Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Old Man's Night Shift

So the final two episodes of "The Night Shift" were shown on BBC Four last night. (As talked about in previous post.)

Sorry if any of you sample it and are shocked to the core by subject matter and language... But when Georg Bjarnfre├░arson, the shift manager, decides to educate his young son about "the facts of life"... complete with naming of parts and graffiti-drawings on the white board...
The guy is a control freak pedant who summons his only two co-workers on the walkie talkie - addressing each as "Trainee Personnel " and "Forecourt Personnel" respectively.

Munching breakfast, I ask The Old Man about his times on the evening shift of a petrol station way-back-when. Was it like The Night-Shift?

"Naaa.... well... We did have to ban the cars from a Nationally Known Driving School..."
"They knocked too many pumps over."
"And I only got to use the Tannoy once..."
"The local Liberal candidate drove by in his van with his election speaker going... "
"... I Tannoyed back: You lying git, I know you're a Conservative!"
"But eventually, I got the sack."
"I went to the pictures the evening the clocks changed and didn't realise. So I turned up to work two hours late instead of the usual one...."
"Oh. Nothing like "The Night Shift" then...."

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Visiting Iceland's "The Night Shift"

Been watchin' the Icelandic comedy series "The Night Shift" (link toYouTube trailer) on BBC Four.

Though some's don't think it funny, needless to say The Doll be laughin out loud whilst watchin'. And The Old Man's quite keen too.

Because this is about a motley crew working the night-shift of a petrol station somewhere in Iceland, some leap to group it with Britain's "The Office". But The Doll sits through "The Office" with a straight face thinking... "this be too much like real life to be funny and that bossman be a smarmy drip....."

Watching "The Night Shift" causes her to curl up on the sofa and crow out loud with laughter as the shift's control-freak manager gets hisself into ever hotter water, one worker plummets into depression, and the third fibs his way towards the fantasy of fame and fortune he so believes to be his. The Doll loves it. And it's really quite empathic in a way that the "The Office" isn't.

But sadly the last two episodes are in sight: Monday 30 May at 22.30 and 22.55 (2011) on BBC Four.

The Doll really do hope BBC Four gets hold of the sequel "Day Shift".

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Mrs Doonuthin's Struggles

For those who are interested in the alcohol sodden struggles of Mrs Doonuthin to breathe life into a lump of plasticine. And who have not yet discovered her own lugubrious blog : Mrs Doonuthin's Amateur Hour.

Here is an example of her latest meanderings. Don't blink or you will miss it.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Breon O'Casey: 1928 - 2011

Enough spleen - as in the previous post about Fat Cats.

Well I'm sad to read of the death of my jewellery teacher when I was at school in Cornwall - during the 1960s.

Breon O'Casey died, at the age of 82, last weekend. Maker, printmaker, painter and sculptor, I think of him as the last of the St Ives' Artists to leave us. The St Ives of the 1960s that I remember, that is.

I was still at school when I went to his evening classes at.... I think Redruth Art School. I went with a schoolfriend whose family knew O'Casey. And Breon would kindly pick us up in his car and give us a lift to the classes and then back home. I remember him as a burly, gentle-voiced man with a bit of a smile on his face, and as a patient teacher.

In his class I learned to solder, shape, and polish; to make rings, chains, earrings - and, in my case, to set stones not very well. I recall my determined effort to enamel a simple design onto a ring... The enamel never fused and the ring collapsed impressively. But I don't recall a single "Tut"- nor any feeling of failure infused into my efforts by Breon. Believe me, that's quite a gift.

So maybe it is no surprise that, on returning to Cornwall from London... my first serious efforts to get back into creative work were given over to jewellery making. Breon O'Casey, I realise, was a strong keystone in my creative learning. I'm sad that he has gone, but I'm thankful that I was lucky enough to have been taught by him.

Oh- and you can read his obit in The Independent by clicking here.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Fat Cats and Cream

Reading local newspapers can make one very angry for all sorts of reasons. This time I find it is the content of the news itself that is infuriating.

Take the shenanigans of the local "Name" in Cornish Cream manufacture. This prestigious "multimillion-pound turnover" family firm manages to be in two different regional papers for two different controversial reasons this week.

The first story is printed in the West Briton. It centres on the embarrassment caused by a member of the owning family being quoted in a national newspaper to the effect that the firm paid only "slightly above" the minimum wage as they didn't see how it helps anyone (presumably in these hard times) to pay their staff more, when:

"There's more to be gained from teaching employees how to manage their money more effectively, than giving them more money to mismanage."

The Family Firm's second cause for fame is that they are to be investigated by Devon's Trading Standards over their manufacture of "Definitely Devon" cream.

According to an article in the Western Morning News - Cornwall's Trading Standards department had allowed them to carry on using the product name (after they had acquired the Devon firm and moved manufacture to Cornwall) on being assured that they would continue to use Devon milk and would put a sticker on the packaging which said "Made in Scorrier".

This "reputable" firm, however, then proceeded to source the milk from Cornwall for their "Definitely Devon Cream". Their main reason/excuse for this sleight of hand seems to be that they have to "use up their current packaging supply", before they can label the cream appropriately.

Well, I know that this is a firm that likes to set an example in managing their money well... (unlike their feckless staff). But maybe a bit of money "mismanagement" and the purchase of new packaging in this case - would have enabled them to avoid investigation by Tradings Standards Authorities.

Good job they don't make Cornish Pasties, crimp the pastry on the wrong side and they'd have been in court.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The Old Man gives me a Fright

Remember the fright I got after The Old Man had some dental work done and woke up to find blood all over the pillowcases? (Click here for that post.)

The other morning I breeze into his breakfasty presence to find him sitting there with red stuff dripping down his chin and jumper.

"Aaagh!" scream I.
"What?" ask he.

My panicky finger points to his red-dribbled physog.

"What you done now?" squeak me.
"I'se eatin a blood orange." says he - proffering the half-eaten fruit for me to inspect.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Animated discussions : "Mary and Max" and That Sepia Thing

On Thursday 19th May, 22.45 pm Film Four is showing claymation feature "Mary and Max" as part of their Australian Season on British TV.

In their words: this is an "Adult-themed claymation film about the 20-year pen-pal relationship between a girl living in Melbourne and a man 35 years her senior living in New York."

Max is the overweight Asperger sufferer who receives a penpal letter from 8 year old Mary Maisie Dinkle in Australia. Mary, bullied by classmates and ignored by her dysfunctional parents, is looking for friendship on the other side of the world. In her random search of the phonebook she picks out the bewildered loner Max. The film follows their lives and relationship (cemented by a passion for chocolate) into Mary's adulthood.

It's a dark world in dark colours but filled with humour...OK.. maybe that's a bit dark too.

And I've noticed that this "dark"/sepia thing frequently shapes the animation world. From the dark art-film world of Brothers Quay and their inspiration the Czech film-maker, Jan Svankmajer, on into shorter films and independent commissions such as Richard Hutchinson's 1993 stop-motion animation "The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb".

Maybe it's something to do with the subconscious dreamworld that seems to inform a lot of animation. Certainly my dreamworld is often rather sepia coloured.... Well maybe that's just me.

Want a taster of "Mary and Max"? Click here for a YouTube trailer.

Monday, 16 May 2011

The Spiderling Nut

Two times now I am confronted by the Spiderling Phenomenon. This is new for me to witness.

First time I find a small garden spider at the centre of a perfect web in the sun lounge. I mean, there, dangling in the space we habitually walk through. Then next day, there are numerous tiny pinhead spiders spreading out around Her. Little beads on threads, like a galactic model.

Second time, outside, I lift and clumsily drop the cold frame lid. And, what I had taken to be a ball of mud or a dried leaf, breaks up and disperses into pinhead particles in front of my eyes. It is another Spiderling Group.

This one is made up of the same kind of baby spiders as the one inside the house. Tiny beads of gold and brown. To my surprise, after a while, this group reforms into a ball, a "nut". Or more exactly, it resembles a seed head. This spiderling seed head has stayed in place for several days. Every now and then it fragments; the spiderlings swarm away from the central "Nut", disturbed by some vibration or movement. Tiny sailors swarming the ropes of a sailing ship. But inevitably, I find them clustered together again, a gold brown Nut embedded in spider thread guy ropes, suspended between the ground and the eaves of the cold frame.

How long does this last, do you think?

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Cornwall Open Studios is Coming

28th May until 5th June is when Cornwall Open Studios is happening.

Artists, crafters, and makers open their studios or put on group exhibitions. So you can see what's what - maybe buy a piece, a painting, a pot, a bracelet, a print, or a card even.

Look out for the free booklet in shops and galleries in Cornwall; or click through to the organiser's website, Creative Skills - here.

And whilst on the subject of Open Studios, there is a similar event taking place in Derbyshire for just three days over the May Bank Holiday (28th-30th May). I know cos a friend is opening her studio... and I wish her good luck and a good time.

Anyway, this is Derbyshire Open Arts - and you'll find their website here.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Health Check

So all you poor souls that like to get an update on our decrepitude please do read on...
Everybody else, carry on with life.

The Old Man has a face as smooth as a plum, now that the Ointment has done its work and the Incredibly Ugly Scab has departed. Job done - we hope.

On the down side... Dental work and Warfarin don't make good bed fellows. Both of us shriek in alarm at blood soaked pillow cases from The Old Man's bout with the dentist earlier last week. A call to a Sunday locum was calming. Boils down to... "Looks worse than it is."

Fortunately I see my homeopath for a treatment follow-up this morning. I am so far in to this regime that just clutching the remedy bottle in the homeopath's presence fills me with inner peace. Hooray for Placebos and Woowoo medicine.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Flora Day's Comin'

Well... so much for sayin' "YES" in the Referendum. Seems like most people be sayin' "NO".
Story of my life.

On a more local and seasonal theme, Saturday is Helston's Flora Day. I'm glad that sweet spring is still celebrated in the town, albeit in a respectable manner. Cos the celebration is a bit pagan. And I do wonder about the day when all good church-goers group together and ban it. You can laugh, but I've overheard people say that they let the procession through their house... but don't watch it, because it's pagan.

I've watched the dancing in the past, but might skip this year's bash cos Saturday could be even more crowded, and I'm a bit short for seein above people's heads.

The thing that surprises and delights me... is the dressing of the town itself. The branches, leaves, bluebells, gorse and general floral profusion of the street decorations are what I love. Each shop entry with something to say on the matter. And lily of the valley to be worn. (Though I find I should 've been wearing mine on the other lapel and upside down - cos I'm a girl... naturally I should wear it upside down.... silly me...)

You can find out more about the traditions by clicking here.

And you can view a rather windswept YouTube video of the midday dance set-off here.... with That Tune. Hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Get on down to that Referendum Vote tomorrow. Give you three guesses which way I'm voting.

Or make that four or five.....

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


Sometimes I put the dustbin out for morning collection.
And I get fooled into thinking that I'm going out somewhere for the evening.

That Dog Thing

On a more serious note. I think that The Old Man is .... a Dog.

He can Growl quite loudly when someone comes to the Door. If that someone is trying to Sell Him Something, they are lucky if they escape with the Seat of Their Pants Intact. If it be Religion they's Selling... they may be Chased Down the Lane.

I have observed this Canine tendency for a while. Notably with the discussion of food, and in particular "Dinner". I am waiting for the day when The Old Man actually drools during this discussion.

And what is demonstrating itself to be the final Proof-Maker... is the Whimpering. Faced with an afternoon when je suis occupe with something else of interest only to moi - even looking over Mrs Doonuthin's shoulder as she attempts to bring life to dead matter - The Old Man Whimpers. I swear that one day I will find him sat on his haunches by the front door with a lead in his mouth.

Monday, 2 May 2011

That Scientific Thing

You see... there are some things that I don't understand.

Europe is banning some herbal medicines because they may be unsafe.... Or put it this way; manufacturers, etc will have to register their products and provide proof of safe manufacturing, consistency and so on. Because we all know that alternative medicine is Quackerland and Loopy, to say the least.

This leads to all kinds of furioso arguing about the merits of the treatments themselves, which somewhat cloud the issue.

(Ha! And Big Pharmaceuticals has such a perfect record here. HRT, Statins, now Thyroxine... have all been promoted by Medical Land, and the Government itself... for our Greater Health and Longevity; and all of these therapies now raise questions as to side effects with their long term use.)

Anyhoo! My point of puzzlement is.... that this Scientific Approach has been put in place just about the same day that the Pope is beatifying the Previous Pope... on the word of a French Nun who says that her prayers to him cured her of Parkinson's.

Isn't this great? Big Pharma can now produce a new State Recognised Scientific Cure for Parkinson's.

Pope in a Bottle.

Ooops! Sorry. The Vatican has that already.