Hello, Lionel Richie is coming to The Meadows

Is us he’s looking for?
Apparently, and 16,000 are expected to be there for the bland, middle of the road, ear worms from the 1970’s and 80’s. Yeah, alright, he’s not my cup of tea, but hey, how boring would it be if we all had the same tastes? Why, almost as boring …
To everyone coming, welcome.

The Salisbury Poisonings

Metro’s tv critic says of BBCtv’s The Salisbury Poisonings “… you can’t help but feel there’s something missing in its execution.”
I don’t think the authors worked the story out. The drama decided not to tell stories of the Russian victims, or the Russian perpetrators, relied heavily on news broadcasts to narrate a wider perspective and decided the story was of a small number of key players and their families.
But the dialogue involving the key players is not great, and should have done more to carry the story of what was happening overall, especially through those action conferences. I suspect poorly directed and edited too.
And a couple of pantomime portrayals – of a No. 10 advisor and of the public (wild and panicky apparently).

Meanwhile, a reflection on what actually happened.
Cos I couldn’t believe that the Russians would try to kill people in this way. So messy. So indeterminable. So many random side effects.
And why attack a nation of whom so many of our wealthy are inter-twined with the Russian wealthy?
The Guardian ran stories explaining that the nerve agent (declared as one of the most toxic substances, but how true is that?) was no longer produced by Russia and of a former diplomat saying it just wouldn’t be done.
Jezza was suspicious and so was I.

Others still are.
Novichok is declared the most deadly substance, yet the 2 targeted survive; contaminated at home it seems, but didn’t fall ill for a few hours, and then, despite their difference in ages, fall ill at the same time; and at a location where the first to attend then happened to be the Chief Nurse of the British Army (not mentioned on the BBCtv series; but probably very well equipped to identify and deal with poisoning by nerve agent); nobody else or no animal falls ill despite it being found at the restaurant and elsewhere; the Police Officer falls ill after visiting the Russians’ home, at which a significant part of the roof is later removed; when the couple fall ill some months later, they have to cut the wrapping away to access the “perfume” and it take the Police days to find the bottle in his hone, despite it being on the kitchen counter. Oh, and Porton Down, home of Britain’s research on these weapons, is only 7 miles away.
Problem is, such articles are wrapped in allegations about how you can’t trust others and peppered with remarks like being a credulous fool if you believe in coincidences.
And whilst you don’t have to believe either the British or the Russians, the Russians didn’t help by promoting lots of different stories about what happened. The interview of their 2 agents that was broadcast made them look ridiculous.
I am baffled by aspects of the tragedy, but know I don’t know enough to pronounce.

For all the political outrage at the time, the outrage never really stuck. Connections between the Conservatives and rich Russians should be more damaging to electoral prospects than they seem to be.

Animal Farm: the graphic novels

Animal Farm “featured at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels.” Yep, and I’ve bought a graphic version of it.
One reviewer says it’s the first graphical version, but that’s not true – Ralph Steadman did a version in 1995.
Says something of the power of the book, that I remember bits that aren’t featured in this version – e.g. the return of religion through the crow.
The story remains unbearably sad, or depressing.

Mind you, could do with George Orwell now, to write about Trump and Johnson; or maybe the nature of financial markets.

UK travel vlog of Nottingham by Renata Pereira

The second of two vlogs on Nottingham; published December 2018.
The first – is Nottingham real? – focussed on the castle and around.

Seen a few Vlogs on Nottingham now, and a number of its viewers have said this one is worth watching.
Of course, I’m sensitive to what is missed – the radical history of Nottingham, its sports history, the night life (tens of thousands at the weekends), the cultural offer – and the repaired building featured is better known as the offices of our best ever architect. If given the chance, might have recommended other restaurants.
Not allowed to film in some of our attractions, where the tours are a key part of their business, but photo presentation was a good substitute.

History of Broad Marsh by NottsFlix

The Broadmarsh shopping centre regenerates; the video author is a Doctor Who fan.

Ran into this 3 part video history series after seeing a travel vlog.
Written and presented by Michael, of Nottsflix, and published in 2018 and 2019, this is a pretty impressive effort if, as claimed, this was his first attempt. It tries to be light-hearted.
I’m not an historian so can’t know is everything is right, but it seemed pretty compelling to me.
A history of the Broadmarsh shopping centre, starting with what Broad Marsh itself was, how it was known to be a monastery, how it was taken over for various trades, how living conditions came to be so intolerable despite the wealth being generated in the city, why the shopping centre came about and why it has the brutalist architecture (albeit, 3rd wave, muted brutalist architecture).
Michael has also found letters from the protestors against the shopping centre being built, although seems a little unclear as why the council was so keen (suggesting something dark and underhand).
Not sure. One of the losses that at one stage the early and much more ambitious proposals for regeneration wanted to re-instate was the previous city streets plan for that area (although that was also compromised by Maid Marian Way. That optimistic time was first publicly promoted I think in 1997, but the scale of the proposals was huge, and the then owner Westfield, had other projects, e.g. Derby’s shopping centre, that were easier to do and so done first.

Meanwhile – look the videos up –
The Shopping Centre with Too Much History | Broadmarsh #1 | Nottsflix History (November 2018)
The Shopping Centre with A Dark Past | Broadmarsh #2 | Nottsflix History (March 2019)
The Shopping Centre Rises | Broadmarsh #3 | Nottsflix History (August 2019)

Planet of the Humans

Released on Youtube by Michael Moore of the 50th Earth Day, this very critical film against much of the modern environmental movement is welcomed by the Guardian reviewer as a “contrarian eco-doc“, but heavily attacked by others such as “Films for Action” and “The Energy Mix“.
I too, am critical, but found some of the stories very salutary.

An American mirror array in a desert to heat water that now lies in tatters, having wrecked acres of desert surface (which nowadays we know does have a distinctive eco-system).
Concerts put on for green causes that (despite claims) doesn’t have the power to run the whole event and relies on the un-green grid for top-up and back-up power.
Materials to create solar panels (they’re not made from glass) and batteries for cars draw heavily on mineral mining too.
Electric cars often rely on coal-powered power stations.
Wind farms that do indeed have a lifetime and can end up idle, rotting and ugly.
That burning bio-mass releases CO2 and some of the woods and forests being cleared are special environments, which one scene at the end shows, provides homes for Orang-Utans.
Some of the firms involved in the new green sectors have been the big players in the dirty or grey sectors.

It is worth reading the articles that are critical of the film highlighted above.
Off the top criticisms I’d make include –
– the documentary does not explore ground source heat pumping; or anaerobic digestion; or waste incineration;
– waste incineration often sees metal extraction for re-cycling and ranks higher in the pyramid than burial; and it adds value despite needing to be under-written by gas or wood-chip burning at source; and heating devices running off the grid in the homes;
– people need to be supplied with comfort (heating and cooling), and a first step for this should be the design of the buildings they live in or use; and planning and location is key to reducing travel; (agglomeration);
– not all natural; gas comes from grand extraction and not all bio-mass fuels are based on burning; check out Nottingham City Transport’s use of cell-cracking technology.

Loads more to be said from the documentary and in critique of it.
The documentary is a missed opportunity to convey what can be done and reflects badly on Michael Moore and those associated with it (both for inaccuracy and missing the bigger story) But it does provide a few jolts to make you think a bit more.


I enjoyed ITV’s Quiz tv series very much.
Michael Sheen as Chris Tarrant is very entertaining.  
It is made clear that the Major’s brother-in-law tried to help the Major cheat, that the Major trained, and that the Major’s wife sought to enrol the help of one of the second night’s final 10.  
But the drama does suggest that the Major’s learning for the event was extensive and that he may have relied heavily on the audience’s reaction to help answer some of the questions.
And that the drive came from pride, wanting to do well for his wife and to offer relief to his debt-ridden brother-in-law.  
The show’s creators did present an edited tape and gained out of the subsequent coverage. Chris Tarrant says the Major was a “rotter” but the show sees his character ask the Major through the TV screen whether the had cheated.  
The drama does suggest that the guilty conviction was not safe.

The Man with the Iron Heart

Only 2 reviews from Google, but they sum the film up well.

An unpleasant film to watch cos it brings life to horrible atrocities by the Nazis in Eastern Europe during WWII.
The film is well made and well shot, but just horrible cos of what it shows. So it becomes a duty to watch.
A reminder at how the mass executions started through mass shootings.
I think the film didn’t go on general release cos another film on the same events came out just before it. Currently available on BBC i-player.