A Driving Instructor's Blog

Movies & TV

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Bismarck MagazineHoly cow, they’re at it again!

I wrote an article in 2015 about a monthly magazine where you gradually got parts to build a model of The Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. Although issue 1 was priced at £2.99, subsequent issues were £8.99 and the full series was 100 issues long (totalling nearly £900 to get a finished model).

I just saw an ad on TV for a similar series where you build a model of the Bismarck. The bloody thing is 1¼ metres long and is made largely of die-cast metal (they don’t say how much it weighs). This time, although the first issue is £1.99, subsequent issues are £8.99, and there are 140 of them! So it’ll cost around £1,250 in the end.

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The Dark HedgesI don’t watch Game of Thrones, but there is apparently a natural feature in Northern Ireland called The Dark Hedges. It is a tunnel formed by Beech trees, and it has been used in the series because of its other-worldly appearance.

The trees which form the tunnel have apparently been damaged by the weather before, but another was felled by strong winds over the weekend.

Here’s what I don’t understand. A tree expert has said that the trees have stood since 1775, and that Beech trees have a typical life expectancy of around 250 years, so at 240 years these are very old. There were originally about 150 trees, but due to natural events there are only 90 left (well, 89 after the windy weekend). The tree expert says:

It’s sad to see that one by one they are actually falling.

Erm. Excuse me, but isn’t it possible to plant new trees when one dies or gets blown over? They could even clone the existing ones to keep the history alive if they wanted. I mean, fair enough. They have left it about 100 years too late, but even now the feature could be preserved for posterity – instead of just being allowed to fizzle out.

There really is something wrong with mankind that I can’t quite put my finger on.

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Paul Hogan barbecuing shrimpIs it just me, or does every Australian cookery programme revolve around barbecuing 2-foot long shrimps and an octopus in front of Sydney Harbour?

I’m watching the cookery channel and they’ve got an Australian Day. Every bloody programme it’s the giant shrimps and cephalopods. And Sydney Harbour.

If you want even one shrimp that size over here you need to re-mortgage your house.

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I saw it on the TV earlier today. It’s another JML one (remember PediPaws and the Turbo Brush?) This time, it’s for Hollywood Pants – a lower-body garment that appears to be capable of the equivalent of turning a hippopotamus into a cheetah without the need for liposuction.

Take a look at the TV ad above. Now, I am a scientist by training, and I am aware of the Law of Conservation of Mass. Essentially, this says that matter can be neither created nor destroyed, but it can be rearranged. So my question is this.

When those women put those pants on, where does the fat actually go? Because it’s not inside the pants, that’s for sure.

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The wrong sort of cream teaBefore Christmas I wrote about the most annoying ad in the world (at the moment) – the TUI ad, which is still on Sky One every ten bloody minutes.

It’s so annoying that I would never book a holiday with TUI, just on principle, and I switch the sound off or change channels as soon as it comes on. Of course, in the future – around 2030 or so – I might feel differently about booking a holiday through them, though right now they have no chance. But after all is said and done, it is just… annoying. Really, really annoying. But still just annoying.

However, some people are nutcases. Especially if they are Cornish, it would seem.

The BBC has this story about a Mother’s Day advert produced by the National Trust for “cream teas”. For anyone who doesn’t know, a cream tea is a peculiarly British thing, defined as:

…a meal taken in the afternoon consisting of tea to drink with scones, jam, and cream

This definition doesn’t do it justice, though. It is a ritual, and is only a proper cream tea if the tea is served in annoyingly small china teacups and – I wouldn’t be surprised to learn – stirred using spoons with a strict length and chemical composition. The reason I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that is that it seems the order in which the jam and cream (clotted cream, actually) are placed on the scone is also rigidly defined. At least in the minds of the aforementioned nutcases.

The picture at the top of this post is what has called all the fuss. Although I have never stooped so low as to have a cream tea because of the “ritualness” of it, it does look rather appetising. The picture below – a proper cream tea, allegedly – doesn’t.

The correct sort of cream teaAnd yet National Trust members (the secret wing of the Brexit campaign, I suspect, if you go on age) are threatening to cancel their memberships as a result of the ad. Some reckon it “makes them feel sick”. All it is is a bloody cake with jam and cream, and the order doesn’t make it taste any different anymore than a ham salad sandwich tastes different if you put the lettuce and tomatoes on in reverse order.

The Trust’s Visitor Experience manager is playing with fire when he makes light of the situation – some of those morons are serious.

Another ad (well, series of ads) which is shining a light on the average IQ of the typical Briton is the Nationwide one, featuring Flo and Joan.

Flo and Joan – played by Nicola and Rosie Dempsey – sing typical advert songs in front of a home keyboard. I suppose I should be annoyed by this one, too, but for some reason I can’t put my finger on I’m not. I’ve not listened to the words, and I’m neither driven towards or away from opening an account with Nationwide. But there’s just something about Flo and Joan that is… OK.

That’s not true for the nutcases, though. People have issued death threats to Nicola and Rosie, and these are deemed serious enough to have involved the police. Looking at some of the samples, it’s hard to believe they are deadly serious, but they overstep the mark enough to make you wonder.

Disliking something – even being intensely annoyed about it – is one thing. But to go so far as to cancel membership of an organisation which does good work or to issue threats of violence over something so trivial just doesn’t make sense.

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As I’ve mentioned in the About Me section, I seriously considered becoming a teacher before I went down the route of being a driving instructor. I like teaching people.

I saw an advert on the TV just now from the Department for Education pushing its Get Into Teaching campaign.

I think it’s fair to say, judging from those in the clip, that I wouldn’t be able to do it now. The advert clearly implies that only women and possibly those from minority groups are eligible. The video above carries interviews with seven people (six women, one male). The second video in the series has ten interviews (8 women, two men).

It’s funny, isn’t it? If it had been the other way round, World War III would probably have started.

I hate positive discrimination. It is usually far more deliberate than the usual type everyone gets worked up about.

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I’ve not done one of these for quite some time, but I am currently being driven to distraction by the most annoying TV advert of the year. It’s for TUI Holidays, and it features an irritating, gap-toothed woman, and a thin, whiny female voice singing an already-irritating song (“Ain’t Nobody”, by Rufus and Chaka Khan). According to one source I used, the actress in the ad, Bethany Louise Slater, is also the singer. However, a reader has recently written to me to inform me that they used a separate singer. Whatever and whoever, the singing is crap.

It’s made worse by the fact that TUI appears to be sponsoring Sky One this Christmas, so the bloody thing is on at least twice every 5-7 minutes – i.e. at the start and end of every ad break.

Edit: And it’s not just me. TV Ad Music refers to the music thus:

Such a shame, then, that they’ve chosen to soundtrack the ad with a terribly insipid cover version of… The trend for anaemic covers of classic songs in TV ads is long established…

Campaign describes it:

Turkey of the week… It’s a cheesy ad with poor singing and dancing…

And a lot of others feel similarly.

Incidentally, after a few weeks, Sky toned it right down, and although the annoying muted piano intro still appears with the same regularity at either end of ad breaks, the full version is thankfully much less frequent. I wonder if Sky will ever realise that they could well lose customers if they persist in showing really annoying sponsor adverts at saturation levels every year?

When will it stop?

Well, I’m writing this update in mid-February 2018, and the bloody thing is still being shown. Every ad break. And I’m getting more and more people finding the blog on search terms amounting to “when will Sky stop showing it?”

The short answer is that I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that I have been avoiding Sky One like the plague, and switching channels when the ad comes on. Furthermore, I will never book a holiday through TUI now on a point of principle. And I very much doubt that I’m the only one.

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Sad Hill Cemetery in the movieI just caught this story on the BBC website.

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (TGTBATU) is the best film of all time. I should say that that’s just my opinion, but I don’t want to water it down. It just is.

It has sentimental value to me as well. An uncle, who died many years ago, was going to take me to see it when it was on at the cinema. I had been captivated by the music, which was being played a lot on the radio, and he said he’d take me. It never came to pass, because about five minutes after he’d said it, my auntie pointed out that it had an ‘X’ rating and they wouldn’t let a 7-year old in.

I digress. A while back, I was playing around with Google Earth, and since TGTBATU was on one of the satellite channels again I looked up the location of Sad Hill cemetery – the setting for the iconic final scene in the movie. The scenery in the film had always impressed me, but the location in Northern Spain turned out to be overgrown. It was an unofficial off-the-beaten-track tourist target, but it was just an overgrown valley – albeit still with great scenery. I’d made a mental note to visit the place if I ever got the chance.

Anyway, it appears from this story that a group of volunteers has renovated the site and put it back to the condition it was in when the movie was shot.

Time to start planning the trip.

Where is Sad Hill on Google Earth?

I can’t believe someone found this story based on that search term!

If you launch Google Earth and type “Sad Hill” into the search box, it takes you straight to it. No choices to make, it just goes there. The address is shown as Sad Hill Cemetery – 09610 Santo Domingo de Silos, Burgos, Spain. Coordinates are 41°59’25.71″N, 3°24’30.77″W.

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Tom Baker - the definitve DoctorI told you! Back in January, I speculated that the odds of the next Doctor Who being female were good.

Let’s not beat about the bush here. The fact that the new Doctor Who will be female is contrived – contrived with a capital “C”. The media response to it just highlights the fact.

The Huffington Post has “Girl’s Reaction To Jodie Whittaker Announcement Sums Up How Important A Female Doctor Is “. The BBC is busy blowing its own trumpet, with “Jodie Whittaker and the other sci-fi women breaking the glass ceiling”. The BBC also has “Doctor Who: Prime Minister welcomes first female Time Lord”.

As I said back in January, the titular character in Doctor Who was never intended to be anything other than male. That’s no slight on women, it’s just the way it is. This current situation might well satisfy the right-on BBC and the rabid feminists out there, but it is roughly the equivalent of casting Tom and Jerry as an aardvark and a lemur (in that order). It just doesn’t make any sense.

Now, when this one’s tenure ends, what are the odds of the next Doctor being transgender?


I’ve been getting a few comments from people on this story. Just to clarify:

  • The Doctor was a male character
  • The Doctor has always been a male character
  • yes, there were female Timelords, but The Doctor was not one of them
  • the decision to “regenerate” The Doctor as a female is absolutely a decision motivated by political correctness
  • before the decision was finally made, there were various pushes to make The Doctor into a character representing minority groups

No matter how you try to put spin on it, it was a deliberate decision to put a woman into a role which was always intended to be masculine. I’m sorry, but it was. The only way of justifying it is to rewrite the historical storyline in order to claim that it was always possible – and then pretending that you believe it.

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