Sunday, 15 February 2015

Missions, Misogyny and Marriage strife - Call the Midwife

You might have already realised how much I love Call the Midwife and the last episode was no exception!

We had all the mainstays of cosy Sunday Evening viewing , prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases , Sexism and Alcoholism. All joking aside, it was packed with issues this week.

Let me first address the subject of Trixie's Dependance on the odd drinkie every day after work. It has been pretty blatantly signposted since Christmas that this was becoming an issue for her, but her utter lack of trust in the fact that FiancĂ©  Tom would understand and support her is just a bit grating.He is a curate in the East End for Heaven's sake, he has seen a bit more degradation than a posh blonde drinking a little too much, he knew she was more refined than most of the girls roundabout and they would have muddled through their social differences!

I hope Tom wins her trust back soon, it will upset the gentle equilibrium of  my romantic heart.

The idea of nuns going out to minister to the less savoury parts of society is nothing new, but I loved the idea of a Sister Winifred going out to sort out the ladies of the night and trying to get in before their "Rush Hour" with poor old  Sergeant Noakes in tow! How nice to have your own personal Bobby on hand in times of spiritual need!

Then was the mother afraid of her husband's rejection if her child was not a boy to carry on the family name and business. His guilt at being the only  male survivor after the War seemed to be the root and perhaps some counselling there might have been more fruitful in the long run, but it all turned out well in the end!

My Favourite plot line was the wonderful way Sister Monica Joan and Mrs Turner were able to regain some sense of worth, both feeling superfluous and lost within the scheme of things, both 
coming to the aid of a woman in labour when the inebriated Trixie was incapacitated whilst on call. 

A solid Episode, but perhaps not up to the calibre of the previous couple of weeks!! Still worth a watch even when quality slips as the cast is quite inspirational!!

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Come the Revolution....

I have long thought Mr Russell Brand is a bit of , well a Male appendage! I also think Jonathan Ross is well an obnoxious Male Appendage, but then just before Christmas I saw Mr Brand on the JR show and something about the way he spoke about "change" piqued my interest...

It really was a revelation! Now I am going to be brutally honest , if swearing offends you might find this a  tricky read, but to be fair at least you know the book was written by Russell himself.  The book is funny and informative in the most revelatory way and I really suggest you read it to make up your own mind about some of the suggestions  for change he advocates in what was a surprisingly well researched and resourced book.

I always measure a book of this nature by if it keeps me thinking between readings and if I check back to reaffirm ideas or quotes and boy did I!

It is not anti establishment in the sense that if the structures  that we have in place were actually working for everyone, but even the most ardent lover of party politics, monarchy and worshipper at the alter of Capitalism will admit that it isn't and Brand's manifesto is simple.

Demand we look after the planet from "Cradle to Cradle" in other words look after it now and safe guard it for the future, treat all people with equality, share resources and attempt to re connect with the power of spirit that connects us all.

His claim is that Globalisation and capitalism has pushed us all into a ME ME ME attitude that has broken the bonds between us and our fellow man,woman and child and that those in power enjoy that power entirely because we allow them to do pretty much what they want because they are in charge. He claims that the power we afford them is not proportionate as they do not perform the duty we elected them for and that when you trace all things back that the world is controlled by such a small number of people with such utterly obscene wealth that the time has come to make a few changes!!

I implore you to seek this book out, it truly is one of the most thought provoking books I have read in a very long while!  You may not agree with everything, but I am certain some of the revelations held within will get you thinking and if it doesn't you are either the leader of a western superpower or riding on the billionaire's Fun bus, shame on you if you are!

Friday, 13 February 2015

What have I been reading? Round Up 1

Mr Midshipman Hornblower.   C.S. Forester

I love it when you read a book that you read as a younger person, perhaps a book you were forced to read in school as part of the Curriculum and then you return to it with eyes anew, well that is exactly what happened when it came to Mr Midshipman Hornblower. When taking the seafaring adventure of Horatio Hornblower Chronologically, this is his first Foray into Navy life and a lovely read this was too! I had read it some years ago because it was on an extra reading list for my A levels, the age old 

gem of contextual reading to boost the wealth of literary knowledge to draw from in comparative Essays

Now as an adult woman, I am revisiting Mr Hornblower as part of a book club born of a love of the Ioan Gruffudd feature length adventures. I loved this first book and really have enjoyed re-learning and reacquainting myself with the life of  a sailor in the times of war with France and Spain.  The character Of Horatio is so well drawn that you feel you know him and can really align your mind with his motivations as he learns how to lead a body of men in times of both Adventure and also mind numbing inaction.

Strongly Recommended.

Refuge.  N. G. Osborne

This book started off with such promise, I was intrigued and engaged by the tragic prologue and found the two main characters to be the kind of folk you could root for and all but one character added seasoning to the stock story of a girl living in a Refugee camp in Afghanistan and the bomb disposal contractor sent to teach locals how to clear the minefields who meet by chance and slowly fall in love.

Sadly for me the the characterisation of the brother is just so incongruous, his rare appearances are 

jarring and his part in the cliffhanging ending just totally ruined my enjoyment. The whole premise of the book that  father is enlightened and the mother wanted better for her family made his actions in a culture of patriarchal control where respect for his father, if not his sisters  would have made hisactions totally  unreal.

I believe some readers of Khaled Hosseini would enjoy this book, but this is just an inferior pastiche of his really touching and all encompassing novels.


Some Things Never Change (Elmo Jenkins Book 2 )  McMillan Moody

After reading and enjoying the first book in 2014, I can say that this is much the same. A fun and 

humorous book about a trainee pastor finding his way in a Super Church.  It is a ensemble piece with some interesting characters, not particularly spiritually uplifting , but not offensive in any way. Will gradually read the rest in the series, but better books in this genre are available ....


A Fisher of Men ( The Dunbridge Chronicles)      Pam Rhodes

This book really tickled my fancy, set in the kind of church I attend, I actually picture a very good friend who is entering a pastoral role as I read about the Misadventures of Neil Fisher.  I enjoyed the characterisation and loved that not everyone found utter bliss in the Lord by the end, that ( as in life, )the story threw a few  Spanners  in the wheels and some honest dilemmas faced by every person
Christian or not were addressed.

Definitely will be seeking out the next in the series!

The Golden Acorn   Catherine Cooper. ( Jack Brenin  Adventures)

I am and always will be a strong proponent of the idea that you are never too old to read a children's book!! As long as there is enough of a plot to be a proper read rather than a picture book with a lot of words, I will read it and this little beauty was a delight!

Talking Ravens, dragons of weeny proportions, Druids and dryads , all made up a sweet little story of a lonely boy thrust into a destiny he never knew he had! This story had enough fun to entertain a ten year old and enough conservationist undertones to Cheer  and thrill this thirty eight year old!

My Family and other Animals.       Claire Balding.

A  lovely book from National Treasure and wonderfully self effacing sports pundit and one of the most brilliant things about the BBC Olympics coverage in 2012, Claire Balding!

Using the horses and dogs who featured in her life at defining moments, this book is really rather touching. She does not shy away from the more solemn and cold times in her family life, her relationship with her Horse Trainer father obviously fraught and complicated at times.

I cried a couple of times as four legged characters passed and laughed aloud at some of the scrapes she got herself into. I learnt a lot about horses and private schooling, but I am glad that Claire remains the Tomboy of her youth and look forward to obtaining the next volume!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

A sense of Belonging... Forever!

Collectivism is any philosophic, political, religious, economic, or social outlook that emphasises the interdependence of every human being. Collectivism is a basic cultural element that exists as the reverse of individualism in human nature (in the same way high context culture exists as the reverse of low context culture), and in some cases stresses the priority of group goals over individual goals and the importance of cohesion within social groups (such as an "in-group", in what specific context it is defined). Collectivists usually focus on community, society, or nation. "

Why this rather wordy start to my weekly Forever blog?

Well fair reader, there has been a meeting of the fates and this lowly Forever Blog has become part of a bigger plan, be it fate or God's Will, but the book I am reading , the show I adore and my social activity have all aligned and this is the result...

The life of our beloved M.E. Became very coincidental last night, the "Body of the Week"  was none other than the little boy that Henry had been forced to conduct an impromptu (and ill advised , given the fact it was on a speeding train) apendectomy on whilst attempting to enjoy some conjugal bliss with Abigail on their Honeymoon. This rather rickety operating room was the reason Henry knew immediately that the older gentleman he was called into to examine  was the  King of Arkesh, the grown up version of the sweet frightened child, he and Abigail met all those years before. His exile in NYC is the starting point for this investigation.

Better writers than I, have written fabulous blogs on the Episode, so when considering what mine would focus on, I realised there was only one way I could go and that was to examine what I think was the underlying theme in the story, that of Belonging.

Literally everyone was examining their collective bonds in this one... Hanson was able to be part of the Clever Gang that Henry inhabits, Lucas has a timeshare and Hanson generally pops over to borrow a cup of sugar ( or leads as they are commonly known in Crime parlance) by some genius and Surreptitious digging, which made my little heart sing! The scene at the end with the Yak stew was testimony to the clan like thing that a police team can become and for once, he was alpha mal distinct in his enjoyment of said stew

Henry and Abigail were contemplating enlarging their brood ( in an exceptionally sensual love scene that made me exceptionally happy. ) Henry's fears at losing people precious and his worry that he had deprived Abe of an important part of life, that of being a sibling still warring within in him all these years later.

The illegitimate female heir whose orphan status appeared to have defined her, was able to not only create a place of belonging for her baby son and in a strange mirroring of past events able to become part of History repeated, part of a pattern , a heritage. Linked by Henry's assertion that in the face of mortal danger that both the king and the princess be brave as they are the child of a king, they entered a shared family history. This in turn to gave a sense of belonging to the Queen, whose inability to bring children to bear,palpably showed as an unspoken grief could become a mother and grandmother. This element of the story also elicited one of the biggest "Awww, how Precious moments" of this episode...

Of course the belonging that we were all talking about on Twitter and in groups across this world of ours, was the rather wonderfully revealed connection between Henry and Abe and their reaction to their discovery was hands down one of my top three favourite Abe/Henry  moments so far and had even steel hearted members of the household saying, "This show is really sweet!"

Belonging brought to bear in such a wonderful episode... There were moments of high tension and thrills and laugh out loud chuckles, all things we have come to expect from this superlative show that 
has created such a feeling of attachment in so many and here we move to the Collectivism part of this  piece...

Through watching Forever, I have become part of a collection of brilliant Human beings whose joint consciousness has become laser focused on one sole outcome (and one soul outcome too as well actually) that of the renewal of Forever into a second season. Through the convergence of three well run, and beautifully populated fan groups , I have joined hearts, minds and purpose  and become part of an organic and loving movement that fights solely for the furtherance of our favourite show.

The Admins of those groups are much more succinct as to how to add your voice to the shout of entreaty to the ABC group to Renew the show we adore, and that information will follow, but I wanted to a add a personal message of Thanks to the good men and women of the groups and the cast and crew of Forever, who have in various ways have become an extended family of sorts, we support each other's endeavours to promote the show, to cajole ABC to change or at least adapt their approach to the show, we share in the highs and lows of the plots and have shared and examined some outlandish theories! 

More than that though we have also supported each other through personal trials and joyfully enjoyed each other's happiness when things go well! Real Friendships have grown and respect for the diversity of talents within the group is palpable, like any machine, every moving part is vital!

So to the GREAT folks at:-

The Ioan Gruffudd Group
Foreverists Group for Forever Fans
The Official Alice Evans Appreciation Society. Find us on FACEBOOK

Keep on doing EXACTLY what you have been! Only through unity and consistent Community can we succeed!

Here is all the detail you need to join our group!! Come and BELONG. We need you and you will be rewarded in so many wonderful ways! 

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Call the Midwife. All Change, but comfort food for the Soul.

I felt compelled to write about one of my favourite  BBC 1 shows which returned to our screens a few weeks ago. The nostalgic, moving and thought provoking Call the Midwife

The post war landscape of Poplar has changed an awful lot since Young Nurse Jenny arrived at Nonatus House to be a midwife. The basic premise was this, young midwives live in a convent where nuns supplement the prenatal care of the great and good of East London.

Now in Series 4  We have lost Jenny Lee the naive girl running away from a failed love affair with a married man, who closed her off to all suitors until she met and fell for the architect who went on to fall himself and die in the most gut wrenching scenes of season 2. Happily Jenny married the softly spoken Mr Worth and become Jennifer Worth whose autobiographical novels were the source material for this oft overlooked Sunday night Drama

We have lost the sweet nurse Cynthia whose gentle nature was always going to end in her taking the veil, she was little used in the series which I find a great shame. She was a friend, a silent observer against the idealism of Jenny or the glamour of Trixie (who we will come to).

Most upsetting to me is the loss of the clumsy, plummy voiced Chummy the midwife who took every emergency, medical or otherwise by the horns with her "Have a go" attitude. Her departure in episode one was Classic Chummy and a fitting au Revoir to Miranda Hart whose year sabbatical is well deserved!

This has left a fair few gaps in the staff and this season began with the arrival of new nurse and a new era for Poplar and Nonatus House.

Episode 1

Nurse Gilbert arrives to an empty house where Sister Monica Joan, the slightly dotty, but infinitely educated, caring and precious member of the household refuses her admittance, steals her bananas and so begins her tenure. I always find sister Monica's monologues and asides moving as she struggles to stay lucid and in the moment but her wisdom well is deeper than her forgetfulness suggests and she often speaks truths we all should take heed of.

Sister Evangelina is suffering from the stomach complaint that was hinted at in the Christmas special.

The central story this week , the first where Trixie was able to take a full role ,was the little boy 

desperately trying to look after his three little sisters whilst his mother was away , one presumes prostituting herself as a hostess in a "club". The tragic scene where he pours milk through the 
letterbox for his sister to catch in a dirty old mug and his sister treasuring a bag of Bisto gravy 

granules which she had been eating was just tragic. The simplest act of washing their hair became a prize beyond measure, allowing them to keep their hair rather than live the indignity of being branded as poor and nit ridden. The end of their story was sad too sent  to Australia, where many children were ill treated, but for a short while they were looked after and cherished.

This is the beauty of the Show, the essence of why it is so good, the balance between the utter horror of humanity at its lowest ebb and the joy that Acts of kindness can bring. Yes they are Nuns, yes they live in a convent, but this is about Christianity at its purest.

Episode 2

The nuns are involved in the case a West Indian couple whose lust for life is infectious and vivacious . When Nurse Gilbert has difficulty finding the foetal heartbeat, she calls an ambulance where on 

further examination a heart is heard.  The delivery reveals a stillborn and twin hidden before, the very lively baby they had thought was present, in fact two one getting sicker as pregnancy progressed.

The scenes were handled with great delicacy and the newest addition to the group, Nurse Crane and sister Evangelina's rivalry to be top dog is thrown aside to delivery baby number two safely. The 

religious implications of the stillborn not being able to be funeralised was dealt with by Curate Tom, 

Trixie's Fiancé in one of the most beautiful little memorial ceremonies I have ever seen involving the little booties knitted for the single baby they had expected.

This episode also slotted in the very sweet revelation that Patsy is in love with one of the Other nurses at the Nurses home, so gracefully handled and really beautifully played. 

Sister Julienne has the trial and privilege to spend time with a terminally ill benefactor for Nonatus House as she reunites with her first love, a man she left to take up holy orders. She visits him and they talk of old times .

What Call the Midwife seems to excel at is to humanise all of the main characters and of all of them Sister Julienne has been the one that has remained most hidden by the vows she has taken, but here we see some of the struggles she must have had to leave the sweet man whose dying wish was to have the date at the cinema to see a film where he was going to propose, complete with Choc ices. How different her life might have been, but her dedication to help all souls was a good one and I think one she would not regret.

Episode 3

This of all the episodes this series will have been the most emotive for some viewers. The seemingly deliriously happily married couple with a baby on the way are thrown into despair when the handsome husband is caught in the "gentleman's Convenience"  by an undercover officer attempting a homosexual act.

This story is heartbreaking on so many levels, that homosexuality was thought of as perversion, that the treatment is so barbaric, that Tony felt so trapped by the side effects the hormone treatment might have, that he felt it necessary to try to end his life. In the rosy Sunday evening way that CTM has, Tony found a measure of peace in his baby and was evidently going to make a go of his marriage once his father in law gave him support, but  I wonder how many other men felt stigmatised enough to just make do in marriages for the sake of the children ?

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Forever - Reunion and Redemption

Warning: this post may contain spoilers!

It is often said that Good things come to those who wait, and this rings true most definitely for the viewers awaiting the return of the villainous Adam into Henry Morgan's life.  I can happily say with no risk of hyperbole that this was one of the best episodes in the season so far!

The timing of an episode with a crime originating in Nazi Germany was either genius timing by Matt Miller and his team, or marvellous Serendipity. In the week we commemorated  the freeing  those interned in the horrors of Auschwicz , we have an episode based around the priceless artworks stolen by the Nazis from Jews across Europe during the Third Reich.

Again the Writers have outdone themselves!! And again it was not the crime itself, that prompts the outpouring of love to follow...

Nazi paintings long lost, now found and being rightfully returned to descendants of the family's from whence they came, the Good Samaritan is battered to death with Swastika embossed priceless statue. Good story, fine detecting by Henry, Jo and the gang, all pretty much what we expected from our favourite cross genre Show! I never detract from the excellence of the core mystery because they are consistently so good

Really though, this show was about two distinct and much more meaningful themes, family and redemption. Even the ever popular Hanson us forced to seek absolution for sins against his brother in one of the lighter moments of the show before events  run their course.

The revelations about Adam's connection to the camp where Abe lost his parents was handled wonderfully and the persona we have come to expect from  the 2000 year old murderous psychopath  was blown to smithereens, leaving us  and Henry wondering about our own opinions about whether it is nurture or nature that made him the way he is?

Is Adam dangerous? Undoubtably ! Is he irredeemable, perhaps !  It is those little chinks of goodness, of empathy for Abe, that has suddenly made our Adam oh so much more interesting! His interactions with Abe whilst intentionally  slightly tense, are also bordering on tender and the first genuine smile of the series is bestowed upon Abe.

Now let's not get excited, Gandhi he is not, the gift he gives Abe is borne of a particularly vicious murder after prolonged torture, but his gift was bestowed out of a shared past, a shared pain and so the monster becomes just that tiny bit more like us!  He seeks to redress a balance that I suspect he knows means more to the idealistic "youngster" who sees the world in black and white than to him. Yet he blesses his his beloved Son with the ultimate gift. Adam has been living in the Grey area for millennia so for him to  do this for any reason is worthy of note.

The denouement with Abe and Henry is both moving and heartwarming, Henry relinquishes a small part of his parenthood to the faces in the photo and Abe becomes part of a lineage, part of a true Bloodline, gaining an identity  beyond his adoption.

Burn Gorman has such a singular face that he can make even a glance seem ominous and he is given great material to play with in Adam, I cannot wait to see what and why the favour he asks of Henry in return for his boon will impact the show and seeing more of Adam will be a bonus in an already beloved show

Henry's flashbacks take us back to the time he realises his Father is not the honourable and principled man he believes him to be. I found myself in another Gentlemen's Club with Ioan Gruffudd righteously arguing against Slave Ships for a few seconds. He has been here before in the Superb Amazing Grace, but here we find Henry at once enraged and disheartened that the pedestal his father had been placed upon had toppled.

We learn the Provenance of the Morgan Pocket watch in a moving scene between Son and father where resentment is combatted with true contrition and the merits of letting go of perceived slights quickly are shown in stark relief.

Ioan Gruffudd excels as ever in the expressing the myriad emotions of humanity, I cannot speak enough about his acting talents, he seems supremely cognisant of the frailties and intricacies the  human condition, I find his performances engaging and sincere whether in the present day or  the past and it is evidence of very intelligent writing that gives him such scope for exploring this within the confines of what on paper could be a commonplace crime drama, but closer inspection reveals a much richer and ultimately, satisfying viewing experience.