I drove over to Stamford to meet up with ex-business colleague and film producer: Eric Mival. We’ve kept in touch ever since Eric shot a corporate video for Sainsbury’s (that I was responsible for) back in the late 80s.
Our venue of choice was, of course, the iconic George Hotel in the town – and more specifically, The York Bar.
We haven’t seen each other since August, 2017, and it was good to catch-up with each other’s news!
The focus of our conversation was around Eric’s semi-autobiographical book: Cutting Edge:My Life in Film and Television (get it from Amazon HERE). For me, the enjoyable read had ticked a lot of boxes – my love of the process of film-making AND the fact that Eric had worked on a lot of programmes of my youth including Doctor Who, The Strange Report and of course, the iconic, The Prisoner (amongst many more!). I knew we’d have a lot to chat about, but with the food and service its normal high standard, the time just flew by!
A slightly torturous journey home though, where a major accident on the road to Stamford just after Collyweston caused miles (and miles) of traffic congestion. Luckily, I skirted around the back roads and was home just after 2.30pm (just 10 minutes later than my original ETA).
I found last week’s episode – Praxeus, had a lot of potential, but its oh-so-predictable ending and the not-so-subtle message about the environment spoilt it (although most of the critics seemed to disagree with me, so it shows how much I know!). So, with only two more episodes to air this season, there’s a lot to do to get me back on track.
SYNOPSIS: From ancient Syria, to present day Sheffield, and out into space, something is stalking the Doctor and her friends. As Graham, Yaz and Ryan return home to see friends and family, they find themselves haunted by very different experiences. This episode was written by Charlene James and Show-runner, Chris Chibnall.
OK, that’s a first (for this series): a pre-opening credit sequence! It confirmed that this episode was going to be a scary one! Sofas at the ready!!!
With the credits over, the narrative settled down, now piling a heavy dose of mystery on top of the already creepy storyline. So far, this is easily the Doctor’s most nerve-shredding escapade so far! But it was also very bleak!! Best not to watch this one then if you’ve had a bad day!
We’re now exactly halfway in, and it’s still holding my attention – even though I had no idea where the episode was heading. The mystery remains!
And who is the bald guy and what’s he doing with his fingers? He looks very menacing, and reminds me of my old English Lit teacher!!!
Thirty-five minutes in, and there’s a short reference to the ongoing story-arc for this series: “The Timeless Child” – just long enough to keep the Interweb buzzing until next week’s episode!
Only fifteen minutes to go, and I’m still trying to work out what’s going on (in a good way!), and that suits me perfectly. I just love a good mystery!!
Safe to say that by the final act, this creepy and bleak tale was resolved, although surprisingly, just like some first-dates, the climax came earlier than expected! Consequently, it felt like this week’s was going to finish 10 minutes early! Those remaining minutes were used to great dramatic effect though, and we got to learn something very significant about one of the Doctor’s companions. Deep and meaningful stuff!
VERDICT: That’s more like it! Yes, this felt very ‘Who-like’ – plenty of mystery, some spooky bits with genuinely menacing characters. 😊 And best of all, you’ll never stick your fingers in your ears again! 🙄
We drove over to Stratford-upon-Avon today – to The Bear Pit – to see Second Thoughts‘ penultimate performance of 2020’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was a perfect excuse to leave a bit earlier to give us time to get some retail therapy in the town!
We chose the matinée performance at 2.30pm, and it was about 90% full. We ran into Ian and Ann who’d just returned from Australia and India. I’d studied the Play at school, and in spite of the excellent performance this afternoon, the story today was as impenetrable as it was when I was as a fresh-faced teenager! 🤔 OK, I got the main plot, but is it me – why is one of Shakespeare’s most popular Plays so tricky to follow? 😮
On a more positive note, being performed ‘in the round’ in contemporary costume with a very simplistic set made it a much more immersive experience 😁
Overall then, not one of my fave Shakespeare Plays, but the contemporary twist on the Bard’s original, with its tweaks to the scenes and dialogue, supported by a really enthusiastic cast, made it a memorable performance.
A short tale of how, many years ago, one person influenced the career paths of three others – and today’s reunion! 😁
In 1972, I joined Sainsbury’s at their flagship store – Central Croydon as a Saturday Student – working Friday nights and all-day Saturday. By late 1974, I was still uncertain as to what sort of job I wanted, after leaving school, I started my first proper full-time job with them.
Trouble was, Mum and Dad’s plan was for me was to do a ‘posh job’ – first choice: join the Civil Service, or maybe a Bank (job-for-life in those days!) or an Accountancy practice. But, in true Palmer fashion, I rebelled, and they weren’t impressed at all!! 🙄 They felt I’d deserved something ‘better’ after going to a Grammar School, better certainly than ‘working in a shop’!!! In spite of acquiring an appreciable bundle of O-Levels together with two A-Levels and already passing the entrance exam for the Civil Service, I really felt JS might be the better more enjoyable career for me 😍. From my side of things, I’d thoroughly enjoyed the physical and mental challenge of it all, having worked through the Summer Holidays at JS pretty-much full-time. A great working atmosphere, fab teamwork and lots of interaction with people.
At the time, Central Croydon was their largest (but small by later standards) in the newly built ‘Whitgift Centre’ (Branch ‘332’ since you asked) off Wellesley Road – and one of the first stores to open there (Boots, next door, being the first). Opened in JS’s centenary year of 1969, the management there were all hand-picked, as being the best in the company. The store went on to become a ‘pass-through’ for rising stars of the organisation, and in turn, that always created a fantastic buzz about the place. Yes, it was hard work… really hard work… but exceptionally rewarding!
During that time, I got to know a certain Grocery Manager, Mr Ken Barden, then in his mid-20s, really well. And as expected, he went on to command some very senior positions across the brand.
My Early Years
‘Rewarding’ it certainly was! From a humble Saturday Student earning less than 30p per hour, I joined the trainee management scheme (a recommendation by Ken) briefly at ‘332’ and then onto their store in Orpington (Branch 747), and completed the scheme in a record 11 months. Mum and Dad finally came round, and supported me all the way from there! Phew! 🥰
Next stop? Into junior management in Bromley (Branch 464) and after about a year, I joined the Area Training Team on secondment. My two-year secondment lasted around 4 years (!!!) and then came the BIG promotion. I was appointed Area Training Manager based in Romford (house move and divorce adding to the mix!). And finally, a spell at head office managing the company’s customer care programme and liaising with all the other training departments across the organisation.
The unrivalled grounding that JS gave me in terms of training and development, provided me with a great insight into the importance of ‘people skills’, leading me to shed a tearful farewell in March 1989 – to start my own business training others in guess what? Yes, ‘people skills’.
Finally, the Reunion
By coincidence, Ann, and our good friend Sally, had learned, through separate casual conversations, that they too, having all worked for this mighty food retailer, had also crossed paths with Ken at different times. He had strongly influenced their career path too! – what are the chances ehh??
So, fast-forward (in my case 45 years!) and today was to be special in a number of ways. Although we’d all lost touch with Ken many years ago (although Ann and I had seen Ken briefly in the intervening years at a JS ‘do’) the three of us decided it would be good to catch up, with a view to reminisce about those heady days working for the champion of food retailing – and most of all, to thank him for pointing us in the right direction. We all realised, without his influence, we wouldn’t have been where we are today, nor enjoyed our careers so much!
I tracked Ken down through Facebook, and we all agreed to meet up at his, and then on for a spot of lunch. After a quick coffee and a natter, meeting Carol, his wife and their dogs and cats, we headed off to the Pub for 1pm!
Well, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Pub so busy! The food was excellent, but for once (for me) that didn’t matter at all! We had so many years to catch up with, individually and collectively and I don’t think we stopped talking (and laughing) for the whole time we were there! And surely, it was a good sign that we didn’t leave the Pub until just after 3!
What a fantastic day! We’re certainly going to do it all again sometime with Ken – there are so many more stories and experiences to share! We dropped Sally back at hers and headed home.
Well, it seems that series 12 is now on a roll! After last week’s shock revelations and a story that pleased the critics, fans and super-fans alike (all three? truly a rare event in itself!), this episode is going to have to work really hard!
SYNOPSIS: What connects a missing astronaut in the Indian Ocean, birds behaving strangely in Peru and a US naval officer who washes up on a Madagascan beach? This week’s episode waswritten by Pete McTighe with showrunner, Chris Chibnall and directed by Jamie Magnus Stone.
Well, there were no references to the bigger story arc, reverting to the ‘alien-of-the-week’ format – and that was disappointing. It all started pretty well, by setting up a complex mystery, consisting of a series of unrelated events, it certainly held my attention, attempting to work out what was going on.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the timing of this episode coinciding with the current global coronavirus threat gave it some extra relevance, as the thrust of this week’s yarn was about a mysterious pathogen (Praxeus) with the potential to devastate humanity!
Then, for me, it all went a bit ‘Pete Tong’ as the BBC’s two current obsessions kicked in! Obsession 1: Being overly PCwith its character choices and the other: commenting on the state of the planet. All perfectly valid of course in their own right, but not at the expense of the plot! Arghhhh!
The episode also suffered from a recurring issue with Chibnall’s interpretation of Who: far too many characters! If three companions aren’t two (or even three) too many, then this week, in addition, we had an astronaut, his husband, two vbloggers, a scientist and a scientist’s assistant – 50 minutes just isn’t long enough to give everyone enough to do, and it was one of those episodes where popping off to the loo would be a significant disadvantage, as things moved so fast!
As the story progressed, it became less about a story of mankind vs disease. Instead, a preachy piece, admonishing humanity for the ravages we have inflicted in the environment with plastics. Purleasssse! Can we have the Daleks back? – if I need reminding about the state of the planet, I’ll watch David Attenborough!!
By about two-thirds in, the story, that had all the ingredients of an excellent yarn when it began, just went off the boil. By the final act, it lacked impact and became all very predictable and clichéd: loser-becomes-hero-and-saves-the-day! Together with an over-sentimental they-all-lived-happily-ever-after final scene (no doubt to please our cousins across the pond!) and that just did it for me I’m so disappointed! It was such a contrast to last week’s story!
I’m coming to the conclusion that both this series and the previous, it’s not the acting, I think it’s the scripts – they’re just not chiming with me (apart from last week’s), so maybe it’s time to accept that this Who is not my Who!
VERDICT: It started well, JW owns the character, but another preachy message about how we’re destroying the planet together with the rather sugary-sweet ending ruined a story that had shown great potential. 👎
It’s 11pm here in the UK and midnight in Brussels – and after 47 years, we’re out! OK, technically, we’ve got a period of ‘transition’ (whatever that means!) but the people have spoken!
I voted remain, and I can’t help think that this is the worst decision ever for our country. Our children (and children’s children) will surely look back on this day in years to come, and wonder what drove us to this madness! 😮