2 packs of 8 blank cds. 1 pack of 6 60 watt candle light bulbs. 1 pack of 8 disposable lighters. 2 tins of Adidas Special Edition 2008 anti-pespirant.
I’m not a great fan of British TV, but there are occasional series which have a whiff of madness about them. Bonekickers is perhaps the supreme example, but the recent Judge John Deed Exorcist series also blithely tipped over the edge. Spooks is almost in their league. I believe the C.I.A. keeps a firm hand on every film coming out of Hollywood which concerns the Agency and I wonder whether M.I.5 do the same with Spooks. They do have strange recruiting practices in the series. The turnover in agents is so swift that when some incidental character offers a bit of help in one programme, in the next he or she is elevated to super secret agent status, with no indication of any rigorous training, and inevitably by the end of the series they’ve been killed in action. If M.I.5 are using Spooks as a recruiting advert, then they seem to be saying if you’re young and attractive you can become a spy but you’ll die in a couple of months. They should have a word with the people who make the ads for the Army which never mention the dying part at all. Because of this quick turnover Spooks does give the impression that the security of the whole country is dependent on a dwindling band of two or three agents. In the last series they had to spring Guy of Gisborne from the Russian gulag where Robin Hood presumably sent him after he killed Maid Marion. So, Spooks is a bit mad, but not enough to make me want to buy a book - I’ll wait for the Bonekickers annual.
By the way, No. 2 son managed to find a copy of that Chet Baker CD in the Hanley Poundland. The information on the sleeve is a bit wrong - most of the tracks are from an old Philology LP but there are three others of uncertain origin. Considering these are live recordings the sound quality is quite good and the main session is from December 1955, just a couple of months after the untimely death of Baker’s pianist, Dick Twardzik.
1. This was a special visit to Poundland just to get something entered on the site for January 2009. I would have put something on before since I visited the Poundland in Brighton at the beginning of the month, but I never seem to have any luck with the Brighton shop and I came out, yet again, empty-handed. I don’t know why that is. perhaps the size of the shop intimidates, or its busitude, but one of these days I will make a special effort to come out with something even if it’s only a pack of lighters.
2. The garden light was purchased on the good old Poundland principle that it was only a pound. If it works then I will stick it behind my Buddha head.
3. The two tins of Adidas Special Edition 2008 anti-perspirant were a bit of a mistake. There was one of those signs saying buy one get one free, but so vague that you weren’t sure to what they were referring. Obviously not the Adidas Special Edition 2008 anti-perspirant. I have no idea why it is special and what it has to do with 2008 - is it safe to use it in 2009? Will its powers of smell have evaporated at the moment Jools Holland pretended to wish me a Happy New Year? I could have made a fuss at the till and pointed out the misleading sign but I didn’t for it is best not to draw attention to oneself in Poundland lest some other bloke with a Poundland website makes fun of you. A pity though that Poundland should adopt the tricksy practices of Mr. Sainsbury.
4. I’m not sure about the light bulbs either. That’s a saga - not in the tradition of the Icelandic eddas, just a long story, but talking of Noggin the Nog, one of the things I nearly bought from the Brighton Poundland but didn’t because of the oppressive atmosphere of that branch, was a Vikings and Wild Beasts toy. I looked for one in Newcastle but no luck (although they have restocked their Jungle Pandas stick). I don’t understand why Vikings should be lumbered with Wild Beasts. They were not jungle folk. Anyway, onto the saga of the light bulbs. We have a wobbly fitting in the front room which takes three candle bulbs. One went so I tried to purchase a replacement from Mr. Morrison’s shop, but all he had were coloured bulbs and so I chose a pink one as a stop-gap but it did not please the good lady wife and she then purchased some energy saving efficient bulbs which stick out of the little shades and look mighty but shed very little light, so we all sit there in gloom getting headaches, so I decided to buy some proper bulbs from Poundland, except the last time I did that, one of them exploded and shot across the room, which is not good. I suspect that the bloke in China pops one such into each pack as some sop to his gunpowder-inventing ancestors. The least he could do is indicate which is the one that might take your eye out.
5. I’ve been reading Mr. Poundland’s blog on the official Poundland website. It’s a very good way to keep up with events in Poundland, and the rest of the world. For example, here’s the post for Tuesday, 20th January:
“Barak Obama is sworn in as President! Move home like Obama on a credit crunch budget!
Barak Obama has officially been sworn in as America’s 44th President!
It means that he will officially be moving into the White House! What a great place to live!
Moving into a new home can be pretty stressful though…there is so much to buy!
But don’t worry, if you are moving home or simply want to revamp your current house, Poundland have a great range of essentials for just £1!
There are DIY essentials including paint brushes and hammers, as well as a great range of Wallpaper and Dulex paint, which has just arrived in stores! ”
I like the idea that Barack Obama’s first thought on stepping into the Oval Office was its DIY potential. Compared with global recession and the Middle East, wallpapering can be pretty stressful. It’s nice to think Mr. Obama shops at Poundland as well - truly a man of the people. (Not sure what Dulex paint is though - Dulux to Dulex - shove that on one of them big posters.)
Thursday, 19th February - Newcastle-under-Lyme
Marvel Heroes Battle Dice Starter Set.
Batman 100 piece jigsaw.
1 pack of 8 blank cds. 1 pack of 80 paper CD sleeves. 1 pack of 6 Kodak Supralife AA batteries. 1 pack of 8 disposable lighters.
Laughing Buddha Garden Ornament.
Although I always like to get the set, I am not a Buddhist, and one serene god smiling at me when I open the curtains in the morning is enough to be getting on with. Smarmy bugger.
1. Number 2 son is off to southern climes to seek his fortune in the magic lantern industry, so a farewell toy was called for. Two in fact since he is an aficianado of the Batman.
2. There is a noticeable paucity of DVDs in Poundland these days. You would think with Woolworth’s and Zavvi going the way of Hughes and Harber’s that some excess stock would trickle down to Poundland, but no sign yet.
3. Hard sell alert! The nice lady at the checkout asked whether I wanted four toblerones for a pound. I became confused. I do not like toblerones but the good lady wife does. How much are they in real life? They looked a bit little but knowing the rising price of chocolate it was probably a good deal. Then again how long have they been sitting in the shop, there must be a reason to break the normal code of silence. I finally said no and took my purchases and left. I will have to prepare myself in future for similar checkout quizzes.
Tuesday, 3rd March - Hanley
The Unbearable Lightness Of Being In Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce
1 pack of 8 CD cases. 1 pack of 8 disposable lighters.
A bird house.
Happening to be in Hanley with three pounds in my pocket and needing some more lighters - I don’t know whether the fellow in China is using less gas or I’m smoking more (in these parlous times one tries to do one’s bit for the economy) - I popped into Poundland and stood a while admiring their new selection of bird houses. I’ve always fancied having a bird house in the garden but I know it would just be cruel with William the Cat around. Thus are our dreams shattered by the whims of others.
1. It’s strange when you find something in Poundland that you were considering buying from a proper shop. I’m not talking about batteries or the like, I mean the book. I had considered buying it around Christmas for a mate of mine who lives near Aberystwyth but had decided against for various reasons - mainly the fact that we do not exchange Christmas gifts and I did not want to set a precedent. Anyway, there it is in Poundland, so that’s fate and one is compelled to stick it in the basket.
There must be thousands of books like this - vaguely comic, pulp noir detectives in provincial English, or in this case, Welsh towns. I’ve written a couple myself about a hitman in Stoke, but mine weren’t published (and yes I am still bitter and twisted about it). One wonders how many have mouldered to dust in lofts over the years, and how many will now clog up the internet - Borges’ (whose grandma came from Hanley) Library of Babel.
2. My last pound went on the CD cases since whenever you need CD cases you can never find them. It was a conservative purchase. I could have bought a ‘Gorilla’ toy. Which is a toy gorilla, called ‘Gorilla’, and which I admire for its minimalism.
Wednesday, 25th March - Newcastle-under-Lyme
Sharpe’s Escape by Bernard Cornwell. Audiobook read by Paul McGann.
4 Jumbo Car Sponges 40 Tea Lights 1 pack of 8 blank cds. 2 packs of 8 disposable lighters.
1. A very poor showing here - sponges and tea lights (and they’re probably cheaper at Mr. Morrison’s shop). But what can one expect when one’s birthday is coming up on Sunday? The only item of interest is the Sharpe audiobook read by Paul McGann, who was the original choice for Sharpe in the TV series (he broke his leg at the start of the shoot and was replaced by Seen Been). I can actually see Paul McGann in the role (not literally since the technology has yet to be invented) but there is a touch of Thespis about him and I wonder whether he would have continued as long as Mr. Been.
2. I may have mentioned this before, in which case I’m mentioning it again, but there were no Spy Wednesday cards on display, nor the means for making them. What a heathen land we now inhabit.
Friday, 17th April - Newcastle-under-Lyme
A plastic tray with pictures of cups of coffee on it.
1 pack of 6 60 watt candle light bulbs. 1 pack of 7 blank cds. 2 packs of 8 disposable lighters.
1. Another poor show. Are the Easter holidays to blame (are the little nippers clearing the shelves of the good stuff) or are Poundland’s glory days gone for good? Ou sont les neiges d’antan as we say in Stoke. The only item of (very limited) interest is the plastic tray with pictures of cups of coffee on it. The good lady wife broke our old plastic tray and I thought I would purchase a replacement, particularly as our wedding anniversary is next week. At first I thought the bloke in China was going for a trompe l’oeil effect in his design but then I thought I caught a hint of Magritte or maybe Bridget Riley. On further consideration I reckon he just nicked a bit of wallpaper from his local bistro and stuck it on.
2. The pack of 7 blank CDs has the description, “Extra Value 7-pack”, which seems odd since the last pack I bought had 8 in it. Are we now living in Bizarro World? Merely a sign of the times. I bought some more light bulbs since the last lot didn’t explode, but neither did they last that long. It seems they are not putting as much light in the bulbs, or fire in the lighters, for that matter, as they used to. I blame Gordon Brown.
Back in April last year I bought a Buddha head from the York branch of Poundland and, dubious as to its quality, I took photos of it for a year to see how it held up to the stresses of garden life. Below is the result. Two videos, the first taken from a distance, the second, a closer view. By the way, the haiku that you may just be able to hear on the soundtrack is by Basho, one of the lesser-known members of the Marx Brothers.
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A POUNDLAND BUDDHA HEAD
A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A POUNDLAND BUDDHA HEAD - A CLOSER VIEW
Thursday, 21st May - Hanley
Shadowchaser: The Gates Of Time DVD.
Packet of 3 Walnut Whips.
1 pack of 8 disposable lighters.
A Fishing Catapult
Rejected on the grounds that I do not fish and have no intention of doing so, but I was intrigued enough to pick it up and have a look. I thought there might be instructions on the back or useful diagrams but there weren’t, just some safety information about fishing being a dangerous occupation for those under three (what with hooks and maggots and the strangling capablities of fishing lines). I couldn’t work out whether you used the catapult in some clever fisherman’s way to launch bait onto the waters to fool the fish or maybe even to send your hook a further distance, or whether it was just a simpler means of killing fish. Find a clear river, get a pebble and when an unsuspecting trout swims by, let him have it with your catapult. It’s no more cruel than the hook in the mouth thing, and there’s probably just as much skill involved. Still, I don’t want one.
I also rejected a toy, whose name I cannot now remember. You got an eskimo, a penguin and a dinosaur. I stared at it for a while trying to make the connection but gave up in the end.
1. The walnut whips were in a big bucket as I walked in so I bought a packet. Of course I can remember when Duncan’s Walnut Whips were twice as big and had a second nut in the bottom. Now they’re made by Monsieur Nestle and are titchy and single-nutted (in fact the one I had only had half a nut - quel dommage).
2. I bought the DVD because otherwise I’d only have rejected items and walnut whips to write about. I did watch it as soon as I got home though, rather than putting it on my pile where it would sit and smirk at me for months to come daring me to pop it in the player to see what a fool I’d been. It wasn’t too bad, actually. It reminded me a little of Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Sheltering Sky. There was a bickering couple and an exotic location and much scenery, but this one had a cyborg in it which helped the plot along. There were a couple of nice touches. It begins with the legend: “Africa 2960 years ago” which seemed specific. And when the cyborg starts chasing people he nicks one of those big coats much beloved of movie folk. No explanation is given - one presumes that cyborgs don’t feel the cold and he didn’t seem to be carrying anything for which he’d need pockets - so perhaps he was a fashion-conscious cyborg. He certainly had a distinctive hairstyle and one could imagine him in the cyborg barbers giving instructions about how flat he wanted his head to look while dodging conversations about all the bloody immigrants in Cyborg Town. Anyway stuff happened and there was a big explosion and a couple of nice stunts and some old-fashioned closing-off tunnels business at the climax and a bit with the producer’s girlfriend waving a gun around. The end was a bit weird though. If you have any intention of purchasing Shadowchaser: The Gates Of Time then look away now. The kid of the bickering couple, who is dying throughout the film from the effects of a badly-edited flashback of a car crash, is given the elixir of life which the cyborg had brought to Africa two thousand, nine hundred and sixty years ago to give to the Koala people and as it takes effect his eyes change colour (I’m colour blind so I can’t give details) and he starts speaking in the electronically-enhanced cyborg voice. Then it ends. Does this mean he’s now a cyborg with increased strength, the ability to leap out of the ground at various points in his life, and a good fashion sense? Or is it that the cyborg, who turned out not to be evil at all and died in his spaceship for some reason (I’m also deaf, so many intricacies of plot escaped me), is now reincarnated in the bickering couple’s child? I checked IMDB to see if there was a sequel, Shadowchaser: The Gates Of Time With a Kid in It, but there isn’t. However, Shadowchaser: The Gates Of Time aka Orion’s Key is actually the fourth film in the Project Shadowchaser series, all starring Frank Zagarino and his amazing flat head. I’m now wondering whether to seek out the other three, although no doubt they’ll all turn up together on a Poundland DVD and I’ll be left with a swap.
Thursday, 9th July - Newcastle-under-Lyme
The Salena Incident DVD.
The Music of Chance DVD.
The Master by Colm Toibin.
Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins by Rupert Everett.
1 pack of 8 “It’s Diy time!” brushes.
1 “Tool Box” Paint Brush - Professional > 3 inch > pure bristle.
1 tub of All Purpose Filler.
1 pack of 4 Rolls of Double Sided Tape.
1 pack of 4 Kodak batteries - the little fat ones. 1 pack of 8 blank CDs. 1 pack of 8 CD cases. 2 packs of 8 disposable lighters.
Blade: The House of Chthon DVD. This is the pilot to the short-lived TV series. I did pick it up and have a look but I rejected it on the basis that it was a bit not good. I do like the Blade films but for the TV series they chose a little chap to play Mr. Blade and the commanding presence of Wesley Snipes was sorely missed.
1. I have a confession to make. Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it has been forty-three years since my last confession. I did go to Hanley Poundland in June. I was lured there by Number 2 son who told me tales of the wonders he had seen in Brighton Poundland (including the All That Jazz soundtrack CD). I came away with a pack of lighters and could not face the thought of adding that sorry visit to the site. So I didn’t. I knew it would just turn into a rant about the North-South divide and how the wonderful Communist experiment of Poundland had been suborned by Stalinist toffs. I decided to wait a while.
2. You can see by my purchases that I am a decorator. The command has come down from on high and I must add another white coat to the woodchip. So I go to Poundland for sundry supplies and find much else besides. To begin with the boring stuff. Real men, when they have finished painting the woodchip, spend three hours cleaning their brushes. In fact, real men take such good care of their brushes that they hand them down to their sons, and they, in turn, if they are real men, hand them down to their sons and so it goes on through the ages. Fake men, and I happily count myself among that group, buy a big bag of brushes from Poundland and when the woodchip is a little brighter than before, chuck them in the bin. They then spend the three hours watching the DVDs they have also purchased at Poundland. The bag of 8 brushes manufactured by “It’s Diy time!” carries a notice that reads: “Before first use, trim bristles to your favoured length”. This does not instil confidence in the firm. Points for honesty, I suppose, but I think they would be better leaving such messages off their packaging in future since it seems to suggest that they couldn’t be bothered finishing off their product before shoving them in the bag. Then again, I suppose it is in the spirit of their company name. However I would advise anyone attempting to trim the bristles of their brushes to keep a steady hand since they seem to have been made with the hairs of a very short-haired breed of animal or plastic or whatever the bristles are made of. I also splashed out on a single, larger, Professional brush. The last time I did some decorating I bought a proper brush from B&Q and it turned out to be right rubbish, so let’s hope this Professional one will stand up to my rugged painting technique. I also purchased some All Purpose Filler and some double-sided tape, although I’m not sure why.
3. Onto the interesting stuff. The manager of the Newcastle Poundland has altered the layout of his store and now has display units of DVDs dotted about the place so one comes across them by accident. One was filled with DVDs of ‘The Professionals’ - the TV series featuring Judge John Deed Exorcist Gently and the other bloke, not the film with Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode - but since I was never a fan I didn’t bother. The next display seemed to be all about fishing and sundry other sports, however nestled among these was The Salena Incident. Now this looks a bit not good but I had spent so many months finding nothing in Poundland that I thought this might be all I was going to find so I put it in my basket. There are pictures of people walking through tunnels on the back, so I presume it’s a people walking through tunnels film, perhaps in the manner of Andrzej Wajda’s Kanal, except with an alien. It also has an actor with a funny name, Sam McConkey, and I’m building up a collection. However it will probably turn out to be a stuntman film and the alien will be defeated by being jumped on from a lot of buildings which is what always seems to happen in stuntman films. Having found The Salena Incident (“Roswell was just the beginning...”) among the fishing DVDs (who buys those? Surely fishermen satisfy their need for boredom by fishing, if they then feel the need to watch a DVD of fishing surely they can be deemed officially brain dead and the tubes can be removed, the machine can be switched off and they can be legally culled to relieve some of the burden on society. I shall write to my M.P. I shall also mention people who watch golf on the telly) I came across The Music of Chance which is an old Poundland favourite. Copies of the video were always knocking around but I ignored them since I’d got a copy somewhere on tape, but a DVD is another thing entire. It’s an odd film with many people in it, based on a Paul Auster novel. Moving on to the main DVD section I found Dragnet. Now back in the good old days when Poundland was selling all those Classic Entertainment DVDs of ancient films and TV shows I bought a couple of DVDs of the original Dragnet TV series (I remember watching it when it was first shown over here in the 50s) and very strange they were too. In one episode the detectives call on a witness and she gets them to rearrange her furniture. They spend about five minutes carrying sofas and chairs around a room. You wouldn’t get that in C.S.I. Jack Webb, who played the original Joe Friday, also made the best jazz film ever, Pete Kelly’s Blues. Lee Marvin was in it. Enough nostalgia, the Dragnet I bought was the comedy remake starring Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks. It’s not too bad and I like Tom Hanks’ films before he went all Oscar-winning and serious. I remember he did an interview with that annoying Scottish bloke (not the one who walks up and down the seaside all the time, the film one who doesn’t do it anymore) and when The ’Burbs was mentioned he got all embarrassed and pooh-poohed it, despite it being the best thing he ever did. Anyway, Dragnet’s o.k.
4. It was nice to see the Newcastle Poundland continuing its crusade to bring Henry James to the masses via Colm Tóibín’s (dunno why he has funny little marks over the o and the i in his surname, why not over the o in Colm) novel, The Master. From the blurb: “In January 1895 James anticipates the opening of his first play in London. He has never been so vulnerable, nor felt so deeply unsuited to the public gaze. When the production fails, he returns, chastened , to his writing desk. The result is a string of masterpieces, but they are produced at a high personal cost.” Contrast this with Robert Buchanan. In 1895 he was bankrupt and his reputation was in ruins. So he bangs out a rip-off of Charley’s Aunt called The Strange Adventures of Miss Brown and it’s a huge success. Henry could have learnt a thing or two from Bob. In fact Buchanan did offer James some poetic advice in Socrates in Camden:
Tell James to burn his continental Library of the Detrimental, And climb a hill, or take a header Into the briny, billowy seas, Or find some strapping Muse and wed her, Instead of simpering at teas!
Perhaps not Bob’s most perceptive moment.
5. Rupert Everett seems like an affable chap, so I bought his autobiography. Hopefully he will go into great detail about his best film, Dellamorte Dellamore (aka Cemetery Man), although he’ll probably just dismiss it as a daft Italian zombie film. No doubt when Sam McConkey writes his memoirs he will totally ignore his contribution to The Salena Incident.
The boring stuff. The interesting stuff.
Tuesday, 14th July - Hanley
The Dalkey Archive by Flann O’Brien
1. True, I was asking to be disappointed, returning to Poundland after a gap of only five days. And it makes no difference that it was a different branch. I was not testing the Rules or experimenting with the space-time continuum in any way. I’d taken the car in for its M.O.T. and I had an hour to kill so I wandered round Hanley and had a look in Poundland as a matter of course. So, I wasn’t expecting to find anything spectacular and then I came across The Dalkey Archive by Flann O’Brien. I was so surprised to find a Flann O’Brien book in Poundland that I put it straight in my basket. As I wandered back to Kwik-Fit (heartily recommended by the way - excellent service and very friendly and helpful staff who don’t make you feel as if you should know how a car works before you’re allowed to drive one) I began to consider whether I already owned a copy of The Dalkey Archive. I knew I’d never read it, but that meant nothing. I knew I didn’t possess a copy of Flann O’Brien’s masterpiece, The Third Policeman, which I’d borrowed from Hanley Library way back when, but The Dalkey Archive? When I got home I looked on the shelf and there it was. No big deal. It will be passed on. But a lesson has been learnt and I have added a new Rule. Strange how I did not go to Poundland to test the Rules and yet I ended up extending them, as if the Spirit of Poundland divined an unconscious purpose.
2. That big bag of brushes turned out to be rubbish. I reckon they are made from cat hair judging by the amount they moult. It is the main problem with cheap brushes of course. They take pains with the look of the thing, the nicely turned handle, the shiny metal band, the bristly bristles. But then they always scrimp on the glue so all the hairs drop off and you spend your time firking them out of the paint. The big Professional brush, on the other hand (for I always use two hands when painting as it halves the workload), is very good and much better than the posh brush I purchased from B&Q.
Tuesday, 4th August - Newcastle-under-Lyme
Tokyo Raiders DVD.
Packet of 3 Walnut Whips.
Tuesday, 4th August - Hanley
The Alibi DVD.
Moby Dick DVD.
Box of Maltesers.
A Poundland Encounter
I ran into my cousin Maureen in the Newcastle Poundland - or at least she ran into me. She had seen me walking up the street and had hailed me from a distance, but me being a deaf bastard I failed to hear. Then she surmises that I must be on my way to Poundland and so follows me there. Not sure whether I like that - Newcastle is full of fashionable stores and also has a library, why couldn’t they have been my obvious destination. Anyhow, she was right, I was on my way to Poundland and we met and discussed the state of the world and the incomprehensible workings of the cosmic watchmaker like two bohemians in an 18th century London coffee house where everything was a groat.
I watched The Alibi and it wasn’t too bad. Steve Coogan was miscast and there was a hint that the makers were not too sure about the end product since they’d added some unnecessary and inappropriate background music to jolly things along - always a bad sign. Of course it goes without saying that Sam Elliott was the best thing in it.
1. It had been a strange week but the good lady wife’s birthday was coming up on Thursday so I decided to hit both of my local Poundlands in one day. I should explain that I don’t buy all my gifts for the good lady wife in Poundland. Such a course would lead inexorably to ruin. It seems too obvious a thing to be enshrined with the rules, much like saying don’t pick up two baskets at once since you’ll need one hand free to take things off the shelves. I buy the regular things, the spices from Samarkand, the jewels from the mystic east, the DVDs from play.com, but I supplement the hoard with cheaper items. Unfortunately nothing in either Poundland caught my eye and I ended up with Walnut Whips and Maltesers. The DVDs were for me.
2. Tokyo Raiders was a mistake. I knew that when I picked it up. It rang bells. I had a feeling my No. 3 son had a copy and when I got back home, there it was on his shelf. But it had been there for a number of years and I’d never watched it, so now I shall watch my own. As I said, it had been a strange week and sometimes all that can shift the gloom is a film where people kick each other.
3. The Alibi I had rejected on my last visit. It starred Steve Coogan. However, No. 2 son pointed out that it also had a lot of other people, including Sam Elliott, who no doubt will be the best thing in it.
4. Moby Dick I bought because there was only one copy and some wag had put it next to the fishing videos. I have seen it on the telly and I prefer the John Huston version. However you get a lot of minutes for your pound (178 - it was a mini-series - hopefully not by Hallmark who have a habit of sucking the life out of their adaptations) and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again. Plus it gives me the opportunity to mention one of the two amazing nautical facts about Stoke-on-Trent. In fact I will mention both:
Amazing Nautical Facts About Stoke-on-Trent
1. The Captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, was born up Hanley.
2. Moby Dick comes from Stoke. The big rubber whale used in John Huston’s 1956 film was made at the Dunlop factory in Stoke. In the climactic scene (beware spoiler) as Moby Dick sinks the Pequod and swims off with Captain Ahab strapped to his back, the rubber whale slipped its moorings and Gregory Peck had to be rescued. Moby Dick escaped.
News from the South
No. 2 son bought me the All That Jazz soundtrack CD and My Sassy Girl from Brighton Poundland. The CD needs no explanation. My Sassy Girl does. We came across the trailer for this on some other DVD and it struck me, for some reason, as very funny. No idea why. Maybe the thought of men in suits sitting round a big table in Hollywood discussing their latest project, ‘My Sassy Girl’. I don’t know, I find the word ‘sassy’ amusing. Anyway, it appeared in Brighton Poundland (not up here in Stoke) and so I told him to get me a copy. My Sassy Girl stars Elisha Cuthbert (who played Kiefer Sutherland’s daughter in 24 for the first three days then buggered off to Hollywood to make films like My Sassy Girl before the week was out) presumably in the role of the ‘sassy girl’. Sam Elliott does not appear to be listed in the credits, a pity, since he would have been the best thing in it.
Friday, 7th August - Stratford-upon-Avon
I Am A Camera DVD.
Urban Gothic Series 2 Collectors Edition DVD.
Aphrodite by Isabel Allende.
1 pack of 10 disposable lighters.
The audiobook version of Rupert Everett’s autobiography.
I did wonder about this since I have a big pile of books to get through and this would be quicker than reading it myself. However this would then make my earlier purchase of the read-it-yourself version a bit redundant, so I thought it best not to bother.
1. We had gone to Stratford for a dual purpose. The good lady wife had wanted to go there for her birthday and have a boat ride on the river and I wanted to check out some letters of Robert Buchanan to Marie Corelli that are in the Shakespeare Centre Archive. The trip was postponed to the Friday because of the weather forecast and it took us twice as long to get there as it should because of traffic on the M6, so we were a bit rushed. I did my letter thing first, then on the way down to the river we spotted the Poundland. I was a bit surprised, I didn’t think Stratford would have one. Still, I forwent it, since we still hadn’t done the boat ride. However, walking back we noticed Poundland was still open despite it being well after normal closing hours, so in we went. And what a joy it was - a pleasant, light, airy place, full of sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. Even the good lady wife was impressed, especially when she found Isabel Allende’s Aphrodite to complete her collection. Because we did not want to outstay our welcome I didn’t examine all the stock on offer, contenting myself with the DVD and book sections. I also had a quick look for carpet tacks since I am at present laying carpets but there were none - although they did have nails, whereas the Hanley branch only has screws and the Newcastle branch has neither (at first I took this as a sign of anti-terrorist zeal on the part of Newcastle Poundland, especially since they also didn’t have any weedkiller, but I now feel it is perhaps due to the nature of their clientele who probably get a little man in to do odd jobs around the house while they sit around on chaise longues reading The Golden Bowl). Anyway, Shakespeare chose well to come from Stratford, it has a very nice Poundland.
2. I’ve never seen I Am A Camera and I thought, being a fan of Cabaret, I should. I think I’ve always been a bit put off by the cast. Julie Harris is, of course, brilliant in The Haunting where her slightly nervous style of acting suited her role perfectly, but I can’t really see her as Sally Bowles. Now of course I can since I’ve bought the DVD. Likewise Laurence Harvey, brilliant in The Manchurian Candidate, where his slightly detached persona works perfectly, elsewhere not so convincing. Always wondered whether it was because he was Lithuanian. I say that not in a spirit of bloody illegal immigrants coming over here and taking our acting jobs, more that you’re always aware that he’s acting. Anyway, it should be interesting and since it was made in 1955 you wonder how it will handle the sexual side of things - presumably such things will not be mentioned.
3. Sisters is a remake of Brian De Palma’s Sisters, which I haven’t seen. I always presumed it was a loony woman film, a genre I try to avoid. Still, I will watch the remake and then decide whether it is worth seeking out the original. By the way, No. 3 son told Brian De Palma where the toilet was. How’s that for an anecdote.
4. I caught a couple of episodes of the first series of Urban Gothic on TV and they were rubbish. So how come I bought Urban Gothic Series 2 Collectors Edition? Because it comes in a posh box and it’s in Poundland and you think that’s a bargain and you don’t really consider that you saw some of the first series and they were rubbish because this is the Collector’s Edition with two discs, loads of extras and a book, so that must be worth a pound, right? On the back it says “Contains strong gory violence and horror.” It’s also got an 18 certificate. But you just know it won’t be as scary as “The Haunting” (“Some moderate horror” - certificate 12.)
Tuesday, 22nd September - York
Puppet Master DVD.
Doll Graveyard DVD.
120 Foil Sticker Gift Tags.
2 packs of 8 disposable lighters.
2 jars of Cadbury’s Highlights.
2 tins of Right Guard 3-D Protection Fresh High Performance Anti-Perspirant Deodorant.
18 packs of Silk Soft Handy Tissues.
I thought I should mention some past purchases. Tokyo Raiders was quite good. As was, surprisingly enough, My Sassy Girl. In the trailer the sassiness of the girl promised much annoyance as her sassiness led to hilarious situations whereas it turned out to be a rather sweet love story. And I was even impressed, at a second viewing, by Moby Dick. I do feel that there will never be a perfect film version of the novel and the closest we’ll get is John Huston’s 1956 attempt. However, there was still much to enjoy in this TV version, particularly the thespian skills of Patrick Stewart and Ted Levine - the latter giving a stunning portrayal of Starbuck.
1. To York again with the good lady wife (hence the rubbish - I just got the DVDs and the lighters) and my first encounter with a Poundland chiller cabinet selling milk and sandwiches. We had no need for milk but were in the market for sandwiches, having dined at Wackers and wanting something lighter for tea. By the way, Wackers had undergone some kind of renovation, which was a pity. Considering the rest of York has a preservation order on it, you’d think Wackers was safe from the onward march of progress. Anyway, we glanced at the sandwiches and then thought ...... no.
2. As Halloween approaches Poundland gets out its display stands of rubbish horror films. So it was a pleasant surprise to find Puppet Master, a true classic, among the dross. Although it lacks the poetry of Tod Browning’s similarly themed The Devil-Doll, Puppet Master replaces it with scary bits and some truly inventive killer puppets. Charles Band has continued to mine the rich seam of killer dolls over the years, mainly as writer or producer, and Doll Graveyard is another effort from 2005, this one directed by Band himself. No doubt this will be but a pale reflection of the original but one lives in hope.