Monday, 30 December 2013

Non-Existent Car Boot Sales and Other Musings

"Saturday Morning. Car Boot Sale. 9am. Biarritz Hotel."
This was the only car boot sale on offer in the West of the Island last Saturday, so we duly went there to discover lots of builders sign boards, and hotel shut up for the winter. It is a small annoyance, perhaps, but it is a pity when the Jersey Evening Post does not have a proper system for checking whether events shown in its "Daily Diary" actually are taking place.
The Weather Forecast the other day was also subject to editorial blight. This is the same kind of creeping disease that plagues the JEP from time to time. There was the very brief summary report, and for the more detailed forecast, as well as tide times, you had to go to page xx. Obviously that number gets put in very late in the day, but on this day, Homer had nodded off, and left the place marker xx only in place. So to find the said whether forecast, I had to trawl through the whole JEP until I found it.
Perhaps that is something that Helier Clement could address and take up with the editor when Helier has finished his bottle of calvados in his shed. Rather like Doctor Who's Tardis, that bottle seems bigger on the inside than the outside, because it never seems to run out. The secret, perhaps, is that there is a still in the shed, secretly bubbling away, fermenting the drink. As they always say, it's the still ones you have to watch out for.
Christmas TV this year has been rather bereft of much to watch, especially if you don't particularly like reality TV, and I'm afraid I don't. I've recorded Midsomer Murders which did look good, and Death Comes to Pemberley, which has mixed reviews. I'll probably watch them when doing the ironing next Sunday. Murder and ironing always seems like a good combination, with something of the domesticity that Agatha Christie had in her small country village murders, and it was probably Miss Marple's maid who was ironing; in our household, it is me. As someone who spends a lot of time writing or on a keyboard, it is actually rather therapeutic.
There may have been mayhem and a murder in St Brelade's over the last year. I went for a walk in the country park opposite the Elephant Park, and in the car park was a van in good condition, but with two flat tyres, and an insurance disc dated September 2013. As regular viewers of the endless repeats of "The Professionals" and "The Sweeney" on ITV3 will be aware, vehicles do not usually have two flat tyres on one side only, at the same time - unless they have been deliberately shot out. The third shot was the hapless victim, who was taken away and the body smuggled away to one of the more obscure Geocaching sites, never to be seen again. The evidence of the disc points to their demise sometime before September 2013, and the heavy rainfall has obliterated all signs of blood.
Jersey over the last year seems to have had more unexploded bombs or shells from the Second World War discovered and exploded than in the five years before. Unexploded bombs also featured in "Call the Midwife", which captured the 1950s so well, and while there was a strong current of sentimentality, there was the bittersweet rip tide of a community effected by polio, which was all too real a danger back then. The mother of a school friend, Marion Miles, had a slight limp as a result of contracting polio as a child, and we forget, with the sugar lump vaccine (surely the best way to take a vaccine) quite what a scourge it was across Britain in those days.
I was reading an article today written in 2010, which dated St Brelade's Church as 1200 AD, and the Fisherman's Chapel as being built about 800 AD. In fact it should be the other way around. After all, there is a charter dated 1035 AD by Robert of Normandy which confirmed the patronage of the Church to the monastery of Montivilliers, hence showing it existed by that time. A case of time in a muddle.
Another case of time in a muddle was Doctor Who, which in contrast to the 50th Anniversary Special, was rather a rambling disaster, an incoherent muddle. I spoke to two people today who watched it, because it's the kind of show they have watched in the past, but despite that loyalty, they hadn't the slightest clue what was going on. It was partly a case of marking time to Matt Smith's regeneration, and partly an almost completely disconnected and embarrassing story about Clara's parents and their Christmas dinner. It required large continuity references to be understood, and had a town named Christmas on an alien planet. The computer called "handles" was a nice touch, but most of the rest of it did not draw on any real sympathy for any characters under threat, unlike the scenes of children in "Day of the Doctor". Viewing figures were good, but it would be a mistake to assume they paint the full picture.
Mark Gatiss' "An Adventure in Space and Time", by contrast, seems to have been very well received, and was accessible even by people who did not, as a rule, watch Doctor Who - my mother being a case in point. Gatiss other Christmas offering was also very welcome. A half hour adaptation of "The Tractate Middoth", a ghost story by M.R. James, which was very faithful to the short story, and had the same good period production values of the old adaptations by the BBC. This was followed by a fine documentary about MR James, also by Gatiss, in which his enthusiasm for the "master of the English Ghost Story" shone through.
Gatiss also mentioned MR James reply on Ghost Stories, which was wonderfully non-committal.
"Do I believe in ghosts? To which I answer that I am prepared to consider evidence and accept it if it satisfies me".

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