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Monday, 14 January 2019

"Stan and Ollie"

We went to Cityscreen again this weekend to watch "Stan and Ollie". Both of us enjoyed this film very much. It covered the period after WW2 when the duo fell out of film fashion and were touring the UK, performing their double act on the stage. Very funny, very entertaining, a little sad, very well acted, particularly Steve Coogan who played Stan Laurel. I have always been a big Laurel & Hardy fan and I had doubts when the film was announced but those doubts have been dispelled.

Monday, 7 January 2019

"The Favourite"

Saturday trip to the cinema to see "The Favourite".

We both liked the film, myself a lot more than B, great acting, good script, great location work, a very good eye for historical detail; however, neither of us understood why it is classed as a comedy. There are some funny lines and banter, there are some funny set-ups and situations but there was no really comic pieces, nothing that got the cinema audience roaring with laughter. Please don't let this dissuade from going to see the film, it is great.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

A Plan for 2019?

Happy New Year to all.

We are back from house-sitting and pet feeding duties in Gloucestershire. Whilst there and away from my painting desk, I gave a little thought to painting and unit plans for 2019.

The main plan is the same as most wargamers - paint more and buy less. I will continue with my Ottoman force as I am really enjoying this and I have something like ten units to complete but I will also paint a couple of European units. Also I have bought 18 Japanese Ronin as a Unit deal from Dixons, I'm not sure what role they will play but I am keen to start them. (Finish what is on the table first.)

In early December I saw a series of photos of a wargamers SYW Indian table.

I think the buildings are from a company called Tinned Fruit and the plants from Adrian's Walls. I was very impressed by this table and has pushed me to getting on with my own Middle East village.

I have started the last building I bought from Warbases.

I have also bought some trees and pots.

So, plenty of thought, plenty of words, now just get on with it.....

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Syria and George III

On Thursday I gave a talk to the Military History Group of York U3A. The subject was the invasion of Syria in 1941 by British, Commonwealth and Free French Forces. Syria and Lebanon were held by Vichy France and the fighting lasted about six weeks.

The talk went reasonably well but I had to skip about 20 minutes as the Group was going to a local restaurant for Christmas lunch so we had to finish early. We had a nice lunch, much better than the last time I went to this particular restaurant, and good conversations but I feel a bit cheated in losing the 20 minutes. Still....I have to put this behind me and look forward to my next talk; in May 2019 I am delivering a talk to the MHG in Pocklington. I have been asked to give my talk on the Fall of the Belgian fort at Eben Emael in 1940.

Something else to look forward to, I have signed up for a course titled "The Dreyfus Affair" at the University of York's Centre for Lifelong Learning. Eight two hour sessions on Thursday afternoon, starting in late January. Also, the Centre has posted a flyer for a course shared with Cityscreen Cinema, "A Brief Introduction to Japanese Cinema"

Tuesday afternoon, B and I went to Cityscreen Cinema for a repeated showing of the National Theatre's production of "The Madness of George III" by Alan Bennett, with Mark Gatiss in the lead role. Wonderful, just wonderful.

Finally I want to share this painting by Victor Poirson of a French Zouave., dated 1888, simply because I think it is a very good portrait.
About ten years I got into a little dispute in the shop Tradition of London about the racial mix of the Zouaves, he insisted they were local Algerians, I thought they were local Europeans and christians. A no-score draw.

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Tate Britain

On Sunday, we had tickets to the Edward Burne-Jones  exhibition at Tate Britain.

Burne-Jones was a painter and designer working during the second half of the 19th century and he is linked to the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists.

When we got to the gallery we had quite a shock. The gallery had put out its winter decorations on the front of the building. Here are my photos.

Contemporary art can be challenging but two giant slugs as art is not to my taste. Give me Burne-Jones any day.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Pheasants, shoplifting and fanatics

Finished yesterday, Ottoman Fanatics, Dixons at the front, Hinchliffe with the sword & shield.

"Come and get some if you think you're hard enough"

Phil the pheasant has returned after his summer away.

Most of the day he just sits in the middle of the border, as though hiding, an activity for which he is very well camouflaged. He makes the occasional foray to the feeders but otherwise remains very quiet and still. One morning I went out to collect the feeders and he rather awkwardly limped away, not very far. He has an injured right leg, so maybe the injury and the quiet sitting in the border are linked. Out in the fields he got an injury and he has come back to recover.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Cityscreen Cinema in York to see this Japanese film. I knew it had some wonderful, glowing reviews and that it was a Cannes Film Festival winner. I was not disappointed. It is a delightful, small film based around a family that is on the edge of society and the economy and they are struggling to survive. That survival includes day labouring jobs, precarious cleaning jobs, the sex industry and shoplifting. There's no CGI, no car chases or gratuitous sex and violence, just a massive secret at the heart of the family that slowly unfolds. I am agreeing with those wonderful, glowing reviews.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Alan Bennett and Mike Leigh

"When sorrows come they come not single spies but in battalions"

This week has been a good week for going out.

First, on Tuesday, B and I had an evening out at the Theatre Royal in York to see Alan Bennett's double bill of spies. This was preceded by a very good dinner at a new North African Kitchen (whose name escapes me). Very good nosh, the merguez sausages and butter beans dish was particularly good.

The double bill of spies is called "Single Spies". It is two short plays, "An Englishman Abroad" about Guy Burgess living in Moscow, and "A Question of Attribution" about the naming of (Sir?) Anthony Blunt as a Russian spy. Great performances, entertaining and real, given by Theatre by the Lake company.

Tuesday was a very satisfying night out.

Later in the week I went to Cityscreen Cinema for an afternoon showing of Mike Leigh's new film "Peterloo". The news media has been carrying stories that not many people know of the events at St. Peter's Field that became known as The Peterloo Massacre. I was born and went to school in a cotton town and St. Peter's Field is on the other side of Manchester from us, so we were told about the Peterloo Massacre at school. Estimates are that around 100,000 people gathered on the field to demand voting rights and representation. These days the meeting would be described as a pro-democracy event, similar to the Arab Spring. The meeting was charged by the local Yeomanry and other troops, 18 people were killed, hundreds wounded. Mike Leigh takes his time in getting to the event, using the film to tell several different strands of stories of how people got there, the orators, the families, the authorities, the journalists. For me, this is first class history telling, real people, real events.

And it were grand to hear folk talking proper.