And… I’m back! Apologies for the long delay – the longest I’ve ever left this blog, I believe, to my eternal shame. I’d love to update this thing every day and use it as a diary to keep track of my life (which was what I intended to do when I first started blogging three years ago), but the problem is that to be able to write about your life, you need to find time to live it, and I’ve been doing that instead.
The weekend before last was spent running around Hampton Court, the Tower of London and Richmond Park with my friends Matt and Pet Shop Anny, also finding time to see the Sex And The City movie (which I loved!) and to eat lots of cheesecake (seriously, the peach cheesecake at the Tower of London is worth losing your head over). We also saw the Lord of the Rings musical at long last, which was absolutely staggering – my jaw dropped several times, and I’m not just using that as a well-worn cliche because it actually did. I may even have drooled a little at the Balrog. Sadly, though, while the show was visually incredible with set design that may never be equalled, the story was abysmally put together and the acting terrible. For everything that was wonderful there was something terrible; a real mish-mash of genius and amateurism. What a pity…
My flat is currently being decorated, too, which hasn’t helped. I’ve spent the last week marooned on my bed, surrounded by piles of furniture, as my lounge was stripped, plastered and wallpapered and my leaking roof fixed by teams of builders. It’s been chaos, but fun chaos, helped along by the fact that my decorating is being carried out by a woman who leaves the place spotless each night and even does all the washing up for me if she’s so much as used one mug. No builders’ bums and clocking out at 4.30pm here – she’s working from 8am till 8pm and doing a grand job! My flat will look amazing once she’s finished and it won’t have cost me a penny (barring the provision of cups of tea), thanks to my lovely landlord. Boy, I picked a good one there!
I’ve also been very busy with work; in addition to my usual shifts on DVD & Blu-ray Review I’ve had lots of features to write and reviews to do, although it’s been problematic getting to film screenings of late because some thieving sonofabitch is stealing my post – usually DVDs and press tickets sent by film companies. Thus I couldn’t get into the press screening of Indy and had to wait to see it at the cinema, and my tickets for Prince Caspian (which I reviewed for SFX) failed to turn up, either – thankfully I found a spare.
The final straw came when my tickets for the new Will Smith movie, Hancock, disappeared a few days ago. Furious, I marched down to the sorting office in Twickenham and demanded to speak to a manager. I informed the slightly bewildered gentleman who appeared before me that I’d lost two packages and four letters in the last month, that my neighbour had lost three letters on top, and that we’d both complained to no avail. I then told him that I was a journalist who worked for the BBC and I was going to write a feature on how the Royal Mail routinely misplaced and stole post and couldn’t seem to do anything about it.
You know, it’s amazing how apologetic people can be when you threaten to put them on the news. I don’t think anything will go missing again… But I’ll keep you posted. Pun intended.
In other news: Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. After years of waiting, after decades of Indy love and the knowledge that the new movie couldn’t possibly live up to the hype, it turned out that we were right. It had its moments, true: a few decent chase scenes, the line “They weren’t you, honey,” and that eerie opening sequence set among the soon-to-be-bombed dummies. But as soon as I saw the CGI groundhog I suspected things were going to go awry, and after it popped up two more times (overkill, anyone?) I was convinced. The monkey sequence, the dumb inter-dimensional ending, the way that Indy didn’t really do anything, well, Indy-ish for the entire film – all of it added up to a rather sad movie experience.
Ford was still good despite his age and Shia LaBeouf wasn’t as dreadful as I’d feared (Transformers was enough to put me off him for life, and I only managed 20 minutes of Disturbia before having to turn the film off through sheer hatred for his twitchy, arrogant character). However, when you have to list the few things that were right about the film to offset the phone-book-sized list of things that were wrong, you know you’re in trouble. What a shame.
It’s been a month of disappointments, actually. I’ve just spent three days in Torquay, my home for over 20 years, and I’m heartbroken at the state of the place. My beautiful town has been turned into a mishmash of pubs, clubs and bars pumping out music so loud the ground shakes as you walk by them. Gangs of hen and stag-night drunks roam the streets; teenagers in shockingly revealing outfits stagger about on preposterously high heels. Groups of liquored-up men prowl after the women and argue among themselves like hyenas after a kill.
It’s not just the nightlife that’s an issue, either: the town needs a serious facelift. The seafront and promenade, the jewel in the crown of the English Riveria and the attraction that brings in the holidaymakers (the town’s lifeblood), is falling apart with huge areas fenced off because they’re in danger of dropping into the sea.
The illuminations are grotty and everything metal (railings, seats, lamp posts) seems to be rusting away in the sea air. Over the last few years bars have opened and then gone out of business, leaving ugly empty buildings dotted over the town. Nobody in Torquay has any money so no new businesses are moving into them. Every year the number of tourists having a happy, family holiday in Torquay must dwindle. There’s nothing ‘happy’ or ‘family’ about Torquay any more.
Nothing hit me harder than the sight of the housing estate which has sprung up on the beautiful, tree-filled open space sitting next to my childhood home. I once threw myself in front of a moving bulldozer to save those trees – I made the local paper under the headline ‘Tearful Teenager Stops Bulldozer’ – and managed to get the police to throw the diggers off the field because the trees they were knocking down were protected. My little victory all those years ago has come to naught, as have those poor, doomed trees. It’s like my childhood loves have been raped.
The only good thing about Torquay is Oddicombe Beach. Still untouched (rockfalls cordoning off one section of the beach aside), this beautiful place has actually improved: the cliff railway has been revamped and the beach cafe – where I once held a summer job, watching the sun rise and set on the waves in front of me as I served holidaymakers cups of coffee – seems to be thriving. Thank goodness for that! But I only hope it lasts.
I guess the old saying is true: “You can’t go home again.” And I certainly won’t, for a good long while, at least. I accept that things change, but why must they change for the worse?
On the plus side, I live in London now. And London is truly lovely…
But I guess I’m slightly biased.