A very good evening to you all! The Lifestyle Support Guru here with another insightful and incisive film review. The film, a French one, was suggested by Mrs Marzipan (who featured heavily in my last post). She was accompanied by her husband, Mr Lederhosen (who also featured briefly in the same post and who, for once, had not managed to come up quickly enough with a DIY project to get out of the afternoon’s entertainment).
The film was called ‘Les Gardiennes’ and had been positively reviewed in some newspaper or other, although Mrs Marzipan couldn’t remember which one – I have a feeling it may have been ‘Farmers’ Weekly’.
The film was about how the women in France coped while their men were fighting in the Great War and, since I enjoy films about the two World Wars, I thought this would be an interesting ‘take’. Well, for the first hour, I thought we’d accidentally bought tickets for a screening of ‘Countryfile’ which had been filmed in an agricultural museum. We had long scenes of women haymaking, while the older men of the village stood around drinking homemade wine; every so often, a younger male member of the main family would turn up on leave from the front, give a little help in the fields, have a nightmare or two about the hostilities, then gaze into the distance for a while (as they always do in French films) before going back to fight.
A young woman, Francine, an orphan, joined the cast to help on the farm and, of course, fell in love with Georges, one of the sons of Hortense, the matriarch of the family. The tempo was upped a bit by now because Hortense, after falling over as she was guiding the plough (too much homemade wine, I suspect), decided to mechanise the haymaking and we were treated to a ten-minute scene of how this machine worked – fascinating! I was waiting for Hortense to get swept into the machine, but no such luck. Given that there was a war on, how did they manage to get the money? By selling homemade wine to some dastardly American soldiers who had not yet been sent to the front.
I’m not sure you want much more detail – a tractor featured, and we were treated to five minutes of that being driven around the farmyard – and Hortense didn’t get run over, sadly.
Meanwhile, Francine has been getting more involved with Georges – they go off on a picnic and ‘cement’ their relationship, so to speak. I was most disappointed because they didn’t touch their picnic at all, leaving the baguette sticking up out of the wicker basket to go stale. 😊
However, things were not meant to run smoothly – as Georges was being driven to the station by his mother to go back to the front, they pass Francine selling some wine to one of the dastardly Americans who is trying to kiss her – of course, Georges gets completely the wrong end of the stick (or baguette?) and Hortense encourages him in his mistake. Briefly, Francine gets the push and, of course, she finds out she’s pregnant but, although she writes to Hortense to tell her this, Hortense throws her letter on the fire.
As the film was going on, the year would be shown briefly when action changed and I (naively, as it turned out) assumed it would finish in 1918. It was when 1920 flashed up that I whispered to Mrs Marzipan and Mr Lederhosen, ‘I just hope this isn’t going to continue into the 21st century – we’ll be here all night.’
All ends happily – sort of (this is a French film, after all!). Francine, who has come into some money, is leading a happy life as a singer, and Georges turns up where she’s singing, and he looks thoroughly miserable. Hah!
We felt in need of some refreshment after all this agricultural misery, so we repaired to the bar for some wine. With eyes bigger than our thirsts, we ended up not finishing a bottle of wine and Mrs Marzipan and Mr Lederhosen insisting that I take the unfinished bottle home with me. Picture me getting on the bus home with a half-finished bottle of wine sticking up out of my handbag. Luckily, no neighbours were on the bus, so I think I got away with it!
Enjoy the rest of your evening! 🍷📽️🚜🥖👩🌾
A very good evening to you all from the Lifestyle Support Guru!
I am writing this whilst sitting in a drinking establishment in Coventry. Why Coventry, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer. It seemed as good a place as any to visit for the night on the way back from Cambridge. Why Cambridge, you may well ask. Why not, I may well answer, but I shan’t, because that would be the wrong answer. One male sibling and I went there to visit oldest female sibling and her granddaughter, who are visiting their son and dad respectively while he lolls around Cambridge University inventing things to do with storage of heat and energy – I would explain this more fully, since I understand the process completely, but I don’t have enough time or space and I can assure you, Faithful Followers, that you would have no idea what I am on about, and I’m pretty sure that any explanation will not help you manoeuvre your way through the many miseries this life will throw at you.
The other female sibling in our Happy Family also joined us, making the Great Trek up through the Dreaded Dartford Tunnel (DDT), so we were a jolly band. If only Youngest Sibling had been able to hurry down from Hull (I am in an alliterative mood tonight), we should have been a complete family! The Hull family member said he was too busy sorting papers to make the journey, but I have a feeling this may have been a euphemism for ‘You must be joking! A family reunion! I’d rather stick pins in my eyes.’
We went to a lovely pub/restaurant on the river for lunch and ordered some food which, we were told, would take about 40 minutes because they were very busy. That seemed fine because conversation was taking a long time anyway – one or two of the group are a little hard of hearing, so everything had to be repeated at least twice, and throw in a Northern Ireland accent and you have the makings of an international conference without the benefit of an interpreter. (The food took an hour, by the way, so conversation was beginning to wane and we almost turned to the dreaded Brexit topic, but the triple-cooked chips arrived in the nick of time!)
I am now communicating with you ‘live’ from the ‘welcoming bar’ (booking.com description) of our Coventry hotel instead of from the Indian restaurant next door where we had hoped to end the evening. The restaurant, advertised as open until 23.59 (we arrived at 21.45), was, we were told, closing in 30 minutes – for good! However, the waiter recommended a five-minute walk to a ‘whole street’ of restaurants. Did I mention that it was pouring with rain?
We decided to cut our losses and finish the evening with a glass of wine and a packet of crisps in the hotel’s ‘welcoming’ bar. The barmaid took a little while to serve us because she needed to finish her cigarette outside first, and when a note was tendered to pay, the change was given in 10p pieces – three pounds’ worth of 10p pieces! Why would a bar have a till full of 10p pieces and not a single £1 coin?
Meanwhile, some of the clientele are seated in the ‘welcoming’ bar area ringing a takeaway restaurant to complain that they haven’t received enough chips with their kebabs. Apparently, ‘only’ 20 chips per kebab aren’t enough. First World problems, eh?
Anyway, that’s Coventry covered (unlike Lady Godiva), so there is no need to return to the place – unless I find that the 10p pieces can only be spent in Coventry!
Sleep well, Beloved Believers – I have a feeling I may not!
A very good evening, Beloved Believers! Tonight, I wish to talk about the difficulties of understanding others. Of course, I don’t mean ‘understanding’ in the sense of ‘empathising with’ – as I am the LSG, empathy is something I leave to ordinary mortals, who need to ‘feel your pain’ or ‘walk in your shoes’ (not for me, unless they’re Christian Louboutin’s, daaahlings … And NEVER Crocs!). No, this is about understanding people talking to you, even though you haven’t left these shores for foreign climes.
I have come to terms with understanding Scottish accents – as long as I can catch every third word, I’m fine – I make up the rest. Northern Irish is similar – ‘hyevva’, as pronounced by an NI BBC reporter is, in fact, ‘however’, so I can work from that. North Welsh still defeats me at times, especially since they have different words for the same things – for example, ‘girl’ in North Welsh is ‘hogan’ (both singular and plural), but ‘merch’ (merched, plural) in the South; ‘boy’ is ‘hogyn’ (both singular and plural) or ‘bachgen’ (bechgyn, plural). ‘Now’ is ‘nawr’ (South) and ‘rwan’ (North). How does that work, other than backwards??
Hyevva, the one that defeats me is the Black Country – Debbie, Rob, is there a phrase book that you haven’t told me about? The (male) siblings and I visited the Black Country Living Museum the other day and were flummoxed right from the start, although, agreeably, the initial lack of understanding led to us all being admitted at ‘Concessions’ price (even though only one of us qualified) simply because older sibling didn’t understand what he was being asked and just smiled and said ‘Yes’, while younger sibling and I stood behind him looking old.
We moved on to the main entrance where we were greeted by a gentleman – dressed as a 19th-century pit supervisor (I’m using my imagination here) – who asked us a question which none of us understood, so we said, ‘Pardon?’ and he repeated the question. The LSG, making the most of her linguistic abilities, understood the word ‘rent’, replied ‘Yes’, smiled, showed our tickets and we were allowed in. Thereafter, we made sure we engaged in no further conversation, even avoiding the 19th-century pub in case we were expected to converse and ended up with a pint of gin! (Actually, now I come to think of it …)
The visit was extremely enjoyable, and I would recommend it to all and sundry, but just don’t expect to hold lengthy conversations with anyone (unless they’re ‘proper’ foreign!).
Today’s experience was somewhat different. I decided to go along to the city library, which has moved from the beautiful, old Central Library building to the refurbished Council House – beautiful on the outside, rather clashingly modern on the inside – to borrow a book I didn’t want to buy on Kindle (i.e. too expensive!). The conversation went like this:
Helper: Hello, can I help you?
Me: Yes, it’s my first visit here. Where will I find books by Victoria Hislop?
H: ‘Hislop’. Does that begin with an ‘E’?
Stunned silence on my part.
Me: No, ‘aitch’.
H: Ah, ‘haitch’.
I maintained a dignified silence. The book (The Return) wasn’t in stock. I will have to go through this again next week…
I am dedicating this to CJ Jones, who died suddenly today – she was one of the LSG’s most dedicated supporters and she would have loved this, especially the Welsh bits! Sleep well, CJ.
A very good evening from the Lifestyle Support Guru! This evening I wish to offer advice on new careers for the older woman, but advice which will also be relevant for the younger woman, since it can be stored away for future reference. My numerous forms of employment have included shop assistant, tour guide, travel agent, teacher, quiz setter, proofreader, as well as packer of plastic toy Jumbo Jets into cardboard boxes and packer of Rizla cigarette papers into smaller cardboard boxes. And now, a new career beckons … actor!
How has this happened, I hear you ask! Quite by accident, you will hear me reply!
Next-sibling-down and I replied to an advert by the University of Derby asking for volunteers to read parts in plays written by students on the MA in Writing for Performance course. (Actually, they used the word ‘actors’, but I loosely interpreted this as ‘volunteer’.) We were duly accepted and were sent our scripts – no need to learn any lines since the whole exercise would consist simply of reading the allocated parts for other students to evaluate and comment on the plays themselves. Easy peasy! After a little confusion, I eventually got the right script – a play for just two characters: a mother who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and her alcoholic daughter whose husband has recently been killed in a car crash shortly after their marriage. A cheerful little tale, you will agree. Next-sibling-down was given parts in two plays (he always has to go one better!), one of which included a woman who cuts someone’s tongue out – I’m not sure that the younger generation is growing up entirely happily and I blame it mainly on the Daily Mail.
Anyway, my reading took place this afternoon and seemed to go well – the woman who played my daughter (ha! I bet you thought I’d been cast as the alcoholic!) really threw herself into the part and almost burst into tears when I told her I was dying. I hope it was because of the emotion I put into it (‘I’m dying’) and not because of the emotion I didn’t (there’s not really much you can put into two words, even if they are ‘I’m dying’).
I think she’d done some ‘proper’ acting before, but so have I, although playing the part of the Fat Fairy in a village pantomime may not have offered quite the same depth and range of required emotion. My theme tune was ‘Nobody Loves a Fairy When She’s Forty’, which is quite a moving song when sung with the right level of poignancy and feeling.
After the reading, a thirty-something man came and sat next to me and introduced himself as what I first thought was Darty, but it turns out was Dhaithi, pronounced Dahee, an Irish name – I’m pleased to say he had similar problems with Rhian, so he referred to me instead as Muriel, my character’s name (Muriel!!). He asked me if I would be interested in auditioning for a film that some of his students would be making in the autumn, a story of an older woman (typecast already!) who meets an older man and they form a relationship – if I get the part, I shall make it clear that I will not countenance any nudity.
So, in future, when you hear older actresses complaining that there are no parts written for older women, just point them in the direction of the University of Derby.
Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, eat your hearts out!
Sleep well, dearest devotees!