24 June 2011


Where do dreams come from? What do they mean? Why do I ask?

There was a man called Ian Wallace on Radio 2 today talking about his new book entitled 100 top dreams or something like that.

Why was I listening to Radio 2?

Well, I was driving down to Ross on Wye and I turned on the radio. It was tuned to Radio 2 because my wife had been the last one to drive the car and she likes to listen to that station.
I don't normally listen to Radio 2, I either let my iPod choose random Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Steve Earle songs (mainly) or I go to Radio 5live where I can get endless speculation about football transfers and descriptions of long traffic jams, some of which I have participated in. It makes me feel better if the queue I am in on the M6 has been reported on national radio. It comforts me to know that my slow progress is remarkable enough to be newsworthy, justifies my frustration, makes my predicament official.

The author began to speak about his dreams book as I pulled into a petrol station. By the time I had filled up and paid, he was already on to number two on the list, losing your teeth. In his estimation, losing teeth is the second most common dream and it indicates a loss of confidence in real life. You show your teeth when you are happy or angry, so that makes a kind of sense.

I gathered from the discussion that the top, number one, most common dream of all time is the one where you are being chased, but I missed what inferences he drew from that one.

I found all this only vaguely interesting until he announced the number three dream on the list. Not being able to find a toilet.

The interviewer was very sceptical that this came number three in the charts. He found it hard to believe that there were ninety six less common dreams in this man's book than this one about an inability to locate an appropriate place to pee.

I beg to differ. I would have expected it to be number one. It probably is number one but most people wouldn't admit to it and probably invented some claptrap about being chased while all their teeth fell out to avoid embarrassment.

The dream book man explained that this dream was an indication that the dreamer is not taking sufficient care of their own needs in waking life. That they would benefit from a clearer understanding of what they want and would do well to consider making their own needs a priority rather than constantly looking out for others.

Not that I am admitting to any particular kind of dream, you understand, but I may buy the book if that's OK with you.

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11 June 2011

Film Review

I don't normally do reviews, but I feel moved to tell you about the film I watched last night.

I need to begin this account a few months ago when we installed our wood burning stove in the living room.  Many years before, we had dithered over the choice between a real fire and a big plasma TV.  I was keen on the big telly but my wife was less than enthusiastic.  The man in the fireplace shop was the one who swung it.  "You don't want a real fire" he advised "they're smelly and sooty and make your whole house dirty."  Coming from a man who earned his livelihood selling fires, this was impossible to ignore and the plasma telly got the nod.

It was a mistake.  I admit it.  I repented, but only after several years of having it pointed out to me every day.

The wood burner was installed (by a more enthusiastic retailer) and the plasma telly had to make way, or be melted.

For a while, we made do with my daughter's bedroom TV but she returned home triumphantly from University and reclaimed it.  I went down to the local Comet and bought a new one which I chose on the basis that it seemed to have the brightest picture.  When I got it home it turned out to be an LED, whatever that might be, and HD.  I know what HD is, I already have a method of watching HD television.  It consists of wearing special glasses which the optician sold me alongside my reading glasses so that my far vision could be improved. Prior to that, there was the unfortunate episode involving bifocals, but I won't go into all that as need to get to the film review before I run out of blog.

Where was I?  Oh yes, buying a new DVD player to go with the TV.  I remember even if you don't.  This turned out to be BluRay and I suddenly became quite excited at the prospect of a HD LED TV coupled with a BluRay player and special HD super glasses.  What an exceptional viewing experience that might be.

With all the hardware installed and working, I popped down to Tesco to see what BluRay had to offer and was a little disappointed to find that I had seen most of the films on offer in that format.  There was one that I hadn't seen, though, and this caught my eye.  On the back of the packaging it had two recommendatory quotations.  "A sexy glamorous thriller" from the People and "a witty and suspenseful thriller" from the Daily Star.  The leading actors were Angelina Jolie, who, apart from being quite nice looking, was excellent in The Changeling, and Johnny Depp who I rather like, particular when he is doing his Keith Richards impression.  The screenplay was credited to three people, including Christopher McQuarrie who wrote The Usual Suspects.  It was quite beyond me how I had missed the opportunity to enjoy this masterpiece in the theatrical setting it so obviously deserved.  I quickly remedied the situation by parting with £14.99.

The Tourist.  That's the name of the film.  Remember it, you may be grateful that you did one day.

Anyway, the review.  Well, its crap.  Really crap.

There you are, I said I didn't do much in the way of film reviews, now you know why. 

I could tell you all the really bad bits in it but that would take too long.  The whole film depends on the viewer not spotting that Johnny Depp is actually the hero in disguise.  Although we all realise it the moment he appears on screen, Johnny acts throughout as if this important piece of information was never revealed to him. Which is a problem.

The establishment of Steven Berkhoff as the villian is in keeping with the rest of the film.  We first meet him on a plane where he is observing two henchmen playing poker.  "He's fluttering his eyes like a baby" he observes, "it's his tell, go all in."  Only a really evil mastermind would be so cruel as to spoil a game of cards he wasn't even involved in.  It comes as no surprise when we learn that he has not only murdered all the men that his wife slept with before he married her but, when he found out just how numerous these were, killed her as well.

There you are, stupid and pointless.  Like the film.

The director, who also claims a share of the blame for the hopeless script, is a man who calls himself Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck.

Watch out for him.

4 June 2011


I may have mentioned my SF novel, Technical Difficulties, that I am in the process of revising it for publication, that it is set in the near future and that weird things happen.

The main character was described as hapless by my editor. Actually, that's a watered down version of what he actually called him but it will do for our purposes today.

Hapless, maybe. I'll let you be the judge.

Let's imagine our hero is searching for something in, let's say, a fridge. As he rummages about, the fridge suddenly goes dark and silent. It's broken, he concludes. He empties out all the food and waits in for several days until the repairman calls. A small switch is pointed out to him. When pressed, the fridge bursts into renewed life. Our hero resolves to remember that handy switch and keep well away from it in future.


Or how about our hero answers a firm knock on his front door to be confronted by a courier holding a cardboard box from which buzzing can be heard.
"Sign here, its your bees."
The instructions for inserting the bees into the hive are clear. Let them settle down before attempting anything, they advise. When the little things are nice and quiet, open the flap and quickly block up the entrance with the bung provided which is tied to a long piece of string. Retreat to a safe distance and pull out the bung, thus releasing the bees.
Our hero opens the flap but, before he can put the bung in, a bee escapes. The bee is not best pleased. It is actually looking for the City Link driver so that it can complain about the discomfort of the journey but our man is nearer so it chases him instead.
The instructions do not mention what to do if one bee gets out and is guarding the hive where the others are still trapped. The bung and piece of string ploy is the only one offered.
I think not. Resourceful, I would suggest. Our hero dons his all in one white chicken overalls, pulls up the hood, puts on a pair of ski gloves and strides purposefully back to the hive. Bravely, in the face of the fearsome adversary that any moment might abandon the distraction of the flower it is examining, he opens the flap, releases the bees and walks back to the house unscathed.
I suppose that makes up for the fridge episode.

All stories are character driven, or at least they ought to be. My editor wants to see my main character showing some increased awareness as he goes through his amazing adventures.
I can understand that.
I only wish my hero could.

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