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Christmas movies to sleigh you – Update

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, we are feeding our Christmas spirit with Christmas movies…


In the first Lockdown, we watched through all the Marvel MCU movies in order (we weren’t nerdy enough to slot the TV episodes in order too). For the festive season, we have decided to work through a – fairly random – pile of Christmas films, and I thought I’d take you with me on that sleigh ride.

So far, and ranked in order (upwards) – I will update as we go along – latest updates in bold below:

#9 – The Christmas Chronicles

A jolly tale with Kurt Russell. Bad but jolly. Having seen the trailer for Christmas Chronicles 2 it could have been worse, we might have seen that. To be fair, there are some excellent moments, including Santa Kurt banged up in a jail cell with musical prisoners and a cool sax. May just edge into the watchable with that…

Better movies to come, methinks…

#8 – National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

A product of its time – Chevy Chase is a combination of winning and really annoying. It’s the first time that I have seen the movie the whole way through, I’ve tried three or four times before and not made it past 22 minutes. Not hilarious, but a few genuinely funny scenes, and the nagging question as to why everything’s alright for Christmas once the compensation arrangements have been finalised…

A child of its time.

#7 – Gremlins

A very Mogwai Christmas to you!

Accompanied by hot dogs, nothing made in a blender with all due respect to one of the Bad Gremlins. A sharp, nasty and cute Spielberg presentation masterpiece with annoyingly catchy music and a brilliant view of how much fun Snow White can be. Some nice digs at consumerist Christmas, and Gizmo is so much cuter than Baby Yoda. Fab!

It reminded me of a couple of things: craving food after Midnight, shunning water, avoiding the light. Turning into Sources of Evil. But I wrote in my previous post about the kids coming home for the holidays, so no need to repeat myself.

#6 – Die Hard 2: Die Harder

Let it snow on the soundtrack, lots of snow and heavily armed terrorists – a sure-fire Christmas hit. Notwithstanding those credentials, it still feels it has sneaked onto this list, much more of a Summer popcorn-busting movie. A sneaky twist that’s not that surprising and a lot of very well choreographed action scenes. The Family scoffs at anything beyond the original, but there is fun to be had here and hasn’t aged too badly

Yippee-ki-yay…!

#5 – Nativity!

Shameless manipulation and Martin Freeman doing his Everyman schtick. Love it! Had the Offspring cringing nicely, and we knew we’d struck gold when one demanded never to have that sort of movie inflicted on him ever gain. Yesssssssss! Hollywood is shown to have a golden heart, so this movie needs to be put at the far, far away fantasy end of the spectrum…

#4 – Frozen

A true classic. Not totally Christmas-themed, but enough snow and reindeer action to squeeze in. Beautiful animation, a kick-ass soundtrack, including That Song, what more can you ask for in a holiday film. A neat subversion of the usual fairy tale tropes to boot. Not too much saccharine, and any that sets off a Mush Alert, just Let It Go…

#3 – Arthur Christmas

Saw this last night eating hot dogs on hot dog platters, and some ace Christmas bark (melted and re-formed white and milk chocolate with random stuff stuck in it).

Christmas bark, anyone?

First time I’ve seen it and it’s a hoot. Stellar cast, great animation – Aardman, without a naughty penguin or cheese in sight. A cartoon with a warm mix of Mission: Impossible and Santa Claus: the Movie.

#2 – Love Actually

Perfect casting, sharp writing, believable characters. Class act.

#1 – Elf

In my top three fave Christmas movies – along with Die Hard and White Christmas. Buddy Elf is the role that Will Ferrell was born to play. Very funny, not sickly but perfectly judged, and James Caan and Mary Steenburgen add extra class to the proceedings. Well, class.

Gets me every time, as my gleeful Offspring pointed out to me at the end…Big Softies of the World unite.

Take Elf for a spin…

Make sure you don’t sit on a Throne of Lies this Christmas!

Have as happy a festive season as possible…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Driving home for Christmas (from uni)

In a year where Dancer and Prancer have been temporarily subbed by Tracker and Tracer, it has been good to welcome home the Offspring back from their unis in time for Christmas.

Offspring 2 made her way back in the Mini in a flurry of tyre pressure and dead battery warnings to make the journey just that little bit more exciting. Followed by me driving back a shortish distance round the M25 with her to her digs to pick up the stuff that she’d:

  • forgotten
  • changed her mind about its usefulness until next year
  • changed her mind about how cute it would be to have it at home base
  • decided to torment me about trying to fit in the car (making me pleased she doesn’t ski)
  • all of the above

Less Driving Home for Christmas, more 2000 Miles.

Offspring 1, based in the Midlands, was given one shot: popping back to his uni for spare earphones is not going to happen…

His pad was like the door in the Advent Calendar that it’s best to leave closed. My reflexes as Bin Czar (see previous) allowed me to dodge the fifteen sacks of rubbish that the four guys had managed to skillfully accumulate over the weeks, transforming from trash into art.

Student kitchen

More rank than a military parade. The bin men have sensibly disguised themselves as posties on bin days.

Offspring 2, not to be outdone on extremes, regaled us with the resurrected chicken, the one that had been left for weeks in the fridge by one of them at their lair. Offspring 2 claimed innocence, so she can be let off this time, including from the rampage of the revenant. The same fate will not befall the Christmas lunch turkey. That was an unexpected blip in the fascist stormtrooper work details set down by the housemates aiming for the tidiest and most wholesome student digs in history.

Very low bar, and I remember limbo dancing under that standard when I was at uni.

Age provides perspective and in my case self-knowledge.

The great thing about university accommodation is that the door can be shut on it from a parent’s point of view with a flick of the rose-tinted spectacles- a point of view eagerly adopted…Now it’s the why are there six open tubs of butter in the fridge conversation and that the smoked salmon has been taken out to make room for the cider. The bonus Santa sacks of washing lovingly saved up to be brought home at the end of term brought a tear to the eye.

Christmas will iron out all of those things out and create a smooth and seamless festive period, as seamless as those bags of rubbish. Great to have them home.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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The Game’s Afoot, Santa…

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, we are trying to find a game to play for one to three households…


This is a more or less COVID-free blogpost in the hope that we will have a predominantly COVID-free 2021. My thoughts are with anyone affected and thanks to all key workers of all types.

Christmas is nearly here, the stupid jumpers, the funny (in your dreams) hats, all that stuff. And the games.

One of the great pleasures is sitting around a table, on the floor, wherever, and breaking out a game for all the family. Assuming of course that agreement can be reached as to what to play. Winner chooses. Of what?

The Household, brimming with Christmas spirit, has a number to choose from, they appear to multiply in the cupboard. What sort will hit the spot, preferably none with a running total to avoid anyone asking for a recount, that never seems to work so well.

Highly cerebral and scary – Funny Bunny – pic below – invented by those twisted fiends at Ravensburger who are probably poachers with fluffy red-brown tails. It involves a tense and lethal journey around a treacherous meadow. A meadow that eats bunnies. It culminates in a break-neck lollop to the top of the hill to crown King Thumper. Not for the faint-hearted. Mind you, it pairs well with strong alcoholic drinks.

Unleash your inner evil rabbit

Cerebral – Scrabble. This is the variant requiring a minimum of six-letter words to be put down, no swapping, and absolutely nothing in Swahili or Klingon.

Sheer luck – Anyone for Chess? That does look fun based on our Queen’s Gambit experience where it appears to be a drinking game. We have never got on with the four player version with the extra colours, or is that Ludo?

Queen takes paw

Villain bent on world domination – One of those hidden traitor games where someone – assuming they can keep their cheating, lying face straight. Often that baby-faced Grandmama lurking in the corner like a viper…No offence…

Monopoly – In a class of its own for internecine skulduggery (see Scrabble – above). My mother-in-law used to demand all of the pink ones before the game started as a pre-conditon for playing. A bit like a Wonka Golden Ticket. Brutal. Suffice to say we never everplay this game with Offspring Number One, he has inherited her ways of evil that overwhelm our feeble resistance.

Other family games – Mother’s general aversion to games apart from Funny Bunny limits the debate somewhat. We shall work on her this Christmas, she will crack and victory shall be ours, MWAHAHAHAHAHA. That is, opening the box.

Reducing the world to a coloured game board where the rules are clear and outcomes – within bounds – predictable sounds like the best game in town this Festive Season…

Cheers!

And a Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Trekking: The knees canna’ take it Cap’n…!

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, Nepal, Trekking, Leeches and a Soviet-era attack helicopter: what could possibly go wrong?


Wow

I took Jasper Retriever for a walk in the dark and lashing rain on Saturday. It made me think about walking generally and in particular my trek in the Himalayas in the mid-90s.

I have been lucky enough to visit Nepal a couple of times, but my first time was amazing, it stays with me as a time of freedom, an important feeling in our current trying times.

We flew into Kathmandu, bustling, crowded, long before Doctor Strange went there. It was different rather than strange, people scrambling to make a living in packed streets. Like this:

B&Q, Kathmandu

Then walk around a corner and experience an oasis of peace and quiet:

Peace

Then back to the mayhem, which included the unexpected transport arrangements.

A helicopter ride out to Pokhara in the Annapurna basin. Taking a helicopter may sound glamorous, using the word ‘ride’ may make it sound like fun. It was neither of those things. The antique Soviet-era beast had benches on which we were invited to hunker down, or as it’s known grip tightly. Seat belts? I don’t think so. Reading for the journey amounted to trying to decipher the Cyrillic to figure out where the machine-guns had been mounted, and no need to worry our heads with escape-path lighting, and luckily neither of us needed hot towels or a movie – mind you, Rambo III would have put us right in the mood.

The unusual in-flight service amounted to a couple of handfuls of candy floss. Not candy floss, though. I was invited to stuff the cotton wool into my ears while the screaming rotor blades cleaved our ears.

We landed and got ready for the trek around the Annapurna range, not as far as the Everest Base Camp, but far enough up to feel that I was walking on the tops of the world. Far enough to gain a fantastic view of Machhapuchhare .

The mountain dominates the area when Everest is out of the picture, its other name is much easier to pronounce: the Fish-Tail. Our goal was to make it around the horseshoe shaped trek and bank as much cold, clean air as we could gather – quite a lot of it was needed though for the up and down assault course of the trek.

Not that we did it the hard way, I must confess. A team of ex-Gurkhas- twelve of them – looked after the two of us, including the lovely man in charge of transporting the toilet tent and his colleague who had live – temporarily live – chickens in a wooden cage for dinner one evening. They forced us to carry a water bottle, so we didn’t shirk.

The toilet tent – watch out for those pesky leeches…

The Gurkhas were something else. I have probably never been fitter than the build-up to the trek and the actual trek, and I found it tough. Very tough. But they, with 40 or 50 pound packs romped up those hills as if they were on a stroll across the village green to the local pub.

One thing they warned us about were the leeches, I have a vivid recollection even now of one getting through the tent’s deflector shields and determinedly inching across a metal dinner plate on the hunt for blood. It was leech season when we went, so we knew the Leech Apocalypse was coming. Continuous kit checking was not something to take shortcuts on, otherwise it was party time and the drinks were on us.

Yum, yum

The feeling of escape and freedom, no mobiles, no tech, nothing, was one that I will never forget. Pushing myself around the next bend, up the next hill, skittering down a steep path, is something that I treasure. And in particular the encouraging words of our guide, ‘It is just around the next bend up that small hilly bit,’ then 40 minutes later, ‘It is just around the next bend up that small hilly bit.’ Got me every time.

Now it’s time to haul on my coat and shoes and take the boy out for another walk, maybe across Epsom Downs today to strive for that fleeting sense of freedom that I had in Nepal, something to draw on now.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Premium Bond

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, an affectionate look at a true movie superstar, who will be sadly missed.


I don’t need to tell you who is pictured above.

This week I have taken my time to figure out my response to the news of Sean Connery’s death.

Another lost building block of life, alongside Bowie and Freddie and many others.

I grew up with Sean Connery as James Bond. It’s along the same lines as who was your Who (somewhere between Tom Baker and Jon Pertwee for me – I can never decide between the frills and the jelly babies), and Blue Peter presenters (Valerie Singleton and John Noakes were the ones for me, although Shep and Bleep & Booster were my immediate choices).

It’s about anchoring memories and Connery in his tux and cruel mouth was the one for me. He nailed the character. Sadly for him, George Lazenby doesn’t really count, although he wasn’t in my view as bad as many say. Roger Moore was the next closest in time, but he always had a little too much pantomime about him for me. (Oh no he doesn’t. OH YES HE DOES.)

So, the above paragraph ages me like a guided missile has been fired at the calendar.

Connery has been a waypoint in my life.

By coincidence, I was halfway through Ian Fleming’s From Russia With Love when I heard the news of his death. Funnily enough, when I’m reading the Flemings, SC is the image that my mind projects into the reading, no hint of camp raised eyebrow. The killer for Roger Moore’s cred for me when I was younger was that my mum loved him to bits and regarded him as the one true Bond, so game over…

The book is slightly batty but is nonetheless a strangely gripping tale of spies and lovers in exotic locations, in keeping with the rest of the books and the movies. You know the drill, evolving over the years not necessarily in real time to fit in a bit more with modern sensitivities du jour.

Connery fitted his profile perfectly.

Look at his later works, including the outrageously fun The Rock and playing Indiana’s dad, his comic timing and magnetic star power are there for all to see, and in more up to date roles. Hell, I even liked him in Outland, (High Noon in space) and – at a stretch – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but frankly only when he was on camera. And Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the one with his spectacular film-stealing cameo.

There are many others worthy of note, including of course The Name of the Rose.

At the edges, I have only managed to get through around 30-40% of Zardoz (weird sci-fi), but over the course of Lockdown 2 I will give it another try and stick with it. And I will gracefully and swiftly pass over Never Say Never Again which, for the purist, should probably have been called Never Again, And I Meant It, but we all have to earn a living, right? The same with The Avengers, which was a disappointment for me: I never saw Connery as the Scarlet Witch.

I want to end this post with a salute to him, for all the movie highlights, thrills and spectacle that he wove. I’m off to pick up From Russia With Love again and get lost in Red Grant’s fight with the one true Bond.

Cheers!

Alan

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The sauce of all happiness

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, a joyful look at when Father’s home cooking collides with Italian artistry. It should stir your soul, if not the ingredients…


I will make a tomato sauce when I get back from my few days away.

Not quite the way the Italians do it, I don’t have racks of great-grandparents lying around glaring at vats of bubbling liquid and drinking Chianti. I’m in Surrey, resisting the temptation to put Waitrose Essential Tomato Sauce into my next order. There needs to be some middle ground here, Dammi una pausa

This will be a step up from my legendary Spaghetti Bolognese, the one that I made for the kids’ tea about three or so years ago, for which they have never forgotten, never forgiven. The one which had no spaghetti in it (so would please the Mayor of Bologna, if nothing else – arguably it made my attempt more authentic). I had left it too long to cook the pasta – sadly neither made by my fair hand or fresh from the supermarket – I improvised and served my epic sauce over a sea of Trump-coloured cheese puffs shaped suspiciously like scorpions. It was like an Indian Jones romp on a plate.

The Offspring spotted the bits of celery in the sauce, planted in a vain attempt to add some goodness to counterbalance the scorpions. Carnage. Mother was told, I was shopped, humiliated forever. Thank God that they put lashings of tomato ketchup over it – I’m surprised they noticed anything untoward, although the scorpion tails did rise up quite high out of the steaming sauce. It reminded me of something…

That was probably the low point in my cooking career – adventure – odyssey. A close run thing with, when I was a student, the tinned macaroni cheese served at room temperature using the tin as a one-container serving solution.

I remain a fan of the ancient culinary art of Splodge, though. I’m unrepentant. My skills have been honed a little by Lockdown, the fine art of the tray bake. That’s the posh name for Splodge.

I have learned to keep sauces simple. My latest was venison chunks slow-cooked in red wine and dark chocolate, covering all essential nutritional areas. Awesome. Served with a bold red wine, then the consistency, artistry, taste becomes less of a big deal…

Home-made tomato sauce will go further and elevate that to a Zen state which I will inflict on the Household, aka my victims.

Random tomatoes, salt and a little sugar, all boiled up in the tomatoes’ own juice. What could go wrong?

I’ll let you know. Splodge culinary magic – if all else fails, we can spray tomato ketchup over it and shut our eyes.

Voila! Oops.

Click here for the link to the Italian sauce video that sparked my interest. I hope you will find it as therapeutic as I did…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

The perfect combination
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Om truths

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, sometimes the answer is right in front of your muzzle…


Since Lockdown began, we have been trying to alight upon a satisfactory form of exercise and stress reduction measures to cope with what is currently a barking mad world.

Gin has naturally been a key part of our core strategy, making sure that the bottle screw top is firmly fastened to provide the need for maximum torque from your core to open it; and full enough that lifting the bottle counts as a curl. Not too much tonic although it has the advantage of warding off malaria, if that helps. Lemon slices as part of your five-a-day. Overall, the perfect health package.

We have tried and rejected several other activities. They have included the awkward – sitting with a large cup of coffee and a biscuit watching the introduction to Brienne of Tarth’s “Ultimate Slaying” Yoga video on YouTube. Thirty days of increasingly heroic and stupid poses and then Winter Comes. We wouldn’t have got on with the chain mail. Too scratchy.

Spar therapy

Even conventional yoga videos – the equivalent of 3-D Twister – are fine if you can keep pace with them. Brutal if you don’t, but they do provide a memory test of what you should have been doing three minutes ago before getting stuck. Finding the Pause button from underneath a Destroyer of the Universe pose can break the spell. Perhaps Finding the Pause Button should be a new pose in itself using your sofa as a yoga mat.

Miranda Hart’s Maracattack was a – fleeting – possibility. A DVD that provides the thrill of an epic quest around the house to find a machine that still takes discs, a video that advocates maniacal waving of maracas broadly in tune with flailing screen prompts. Surprisingly therapeutic if your windows are not overlooked by next door, but I’ll stick to cocktail shakers, I think.

Massage – a splendid way to relax but the social distancing rules make it tricky.

How about meditation? For example, concentrating hard to figure out how the new handball rule makes any sort of sense. Not a path that leads to peace or clear thinking.

FIFA 19 for toned thumbs? Extreme Mah Jong using real bricks?

No. While helpful, none of these quite fits the bill.

After a long period of exhaustive research and testing, we have appreciated that the answer is right in front of us:

In case you’re wondering, it’s just a toy hedgehog that he’s gripping.

Jasper, making it easier for us not to be barking mad at all.

Sofa to K-9 walks every day.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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Home Sweat Home, uni-style

(Cat not included)

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix. You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, an episode of Studenthouse CSI


I want the best for my kids, but sometimes it’s confusing as regards what that really is.

They are now suitably installed in their second year houses off-campus, but waiting to be properly Locked Down when the inevitable happens and there’s a Surge at their respective uni.

On that, I’m not clear in the now of COVID why students have been mustered on site at their temples of learning and social enrichment when the learning can be done online using that wonderful Internet-thing that has just been invented; and the social part is looking increasingly like a mini-Lockdown for them in a damp house with people they don’t know very well. It’s good for the landlords (including the unis), I suppose, so we can all be happy about that, right?

Delivering my son to his sparkly new house which he’s going to share with three other guys – grunge alert – WHOOP! WHOOP! WHOOP! – was a splendid way not to worry about Corona for a bit. But not for good reasons.

Alert! Alert!

He and his mates chose the house after as much research as you can reasonably expect from nineteen-or-so-year-olds…

Can we get Virgin Media? Yes. Tick.

Does Deliveroo come here? Yes. Tick

Is there a bedroom for me? Yes. Tick.

Where do I sign?

Last weekend was the first time that we’d seen it when we delivered him there. Mother muttered that it needed a little TLC from the outside. For that I assume she meant Take Loads of Care when walking round it. It has a gas oven where the oven knob boinggged off when turned, inviting an inspection of the rank interior of the appliance. We politely declined that invitation. Especially with a lit match. We are ordering crime scene tape – DO NOT CROSS! – from Amazon to stick over the doors and an electric oven from Amazon. He is studying History, not Bomb Disposal.

The encrusted smoke alarms provided extra excitement – Amazon will be as delighted as the Science Museum.

Then a trip around the fluorescent pink tiles of the kitchen for the kitchen-diner experience, followed by the Laundry Room – a space which has an ever-flowing tap like a permanent water feature, and a carpeted downstairs loo that doesn’t bear thinking about. As bedrooms go, his is fine, the only limitation being the black curtains with a yellow flower pattern that looks like coven meetings are held there for right-on Satan worshippers, standing room only.

Don’t get me wrong, the house is big, airy and fine when the booby traps have been de-fused – it was equally fine back in the 1960s when any maintenance work was last done to it. If this is approved or recommended by the accommodation people at the uni, they need to run the odd check every decade or so to ensure the place isn’t life-threatening. Just a thought.

So, just to be clear, I don’t expect my offspring to live in a palace for uni, but I do expect the place of their first real full-on contact with the Real World not to conspire to blow them up, smoke them like kippers or drown them. And yes, voting with your feet is a way of dealing with it, but when accommodation is difficult to get, that’s going to fly a lot less well than those witches…

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

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Putting the band back together

We drove down to the South Coast at the weekend for a concert. The last time was for Mark Knopfler, this time it was for the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Glyndebourne, not the Brighton Centre. A stretch for the coast, I’ll grant you. An afternoon of sitting in the gardens, eating a picnic, drinking mocktails and listening to classical music in a COVID-secure way. Not far off normal life (I’m not referring to the mocktails as the aberrration), but with the new-normal tweaks of a one-way system around the premises, two metres between each pod of audience members and far enough away from the end of the woodwind instruments to settle the nerves. No need for black tie since it was an afternoon concert; awkward for the token wearer but he seemed fine with it.

And to the orchestra. A palpable feeling that the band was back together, that they had been let out to play and would have lashings of ginger beer later and party games. Sheer relief at being able to sit in front of a crowd of people again albeit some the size of a Twitter thumbnail in their line of sight.

Sweet Home, East Sussex

A tight eight-piece band with periodic light aircraft accompaniment. It was like the Buena Vista Social Club with a bassoon. Their black suits, a couple of them in black hats, white shirts for the men, it was like an audition in the grounds for the next Blues Brothers film:

“It’s 49 miles to Glyndebourne, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes and some clarinets. It’s dark and we’re wearing sun glasses. Hit it!”

Elwood (and Jake) Blues,
musicians

For me, the music proved to be a mixed bag, Beethoven’s go at an opera – Fidelio – plus some crowd-pleasing Mozart, and some Jonathan Dove (the mixed bag). Short pieces, like flash fiction: a conversation, a Countess interrupting an argument, dancing in the dark (not Springsteen). Seven pieces inspired by the Glyndebourne gardens, with – I very much liked the image – the inspiration of Mozart rippling through the trees into the music. A faintly jazz-like feel to some of the pieces, a sketchy slightly repetitive feel to the rest. Overall, a brilliant way to spend some time, COVID or not.

Why in particular? The relief in the orchestra was mirrored by the joy in the audience. My feeling is that they could have played Mahna, Mahna by the Muppets and we would all have felt great and applauded loudly; sadly, Animal wasn’t there on his crazy drum kit. We were determined that it would be great, and happily it was. The rustling of the trees in the breeze and the twittering of nearby birds beautifully complemented the music and the feeling of being OUT. Something that was not a compromise, something that we wanted to do, something that looks like we’d wandered into another drive-in by mistake. Not that last bit.

What time does the movie start?

A festival without the mud and with a selection of cheeses. We all need to find those moments of escape, however they come packaged.

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

The Blues Brothers' 40th anniversary — read all Sun-Times coverage of 'the  best movie ever made in Chicago' - Chicago Sun-Times

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Leaving the nest – again

Welcome to my Blog at The Lair Of The Camrose


It’s my bespoke stomping ground in the Intermatrix . You are very welcome, and thanks for stopping by…

This time, the Offspring are about to return to university with their magic self-cleaning bedding and renewed thirst for knowledge vodka…


The Offspring completed their first year at uni in the chaos of this summer, the 2019/20 academic year ending in a morass of will they / won’t they have exams, hand sanitiser and no 2020 Euros.

A few months on and there is a feeling of them starting all over again but they will have some herd memory of big nights at the Students Union Bar from a strangely familiar yet brand new place. I suspect that is fuelled by both of them moving out of hall and into their respective Student Houses: the place where vodka flows like water and Wet Wipes fear to tread. The place that is disturbingly like real life but with seminars. Life with stabilisers.

They are not only required to tackle the uncertainties that lie ahead at their Ivory Towers but in a place where they need to do dangerous things like cooking and cleaning without parental back-up…Happily, Offspring 1 has some brand new kitchen paraphernalia to play with, brand new because none of the items came out of the shrink-wrap packaging the first time around. You know the sort of ting, obscure artifacts like saucepans and chopping boards, ones that will one day be described as “Mint” on Ebay. So, no need to stock up for him; we did need to re-kit Offspring 2 because we abandonned most of her things at uni during the retreat in disarray in the summer, courtesy of That Bloody Virus.

Either way, our hall is now stuffed to the brim with boxes and bags full of, well, stuff ready to be transported to the next staging post of their journeys…It looks like the store at a frontier post in the Old West, but with more charging cables. A combination of essentials like asparagus dishes, snow shoes and supplies of gin (infused, of course, with craft botanicals).

total chaos packing for university
Packing for uni

They are the lucky ones in terms of the relentless workings of the academic life calendar.

They missed the horrors of the GCSE / A-levels debacle, the students for whom we should all spare a thought. The same with uni students last year either set up to go on life-changing years out in industry or just in other institutions, all swept away by the virus. The same for final year students robbed of what in a non-crazy world would for most have been the formal recognition of their path to graduation.

In an albeit small way, I’m in the same boat. I was awarded my MA for Creative Writing from Surrey this summer, which seems to me epochs ago. That moment has passed now. At least there’s no need for me to wear a funny hat and trip up the stairs to a rickety stage to receive my presumably blank certificate (I already have the certificate somewhere or other at home). Now it feels like a dream, all those workshops and seminars, wondering whether that all really happened or were a sneaky part of my creative writing process.

There are many much worse things that have come out of COVID than academic inconvenience, but just sticking with that for now the combination of awkward drifting and confusion/frustration among many students has been palpable. Hopefully most have, like ours, at least been able to tap back into their school network friends to sustain them, with gatherings and shots games as Lockdown has eased; while in the best of all worlds for our Offspring they have ideally retained a grip on budding friendships made in their first year at uni…That has been made easier by social media, of course; the world in COVID 1970 would have been a much darker and more lonely place.

Nine days to go before launch for Offspring 2, for Offspring 1 we’re not so sure given the quarantine situation for some of his housemates. But it will happen and they will make the best of it, hopefully not resorting to cold macaroni cheese out of the tin with the remaining dessert spoon as I remember doing my first time around.

No conferring , except at a safe distance…

Welcome to Universities Challenge, this is your restarter for 10

Cheers,

Alan

Alan Camrose

Alan Camrose with beard
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