All I Never Wanted To Know About Wrestling #filmreview #fightingwithmyfamily

Many moons ago, when the Lawyer was seven or so he took a shine to wrestling. Not the black and white, saggy pants variety that ITV showed on a  Saturday afternoon involving luminaries such as Mick McManus and Giant Haystacks. There was a deaf wrestler in goody goody white budgie smugglers too. It was crap. No, what he liked was the utterly mind numbing, razzmatazz-infected, steroidally-enhanced WWE. All shouty people in ridiculous costumes and with even more strangely unappealling names. He had posters and stickers and pleaded to be able to watch it.

Happily he grew out of it and I put it down to experience, sure in the certain knowledge that I’d never watch it again. Oh sure, I came across members of this elite band who’d morphed into actors – Dwayne Johnson most obviously – but that was different.

And then this film came along, Fighting With My Family, featuring Nick Frost – whose filmography is splendid – and written and directed by the unfeasibly tall geezer from the office, Stephen Merchant and I thought, well, why not?

So what did I learn?

Women wrestlers are divas – which kind of reinforced my perception that it’s more about dribbly men lusting that the athleticism of the exponents though said athleticism is apparent when you watch it up close and personal. Those women are tough.

It’s not fake but it is fixed. Like, Doh! But even saying that there’s a ton of effort and many ways they’ll get hurt.

Script a film about the journey of a Norwich council estate girl to superstardom in Lycra spanx and tinsel and you’ll get a movie with product placement like no other. WWE’s logo is ubiquitous. It’s bloody everywhere. At one point Paige says wrestling is in her blood. ‘Like hepatitis’ says her brother. ‘Yeah I’m infected with it,’ laughs Paige. By the end I felt the same about that awful logo.

Florence Pugh is a grand actress as Paige, the wrestling phenomenon and Lena Headley can play a mother who isn’t psychotically deranged, unlike her Cersei Lannister character – though she is still pretty barking.

This is a classic feelgood film. You don’t have to like wrestling to enjoy it. Indeed knowing nothing about it and therefore having no prior knowledge to undermine the story is maybe a good thing. It’s paced as a British comedy tends to be – slow and certain. It’s oddball, too and there are any number of nice touches to make you laugh.

They try – oh they try – to add tension but the heart of the film, in many ways, is not in Paige’s journey to Diva status but her brother’s failure to progress and his bitterness and eventual redemption. That makes this film stand out a little more, from the crowd.

It’s not got the width and depth that Bend It Like Beckham achieved; twenty-five years on Four Weddings and a Funeral remains a class act with genuine lump in the throat moments; Slumdog Millionaire does things feelgood movies have no right to achieve. No, it’s not in that league but it’s warming on a wet Wednesday when all the TV offers is a choice between repeating Dad’s Army episodes that bubble out like some manic after-curry fartathon and some boy-band celebrity having his gut-bacteria permed to see if it will enable him to regenerate as a Kardashian.

Just don’t expect to come out converted to the glories of modern wrestling. Which is, after all a good thing, yes?

Posted in Film, miscellany, review | Tagged , , | 14 Comments

Sun Block #dianaprompt #speclativefiction

‘Oh hello, Constable. To what… Petey, is that you? Come out from behind the policeman. What have you done this time?’

‘Been a bit of a naughty boy, I’m afraid, Mrs O’Drool.”

‘Delightful.’

‘It’s isn’t really, Mrs O’Drool. Not when you hear what he’s been up to.’

‘My name. It’s Delightful O’Drool. Please call me Delightful.’

‘Er, OK. It’s just… well…’

‘It is unusual. But I decided to keep it when I married.’

‘Why not? I mean what’s wrong with Delightful?’

‘No, O’Drool. I kept that.’

‘Oh, really?’

‘My husband’s a Sputum. We didn’t think Delightful Sputum carried the right first impression.’

‘No quite. About your son?’

‘Oh yes, sorry. What’s he done this time?’

‘He’s been in trouble before?’

‘It’s not really his fault of course but he’s young and these things happen.’

‘Things?’

‘You’re new aren’t you, er, sorry I didn’t catch your name.’

‘Constable.’

‘I understand you’re a policeman, but…’

‘My name is Constable.’

‘Constable Constable?’

‘I’m afraid so.’

‘Maybe I should use your Christian name?’

‘Doggin.’

‘Really?’

‘It’s Etruscan. My mother didn’t realise the, um connotations.’

‘Shall we stick with Constable?’

‘If you don’t mind.’

‘What’s Petey been up to? He hasn’t changed anyone?’

‘Changed?’

‘Personally I think Penelope Galeforce made a mountain out of a molehill.   I agree it was unfortunate that Derek Mossblender milked her but he wasn’t to know Petey had a thing about Friesians. If she hadn’t gone wandering off, it would never have happened.’

‘You changed a woman into a cow, Petey?’

‘Well everyone has always said she’s a right cow and Petey’s always been impressionable like that. He likes a thing to be as people say it is. And my husband changed her back and Derek let her keep all her own milk which, frankly, was quite generous given the kicking she gave him.’

‘This was reported, was it?’

‘Oh yes. All magical infractions are reported to the proper authorities. Even minor turbulences.’

‘Turbulences?’

‘Quakes, eruptions, that sort of thing. You know what boys are like. They love a bit of a bang, don’t they? We’ve told him he mustn’t use lava, play tectonics at school except at break time and never try to knock over Mr Geriatric when he’s on a perambulation. It was one thing when he was constantly shape-shifting – it slowed him down – but now he’s old it’s a bit unfair.’

‘Mr Geriatric? He runs the post office and he shape-shifts?’

‘Only occasionally. It’s dreadful for his lumbago. Still you didn’t come here to discuss Old Geriatric’s posture problems, did you? What did Petey do?’

‘You see how dark it is?’

‘Now you mention it, it is a bit gloomy.’

‘He’s blocked the sun.’

‘Oh Petey, why?’

‘It’s his fault, Ma. Robin’s been grounded so I was just playing eclipses with my football while Robin unlocked his mum’s entrapment spell and this policeman appeared and told me to stop what I was doing immediately. So I did. And then he got all angry when the ball wouldn’t come down.’

‘Petey, did you leave it up there deliberately?’

‘You told me I must always do what the police tell me.’

‘I’ve also told you not to be so literal. I’m sorry, Constable, I’ll get him to take it down straight away. And you, Petey. You do exactly what he says, alright?’

‘Thank you Mrs O’Drool. Delightful. Ok, Petey, I’ll say no more this time but from now on I want you to understand I’m going to be keeping my eyes on you. I… I… What’s happening? I can’t see.’

‘Peter O’Drool you give the nice Constable his eyes back this minute or you’ll be giving a couple of litres to Vampire Relief. Please, Constable, come in and sit down. While you wrap yourself around a nice cuppa, you can tell me about yourself. Constable, Constable, you really don’t need to go quite so fast.’

This was penned in response to Diana’s March speculative fiction prompt, here. Feel free to join in. You have until the 23rd March

Posted in creative writing, prompt, writing | 45 Comments

The Glory Of The Garden: Wither Goes It? #poem #rudyardkipling

From time to time I like to ruin one of the Nation’s favourite poems, as voted some years ago in a BBC poll. This time I have been musing on the hottest ever February, in doing so, have taken an axe to Rudyard Kipling’s fabulous The Glory of the Garden (here, if you don’t know it).

*the images are from my garden over the last few, rather extraordinary days…

Our England is a garden that is full of stately views,

Though you’d really have to wonder if you listened to the news.

The anchors turn you icy with all their talk of wars

While sneery politicians debate like old pub bores.

*

But while they focus their trite ire on running down the clock

The world that matters to us all is preparing its own shock.

It’s fed up with the disregard with which we’ve treated it

And soon enough will prove to us we’ve not defeated it.

*

With little thought for others we have wasted nature’s gift

And made a virtue out of spending when sense demanded thrift

Consumption of resources has become our default state

And while we try and change our habits it may be far too late.

*

The icecaps are receding as the desert centre grows

And winter months seem like June with little chance of snow.

And all the time that the chatterati’s attention is elsewhere

Our hopes of changing course are as doomed as the polar bear.

*

So enjoy those simple pleasures in England’s pleasant garden

Before nature’s patience ends and her heart begins to harden.

For it’s not beyond imagining that soon will come the day

When the Glory of England’s Garden shall finally pass away.

Posted in miscellany, poems, poetry | Tagged , , , , | 28 Comments

Dangling Mattocks: Mervin Versus Fluffikins #flashfiction

When the careers master, a man of sulphurous halitosis and infinite pomposity put him on the spot, Mervin Thomas said, ‘Plumber’. And off to plumb he went.

At weekends, Mervin wrestled, glorying in his Andean biceps, while on weekdays Mervin fought truculent copper, bending it to his will, creating a beauteous cartography of pipework. Mervin was a gladiator amongst contractors.

Mervin had one idiosyncrasy. True joy, for Mervin, was achieved when, alone, he would strip away the tawdry weeds of the humdrum handyman and attack a leaking tap or a faulty fawcett clad only in his tool belt and a grim determination.

Mervin’s demise came one Saturday afternoon. His challenge was a mere dripping u-bend. Alone, and with his toolbelt tight to his torso, he disrobed, squeezing head and shoulders into the cupboard beneath the sink.

While Mervin worked, luxuriating in his naturism, Fluffikins entered the kitchen. Mervin’s enormous naked bulk blocked her way to her bowl. Stealthily Fluffikins approached this pink hairy monster, claws out. She stopped, mesmerised by the tick-tock of Mervin’s pendulous penis. It was an act of savagery and the end was swift.

When eventually the police arrived they were stumped by the carnage. The welt on Mervin’s head suggested a psychopathic manic had felled him with one blow of a sharp edged instrument, but how the assailant had entered the locked house remained a mystery. After all, no one considered the cat flap.

Mervin’s nudity, together with his leather waist-strap and dangling mattock indicated a possible sexual component to this bizarre and senseless crime. No one saw the blood on the cupboard frame where Mervin’s head had impacted. Only one junior forensic employee noticed the line of scratches on the back of Mervin’s manhood where Fluffikins claws had been briefly embedded, but did not associate them with the killing. And nobody thought to ask Fluffikins, now cleaning those selfsame lethal talons about his part in this inexplicable death.

For his part Fluffikins was content. After this, no one was going to block him from his kibble in future.

 

Posted in creative writing, flash fiction, miscellany | Tagged , | 23 Comments

When A Planter Isn’t A Planter #morganandlogan #carrotranch

‘Can you see where that planter is?’

‘What planter?’

‘I don’t want to reverse into it when I back up.’

‘There’s no planter there.’

‘There is.’

‘No, there…’

‘Go and check and you’ll realise how blind and stubborn you are.’

‘Now, back up a moment. What’s stubbornness got to do with the supposed existence of a planter?’

‘You’re the most stubborn man I know.’

‘I’m not. I’ve also got better eyesight. Just reverse and you’ll see.’

‘Ok, I will. I… Hear that crunch? A planter.’

‘It’s not.  It’s a flowerpot. Totally different.’

‘Morgan, you really get my back up.

This was written in response to Charli Mills’ latest prompt, here

February 28, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story using the term backup. You can back up or have a backup, just go where the prompt leads!

 

Posted in carrot ranch, logan and morgan, miscellany, prompt | Tagged , , | 24 Comments

Castles In The Air #writephoto #flashfiction

Meldrew and Marigold exchanged bemused looks.

‘This must be number 33,’ Meldrew couldn’t hide the defensive note creeping in. ‘That last house was definitely number 31 and it’s odd numbers this side.’

Marigold peered at the rectangle of expensive white card. ‘It says 33. Do you think it’s a misprint?’

‘He said we couldn’t miss it.’

‘Yes well that’s true.’ She let her gaze drift to her left and the unprepossessing terraced houses, most in need of some work, and then to her right and a similar terrace which if anything was even more rundown.

Meldrew’s tone had begun to grow uncertain. ‘He said they’d had some work done recently.’

‘Well, building a four story gothic castle with extensive grounds and boundary walls to match and sticking it in the middle of a terrace in Preston possibly stretches the concept of “some work”, but we’ll not know unless we ask.’ She checked her face in the mirror and opened the door.

Meldrew hesitated. ‘Should I leave the car here, do you think?’

Marigold sighed. ‘It’s hardly blocking anything.’

‘No, but… you don’t think it’s a bit shabby?’

‘Oh for pity’s sake Meldrew. It’s only dinner with the Johnsons. It’s not like they’re royalty.’

‘No but… you said they’d changed. Got above themselves.’

Marigold peered through the ornate gate and sniffed. ‘Yes well I meant them ordering gold top milk and her getting her hair done weekly… not this. What did Presley say when he called?’

‘They’d joined this new dining club and it was their turn to host and they wondered if we’d like to be part of it.’ Meldrew pushed at the gate; it creaked open. ‘He said just to come in.’

‘Shouldn’t we knock, let them know we’re here?’

‘He said they’d know.’ Meldrew stepped though the gate and hallooed into the gloom. Torches burst into light and showed a shaking path towards a large ornate wooden front door. Somewhere in the distance a booming voice intoned ‘come’.

Meldrew smiled. ‘See. This is it. That’s Presley. He said they’d organised a light bite first, then we could all neck a few pints – he always liked a pint, did Presley – and then the evening would be underway.’

Marigold ran her finger along a gilded balustrade. ‘His building company must be doing well, if they can afford this lot.’

‘Oh yes. He’s expanded all over Europe. You know, only last year he refurbished a Romanian castle for this Count. Money no object he said though he was kept in the dark for most of the time. Oh…’

‘What?’

‘Nothing. I thought I saw a bat…’

This was written in response to Sue Vincent’s lastest #writephoto prompt, here

Posted in #writephoto, miscellany | Tagged , | 26 Comments

It Shouldn’t Happen… But It Did: The Developer’s Wife and the Hot Flush #lawyerlytales

This is part of a series based on my life in the law as a property lawyer.

Some clients were easy going and some not; some were bright and some not; some were patient and some not. And then there was Clive. He was one of those blue touch paper people who, like yogurt plants and a snotty nose, just kept on giving.

Stress, pressure, questions, deadlines. They all came the same to Clive.

We shouldn’t have been acting for him. Not really. His company of property development specialists was the client so acting for one of the directors had the potential for conflict. But trying to tell Clive that was like trying to explain to Vladimir Putin that Crimera was ok on its own, thanks very much.

‘The missus needs  a pee-aid a tear’ which, as it turned out wasn’t so far from the truth.

The ‘missus’ in this story was a Bolivian refugee from some right wing political coup with hair like one of those Hubble photographs of nebulae and eyelashes that resemble the sorts of rope bridges that intrepid explorers use to cross gorges that have the characteristics and dimensions of Dolly Parton’s cleavage to reach the Holy Grail. Hortense. Or some such. Whatever it was – Clive only ever used ‘the missus’ in her absence and ‘sugar’ in her presence and her accent never did translate well to the western European ear.

Hortense shopped with the same single minded determination and wild-eyed fanaticism that she had previously brought to a South American government’s overthrow. As such it was becoming difficult for her to maximise the exercise she gave Barclay and Amex, her two constant companions what with the longer opening hours permitted by the libertarian urges that followed Mrs Thatcher’s Boadicea like sweep through the established order of life in the UK. She couldn’t be at Harrods from the store’s opening, till it closed and make it back to mid Surrey in time for mint juleps and Corrie.

‘She needs the best.’ We realised, fairly early on, that being a force of Latin nature was probably the only thing that could intimidate Clive. Maybe we could take lessons?

The ‘best’ turned out to the the top two floors of an extraordinary building – the bastard love child of the demonically possessed apartment block in Ghostbusters and something Hieronymus Bosch dreamed up as a home for his mother in law. Clive knew the developer and was offered a lease on favourable terms if he signed up, ‘off-plan’. We advised him to be sure it would suits his needs but he shrugged off any worries. ‘If the Missus wants it, she’ll ‘ave it.’

And so he signed up. Now, while Clive was a sociopathic bully with a Napoleon complex, he did listen to his lawyers and made sure he took out all appropriate protection against defective architects and thoughtless contractors. And, if the Fates were as nervy about how Clive might react to disappointment as we were, then they ensured the two floors were handed over to the second set of contractors who would be let loose with Hortense’s instructions and Clive’s credit card to fit the place out in a  style fitting…

You know, I’m really not sure there are adjectives in the English language that could do justice to the opulence, the ambition, the sheer bloody mind-boggling  chutzpah with which that ‘leetle ‘ome’ was brought to life. Creators of psychotropic drugs would give up and become vegan once they had seen the inside of this place. If asked for a categorization it might be ‘drag queen chic’ but that would be dowdy by comparison.

I took an age but, since Hortense loved the whole employer shtick Clive was content to let it run and run. Or so we thought. We almost forgot that it had even been a thing when…

‘Geoff, Clive.’

Clive had three modes of address.

  1. what the fuck have [you][he][they] done? when some little glitch emerged in one of his projects
  2. we’ve got the fuckers (note the theme) when some kind of nefarious trickery was paying off
  3. how fucking much? You can guess what he had just received.

But the use of my name? Never. He sounded subdued.

‘Yes, Clive. How are you?’

‘Bruised.’

I didn’t really know what to say. The chance that Clive would eventually pick on someone whose response would be physical was always hovering somewhere in the back of my mind but I assumed he was probably comprised 70 percent granite chips held together by unreasoning prejudice so the odd punch would hurt the protagonist more.

Before I could frame the question he added, ‘She’s left me.’

Hortense. Now for all his many foibles, I had an admiration of sorts for Clive so losing the love of his life had to hurt.

‘I’m sorry.’

‘It was that bloody apartment. I knew it was going to be trouble.’

Ah, now maybe we were building to something here, some sort of pain deflection that would involve me in donating a kidney to his supper club. ‘Oh. How’s that?’

‘She ended up in hospital. Bloody incompetent morons.’

Maybe he was looking to us to sue the builders. I asked if that was why he was calling.

‘Nah, the basic scheme’s excellent. It was her fitting out people.’

I took my time, teasing out the problem.

Hortense had a number of set ideas a lot of which stemmed from the unsanitary conditions she had often found herself in, in her early rebellious days. The result was that, now she could design her own bathrooms she insisted on everything being hands free – taps, soap dispensers, dryers and flushes. The seats even lifted and lowered without the need to touch anything.

The plan for the ensuite to the master bedroom was detailed and complicated and there were it seemed many changes as the project developed which meant much abortive cost for Clive but some unfortunate compromises behind the panelling for the contractors. Eventually the work was all done and Hortense arrived, ready to enjoy her new home that had been created in her imagination.

Clive’s voice dropped as he reached he point where his ‘sugar’ became hospitalised. It appeared to revolve around the moment she went to use the toilet for the first time. Because of the ‘no hands’ requirement the flush was sited on the wall behind the seat. So when Hortense leant back she accidentally set the flush going.

And in normal circumstances that might have caused a moment of surprise. A squeal perhaps. However the whole concept of normal had no application to this ‘end of empire’ rococo extravaganza. And the poor befuddled contractors, in creating her vision had had to employ some Heath Robinson compromises to achieve Hortense’s desires.

‘So what happened?’

’They fitted the hot water to the cistern and coupled it to the pump for the power shower. One minutes she’s thinking about lunch the next her pussy’s been poached.’

I didn’t know how to respond. I began to pity the contractors, for Clive was sure to want to eviscerate them. ‘But why is she leaving you? It wasn’t your fault.’

Silence wasn’t a tool employed by Clive where demented screaming was available to him. But silence I got.

‘Clive?’

‘It was me.  told them to finish and I didn’t care how. I was costing me a fortune.’

‘Ah.’

‘She’s said she’ll stay…’

‘Oh. Well that’s good…’

‘… as long as I pay for a complete refurbishment.’

‘The whole flat?’

‘Not her flat, you moron. Her fanny.’

Another long silence. ‘And you’re telling me this because…?’

‘I need your best man, someone who knows about these things. I’m not getting screwed again.’

The metaphors seemed to be getting out of hand. That said I worked with a lot of talented people whose specialties could be described as esoteric, but nobody who, so far as I knew, had experience in the gentrification of the genitals. I tried to explain my dilemma.

‘I know. But could you ask around?’

I promised to try.

I lied.

 

Posted in horror, humour, law, miscellany, work | Tagged , , , | 26 Comments