EDitorial ± 26-Nov-2001

Saturday Night At The Movies

Like me, do you find it hard to tear yourself away from those Channel 4 list programmes? You think, I'll watch the first ten minutes, then find yourself dog-tired, still glued to the screen, some three hours later. Certainly that was me on Saturday night for part one (180 minutes for the first part!) of their top 100 films of all time.

Being something of a film snob - subtitled? black and white? bring it on! - I was a little apprehensive about what would make the list. So I was very pleasantly surprised when they opened with a Spike Lee joint (as he calls them on his credits) followed by a very young Albert Finney. Admittedly Arnie was next, but hey. Want to take a look at the complete list?

Numbers 53, 25, 2a, 17, 1, 33, 2b, 65, 9 and 21

Counting down the final ten, we had:

10. Good Fellas
Great to look at, great to listen to, with mad Joe Pesci (funny? who's funny?) before he made the move into Stella Street.

9. Schindler's List
That Ralph Fiennes collected an honorary degree from Suffolk College a couple of weeks back. He's terrific in this.

8. Blade Runner
Who cares if Harrison Ford might be a replicant? Any half-decent sci-fi film still looks like Blade Runner.

7. It's a Wonderful Life
I prefer Jimmy Stewart in A Philadelphia Story or Hitchcock, but this is the definitive Christmas film.

6. Gladiator
Russell Crowe, the new Kirk Douglas. Don't think my 14-inch colour portable did this justice.

5. Some Like It Hot
Like jello on springs. Nobody talks like that. But I'm a man!

4. Pulp Fiction
Everyone in the cinema held their breath during the bit with Uma Thurman and the needle, then laughed when Travolta danced.

3. The Shawshank Redemption
I must see this again. From a Stephen King book, I believe.

2. The Godfather 1 and 2
Probably my personal favourites. Endlessly quotable. That's my family, Kay, it's not me.

1. Star Wars / The Empire Strikes Back
But not the Phantom Menace. Hugely entertaining, but number one?

Good to see appearances elsewhere in the list by the likes of Laurel and Hardy (Way Out West), Woody Allen (Annie Hall) and the Coen brothers (Fargo), plus The Usual Suspects in the top 20. Almost makes up for the absence of Diner.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 19-Nov-2001

A Little Bit Of Politics

By the time you read this, Thursday's big occasion in Ipswich could well be all over. The build-up and the event itself will have been covered by the BBC, and the result will feature strongly in both the tabloids and broadsheets. No, not that trifling footy game against the mighty Inter Milan, but the by-election.

I remember a stupid jingle from some American series a few years back:

Exercise your right to vote
Vote for the one you like the most

If I were to report that local residents were feverishly excited about that short hike to the polling booth, I'd be somewhat wide of the mark. In fact the turnout could be awfully low, so I gather. Now, if one of the candidates could guarantee that all the Ipswich fans who've bought flights and accommodation for the away leg in Italy would get a ticket for the match, they'd become our next MP.

In the red corner, Chris Mole   In the blue corner, Paul West   In the yellow corner, Tessa Munt

From where I am, things are very quiet on the electioneering front. Not a single pamphlet has dropped through our door, though it's possible that some were mixed up with the many kebab-delivery flyers we get. I'd have thought that at least one of the nine candidates would have called. Apart from the big three parties (who need no more publicity), there'll be reps from:

  • Christian People's Alliance — fresh from Kabul
  • Socialist Alliance — another renegade faction
  • Legalise Cannabis Alliance — war, what war?
  • Green Party — wind farm in the town centre
  • English Independence Party — hurrah for St George!
  • UK Independence Party — hurrah for the union!

No loonies by the look of it. Or you may disagree. It's all great fun for the bloke in charge who has to ensure that the ballot boxes make their way safely into Ipswich town centre...at the same time as 20,000 football fans head the other way.

Must dash, off to check if it's too late to stand for the Freston Alliance.

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 12-Nov-2001

Simply Wizard

Of course, me and JK Rowling go back years, doncha know. It turns out (and I've only realised this in the last ten minutes) that we both graduated from Exeter University in 1987, and that we were in the same halls of residence for our final year! I've found an official list of university students for 1986-87, and page 89 has this entry:
Rowling Joanne, Church Cottage, Tutshill, Chepstow, Gwent (Lafrowda)
Sadly only one of us was invited back to collect an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in July 2000. It's not the first time that the Royal Mail has mislaid my correspondence.

Smug man fresh from watching an advance preview of the new Harry Potter film

Perhaps, to make up for this, Jo (as I didn't used to call her) had a quiet word with the kindly folk at the Evening Star - lively, loyal, local - to ensure that I won a couple of tickets to a preview of the new Harry Potter film. Been there, seen that, bought the Bertie Bott's Beans.

And so it was that me and little sis were at the Ipswich Odeon on Saturday morning for a 10.45am showing of one of the most eagerly anticipated films this side of The Phantom Menace, all for the price of a first-class stamp. Very entertaining film, you'll be pleased to hear - some personal highlights:

  • the Dursleys' trip to the Reptile House: thanksss!
  • the Quidditch match: reminiscent of Pod Racing
  • all appearances by Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
  • Harry standing before the Mirror of Erised

I think it worked really well. I'd read The Philosopher's Stone initially some years ago before the whole phenomenon happened, having seen that it had won a major children's book prize. Like others, I assumed that this mysterious JK Rowling was a middle-aged male author. Not so. Go see it when you can!

Be seeing you!


EDitorial ± 5-Nov-2001

Not With A Bang

Given that Theo doesn't enjoy loud noises (imagine his reaction as the kitchen was ripped apart this summer), it was probably a mistake to kick off our garden fireworks with a laser photon. He seemed to enjoy the remainder, though, once he was securely inside with both mummy & dummy for company.
They're not so spectacular
They don't burn up in the sky
But they can dazzle or delight
Or bring a tear
When the smoke gets in your eye
— Indoor Fireworks, Elvis Costello

Stand well back

Let's take a quick trip through the fabulously inventive names contained within our Tempest selection box, a tenner from the shop down the road:

  1. Laser Photons (x2)
    • as close as we got to a rocket; impressive noise
  2. Ice Fountain / Tom Thumb's Fountain / Lilliput Lights Fountain
    • every box must have its fountains; 15 second fillers
  3. Jumpin' Munchkin (x2)
    • a prize to the person who thought up this moniker
  4. Crimson Cascade
  5. Silver Cascade
  6. Damp Squib
  7. Blue Niagra [sic]
  8. Sliver [sic] Vesuvius
  9. Tracer Air Bomb
    • badly disappointed by this; fuse lit but refused to go off
  10. Kaleidoscope
  11. U.F.O.
  12. Emerald Jets
  13. ...and a catherine wheel
    • it worked, and it'll stay nailed to the fence forever!

NB I made up one of the above names.

As a kid, me and my mate Bob - he made me do it, honest - invested some of our time procuring and then dismantling bangers. I remember putting some of the powder into an old green Pentel pen, sticking a coloured match in the end, then throwing it onto concrete to make it explode (which it failed to do). Amazing that we escaped with our fingers and faces intact.

If You Take Away With You Nothing Else

  1. keep pets and small children indoors
  2. use the taper provided, not broken super-length Swan Vestas
  3. never light more than one at once

Be seeing you!