Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Whitby from the air

Sir John Craven (he may be no 'Sir' yet but he should be) introduced Countryfile this week from Whitby. It was a windswept Whitby and very quiet than what we are used to see. John seemed to give a good account of the town but he missed several of it's highlights. But still I learnt quite a few things from the programme.

For instance that the time that Easter is celebrated was decided by the Synod of Whitby in 664.
They also visited the St Hilda's Priory, at Sneaton Castle where they showed some insanely happy Nuns at work.

Sneaton Castle where Nuns are insanely happy

But I was disappointed not to see John go for Fish and Chips, Crazy Golf or the bumpy boats on the boating lake. The weatherman from the London studio though was quick to point out the snowy weather was a perfect opportunity to nip in for some Cod and chips.

Magpie Cafe visited by Rick Stein but not by Sir John

They did dabble on the Gothic interest in the town with Dracula (Bram Stoker) and the pilgrimage of the 'said' Goths on the town each year. The locals are now welcoming the event with signs in their windows. "Goths welcome" etc. It won't be long before we see the first "PVC R Us" store set up in the town.

Here is a tribute to the Goth Weekend which started in 94 by local Hartlepool Youtube band maddohartlepool

Monday, March 10, 2008

Hard Times

Last night we watched on DVD 'Hard Times', a BBC Dickens production from 1994 starring Alan Bates, Harriet Walter , Richard E. Grant & Bill Paterson.

In Hard Times, Charles Dickens gives us a close-up look into what appears to be the ivory tower of the bourgeoisie of his day, yet these middle-class characters are viewed from a singular perspective, the perspective of those at the bottom of the social and economic system. Though Dickens' characters tend to be well developed and presented with a thoroughly human quality, the stereotypical figure of arrogant and demanding Bounderby fails to accurately capture the motivations and attitudes of the typical successful businessman of the day and is an indication of the author's political motives. Hard Times, rather than presenting a historically accurate picture of the extraordinary changes brought about by the industrial revolution, is a one-sided attack on the utilitarian value system of the middle 19th century based upon emotional blue-collar appeals for labor sympathy that are not uncommon in today's corporate environment.

Hard Times also features in a small role as Mrs Bounderby, Patsy Byrne, who most will remember as Queenie from Blackadder. According to her Wikipedia entry Patsy is famous for playing round, jolly, often slightly insane old women. In Hard Times she plays a round, jolly, often slightly insane old woman.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

TEFAF comes to town

Still missing in action

The TEFAF is back in town and this year they are hitting the headlines before they even started.

A quick reminder for the uninitiated: TEFAF = The European Fine Art Fair. And this year it is scaling the dizzy hights. More money than ever. The city is buzzing with posh cars, suits, limos, posh frocks, and 1000's of frothing mouths from the local supporting business fraternity.

So the fair started today and runs for 10 days and the TEFAF hit the headlines within hours of starting.

On the first day of opening two Mexican men stole a diamond necklace from one of the stands worth 1.2 Million Euros. They were helped by a Costa Rican woman. They were caught at the exit to the exhibition but the necklace wasn't found.

The Dutch media is helping in the case by frequently advertising on the news with any arrivals of Van Gogh, Monet paintings which are selling around the 14-M Euro mark.

Thank god they don't let any rif-raff in.

But yours truly did manage to get a free ticket this year. Valued at 90 Euros.

Best pants on and eat as much as you like before making a quick exit with a diamond necklace.