Sunday, 19 August 2012

Thunderbangs and Pink Grandad


The Thunderbang, a wonderful cardboard and paper giveaway with the Dandy, came out about 1962, I think. My brother and I used this to great effect until my mother burnt them... You would creep up on a neighbour and accidentally crack one off, so to speak, the neighbour would scream and you would say, I wasn't sure it worked, can you try. And then you'd get the neighbours at it too.

Apart from Mrs Williams... a very Welsh (coincidentally), very nasty piece of work who flat out accused my mother of killing my grandfather*. I painted BUM on her perfectly manicured front garden in weedkiller. It was quite small so I had to keep the number of letters down. And it worked quite effectively. I think my Mum and Dad guessed it was me, but although I heard the old harpy complaining to them about their evil kids, all that happened was I got an extra ice cream!

*For those that keep track of my ramblings, this was Pink Grandad. A tremendous, Olympian figure who enlisted at the start of the Great War and was eventually invalided out at the end of 1917; I know he was at the first battle of the Somme, so how any of us that descend from him (three at current count) did so is a miracle. When he fell down the stairs and died, they had to do an autopsy, as they do with all sudden deaths. Apart from being mostly deaf and completely blind, the poor old fellow had been gassed, and subjected to all the diseases of the Western Front. His heart gave out in the fall, but these never actually fully left him and one of the things they found was the Bubonic Plague. You could not make this up. He was bloody tough. 

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Paralymics 2012

The Channel 4 adverts for the Paralympics are brilliant.  They have also been showing little vignettes about the sport called Meet the Paralympians, which are excellent.  You can catch these on YouTube.  But also I must to say that Eddie Marsan (who I thought was OK, but not that good), is superb as Dr Ludwig Guttman in The Best of Men...  As is Rob Brydon.  Someone implied elsewhere that my reaction to these guys and girls was that of pity; there may be some of that, but there is infinitely more admiration, the feeling you get when you see human beings overcome disadvantage to succeed and also that in every essential way they are people we need to emulate, who inspire me, at least. What they do affirms all of us in our humanity.

But you have to be my age to realise just how the public's attitude to disability or deformity has come.  We aren't there yet, us theoretically normal people, but we are a lot further than in the 1950s when we would be told not to touch or be near anyone with a disability.  "They ought to be locked up"  and that from a sensible, otherwise pleasant middle-aged working class Mum.  At the back of the comment was a kind of shibboleth, a superstition that if her children touched the afflicted one, then they would somehow become infected.  I am happy that that is no longer as bad.

In France, though, with hunchbacks it is different.  A friend of mine loved going to France as all the pretty girls wanted to touch his back for luck.  This please him no end, but not so much his wife!

Monday, 6 August 2012

A new thing arises...


OK, sometimes I rush in here and shout about some foodie programme or other. But if are halfway interested in Chinese food and culture (and why not!) and you watch no other please watch what remains of Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure - that's the i-Player link. About 3.8 weeks to go.  I was caught out last night; as BBC2 are showing this series at 8 on Sundays on Beeb2. And it is brilliant, both in terms of sharing some of the back story of two chefs who I really like and also the food and culture of China. If you're into any of that then don't miss it...

Me? I dived out of bed (read NHS stuff to know why I was there) out of horizontal mode, down the stairs switched stuff on and cued the recording, missing the first 15 minutes of episode 1. I will watch the i-Player bit when the Olympics are over but I watched/listened to the rest whilst prepping, cooking and eating my evening meal. Simply the best. An awesome piece of programme making; it tells you more about what and where China is than most travel documentaries.  And I love both Ken Hom and Ching; I dreamt once about Mich-bot and Ching doing a cooking series called East meets East...