Funny Cow

A commanding, slightly care-worn, glass-ceiling breaking comedienne holds attention as she performs a heart-felt, sometimes funny monologue, and the films breaks out to tell the tale of how her confidence and defiance led her to be herself and be a national star.
Such a good film.  Go see.
And yes, my rating system is broken again.
(r:9.8; e:5, s:5, p:5).
Nostalgia too.  I kept recognising the cars.  My Dad being a social club’s entertainments secretary.
And I kept thinking of Marti Cane – who I did not like – I guess for political reasons.  Turns out the film draws heavily on her life-story and struggle.  And playing Sun City apart, it’s quite a story.
Guardian review.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

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The movie.  And again I’m awarding top marks.  For a romance.   Apparently I’m going soft.  The movie it seems is predictable and too long.  Chintzy.  World War twee. And worse – Guardian review – 2 out of 5. But I was never bored and never felt the movie tried to heighten the tension in a false way.  Clearly the structure of the source book gives the spaces for each of the characters’ stories to be told.
I wonder if the tension was heightened instead for me by not watching any reviews of the film, and the knowledge of the Jersey lad sent to a concentration camp cos the Nazis confiscated his motorbike so he borrowed one of theirs (he was to die of TB in Nottingham a few years later).  Perhaps I filled in for the film for fighting oppression, and took too much from the celebration of coming together to discuss art.
(r:9.6; e:5, s:5, t:5).

This House

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Political events of 1974 to 1979 from the perspectives of the House of Commons Whips’s offices of Labour and Conservatives, made poignant from the Labour Party trying to pass legislation and hold office whilst 17 of their members died.
Turned into a play, performed nationally, including at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, drawn in part from one written by former Bassetlaw MP Joe Ashton, which I saw at the Nottingham Playhouse some years back.
I sense people found the play too long and perhaps thinking the political motivations a tad shallow.
Without taking sides, the play needs to do a bit more to convey what Wilson, Callaghan, Foot and others were trying to get done. Which was in essence to keep the values of mainstream Labour going – full employment and social justice, and nationalisation as a way of modernising the country (think of the GPO inventing fibre optics) and directing profits into common wealth – in the wake of Ted Heath allowing unemployment to grow and globalisation undercutting decades of investment in Britain’s manufacturing base and developing the notion that wealth was to be drawn from what at the time was called invisible earnings.
If they could have won in Autumn 1978 (Callaghan not going to the church is not covered) or gone the full distance in Autumn 1979, then Labour could have used the receipts of North Sea Oil – modernise our manufacturing, invest in schools, hospitals and achieve full employment.
Instead, the money was used to allow market forces and the whims of the rich to take the reins, a strong pound destroying our manufacturing base.
Joe Ashton’s “Majority of One” was very pro the Labour Government and I would read his articles in Labour Weekly and hear those pitches to Labour Conferences proclaiming what Labour achieved and protesting at how Labour MPs suffered.
But it ran against a mobilised trade union movement that was seeking to do more in terms of shifting the balance of power in the workplace, and a frustration at Britain not being able to keep up with the growth of personal disposable wealth in Germany, the USA and elsewhere, which led to the return of third parties, and conflicting appeals to the importance of being in the Common Market (then only 9 countries) and the return of demanding home rule or independence for Scotland and Wales.

Watching the play with more knowledge than most could be dangerous. I was laughing out loud at Walsall North (John Stonehouse) drowning in the ocean, knowing full well he faked it, when other members of the audience were feeling sorry for a man who appeared to be committing suicide.
The snippets could be great. Remembering the characters that were West Lothian, Chelmsford etc.  A young Rushcliffe (Ken Clarke) panicking as the elderly Labour MP he pushed over appeared to be conking out.
On the other hand, I thought Audrey Wise a far more credible character than presented – and remember how well known the Rooker-Wise amendment was known.
The surprises – that Bob Mellish and Michael Cocks could be seen as such heroes; that the deputy whips reached agreement to pair Batley & Morley in that very final vote, and then the Labour deputy Walter Harrison declining the offer – even now, I remember the TV broadcast 5 days after the loss of confidence vote expressing the heart-break of that Labour MP who had died.  Deeply moving.