Sunday, June 29, 2008


STILL WATERS STILL RUNNING DEEP

Just a few miles from where I live is the Hoo Peninsula, pictured above, which juts out between the rivers Thames and Medway. It is the land of Pip in Great Expectations, an area well known to Charles Dickens. At its north-eastern extremity lies the `Isle` of Grain, meaning `gravel,` with its vast open spaces, huge skies, power stations, sheep and marshes. The peninsula is dotted with scattered small villages, each with its own distinctive character, most of which are isolated, insular, independant communities.

June 22nd, 1954. Christchurch, New Zealand. Two young girls, Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme, both aged 16, are on a visit to Victoria Park with Pauline`s mother, Honora. The girls have become totally devoted to each other, sharing their school lives, their home lives, their dreams.....and their fantasies. The news that Juliet`s father, a British scientist and academic, was being transferred to South Africa, has come as a devastating blow to their friendship. Pauline asks her parents if she might go to South Africa with the Hulmes to keep her devoted friendship with Juliet intact. Honora refuses and Pauline comes to the conclusion that such refusal is so devastating that her mother deserves to be punished. And so on that fateful day, the two girls batter Honora to death with a brick wrapped in a stocking.

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Pauline and Juliet

After a week long court case, during which Pauline tried to accept all the blame herself but was denied, both girls were sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty`s pleasure, the death sentence, which was in place in New Zealand at the time, not being applicable to them because of their age. After five years, they are released with stringent conditions being applied, one of which was that for the rest of their lives they were to have no contact of whatever form with each other. And so they go their seperate ways through the rest of their lives.

The whole dark episode was dramatically recorded in Peter Jackson`s film, `Heavenly Creatures,` which is who Pauline and Juliet thought themselves to be and, thus, the rules and laws of `normal` life could not apply to them. For more on Jackson`s award winning film, please see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110005/

Intriguing though the case may have been along with the film which depicted the lives of those two young girls over half a century ago on the other side of the world, it is natural to wonder what became of them in their `afterlife,` so to speak. And here we come across two wildly differing contrasts but also two fascinating similarities.

The contrasts are in the way in which they spent their lives. After being released from prison, Juliet returned to England and became a flight attendant. For a period she lived in the USA, but later she became Anne Perry, a hugely successful historical crime writer. Upon release, Pauline apparently spent some time in New Zealand under close surveillance before being allowed to leave for England, where she became Hilary Nathan. She taught at a school for special needs children, becoming deputy head teacher, until retiring to run a riding school. Juliet has ended up leading a rather public life whereas Pauline`s has been private, quiet, introspective.

Portmahomack
 
The similarities are that they have both chosen to live their private lives in small, remote communities on the far side of the world from where their story began. Juliet Hulme, now as Anne Perry, lives in the small, remote, insular community of Portmahomack on the peninsula which juts out between the Dornoch Firth and the Cromarty Firth off the Ross-shire coast. Pauline Parker, as Hilary Nathan, was last reported to still be living in one of those small, remote, insular communities on the Hoo peninsula between the Thames and the Medway just a few miles from where I live. Circumspection cautions me from disclosing the exact location. They may by chance or choice be at distant ends of the same country with contrasting sea views, but I am sure their own still waters continue to run as deep as those on which they gaze.
(Note : please click on images to enlarge.)

Thursday, June 26, 2008



CREATIVE ACCOUNTANCY COMES IN HANDY....
From our Golf Correspondent

This was the scene at just one of the holes at the prestigious Hever Castle Golf Club on Wednesday when, against all logic, Snopper had been invited back to try his hand once more at the challenging course.

The results were perhaps inevitable as not only were new records broken for the number of balls lost on the nine holes of the Princes Course but also some new rules may have been formulated. They were, of course, Snopper`s own rules, which pay some regard to those of the Royal and Ancient whilst introducing some `adjustments` to take account of his age, his physical and mental shortcomings and his dismal prowess at the game. He looks upon the whole business as not one which breaks the established rules of the game but more the creation of new ones.

The first concerns the matter of lost balls. Now, it is a rule of golf that a player is allowed five minutes to try and find a lost ball. Snopper has, however, introduced a variation that calls upon playing partners to conduct a cursory hunt in the undergrowth before swiftly abandoning all attempts, thus allowing our hero to drop out onto the fairway and sorting out a nice lie in the process.

Which leads to the next variation, the one concerning the penalty strokes for losing a ball. Now, Snopper has, as reported earlier, never ever bought a golf ball in his life, as he has always utilised the 1400 balls retrieved from a nearby course by a much missed golden retriever named Rupert who had been trained for the task. One would have thought that with so many `free` balls at his disposal, Snopper would be happy to accept the rule which provides for a penalty of two shots for a ball lost on terra firma and one shot if lost in a water hazard.

Not a bit of it - Snopper`s attitude is that it is penalty enough to lose a ball and how dare the Royal and Ancient impose any further penalty for what has always been a very frequent occurence, as witnessed by yesterday`s lost ball count of seven in just nine holes.

Lastly, for now at least, Snopper has joined the ranks of `celebtity` hackers in claiming that he is allowed to have as many tee shots as it takes to hit a good one. He takes as his precedent the golfing exploits of former US president Bill Clinton, who has been credited with introducing this most useful of rule variations. It saved Snopper the indignity of having to take seven off the tee at the watery par 3 third, where his third tee shot landed safely on the fringe of the green, giving him the chance to claim an unlikely one over for the hole. One is seriously tempted to enquire just how much longer this can all go on.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008


BASINGSTOKE - GATEWAY TO THE WEST

Let me say at the outset that I`m in no way a fan of Basingstoke. It has the odd thing going for it - close by was Jane Austen`s birthplace at Steventon and also John Arlott`s at Sherborne St. John, which reminds me that it used to house one of Hampshire Cricket Club`s more `atmospheric` grounds at May`s Bounty, but sadly no more.

Those examples apart, it`s cultural history is perhaps generously described as limited and was perhaps best summed up by The British sitcom `Blessed,` which referred to Basingstoke in an episode that aired during the last quarter of 2005. When the main character met an upper-class couple who had named their children "India" and "Ireland" to reflect their supposed mystical natures, he ironically replied that he had named his own children "Basingstoke" and "Milton Keynes".

No, the whole point of Basingstoke is that it lies on the cusp of the great divide between the promised land of the West Country and the sprawling, fast paced, high octane, competitive pretentiousness of the Londoncentric south-east. Now, I`ve lost count (not that I was counting anyway) of the number of times I have whizzed past Basingstoke on the M3 either on my way to or coming back from Southampton, Dorset, Somerset, Devon or Cornwall. For it is just past Basingstoke that the M3 carries on to the south coast and where the A303 branches off towards those far off West Country destinations. It`s a tough choice, but whatever you do, just steer clear of Basingstoke`s Ring Road.

In many ways, therefore, Basingstoke is the Stargate of Hampshire.......something one has to go through - to endure - to reach the great beyond. But whichever way I`m heading, I do notice an almost tangible change in the pattern and pace of the traffic and life itself around the area of Basingstoke. Heading south or south-west, the traffic thins, slows, becomes more mellow, reflecting the countryside passing by. Coming back, however, the traffic seems to quicken its pace, the road becomes more aggressive and the landscape flattens to reflect the way of life in and around the metropolis.
(Basingstoke Ring Road - click on image to enlarge)

So maybe I should be grateful for Basingstoke after all, for without it those choices, those conflicts and those turns of perception may not be there. I imagine that to actually live in Basingstoke must be a bit like residing in confused.com? But I know which direction I would be heading in.

AN UNLIKELY CELEBRITY

One day last week, I was visiting an old friend who told me that he and his wife were due to have a week or so in Dorset. They have been before and they like it. This time they will be staying in the village of Duntishe, far away from the madding crowd.

Now, as you may have spotted, I was born in Dorset and my friend`s mention of Duntishe gave rise to a passing chat about some of the quirky place names for which Dorset is famous. Those shown on the signpost above are good examples, but so too are Plush, Toller Porcorum, Melbury Bubb, Ryme Intrinseca, Hamoon and Whitchurch Canonicorum...to name but a few.

I`ve often thought that Dorset is one of those counties that people pass through on their way to somewhere else and, in doing so, they miss the countless delights the county has to offer. Most of all, perhaps, it offers absolute peace and quiet in its rural hinterland where those magically named hamlets and villages provide the perfect escape from the ramrod, helter-skelter, devil-take-the-hindmost, ultra competitive `real` world.

It was a bit of a surprise also last week to hear reports that the investigations into the death of Bulgarian dissident playwright and novelist Georgi Markov had been reopened by Scotland Yard and the Bulgarian authorities. Almost 30 years ago, you may recall, Markov was stabbed in the leg by someone carrying an umbrella, the tip of which contained the deadly poison ricin. A few days later, Markov was dead.

Suspicions and conspiracy theories have abounded for most of those 30 years as to the identity of the perpetrator, so why the intense activity now to try and put the case to bed? Must be something to do with the fact that the Staute of Limitations under Bulgarian law is....30 years; and the 30 years of the Markov case are up on 11th September this year.

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Markov

And what has all this to do with the rural tranquility of deepest Dorset? Well, if you are ever that way and you stray into the small churchyard of the church of St. Candida and St. Cross at Whitchurch Canonicorum, you might come across Markov`s grave which must surely make him a most unlikely celebrity in that idyllic location. At least, for him, he could not be resting in a more peaceful place, in sharp contrast to his, as yet, unresolved demise.

For more on the Markov case, please see http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2158765/Poison-tip-umbrella-assassination-of-Georgi-Markov-reinvestigated.html

For more on Whitchurch Canonicorum, please see http://www.thedorsetpage.com/locations/place/W210.htm

Saturday, June 21, 2008


THE SANDS OF TIME......

I`ve just installed another countdown clock on the right hand side. The first one was counting the days until the longest day of the year, which is today, so that clock had to go. In its place, there is now a clock which shows just how long it has been since I arrived here on Planet Earth in the form that my molecules are currently assembled.
Mercifully, there is no clock available to show me how much time is left until I leave.










HENRY`S FEELING BETTER...
For the past seven weeks, Henry has been a regular visitor to ace vet Dave Cocker at the Newnham Court Veterinary Hospital in Maidstone. Henry has just had his ninth birthday and for all of those years, he has received - and continues to receive - not just excellent care from Dave but also, it seems, genuine affection.
The last few weeks have seen Dave carefully adjusting Henry`s medication to try and contain the problems associated with Henry`s enlarged heart. It seems the right balance has now been achieved and, as a result, Henry has been feeling better. The condition is not `cureable` but at least he is now able to get some quality of life - he enjoys his short walks, meeting friends both human and canine and he has had some short rides in the car, which he enjoys, followed by some different sniffs in various locations.
Henry will still have to have regular appointments with Dave but it`s good to see him more cheerful. It honestly doesn`t matter that we have had to cancel a couple of West Country holidays due to Henry`s incapacity - after all, when you see him in the picture above, you would too, wouldn`t you?

Friday, June 20, 2008




FOXES SNATCH NIGE IN REVENGE COUP

News today that Leicester City have apppointed former Saints manager Nigel Pearson will grate among the Southampton faithful, who took NIge to their hearts during his short stay at St. Mary`s. Leicester Chairman Milan Mandaric - erstwhile boardroom supremo at Saints` arch rivals, P**tsmouth - made Nige his sixth manager in 16 months following the Foxes slide into the oblivion of the third tier of English football.

There are well founded suspicions on the south coast that Nige`s arrival at the Walkers Stadium is little more than an act of peurile revenge in Mandaric`s ongoing feud with Saints Chairman, Rupert Lowe. The two of them have form. During his earlier chairmanship, Lowe took the first team squad on what he thought was a team bonding exercise, but in fact was nothing more than a taste of Lowe`s penchant for shooting defenceless ducks. That Christmas, Mandaric sent Lowe a duck (presumably a dead one) as a yuletide present.
Then Lowe fell for the Mandaric strategy of firing former P*mpey manager Harry (F`Sure) Redknapp, only for Lowe to hire him and thus secure Saints` relegation from the Premiership. Redknapp then promptly returned to his former club, where he still resides. So one suspects that Mandaric`s appointment of Nige may yet be another swipe at Lowe, now that Lowe is back in charge of the Southampton asylum, having refused to renew Nige`s contract.
As for Nige, we liked him at Saints - well, I did - and he saved us from the fate of relegation which has befallen his new charges at Leicester. I hope Nige is not simply a fall guy in this ongoing game between the two chairmen. He`s worth more than that and I for one hope for his sake that he succeeds at Leicester. Good luck, Nige......with a chairman like Mandaric, you`ll need it. Could have been worse, though, especially as you don`t go duck shooting.

AS LONG AS THEY`RE HAPPY....
One of the good things about BBC Breakfast is that it brings you up to date not just with the news of the day but also the sport and the weather forecasts. One of the reasons I watch it.

But it seems we just can`t have the sport and the weather forecasts these days. This week, we have had the dubious and doubtless expensive spectacle of the sport being presented direct from Royal Ascot by the diminutive Chris Hollins (pictured right in the picture above.) How his father, former Chelsea and England midfielder John Hollins must be turning in his Weymouth dugout.

Next to Chris we have the lovely Carol Kirkwood who has popped up on our screens throughout the week in a selection of outfits designed to befit the surroundings of the royal meeting. Carol looked very nice.....but she is, after all, a weather girl. Chris looked, well, like Chris.....but he is, after all, a sports presenter. It might be nice, just for once, to have the sport and the weather presented for what they are, rather than exposing grumpy old gits like me to the flagrant waste of licence fees on lavish, unnecessary, amateurish prancing. It truly fails to make the sport any more cheery or the weather any less inclement, but as long as Chris and Carol are happy, why should I complain. I just have to pay for their antics, that`s all.

And a word of warning for next week. The Wimbledon tennis thingy is on for the next two weeks and I just wonder how many BBC staff, reporters, commentators and analysts (mostly costly foreign imports) are being lined up to converge on our screens. You can be sure that the weather and the sport will be presented direct from Wimbledon and no doubt we will once more have to try and listen out for them among Chris and Carol`s high jinks. But, as long as they`re happy, that`s all that matters.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008



TAKE A HUNDRED LINES.....
It`s a job to know where to begin really. OK, I`m biased. One of my `Not so keen on` listings is the European Union and small wonder when one considers the antics following the Irish `No` vote to the Lisbon Treaty.

Let`s be clear here. Whatever the benefits may be of implementing the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty, the fact is that the EU`s own rules dictate that unless the Treaty is ratified by each of the 27 constituent countries, then it has to fall. The Irish vote was clear - a thumping majority against the Treaty - so it cannot be ratified in Eire and thus must fall if the EU`s rule is to be upheld.

Now, the rest of the EU may not like it - they clearly don`t, given the threats made against Ireland by the French Foreign Minister and the insistence on continuing with the ratification process by President Barossa, which the British Government is meekly complying with as I write - but in law and in truth, they should honour the Irish decision.

However, the governing elite in the EU are now having the effrontery to compond the felony by seriously suggesting that it is for the Irish Government to come forward with solutions to the `problem` which their electorate have created. Now, even if there is a `problem` - which is doubtful given the clarity of the situation - it surely cannot be one for the Irish themselves to resolve. All that needs to happen is for the rest of the EU membership to acknowledge and respect the verdict of the Irish people and to acknowledge and respect the rules which the EU themselves drew up. Not too difficult, is it?

But no. Instead, the beleagured Irish taoiseach, Brian Cowen, is being treated like a schoolboy given a hundred lines for not doing as teacher said. The attitude displayed from Brussels, Berlin, Paris and all points east is fast becoming an object lesson in school bullying under the guise of benign democracy. And London isn`t helping by sneaking round the back of the bike shed pretending it`s not happening. And you wonder why I`m not so keen on all of it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008



A GOOD WEEKEND....
Fathers Day today. I could be my usual cynical self and grumble about yet another meaningless, commercially driven day in a seemingly endless calendar of trivial events, but I have to confess that I am always touched, grateful even, to be remembered on Fathers Day. And so it proved to be the case again today.
The problem is that they come around so quickly. I can`t believe another year has whizzed by but it has. Seems to me that time goes faster when you get older and start slowing down, which I guess is the inverse of Einstein`s discovery that the faster you go, the slower time passes.
And yesterday there was another reminder of time passing when we attended a family Golden Wedding Anniversary in honour of my wife`s cousin and his wife, with whom I spent my last night of freedom before my own nuptuals 47 years ago next month. Never mind a year passing quickly by, that`s nothing compared to the 50 years which yesterday`s happy couple have spent in wedded bliss. It was a good, old fashioned family occasion. Friends and family there, including the best man from all those years ago and a supply of embarrassing photographs to graphically remind us all who we used to be.
It got me thinking about friends and family. There`s an old saying, of course, that you can choose your friends, but not your family, so it`s good to report that when the family members of our generation meet up, as we did again yesterday, there is a feeling of real friendship. We enjoy each others` company and never once look upon these occasions as in any way a `duty.` Not every family can boast that feeling, so I guess we are among the fortunate ones.
So, all in all, a good weekend and now if you will forgive me, I`m off to tuck into my Fathers Day goodies, which once opened will, I am sure, pass on as quickly as time itself.

Saturday, June 14, 2008



`THE PEOPLE` 1 - EUROPE 0
Well done, Eire. Take a bow. The game may not be over but the people have gone ahead against the run of play with a stunning goal scored deep into injury time.

Perhaps more soberingly, it strikes me as revealing that, when `the people` are reluctantly given their first chance to actually have a vote on the provisions of the Lisbon Treaty....they reject it. It begs the question, of course, as to what the verdict of the rest of `the people` might have been across the rest of Europe if they had been given the chance to express their opinions too. The outcome in France and Holland might be predictable, as they had already rejected the original constituion and they would probably have been joined by the majority of voters in Britain had Gordon Brown lived up to his pledge to hold a referendum rather than running away from it, being clearly terrified of the probable outcome.

So, what happens now? I feel a bit sorry for Irish Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, who is new to the job, campaigned for a `yes` vote and is now facing the prospect of a hard time when he meets his European counterparts next week. Small wonder he looks trapped in the headlights:-
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The Life of Brian

The reaction of the arrogant, self-serving `leaders` of the European Union is itself predictable. They will find it impossible to work out what `no` really means and if they do understand it, then they will probably try to ignore it and carry on with their `project` anyway. And nothing will bring them and all they stand for into greater disrepute than ignoring the will of the few `people` who have had the opportunity to express their opinion on the bureaucratic, remote, largely unelected elite who presume to speak and act for 500million others.

The real truth is that, if they continue to ignore verdicts like the one just delivered by the good folk of Eire, the Brussels elite will show yet again their determination to compromise democracy for their own ends.....and that is something `the people` might just find intolerable, whether they are asked for their opinion or not.

Thursday, June 12, 2008



AN UNLIKELY REBEL
Our Golf Corrspondent reflects...

Oh, how the goslings of Hever Castle could have done with Kate Humble`s watchful eye yesterday as their very survival was threatened by Snopper`s onslaught on the Hever Castle Golf Club.

Having been invited to play the Princes Course at the majestic complex, Snopper found himself in unknown territory, never having been there before. It is by any standards a challenging, daunting course with long fairways, lakes that resemble Wastwater or Windermere and the double edged sword of two-tier greens.

Yesterday`s additional hazard was the presence of families of geese with their goslings scurrying around the course trying to avoid the golfers and their balls - small wonder there were large helpings of gosling dung which required some nifty footwork if it was to be avoided.

Now it has to be said that, almost unrecognisably, there seems to be something lurking in the dark recesses of Snopper`s psyche that suggests an uncharacteristically `rebellious` trait where golf is concerned. It was a little in evidence yesterday when, faced yet again with a real golfing challenge, it was almost as if he was stretching his undoubted inadequacies and inability to their limits. As if he knows he is quite dreadful at the game but is determined to prove to himself just how woeful he can be and to see just what it takes until some committee member finally intervenes to prevent damage to the on-course goslings and the reputation of the club. So far, that indignity has been avoided but it surely is only a matter of time.

But maybe therein lies the strength of Snopper`s golfing character, for it takes a certain mindset to stumble on from one golfing disaster to another in the vain hope that some salvation will come his way if he sticks at it long enough. And yesterday it came on the par 3 third where a totally out of character imperious tee shot sailed over a daunting stretch of water and landed within a few feet of the pin. The rest of the round was - how can I describe it? - eclectic, unremarkable, instantly forgettable - indeed, best forgotten.
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Snopper`s biggest disappointment yesterday was, however, the after match tea which was starkly devoid of cakes, for he likes nothing better than a good selection of fancy pastries to round off his afternoon and give him at least something to look forward to on his next visit. Committee members permitting, of course.

Monday, June 09, 2008

COME ON YOU IRISH....

On Thursday, the good folk of the Emerald Isle go to the polls to vote on the ratification or otherwise of the discredited Lisbon Treaty. The Lisbon Treaty is, of course, the Janet and John version of the original EU Constitution which was rejected by the French and the Dutch what now seems a lifetime ago.

There was a time when I was a bit in favour of the coming together of the sovereign states of Europe not just for trading reasons (although I`m not sure that did much good for our trading relations with New Zealand, for example) but also for the collective security it might have provided in the face of the former `Eastern Bloc.` There may still be some validity in these `benefits` but they have been overtaken by the `European Project` which aims for a unified European State, which is what the original Consitution was aiming for. We`re half way there already, of course, with the edicts coming out of Brussels coming down like tablets from on high from a largely unelected, expenses-claiming, self-serving elite.

We in Britain were promised a referendum in the Labour Party manifesto and indeed there is a case coming before the High Court this week challenging the government`s decision to deny that very same referendum. I`m not holding my breath on that one though. Instead, I`m pinning what hopes I may have left on the voters in the Irish Republic who have the right by their own enlightened constitution to have the referendum we have been denied.

So, come on you Irish - don`t worry about the fact that even if you vote `No` the political cheating will probably insist that you keep voting until you give them the answer they want - we may be deep into injury time, but many a game has been decided on penalties.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


COME ON YOU POLES...OR CZECHS...

Yes, folks, the Euro 2008 Football Championships start today - either in Austria or Switzerland or possibly both. Sadly, there are no representatives from the `home` countries of England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and the manner of their collective failure to even qualify for the finals said a lot about each team. Northern Ireland, Wales and particularly Scotland fought brave campaigns with their limited resources and their eventual failure to cross the finishing line was the stuff of gallant defeats.

England`s dismal failure, however, was met with a bout of national hand-wringing. You see, it was almost assumed that they would qualify as of right especially given the stockpile of resources available to them. Then there were the expectations. Now, some say that we expect too much from the gang of overpaid, pampered poseurs who make up the core of the England team. As for me, I`m afraid I quite enjoy seeing them exposed for the limited, predictable outfit they truly are. Put simply, we did not deserve to qualify....and we didn`t.


Which leaves me with the dilemma as to which country`s fortunes to follow over the course of the next 22 days. But, despite the never ending circus that Southampton FC has become (don`t get me started!) I have opted to follow the fortunes of Poland and the Czech Republic, for two players still on our books are included in the squads for those two countries.


Marek Saganowski might get a game for Poland even though his goalscoring form for Saints has taken a bit of a tumble over recent months. And Rudi Skacel might turn out for the Czech Republic, if selected. Now it`s entirely probable that these two gentlemen may never be seen in Saints shirts ever again - in Saganowski`s case, his `wages` are becoming a problem to maintain for a club teetering on the brink of administration, so he might have to go. Skacel has already been sent out on loan to Hertha Berlin, from whence he may never return, despite Saints still holding his registration.


So, as that`s the best I can come up with, there it is - come on you Poles....or you Czechs, for truly I have nothing else, footballwise, to cheer about.

Friday, June 06, 2008



LOOKS FAMILIAR....
A couple of nights ago, the late night film on BBC2 was this one - Three Days of the Condor. I had seen it before, some years ago and enjoyed it then so I thought I might settle back and enjoy it once more.

As I watched, I was struck by almost a feeling of deja vu; not about seeing the film before because I knew I had done that, but there was something oddly `familiar` about the look, the pace, the `atmosphere` of the film which I couldn`t quite place.

So I watched the credits at the end and some familiar names cropped up, including
Director - Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer - Bernie Pollack
Photography - Owen Roizman
Music - Dave Grusin

And then I remembered where I had seen all those names - and some others as well - before. It was in the acclaimed 1981 drama `Absence of Malice` which included
Director - Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer - Bernie Pollack
Photography - Owen Roizman
Music - Dave Grusin

No wonder the style of the two films matched each other so identifiably, both being shining examples of all aspects of the film makers` craft. Sydney Pollack`s recent departure is a real loss but these two films, among others such as `Out of Africa` for which he was more widely known, stand comparison with anything the film industry has produced.

I wonder what`s on tonight.



Thursday, June 05, 2008




PINK LADIES PROVE TOO MUCH FOR SNOPPER....
From our Golf Correspondent

Once again I have to report that Snopper`s latest sojourn onto the hallowed fairways of Poult Wood was cut short. His last outing ended in frustration after about 13 holes but yesterday I`m afraid he was reduced to `retiring` after the front nine.

Play was proving far too slow for a man in a hurry like our Snopper and things began to reach worrying proportions on the par four sixth which at one stage saw no less than five groups of players, including our hero and his partner, attempting to play various stages of the hole.

It was a damning indictment of the course management that, despite being seen elsewhere on the course, no wardens were seemingly interested in any attempt to solve the problem which was clearly escalating on the front nine.

It was eventually revealed that the problem was created by a group of lady golfers, seemingly dressed overall in pink like the one caught on film above, who were either reluctant to let other groups through or simply did not understand the basics of course etiquette. Either way, the constant delays became too much for Snopper and his partner and as he retired to the comfort of the clubhouse, Snopper was overheard to enquire what on earth pink clad lady golfers were doing being allowed out on the 18=hole course when there was a perfectly good 9-hole pitch and putt course across the road which would be much more in keeping with their abilities. They really should know their limits, he quizzically opined.
Pink lady golfers plot revenge
Quite astoundingly, Snopper has been invited to play at the Hever Castle Course next week, where - he is assured - no pink ladies should be in evidence, although he suspects the Anne Boleyn Course might prove more appropriate for his own headless chicken approach to the royal and ancient game.

Monday, June 02, 2008




THERE MAY BE BIGGER MUGS ELSEWHERE

"The likes of Jonathan Ross and Chris Moyles are not receiving salaries above the market rate, according to a review of how the BBC pays its top names.
The report, commissioned by the corporation's governing body, the BBC Trust, says in some cases stars get paid less than they would elsewhere."

So says the BBC`s own website today. Well, it would, wouldn`t it?

Let`s have a brief look at the small print. The first thing that strikes me is `commissioned by the corporation`s governing body,` which exposes the value of the report to the age old principle that he who commissions a report knows what answer the report should give. So it`s hardly independant then.

Next, `....not receiving salaries above the market rate,` as if the licence payer who is paying these grotesque salaries to some grotesque `personalities` is interested in `the market rate.` For myself as a reluctant payer of the BBC licence fee, I don`t care about market rates but I do care about the blatant squandering of money on people such as Jonathan Ross, who allegedly received £18million over three years, Graham Norton who reputedly gets £5million over two years and someone called Chris Moyles who gets almost a million each year.

Setting Moyles to one side - since I`ve never heard of him and have no idea what he might get up to - I find Ross to be arguably the least talented `personality` on tv, someone I try to avoid but has the annoying habit of creeping up on you when you least expect it. The Alex Ferguson of the airwaves perhaps - but only in receipt of an OBE so far, poor lamb.

Being charitable, however, Ross`s creeping up on one might be preferable to the antics of Graham Norton, whose one `talent` seems to be able to shout loudly and incoherently in an affected Irish accent. But at least he seems determined to stand by his man:-

As for Ross, he can`t sing, can`t dance and isn`t funny. So, what`s the answer to this profligacy being heaped on talentless numbskulls? Oh, of course, the answer is also in the small print which tells us that `in some cases stars get paid less than they would elsewhere.` Elsewhere it is then, for there they may find bigger mugs than the BBC take us for.