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Hal Marshall "It wasn't me!" (Brentwood)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars That old black magic, that you weave so well, 5 July 2015
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This review is from: VOODOO DOLL - MOTHER IN LAW (Toy)
I must point out, right from the off, that my own former mother-in-law has never actually said anything to me that wasn't true. I DIDN'T know how lucky I was, I AM a lazy and selfish good-for-nothing and her daughter COULD, quite easily, have done better.

Sure, it might suit me to believe that she chants my name over and over again at night while slaughtering chickens and using the power of Greyskull to make sure that her daughter will never again look twice at me. But, realistically, I've got to admit that she's far more likely to just be sat there, watching the soaps. Although that's not to say that she doesn't check QVC out during the commercials, on the hunt for a good deal on Eye of Newt.

Like all women, my ex-wife married beneath her. Her mother was simply kind enough to remind me of that fact on a regular basis, that's all. Consequently, I spent a great deal of my marriage wishing that my mother-in-law's broomstick might give her a splinter somewhere unspeakable or that her cauldron might boil over and wreck her ceramic hob. And, if I'd had this little doll while I was still married, there's no doubt that I would have used it for precisely the purpose it was designed - to stab ten great big pins into her effigy while praying that the woman might cut me some small amount of slack.

The thing is though, I've been divorced for years and yet I only bought this doll recently - when I found out that my former mother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer.

If anything happens to her, it will break my ex-wife's heart: and I just can't be having that. Not until I've exhausted every avenue possible. Which arguably, if you're dealing with a mother-in-law, isn't just knowledgeable doctors or even experimental quackery: it's the immediate deployment of the same sort of black magic and sorcery that a mother-in-law utilises in spades - only this time, in the form of positive vibes.

To put my plan into action I removed the ten pins (which were already stabbed into the doll when she came out of her box) and flung them straight in the dustbin. I am hopeful that this act alone will allow my former mother-in-law's indomitable spirit a clear run when it comes to defeating the disease which has, so stupidly, decided to take her on.

The doll is bright red and measures about 8 inches (20cm) tall and 4.5 inches (11cm) across at its widest point - which is where some sizeable hips meet forearms that could throttle a diminutive son-in-law with ease. Mind you, from the things that are written on her, she would appear to have been designed more with the lucrative daughter-in-law market in mind. In no particular order, these are;

1. Accept me as I am
2. Compliment me on how I look
3. Appreciate me
4. Be nice
5. Stop complaining
6. Help me out with the housework
7. Stop bitchin' behind my back
8. Stop giving me advice
9. Don't tell me how to bring up my kids
10. Babysit the kids
11. Stay away

The writing is only on the front of the doll so there's no legitimate reason for sticking a pin into her backside. There might be a whole host of completely understandable reasons, but there won't be any that are strictly legitimate. What is slightly worrying is the request to 'Help me out with the housework', since this doll is the sort of thing you might display upon a dusty old mantelpiece. Given that it has 'MOTHER-IN-LAW VOODOO DOLL' writ large upon it, that would appear to be a recipe for a lifetime's worth of trouble, right there.

I look at that list of demands now and feel just awful for my poor dear former mother-in-law. I mean, she HAS always accepted me as I am... it's not her fault I'm a total loser, is it? She always used to say it was nice to see the back of me too and she's certainly always shown a great appreciation for the huge number of ways in which I can manifest myself as being completely and utterly useless. With hindsight, she was as nice to me as she could be, given how much I obviously get up most right-thinking folks' hooters.

To ask her to 'stop complaining' would have been pointless (after all, she IS a woman...), as would asking for her help in doing the housework (a man's XXL lingerie collection is his own and should not even be washed and ironed by his wife, let alone her mother).

That bit about 'bitchin' behind my back', well, from what I can gather she only really used to get involved with that while in the company of my ex-wife, so I'm fairly satisfied that my former mother-in-law could seldom get a word in. Meanwhile, had I taken her advice, then the gripes about bringing up and babysitting the kids might actually have been relevant.

And, as for staying away... well, I want that woman around for a LONG time yet.

As a joke gift when I was married, this probably wouldn't have held my attention for long. As a form of comfort during these trying times however, it is invaluable.

Oh, one last thing... if you happen to read this and you know either my ex-wife or her mother, please don't tell them about this doll. They think I'm just a lazy, selfish loser and - under the circumstances - if that makes my former mother-in-law happy, then that's absolutely fine by me.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 26, 2015 1:40 PM BST

Price: £4.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Honesty is such a lonely word..., 2 July 2015
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Given that you and I will probably never meet (which is definitely my loss... and your own undoubted good fortune), I could write absolutely anything here in this review to help explain my recent purchase of this wig. I got the orange version, by the way - although I assume the style of them all is the same.

My word - I really COULD invent anything, couldn't I? If I had any sense at all, I'd make up some rubbish about having bought this wig to help me in one or two little charitable ventures I'm contemplating on behalf of my local animal sanctuary. That could've been something as boring as being sponsored to cycle or walk somewhere disguised as a young Art Garfunkel - or it could've seen me donning this wig, pretending to be Mick Hucknall, and regularly collecting the equivalent of twice the GDP of Fiji from those folks who would pay well (and pay often) to chuck wet sponges and/or mouldering root vegetables at me.

Sadly, while you and I will probably never meet, I do still have to look at myself in the mirror. That's fine though, because that's when I really do congratulate myself for having gone ahead and completed this purchase. Sure, it has bald patches and the fibres are not secured too strongly... but it's a comedy wig: it's not meant to be worn two or three times a week, late at night, when you've got your curtains drawn.

All of which means I'm probably going to have to buy myself another one: quite soon indeed.

I'm not going to lie to you (even though the truth is unlikely to do much for my chances of getting a girlfriend any time in the foreseeable future); I sent for this wig in an attempt to make myself look like Mrs Slocombe, from 'Are You Being Served?'.

Just to be clear - although I do now have a couple of good ideas for using this wig for charitable purposes - I originally bought it for entirely selfish reasons. Bless dear old Mollie Sugden's heart... despite the fact that I am a bloke and younger than she was, this wig (plus a brown skirt and waistcoat and a frilly blouse and heels) leaves me looking very much like her. Well, to anyone with lenses in their glasses as thick as milk bottles anyway.

As for the reasons WHY I should ever have felt the urge to send for this wig for such an obscure purpose, well, the best one I can give you is that Mollie Sugden was a lady of some genius and Mrs Slocombe is a comedy icon: and a darned attractive one at that.

I don't know what a psychiatrist would say about me dressing myself up to look like the very woman I wish I could purchase all of my Ladies Readymades from and then ravish in the Grace Brothers lift - but I'd be astonished if it was anything good.

Like I said, you and I will probably never meet.

Unless YOU are a psychiatrist, that is...?

The Law's Strangest Cases: Extraordinary But True Incidents from Over Five Centuries of Legal History (Strangest Series)
The Law's Strangest Cases: Extraordinary But True Incidents from Over Five Centuries of Legal History (Strangest Series)
by Peter Seddon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars May it please the court..., 1 July 2015
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My copy of the book that is on trial before you here today has led an insignificant life during the six months or so it has spent being shuffled between my house and that of its original intended recipient.

I'm not quite sure who its target audience was ever supposed to be. Indeed, I'm not entirely convinced that even its author could confidently answer that. It certainly doesn't appear to have been any of the people who have so far encountered my copy of it. And, being as how it has spent most of its life in my smallest room that number must, quite comfortably, run into double figures.

With the court's permission, I would like to take a closer look at one or two of this book's less-than-enthusiastic browsers. We're a motley crew and no mistake but - since we clearly are, none of us, who this book appeals to - perhaps we may be of some small value to any other potential purchaser.

Right then. First witness!

The Lawyer

An awkward person to purchase Christmas gifts for anyway this one, on account of his extremely expensive tastes yet relatively poor close relatives. I won't pretend that an awful lot of thought went into my purchase - he's a lawyer and this book was going to cost me less than a bottle of Scotch, that was about the sum total of things. The book looked to be a worthy compromise though. After all, 'The Law's Strangest Cases' does sound like a work that will entertain a legal professional for an hour or two, does it not?

This book is written by a legal layman and, no doubt because of that, manages to condense a whole load of legal proceedings into only a very few pages. That's a rare skill indeed - admirable, no less.

But... lawyers don't like things to be abridged.

They don't, it seems, like a 'superficial' tone to their reading material either.

Basically, the concept of condensing things for the benefit of an audience really isn't something a lawyer can deal with. And Lord knows, they don't smile much at the best of times. Except, presumably, as they drive away from someone's home on Boxing Day, having skilfully managed to dump this work in said person's downstairs bog.

Mind you, the fact that this particular lawyer has absolutely no sense of humour is not, I'm sure, representative of the profession as a whole. Nor is it an especially damning indictment of Peter Seddon's ability to get laughs - the book doesn't claim to be a work of comedy anyway. However, the lawyer in this case found the book to be seriously lacking in practically every department. Between you and I, Mr Seddon is lucky to have thus far evaded an invoice for the fifteen minutes it must have taken The Lawyer to pass judgement on his work.

I'm not even going to attempt to quote him here verbatim (for fear of getting a comma in the wrong place and being subsequently sued for libel), but the gist of his opinion of this book was that it was superficial, unfunny and baffling in its choice of content. He didn't much care for the shade of blue they selected for the cover either.

Next witness!

The Charlatan

That would be me. Until last weekend, I was signed up to begin an Open University LLB this autumn. I must've been all kinds of drunk when I had that idea, although I do have a very strong interest in legal matters. Well, up to and including ever feeling the need to want to go ten rounds with an actual legal textbook, that is. Again, 'The Law's Strangest Cases' should, on the face of things, have a great deal to offer the enthusiastic amateur, wouldn't you say?

Well, I'm afraid not. I did find Mr Seddon's writing style to be rather amusing on occasions and he scratches the surface of a number of interesting tales, but his choice of material is phenomenally random and there is practically no depth to any of it - except for the chapter towards the end which offers an unpleasant and thought-provoking window on how the legal system works in (reasonably) modern-day China.

There's absolutely nothing funny about that and it's the chapter that powerfully manages to sum up why I wanted to study law and then right all the wrongs in the world. Sadly though, I just don't have the brains for it. Now I just need to convince the OU of that. So far, it's been like trying to shake off a particularly tenacious wallet-seeking missile.

Final witness!

The Constipated

In other words, the many folk who have shared my downstairs lavvy with this particular copy of Peter Seddon's volume over the past six months. Based on the fact that no-one has ever mentioned even one of the stories contained therein to me, let alone tried to sneak past me sporting a suspicious book-shaped bulge in their pocket, I can only surmise that the work holds no appeal to them either. Even when it transpires that I've run out of toilet roll, this book still fails to serve any real purpose.

I put it to you that this book is neither comprehensive enough to appeal to lawyers nor interesting (or indeed focussed) enough to ensnare your average layman. And, while it certainly has its merits as a one-off read I can't, in all honesty, recommend it as a consistently entertaining and oft revisited page-turner.

Now, as you go and consider your verdict I shall consider the best way of shifting my own copy of the book back into the arms of its intended - or, at least, into HIS smallest room.

The Cloud Book: How to Understand the Skies
The Cloud Book: How to Understand the Skies
by Richard Hamblyn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.49

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hey, Mr Blue Sky... go and hide away a bit longer!, 30 Jun. 2015
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'The Cloud Book' is nowhere near big enough really to qualify as a coffee-table book, although it does feature a number of pretty pictures as well as just the right amount of technical jargon and scientific gobbledygook to make its owner at least appear to be fairly knowledgeable: however incorrect, in my case, any visitor who flicks through the book while they're waiting for me to emerge from the loo might subsequently find such an assumption to be.

It's not the sort of book that a casual reader might ever become deeply engrossed in while sat in an armchair either. It's a reference book and as such, in my opinion, it is best enjoyed out of doors. Indeed, it is probably most happy and fulfilled when it can accompany its naked-sunbathing purchaser out into the garden. There, together, they can ponder the dynamic mysteries of clouds in a far more scientific way than simply scrutinising the horizon for ones that look a little bit like Siobhan Fahey.

No? Oh well, that must just be me then.

It's a work of just over 150 pages and it is beautifully illustrated. In addition, it has been blessed with a comprehensive index, a small list of useful internet links, some suggestions for further reading, and a glossary that even manages to make Latin sound exciting. The main text is written in an informative yet entertaining way, although I won't even pretend that I understand most of it. That's a great pity because the foreword, which was penned by a former Met Office Chief Meteorologist, genuinely manages to convey a sense of great enthusiasm and wonder. And, let's face it, gazing up at the clouds and feeling small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things is a thrill-ride we and our ancestors have undoubtedly shared. I probably know only marginally more about clouds than someone from the Stone Age might have done... but that is certainly not the fault of this book. It's because I have the intelligence of a pot-plant, that's all.

I can't be the only person who probably won't get much of any scientific value out of these pages though. The problem with most reference books is that you've got to have a vague idea of what you're looking for in the first place. That's frequently where I come a cropper. Even worse when it comes to clouds is that the wretched things change into something else right before your eyes.

Still, this book has been well put together and, considering that the subject matter is so fiendishly complicated that even a butterfly doing its shopping in Basildon can shove it off balance, the author does a very fine job of explaining things.

Unfortunately though, like most subjects I have ever looked into in any depth, I am simply too dim for clouds.

Spirit - The Deluxe Edition [CD+DVD]
Spirit - The Deluxe Edition [CD+DVD]
Offered by westworld-
Price: £9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars A talented and beautiful human being - inside AND out., 27 Jun. 2015
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I'm the sort of bloke who regularly does ridiculous things - as a result of which I frequently feel like kicking myself.

In the matter of letting my deep-seated aversion to Simon Cowell stand between me and the, quite phenomenally, lovely Leona Lewis all these years however, I am tempted to invite everyone in my street to take a good swing at me.

My street, incidentally, is but a couple of streets away from Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. It's a very noble little enterprise that rescues horribly abused animals and for which the gorgeous Ms Lewis, as one of its patrons, does so many good things: none of which I was fully aware of until recently, when I finally managed to drag my fat carcass down there to have a look-see. The shame I felt for having never visited it before paled into insignificance once I realised that - although I immediately loved her, unconditionally, for having personally shelled out for some snazzy (and desperately needed) new stables - I had absolutely no idea who Leona Lewis was. So, I sent for this CD and DVD collection.

What a pity I didn't send for anything I could use for self-flagellation purposes too because, although I have only experienced this product for about a week, I just want someone (ANYONE!?) to lump me one for being such a total doofus these past nine years!

My goodness me - this woman blows me away. Have I been in a coma or something since 2006?!

I'm going to sound like I'm either drunk or souped up on something questionable in this review, I just know it. I'm not though: I promise you, I'm not.

It's Leona Lewis - she's done something to me.

This is a weird review for me to write since anyone reading it will almost certainly have a greater appreciation of Leona Lewis than I have. Given the speed at which televisual signals are able to traverse the solar system, there are probably aliens several light years away with a greater appreciation of Leona Lewis than I have. That's going to change though. Oh yes. She won't find it easy to shake me off now!

In just a week, 'A Moment Like This' has become my head's favourite tune. I simply can't shake it off! It's the tune I tap my fingers to in the car, the song I wave my loofah to in the bath and it's the tune I chop my veg to while I'm preparing my vegetarian dinner (that's right - in just a week, she's turned me vegetarian too. Well, her and most of the inhabitants of Hopefield). It's so catchy that I even tap my toes to it, from memory, while I'm whittling down my loo rolls (don't blame me - blame the vegetables...).

The lyrics to that song are tough to dwell upon though, given that the moment I myself waited 'a lifetime for' has, almost certainly, been long ago left behind in my rear-view mirror. But the power of that music - especially in association with the video here - is hard to shake off. My heavens, if I hadn't let Simon Cowell and those ridiculous trousers of his scare me away in 2006, I might even now still be married to the woman who, undoubtedly, gave me my 'moment'.

Or maybe not... since I think my 'moment' came a little too quickly for her, her own 'moment' having to be helped along with the aid of something battery-powered ten minutes later. I can't help thinking though that the discussion that would've arisen though repeated airings of this song would - for good or evil - have kept the whole subject matrimonially alive. If only on life-support.

I won't bore you with the details of how marvellous a singer Ms Lewis is. You'll already know that. Unlike me, you haven't been living in a cave for nine years. You'll already know how photogenic she is in her videos too. No doubt you will agree with me too that she has, without question, the most beautiful eyes the world has ever seen.

Ah - but she is not COMPLETELY wonderful though. Or, rather, her songs are not all completely wonderful. I speak, of course, of 'Bleeding Love'. I'm afraid I would have to be threatened with violence before I could ever recommend that song to anyone else. Leona sings it beautifully and the videos (particularly the New York one) do her more than adequate justice... but, all the same, it sounds to me the way I thought only my hangover might sound to me. The fact that, by listening to this, everyone can share in my headache is no great consolation. The bassline (or whatever the fancy term for it is) of 'Bleeding Love' is bleeding awful. End of story.

I'm actually quite glad that it is though - because otherwise this review would be so incredibly one-sided that it would postively reek of insincerity.

I think I'm done here. Someone like Leona Lewis doesn't need an insignificant little nobody like me to speak for her in order to sell more albums. She's a talented, mesmerising and eminently worthy recording artist. And yet, she is so much more.

I would personally like to thank everyone who voted for this amazing woman, back in 2006. I would, undoubtedly, have rung up a four figure telephone bill on her behalf, just on my own. If I hadn't been... where the hell exactly WAS I?!!

Yes, you enabled a gorgeous woman to live her 'moment', hopefully over and over again.

But, as a result of that, you have helped her promote an extremely worthy cause here in my home town. And, as a minor aside, you've given me the kick up the backside I needed to contribute something worthwhile to the community myself.

Now, if we could only encourage Simon Cowell to rig up some some sort of mud-wrestling face-off between Ms Lewis and our local MP Sir Eric Pickles...

Good grief - Hopefield would never want for money again!

Are You Being Served? [DVD]
Are You Being Served? [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mollie Sugden
Price: £7.50

4.0 out of 5 stars Good golly, Ms Mollie!, 25 Jun. 2015
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This review is from: Are You Being Served? [DVD] (DVD)
This 1977 spin-off movie really does seem to polarise audience opinion.

You either love it, in which case you consider it an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to shell out a fair old wedge for what is, in all honesty, a very cheaply made DVD ... or you think that 'Are You Being Served? The Movie' is the sort of thing they ought to have perpetually playing of a night-time in areas of high crime, as a way of getting potential malefactors off the streets quickly and efficiently. Not just off the streets either, but voluntarily locked up in their own homes and praying to anyone who will listen to please, please not let Mrs Slocombe's Union Flag knickers appear in their nightmares.

For what it's worth (and, no doubt, because I was born to be awkward) I can't say I absolutely love this film. But I do like a lot of things about it. At the same time, I can see why it might have caused someone like Barry Norman to choke on his popcorn.

A seventies sitcom spin-off movie needs to have a number of things going for it to have any sort of hope of being spoken of favourably a few decades down the line. Essentially, it needs the original cast, an original script, an interesting situation for the characters to find themselves in and, most important of all, it's got to be funny. All of which explains, at a glance, why the film version of 'Rising Damp' won so few Oscars.

'Are You Being Served? The Movie' can certainly pass muster as far as its cast is concerned. It features all the regulars (including Arthur English as Mr Harman, Mr Mash's janitorial replacement) as well as people like Andrew Sachs and Glyn Houston in support. But never mind them: Mollie Sugden is unquestionably worth the price of admission alone. There's nothing more attractive than a woman who is effortlessly brilliant at what she does - and that applies to Mollie, in spades. Even if her superb comedy creation IS keen on sporting a hair tint which has been picked at random from an interior designer's colour wheel.

As for having an original script though - well, that's where things go a little bit wrong really. If we think of the film as being split into three main segments, I would say that the first two (where we find the staff in their usual environment and then follow them, via Gatwick, to the Costa Plonka) definitely have merit. The denouement however is, in my opinion, as weak as water.

And Mrs Slocombe and I are unanimous in that. In my dreams we are, anyway.

Arguably, the staff of Grace Brothers being forced to go on holiday together could be said to have come straight out of one of the earlier TV episodes, although the fact that they never actually did get away on that occasion is something in the film's favour. And there is a lot of original comedy to be found, albeit it somewhat outflanked sometimes by some suspiciously familiar-sounding lines. But there are two main set-pieces that, basically, have been lifted straight out of the programme.

One of them ('Dear Sexy Knickers...') works very well in its new Spanish setting. The other, which sees Derek Griffiths' visiting Sheik having a balloon thrust up his inside leg, was as boring as heck when they did a variation of it in the show. Here in the movie, it manages to be as boring as heck AS WELL as doing absolutely nothing to serve either the story or the characters. Although, from the expression on his face, Derek Griffiths himself must have got quite a lot out of the experience.

As far as the 'situation' part of things goes, the idea of having the staff holidaying together is actually made rather believable. Indeed, it even seems quite appealing... at least until it becomes apparent that everyone will have to share the one lavatory. For some reason the idea of going in there after Mr Grainger would put me right off. Then again, he'd probably have similar reservations about following me. And he'd undoubtedly have a much stronger case, too.

These days, Mr Lucas' behaviour while going through security at Gatwick would see him serving a considerable period of time in chokey. And Mr Grainger would be going through a body scanner and then, quite possibly, joining him. It's funny how times change, isn't it? Still, we get to see some wonderful old footage of the airport, including a gorgeous Dan Air Comet (known to its friends as G-APYD) which, a quick internet search tells me, is now residing in the Science Museum at Wroughton, near Swindon.

As I said before, I think the ending itself is pretty disappointing. Having thought about it though, that's probably because it is a step too far for the characters. They get up to some daft things on the sales floor and (particularly in the case of Mr Humphries) in a whole lot of other places besides... but to find them effectively in the middle of a warzone is just a bit too far-fetched. Although not as far-fetched as Young Mr Grace's shenanigans in the final few frames. How does that bloke get so many nubile young ladies, that's what I'd like to know. And how the dickens did he never try anything on with Mrs Slocombe? Good grief, what was wrong with the man??!

The lovely thing about 'Are You Being Served?' is that it quickly evolved into a true ensemble piece and that is very much reflected in this movie. Each character has been so well-written and is so well-portrayed that they are all funny, and each and every one of them brings something different. It's not going to split your sides (unless you've got a part-time job as the Laughing Policeman), but it certainly has an awful lot more going for it as a comedy than a lot of its detractors might have you believe.

My own favourite moments come right at the beginning, before the cast have even packed their suitcases. First, there's a brilliant series of scenes in which Mrs Slocombe has to get a photo taken for her visa while trying to evade the nurse who's been tasked with giving her her injections. The glaring hole in the plot that means she surely would never have actually had the time to get that visa made up is never explained, so I suppose we're meant to ignore it. To be fair, it's not really something I find myself dwelling on. Not when I've got Mrs Slocombe's reassuringly patriotic bloomers to hold my attention.

In addition to that, there's a clever piece of silent comedy involving a mannequin, some false teeth and a pair of budgie-smugglers. I know, I know - the mind positively boggles, doesn't it?

The music is what really makes that scene, by the way. I've read reviews elsewhere that complain about the soundtrack as a whole, accusing it of sounding 'cheesy' and the like. All I can say is, the main reason I bought this film was to get my hands on a copy of the music they use in the closing titles. It's awful, I'll be the first to admit that. All the same, it is infuriatingly catchy.

And it's not as if there is anything else that could even remotely be referred to as a 'bonus' on here. It's been lumbered with a Region 2 coding (for, what I can only assume are, reasons of abject spite). Meanwhile, it can boast no helpful sleeve-notes, no handy leaflets, no life-saving subtitles... no nothing.

Well, unless you can count that picture of Mrs Slocombe on her hands and knees. That one there... where she's looking over her shoulder all wide-eyed and enthusiastic.

Actually you know, someone with a crush on her and an overactive imagination might well consider that to be a definite bonus.


Oh well, that must just be me then!

Retro Vintage Oversized Frame Fashion Sunglasses - Black/Smoke
Retro Vintage Oversized Frame Fashion Sunglasses - Black/Smoke
Offered by Sakka's
Price: £20.99

4.0 out of 5 stars For the eternal optimist...some bigger glasses, 19 Jun. 2015
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I bought a pair of these, rather fine, sunglasses to give to my girlfriend. However, I'll have to base this review on my own impressions of them because, well, I haven't actually MET the woman yet. Except in my imagination, that is. Nevertheless, there are an awful lot of things I would like to give her... these sunglasses being just one, relatively innocent, example. And, I must say, if she looks, in reality, even half as gorgeous as she does in my imagination, then these sunglasses will suit her very well. As, indeed, will pretty much anything from 'Victoria's Secret'.

I sent for the Black Frame and Smoke Lens variety. They're clearly 'feminine' in design but very much the sort of thing a macho man who is in touch with his feminine side might wear in his back garden while enjoying some (otherwise naked) sunbathing on a nice, warm day. They fit comfortably and do their job well. I think they look stylish too although, for obvious reasons (ie. putting me right off my dinner), I try not to actively seek out the reflection of my naked self wearing them if I can possibly help it.

They appear to be well made although, as with most sunglasses, their ultimate longevity will probably have a lot to do with the fact that they employ two of those impossibly tiny screws and a hinge arrangement to keep the arms on. The fact that they arrive alone and not accompanied by any sort of case or cover is not impressive at all however... hence the four stars.

The glasses measure a little over 6 cm in 'height'. On a personal note, I am absolutely delighted to discover that that translates into 'Oversized'... it certainly gives my own measurements a bit more respectability. As far as the world of sunglasses is concerned, these are certainly 'big', but not to a ridiculous degree. Although there is a danger, I think, that an especially elfin-faced modeller of them might end up looking a bit like an interplanetary alien.

That's something I shall definitely have to keep in mind then, as I search for my Venusian goddess... .
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 15, 2015 1:48 PM BST

Keep Calm And Love Siobhan Fahey Novelty Keyring and Fridge Magnet Set
Keep Calm And Love Siobhan Fahey Novelty Keyring and Fridge Magnet Set
Offered by A.paches
Price: £4.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Such stuff as dreams are made on!, 14 Jun. 2015
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Given that even Shakespeare himself never quite found the words to adequately describe an acrylic novelty keyring and fridge magnet set, I should probably stop my own review right now. Then again though, he never managed to come up with half a dozen limericks to showcase the attributes of a buxom young lady from Buckingham either, so it's not like I haven't set my own literary precedent elsewhere already.

Actually, I highly doubt whether someone of Mr Shakespeare's wordsmithing talents would ever have had dealings with any sort of 'Keep Calm' product in the first place. He had far more imaginative slogans in his locker and could undoubtedly have cobbled together some far more original fridge magnets for Anne Hathaway to subsequently bung on his second best Hotpoint.

I'm not much of a fan of the 'Keep Calm' slogan either, as a rule. However, within the context of giving Siobhan Fahey a bit of loving... well, that's when my rules go out of the window.

Of course, the ironic thing about this product is that the advice is, actually, complete and utter cobblers. I mean, there can't be ANYONE who has ever seen or heard this woman who doesn't get a warm glow (in at least one geographical location) at the merest thought of her. So you'd have to have been dead a lot longer than Shakespeare to be able to 'Keep Calm' while contemplating any situation at all where the end result might see you called upon to actually 'love' her.

My goodness me, those are the sorts of situations I think about a LOT. Tragically though, it looks like the only way I'll ever get near such a gig in practice is if Ms Fahey reaches a level of desperation that has, so far, never yet been encountered in the whole of human history. Still, that doesnt mean it CAN'T happen!

Anyway, practically speaking, the short and long of it is that this well-made product does all that is required of it. The keyring is now going steady with my house-keys and the magnet seems delighted to be on my fridge door.

Which is pretty much all you really need to say about an acrylic novelty keyring and fridge magnet keyring set and which, I suppose - given that brevity is supposed to be the soul of wit and that I am clearly a boring old windbag - is probably all I should've written to begin with.

I don't known though... surely that's what you'd say about ANY old acrylic novelty keyring and fridge magnet set?

This one's got Siobhan's name on it - which means this one deserves something a little bit extra!

Whodunnit - The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Whodunnit - The Complete Series 5 [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jon Pertwee
Price: £14.14

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's missing a certain 'something'. Unfortunately, it's NOT Patrick Mower, 12 Jun. 2015
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Despite having previously purchased the first four complete series of 'Whodunnit?' - and having thoroughly enjoyed them - I really was in two minds about buying this fifth one. After all, it's not much fun watching Jon Pertwee on your own. Not when you know for certain that you'd get SO much more out of the experience in the company of a hyperventilating woman with strong opinions and the vocabulary of a sailor.

This disc's original release date (which was scheduled to be so far in the future that the Lib Dems might even have been in power... if the universe hadn't fizzled out and died first) might, just about, have given me sufficient time to persuade such a woman (my Jon Pertwee-loving former wife, for instance) to enjoy it with me. Sadly though, the purveyors of this disc managed to shave positively decades off its expected arrival time. Still, I thought I'd better send for it anyway.

As I feared, while watching it has been a reasonably entertaining experience, it is definitely lacking 'something'... and I'm not talking about a companion slowly taking her clothes off on account of Jon Pertwee and his medallions getting her flustered either (although there is that too, now I come to think of it). Maybe it's just me but one or two of these episodes seem rather 'tired'. On more than one occasion, the whole thing has the unintended air of a production of 'Acorn Antiques'.


Panellists: Prunella Scales, Terry Wogan and Bill Pertwee
Starring: Tony Anholt, John Savident, Denis Lill and Françoise Pascal

Why Thames Television chose to lead off the series with a story so horrendously awful is a bigger mystery than the story itself. It may very well feature the actor who played Corrie's Fred Elliott playing a policeman who is very much like Corrie's Fred Elliott, but there's no real suspense. There's not even a murder!

Even viewing this through a 1977 filter, there IS a lot of thin ice to negotiate here though, most of it being skated on by the 'Rajah' himself. I can forgive the fact that the actor playing this character quite clearly did not have the necessary ethnic qualifications. Like I said, the 70s were a different time. But that doesn't excuse the bloke from being so spectacularly awful in the role. I can't decide whether his accent is predominantly Welsh or just simply reminiscent of Mike Yarwood attempting to take off the Prince of Wales but, whatever it is, it doesn't cut the mustard. And that's without him letting rip with a thoroughly sexist remark. A remark which might yet, if my luck improves, see my former wife kicking my telly in.

One of the main suspects has already appeared in an earlier series of the show as an investigator; another main suspect will appear in the show, as an investigator, in just two episodes' time. Doesn't that all scream 'tired' to you?

On the positive side, Bill Pertwee is a fabulously engaging panel member. And the day I completely dismiss as being 'worthless' anything that features both Françoise Pascal AND Luan Peters is the day I move myself into a monastery. But, overall, this is perhaps the worst 'Whodunnit?' episode ever created. With knobs on.


Panellists: Liza Goddard, Jimmy Jewel and Trevor Bannister
Starring: Dinah Sheridan, Terence Alexander and James Berwick

Ah - this one's more like it. An original plot, plenty of humour and some good acting. OK, so the dead woman still seems to be breathing quite happily... but it doesn't distract the viewer. Much. I wish the same could be said about the profusely perspiring detective. All those handkerchiefs around, and he waits until the closing credits to actually use one? Yuck!


Panellists: Patrick Mower, Alfred Marks and Kate Williams
Starring: Denis Lill, Simon Oates, Josephine Tewson and Kate O'Mara

Kate O'Mara is lovely and the story is quite well done... but this episode is most noteworthy for the behaviour of rival panellists Alfred Marks and Patrick Mower. Like two stags fighting over Bambi's spinster auntie, by heaven are they taking this seriously.


Panellists: Tessa Wyatt, Dr Magnus Pyke and Michael Aspel
Starring: Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Linda Hayden, Jan Harvey and Alex Davion

Tessa Wyatt is gorgeous, Dr Magnus Pyke is hilarious and Michael Aspel is... well, for good or evil, Michael Aspel is his usual self really. On a personal note, this is the episode I would most like to enjoy in the company of my former missus, purely on the strength of a little aside Mr Pertwee makes on the subject of 'girlies, jodhpurs and whips'. Something about the idea seems to excite him... so it seems logical to me that my ex-wife might react in a similar fashion.


Panellists: Patrick Mower, Anouska Hempel and Roy Plomley
Starring: Nicholas Courtney, Artro Morris, Victor Winding and June Barry

The victim in this case is the Brigadier from 'Doctor Who'. Tragically, he and Jon Pertwee don't share any scenes together. And Big Jon doesn't even sneak in any in-jokes or comments, which is disappointing. Equally disappointing, unless you happen to absolutely love and adore Patrick Mower, is the discovery that Mr Mower is sitting on the panel yet again, this time filling in for an ailing Stratford Johns. Perhaps Stratford copped an eyeful of Jon's shirt? My goodness me, that garment could give anyone a migraine.

All in all, I'd say this is definitely the weakest series of 'Whodunnit?', certainly since Edward Woodward's inaugural one where he just seemed to be making up the rules as he went along. Jon Pertwee does his best here but there is a definite feeling that the show is somehow running out of steam. There's enough to recommend it to fans of both the genre and the decade (plus, obviously, to admirers of the future Mr Gummidge) but it is very far from being any sort of jewel in Thames TV's crown.

Of course, if I'd had the pleasure of watching this DVD in the company of a true Pertwee fangirl, I would doubtless have been able to appreciate the subtleties of things like the Great Man's wardrobe, his bouffant and his extensive jewellery collection, and that may well have added greatly to the entertainment value of these episodes. Alas and alack, I haven't so far managed to wangle that.

So Mr Pertwee only gets four stars. But, if one of his fangirls in particular would like to discuss that rating further, she knows where to find me.

I think I might get myself a whip and some jodhpurs in my size - just in case.

One For All SV9021 Non Amplified UHF Indoor Antenna
One For All SV9021 Non Amplified UHF Indoor Antenna

3.0 out of 5 stars Cheap but, like so many of us, it lacks sufficient length to do a decent job..., 11 Jun. 2015
I bought this in my local supermarket, having supposedly only gone in there to buy something for my lunch. Not that this antenna was an impulse buy, not at all: it was essential... to accompany the Freeview telly I'd managed to pick up while I was in there 'buying something for my lunch' the day before. Compared with the price of this gadget here on Amazon though, I did at least manage to save myself a couple of quid somewhere along the line. I think.

In theory at least, you simply take the thing out of its box, plug it in to the back of the television and then let the pair of them scan the analogue and digital airwaves together in search of televisual signals of such quality that they don't break up the moment a dust mite starts walking across the carpet.

According to the Freeview 'Coverage Checker' website, I am something like 20 odd miles from the Crystal Palace transmitter, but I can get ALL of the radio and TV channels they promise me on that site. Which, considering this is non-amplified, is fairly impressive. BUT... I can only really make it work in one room. And only when it is placed in one particular gadgetry alignment.

Not unreasonably I suppose, the quality of the signal seems to improve dramatically the higher up in the world this antenna goes. That's fine - except that they've only furnished the thing with one metre's worth of coaxial cable. You've got to find somewhere to plug in your telly, plus somewhere upon which to plonk the thing, plus somewhere you can hang this device... and they've all got to be close enough to a suitable location from where you can pretend to be working from home during business hours, even when you're patently not because you're either reaping the rewards of this aerial or you're writing a review here on Amazon about it.

No? Oh well - that must just be me then.

The antenna is about seven inches in height and it does tilt. But, the ability to tilt doesn't seem to improve its ability to pick up a decent signal from any location. Being able to tilt just makes it so unsteady that it tends to topple right off the shelf. That would be the only shelf in my house, by the way, where one metre's worth of Feng Shui gets me everything I'm owed according to that 'Coverage Checker' website.

One metre's worth of cable doesn't give me the luxury of being able to be too fussy when it comes to aesthetic concerns either. The angle at which this antenna has be propped up against my wall, together with the fact that there is no way in which I can hide that ugly cable, does make it look as though Heath Robinson had a hand in the whole entertainment set-up.

Never mind though. I mean, I've got the whole kit and caboodle sitting in my bedroom. And it's not like anyone (certainly not anyone with any sort of taste) is EVER going to see it in there.

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