Posts from 2nd December 2003

Dec 03

Split screen has been around for years

Do You SeePost a comment • 290 views

Split screen has been around for years but when did it stop being arty-n-clever and just become part of the routine grammar of the TV documentary? It was used in BBC2’s The Week that Shook The World: The Last Days of Hitler and it was used in the C4 Brinks Mat two-parter – both of these being interesting but run-of-the-mill histories of a specific incident involving many people and requiring ancient contextual footage and dramatic recreations – and in fact I’ve seen split screen several times in the last week or so, on programmes I wasn’t paying much attention to. I like when techniques which are meant to alienate or amaze drop below the golly-radar. I imagine it helps that many homes have big huge TV screens now.

The Pumpkin Publog Advent Calendar of Alcohol: 1-2% by volume – Tenant’s LA

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 1,005 views

As a licencee you need to pass a test. Never fear, as a multiple choice ragbag of fifty facts about pubs, you are likely to get them right if you have ever been in a pub up to closing time. One of the slightly more arcane parts however is the alcoholic strength of drinks. Namely, what does that percentage by volume mean? (If interested it means the percentage of the liquid that is alcohol, unsurprisingly). There are also sums to work out how pissed someone will be after a couple of pints of Stella and a double Brandy.

An additional fact comes in on labelling laws. In the UK a drink is allowed to be sold as non-alcoholic if it has 0.5% or less alcohol by volume. Hence finding Fentiman’s in the unlicensed sweet shop. However there is another subdivision, that of Low-Alcohol Beers, between 0.5%-1.2%. I have never willingly drunk any of these, barely strong enough to give you a giggle, they still do have some alcohol in them. And if I’m off the bouze, I’m off the weak bouze too.

For a thorough list of these brews, see here: a German website enamoured by them (and the science in some sort of Campaign For Low Alcohol Pop, or CLAP way). Some tremendous claims are made for some of these beers, Whitbread White Label being less gassy than other canned lager, Maxim Low, you’d never know. There is even a Low Alcohol version of Belle-Vue Kriek, which surely is indistinguishable from Panda Pops Cherryade.

Nevertheless for the puposes of this Advent Calandar, we need to choose a beer: and that honour has gone to Tennants L.A. Firstly for imagining the scenario when a man of the road gets so pissed that his next purchase goes slightly wrong and he settles for LA instead of Super. But mainly for this tremendous piece of copy on the back of the can:

“Scientific tests prove that even when large quantities of Tennent’s LA are consumed it has remarkable little effect on the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. The effect of drinking Tennent’s LA is much less than you would expect given its alcoholic strength’. It’s 1.2%, your bloodstream frankly is not going to notice.

This piece will be updated when I get to drink some.

There are no decent pubs in Clapham.

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 295 views

There are no decent pubs in Clapham. It is a given. That is okay, generally the denizens of Clapham have no need for decent pubs, considering the amount of trade many of the overcrowded and unpleasant bars do. Wander away from Clapham however, say west of Clapham South Tube and you start to get near Wandsworth. Home of the Young’s brewery and a much more generous scatter of at least okat pubs. The Nightingale on Nightingale Lane is a pleasant little local boozer seemingly untroubled by its Clapham neighbours. All the trad Young beers are on display, a pint of Pilsner was very pleasant, though the pub does seem to have mislaid its print of the Queen Mum pulling a pint. We got into a pretty unintelligable conversation with a Scotsman about deserts and footballs (disapproves of the former, Celtic fan in the latter).

Word of warning though. The Sunday lunches are an acquired taste. That is you will like them if you like stale roast potatoes. The ‘6.95 choice between Roast Chicken, Lamb and Beef was standard, the ordering method was a touch idiosyncratic. You had to ring a hand bell for service, which briefly turned the pub into Fenn Street School at the start of Please, Sir! The service was odd. My beef came within one minute, the time it took to fill the plate to the rim with gravy. The lamb and another beef came five miuntes later. When it was pointed out that the second order had been for lamb and chicken our aproned server exlaimed a loud “Fuck” and stomped off to the kitchen. All entertaining but not exactly service with a smile.

The Young’s pubs in the area do not appear to have Sky football by the way. Which meant that I was whisked back to earlier days, watching the football results scroll in on Ceefax. The Nightingale seems to be stuck in the past in so many ways, it might be worth your time: poor food, service with a scowl and the scores on Ceefax. It could be 1991 again.

I’m delighted to see one of my favourite pieces of football writing reappear on the web

TMFDPost a comment • 238 views

I’m delighted to see one of my favourite pieces of football writing reappear on the web. It’s a piece by my friend Alan Crockford on the birth of his daughter (it runs down the right hand side of the page, under the heading which begins ‘Ellie was born on 23 February 2002”)

It may be glib to say that Al doesn’t see football as a metaphor for life, he sees life as a metaphor for football. It’s at least partly true, though. Why else give Ellie those initials?

Whichever way around, I love this piece, and I’m fairly sure I’m not just being soppy. It’s the bit about the traditional centre forward which always gets me…

Petites Couperes has ominous music,

Do You SeePost a comment • 377 views

Petites Couperes has ominous music, constantly hinting that something terrible is going to happen. In many ways something terrible does happen, namely the film. But that is too glib a dismissal of what is a pretty entertaining if pretty vapid movie. I was attracted in by the cast, Daniel Auteil and Ludivine Sagnier have a decent tiff in the trailer. In the film however, bar a great opening sequence featuring Sagnier, we follow Auteil’s hangdog communist reporter. The communism is a tic, this is a film full of amusing tics and little to hang them together. All the communists in the film have to answer why they are still communists. You know – since the wall.

The plot concerns Auteil’s journo who is at a bit of a loose end and is pleased to be summoned to help out his corrupt uncle. Along the way he keeps seducing women, which is a pity because he really loves his wife (this kind of thing happens in French films all the time). He ends up having a rather strange evening with a perky and odd Kristen Scott Thomas, all the more odd for looking strangely like Famke Janssen. Thomas, still thanking her lucky stars for her French lessons at school, plays the step daughter of a grumpy old communist (you know, the wall) who is also his wife. This kind of thing happens in French films all the time too.

The film is shot beautifully, has the requisite moments of tension and humour and is wholly dispensable. It is the death twitch of a certain type of French movie, the sophisticated sex dramas of the eighties. This doesn’t even have the sex. If you had to choose between it and Le Chignon D’Olga then I would take the latter. But if you HAD TO choose then you would be in a pretty unfortunate situation. One for you only if you are getting French film withdrawal.