Bardiness

"..a bardy view!"

The Walking Dead – the 2nd Amendment Showcase….

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**Possible Spoiler Alert**

Having caught up with the Walking Dead, after its mid-season (4) break, I am left defending my initial observations herehere and here, back when it all began.

The problem with the drama is that it’s walking in circles. Series one saw the motley group of survivors attempting to find somewhere safe to live. Series two found them on a farm which got overrun and they had to leave, getting dispersed in the process; series 3 found them in a prison; and series four sees them overrun, back outside, and dispersed yet again.

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February 11, 2014 Posted by | Books, Education, Film, Game of Thrones, Humour, Religion, Science, The Walking Dead, Travel, USA | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Henry – Hooked, Line and Sinkered – by Hollywood!

Henry hook grave'If our time is come let us die manfully for our brethren's sake, and not have a cause for reproach against our glory.'

These are the words inscribed on the gravestone, in Churcham, Gloucestershire, of Henry Hook. He died aged 54 on 12 March, 1905.

A great injustice was given to Henry Hook, perpetrated by Hollywood in it's desire to spin a good yarn.

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January 19, 2014 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Events, Film, History, Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Anchorman 2” and that Philippines “Joke”…..

Anchorman2Emil Guillermo is a very sensitive American-Filipino journalist. So sensitive in fact, that he believes that the power of a juvenile below-average slapstick-comic movie can insult millions of people of a certain nationality, and rejuvenate a slur that has been buried for years.

I refer to Anchorman 2. If you know what that is already – congratulations, and if you don't…well, now you do.

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December 30, 2013 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, Film, The Philippines, United Kingdom | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Game of Thrones

Game-of-ThronesAs usual I have arrived late to the party.

In this instance the "Game of Thrones" which is aired on Sky Atlantic.

I must admit I shy away from mythological fantasy, especially if penned by such questionable luminaries as J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis, and dare I say, J K Rowling. (Notice how each author initialises their moniker!) 

So not being a Sky subscriber I was ignorant not only of the TV production but also the author who inspired it – George R R Martin (two initials in that one – must be a winning formula) from his collection of epic novels entitled "A Song of Ice and Fire".

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June 1, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Education, Europe, Film, Game of Thrones, General, History, Politics, Religion, Science, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life of Pi


Life-of-pi-poster2"The reason death sticks so closely to life isn't
biological necessity — it's envy.

Life is so beautiful that death has fallen in
love with it, a jealous, possessive love that grabs at what it can."

The quote comes from "Life of Pi" and continues…"But life leaps over oblivion lightly, losing only a thing or two of no
importance, and gloom is but the passing shadow of a cloud."

Determined to see the movie, I've decided to read the novel
first.

By coincidence I received it as a Christmas present.

It's an
enthralling, intelligent and evocative tale, beautifully written, rich with
insight and challenging to the senses.

That's probably why it was the Man
Booker Prize
winner 10 years ago.

I meant to read it then. I was late getting
there – but better late than never.

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January 7, 2013 Posted by | Arts, Books, Conservation, Culture, Film, Religion | , | 3 Comments

The Walking “Dread”…..

Walkingdead

"The mindless creatures having their heads smashed in are already dead – so that's ok then – no harm done!"

I've recently watched the first two episodes of The Walking Dead series three.

Episode one in the 3rd series was a gore-fest of dead people being murdered. I've said before (see Bardiness Walking Dead) that the whole premise of this show is to transfer violent computer games into mainstream television.

In fact rarely have I seen such violence, blood and guts. But it's ok – because the people having their brains smashed in are already dead – walking dead. Let’s return to the beginning. Good cop wakes up in hospital after being shot, and discovers that the world is inhabited by zombies. Through a series of adventures, the "normal" folk strive to survive under constant threat of being eaten.

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October 26, 2012 Posted by | Culture, Education, Film, Humour, Religion, Science, The Walking Dead, USA | , , , | 3 Comments

Harry Potter and the Casual Vacancy

Casual vacancyI can't comment on the merits of JK Rowling's new book "The
Casual Vacancy"
because I haven't read it although the critical reviews
are mixed and not entirely favourable.

By all accounts it's a rather depressing hotchpotch
portrayal of modern Britain laced with plenty of grammatically challenged yoof culture with a liberal splash of sexual
references, foul language, drug abuse, self-harm and car-crash behaviour.

My concern is that the book couldn't be reviewed prior to
publication, and all knowledge of it was battened down, under lock and key just
like the Harry Potter series. I can understand why those were kept in secret – any leak could have been a spoiler for the army of fans.

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September 27, 2012 Posted by | Arts, Books, Current Affairs, Education, Film | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Bourne Legacy – It’s more fun in the Philippines!

ItsmorefuninthephillipinesPhilippines President Benigno Aquino says the filming of the latest "Bourne" movie in Manila will boost tourism and jobs.

"The Bourne Legacy" is the fourth in the franchise, and as I recall the gist of them follow an ultra-tuned US assassin with a heart, who suffers from amnesia.

He hasn't completely lost his memory, because he still knows how to travel all over the world with impunity, adopting a range of disguises, utilising a plethora of techno gizmos, speaks a variety of languages, and has combat skills which would shame Bruce Lee and knocks off his enemies like skittles.

He's like a rogue absent-minded James Bond 00?

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January 10, 2012 Posted by | Arts, Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Events, Film, History, Humour, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Pacific

 Not being a subscriber to Sky Television I had to wait until The Pacific became available on BT Vision. Whether it will ever reach bog-standard Freeview I know not.  

 Digital Freeview – the great excuse for dumbed down television – can only be  justified for access to  BBC4 and Yesterday. The rest is……but I digress, and my thoughts on that can wait for another day.

This post is about The Pacific – a television mini-series.  Based on the reluctant memoirs of Eugine Sledge and Robert Leckie – whom the latter, after seeing the musical "South Pacific" in a cinema during the 1950's, walked out half-way through in disgust, remarking that " the Pacific War was not a musical – and the truth should be told". 

It also acknowledged  John Basilone – a man not renown to the British – but to the Yanks is a great hero – a soldier who received the Medal of Honor and has had roads, buildings and warships named in his honour – unlike John Wayne, who didn't fight in the Pacific, but got an airport named after him because he was a great American hero too.

But that's where the fiction ends and reality takes over. John Wayne was an actor on celluloid – The Pacific is about real people in the very real theatre of war, and the Duke had no role in it.

Being a Brit I have always followed the supercilious and humorous mantra that the Yanks always arrive late to a fight. They popped in during 1917 some three years after WWI began, and they popped late in 1941 after the bombing of Pearl Harbour – two years after the outset of WWII, and they didn't get active in the Pacific until well into 1942 – so their war was a short one, ending with the atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It may have been short, but it was brutal.

Leaving aside the horrors that the British Army suffered at the hands of the Japanese and their experiences in Burma and Singapore – and not to diminish them by any degree – I was grossly negligent in my knowledge of the American experience.

 

Such was my ignorance I had a revelation watching "The Pacific", and subsequently read Sledge's book – a book he chose to write in 1981 to banish the demons which invaded his dreams every night for nearly 40 years.

 

Such was the impact of his book, the US Marine veterans who had survived raised their heads and thanked him for it – they too were suffering, and nobody had ever really told their stories because they themselves could not. (I urge readers to see Sledge speak in the video below). 

It's been a bane for many that VE Day severely overshadowed VJ Day. The war against Japan lingered on after victory in Europe, and those that returned home found that their experiences were quickly forgotten.

 

The Nazis were defeated, and those who fought or were imprisoned  further afield ( the British, the Anzacs and Americans) found upon returning home that people wanted to forget the war. By the time they returned, the celebrations were over – they had arrived too late for the party. An irony indeed.

 

Well – The Pacific has put the record straight – rather late – but better late than never. It's about US Marines who fought a war of sheer hell, in the mud and guts of those islands, where the golden sands were covered in blood on the shores of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and several other forgotten  islands and archipelagos which barely get a mention in the history books.

 

War propaganda movies of the 1940's were exactly that – propaganda. They displayed – in Britain's case – the stiff upper lip – and every one on screen was either a public school educated officer or a simple working class tommy.

This portrayal pervaded well into the 1960's and 70's. Our television is laced with movies like the Battle of Britain (spiffing pilots where the ground crews are mere extras), The Longest Day (all officers doing the decent thing and the actual soldiers mere cannon fodder), Von Ryan's Express (a travesty of reality to serve Frank Sinatra's ego), Bridge on the River Kwai -  starch-stuffed-shirt officers discussing their situation as if they were at the Queen's Garden Party; Where Eagles Dare, where not only do the bit-part NCO's get killed, but are even exposed as traitors while the hero officers (Burton and Eastwood) save the day -  and so on etc etc – the list is endless.

The British continued to make films where the main characters spoke RP – Received Pronunciation, and were the epitome of the stiff upper lip. The only expletives which passed such a lip was "I say, what damned bad luck Sir!" as if Bertie Wooster was in charge of operations.

And what about the "Dam Busters"? The heroic raid on the German Dams to destroy Hitler's heavy water plants and the bouncing bombs which were crucial to hitting their mark?

We are led to believe that those pilots who missed the targets said "sorry skipper – dash it. I nearly threw a googly then by jove!" When in actual fact they probably said "Fuck it! I missed the shit!"

And when they scored a hit, the Squadron leader probably did not say "well done chaps" but something much more invective and expletive – words which were no doubt repeated by Winston Churchill, but failed to be repeated in his memoirs. Surely Winnie didn't swear? "We got the bastards" I suspect he shouted over his brandy and cigars.

And speaking of the Dam Busters – the leader, Wing Commander Guy Gibson, had a black labrador called Nigger. Today, political correctness removes that reference from the 1955 movie because it is considered offensive. That was the name of his dog. We may not like it – but nor should we shy away from it. History is worthless if we don't have the courage to tell the truth.

But some things have changed. Movies like "Saving Private Ryan" and mini-series like "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific" are bringing WWII back to prominence and portraying it from the ordinary soldier’s point of view. Warts and all.

Yet they are made by Americans, involve Americans, and they are for Americans. If we complain that the British get only a passing reference in these productions, then it is our fault – not theirs.

Britain fought a long war and has just as much of a tale to tell. Yet we are caught in a time zone of fair play, jolly hockey sticks and quiet moral superiority. The movies the British made, from Pinewood, Ealing Studios, and Twickenham are mere idiosyncrasies of a bygone age which wallows in ideologies of Victorian and Edwardian nostalgia. 

Why are we not telling WWII as it really was. Why are film producers not doing the same as our friends across the Atlantic? Is it because of money? Is it because it's not commercially viable? Are we merely content with documentaries only? Or is it because we have lost our backbone? Are we so afraid to shout about our achievements for fear of offending others?

So kudos to the Yanks – at least they have their priorities in order and fly their flag with pride. The Pacific is not about glory – it's about pain and suffering. Yet through that pain, the reality of war is exposed. It's not about medals and honours, it's about Hell and Humanity.

The USA knows the power of patriotism and that is her strength. The UK has lost that sense, and that is her fundamental weakness.

Perhaps we are just a glorified theme park  – great for royal weddings, pomp and circumstance and hosting sporting events.The torch that lights the 2012 Olympics in London would not burn at all without Great Britain who kept the flame of freedom alive during the darkest days of Nazism.

It's time the people knew about that. It's time to stand up and be proud! It's time to educate our young people and give them a sense of identity. 

 

 

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Film, General, History | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lacock – A Wizard of a Place……

DSCF0583 Mrs Bardiness (the world renown historian on Tudor affairs) and I, were not aware prior to our short break in the village of Lacock that it had been used several times in the Harry Potter movies.

I'd heard that it had been used for Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford by the BBC, as well as their production of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice.

We went primarily because it's a village owned by England's National Trust who have captured it in a time capsule.

There are no buildings here which are older than the 18th century. Many date back to the 15th century, and some as far back as the 13th. It was mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086, where it was recorded as having been both a Roman and Saxon settlement. Egads! You're in for a history lesson dear reader! Cranford_1_470x313

Lacock Abbey was founded by Ela, Duchess of Salisbury in 1232, who was also the ward of Richard the Lionheart. It was even the place where the first photographic negative was created by William Fox-Talbot in the 1820's, whose ancestors acquired the village through William Sharrington who purchased the abbey from Henry VIII after his dissolution of the monasteries.

Sharrington set about converting the abbey into a manor house, although much of the original features remain. (I'm writing on the hoof so bear with me!)

Lakock is 100 miles west of London in Wiltshire on the River Avon, and about 10 miles from the City of Bath in Somerset. Bath is renown the world over for its Roman Baths and famous Georgian architecture, but Lacock is a village which was little known until after 1946 when the last of the line bequeathed it to the Trust. Latterly film and television companies discovered it, and nowadays the village accommodates four filming events every year. DSCF0651

Yet surprisingly this is not a film set. Nor a fossilised village even though it is effectively frozen in time, but it is a living, thriving and working community of about 400 people with family shops and businesses that form it's life blood.

There are no ubiquitous yellow road lines or traffic signs, and the residents are not permitted to make external alterations to their buildings due to their graded listings, and any interior changes must be approved by the National Trust.

So don't think these residents are country bumkins – far from it. But they clearly value the uniqueness of their position, and indeed, outsiders who fancy living in it would go through a strict selection process.

The National Trust would only consider applications from people who have some historic or family connection with the village and be willing to be productive in the community. They certainly wouldn't entertain the second-home city dwellers looking for a holiday retreat. Which just goes to show money doesn't buy everything. DSCF0643

As a local remarked to me – it may seem idyllic, but everyone knows everyone and privacy or seclusion is a luxury which cannot be afforded. When the film crews are present they have to suffer a great deal of inconvenience because invariably their properties will have cameras and lighting outside their homes until the early hours, and their movements are severely restricted.

In addition the village receives thousands of tourists from all over the world almost every day, and yet it seems very happy and accommodating. For all that, there is an incredible calmness and slow pace, and the locals know that hassle or not, they wouldn't give any of it up. Their children are encouraged to grow up in it, and to that end there is a primary school, and the older ones only have to travel three miles to Chippenham to get their senior education.

Families here are very fortunate for they live in a microcosm of history, embraced by the modern world which is theirs to utilise with ease, and yes…wifi is easily available! This is not a world akin to the secular Amish or Mennonite communities of North America with all their hang-ups – nothing could be further. These people are just regular Brits. DSCF0653

You'd be forgiven for thinking, when walking around Lacock on a late summer evening, that you have been transported back in time. It's a time when the day-visitors have gone, and the village recovers itself. It's a time when the streets become quiet and the only sound is birdsong or the occasional trot of horses hooves on cobbles. Somewhere, in the local inns, people are eating and drinking, but they fade away unnoticed and unheard. 

Residents sell plants, herbs, books and handmade items outside their homes. Just drop a pound through their letter-box. They even provide carrier bags. It's just a sideline. Not Amazon – but Avonon!

Sadly, things are going to change in Lacock. An employee of the Hotel we stayed in remarked that the yellow lines and parking signs are coming soon. Apparently all avenues have been considered, all options analysed, but over recent years they have failed. Many of the ever increasing flux of visitors which arrive are not willing to use the designated car-park outside the village, and drive with impunity throughout it in the belief that their car can take them anywhere. A village with no visible parking restrictions is an open invitation for a driver to abuse. Lacock's charm is it's lack of traffic and that is slowly being eroded.

The residents don't want the yellow lines on the road. They don't want the sign posts, but the times have dictated them. The parking cones which are dotted around are not working, and blight the scenery, so it's the lesser of two evils. This will change the village – the 21st Century has finally arrived – if not the 20th! DSCF0650

Nevertheless, I suspect that after all said and done, it will protect the village further, and the film crews will just have to work harder and cover up the signage when they are present.

If they can cover the abbey with fake snow for Harry Potter and transform it into Hogwarts school of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they can do anything.

Lacock is a village where the history of England can be measured by each footstep. (The cauldron above dates from the 13th Century – it's not a facsimile!)

From the Roman Invasion of Britannia, through Saxon times, through the Plantagenets and Tudors, to the English Civil war with the Stuarts and Oliver Cromwell, to the Restoration, the Industrial Revolution and right up to the invention of photography. Now that's magic!

July 4, 2011 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Education, Film, General, History, Photography, Religion, Science, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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