Part One of The Darling Blogs of May

I have fallen behind again so here is another catch-up.

Do you notice anything different about this blog? No adverts! I finally had the money to upgrade the blog. There’s more besides – welcome to sehnsuchtandwine.com. My own domain name <3.

All remains well in the family house. From one day to the next we just go about our daily business. For me, that means work and exercise, Duolingo, reading and creative work (I am still inching forward with that). Some days are more productive than others. It’s hard to write about it here as I have done so before and I would only be repeating myself.

Thankfully, I have not been scammed again.

In the twelve days since my last blog post I have watched some more films during my exercise:

The Sting 9/10
In my post of 18th April (here) I mentioned that I was watching this Robert Redford – Paul Newman classic but then forgot to review and rate it in my post of the 21st (here). I first saw The Sting back in the 90s and remembered it very fondly. Sometimes, films that we saw years ago don’t live up to our memory of them when we watch them again but I would say that The Sting more or less did. I say ‘more or less’ because while the film overall is extremely well written and acted, the actual sting at the heart of the picture is over far too quickly. After two hours of build up, it’s over and done with in ten minutes. Nowadays, the sting itself would take up half an hour of screen time, if not more. Perhaps that is my problem – I am not looking at that scene in terms of how it fits into the picture as is but as a contemporary film lover.

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows 8/10
After watching Sherlock Holmes, I moved straight on to its sequel. Game of Shadows is very much more of the same but the film never gets boring thanks to a witty script, Robert Downey Jr, and a strong support cast, most notably Jude Law as Watson and Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty.

Sense and Sensibility 9/10
W
e have been blessed by some great Jane Austen adaptations over the years – the BBC Pride & Prejudice, the Gwyneth Paltrow Emma and this version of Sense & Sensibility, directed by Ang Lee and starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. It is almost the perfect film. Seriously, I can’t think of anything greatly wrong about it: the script, the casting, the performances, the music… it all just slips into place perfectly.

The Martian 9/10
Matt Damon plays Mark Watney, a botanist and astronaut who is part of a manned mission to Mars. The expedition is prematurely ended, however, when a violent storm threatens to destroy the astronauts’ martian lander. The other astronauts are able to get into the lander but Watney is left behind after being seemingly killed by a boulder. Unbeknownst to anyone, though, he survives. Making his way back to the ‘hab’ – the astronauts’ habitation unit – Watney uses his botanical skills to make enough food to survive on. At first, he has nothing to survive for as no one knows he is alive. Thanks to satellites, however, NASA eventually realises the truth and tries to launch a rescue mission. It fails. Thanks to China and a soupçon of mutiny among Watney’s fellow astronauts, a new plan is hatched. The Martian is a terrific action film. A great script, characters, and actors. You are really there with them. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I finished Clare Lydon‘s Nothing to Lose this week. It is not by any means her best book but still a good read. 7.5/10
Nothing to Lose is about a woman named Scarlet who is made homeless after a flood destroys her home. She goes to live with Joy, town mayor, while her flat is cleaned up and the two fall in love. Nothing to Lose is at its strongest in the portrayal of Scarlet and Joy’s budding love for one another. It is at its weakest when Lydon has her characters use popular LGBTQ slogans and ideas. This moves them from being ‘real’ people to no more than fronts for ideas that Lydon wants to insert into her story. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having a character who believes that ‘love is love’ or that ‘love wins’ but having them use or refer to real life slogans/ideas should definitely be avoided unless absolutely necessary. I also didn’t like how Scarlet pushes Joy to be out but that is a personal thing; if I was her editor, I wouldn’t have suggested she remove that element of the story.

I have started using Zoom. Welcome to the world, MJM! I had a work Zoom meeting last week, which went well; I zoomed with the family the other day and before both those occasions had a wonderful evening doing a dramatic reading of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream with friends and friends-of-friends, all over Zoom. Thank you, Liz!

So, it’s now May. I feel okay. My left ear is blocked. I am hoping olive oil drops will soften the ear wax so that I can get it out. If I can’t, I wonder if I will be able to go to my surgery. I may have to wait until it reopens properly (at the moment, doctor’s appointments are by phone only).

Today, Sunday, has been a lazy day so far. I have to admit, even though I encourage myself to be lazy on Sundays – because I am busy the rest of the week – I feel a bit unsettled by it. I don’t like the idea of deriving my happiness by the number of things I have done, though, so I shall have to think about that.

This week, I have started watching Fr. Ninian Doohan’s Masses on You Tube. I love his homilies as he speaks about history as well as spirituality. Last week, I learnt a few things about St. Catherine of Siena (she was not actually an enclosed nun) and heard Father took about St. Alcuin.

It was the 26th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s untimely death on Friday – always a very sad time; all the more so since it was not only the great Senna who died that weekend at Imola but new F1 driver, Roland Ratzenberger as well. Requiescant in Pace.

And here I will stop. Thank you for reading this blog post. I hope you are staying safe and feeling well. God bless you and yours.

The Detective and the Tramp

I am at sixes and sevens tonight.

I received a text message from my phone company this afternoon telling me that I owed them money. According to their website, however, I didn’t; I’m all paid up until May. Unfortunately, I only looked at the website after I had clicked on the link in the text message and given them my bank details through it.

Realising that I may have just been scammed, I called my bank to cancel my debit card. I don’t think I needed to do this as I didn’t give the possible scammers my PIN but I was even more at sixes and sevens earlier.

After I had calmed down, somewhat, I called my bank’s fraud line. The fellow who spoke to me put me at ease. There isn’t much they can do with the details you have given them, he said; what you might get in a few days is someone calling you purporting to be from the bank. If they do ring you, hang up immediately. He was Scottish with the kind of rugged voice that one can’t help but trust so even though I’m a bit put out by what has happened, I shall do my best to trust him.

Two final points: firstly, even though I was calling very late in the day, both the fraud line man and the Liverpudlian lady who cancelled my card for me were completely professional in the way they spoke to me. I really appreciated and appreciate that. To be honest, I was half expecting not to get any reply at all because of the offices being closed; to be spoken to as kindly as I was, was really good; much more than I deserved.

The second final point is the obvious: be careful of scams! Please don’t be a dummy like me.

Scams aside, all is well in our house. My parents potter about and do their thing; I get on with my work. I am getting very tired in the evening these days – a product of all the physio and exercise and of the early wake up times. My alarm is set for 5am but over the last few days I have been getting up in the hour before then. Bad form but there it is.

My exercise film over the last two days has been Sherlock Holmes (2009) starring Robert Downey Jr in the title role and Jude Law as Dr. Watson. I saw this film in the cinema when it came out and enjoyed it so was very happy to put it on again; especially since I had forgotten most of the plot. The story is wittily and cleverly written but this film is really about Robert Downey Jr. He is a great actor – effortlessly able to combine the comic and serious in one performance. I guess that’s what Richard Attenborough chose him to play Charlie Chaplin in his Chaplin biopic (a film I would like to watch again because Reasons). I rate Robert Downey Jr 10/10 and Sherlock Holmes 8/10. The sequel is on Netflix so I might just go straight to that next.

My creative life is inching along. I have been thinking more about the Twitter story I want to write. I don’t know if I ever will but I might mention it in a future post.

I am coming to the end of Clare Lydon’s Nothing to Lose romance and continue to plough through Antony Beevor’s account of the Second World War. Every time I read it I am gobsmacked by the amount of death and destruction wrought by the Axis powers, by the ruthlessness of Stalin, and the mistakes made by just about all of the world leaders, all of whom were blinded to one extent or another by their ideology, desires or ego. I might come back to this point as well as the question of what makes a good ruler has been on my mind lately.

By The Book

Corona Chronicles IV

Home
The parents and I remain well. In the early hours of Saturday morning, around two or three AM, I woke up and although I felt alright, I could feel worry about the coronavirus at the back of my head. Fortunately, I was still able to get back to sleep again.

On Sunday morning, my parish church live-streamed two Masses, the 8am (which I usually serve at) and one at 10am. Being able to watch it was very comforting.

Today, I got on with my work, and this afternoon, did my exercise and finished The Terminal. I rate this film 8/10. Tom Hanks plays Victor Navorski who is forbidden to enter the USA after a coup in his home country renders his passport invalid. Unable to return home, he is forced to live in the airport’s international transit lounge. The airport authorities do their best to get rid of him but without success. In the meantime, Viktor makes some friends, plays Cupid, and enjoys the friendship of the lovelorn Amelia Warren (Catherine Zeta-Jones). The film is sweet and kind hearted. It’s the type of picture where even the baddie, in this case, airport director Frank Dixon (Stanley Tucci), is actually alright. I was going to give this film 7.8 out of 10 but rounded it up because it is so sweet. Once The Terminal finished, I started Tomb Raider – not the Angelina Jolie version but Alicia Vikander’s from 2018. Review to come on Wednesday.

Abroad
On Friday I did my shopping. As I thought might be the case, the Sainsbury’s store I went to was better stocked than the one my father visited on Thursday. Of course, there were still empty shelves, but overall it was in better shape. This week, I will be helping my father with the shopping again, though probably not until Wednesday.

Over the weekend, I saw photos and video of people out and about in parks and at markets in London. On the one hand, it of course made me very frustrated; on the other, who knows how the camera was being used. By that I mean, even if cameras don’t lie, they can still be used to present a manipulated image. This is the case even when they present the truth – in publishing it, the intention of the photographer or cameraman could be to use it to arouse our emotions positively or, unfortunately, negatively. I felt mine rising in the latter way so moved on.

A.O.B.
I continued Duolingo this weekend. As of today I am on a 289 day streak! If I get there and remember, I will record Day 300.
Today, I read a book for the first time in probably about two weeks (excluding Lent spiritual reading). I started with Anthony Beevor’s The Second World War and Clare Lydon’s lesbian romance Nothing to Lose. Now, can I read some more tomorrow, and the day after that, and…
I bought two little bottles of wine at the weekend and am now enjoying them. I shall end this post here so that I might continue to do so!