Thursday, April 24, 2014

Well, we struggled through all three episodes of BBC1`s swashbuckling, bodice-ripping, dark, brooding take on Daphne du Maurier`s classic Jamaica Inn but unlike thousands of others who have lodged complaints about the quality of the production I can`t be bothered and in any case the BBC are never wrong.   It wasn`t particularly swashbuckling and I must have missed the occasional bodice being ripped, but it sure was dark and brooding, especially the inaudible sound and the mumbled dialogue.   I tried the subtitles as the mumbling got worse, only to find that the subtitles said, "Mumble, mumble, mumble."

But it did have a couple of redeeming features.   First the location on North Cornwall`s Holywell Bay with the dark and brooding Carter`s Rocks providing a haunting backdrop, although I didn`t find Kirkby Lonsdale up in Yorkshire to be an especially convincing Launceston.  The other was the inclusion of the delicious Joanne Whalley playing the part of Aunt Patience.  And maybe, at last, this is where the Connections come in.

You see, I fell deeply in love with Joanne Whalley when I saw her all those years ago playing the part of Emma Craven in Troy Kennedy Martin`s wonderful `Edge of Darkness` so it was a rare treat to see her back on our screens again even if I didn`t catch a word of what she was saying.   Anyway, another distinguished actor in Edge of Darkness was John Woodvine and in my eclectic collection of videos/DVDs I have one in which he narrates the journey around the south west coast path.

Next week, God willing, a good friend of mine and his wife will be walking the last stretch of their own journey around that coast path which began at Minehead in Somerset and will end at Poole in Dorset - a total distance of 690 miles.  I wish them well for the last leg of their journey and offer my congratulations on a memorable achievement.   As for me, next week I`ll be back in my old haunts in the New Forest, so you will be spared any more rants from me for a while.

And another thing.   The story of Jamaica Inn is too well known for me to go on about it here but its dastardly vicar, Reverend Davey, was almost certainly based on Frederick Densham, the real life dastardly vicar of Warleggan, not far from the real Jamaica Inn at Bolventor on Bodmin Moor.  My membership of the Daphne du Maurier Society confirms this stunning fact. 

With all those connections, no wonder I feel like James Burke, who went to school in Maidstone here in Kent and spent some time in Ramsgate teaching English as a Foreign Language, which is what my youngest son does for a living and who will, along with his family, be joining us on our New Forest adventure next week and which itself was the scene for many of my own boyhood adventures.   As the revered Chic Murray once said, "It`s a small world, but I wouldn`t want to paint it."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

......and he wasn`t wrong!!   This Easter weekend saw stark contrasts in the fortunes of Manchester United and Southampton.   The Saints went away to Villa Park - never an easy place to go to - and came away with a point following an end of season 0-0 draw against Aston Villa, who also seemed content with a point to ease themselves a little further away from relegation worries.  That result, along with Newcastle losing yet again, seems to have cemented eighth place in the Premier League for the Saints.

Manchester United suffered yet another defeat, this time a 2-0 reverse at Everton, but they remain in seventh place in the League, with an eight point advantage over Southampton that would seem to make it difficult for the Saints to catch them with only three games to go.

As a result of being in seventh place, the world has collapsed around United - deep gloom, share price affected on the New York Stock Exchange, outraged sick-as-a-parrot supporters and this morning the dismissal of their Manager David Moyes along with his faithful retainers, Steve Round and Jimmy Lumsden.   

Meanwhile, back down in the beautiful south, as a result of being one place below United in eighth place, us Saints fans are over the moon - it`s as if all our Christmases have come at once and we are enjoying the ride and hoping that our own Manager, Mauricio Pochettino, will stay for a long time.   Our expectations, you see, are realistic and so most of the time we are able to ignore the heartache.  As the old saying goes, for us Saints fans "It`s the hope that kills you," whereas the Bard`s message should strike a chord with devotees of the damned United. 

Monday, April 14, 2014


To Southampton on Saturday to see the Saints unfathomably lose 0-1 to a poor Cardiff City side.   Before the game began, over 30,000 fans, along with the players and match officials, stood for a minute`s silence in memory of the 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough tragedy 25 years ago.

On my walk from Town Quay to St. Mary`s Stadium, I passed a rather nondescript building that has been empty for some years.  It`s called Canute Chambers and once housed the offices of the White Star Shipping Company, which owned the fateful Titanic.   On the railings outside the building is this rather modest plaque:-

Whilst it is absolutely right for the football family to remember the tragic events at Hillsborough a quarter of a century ago, the good folk of Southampton will never forget the loss of 549 of their citizens 102 years ago tomorrow.