Monday, 30 April 2012

Definition of Upstaging

J Marie Cooper (Strictly Come Dancing singer) on The Voice, performing 'chest thrusts' 

That is 'The Sex' 

Sadly, she didn't go through. But the girl that did beat her, went out at the weekend!

Full video here. Chest thrusts at around 1 min 50 seconds. Yes, I'm a lech, I know.

I quite like The Voice; Yeah it's naff and a bit up itself in places, but it does seem to want to find new talent and, unlike the Cash Cow-ell enterprises, it does seem devoid of ego and actually about the contestants, giving them their say and allowing them their opinion and say. It's more like Opportunity Knocks than anything that odious aforementioned Flat Top creep has devised. And you can't deny the nous of the coaches; Tom Jones (roughly fifty years in the business and still going strong) (globally respected performer, producer and all round likeable funky Yoda figure) and Jessie J (Top selling artiste on both sides of the pond) but Danny O'Bono-wannabe on the other hand....ugh. I hate him, how he beats his chest and rolls his fist at each song, flaring his nostrils like he's savouring his own farts. What a huge arrogance for such a little nobody.

Out On Blue Six : Bernard Cribbins

This song means a lot to me, ever since I heard for the first time when cold dark and very early Saturday morning in Feb 2011.

It's adorable....

End Transmission

Girls With Guns

Brigitte Bardot in Shalako

Story Time - Ashes To Ashes - The Lock Box Part 8

Ashes To Ashes : The Lock Box

Part 8

The following morning saw Gene updating his team. 
Across the floor, Chris was staring at Shaz, who appeared to be busily writing things down in her pad. When she sensed someone was looking at her, she gazed upwards, but Chris shyly looked away. Ray, noticing this, pulled a face.
"Right" Gene said pacing up and down "The facts of the matter are this; we are three days into the disappearance of Michelle Parr. We also have a missing tom-"
"Sex worker" Alex corrected causing Gene to stop and stare at her "Who's giving this briefing Drakey you or me?"
"You Guv" Alex replied.
"Well kindly don't pick holes in my chosen vocabulary alright? Now, as I was saying... we also have a missing girl name of Tracie Hill, a local sex worker" The Guv paused and looked to a pleased Alex "Now, what links this? One man, a red braces kind of tosspot called Scott McCall. He was seen on the night Michelle disappeared, talking to her outside the cinema. He was also seen picking up Tracie Hill there also, and she's never been seen since. Now Shaz here did some excellent work contacting a friend with inside information relating to this McCall" as Gene said this, Shaz looked up from her pad, smiled and blushed, and caught Chris' gaze once more. "What?" she mouthed, but Chris pretended not to see. 
The Guv continued "and today we'll go and visit him and see what he's got to say for himself"
Alex piped up "Let's not forget Lisa Kirk either, she may figure into this equation. Kirk was a young girl, new in London, who by all accounts was very straight and clean living...yet she somehow ended up dead, OD'd on heroin and dressed in insalubrious clothing. Now we can't at present establish a link between her and McCall, but it does seem interesting that three disappearences have occured in such a short space of time"
"Insalubrious?" Chris asked aloud.
"Dressed like a tart" Ray explained.
"Oh" Chris nodded.
"Yes thank you DS Carling" Alex snapped.
"Yes Raymondo, get it right...dressed like a sex worker" Gene said to the amusement of the more chauvenistic in his team. Gene clapped his hands together "Right, any questions?" he looked around "Fandabbydosey!  Ray, Chris, Bolls, with me....let's go and interrogate a yuppie! Raymondo, fire up the Quattro!"

(Turn it On Again by Genesis plays on the soundtrack)

The three men exited sharply, Ray scurrying ahead like a child coming downstairs to presents on Christmas Day, Gene next, striding purposefully out, snapping his leather gloves into place, then Chris, walking forward but with head turned back to Shaz.
Alex, rose up from her chair slowly "You know" she said to Shaz "It's the gleefullness that gets me"
"Bolls!" Gene's voice screamed from down the corridor.
"On with the motley" Alex whispered with raised eyebrows, leaving Shaz behind, smiling.

Outside, Ray's hand turns the key in the Quattro's ignition and the engine purrs into life.
"All yours Guv" he said, and climbed out of the front seat, proud and pleased to have been given the treat of starting up the car once more. Gene nodded, allowed Ray past him, snorted, and then climbed into the driver's seat, just as Alex hurried down the station steps and into the passenger side. Both doors slammed shut at the same time.
"Let's go" Alex said breathlessly, placing her seat belt round her, and the Quattro squeeled off; Gene's overcoat belt caught carelessly between the door as it sped away.

(Turn it On Again swells)

The Quattro emerged from underneath a viaduct and into a renovated street filled with new office blocks. It was, Alex thought, old London slowly fading out to make way for a world she alone was already all too familiar with. Gene parked the car immediately in front of the address Shaz gave him and the team stepped out onto the street.
"Bit fancy round here Guv?" Ray remarked, getting his bearings.
"Wait til you see the docklands redevelopment" Alex murmured cryptically.
"Well come on then, this is police business, not a sight seeing tour" Gene barked, leading the way into the building's glass revolving door.
Chris gulped and grabbed at the arm of Ray's leather bomber "Here Ray, it's big money round here innnit?"
Ray shrugged "I suppose"
"Well what if this Oliver bloke is making a mint, imagine what kind of pad he can afford, I can't compete with that"
Ray shook his head sadly "You're not still going on are you?"
Gene had arrived at reception, banging the bell for attention with some satisfaction. A blonde girl in her twenties in a smart pale blouse and big framed glasses turned around "Is there something I can so for you?" she asked in an accent that was straight from Rodean.
Gene grunted "I'm sure there is luv, but now is not the time for sexy secretary, I'm here to see your gaffer, Scott McCall"

Alex was surveying the plush and inviting reception area, her eyes looking at various prints on the wall. One immediately caught her eye; it was of a Pierrot clown, a figure that up until recently had haunted her 1980s existence.
"Oh no" she said to the framed image "Not anymore you don't" and moved her attention to Gene and the receptionist.

"Do you have an appointment?" the girl behind the desk asked, eyeing up Gene with an air that said she knew only to well that her employer would not arrange to meet someone of Gene's class.
Gene sighed, placing both hands wide across her desk "Listen luv-"
"My name is Davina" the girl corrected sharply.
"Davina?...Christ one bollinger knickers is enough" he said shooting Alex a sharp frsstrated glance which made Drake smile and look to her shoes. "listen Davina" Gene continued pulling out his warrant card "That is my appointment, ok?"
Davina cooly raised an immaculate eyebrow and placing the phone to her ear, dialled McCall's internal line. As she waited to be connected she smiled tightly "Mr McCall still may not be able to see you straight away, he is a very busy man"
Gene leant over the desk. offering his own tight smile "So am I luv, it's all the rapes, murders and armed blags"
As Davina consulted with her boss, Gene turned to Alex and raised his eyebrows and smiled in victory "The Gene Genie 1, Posh crumpet 0" he said, and despite herself, Alex had to laugh.

Moments later, the team were being greeted by a young handsome man in his thirties, hair as immaculate as his dark blue suit and with a smile like the Cheshire Cat. This was Scott McCall

(Turn it on again fades out)

"DCI Hunt I presume?" he said with a little bow before gripping Gene's hand as Gene completed the introductions to the rest of his team. McCall provided only the polite formal nods for the hovering Ray and Chris, instead turning his full attention to Alex "DI Drake, a pleasure" he said taking her head and kissing the back of it.
"You find police business a pleasure?" Alex remarked, determined to stay cool towards the charming McCall.
"Only when it involves such a beautiful radiant lady as yourself" he said and placed his hand to her shoulder, causing her to flinch. He held something aloft between his thumb and forefinger "A stray hair" he explained.
Gene who had been watching this exchange, now bristled and cleared his throat "Yes well, if you've quite finished grooming my DI perhaps we can get down to business?"
McCall turned to face Gene, a languid smirk on his face, he knew there and then that he'd hit a nerve. He had the measure of Gene now.
"Certainly, if you'd all care to step this way into my office....Davina love, no calls"
As they departed, Davina smiled to herself, clearly she was not too concerned with McCall calling her 'love'

McCall's office was even more plush than the reception area. A deep shag pile carpet lay under foot and the walls were painted a deep and relaxing red. He imediately made his way to the drinks cabinet "Is it a myth that you don't drink on duty or....?"
Ray was about to step forward, but Gene thrust an arm out blocking his path and connected with his chest "No not really Mr McCall. But we are rather mindful of who we drink with" he said gruffly.
McCall laughed and nodded to show it was no skin of his nose "As long as you don't mind if I do"
"It's your place of work" Gene shrugged.
"It is indeed" McCall said plopping ice into his gin and taking a seat behind his desk "And I will need to get back to work as soon as, so, can we come to the point?"
"There's been a recent spate of disappearances" Gene explained "Young were the last to see at least two of them alive"
McCall sat back shocked and laughed incredulously, wiping his mouth of the trickle of gin as a result with the back of his hand. Alex immediately saw that his watch was a Rolex. "I was? I'm sorry I find that hard to believe"
"Mr McCall" Gene sighed fixing the younger man with a stare that suggested his patience was being tested, whilst his voice sounded bored and weary "We don't just come to these conclusions by drawing a hand at Cluedo"
McCall raised his hands in surrender "No of course not, I'm sorry to suggest I had little faith, that's not the case at all, it's just such a surprise and one that is hard to fathom. Can you give me some details about these circumstances?" 
Alex took up the explanation; "Three nights ago, you were seen chatting to a young girl oustside the Odeon Cinema. She hasn't been seen since. Her name was Michelle Parr"
McCall looked to be racking his brains. His eyes downcast, darted across the surface of his desk, whilst his fingers tapped at his glass. Suddenly, he looked up, eyes on both Gene and Alex "Of course! Yes, I was taking an evening stroll, the girl approached me, and asked for directions. She was on holiday I think she said, I think she was from up north. She said she wasn't too sure how to make her way back to her hotel on foot and asked if there was a bus stop nearby and what bus she would need to take"
"And then what did you do?" Gene asked.
"Why, I took her to the bus stop. There's one about two streets down from there. She was a young girl DCI Hunt. I couldn't just send her off into the night"
"Did you wait with her until the bus came?" Alex asked.
McCall snorted a laugh as if to say it was all too obvious that he did "Of course. She got on it, and I presumed headed straight back to her hotel" his brow furrowed now in concern "God I hate to think that she never made it back...."
"Are you in the habit of directing young girls home from outside that cinema Mr McCall?"
The young man snapped out of his concerned thoughts and fixed Gene with a stare "I'm sorry I don't follow?"
"It's just that another girl went missing from that same street, and you were the last person seen speaking to her as well"
McCall placed his hands to his mouth and remained like that for a few seconds, eyes wide with shock. Finally he removed them and looked to Alex "It's on my regular route, my evening stroll" he explained.
"Must be very regular" Ray piped up, folding his arms across his chest "the toms there say they've seen you around a few times of late"
McCall's eyes scanned the faces of the detectives. Finally he said; "I think, should this really need to go any further I should have my solicitor present"
Gene stepped forward and picked up McCall's phone, thrusting the reciever towards him "Go ahead"
McCall snorted a laugh and the smirk came into play once more "I'm sorry I simply cannot leave today"
"Mr McCall, I'm very good at pissing on people's bonfires, and I piss like bleedin' Shergar. We can make you-" Gene began.
"-Yes, but only if you have a warrant for my arrest, and I'm sure you'll see sense and agree that this situation is so coincental and ludicrous that it needn't come to that. Now, I can meet you at your station with my solicitor at say 2pm tomorrow?"
"1" Gene snapped back. There as no real need for him to suggest a time change, but it was a petty victory and one which McCall consented to with a gracious bow "Very well, 1pm it is"
Gene turned to his team and they made to go. But Gene turned back and left McCall with one more query "McCall" he said, noticing the stinging reception the lack of 'Mister' afforded him "Do you know a man called Sammy the Sauce?" 
McCall looked nonplussed. Finally he shook his head.
Alex, hovering in the doorway added "Runs the Blue Parrot Strip Tease in Soho"
"In that case, I don't think so" McCall smirked, returning to his paperwork.
"Oh he knows you McCall" Gene said, walking away "And I think I do too now" he said to himself.

To Be Continued...

(c) Mark Cunliffe 2010

World Of Leather

Jane Seymour

In leather!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Privilege (1967)

Privilege is one of those films from yesteryear that you watch back and find yourself baffled and frustrated that we learned nothing from it.

Directed by Peter Watkins - the genius behind such BBC productions as the anachronistic Culloden, which featured a modern day documentary film crew interviewing both the English and Scots soldiers of the 1746 battle and the  controversial, banned for twenty years nuclear war docu-drama The War Game - Privilege would prove to be his only real commercial feature, and it wasn't in the least bit watered down for a more mainstream audience, relying on Watkins usual documentary, cinema verite stylings and packing a powerful message against the established order. 

It tells the story (from an original idea by Johnny Speight, Alf Garnett's creator) of Steven Shorter a pop star who, in the near future of the time, is the UK and the world's number one musician. Thousands upon thousands are totally enamoured by Steven and, as the film opens, he is returning from a US tour to a sensational, hysterical and positively presidential ticker tape parade through the streets of his hometown, Birmingham. 

Steven is played by Paul Jones who was at the time no stranger to musical fame, having just quit from his position of the lead singer of Manfred Mann, citing exhaustion from the pressures of fame. No doubt, the film's subject chimed with him. Because you see, all is not what it seems; Shorter isn't just luckily popular, as the 'documentary' plays out we are let into the secret that his meteoric rise to fame has all been planned. Planned by The Establishment (who incidentally are a Coalition Government) They gave the nation Steven Shorter, a vibrant, charismatic performer with some suggestion of violence and aggression in his character (it's alluded to that he had received a prison sentence and indeed, performs a concert from behind bars, handcuffed and attacked by 'guards' whipping his devoted teenage female fan base into a frenzy) when violence was popular and now, at the point of commercial saturation, they're moving onto the next stage of the plan to have Steven repent and find religion. The result will be a more pacified, obedient and controlled nation and a rise in C of E figures across the country. 

It's a brilliant theme for the story and chillingly prescient and prophetic. One can easily imagine just such a story not only being made now, but actually happening now as today's music and entertainment business is ostensibly much more manufactured than it ever was in the 1960s, a world in which arch media manipulator Simon Cowell thrives and gains domination both across TV, radio and music charts and, as I grumbled earlier last week, manages to procure front page news daily despite bigger more important global news stories occurring.

Steven Shorter is in fact little more than a puppet, a blank canvas for the Establishment to paint whatever they want for society upon. Watkins gives us some brilliant little allusions throughout. Look at this shot, when the documentaries camera seeks out a blown up photo of Steven;

In this first shot Steven's face is completely obscured by the glare from a light. It's seemingly accidental, but the camera lingers for some time and the subliminal message becomes clear; Steven is blank, a nothing. He is the most important thing, but he is totally devoid of himself.

When the camera loses the glare we see Stephen's expression for the first time and it's clear something is awry. He seems pained, wincing and completely at odds with the rest of the photograph. Clearly Stephen is troubled and uncomfortable as the focus for a nation - yet ironically, the nation fails to see it, seeing only what they're meant to see, as part of the grand plan.

This theme is further explored by the inclusion of the character Vanessa Ritchie; an artist commissioned to paint Steven. And who do you cast alongside a major pop artist with a growing resentment for the spotlight in your film about fame? Why, the world's first supermodel of course, a young girl who by this stage had appeared on the front page of every magazine possible and as such knew fame all too well - and would later turn her back on it completely to become a hotelier in Penzance (which she is to this day); the beautiful Jean Shrimpton.

As he sits for her, Vanessa tries to get to know him and encourages him to express his individuality and question his path more and more. During one of the film's many direct to camera 'interviews', she bemoans the fact that Steven is so distant and remote and in short hard to get close to or get to know. The irony being that Steven appears everywhere, as one amusing and equally sad scene shows when she asks him to change the radio station, which is playing his latest single (in fact Paul Jones's 'I've Been A Bad Bad Boy', a great tune that would later be revived in The Boat That Rocked soundtrack) only for the next station to be playing it too, and the one after that...

It is this trait of untouchability to his character that eventually shapes her work; the painting is suitably blank, hollow eyed and empty

We see Steven's world, both through the eyes of Vanessa and the eyes of the unflinching documentary camera. Occasionally, Steven stares directly at it, with a look of bemused helplessness, a plea for some support and understanding playing in his eyes. The first glimpse of it is seen in the frankly amazing silver domain known, as the voice over explains, as a Steven Dream Palace; a place where everything remotely Steven related can be purchased, all 100% made in Britain, hinting at the 'I'm Backing Britain' Campaign and proving that Steven is key to the economy in the Establishment plans too.

The plan for Steven repent comes to a head, he is freed by his faith and, after a couple of religious songs suffused with a freakbeat and jangling guitar backing; 'Onward Christian Soldiers', played by Steven's band dressed as monks and a version of 'Jerusalem', both of which are actually rather good...which does make one worry how valid the manipulation actually is! (but don't take my word for it, I've included the latter at the bottom of this post) Steven becomes a scarlet Nehru collar suited new Messiah bought wholesale by the C of E and holds a giant open air concert cum rally at a football stadium, the result of which sees hundreds of thousands flock to the Church in its aftermath.

It's a stunning highpoint in the film, as the besotted congregation hang on his every word amidst all the pageantry, pomp, fireworks and glowing, burning crucifixes. It's part Songs Of Praise on acid and part Nuremberg rally - shedding a dubious and damning light upon the Government and The C of E as a result. It even precedes the epic similar quasi religious, quasi Nazi and wholly fanatical sequences which appear in Ken Russell's Tommy eight years later. Sorry Uncle Ken, but Peter beat you to it.

But inevitably, the relationship between painter and sitter becomes something more and serves as a catalyst for change in Steven that will ultimately remove him from his position of 'privilege'

He finally breaks down at an awards ceremony demanding, inarticulately, to be seen as an individual and questioning who he is. His team and hangers on (an eclectic and funny mix which gives the film it's humour; there's Freddie K, a John Cooper Clarke accented self styled anarchist, an old Jewish money man called Uncle Julie with an idea for a terribly mawkish song called 'Mother', an upper class personal manager and a bodyguard who is "Five foot eleven in uplift boots' and the perpetually preening Alvin) baffled by the outburst, squabble and fall apart. As a result he's swiftly dropped like a bad habit.

The film and documentary ends with a chilling notion; Steven is banned, with public endorsement from ever appearing in public again.
He is effectively wiped from history. 
All that's left, the voice over (which has been provided by Watkins throughout) tells us, is a handful of records and one piece of newsreel-the sound having been wiped. The puppet no longer has the script, the message has been scratched to save their own skin and perhaps, to use again leading the sheep with another shepherd. 

The reality that a pop star can fade away, remembered by a minority with a nostalgic 'whatever happened to...?' glow isn't uncommon, but the suggestion that the Establishment can wilfully do that, manipulating even our memories let alone our current thinking is an alarming one.

The film's final words tell us, perhaps even order us, that "It's going to be a happy year in Britain this year in the near future".

Privilege is available on DVD via the excellent BFI Flipside label. It is well worth watching, perhaps as a double bill with that equally prescient-though light hearted- Peter Cook satire of the late 60s The Rise And Rise Of Michael Rimmer.

How accurate our last generation were in predicting the state of the nation...

Guy Bourdin

Big (Lebowski) Dreams

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Take Three Girls

Yes! After quite a bit of searching I've finally manage to get hold of four episodes of the BBC's first ever colour drama; Take Three Girls, which commenced in 1969 and ended in 1971.

I know I've blogged about it briefly before (Here) but now I've actually managed to get a hold of it, I feel the need to blog again!

The series was somewhat pioneering, showing as it did the up and downs of three young girls sharing a house in late 60s London and using these protagonists to cover the topics and issues of the day - and what very interesting days 1969 were in a London that was swinging, albeit perhaps a little slowly than previously as the new decade looms on the horizon and the girls realise independence isn't all rosy.

The three girls in question were Kate (Susan Jameson) Victoria (Liza Goddard) and Avril (Angela Down). Avril is a typist and aspiring artist. Victoria is a musician studying the cello and Kate is a single parent and struggling actress.

Each episode in the series would specifically follow one of the girls, allowing each actor the limelight one week, with the other leads on the periphery. 

With much anticipation I settled down to watch the opening episode, penned by Hugh Charteris, entitled 'Kate: Stop Acting' As you can tell this was an episode to highlight Susan Jameson (the future Mrs James Bolam) and she takes the opportunity and seizes it beautifully. 

Kate is a well to do young woman and divorcee bringing up a baby (the delightfully named Aeneis) alone. She decides to rent the two spare rooms for extra income and offers them to her school friend Victoria, and the seemingly less well to do, Avril. We meet them at Aeneis's christening which is being performed by Kate's father, a Reverend and broadcaster in the Malcolm Muggeridge vein (indeed he's mentioned as a friend of Muggeridge) Where the series hasn't dated is the bold strokes of social issues; it's true to say single parenthood now is much more common than it was then ("I'm one of the 7% of London's single mothers" Kate says at one point) but divorce, caring for a child single handed and treading the boards as your chosen career is something I imagine would still rankle if your father were a man of the cloth! That said, Kate's father does seem to take it in his stride, but perhaps that may be because his own private life is a little complicated; he seems to still live with her mother, who is ailing from some condition that isn't specifically stated, but he's actually having a relationship with the woman who was employed as his wife's nurse.

Kate's somewhat delightfully scatty, prone to 'acting' in any given situation with grand gestures and rolling eyes. She's also beautiful - Susan Jameson was a real stunner in her day - and elegantly dressed throughout (a check ensemble with matching beret and ruff neck at the christening) As she shows Victoria around the house she gaily explains how she's due to audition for a part at the BBC later and that the producer is kinky for PVC Mackintosh's, so her ensemble is neatly calculated to include such a vivid yellow item over an equally yellow short dress. 

Needless to say it appeals to the lecherous sleaze, played by Ronald Radd (Callan's Hunter) "That's very nice stuff" he says as he paws at her sleeve when they shake hands....

However, Kate's not as calculating as she may want to be, and she's certainly not as easy as the producer hopes; she struggles and stalls at his grubby casting couch advances , unsure whether it's 'acting' or not. Disappointed, he harshly rebuffs her and she loses the part to an icy cool little number with a headband and a seemingly constant fag on the go. She's all too happy to play "the method".

Thankfully, Kate's got her friends; not just her soon to be flat mates, but her rather considerate and caring downstairs neighbour, the blind middle aged Simon and colleague of her father, religious magazine editor Jeremy Mandl-Fry, outrageously played by the Zapata moustached Peter Bowles as a cliched toffee nosed Hooray Henry type complete with Bertie Wooster style stammer and a propensity to get worked up into a rather embarrassing vocal frenzy over anything that excites him, including of course, our Kate, whom he offers a job of 'aid' to at the magazine's HQ.

The opening episode ends with Kate tearing off the pages of a religious icon calendar as she awaits her flatmates. The symbolism in this scene is telling; there's a near mirror image of Kate and her baby son in her arms and the iconic imagery of a mother and child on the calendar, also the sweeping away of previous dates suggests a new day and a new start lies ahead for her. 

As I say I've only watched one episode, and I've only three more to go (the BBC wiped all but 10 episodes I believe, cheers Auntie) but I'm looking forward to watching just what lies ahead for the girls.

PS Did someone say Liza Goddard?

Perfect excuse to show (again) her bum from the film Ooh ... You Are Awful


It's Saturday. And Saturday is all about this

BBC4's new Swedish/Danish export The Bridge. 2 episodes in and I'm completely, utterly hooked. A worthy successor to Wallander, The Killing and Borgen

Story Time - Ashes To Ashes - The Lock Box Part 7

Ashes To Ashes : The Lock Box

Part 7

It was evening now. Shift over. Soon it would be the start of a new day, and a new shift, another day in which the Parr's did not have their daughter.
Day three.

Alex Drake was in her flat above Luigi's getting ready for going downstairs for drinks with the team; the little ritual they all indulged in virtually every evening. As she combed through her hair, she recalled the nights of celebration donwstairs, the times a case had been succesfully resolved. But she also recalled the nights they were still tub thumping, desperate for a resolution, and she knew that that kind of night was awaiting her now. These were not nights of good cheer, certainly there'd be jokes and laughter, but it would be hollow; an attempt to keep spirits bouyant, and she'd know, laughing more hollow than most would be Gene Hunt; the lion of Fenchurch East, The Guv, sitting at the head of the table and nursing his drink of choice.
Tonight, she felt, would be a Scotch night. 
She pictured him there, nudging the glass with his fingertip, tilting it on its base, watching the whisky slosh and move, the oily liquid clinging to the glass. A weary smile crossing his features at the banter between Ray and Chris, before adding his own comment or putdown that would send the table into fits of laughter. But she knew his heart wasn't in it. His mind would be elsewhere.
As would hers be. Her mind split like schizophrenia to two places, the case at hand, and her home; 2008.
Perhaps they were not so unalike after all?
A reflection in the blank TV screen froze her thoughts and brushing. Her eyes grew wide as she took the image in; it was Molly, her daughter.
She stood there, seemingly by the kitchen, dressed in her nightie and intently watching her Mum get ready like she so often did.
Alex's features creased into sadness. Her head tilting to one side "Oh Molls" she half addressed, half moaned. "Molly wait there for me. I will get home to you, I promise"
She sniffed back her tears. "I know we are separated, but I at least know that you are safe. You're ok Molls, you'll be ok. I will find Michelle Parr, and then one day soon, I will get back home to you Molly" 
She knew she shouldn't do it. She knew only to well what would happen. It happened time and time again. But each time she could not resist. And so she did it. She turned her head to face her daughter.
Who promptly disappeared.
"Molly" she said softly, the word too, disappearing on her lips almost immediately.

(Toto by Africa fades in as the scene changes from Alex alone in her room to Gene alone in Fenchurch East)

Gene Hunt stood in the doorway of his office, surveying the empty room. He had sent his team home and to Luigi's earlier, yet he had stayed behind, stayed behind with his ghosts. The ghosts of all his cases. Of people he could not save, and people he did, for even a succesful case had its victims, that was the nature of the job; his job.
He snorted and looked down to the floor. In his mind he thought of Michelle Parr, and of the prostitute Tracie Hill, and hoped it was not to late, that they would not join the legion of ghosts that walked alongside him. A company that now included the runaway Lisa Kirk, an innocent girl killed by the city he served.
He turned back into his office and collected his coat, eyes briefly drawn to the news cutting on his wall detailing the death of Sam Tyler; perhaps the most important ghost of all.
Shrugging his long black coat on, he began to walk across the office floor, the lights going out one by one. He would leave the ghosts behind tonight, for now it was time for Luigi's. He knew they'd be waiting for him again tomorrow.

(Toto's Africa plays...)

Luigi's, a firm constant in the world Alex had found herself in. She smiled an acknowledgement to the team sat at the back on their usual table as she entered, whilst the titular proprietor greeted her warmly.
"And how are you this evening?"
"Oh I'm ok Luigi, getting there you know?" Alex said, lifting herself onto the bar stool as Luigi poured her a glass of wine.
"I know very well" Luigi nodded sagely, a smile curling up his moustache "life can be a challenge yes?" he said, just as huge jeers came from the CID table. He turned to watch in annoyance as Chris was setting fire to a serviette over the table candle. Clearly, he had been hoping to perform the trick where it floated up into the air beautifully, however, cack handed as he clearly was, he had managed to just create a worryingly out of control blaze.
"See what I mean?" Luigi said rising his eyes to the heavens and offering up a prayer in his native Italian. Alex, watching from a safe distance still found herself flinching and backing away on her stool, as Chris flapped around, stood up from the table now, with his girlfriend Shaz pleading for help from the rest of the team who viewed his hopelessnes as hilarious.
Finally, casually, Ray stood up and slung a carafe of water over the burning napkin, and ultimately over Chris. The foolish DC stood there now, shivering, shocked and soaked as the table erupted into further laughter.
Ray chewing his gum, creased his features at his friend and uttered the legend; "Twonk"

Alex shook her head sadly, smiling ruefully, and turned back to her host "Is Mr Hunt not in?"
Luigi, returned his attention from the skies to Alex "Ah no, no not yet"
"Oh...I wonder what's keeping him?" Alex asked aloud before offering Luigi thanks for the wine and shifting off the bar stool, taking her first welcome sip.
Just then a voice called out behind her "Luigi, a glass of Scotch please"
Alex turned, swallowing quickly to see Gene surveying the bistro and removing his driving gloves.
"There you are" Alex said.
"Your powers of observation amaze me Bolls" Gene said, taking the offered glass from Luigi curtly and knocking it down in one. He bared his teeth with the effort and slammed the glass back down "Keep 'em coming my eyetie friend, it's been one of them days"
"Certainly Mr Hunt" Luigi said, secretly rolling his eyes as he returned to the optics.

(Africa fades out)

"Guv?" Shaz's voice called out from the table where she was half rose trying to catch his attention.
"Yes Shaz?" Gene asked, taking his second drink and strolling over to the table taking his seat at the head, with Alex not far behind him.
Shaz returned to her seat "I made a phone call to a friend of mine, Oliver Baker, he works in the city yeah? Anyway he says this Scott McCall....he's quite big in the city. Started out with Oliver's firm as a stockbroker but moved on fairly quickly yeah? Has a main office on Ward Street, very fancy, but truth is, he has his fingers in lots of pies"
"So he's up to his knuckles in gravy" Gene said, causing Ray to dutifully snigger, exhaling cigarette smoke across the table "Well done Shaz" Gene nodded, making Shaz feel warm and rewarded inside. She smiled shyly and picked up her glass of wine.
Chris, who had been watching the exchange open mouthed, turned to her now "Who's this Oliver Baker?"
Shaz paused as she swallowed "Just a friend baby"
"Oh aye? How come I've never heard of him before then?"
"'Cos she's probably givin' him one on the side!" Ray cackled, nudging Chris in the ribs.
Chris furrowed his brow "Are you Shaz?"
"Ray! No I'm not Chris! How can you think that of me?" Shaz complained, tutting.
"Who is he then? I mean, he sounds pretty succesful, is he young, old what?"
"If you must know he's my age alright?"
"And how did you meet him?"
"Chris I've known him for years...can we drop this?"
"How Shaz, how did you meet?"
"For God's sake Chris, we met at The Blitz club ok?"
"In that case" Ray said "You've nowt to worry about"
Chris turned to his friend "How'd you mean?"
Ray pulled deeply on his smoke and rolled the cigarette around in his fingers "Well you said yourself, they're all poofs there"
"Ugh" Shaz said, grabbing her coat and bag, and retreating angrily from the table.
"Shaz!" Chris said hovering, unsure of whether to chase after her or not. Finally he sat back down "Thanks mate, thanks a lot" he said bitterly to Ray.
"I wouldn't worry about it Chris, she's probably just gone home for Crossroads or summat. Anyway this fella, Oliver, I mean Oliver? probably a right toffee nosed git"
"You think?" Chris asked, rubbing at his knees.
"Yeah, proper chinless wonder, all them city types are" Ray nodded, distate creeping across his face. He began to affect a posh accent "Ooh let's all make some money yah?" he scoffed "Shaz wouldn't fancy that mate"
Chris nodded slowly " you're right...she's not one for turning her head at a posho"
"Too right" Ray said, pulling on his smoke once more "She's too common for that"
Chris, blinked unsure of whether to be reassured by that or hurt. Finally he managed to say "Thanks mate"
"Don't mention it" Ray said slapping his friend on the back.

To Be Continued...

(C) Mark Cunliffe 2010

Friday, 27 April 2012


They say a week is a long time in politics, but it's even longer in abstinence. I haven't had a beer in just over a week (trust me that's a long time for me!) and I've succumbed to have some beer tonight! So it's an excuse to show what my favourites are and their brilliant posters

Out On Blue Six : Joni Mitchell

Three of the best from Joni.

 I love the summery vibe of the first and the more reflective, mournful nature of the last two.

I believe Joni is currently trying to leave music behind, to focus instead on raising awareness for the horrible disease/psychosis she suffers from; Morgellons.

For more info on it see here -

It's a shame if she does. But let's hope she finally beats Morgellons.

End Transmission

Why A 32 Year Old Still Occasionally Watches CBBC...

It's fair to say the golden age of Blue Peter is long gone (round about the time Yvette Fielding had never even stepped inside a supposed 'haunted house')

But there's one reason why it's still worth watching for us blokes.

Yep, Helen Skelton...

Look at her; gorgeous, diddy, adventurous, record breaking, talented, cute, funny and Northern!

Great little stubby legs too ;)

She's branched out into Countryfile these days, but imagine how good it would be if she went into acting like Magpie's Jenny Hanley?

A Real Ladykiller

A Saturday Evening Post cover from 1968 looking at Tony Curtis and his great performance as Albert de Salvo, The Boston Strangler, in the film of the same name.

Intriguing article entitled 'A funny look inside the CIA' there ??!!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Terry and Julie

Beautiful photo, beautiful people

And I can't resist...

The Black Panther (1977)

Coming to DVD from the BFI at the end of next month, the biopic of notorious 70s serial killer Donald Nielson (played by Donald Sumpter) which was effectively banned and banished after it's original cinema release. The following trailer is for an early 80s video release

The Dude Abides

The perils of the internet is you often get terribly impotent people challenging your point of view as if any other than their own is completely invalid. Not on here you understand, but on many other sites. Often, and against my better judgement, I find myself rising to it and feeding the trolls. When in actuality, I should listen to one of my heroes, The Dude Lebowski, and say this instead....

The Dude Abides

Story Time - Ashes To Ashes - The Lock Box Part 6

Ashes To Ashes : The Lock Box

Part 6

Alex ran outside to see Chris and Ray sat in the back of the Quattro staring through the window at her, whilst Gene aggressively revved the engine, it's wheels inching, straining along the tarmac with every press of his foot on the accelerator, like a horse straining under its jockey's grip.
"Come on Drakey, we haven't got all day!" Gene snapped.
"Alright!" Alex protested, climbing into the front seat and fastening her seat belt. She turned to Gene and the two in the back "Where are we going?"
"We are going to get information and not a moment too soon" Gene replied, eyes dead ahead as the Quattro roared off down the street

(The Jam's In The City fills the scene as we see The Quattro speed away)

The Quattro slammed to a halt in one of the dingier sidestreets of Soho. Alex climbed out and looked at Gene "Not here again?"
"Oh yes, Bollykecks, here again" he said as he strode purposefully to the door of The Blue Parrot StripTease, a club they had frequented only hours before; Sammy the Sauce's club.

Gene threw Sammy into the wall of the office, following up with a swift rabbit punch. The manager wailed in anguish, while Gene tightened his grip on his lapels, forcing his fingers through the material and into Sammy's skin underneath. Gene was deaf to both the protestations of Alex behind him, and the cheering encouragements of Ray who was in the same position as his DI, yet treating it far more as a ringside seat. Only Chris remained silent, eyes hovering between Gene and the door; ready to obstruct any new arrival from entering while The Guv had business to attend to.  "Now then scumbag!" Gene said through gritted, bared teeth "I have been awake for 48 hours, save for the occasional drunken nodding off, I am also hungover and most importantly, I am at the end of my bloody tether!"
Sammy was about to protest his innocence and ignorance once more but Gene raised him up from the wall and slung him down onto the desk, yelling "Don't tell me you don't know anything!" and sending paperwork, files and cheap darts trophies flying across the room as Sammy's body connected with them painfully. Gene raised his arm, at the end of which was a clenched gloved fist, above his head and narrowed his eyes at the specimen in his grasp before him.

(In The City fades out)

"Guv please!" Alex said, hand raised to her mouth as she deliberated trying to seperate them. She turned to Ray and Chris, but the look of pleasure on Ray's face, combined with an instant shake of the head, as if he telepathically knew she was going to ask him to help told her she was wasting her time. Chris on the other hand, merely stared blankly at her, blinking occasionally, until he finally offered a hopeless shrug.
"I want information Sammy" Gene said, breathing heavily from the anger and exertion, his expansive gut straining against his button shirt, his tie askew across it, a strand of hair loose and clinging wetly to his perspiring forehead "There's a missing girl out there somewhere, possibly two. And as one other girl has already been washed up by Old Father tossing Thames I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say their lives are at stake now do you?"
Sammy, panic etched in his features so much that he had begun to resemble Munch's The Scream, nevertheless managed to shake his head and say ' I don't think so Mr Hunt"
"Good" Gene nodded "It sacres me to say it, but we're on the same wavelength then. Now, a local brass tells me there's a new man in town. Drives a flash new BMW, dresses well, likes young girls....ring any bells Sammy or do I have to hit you until you start hearing 'em?"
Sammy swallowed hard, wheezing and shaking under Gene's grasp, he groaned in defeat "It sounds like...It sounds like McCall"
"McCall?" Alex asked.
"Scott McCall, he's a businessman, been round here a few times, that's all I know" 
Gene rasied Sammy up effortlessly within his clenched grip. He tilted his head at the helpless pathetic figure as if surveying a similar animal at the zoo "He get up to anything here?"
"He bought a few girls from me, that's all"
"Bought?" Alex repeated hollowly. She felt sickened and her face showed it. It was as if she had been transported to the Roman Empire with its slave trades, not 1982.
"So he's a got his own set up?" Gene asked, eyes burning with interest.
"Yeah...but I don't know where it is" Sammy said, flinching as he sensed Gene wasn't buying this and was about to hurt him again "I promise, on my eyes Mr Hunt, I really do not know"
"You must know when a rival opens up near you?" Ray queried with a barely believed shake of the head.
"Whose to say he's opened up near me?" Sammy said.
"Or if he's advertising? Private enterprise may be?" Alex suggested aloud and sensing eyes on her shrugged and said "Nothing...not yet...just thinking aloud"
Gene turned to Sammy "You see what I have to put up with?"
Sammy, eager to get on side, nodded sharply and smiled as best he could.
"If he comes in again...." Gene said leaving the sentance hanging, knowing Sammy would pick it up. Sure enough he did; "I'll be on the blower to you first thing Mr Hunt, honest I will, now I know who you're after, I'm only to happy to help"
Gene grimaced "Very kind" he said and snatched his grip free, sending Sammy slumping to a heap, gasping, spreadeagled on the desk.
Gene made a show of wiping his gloved hands before nodding to his colleagues that it was time they departed.

(In The City fades in again)

As they stepped into the fresh London air Alex turned to Gene "What was that?"
"That Bolls" Gene said as he pulled open the Quattro door "Was getting information...Gene Hunt style"
Alex looked up to the heavens and sighed.

To Be Continued...

(C) Mark Cunliffe 2010