Archive for January, 2011

Watched ‘Hattie’

Posted in Watched it with tags , , , on January 31, 2011 by echostains

Hattie Jacques and Ruth Jones

I missed this  BBC4  biopic when it was first shown a couple of weeks ago – however I was lucky enough to catch the repeat the other night.  Hattie Jacques (Josephine Edwina Jacques) b. 1922 – 1980)  was a British comedy actress, well-known for her roles in the Carry On films from 1958 – 1974 where she often played a hospital Matron but she also different roles in other films.  She played the ‘twin’ sister of Eric Sykes in the BBC series Sykes and starred on radio and in theatre.

Hattie, (convincingly played by Ruth Jones) married the actor John Le Mesurier 1949 – 1965. They had two sons Robin and Kim.   Hattie had wanted to be a ballerina but her weight ruled this out.  One of the scenes shows Hattie dressed as a fairy being left dangling by a harness over a stage amidst sniggers.

Jacques  first went on stage when she was 20 years old and enjoyed a varied career of stage, radio and film.  This biopic focuses on the relationship of her, John Le Mesurier and her chauffeur John Schofield

Hattie with her family

  On the face of it, Hattie and Le Mesurier seem to enjoy a happy home life, with Le Mesurier and Jacques helping each other learn their lines, their sat comfortably around the kitchen table with their boys.  They have a lodger Bruce who lives upstairs who is very theatrical and jolly and it all seems to be a happy household. 

The Hattie triangle

Then along comes John Schofield the chauffeur and bit by bit, like a house of cards everything seems to collapse.  John Schofield is very good-looking and knows it.  The more I looked at this actor – the more I thought I recognised him.  Now where had I seen him before?  Aidan Turner  is the actor.  He played Gabriel Dante Rossetti in Desperate Romantics, the series about the Pre Raphaelites.  He plays the Cockney wideboy Schofield with much gusto, whilst cuckolded and very laid back Le Mesurier is played admirably by Robert Bathurst.

Poor Hattie didn’t have a chance against John Schofield the chauffeur, and   the comparison with Le Mesurier couldn’t be starker.  John Schofield is passionate, funny, earthy and a bit rough.  Le Mesurier is refined, undemonstrative but kind and gentle.  At times Hattie and Le Mesurier seem more like brother and sister.  It’s easy to see how comfortable the couple are with each other, but glib John the chauffeur who is much younger than her, desires Hattie and makes her see herself in a completely different way.   There’s a scene where Hattie has  just met John and she is talking to Bruce the lodger – when you would swear that Ruth Jones IS Hattie Jacques.  This is what the actress has to say about Hattie, the woman;-

There was more to Hattie Jacques than the public persona of the Carry On films,” says the Bridgend-born actor.

“Sometimes people don’t look beyond the character … I can understand that feeling and where Hattie was coming from.”

As Bruce the lodger moves out of the couple’s home – in moves John the chauffeur;-

Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques

“We’ve always had a lodger” says Hattie

He’s a shot of energy who’s good for the boys’  she says (…and for herself of course)

But when Le Mesurier eventually finds out about the affair which is raging under his own roof, his only concern is for Hattie.  Worried that John will  hurt her and how he just doesn’t  understand what a remarkable woman Hattie really is, Le Mesurier refuses to leave the marital home.  He says he wants to see the ending – how it ends!  I felt like shouting ‘wake up man – it’s not a film or a script – it’s your life and your wife at stake here!’

There’s an uncomfortable ‘This is your Life’ scene which was wonderfully cringeworthy and very awkward for Hattie who has to play Happy Families to her fans.  Gentleman Le Messier gives Hattie her divorce, siting himself as the adulterer (he has eventually met his future wife Joan Mallin). I don’t know whether to feel sorry for Hattie or not. 

Ruth Jones as Hattie

She was a very versatile competent actress,  a quite beautiful looking woman, very feminine  and obviously attractive to the opposite sex.   Yet still she lacked self-confidence.  Today she would be classed as Big and Beautiful and celebrate this.  She lived in another time though – but have things really changed, are we still not obsessed with body image? .  In the scene where her and Le Mesurier go to court for their divorce, she overhears a reporter saying something like ‘You might have known that it would be a thin bird he ran off with…’  That is so typical of the attitude towards the  overweight still and  SO not true in Le Mesurier and Hattie’s case!

There’s a wonderful interview with Hattie’s son Robin here about what he thought of ‘Hattie’

For a list of Hattie’s film theatre radio and television appearances – see here – she accomplished quite a lot!

Meet the cast and read what they have to say about ‘Hattie’ here

Ruth Jones quote here

Hattie and John in happier times image from here with a brief account of Hattie’s life

Sikes and Hattie image here Hattie the nurse here,  Hattie and Ruth Jones here

Happy Birthday Lewis Carroll!

Posted in Authors Birthdays, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by echostains

Today is the birthday of children’s author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson or Lewis Carroll as he is better known by his pen name.   Lewis Carroll was born  January 27, 1832 Daresbury Cheshire England – January 14, 1898. 

Lewis Carroll

As well as being an author, Carroll was also a poet, mathematician, (he was a mathematical lecturer at Oxford University) photographer and an Anglican Deacon. 

 One wonders how he found time for his creative writing, but I’m so glad he did, as Alice in Wonderland and Alice Adventures Through the Looking Glass are among my favorite books – still.   At the time the books were viewed as children’s literature. They are now looked upon in a different light and have long fascinated authors and musicians.

Dodgson was familiar with the Pre Raphaelites and moved in their circle.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti being one of his close friends.  Carroll was a keen photographer and photographed many subjects including Rossetti and John Everett Millais and the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Alice grows and grows by Tenniel

  A childhood illness left him deaf in one ear and he suffered from a slight stammer.  But he was very comfortable at singing and story telling and wrote poetry from an early age, from which he enjoyed modest success.

Alice by Tenniel

He first used his pen name Lewis Carroll when he published a romantic poem called ‘Solitude’ which appeared in ‘The Train’ 1856.  He came up with this pseudonym in his own original way by taking Ludovicus – Latin for  Lutwidge(of which Lewis was an anglicised form) and  Carroll which is an Irish surname very similar to Carolus (which Charles is derived from).

His most famous books are Alice in Wonderland and Alice Adventures Through the Looking Glass and.  Alice Liddell and her family were friends of the Dodgson’s.  Carroll took Alice and her two sisters on a river trip up the Thames in 1862: Alice’s Adventures was first told by Carroll to the girls on this trip.  Alice asked him to write the story down, which he did, calling it ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground  He gave the manuscript to Alice as an early Christmas present in 1864.  He published the story, on friend’s advice .   Carroll rewrote the tale, adding the Mad Hatter Tea Party and  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published in July 1865.  John Tenniel illustrated it.

Through the Looking Glass was published in 1871 and at the end of the tale is a poem which spells out Alice’s name.  Many films have been made about the Alice stories – the latest one 2010 by Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp.

Life is but a Dream by Lewis Carroll

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear

Long has paled that sunny sky;
Echoes fade and memories die;
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die;

Ever drifting down the stream
Lingering in the golden gleam
Life, what is it but a dream?

This is an acrostic poem by lewis Carroll  spells out Alice’s full name. Alice Pleasance Liddell

Lewis Carroll image from here

Lots of information about Carroll here and a lovely short biography here

The Lewis Carroll Society

and a very interesting site here and lots of great Lewis Carrolls facts here

Acrostic poem from here

Thanks to the Victorian Web for Tenniel images

and last but not least – a Big Thanks to AdPaylor for the wonderful Jabberwocky video!

‘Happy Birthday Robert Burns!’ and Poetry Challenge

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES, POETS BIRTHDAYS with tags , , , , on January 25, 2011 by echostains

Yes it’s Burns night!  Another opportunity to celebrate the life of the great Scottish poet Robert Burns b.25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796.  He is known by many names from  The Bard of Ayrshire to the ploughman’s poet.  He is especially famous for writing in the Scots language, though he has also written in a lighter more accessible one.  His writing is forthright, romantic and very beautiful.  He is a national hero in Scotland – and no wonder!  As well as writing poetry he also collected folk songs.  His own poem and song Auld Lang Syne is often sang on New Years Eve (or Hogmanay as they call it in Scotland).

Burns birthplace in Alloway

As a romantic poem and a ‘bit of a laddie’, Burns is also renown for his many love affairs.  he seems to have fallen in love – a lot judging by the poems written about his many amours:-).  His chequered life is full of many ups and downs and reads like a novel.  A fascinating man, full of life and verve, much has been written about him (    ) but in his own words ‘A Mans a Man for A That’ :-







Jean Armour, Burns wife


 His poems live on and shall always be with us. Many poets have written about flowers (A Red Red rose) but  which other poet would take the time out to write a poem about a humble field mouse? (To a Mouse) or even ‘To a Louse’.


Burns’s poems are numerous and a great many of them can be read on this excellent site and on this website which is dedicated to the poet.  A lovely history of this enigmatic man here  Image of Robert Burns from this good poetry site

images from here and here and here

Now for the Poetry Challenge….

The poetry challenge is called ‘What do ye say Rabbie?’  The challenge is to write a Haiku or poem about what you think Rabbie would write.  The subject matter could be anything – after all he wrote about mice and lice – so he was interested in all creatures.  he wrote romantic poetry, so the subject could be that.  He even wrote a toast to the Haggis – a traditional Scottish dish.  For inspiration watch and listen to the toast he made to it.  There are many versions of this, but I have picked the one with the English subtitles – though it’s not too difficult to understand this wonderful rich language. Burns also wrote humourously – so the sky’s the limit!  The poem doesn’t have to be in the Scottish dialect – though that would be wonderful too!  Robert Burns had a lot to say.  He can’t speak for himself – so why not speak for him 🙂  You may use the image if you want with a link to Bookstains of course.

Please note;-

The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains  is as well as having creative fun, so it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge.

 In return the poem is copied to the challenges particular page which is open indefinitely and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website.

 If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it.  This is a genuine challenge – so please play fair:-

DVD review ‘Twenty Thousand Streets under the Sky’ by Patrick Hamilton

Posted in Watched it with tags , , , , on January 21, 2011 by echostains

I don’t know what it is recently, but I have the urge or need to watch a DVD most nights before going to bed, no matter how late it is. Unfortunately for me, I have already exhausted my supply, so now it’s a case of playing ‘repeats’. The trouble is that they have to match my mood. You would think then that this wouldn’t be a problem. What sort of mood am I in? Well, I don’t really know for sure until I play one. The other night, I felt this need to watch something. I debated whether to watch part 3 of I Claudius. It’s my favourite part, with John Hurt as Caligula. But no – no sooner had I got it out of it’s sleeve, then back it went. The next applicant was ‘Byron’ starring Johnny Lee Miller. This I ran for about 15 minutes before ejecting. I toyed with Bleak House for a few minutes, eventually plumping for ‘Twenty Thousand streets under the sky’ with Sally Hawkins, Zoë Tapper and Bryan Dick.


the DVD fabulous!

It is a trilogy by Patrick Hamilton, but originally 3 seperate books. Each story tells the three protagonists own tale. The first one ‘The Midnight Bell’ sets the scene for most of the tale, the ‘Midnight Bell’ pub in which Bob is a barman or waiter. He comes across as bright, cheerful, charming and honest, but by the time the tale ends he is a very different person (and a lot lighter in wallet). The Midnight Bell is Bob’s side of the story. We see him worshipped by Ella, also of the Midnight bell, with a room next to his. Ella is just a friend, though she may have stood more of a chance if Bob had not seen Jenny the prostitute who steals his heart amongst other things.

Bob and Jenny who leads him a merry dance

The second tale ‘The siege of pleasure’ is Jenny’s story and seen from her point of view. It tells of Jenny’ descent from poor but respectable skivvy into prostitution through her addiction to drink. It is a sordid tale of seduction, deceit and rather sad. Even when offered by Bob, a way out, Jenny does not divert from the path she has chosen. Probably the most noblest thing she does, is let him down at the end, though that is debateable

poor lonely Ella

The last tale, ’The plains of cement’ is Ella the barmaids tale. In some ways although this one does have some humour in it, it is also the most poignant. The humour (though disturbing) is down to the elderly, well off Mr Eccles, an elderly customer who takes a shine to Ella (who’s in love with Bob, who is in love with Jenny, who is in love with money and booze). Though unsuitable as a boyfriend, Eccles at least sees Ella as a ‘young beautiful thing) and she isn’t offered many chances: Both are lonely: both are destined to stay so


The book, a jolly good read

None of these people achieve their hearts desires. The acting is positively superb and the atmosphere is convincingly 1930s smoky pubs. First shown on BBC TV and available on DVD. I’ve watched this over and over again and read the book: a marvellously good read. I would say that the BBC version is very faithful to the book. The characters are very 3 dimensional and all too human.

This review was originally on my Echostains blog

Poem – Please Mind the Gap

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , , on January 15, 2011 by echostains

Piccadilly Station Manchester

I was reading a post last year called ‘The Janitor’ by Bendedspoon on her excellent blog and no. 6 on the list really made me think. 

6. LEAVE A LEGACY. It doesn’t matter if you live 2 thousand years or twenty. What matters is how you fill the space between the dates on your gravestone. Let your wisdom live and multiply in each life that you touch.

It made me think about the the space between our birthdate and our deathdate  – our lives. ‘Please mind the Gap’ is a warning issued on the London underground before boarding the train.  It’s also a metaphor for the many pitfalls we encounter on our journey throughout life.

Please Mind the Gap


From conception to womb –
Please mind the gap..
From cradle to spoon –
Please mind the gap!
From totter to school –
Please mind the gap!
From childhood to fool –
Please mind the gap
from fool to regret –
Please mind the gap
From dawn to sunset –
Please mind the gap
From happiness tears –
Please mind the gap
From wilderness years –
Please mind the gap
From faith to despair –
Please mind the gap
From substance to air –
Please mind the gap
From health to old age –
Please mind the gap
From epic to page –
Please mind the gap
From daylight to night –
Please mind the gap
From blindness to sight –
Please mind the gap
From deafness to grasp –
Please mind the gap
From shouting to gasp –
Please mind the gap
From labours last test –
Please mind the gap
To lifes final rest –
Please mind the gap!

©2011 Lynda M Roberts

To ‘mind the gap’ a little too much and not take any chances at all in life would result in a pretty boring and  unfulfilling existence .  But would we be ‘safe’?  Not necessarily, fate has a way of filling those gaps when and with the unexpected…..

Poetry Challenge ‘The Hepworth Echo’

Posted in ALL MY POETRY CHALLENGES, Inspiring poetry, My Poetry with tags , , , on January 9, 2011 by echostains

This challenge could prove to be a real challenge as it takes an  abstract form of sculpture as its source of  inspiration.  But what are thoughts – if not abstractions?   and where does inspiration come from anyway?  The challenge is to write a poem or Haiku about what I have entitled ‘The Hepworth Echo’ – using your own creative voice as the echo.  You can use any of Hepworths pierced sculptures pictures as a prompt (there are many) or just write about what you think the above pierced sculpture is trying to convey.  This could be a message from the past, a prediction for the future, what you think lies within the space or even what you think the artist or the actual sculpture is saying.  The poem can be serious, humourous, short or lengthy.  If you are stuck for inspiration or don’t know much about Hepworth and her sculpture, just go over to my Echostains blog and have a look at these posts;-

Happy Birthday Barbara Hepworth!

A Cornish garden of hidden delights – the Barbara Hepworth Museum Cornwall

Please note;-

The idea behind the challenges is to publicise Bookstains  is as well as having creative fun, so therefore it is imperative that the poet link to Bookstains to further the challenge.

 In return the poem is copied to the challenges particular page which is open indeffinitely and the poets own website mentioned with a link and the poem critiqued on not only Bookstains but also on the poets own blog or website.

 If you wouldn’t put the poem on your own blog, please don’t send it to mine and expect me to promote it.  This is a genuine challenge – so please play fair:-

Original image from here 

Our first contribution is a Haiku from Steve (Heed not Steve) whose blog is full of poetry, amusing musings and other goodies awaiting your delight!

breezy hammock
swaying to hula strains –
coconut dreams


© Steve Mitchell 2011


The next Haiku is by Jessica from Jessica’s Japes, a lovely blog which includes poetry and prose – very lively, please look!

Lonely voice forlorn

Eternal repetition;

Narcissus drooping


© Jessica D’Angelo 2011

Our next contribution is a Haiku from Hames 1977.  His blog is full of the most profound and original poetry.  once read you will soon be hooked on this poet who I rate as one of the finest.  Please look 🙂

Outside looking in.

Thoughts pierce something unspoken-

silence taking shape

© Hames 1977

Next we have a fantastic poem by Adam Dustus – you really must check out his blog – and One Stop Poetry

The Serpent Coil

Fetal positioned squinting eyes
Beginning life shock—that burning light
Swaddled in newspaper sterility
Spinning backward, sleet rain, movie reels flipping
Maddening sway, she shifts her hips
Fool me blush and licking lips
In totem stockings run from pain
This living through
Your bit insane   

Metallic tasting molars
Tin foiled, tempered stealing
Collide in scope stains as
Color wheels spinning
Through imagined laughter of Goethe
Inspiration from Whitman
Lucky to be alive
Once again

Crawling clumsily through nothingness
Past streaming years, recalling anger, swallowed tears
Among the branded tracks & spineless backs
Wrenched in clutching sadness, shading leaves
Serpentine madness, mineral evergreen
Quivering half-bent upon bathroom floor
Eying grime, filth clings to belly
When the walls cave your heart
Unmoved, mind stirring
Forgetting all that past as learning
This lowly love
When song born again

Apple stands, seedless core
Black almond shaped smoker’s trache
Peeling back the serpent coil
Piano wire fangs puncture
Harp string strung out desire
Reddened to appeal, bon appétit
Search to feel when incomplete
These corrosives kill
Through core of earth
Our sphere surreal
Until dusk from birth

©Adam Dustus 2011

I love seeing how diverse and how  original and imaginative we all are!  Here’s another wonderful take on the Hepworth echo – its from 47whitebuffalo.  You must check out her blog – it’s full of her original art, poetry, music and political issues and much more:-)

swift circular motion
same entrance exit
wounds clean inside out
bullets irony
human lives
coyote dies
life cycle echo

©47whitebuffalo 2011

I am really loving this challenge!  So many individualistic and original poems!  Here’s another take on the Hepworth Echo – and its yet another a fab one:-)  It’s by gospelwriter whose blog Turtle Memoirs is a poetical delight – please be sure to visit 🙂

Heart of Harmony

oh if these strings
were flexible, alive and finely-tuned
I could play you an air
melt your gut,
echo eternal overtones of heart,
a melody heard fleetingly in youth,
now long neglected in pursuit
of fickle tangibles

what would you?
be wished away for what they think you’re worth,
or alive again, for what they knew you were?

©gospelwriter 2011

I have just recieved another wonderful poem for this challenge from Eelco Bruinsma who has a wonderful cultural blog called Thoughts and Things  –  well worth looking at1

” It might be mathematical
… Highly unlikely

It could be psychological
… But only slightly

Turned upon itself, like a suicidal wasp
A blind soothsayer, injecting its venom
With the strings of its harp right through its exoskeleton.


The messenger has killed himself.

But then …

It surely must be mythological
… quite rightly.

Certainly not!

Since it clearly derives
From Greek Tragedy
It is tragedy enshrined
In an endless cabinet
Not a chest, but a chestnut,
White on the inside, wooden on the outside,
Like, …

By God almighty!

It’s a coffin!

The organic form,
The Apollinic nut,
The finish, the refinement,
The Sybillic enigmatic sign,

It’s a string-bearer,
A bearer of Truth and Falsity,
A proposition

It’s sheer logic,
… occurring only nightly. “

©Eelco Bruinsma 2011

Book Review ‘London Belongs to Me’ by Norman Collins

Posted in Dear Reader I read it! Book reviews with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by echostains

Just finished ‘London belongs to me’ by Norman Collins, and it’s took me quite a while to read it (just saving it for bedtime reading).  I enjoyed it very much.  On the face of it looked like it may have mirrored Patrick Hamilton’s Hangover Square’, but apart from it being set in a shared house in Wartime London, there ends the comparison.

There are some interesting characters in the story of the house in Dulcimer Street, Kennington and all of them are brought vividly alive by Collins. The Josser family are more or less at the hub of the story.  It starts with Mr Josser’s retirement farewell, and ends with his re instatement.  In the middle, adjustments are made to all the residents lives and their life styles.  The lonely widowed land lady, her suitor and  lodger the enigmatic Mr Squales are amongst the characters that also share this house in London.

The Boons, consisting of mother and son Percy, a mechanic deals with the way the legal system works and how respectability can be lost very quickly.  Other characters include Connie, an old-time showgirl, a rather sad character, but a survivor (well for most of the book).  She is ‘old’, though we don’t find out how ancient she actually is.  Connie always seems to be there, in the wrong or right place when something exciting is happening – most of it, profitable in some way to the old girl.

There’s also a character who’d whole life revolves around making meals – a Mr Puddy.  He must have aneroid trouble, given the way he speaks – but the  writing makes it easy to  understand what he’s saying.  Meanwhile while all the large and small dramas are being played out: black out curtains are dutifully drawn and life goes on regardless.  A highly enjoyable and diverting read,  a jolly good book and very well written. I was very sorry to have finished it.

Note:  This post  has been transferred from my art blog Echostains.  I shall be transferring my book, DVD and film reviews to this space.

London in the Blitz HERE