Shure, the happy childhood is hardly worth your while.

‘A man who would drink the money for the new baby was beyond the beyonds.’

Fancying a good miserable time for myself on Easter Sunday night, after the chickens had been cooked and eaten and the crème eggs devoured, I put on ANGELA’S ASHES. This is one of the few Irish films I can stomach, as some of the rest of them are just too annoying or, quite frankly, not as good as their English or American counterparts. As I’m Irish myself, I’m allowed to say that, lol.

ANGELA’S ASHES is quite simply one of the best films ever made about the Miserable Irish Catholic Childhood, and fair play to author and school-teacher Frank McCourt (1930-2009) for turning his grim beginnings into a multi-million selling book and movie. Talk about making lemonade when life hands you lemons. That’s how you do it, Frankie lad, and more power to your elbow.

Anyway, if Frank McCourt is the hero of his own story, then the heroine must surely be his mother Angela, who put up with so much misery and poverty in her lifetime. Married to a feckless drinking man from the North of Ireland called Malachy McCourt (played by Robert Carlyle), her lot is to have and lose baby after baby (because of the high infant mortality rate for the poor of Limerick’s slums in the 1930s and 1940s) and to be barely able to feed the living ones because they have no money.

We first meet the family in America. They’ve emigrated there presumably to make a better life for themselves, but have to return to Angela’s family in Limerick when the Big Apple turns rotten and worm-infested for them. ‘We must have been the only family in living memory to be sailing AWAY from the Statue of Liberty,’ observes Frank the narrator ironically.

Limerick’s slums are already chock-full of desperately poor families. Frank and his brothers get mocked and taunted in school for wearing broken boots patched with the rubber from a bicycle tire. The family’s furniture comes from the St. Vincent De Paul Society, on the condition, seemingly, that they consent to being insulted and publicly demeaned by the members of the committee while queuing up to beg for it.

Dad is permanently out of work and, on the rare occasions when he’s in work, he drinks the wages and then loses the job for turning up late or not at all. Angela refers to him repeatedly as a ‘useless feck,’ and she’s not wrong there. Robert Carlyle’s character makes me so angry.

His sole contribution to the family seems to be getting Angela pregnant repeatedly, filling his sons’ heads with fairy stories he remembers from his childhood and drinking away every penny he ever gets his hands on, coming home pissed and incontinent offering his children ‘a penny to die for Ireland.’ When he conks out one night with his stupid selfish head practically in the piss-bucket on the landing, you can’t help feeling that he’s found his natural milieu.

Oh yes, he’s big on songs about the bould brave Fenian men and he boasts about having fought for Ireland during the War of Independence but, wouldn’t you know it, there’s no record of his ever having done military service so he’s not entitled to any pension.

He just makes me so mad. He has ‘loser’ and ‘sponger’ written all over him. He castigates Angela for going begging to the St. Vincent De Paul people or picking up coal off the street where it’s dropped off the coal-man’s cart (‘Have you no pride, Angela?’), but I don’t see him bringing in a wage for food and clothes for the kids he’s actively helped to create.

It’s almost a relief when he buggers off for good, off down the wet, waterlogged lanes where the McCourts have their tenement-style dwelling, to take the boat to England and never be heard from again, as far as I know. Frankie, played by three different actors in the three stages of his development, is the man of the house now.

We see Frankie in school, on the one hand being subjected to savage physical discipline and, on the other, being introduced to the joys of reading, a love he never loses. We see him going to the Lyric cinema- when he has the price of admission, and sometimes when he hasn’t!- to watch Westerns and old UNIVERSAL horror movies such as THE MUMMY, starring Boris Karloff. ‘He’s sticking his knife into that nice lady’s belly…!’

Frankie makes his First Holy Communion, for which he has to have his badly-behaved, sticky-uppy Protestant hair flattened down by his Granny’s spit, and his Confirmation. He develops typhoid and spends two months in hospital. He gets his first ever job as a coal-man’s apprentice, but has to jack it in because his eyes become super-irritated by the coal dust.

He works for the Post Office as a telegram boy and enjoys as a result his first ever sexual experience with a girl. He’s long since learned the forbidden art of ‘self-abuse,’ even though he knows full well that it makes the Virgin Mary cry.

He works for the local moneylender as a writer of threatening letters- one of the highlights being when he throws her ledger in the ocean- and every penny he makes, he puts into a Post Office Savings Account, otherwise known as his Going To America fund. Yes, that’s right. All wee Frankie McCourt wants to do is get back to the land of promise and plenty some day, where everyone has perfect teeth and a lavatory of their own. Oh joy unconfined, lol.

How can he bear to part with the rain, the misery, the hunger, the grinding poverty and the awful knowledge that his mother has to sexually satisfy her horrible cousin Laman Griffin if she wants to keep a roof over her childrens’ heads? Ah well. It’s a free country. Or maybe not…

There’s a brilliant jaunty soundtrack of ‘Thirties and ‘Forties music, lots of stunning rural scenes to ogle, and the cast is dotted with familiar faces from other Irish films and Irish soap operas, namely the now defunct rural soap GLENROE and on-going urban soap FAIR CITY. It’s like playing ‘Spot the minor Irish celeb…!’ Oh look, it’s your man from… And wasn’t your one in…? And there’s what’s-her-name from that thing, oh, you know the thing I mean, it was on last August Bank Holiday…!

The main person you’ll recognise should be Pauline McGlynn, aka Mrs. Doyle from clerical sitcom FATHER TED, as Frankie’s Aunty Aggie, Angela’s childless older sister. You can tell she has a heart of gold underneath the cranky, crabby exterior. Although, strangely enough, she doesn’t once try to give anyone tea…    

Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t “Feel Like” Writing? – A Writer’s Path — The Reluctant Poet

Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t “Feel Like” Writing? – A Writer’s Path Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t “Feel Like” Writing? – A Writer’s Path

Is It a Good Idea to Write When You Don’t “Feel Like” Writing? – A Writer’s Path — The Reluctant Poet






I didn’t grow up or ever live in Maggie Thatcher’s England, otherwise I mightn’t have bawled so hard at this rather emotional and sentimental depiction of the Iron Lady’s life and times.

Meryl Streep is fabulous, as always, as the woman who went from being a grocer’s daughter to Britain’s longest serving (in the twentieth century) and first ever female Prime Minister.

The story is told partly in flashbacks depicting Mrs. Thatcher’s ascent to power in the Conservative party, and partly in scenes from the ‘present day,’ about eight years after the death of her beloved husband, Denis, beautifully played by that old stalwart of the British screen, Jim Broadbent.

That places the action in 2011, two years before Margaret Thatcher died in 2013. (Did she see this film? It’s not particularly unflattering, but she may have been made uncomfortable at the scenes in which she was depicted as being not in her right mind, or in which her late husband appears.)

The bits from the present are very sad, hence me crying my eyes out for the old lady with dementia who talks to her deceased husband all the time because she’s actually seeing visions of him; it’s as if he never left. In these ‘present day’ clips, she is finally going through Denis’s clothes and other effects with a view to sending them to charity, never an easy thing to do.

This is what her daughter Carol thinks she should do, put away the past and get on with her life. Carol is left with the main care of her mother, though the elderly former Prime Minister has a staff who make sure she’s always ready- suited, pussy-bow-tied, made-up and coiffed- to be wheeled out for yet another appointment, such as another fancy dinner at which her opinions on current affairs are sought, or the unveiling of yet another portrait of her for posterity.

Carol Thatcher is one hundred percent present for her ageing mum, but, typically, it’s the deceased Denis and the absent son Mark, ensconced with his own family on the other side of the world, for whom the old lady pines day and night. What’s that they say? A daughter’s a daughter for all of her life; a son’s just a son till he gets him a wife…

Via the flashbacks, we see the Iron Lady (this very apt nickname came from the Russians) grappling with some of the major issues and incidents from her eleven years in office as the Prime Minister; the Brixton riot in 1981; the Miners’ Strike from 1984-1985; the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton during the Conservative Party Conference of 1984. Some despicable people obviously found the presence of so many Tories in the one place, including Maggie and Denis, to be just too irresistible.

Then there was the Falklands War in 1982. Men on both sides of the short but bloody conflict died, and poor Prince Andrew sadly lost forever his ability to sweat, but Maggie and her Brits seized those islands back from the pesky Argentinians, giving her the reputation of a leader with balls of steel, though she concealed them handsomely beneath her well-tailored blue skirt suits.

Her heyday was the 1980s. In the film, she is portrayed in the 1990s as something of an anachronism, squabbling with her ministers, in particular Geoffrey Howe, who resigned after one such public bollocking (yes, I could have said ‘dressing-down’ there but saying bollocking instead is keeping it real, man!).

She also insists that poor people should pay as much as rich people pay in the deeply unpopular Poll Tax, a tax for simply existing, as far as I can make out. She has no choice but to step down when she realises she’s lost the support of much of her cabinet for her draconian policies.

Comedy sketch show SPITTING IMAGE did very well out of her, and also out of her successor, the mild-mannered John Major. ‘The peas are good today, Norma.’ But it’s the sketch of Maggie and her cabinet out to dinner on one occasion that I’ll never forget. Maggie orders her meat course, and then the waiter asks her what about the vegetables?

‘They’ll have what I’m having,’ replies the Lady who is not for Turning.







I absolutely love survival horror films like this one. FALL is very similar to one whose name I can’t remember, featuring a cable car stuck up in the mountains after the booking office has closed and the staff have all gone home for the weekend, maybe even the long weekend. And you know the way that the kids in horror films often do the stupidest things, the exact things that will guarantee them both disaster and a short life?

The kids in the cable car movie (it’s on the tip of my tongue; was it called DROP? SNOW? CABLE CAR? MOUNTAIN? FREEZE? ROCK? SWING? CREAK? THREE THICK EEJITS STUCK IN A ROCKING CABLE CAR HALFWAY UP A FUCKIN’ MOUNTAIN AFTER HOURS?) can’t have known that their cable car would turn out to be faulty, so I suppose you can’t really call them stupid, but the two lasses in FALL do the stupidest thing ever while in their right minds, so they deserve every Darwin Award ever awarded to stupid people who improve the human gene pool by killing themselves in ever more idiotic ways. It’s a bit like the rubbish kerbing itself, if you get me.

FALL adheres strictly to a formula, but it’s a formula that still really works. Put your protagonists in a dangerous situation, then just keep turning the screw on the little blighters till they figure a way out for themselves. THE POOL and CRAWL and 47 METERS DOWN all come to mind as examples of fairly recent survival horror films that stick to the formula, but really work well as well.

American gals Becky and Hunter decide to climb a 2,000 ft high tower in the desert so that they can take photos at the top for Hunter’s YouTube channel, for which she carries out dangerous ‘challenges.’

Well, people will always like and subscribe to watch other idiots killing themselves, we know that. They’ll film you while you’re dying, too, but don’t expect them to call 911 because they’re busy trying to film something, goddammit…!

Anyway, Becky doesn’t want to climb the stupid tower. She’d rather stay home and booze it up and mourn the loss of her hubby, Dan, who died this time last year in, yes, you guessed it, a climbing accident also involving Becky and Hunter. (Dan is played by Mason Gooding, the son of Cuba Gooding, Jr.)

Becky doesn’t want to climb stairs, never mind a stupid rickety old tower in the desert, but Hunter, hungry for Likes & Subscribes, manages to persuade her that, if she doesn’t, she’ll be giving in to fear and fear will dominate her for the rest of her life.

Is that what you want, Becky? For fear to be the boss of you your whole freakin’ life? Do you want to be enjoying a quiet evening in and suddenly fear calls round and ruins everything by insisting you cook for him (yep, fear’s a guy!) and give him the best seat on the couch so he can watch his Netflix series, which, by the way, has one-hundred-and-twenty episodes in it and he’s only watched about four to date? Get a grip, Becky!

About thirty-five minutes in to the film, the shit hits the fan. The girls, Wonderbras firmly in place because ‘tits get clicks,’ suddenly find themselves stuck up the tower and in the worst peril of their stupid lives, and all to get clicks and views for ‘Danger D,’ as Hunter calls herself online.

Putting your own and a friend’s life in jeopardy for your viewers’ pleasure and enjoyment is almost criminally wrong. What sort of desperate character does that? Is someone officially looking into it? Seriously…

I’m not really going to give away any more, but the tension is terrific and the girls’ predicament just keeps getting grimmer and grimmer, as the buzzards circle ominously and the gals can’t get a signal for their phones. Well, it can’t be because they’re not up bleedin’ high enough!

There’s the usual trope of a confession needing to be made by one of the parties stuck up 2,000 feet in the ear, and the other party needs to hear it, regardless of what a dodgy and dangerous situation they find themselves in.

One of the girls is estranged from one parent as well, and would really appreciate said parent reading her mind and coming to her rescue right about now. Oh, wouldn’t that be luverly…?

The two female leads are excellent in their roles, although I found it strange that neither of them seemed to be suffering from vertigo and there were virtually no shots of the ground coming sickeningly up to meet them like in Alfred Hitchcock’s VERTIGO. They were standing around as bold as brass, not even holding onto the pole thing and looking down in gut-wrenching terror.

There’s a pretty good plot twist that I did not see coming, and an ever-so-slightly disappointing ending. It’s just a tad confusing, that’s all. Hopefully it won’t ruin your enjoyment of an otherwise cracking little survival horror film. And remember, it’s a survival film, isn’t it, so someone has to, right…?  




I’ve absolutely loved this sitcom right from the first episode, though I’ve never seen MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE, the sitcom from which it derived. George and Mildred Roper are a total hit as a couple.

George is a ‘working class layabout’ who loves to sit around watching telly and smoking and only getting up to change the channel on the box when he can’t find the remote control…

Mildred is a social butterfly who wants nothing more than to move to a nice posh area and make a few nice posh friends with whom to share coffee mornings, book clubs and charity fund-raising drives.

Mildred has an adorable little wuff-wuff called Truffles. She’s (Mildred, that is, not the dog!) always togged out in her favourite skirt-and-blouse ensembles in the fluorescent colours she loves, with the make-up on and the wonderful but garish costume jewellery in place.

After a ‘bit of trouble’ with their old council house, the Ropers move to 46, Peacock Crescent in Hampton Wick, a posh area with ‘decent schools,’ where Mildred is so determined to social climb that you wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’d brought along her climbing boots, helmet and crampons to help her do the job.

George, not unsurprisingly, hates the house and the area, saying it’s a place for upper class, toffee-nosed twits and Conservative tossers. And he’s not entirely wrong, either. Next-door-neighbour, Geoffrey Fourmile, is a snobby real estate agent who thinks the Ropers are povvos lowering the tone of the neighbourhood.

His biggest dread is having George Roper’s working-class ideas inculcated into the brain of his own cute blond son, Tristram, who, at aged six or eight or whatever it is, is as absorbent as a sponge.

Geoffrey tolerates his wife Anne’s friendship with the brash and good-taste-less Mildred, but he has a special place of loathing in his heart for the perpetually unemployed George. The one time George gets a job, it’s as a traffic warden and he has the nerve to give Geoffrey a ticket!

Anne Fourmile is a rare gem, even in the days when women traditionally stayed home to look after husbands and children. She cooks, cleans and sews like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

She’s ash-blonde, sweet and pretty in a soft, feminine way (a sort of really soft, pink cashmere sweater kind of way), but she can be feisty and funny too, and she’s definitely sexy, with the Fourmiles still enjoying a healthy sex life even after several years of marriage. A second son-with-a-silly-posh-twit’s-name, Tarquin, is born about halfway through the show’s duration.

Geoffrey is traditionally tall, dark and handsome, but he’s no friend to the unemployed, whom he’d see as scroungers and layabouts who should all be made to pave the roads or something to get them off the dole.

His spats with George are hilarious, but stuffed shirt, stiff-upper-lipped Geoffrey isn’t entirely without feeling, as when he replaces George’s old dad’s dead ferret (dead because he, Geoffrey, backed the car over it!) with a live one to say sorry.

George and Mildred don’t seem to have had sex for years. Mildred makes the most cutting remarks about George’s impotency or lack of libido, whichever it is. George seems absolutely petrified at the thought of having sex with his own wife, and all Mildred’s attempts at penetrating the fortress that is George’s side of the bed usually end in failure. Not surprisingly, Mildred buys her Yorkshire Terrier, Truffles, to counter-act the loneliness of having no offspring of her own to love.

Mildred’s old mum is played by EASTENDERS actress Gretchen Franklin, who for years portrayed Ethel Skinner, Dot Cotton’s best pal, in the long-running soap. I can’t believe she was old even in the ‘Seventies!

In GEORGE AND MILDRED, her finest hour is probably when she hosts the Christmas knees-up to end all knees-ups while George and her daughter sit alone and friendless in their house. The joke being, of course, that even an octogenarian has more pals than George and Mildred…

Poor childless Mildred, for all her bling and brashness, has a sad life, really. Her husband never compliments her or even really ever notices her. He never even tries to touch her, never mind throwing her down on a bed and making her feel like a real woman with the strength and depth of his passion.

Her only friend is Anne Fourmile, who’s got her own family to worry about at the end of the day. Her mother can never remember which daughter Mildred is, and Mildred’s sister Ethel (more below) just uses her as someone to show off to and flaunt her wealth in front of. Poor Mildred.

Avril Elgar and Reginald Marsh play Ethel and Humphrey Pumphrey (love it!), Mildred’s sister and brother-in-law. Ethel married rich, and shows off her wealth and good fortune to poor Mildred in a way that would put Hyacinth Bucket (that’s Boo-kay, if you please, not Bucket!) of KEEPING UP APPEARANCES to shame. Mind you, we know that Humphrey is a bit of a womanising, sleeping-with-his-secretary type, so all is not completely perfect chez Humphrey.

My favourite recurring character is Roy Kinnear’s Jerry, the ‘cowboy’ builder, who’s so crooked he even freely admits it himself. He’s like O’Reilly in FAWLTY TOWERS, the cowboy builder Basil employs to work on the hotel because he’s cheap and cuts corners. But when George engages his mate Jerry to build ‘Mildew’s’ (that’s what Jerry calls her) dream shower, it’s not the Ropers but the Fourmiles who, erm, get the benefit…

Fun fact: George’s 1933 motorcycle-with-sidecar combination is now on permanent display at the London Motorcycle Museum. It also appeared in the BBC military sitcom, DAD’S ARMY.

Sad fact: Poor dear Yootha Joyce died prematurely of portal cirrhosis of the liver in 1980, thereby preventing further episodes of the show from being made. This just makes the ones we have all the more precious. It’s a terrific show. Watch it if you can.   






This is a fantastic film for mothers and daughters to watch together. Myself and my own daughter were positively glued to it yesterday afternoon (Sunday). That’s not to say that men and other folks can’t enjoy it too; it’s just that it’s such a brilliant mother-daughter picture, with Glenn Close and Mila Kunis each giving phenomenal performances as, guess what, a mother and daughter, lol.

Glenn Close of FATAL ATTRACTION fame plays Deb, the mom. She lives in suburban America and works as a massage therapist to rich wimmins. Deb’s daughter Molly (Mila Kunis, who plays Meg in FAMILY GUY) has just turned up on Deb’s doorstep like a bad penny. She is absolutely rotten with drugs, the really bad kind.

She begs her mum to let her come back home to allegedly ‘get clean,’ but Molly has no fewer than fourteen failed attempts at de-toxing under her belt already, and we get the feeling that Deb has been right alongside her the whole time. So: Go away, Molly. Come back when you’re clean. We’ve been through all this before, remember? Come back when you’re clean.

Molly has all but ruined her mum’s life with her nonsense. As a heroin addict, she has lied to her mother, stolen from her mother’s purse, nicked her stepdad’s guitars to sell for drugs money, caused a divide between her mum and her stepdad and gotten her two young children taken away from her. I’m pretty sure that Molly hasn’t forgotten about this category of woe.

But Molly has her mother’s stubbornness. If you let me in, Mom, I swear that this time will be different. I really mean it about wanting to get clean this time. Well, her poor mother’s not made of stone. Deb agrees- reluctantly- to let Molly come home, but this absolutely, definitely has got to be the last attempt at ‘getting clean.’ It will be Molly’s fifteenth stab at it.

Deb is heartbroken at the state of Molly. Her lovely teeth have all rotted away. Her bleached blonde hair is so dry it’s a fire hazard. She’s stick-thin. Her once-beautiful face is covered in ugly sores.

Molly hasn’t seen her two children, who are living with their dad, in God-knows-how-long. Everything she’s ever had, she’s lost. Self-esteem, self-confidence, pride in herself, another child which she carried to term and then gave up for adoption. It’s a tragic old story.

Deb helps Molly to go ‘cold turkey’ at home. Deb’s husband, Molly’s stepfather, stays mostly out of it, having been robbed blind by a drug-addled Molly in the past. For Deb, it’s a long few days, full of watching, and waiting, and worrying, and wondering. It’s cool the way the things all started with a ‘w,’ isn’t it…? Lol.

Molly’s doctor tells her something electrifying. If Molly can stay drug-free for only four more days- four good days- he will give her a drug called an opioid antagonist, which will help her body to reject any highs for up to a month. After that she can take the tablet again, and for however many times she needs it after that. (I think that’s how it works!)

Can Molly stay clean for four more days? She and her mum are both doubtful, but to think past this weekend is to be able to imagine a future without drugs blighting all their lives. It’s looking grim there for a while, especially when Molly decides she’s going to look up an old friend who just so happens to live in a crack den/flop house. Can Molly resist temptation? Can Deb hold it together? Will these ladies have their four good days? We can only wait and see, folks. Wait and see…

The story is based on the true-life goings-on of Amanda Wendler and Libby Alexander, Molly and Deb respectively. Glenn Close is still acting up a storm at seventy-five, and I was so impressed at Mila Kunis’s willingness to make herself look truly down-and-out for the role of an habitual junkie. Terrific film, doesn’t just have to be watched by mother-daughter combos! Watch it by yourself or with a roomful of people, it’s a cracking piece of work whatever way you look at it.

PS, having just done my online researches, I’ve discovered that the film’s director, Rodrigo Garcia, is actually the son of Nobel-prize-winning literary royalty, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. GGM penned works such as the famous One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985), and was referred to on his death in 2014 as ‘the greatest Colombian who ever lived.’ It was the then President of Colombia who said this, by the way, not some mad randomer.

Rodrigo’s mum was a stunningly beautiful woman, known for being the supportive woman behind Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I wonder if it was hard going for Rodrigo, growing up in the shadow of an internationally famous dad? I did own One Hundred Years of Solitude at one point, but I gave it away to charity without reading it because I thought it looked a bit hard, lol. You know, literary and that. And how right I was!

Anyway, Rodrigo needn’t worry about having to live up to his famous Pops. If even half his oeuvres are as good as FOUR GOOD DAYS, he’s doing all right.



THE HUNT. (1965/1969)



‘Michael Armstrong is creating history by being the first film-maker to publish his entire screenwriting output. With the original uncut screenplays in print for the first time ever and peppered with a mixture of wildly entertaining anecdotes, astounding behind-the-scenes revelations, creative and educational insights and brutal ‘no holds barred’ honesty, these books are guaranteed to provide a completely new kind of reading experience while offering a unique insight into the movie industry. Starting from his first professional screenplay written in 1960 when he was only fifteen and which he subsequently directed in 1968, the books will ultimately encompass a career that has spanned over fifty years. The books will include not only those screenplays which made it onto a cinema screen but, for the first time ever, all those that didn’t- and the reasons why…’

The screenplay for Michael Armstrong’s THE HUNT was actually written twice, if you please. Once in 1965 as a sort of story-telling exercise to satisfy Michael’s own insatiable desire for learning and self-improvement (and, I daresay, his need to be Always Writing Something, an affliction from which most writers, including myself, suffer!) and again in 1969 with the intention of filming it as a short film of about twenty-five minutes duration.

It could then appear in cinemas accompanying a longer film. There were backers and a wonderful location and no-one was breathing down Michael’s neck trying to stunt his creativity. Happy Days!

He was inspired to write the screenplay after seeing his RADA chum Kenneth Cranham performing a mime of a soldier jumping in to a lake to avoid captivity, then swimming like billy-o, being shot and gracefully sinking to his death in an elegant slow motion.

The 1965 version of THE HUNT is shorter and simpler than the later one. We know straightaway that a young man, no more than a boy, really, is desperately running away from something or somebody, and we get a very real sense of his terror:

He glances behind him,


Through foliage-

Which becomes-



. . .

He stops,

For a moment,

Against a tree-

Almost hiding-

Almost crouching-

And looks behind him-

. . .

On, he runs-


His face is scared-

He runs-



It’s impossible not to want to offer the poor young fella a place to hide and a bed for the night with some hot food, especially when we find out that he is being pursued by a trio of determined soldiers.

What do they want him for? I very much doubt if it’s to give him a medal, or the chocolates and fragrant bath oils he lavishes on all his employees! (A Mr. Burns joke from THE SIMPSONS there, forgive me!)

In fact, one gets the disturbing feeling that something very unpleasant is coming down the track for this poor lad, and, even as we urge him on with all our might, things just keep going from bad to worse with him:

Gone are the sounds of the forest-

The hunt is on again-

As panic flashes into his face-

The terror has returned,

The fear,

As he frantically looks for somewhere,

Anywhere to run-

The THREE SOLDIERS are nearer,

Still at the same steady jogging trot-


Darts away-

Flashing through the forest-




And they follow-

The ending is shocking, and wholly unexpected. I won’t give it away. You’ll have much more fun reading the screenplay and finding out for yourself, hint hint, lol.

The 1969 screenplay has been filled out a good bit so that it could be made, as I said, into a short film of about twenty-five minutes in length. We still have our soldiers in pursuit, but this time we are shown the reason they are pursuing the young man. The chase is on once more, but with one or two little differences, or should I say, additions.

The bit where the young man being pursued meets up with a beautiful young girl and they start laughing and dancing and cavorting all around the meadows and whatnot really speaks to me. Michael, as a posh RADA type, had Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 in mind for the music, but, for this scene in particular, I would personally use either of these two pieces of music:

  1. Men Without Hats; the Safety Dance. (We can dance if we want to, etc.)
  2. The Turtles: Happy Together.

Michael will probably choke on his posh-person coffee when he reads these suggestions, lol, but I could see them working, I totally could! (It’s the kind of scene you might see in the aforementioned SIMPSONS; a scene where Homer is happily prancing about singing or laughing joyfully, only for it to be revealed that he’s actually asleep at the wheel and about to unwittingly drive off a cliff . . .)  

Anyway, things go pear-shaped for the poor young fugitive almost immediately after his brief dalliance with his beautiful maiden:

THREE FIGURES can be seen moving through the trees-

Gone is the silence-

The hunt is on again-

As panic-

Sets him running frantically-

The THREE SOLDIERS are nearer-

He darts away-




Will the desperate young man ever ‘reach the winning post,’ and ‘the gleaming, prize-winning cup it has to offer,’ or will he go the way of our hero in the 1965 screenplay version? I’ll never tell, but it would be well worth your while to check the story out for yourself.

The foreword of the screenplay book is written by Kenneth Cranham, Michael’s RADA chum who pretty much inspired the whole shebang, and Michael himself has penned detailed, affectionate accounts of what it was like to shoot the 1969 production, which make for fantastic reading:

Michael: My favourite image of that day, however, will always be that of seeing Olive Negus-Fancey (Michael’s backer, whose farmland he was using for the shoot) perched on a tractor, happily ploughing a field.

Aw, wish I’d been there!

By the way, what ultimately happened to ‘the only film I ever shot and edited to my own satisfaction?’ (Michael’s words.) Well, again, reader, you’ll have to read this beautiful, glossy-covered screenplay book to find out.

One last word, though it’s neither Michael’s nor my own.

Q. What three things go to make a great film?

A. The screenplay, the screenplay, the screenplay!

Find out to whom these words are attributed in the book . . .

  You can buy this book and all of Michael’s other works as well at the following links:

I don’t just watch tv, tips for writing reviews part two

Paper Beats World

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Last week we talked about my job as a horror critic for Haunted MTL. And it turned out that I had more to say about the topic than one post alone could hold. So I’m back today with more advice for any aspiring critics.

Whereas last week we talked about the writing of reviews themselves, today I want to talk about building a career as a critic. Because there are things to consider that I never thought of before I started writing reviews. Some are pretty common sense. Some, I wish I’d understood sooner.

What are you going to write about?

When writing reviews, what you write about is as important as how you write about it. I can write the best review you ever read in your life…

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You Can Do Anything Once You Fall In Love With Yourself — Be Inspired..!!

Long story short, the people we meet and cross paths with, the people we fall in love with, the people who hurt us, and the people who come into our lives to impart wisdom and happiness are all up to chance. It seems that lessons in life are always centred around the wrong people, situations, […]

You Can Do Anything Once You Fall In Love With Yourself — Be Inspired..!!





The timing of my watching this Netflix documentary is kinda funny (only to me, admittedly) because I’d recently been watching THE DIRT, the fascinating tell-all movie about the world-famous ‘hair’ band, Motley Crue, and I’d already decided that Tommy Lee was by far the biggest dickhead of the four band members.

Immature, impulsive, probably ADHD (imho), just a complete asshole who didn’t really care about the consequences of his actions, because he was usually long gone by the time they kicked in. I didn’t care for him much, as if you hadn’t guessed…

I loved the guy playing Mick Mars, the older band member with a health condition that meant he couldn’t party the way the younger members did- thank Christ! I fancy the arse off Douglas Booth, so I loved his portrayal of Nikki Sixx, though the sight of his heroin abuse properly put the willies up me.   

Anyway, then I watched this quite good Netflix documentary, PAMELA: A LOVE STORY, and of course everyone knows that sex goddess Pamela Anderson was married to Motley Crue drummer, Tommy Lee, until their well-publicised bust-up.

I’ll be honest with you. Here are the things I knew about Pamela Anderson before seeing this new documentary.

  1. She’s famous for her fabulous blonde hair and huge, surgically-enhanced bosoms.
  2. She’s been a PLAYBOY model, showing off the above attributes.
  3. She’s been the star of television programme, BAYWATCH, from 1992 to 1997. BAYWATCH is about lifeguards and co-starred David Hasselhoff, aka, the Hoff. The lifeguards were often filmed running down the beach in their red swimwear in slow motion. It mesmerised millions of viewers worldwide.
  4. She was the star of an unsuccessful action movie called BARB WIRE.
  5. She married Tommy Lee, the wildman drummer of Motley Crue, in 1995, and they had a sex-based, passionate and tumultuous relationship before splitting up after about three years. They have two sons together, Brandon Lee and Dylan Lee, and Pam and Tommy split up after Tommy engaged in spousal abuse.
  6. A tape of Pam and Tommy having sex once broke the Internet. Nowadays, of course, celebrity sex tapes are ten-a-penny, commonplace things, but back then, it was huge news, and I do mean huge.
  7. She has no fewer than, ahem, six, failed marriages to her name.

The documentary features Pamela Anderson chatting easily away to camera about the above-mentioned topics and other things, but mostly the above. She’s make-up-less, or else very sparingly and artfully made up, simply dressed in a white robe, and is back living in her parents’ charming Canadian home in Ladysmith, British Columbia. She’s open, friendly and has a lovely giggly laugh.

She surprised me hugely by turning out to be someone who keeps detailed journals and diaries, just like I do myself. I wouldn’t class anyone who keeps a diary as ‘dim,’ yet that’s how she’s been portrayed in the media over the years, as a dimwit whose brain shrinks accordingly as her boobs get bigger.

Ah well. That’s the media for you. They’ll always portray a woman as a sex bomb over an intelligent human being any day, and studious women are often unflatteringly seen as ‘bluestockings,’ an uncomplimentary way of defining a woman who reads…!

When I was a young ‘un, I showed off my own big boobs and blonde hair shamelessly, and never failed to give men what they wanted from me, which was a good time with a busty blonde who was uncomplicated, straightforward and devoid of hidden depths, talents or passions. Now I make no efforts to please, because I’m worn out. It happens as you get older, trust me. They can take me or leave me, as long as they don’t wake me…

Pammy looks tired but happy, rather like a woman who’s just given birth, and maybe she has, not to a baby this time but to a new phase of her life, in which she’s single and preparing to have-maybe- a love affair with herself for the first time ever.

She’s certainly earned it. She’s suffered miscarriages in her time, domestic violence at the hands of Tommy Lee, sexual abuse in her childhood inflicted by a babysitter and gang rape by a boyfriend and his mates in her teenage years. She’s also lived her adult life under the harsh glare of an unforgiving media who, as we all know, only build you up so that they can tear you down again.

The main feeling I get from this film is that Tommy Lee was, is and always will be, the main love of Pamela Anderson’s life. She says it herself; that’s why none of her marriages after Tommy worked out, because they weren’t with him.

I don’t know why they don’t just get back together and be done with it. They’re both still single, as far as I know, Pam and Tommy, and we already know they’ve kept up their sex life, lol. (Aw, shee-it, he’s re-married, just looked it up! Still, you know, anything’s possible…!)

Maybe she’s worried about what people would think, maybe even what the ‘woke’ brigade would say about her getting back with her former abuser, but I say feck ‘em. The ‘woke’ brigade can bloody well mind their own business for once.

Or, better still, maybe she should just forget about men altogether for a bit and have that love affair with herself that she’s been putting on the long finger for a while. It might be an interesting voyage of discovery for the woman whose face could still launch a thousand ships any day of the week.

Do what you like, missus, I say, and don’t worry your pretty little head about other people, male or female. You’re a lovely lady, you’ve raised two loving, caring sons, and you deserve a bit of stability and happiness in your life now.

Go for it, girl. With knobs on…