Disney’s world

One of the absorbing things about the Xmas holidays is the great selection of family films to see on the TV. Of course we’ve seen many of them lots of times before and a lot of them are so painful I’d rather not see them again. I avoided ‘The Holiday’ the other evening thank God but it’s set to be on again on New Year’s Day and definitely on C and R’s viewing schedule. I suppose I could get lucky and catch the novovirus.

But it’s not all grim. I have to admit I got all engrossed in the movie Zulu yesterday. I must have seen it a dozen times but it’s ages since I saw it all the way through and, if you ignore all the Welsh boyo stuff (like Ivor Emmanuel singing Men of Harlech whilst being attacked by 4000 warriors with assegai) it’s really quite a good historic drama. I especially enjoyed re-seeing a young Michael Caine playing the toff officer Lieutenant Gonville Bromhead (whose name would make a great anagram).

For my sins though I was obliged to watch Carrie and the girls last night as I mentioned in the previous blog. I thought I might have escaped any further torture but bugger me what should be on tonight but Love Actually. Actually I only loathe half the film’s characters – the bereaved father’s precocious son, the Laura Linney character, all that unrequited love for Keira Knightley and that stuff between the Prime Minister and his tea maid was just too damn unbelievable. Sorry girls but hey the other stuff really isn’t too bad.

But film-wise I’ve been struck by two movies these last few days. The first I haven’t seen since I was 8. Released in 1960 I was enraptured as a boy by the Disney movie Swiss Family Robinson which I must have seen a 4 or 5 times at my local Rialto cinema. It tells the tale of a family who, en route to a new life in New Guinea, become shipwrecked on a deserted but idyllic island somewhere in the East Indies where they live in amazing tree huts and fend off pirates and have all sorts of adventures. It’s absolutely ridiculous of course but it was great escapism for a young lad fed up with watching Blackpool lose and the incessant winter rain. And I’d stumbled over it again after all these years on one of the TV channels. Of course I watched it all the way through and whilst it was charmingly out-dated it still made me smile. But as I watched the film I slowly recalled an uneasy feeling I had all those years ago. It was nothing to do with the unlikely plot (perhaps Richard Curtis was influenced by the film too…?) but the rather odd cast of animals that inhabited this exotic Pacific island. You might get a clue from this album cover for the film’s soundtrack:


Ostriches, elephants and monkies?  Then there were the zebra and the tigers (that the youngest boy trapped and hid in pits to scare the pirates – I know, I know). Plus an anaconda. It’s this Disneyesque vision of the world that’s just so eclectic and weird. A Pacific island that happily contains animals exclusively found in Africa and India and S America. I can’t believe the Disney organisation have ever employed somebody to do validation or background checks for accuracy purposes.

Their views of England are always so chocolate box and completely off the mark that it’s laughable. Who can ever forget Dick van Dyke’s attempt at a cockerney chim chim cheree accent? And only yesterday I watched a little of the re-make of ‘101 Dalmations’  starring Glenn Close, the one where a clutch of this country’s indigenous animals join forces to help the pups to be reunited with doggy parents Pongo and Purdy. Well I watched it until I became hysterical at being expected to buy into Disney’s catalogue of animals native to this country;  shire horses and olde English sheepdogs were fine but racoons? I can’t believe that Hugh Lawrie, educated Eton and Cambridge, who played one of the baddies and who encountered the rodents, didn’t point out to the film crew that we don’t have these critters running wild in Oxfordshire. Nor skunks, one of which clambered into Cruella’s car in a later scene.


So Dear Disney this is an open letter saying that I’m very happy to put myself forward as your all-things-English correspondent. You need the role filling – desperately. Because authenticity-wise you look like bloody imbeciles from this side of the pond guys. And I’ll happily do it for a 6 figure sum (£ not $!).




it’s been a long time

Hi Folks!

Maybe I should make that Folk! because after so much time without a posting I’d be lucky to have one reader left. But thinking about it ‘folk’ cannot mean one person. So I’d better re-introduce myself more appropriately. Perhaps ‘hi me’ would be closer to the truth. So be it.

Fact is this is is my first posting in over a year. Why the gap? Well it’s been a difficult period, at least for the first 6 months. My mum, who’s already battling all sorts of stuff, had a massive stroke and we nearly lost her. My dad, bless him, elected to be her primary carer and he’s become exhausted through the process and became hospitalised as a result. In the middle of this we embarked on the process of working with our local authority to prepare our eldest daughter R for independent living. Against our better judgement we sided with the ‘experts’ who suggested we allow her to live with a so-called carer family as a stepping stone arrangement. There’s a whole book to be written on what happened but we almost lost our daughter in a ghastly experience. R’s over it now, as are we, but calling it traumatic would be an understatement. Put all that stuff together and I kinda lost my writing mojo. It’s hard to be light and amusing when almost everything that matters to you is dark and so very unfunny. But thankfully things are a whole lot better in many, many respects but I’ve still been missing my muse. Then here I was tonight faced with watching Sex and the City the movie on TV with my wife and I thought…. you know what, it’s time to do a new posting.

So here we are. I’ve no real idea what the topic is going to be. I’ve missed all the Olympic stuff (and for someone involved in the Bid process that’s something) and the rest of the glorious summer of sport. Then my wife C had a major knee operation in the summer which I’ve failed to cover off, and there was all the Jimmy Saville/BBC stuff which was aching for me to rant about (I’m sure I must have told you about Saville’s pleas not to cut him off from the VIP list of mobile phone loanees in return for which he promised access to the friendlier nurses at Stoke Mandeville – it’s true).  Plus a few weeks ago I received my TfL freedom pass which means I’m of a really, really significant age. And I never wrote about it. I’ve missed Strictly, XF and IACGMOOH. We’ve moved to a new apartment overlooking the fabulous Bushy Park and also collected two olive crops since the last posting which gave me loads of rich content and it’s all poured through my typing fingers like the delicious oil we pressed.

So the point of this renaissance posting I’ve decided, is to remind myself how lucky I am. Not financially, or career-wise or anything like that but just personally. I’ve emerged from a black hole and know that my family, to whom I’m  devoted, are all doing OK and that I have some truly great friends. Life is never perfect and lovely for very long but right now I feel a very lucky guy. OK this is a bit reflective but it’s been a long time. The next posting will be back to my ranty best I promise.