her locum several weeks ago.)

Whither shall the Old Man wander?

And when, precisely?

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

The Old Man Draws a Graph

So, before his appointment with the GP this morning, The Old Man is assembling his INR/Warfarin printouts. (Beautifully held together with a piece of string through a punched hole.) Coupled with a meticulously drawn graph, that The Old Man produced yesterday evening, tracing his INR level since his return home from Hospital.

The reason for this activity is the GP Surgery's phoned-in blood test result last night - reporting a raised INR level (again) but at the same time keeping him on a daily 3mg dose of Warfarin with another fortnight to wait before his next test.

So you can see. The Old Man is fore-arming himself for another set-to and a hows-yer-father with the medical trade.

What are you talking about? say you. What is this medical gobbledy-gook?

OK. Basically, INR is to do with the time it takes for your blood to clot - the higher the figure - the longer the time that it takes to clot. And the dosage of the anti-clotting drug is derived from a formula, based on the blood INR level. (If you can cope with technicalities you can find an explanation by clicking HERE)
Warfarin is the drug that controls this clotting factor in The Old Man's case. The Old Man needs this medication because of the artificial valve they gave him. Don't want blood to clot and mess it up, I guess. But at same time you can't run around with blood so unclotting that you bleed to death if you cut your finger. OK. Maybe a bit melodramatic on the explanation front. BUT it explains the dilemma over getting the drugs and the clotting time in balance.

Back to this morning.

The GP is duly shown the documentary evidence as to why The Old Man needs bloodtests more frequently than two weeks apart. And the aforesaid graph that shows his INR levels .... going up and down like the proverbial yo-yo. The GP agrees.

But it would also appear that "someone" has altered The Old Man's target INR level from the one that the Hospital issued him with. They have lowered it a fraction. But.... who or when or why.... could not be traced on the computer. (The Old Man, as an ex-Civil Servant, mutters darkly about "The Treasury Model" which, in his book, is a formula that allows for the result that you want as long as you know which figures to feed in to it.)

Whatever - the GP has now written in BIG CAPITALS that The Old Man is to have blood tests twice a week until stability has been achieved. And we shall see if this has any effect on things in practice.

Once again I say. Be vigilant. Our National Health Service is a lifesaver. But take responsibility for what's dished out to you. Don't accept everything handed to you or explained to you on the basis that "They Know Best". A system is only a system.

Friday, 13 August 2010

A Conversation with Mrs Doonuthin

So I say to Mrs Doonuthin:
"What's the prob? Just get on with that film, lady. I wanna groove. I wanna be ... in .... that film."

She look at me. Brush some tortilla chips off her stomach and say:
"That's just what my friend said. She said - Just get on with it."

"So? You can take her advice can't you?
Even if you think the Greydoll here has ulterior motives. You could listen to a disinterested friend."

Mrs Doonuthin swing herself round from her habitual reclining position and stare at me for awhile.

"I'm not like my friend. I don't have her determination. Or energy. Or something."

"Why d'you say that?"

"She was up on a roof at the time, fixing new ridge tiles. I have the photo to prove it."

Mrs Doonuthin ease herself back into position and finger another tortilla chip.

"Fair comment." say I.

"Anyway," continue Mrs Doonuthin, "I have to calculate my resources. Work out my equipment costs. Consider modus operandi."

She bit down on the tortilla chip.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Kneehigh's Asylum

Old Man and me arrived there about 7pm last night.

We ate bhajis. We watched "Red Shoes". We laughed and we clapped. There was much black humour and fairy tale grims. Great clog dancing. Beautiful red clogs. Good music. Good performers.

Goin in surrounded by sunset fields. Comin out to moonlight. There was still music, food and drinks if you wanted.

Go and see Kneehigh at the Asylum while you can. You've got til the end of August.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Animated Discussions: Doing it

Many years ago. Let us say 17 or 18 years ago.

Mrs Doonuthin had a go at learning to animate.

It was an evening class. When she lived in London. And it was a difficult subject to find a class in at that time. Animation.

Because we are not even talking digital animation, which maybe you could get access to fairly easily these days. Back then - computer animation was rare - a college degree subject. Equipment cost a fortune and was way out of Mrs Doonuthin's league. In those simple times.

No. We are talking....
Get a film camera - put it on a stand - take single frame shots - move the thing - take more shots - develop the film - play it back at 24 frames per second.

Or get some 16 or 35 mm film. Scratch on it, paint on it, draw on it. Then play it back at 24 frames per second. (Try researching Norman McLaren or Len Lye for this.)

Anyway. She did the course. She made a film of a succession of 2D images.She watched it at a screening at the London Film-makers Co-operative. It was indecipherable.
She was "bit by the bug".

She couldn't find another animation class to go to. But she enrolled in a week long "Introduction to Super 8 Film-making" workshop at Four Corners Film in the Roman Road. It was, she considered, the next best thing that she could do.

Then she bought a Canon Super 8 camera with single shot capability, a tripod, some film, and went home and had a go at filming things. Including: "Moi" (in my red-haired youth); a garden Barbie (so named because she was found in the garden); and - latterly - a strange Newspaper Rabbit. None of these films saw the light of day. Nor much of a projector light.

You see, it takes a lot of time and planning to make an animated film. Mrs Doonuthin has great problems overcoming techno-fear. And life gets complicated.

So now the Super 8 camera lives in its box. The film projector is packed up. And you have to track down Super 8 film stock (Well there's the Widescreen Centre in London ..... )

Mrs Doonuthin used to play with the animated gif-making part of her graphics software. (If you'll pardon the expression) Then Flash came along. Gifs were relegated to annoying, flashing doo-hickeys on bad web pages. And Mrs Doonuthin forgot her animating dreams for quite a while.

But then she reacquainted herself with me. Greydoll. Together we started this little blog thingy.

And now.... Mrs Doonuthin is looking secretive. Distracted. A little pre-occ-u-pied.

So this is what I think.
I think that Mrs Doonuthin wants to make films again.

And she's not sure how to go about it.

The Cross-examination of Mrs Doonuthin

"So. You've got plans for somethin'."
"You're cookin' something up."
"My question exactly."

"I don't know what you are getting at."

"You. Are. Thinking. Of doing something. Finally. You... are thinking of... making a... film."
"And I want to be in it."
"I'm gonna be in it. I'm gonna be a star."

"I don't know... I'm thinking about it."

"Aaaw, no. Don't tell me. Don't tell me you are going to do nothing, Mrs Doonuthin?"

"I didn't say that."

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Old Man Update

OK. OK. So you want to know how the Old Man is doin these days.

Gap tooth smile? Fixed. Dentist glued the tooth in.

Fairy tale feet? Back to normal size. But in truth the diuretic drugs may be over efficient. The Old Man is beginning to resemble a prune.
He is a walkin case of body dandruff.
Don't think he should be dried out on this scale much more.
He could audition for a part in "The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb".

Warfarin? Settlin down a bit. This week that is.

Cardiac nurse? Never seen again.

Eyesight? New glasses. Optician says may not have been the drug that changed the sight. Could be the fluid retention and the effect of a major op itself. In fact Old Man's eyes a picture of health except for a smidgin of cataract in one. And eyesight moving back to what it was.

Should be seeing his cardiologist next week.

That will be interesting.

Or not.

Should be seeing the surgeon in September. That could be aerated. Or not.

There you are.

Still not able to walk as far as he would like before the energy runs out. Certainly not the 2 mile walk he could do before the operation. I think he gets a bit anxious about that.

As - probably- so do I.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Animated Discussions: Coming to a Cinema Near You

The Old Man drew my attention to an article in the Independent on Sunday about animated films, or more specifically - animation for adults.

Because - contrary to popular belief - I am an adult.

And as you know - I do like animation.

In the article, James Mottram considers animated films for the likes of me. And it goes without saying that ... being an anorak of sorts... I have DVDs of his listings: Persepolis, Waltz with Bashir, Waking Life, Ghost in the Shell, Renaissance, Akira, and Belleville Rendezvous. Some of which I have yammered on about in previous postings. (Check out the Greydoll Topic" "Animation" to read them.)

So I'm delighted that the maker of Belleville Rendezvous, Sylvain Chomet, has another film coming out later this month - "The Illusionist". Chomet is quoted in the article as talking about the assumption by Hollywood producers that the medium is for children - and so fairy tales are the films to make. But, Chomet says, 'I want to do animated films for adults.'

Yeay, say I.

And don't get me wrong, adults can indeed watch Toy Story and Shrek with enjoyment. Long live the inner child (and I'm quite fond of a Shrek film, it has to be said.)

Chomet's "The Illusionist" is based on an unproduced Jacques Tati script. The artwork is hand-drawn (as was Miyasaki's recent "Ponyo" - though Ponyo would probably be argued as being aimed at children). And some of the reviews I have seen are mixed. But I'm just glad there's something to look out for.

To read a more detailed discussion - and to get a glimpse of what could be coming out in the future - check out (aka click on) James Mottram's article in the Independent on Sunday.

Friday, 6 August 2010

The Old Man Revives

So the other evening The Old Man had a phone call from a friend in Scotland.

Now this friend and his wife are really into drugs. What I mean is - drugs as medication - not pastime. And these friends are so into them.... they teach about them.
Proper pharmaceutical stuff. But really.

And so I think that the Old Man has been cheered by discussing his "drugs" with them. Cos he wasn't sure what was his condition and what was to do with his new drugs.

For whatever the reason the next day he picked up and get more energy for doing things. He's tackling driving again, getting around, doing a lot more jobs about the place. And people are saying he's looking better.

But this week The Old Man noticed a relevant item in our local paper - The Cornishman.

You see, one of the drugs he was put on after the operation, he so hated that he was able to get it dropped after his collapse and readmission to hospital. I'm not saying that this drug caused the collapse - I'm sure it didn't.
But for sure, The Old Man didn't like being on it.

This drug was the heart drug Amiodarone. And sadly it's been implicated in the recent death of a local woman. You can read the item by clicking on Amiodarone article.

So just don't be afraid to challenge drugs you ain't happy with. But challenge may be the operative word.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


And just what, you ask, is noodling?

I think it's playing around with notions. Doodlin' with the noodle. Tapping around in the beanbox. Booting around the braincells. Knittin' with the noggin.

You know? Like a guitar player making sequences of random notes and themes on a guitar? Possibly while thinking of something else altogether?

And I think that noodling is essential for creative processes to begin.

Another definition of noodling is "fishing for catfish with your bare hands".
That stands up to the test as well.

Why am I discussing "noodling" with you?
Because I think that the venerable Mrs Doonuthin, my technical director, is cooking up some noodles of her own. I think she is considering the movie business again. And I aim to make sure that she includes me in the plan.

She's researching the net.
She's eyeing up her bank account.
She's putting on the makeup. She's dabbin on the perfume. She's wriggling them fingers like a piano-player warming up. She's considering IN-VEST-MENT.

Oh she's noodlin', she's definitely doing that.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Reviewing the Situation

I suppose I might feel a little gloomy today.

It's raining.

It's two months on, or thereabouts, from The Old Man's heart surgery.

And it's sinking in that he has nowhere near the fitness - on at least one level - that he had before the operation. I'm not sure when he will be able to do the walking that he used to do. The two mile round trip to get his papers from the shop on the next village, for instance.
Upping and downing, carrying much, walking slopes. All whack him out at the moment. If they are within reach at all.

And sometimes I wonder (as I guess does he) what the op was for. But I suppose it had got to the point of not much option.

All of that optimistic crapola from medics and encouragers. Set against our constant repetition of his past medical history and possible complications. The neglect of our warnings. The subsequent cardiac arrest and intensive care. The demonstrable drop in the functioning of his heart after that - maybe as a consequence.

Yes, the heart nurse said that it can get better - (but could take 6 or 7 months).

And sometimes The Old Man wonders if it is his heart's fitness that is to blame, or the new drugs that he has been prescribed.

So today ..... I feel gloomy.

And angry.

And probably self-pitying.

What the hell.

I can't be entertaining all of the time.

Red Shoes Promo Video by Kneehigh Theatre

The Red Shoes - Promo from WeAreKneehigh on Vimeo.