Thursday, 16 August 2018

On Returning/New Fans For Pobol Y Cwm And A New Fan For Irish Sport

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Now before I start properly just so everyone's aware what I'm going to chat about re the Welsh language soap opera Pobol Y Cwm refers to the last two week's Sunday Omnibus versions and not this week's episodes already broadcast.

So having visited the studio set last week it was time to complete daughter's education and wife's reeducation into Pobol. Two omnibus editions to go through. The big connecting story was the death and subsequent murder of Sheryl as I've mentioned previously. I'm still of the belief that her estranged husband Hywel Llewelyn did it. But I would be lying if I said I was certain. Anita, the wife's choice, is starting to look a good each way bet.

There was no question that the best episode of the two omnibuses we watched was the first episode of the second omnibus. It went back to Sheryl's last day alive. What it did which was different was not only to set the scene for the suspects but also how her life emotionally (as well as physically) collapsed in that twenty four hours. It's probably the best individual soap opera episode I've seen in a long while (and, as an aside written by Sian Naomi, who if memory serves acted in Pobol).

Wife/daughter finished the session as confirmed fans (my work was done). They now can't wait for the next omnibus to find out who killed Sheryl.Daughter's favourite character is Dani Monk, wife of Gary Monk (who my wife remembered when he arrived in the soap over sixteen years ago with his sister Britt and brother Brandon - the Sunday omnibus episode where the wife first suspected she was pregnant).

Mind you, Daughter did query what was going to happen next in the square.

I put her right.

You know one of the best things about Twitter is it's ability to lead you into routes that you would not have not normally taken. Last Sunday evening whilst wife and daughter were out I had nothing to do and Twitter mentioned that a Ladies Gaelic Football match was on between Galway and Mayo on the Irish Gaelic language channel TG4. Out of curiosity I went and found that it could be viewed online.

So there was I, watching a sport I barely knew in a language I didn't understand....and it was fun.Not for one second implying that if I could've watched a football game in that time I wouldn't have turned over immediately. But as something interesting to watch it did work for me. The novelty of the new I suppose.

Galway won. Despite (because?) of having a cemetery next to the ground and having one member of the opposing team being called Grace Kelly (I bet she gets film references being hurled at her at least once a week - eg when she's in trouble "It's High Noon for you Grace" - Bet she hates that too. Almost as much as when she does something well someone is bound to remark "Well that was Amazing Grace" ).

With Galway's win I immediately decided that when it came to Irish sport I would support Mayo. No glory seeker me.

I'd time to spare yesterday so with curiosity went to TG4's catch -up service and watched the other "Irish" sport hurling. It was an under 21 final game between Kerry and Derry. Again it was an interesting, enjoyable and different watch. I learnt that there was a skill in grabbing the ball one moment and hitting it with the stick the next. Also as I watched players running with the ball on the stick I realised that they must be brilliant at egg and spoon races.

Kerry won. Despite scoring an allowed goal whilst having a man sent off during the same play. I did not understand at all how that was possible.

So I'm a fan of, for want of a better phrase "Irish sport". Even though for the moment I don't know my Kerry from my Derry (although savvy enough not to enter an argument on Twitter as whether Gaelic football or Hurling is the better). So far mind you, I've only dipped my little toe into this. When I'm able to go deep end who knows?

But for now....Come on Mayo!

Until the next time.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

The Near Midnight Meanderings On A Movie With A Microwave Meal Part 4: The Mountain road (1960)

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

So you wait for one James Stewart movie to come along on the TV and then two come in relatively quick succession.

This time he plays an army engineer in China in World war 2, charged with his group with blowing things up to delay the advancing Japanese. Personally I didn't know that the Americans were in China at that time. Doesn't matter either way in relation to this movie. Neither I suppose is the fact that the Communists and anti-communist factions in China fought against Japan. For the most part nuance does not play a part here.

It's also in black and white. Which for me for that time is surprising given that James Stewart is a star. You would have thought that for a film with obviously a lot of explosions in it colour would have been better.

Co-opted into the group is the widow of a Chinese soldier. Presumably there to play "mysterious Chinese woman" which there always seems to be in American films. She is quiet one moment only to surprise the group by speaking English!

There are moments when I wonder whether this movie is quietly racist. It definitely tries to unfurl the star spangled banner. American roads apparently are better than Chinese roads because there are no natural disasters there. What? Ask that to people who's lives were destroyed by forest fires. James Stewart says not to worry as America will come back and build roads. Really?

There is also a scene where the American soldiers are shocked by the Chinese villagers acting feral when presented with stocks of food. Well what did they expect? When you live in a place racked by starvation and war civilisation has to take a back seat.

Commercial Break: There are a series of ads for a Vanquis Credit Card. It's set in a Game of Thrones sort of  medieval world (without dragons) where some people live in castles and others live in huts.

And yet in this world some kind of mysterious knight type figure producing a Vanquis Credit Card or a tablet to illustrate how to get one. Well how exactly in this medieval world was the infrastructure for a Wi-fi and credit card network built?

Also If you live in a hut it would be interesting to see whether Vanquis would accept your application.

Back to the movie.

The biggest problem with The Mountain Road is the lack of tension. In terms of the plot only once was I taken by surprise.

Also this is the second movie I've recently watched where James Stewart (described as "young" by a Chinese general probably about the same age as him) really was unimpressive. It made me wonder whether those films where I liked his performance in were linked by having famous directors. Something I'll be looking at in the next film of his I'd happen to see.

The other surprise was the penultimate scene which gets all reflective. But to be honest it was all too late given what happened before.

Not a movie I'd be seeing again.

Until the next time.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Worst Sentence To Ask On Netflix

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Yesterday (Monday) evening the wife uttered the worst sentence on Netflix to myself and daughter.

The sentence was....wait for it...

"Let's watch a film tonight on Netflix together.

I find with Netflix that it's great when you're alone. You've made your decision. That's it. When it's two then one side relents to keep the peace but when there is more than two people involved then a UN negotiator is required.

In the olden days there might have still been arguments. But your choice would have been limited to whatever was recorded and/or whatever unwatched VHS/DVD you have. But what Netflix (other streaming services are available) have done is to widen the choice, thus by widening the choice you widen the arguments and therefore widen the length of time before you all come to a decision.

We took ten to fifteen minutes before making a decision.

The process went like this:

Wife insisted on a film. No couple of episodes of a TV series was acceptable. I and daughter would have been OK with a TV show.

Wife didn't want any superhero movies. Me and daughter would have been happy with watching them though as I said before there's surprisingly not that many)

Wife didn't want subtitled films. I/daughter would have had no problems with subtitled.

Wife suggested Jaws. Now Jaws is a movie I've never seen. Had no problems with that. Daughter wasn't interested.

Daughter (and to a lesser extent wife) was interested in various movies which had some permutation on teenage girl and possibly a high school prom. I said no. I just knew I'd get bored and fall asleep and they'd have a go at me around my snoring figure (mind you on reflection perhaps it would have cured my insomnia).

Eventually after a lot of heated words we eventually settled on a film. Central Intelligence (2016) starring Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. And once finished the family was united.

It was the worst film we'd seen in a long while.

To put it at it's most basic without spoiling what could be called a plot Hart and Johnson are an odd couple pairing caught together in stopping the bad guys.

The best scene in the movie is the first. Goes downhill from then on. Cast is accomplished and can only presume they agreed to appear as loved ones were being held in captivity.

I'll pick three things (trust me could have picked a load more) to illustrate this.

1) Johnson stays the night at Hart's house. The sofa bed is a mess in the morning. Hart is about to complain when the door rings. It's the CIA. When they go into the room where Johnson has been sleeping not only has he gone but has tidied up the room too.

2) Johnson gets hit by a motorbike. And yet not a mark is on him. He may be The Rock but come on.

3) I knew who the secret villain was going to be from the moment of introduction. So obvious the TV might as well have shown flashing lights to alert everyone.

So there you have it. Whatever your choice of film from Netflix there's at least one to avoid.

Until the next time.

Monday, 13 August 2018

UKIP In Wales. No Longer A Comedy. The Potential For Being Something A Lot More Dangerous

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well UKIP in Wales have selected a new leader. Normally I would not have cared. They are a declining force in Wales from the moment Neil Hamilton was elected leader after the last Welsh Assembly elections. Whilst there are no signs of a resurgence in their fortunes the fact that Gareth Bennett was elected leader makes you wonder and worry about what the residual rump of their members in Wales have become.

So let's go through what he has said.

Linking Immigrants To Rubbish In The Street and Poor Hygiene: This was in an article in Wales Online. It is let's face it, right wing cliché written all over it. I've said before regarding the EU Referendum that nothing fuels the right more than a perception of high immigration whatever the actual truth.

With regard to "poor hygiene" well if you look at a picture of Mr Bennett you will not get a feeling that here's a man who will adorn the latest cover of GQ. But could he provide proof of this assertion? Of course not.

Ditto blaming rubbish in the streets on immigrants. After all even if we assume that the assertion of a shabby look to Cardiff is correct (and I've written about the problems of it's city centre) the possibility that it's the fault of the council for not providing adequate services and indeed cutting them does not enter Mr Bennett's head. He sees rubbish in the streets and assumes immigrants put it there without providing any evidence.

He also described Cardiff 's City Road as a melting pot of races unable to get along. Asked to provide evidence he couldn't.

Perhaps I should follow Mr Bennett's style in describing UKIP's membership in Wales as a melting pot of dangerous lumpen Neanderthals and the deluded who believed in a "golden age" of Britain based on Ealing comedies? I can't provide evidence. But it doesn't seem to have done Mr Bennett any harm.

Describing Pontcanna As A "Welsh speaking colony": Mr Bennett believes that the Welsh Assembly should be shut down and the powers reverted back to Westminster (like they have been doing such a good job). But a good example of this distaste for things Welsh is that comment. It shows a contempt for the language of the country he was born in.

Comments On the Burka: In the light on the furore surrounding Boris Johnson's remarks Mr Bennett described the Burka as "apparitions of pre-medieval culture".

Now I'd argue that Mr Bennett's comments are worse than Boris Johnson because there can be no shred of doubt that he knew exactly the effect of his words.

Those of us (and I'm one of them) who are not comfortable with Moslem women wearing the Burka would never act in the way Mr Bennett has. Why? Because unless a Moslem woman does not feel coerced into wearing one then what has to do with anyone else? Freedom of expression as long as non violent is a democratic British right.

It also needs to be noted that in his comment Mr Bennett seemingly is deprived of the classic British quality of good manners.

But perhaps the most telling comment is on transgender people who he claimed were undermining society by their "deviation from the norm". So in the head of Mr Bennett there is "a norm" and if you're in any way outside of "the norm" you are presumably "different".

So in Mr Bennett's world, based on his own comments, I would therefore presume that you "deviate from the norm" if...

You're not British by birth. Or that your background is not British
You speak Welsh
You're not a Christian
You're not heterosexual
You're not happy with your gender.

Now if I'm wrong about what Mr Bennett's view of "the norm" is then it's up to him to clarify. As far as I can tell "the norm" as I've said before is based on a black and white Ealing comedies.

But if I'm right then I've broken "the norm" (if we include my unfluent Welsh) three times from the above. Which means I'm different. And I suspect very few people could comply with "the norm".

Which is why whilst I don't believe a Gareth Bennett UKIP party would never obtain power the fact that it's there should shake us not of "the norm" but from complacency.

Until the next time.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

When Science Loses To Emotion Part Three: Let's Boycott EDF

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

I have before in this blog chatted about the plan for radioactive mud from the nuclear power plant at Hinckley Point Somerset to be transported from there to a point between Cardiff Bay and Penarth .

Whilst you should look at my previous posts on the subject essentially I argued that despite apparently science stating that it would be safe. The consequences of the Science being wrong would be too great as that would pause a risk not just to the people in Cardiff Bay but also depending on the movement of the sea to the Penarth and Barry Island, where families go for a day out enjoying the seaside.

Well from Thursday French power giant EDF were about to start doing exactly that. This though has been postponed until sometime in September (see for a more detailed analysis on this. Worth a read. Won't chat about it here because as regular readers will know I won't knowingly copy another blogger's work).

It had the apparent approval first of Alun "Chucky" Cairns. (Who let's not forget is a Vale of Glamorgan MP though not of Barry Island I'm sure his constituents work/visit there as it's nearby). Secondly Carwyn Jones, soon to be ex First Minister and political man fat, who represents as a constituency AM Porthcawl which is also a day trip beach area for families and might also be affected re the tide if the science is wrong. Indeed Welsh Labour as a whole seems to have treated this entire issue with an arrogant smugness which typifies the way they run Wales.

Politically these people should be dealt with through the ballot box come election time. But for now the focus needs to be on EDF. I'm sure there are organisations planning protests against the disposal and for what it's worth they have my support. But let's just try something else as well. Let's punish EDF by boycotting them. Showing them that if they hurt the people living in Wales then the people can fight back using the greatest weapon against business.

I have before suggested the same with regard to Virgin Media when they made all of the people in their Swansea Call Centre redundant and the pieces seem similar here. After all they appear to have not taken notice of the opinions of the people living in the area and are acting on something the consequences of which could be disastrous should the science be wrong.

Also a Welsh EDF boycott would damage them both financially and in terms of a company's all important image. There would be alternatives to move to (not saying any of the alternatives are great companies but at time of writing none of the others are dumping nuclear mud in Cardiff Bay) so the impact on families living in Wales would be minimal.

So a simple boycott may not stop the dumping of the radioactive mud, but it would damage EDF's consumer arm. Make them suffer for the way they might cause suffering to Wales.

Until the next time.

Eisteddford 2018: When Timing Is Everything

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

Well as I mentioned yesterday timing is everything. If we had gone to the Eisteddfod held in Cardiff  Bay any day of the week we would have been bathed in sunshine and heat. Instead it turned out to have been yesterday....

Yes it was August
Wife, daughter and I went. Two of us had the presence of mind to bring a coat. One of us said "I don't need a coat as long as I've an umbrella I'll be fine..."


What I hadn't taken into account was how windy it was going to be. That plus the rain which came earlier than forecast and was the sort of taunting variety which was heavy one moment, clear the next, but mainly light but persistent meant that even with an umbrella your first thought was shelter.

Though I didn't take it here
We were able to hide under large tents and listen to Welsh language music. I must say that I've no real knowledge of Welsh language music. Of those I do know about tends to be the middle of the road easy listening variety of Sian Cothi. Still it was good and. note to self, best I make more of an effort in this regard.

We also went here.

Yes a cinema in a tent

If we had gone yesterday we would have seen the world's premiere of Monday's episode of Pobol Y Cwm and have seen some of the actors (more on Pobol later). Today though was a collection of home movies set throughout Wales through the decades. All of them were interesting. But the one that probably sent an emotional tear in the wife's eye was on Cardiff in the seventies when she was a child.

You know when you're growing old when what you consider nostalgia your daughter views as history.

Daughter got a few things. Her particular favourite was a Harry Potter novel translated in Welsh. I too got a couple of books. This was the first.

Blas Yr Iaith Cwmderi - Robyn Lewis/Robyn Llyn
Now we were in a stall of a North Walian bookseller (whose name I didn't catch but I will try and find out) and we had a chat in full on no English parachute Welsh with this very kind man. At the end I felt having occupied a lot of his time I should buy a book and picked the above Pobol one.

The guy (and how kind is this) said I could have it for free!

It is the most different Pobol Y Cwm book (published in 1993) I'm aware of where from first perusal the regional dialects of various characters are analysed. So better put my A game in Welsh to action here.

The other book was:

Y Fawr A'r Fach - Sion Tomos Owen
These are stories for learners from the Rhondda Valley. The writer is the presenter of Pobol Y Rhondda, a programme I've mentioned before where he interviews people there. A programme so good I know of one non Welsh speaking couple who live up there who are ardent fans.

We actually enjoyed our visit. Though obviously it would have been better if the weather had held up for that day. Memo to self. Next time the Eisteddfod is in South Wales, go on the earliest day possible so that if the weather's bad you've got another chance to enjoy it more.

Until the next time.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

The Insomniac Meanderings Post:I'm Going At Last To The Eisteddford Edition

Hello there. Hope you're feeling well today.

As I write this it's 4:25am on a Saturday. Later than I've woken up in the past couple of days but still of course too early.

Today then, after unforeseen and unwelcome delays I'm going to the Eisteddford. On a day which will apparently worsen in the afternoon. Timing is everything. Still I am going which is the important point.

Anyway for the moment it's dark out there. Premiership football season is about to start. It's one of those signs that the high point of summer is beginning to turn. You know what? I think because I've spent the first two months of this year looking after my mother when she was unwell I think my brain is still in June mode.

I actually have, weather permitting a plan for tomorrow. To see the Welsh Rugby League Cup Final in Sardis Road Pontypridd. One of the teams competing will be the Valley Cougars who kindly offered to take round their ground but work issues eventually prevented me from doing so. What it does mean though is that there's a team I can support.

5:31am. Daylight peeking through. Electric light switched off.

6:02am. Breakfast. I'm in a porridge state of mind (with a dollop of jam of course). Meanwhile very sunny out there now. Not fooled though. The weather forecaster said this was going to be like this early on.

Just found out that McDonald's are opening their first "luxury restaurant" with knives and forks and a string quartet with the meal. Baring in mind I don't eat McDonald's anymore my first thoughts were:

1) Just like a Wimpey's used to do.

2) This will be every McDonald's if there is a hard Brexit

Friends is apparently the most popular streamed show in Britain this year (not Black Lightning? A disgrace).I've written about Literary Switzerland when you're neutral about a writer. Ditto Cinematic Switzerland re films. Now comes Televisual Switzerland with Friends. I don't dislike it. Just don't understand the passion for it. Wife/daughter love it. Must be me. Have the exact same view of The Simpsons.

Anyway time to get ready for the Maes.

Until the next time.