All posts by angiesallsorts

Volunteer hospital radio presenter and football commentator. I enjoy the theatre, films, photography, good books and I am a general sports pundit.


Ice-Dance Sensation

Incidents in the short program can have a dramatic effect on the overall standings, as US men’s skater Nathan Chen knows only too well. And the drama in this competition really began when Gabriella Papadakis suffered a wardrobe malfunction only seconds into her short routine, when her dress came undone. She completed the program with partner Guillaume Cizeron to score 81.93 for France, enough for second place overnight behind their training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada with 83.67. The compulsory Latin music theme of the short program didn’t seem to suit the French couple quite as much as the classical piece they were at liberty to choose for their free routine. Papadakis & Cizeron performed to the ethereal piano Moonlight Sonata whilst Virtue & Moir in complete contrast skated to Moulin Rouge a full-on “in your face” ballsy number. In a way the music chosen by each couple seemed to reflect their personalities and partnership dynamics.

The Shibutani siblings for team USA looked to be really enjoying their Coldplay music inspired routine, and as always gave a technically sound performance, if a little clinical looking, compared to the French and top Canadian couples. That precisely executed program won Maia & Alex Shubutani the Bronze for the US (overall 192.59) with fellow Americans Hubbell & Donohue closely behind in 4thafter a slightly disappointing free program. Papadakis & Cizeron free performance was exquisite with a ballet-esque like quality yet displaying elements of contemporary dance as well. Similar to Hanyu in the men’s individual, the French couple seemed at one with the music, and more importantly with each other. They moved as one entity with an ebb and flow so quiet, delicate and beguiling, it was captivating to watch. Their routine scored 123. 35 a new World Record for a free program in ice-dance. Later Virtue & Moir took to the ice to perform like a couple possessed. They demonstrated passion, drama and athleticism that could make your head spin, but delivered subtlety in quieter moments too. Perhaps this light and shade element to the Canadians routine gave them the overall edge, as commentator Robin Cousins suggested both couples had the same base line score of 44.90 to begin with. But with a combined score of 206.07 (overall World Record) Virtue & Moir took Gold for Canada with Papadakis & Cizeron taking Silver for France with 205.28.

Virtue & Moir Passion Personified (Image credit @ISU_Figure)

Couples vying for places outside the medals that impressed me included 8th placed Gilles & Poirer of Canada who performed to Bond music and their teammates Weaver & Poje in 7th who gave a dramatic and powerful routine.  British couple Coomes & Buckland came in a credible 11th an impressive achievement considering Penny suffered a potential career ending knee injury in 2016.

Women’s Individual

OAR skater Evgenia Medvedeva suffered a broken foot that interrupted her Olympic preparations, and she changed her free program midseason to a routine that “made her feel something”. Having not been beaten in competition since November 2015, Medvedeva tasted defeat to her compatriot Zagitova in January 2018. Would the same thing happen again in PyeongChang over the top two spots, and who would fight for the Bronze?

After the short program the three Americans were ranked 9th-11th a little disappointing for them, especially after Nagasu fell on her triple axel jump having become the first woman to land it in the team US skate. The top six overnight included the two OAR athletes, two Japanese (Sakamoto 73.18 & Miyahara 75.94) the Italian Kostner with 73.15 (Celine Dion music) and Canadian Osmond 78.87 (Edith Piaf music). Evgenia achieved a world record in her short program with 81.61 only to watch her teammate Alina surpass this with 82.92, having performed the most difficult triple Lutz/triple loop combination in the women’s competition.

Kostner made several uncharacteristic errors in her free routine making her performance seem a little laboured, especially without any triple/triple combination jumps. But all credit to the Italian for still competing at age 31, more than double that of Alina Zagitova aged just 15. Both Japanese skaters put in beautiful routines, but neither could equal the achievement of Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond’s Black Swan performance that took Bronze (231.02). Her free routine scored a fantastic 152.15 a seasons best by a whopping ten points, duly rewarded for her quality skating, the speed and flow over the ice and the dramatic performance. Not as technically loaded as the OAR routines but terrific to watch, especially as the Canadian provided a stark contrast of style. When Zagitova took to the ice the difference was obvious, as Alina loaded her routine into two distinct parts, choreography, spin and steps concentrated into the first segment, followed by jumps in the latter half. She did this in the short program as well, a clever move as later jumps are given a 10% extra mark. Having watched the others who spread the technical elements throughout their routine, it did make the Zagitova free program look unbalanced. Alina showed some quick thinking however, when a triple Lutz/triple loop combination turned into a triple/single one, and she just added the original element of difficulty very late in the program. Her free score of 156.65 indicated that was probably a good move. Evgenia Medvedeva was the last to perform in the Olympic figure skating competition. Her routine was wonderful to watch, seemed more balanced as a whole, the skating was faster, the jumps a little higher, and more ice was covered than Zagitova. But the biggest difference between the OAR performances was the facial expressions of Evgenia, so distinctive, illuminating and emotive. She told a story through her expression and body language. For me and much of the audience Medvedeva was the gold medallist. But alas the judges deemed Evgenia’s free program equal to Alina’s and scored it 156.65 as well. So the two world record short program’s decided the final outcome with Alina Zagitova taking Gold and Evgenia Medvedeva the Silver for OAR.

                 Women’s Podium (Image credit @Olympics)

In closing, the Pairs winners Shavchenko & Massot had completeness within their free program, with a seamless quality between transitions. Hanyu inhabited his music in the men’s individuals as did Papadakis & Cizeron in the ice-dance. But the extra dimension of light and shade from Virtue & Moir brought them gold. The women’s individual program had light & shade, storytelling & emotion through Osmond and Medvedeva and technical awareness and grace from Zagitova. But the small age difference between the medallists was telling, as 18 year old Medvedeva and 21 year old Osmond had the extra maturity to express their programs better. Yet Zagitova had that youthful fearlessness where the technical elements were concerned. Alina’s emotional expressiveness can only get better through maturity and Kaetlyn can add to her technical diversity. But for me the winner in PyeongChang was Evgenia Medvedeva who said in an interview with the BBC “I left all my soul in the competition”. It showed and I felt it. Wow!!!



Pairs: 5-4-3-2-1 Germany Get Gold

The German figure-skating Pairs couple Aljona Shavchenko & Bruno Massot triumphed to become only the second non Russian outright winners (China 2010, shared RUS/Canada-Sale/Pelletier gold 2002) since 1964.  The last time Germany topped the podium in the Pairs was in 1952 with Ria Falk & Paul Falk. Ukrainian born Shavchenko now 34 years old was competing in her 5th Olympics and was in 4th place after the short program with her 3rd career partner. French born Massot found German his fourth language (after French, English & Italian) a little harder to master, taking three attempts to pass the language proficiency test for German citizenship. Bruno became a German national only weeks before the PyeongChang games began. Interestingly Shavchenko gained her German citizenship through her work with previous partner Robin Szolkowsky, securing two Olympic Bronze medals for Germany her second country in the 2010 & 2014 games.  Aljona had already represented Ukraine at her inaugural Olympics of 2002 where she was placed 15th.    But with Massot competing in his 1st Olympics, the German pair ranked fourth overnight pulled off the seemingly mission impossible, with a World Record free program score of 159.31 to be crowned Olympic champions (235.9)

When Shavchenko & Massot first took to the ice, from their costumes and initial start to their free program, I couldn’t help thinking of Bolero, especially as the couple used one continuous piece of music from Armand Amar. As the routine progressed there were distinct Torvill & Dean “moments”, so it came as no surprise to discover Christopher Dean had helped the German’s with the choreography. They had sought Dean’s help as Aljona & Bruno hoped to create an ice-dance feel within their pairs program, and the result was a scintillating routine of subtle beauty and tremendous athleticism, mixed with some Christopher Dean fairy dust.

Finale to Shavchenko & Massot Pairs routine. (Image credit @ISU_Figure)

Chinese pair Wenjing Sui & Cong Han first in the short program secured the Silver (235.47) medal and Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford maintained their overnight third place to take Bronze for Canada (230.15). OAR athletes Tarasova & Morozov executed a below par free routine to fall from second to fourth place overall. The Italian’s Marchei & Hotarek who I said could be a future prospect having seen them in the team event were sixth.

Men’s Individual

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu suffered an ankle injury in October 2017 and had not competed since, having opted out of the team skating competition. Not since the American Dick Button in 1952 had a man defended his Olympic champion status, but Yuzuru hoped to create his own piece of history.

After the short program only four routines scored over a hundred points, with Hanyu in first place (111.68) followed by Spain’s Javier Fernandez (107.58), Shoma Uno (104.17) another Japanese competitor and China’s Jin Boyang (103.32). America’s poster boy Nathan Chen had a nightmare performance trailing in 17th place scoring 82.27, which was actually a higher score than he received in the team event (80.61). The Israeli Alexei Bychenko who impressed me so much during the team event where he placed second, scoring 88.49 in this short phase, could only manage 13th place here with 84.13. Had he posted a similar mark to the team event he would have been 7th overnight. At the end of competition Bychenko’s overall ranking was a credible 11th having laid down a solid free routine.

Nathan Chen stunned the audience with a free program featuring six quadruple jumps, with only one being judged less than perfect. This gave him a free routine score of 215.08 an unassailable benchmark which only the Japanese came close to matching. Despite his Herculaneum efforts Chen took fifth place overall, the short program being his undoing, although paradoxically this may have helped Nathan perform his free routine more relaxed. Japan’s Shoma Uno scored 202.73 with a bubbly, athletic, free spirited routine to win Silver (306.90), whilst Yuzuru Hanyu scored 206.17 to retain his Olympic title (317.85). Only three competitors posted free routine scores in the 190s range and Javier Fernandez with 197.66 did enough to secure a Bronze for Spain (305.24).

Men’s Podium (Image credit @Olympics)

Yuzuru Hanyu with his golden sash waistband and black gloved hands performed with a delicacy to every movement that felt theatrical in its essence. He seemed at one with the music, like an actor totally inhabiting a character, yet the essential elements of power and athleticism were in evidence too. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear Hanyu edits his own music so that he can control the audio to match the elements he sees in his head. The result is a beautiful musicality between the creativity in Yuzuru’s head and his performing feet.

Managing in the Middle

My husband Rob’s tenure as an acting head of department at Keele University comes to an end on April 1st, and it can’t come soon enough. It was always made clear that in the long run an outside person was wanted, and Rob was happy to play an interim role until a full-time appointment was made. But enough is enough.

We live on campus and don’t have any internet connectivity at home in an attempt to try and keep some work/life balance. Consequently Rob mainly comes home for lunch, and before his headship, would pop back to the office for short periods of an evening or at the weekend. However, with no respite from any of his “normal job activities” and numerous additional demands on his time, 12+ hour days, 7 days a week became the norm!! Lunchtime (if he got one) could swing between anything from 11.15 to 2.45pm, depending on meeting durations or a sudden summons from “on high” being received. Whole days filled with back to back meetings regularly occur, meaning his “day job” duties would start at 5pm or clocking-off time for many others. This situation is all the more frustrating because much of these head of department meetings are on subject matters that you have no qualification for, health & safety, finance, building plans, HR etc! He is a scientist (with his research withering on the vine right now) but finds himself playing a politics game within a hierarchy that has revealed itself in a less than favourable light. Issues of legacy seem to be far higher on the agenda than issues of staff and student well-being.

Strike action over pensions is about to start in universities. Edicts from the powers that be on how to handle the situation, contradict completely the Union manifest on the same subject. It seems to me as if both sides inhabit some alternate reality called La La Land, because their expectations are so unrealistic. Rob as head of department is placed directly in the middle of this maelstrom, being the frontline face and message boy of information, regardless of his own personal feelings on the matter. He is getting hassle from all sides, the university hierarchy, the Union and most damaging of all, grief from colleagues. Rude, ill-tempered and at times derogatory emails flying back and forth is one thing, enduring highly unpleasant face to face confrontations is quite another. It’s hard to accept the Union rep’s mantra “oh it’s nothing personal” having been challenged by a disgruntled colleague “are YOU proud of what the university is doing?” If only that person appreciated just how desperately Rob is trying to tread a fine line of fairness and diplomacy. How he is filtering some of the commands from on high because they are totally ridiculous, being unworkable and highly controversial. But these efforts are going largely unnoticed.

So as strike action looms over the last few weeks of Rob being head of department how do things look to me? Well as I listen to what’s going on from the sidelines, it’s clear that work relationships are bound to be irrevocably damaged by people reacting both in the moment and to the event, whilst generalising Rob’s role in being “one of the bad guys because he’s in management”. There appears to be little awareness that work relationships will have to continue after the dispute is over, however strained that process may be. The mantras being laid down from both the Union and higher university management seem to indicate a “head in the sand” entrenched approach, which shows scant regard for the dynamics of maintaining a good working relationship in the future. It’s all very divisive and I can’t help but reflect on the miner’s strike of the 80s where families and communities were torn apart, many remaining divided to this day. I can see a parallel with the university sector doing battle over pensions now, tuition fees in the future, and lecturers taking sides. Rob will hand over the reins to a new head of department with a sigh of relief in April, but he will never see the university hierarchy or many colleagues in the same light ever again.



The team skating competition had already got underway before the opening ceremony took place in PyeongChang on February 9th. With the time difference between South Korea and the UK being 9 hours, the action took place in the small hours of the morning, and I relied on replays and highlights to catch the event. This has been made easier for me due to improved signal on my mobile phone, and having a greater data allowance on my contract. So I’ve delighted in finding coverage on the BBCiPlayer and unearthing full result details on the BBC Sport app. We don’t have internet/Wi-Fi connections at home, so catch-up services or paid for sport channels are not an option.

So the team results would be given a points allocation, with the highest score receiving 10 points down to the lowest receiving 1 point. Medals would be awarded to the nations with the highest amount of points accumulated. Initially ten teams began the competition all taking part in the short program, before the top five nations progressed into the free program. All four disciplines (Men’s singles, Women’s singles, Pairs & Ice-Dance) were represented, so obviously nations with a greater depth of talent had a better chance of medal success.

After the short program the following nations sadly took no further part: China 6th (18 pts): Germany 7th (16 pts): Israel 8th (13 pts): Korea 9th (13 pts): France 10th (13 pts). Going into the final phase in order were Team Canada 1st (35 pts), OAR (31 pts), USA (29 pts), Japan (26 pts) and Italy (26 pts). Each country had the opportunity to switch a maximum of two performers over all four disciplines.


Gold CANADA (73 pts): Silver OAR (66 pts): Bronze USA (62 pts)

Team Figure Skating Individual Section Winners


PAIRS: Free Program: MEGAN DUHAMEL & ERIC RADFORD (Canada) Score 148.51 pts

WOMEN’S: Short Program: EVGENIA MEDVEDEVA (OAR) Score 81.06

WOMEN’S: Free Program: ALINA ZAGITOVA (OAR) Score 158.05 pts

MEN’S: Short Program: SHOMA UNO (Japan) Score 103.25 pts

MEN’S: Free Program: PATRICK CHAN (Canada) Score 179.75 pts

ICE-DANCE: Short Program: TESSA VIRTUE & SCOTT MOIR (Canada) Score 80.51 pts

ICE-DANCE: Free Program: TESSA VIRTUE & SCOTT MOIR (Canada) Score 118.1 pts

Canada triumphed by not having any competitor below third place in each program, with Patrick Chan not fully showing his prowess, suffering uncharacteristic falls in both his short and free routines. I was greatly impressed by the Israeli men’s competitor Alexei Bychenko in the short program who came second, between Uno & Chan. Bychenko skated out of his skin and pulled off a complex routine nailing his quadruple jumps, unlike many others. Could he be a dark horse for a podium place in the individual competition? It all depends on the strength of his free routine, which viewers didn’t get to see as Israel failed to progress. Another surprise came from the Italy Pairs free routine from Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek who placed second behind the Canadians. Unlike Duhamel & Radford however, the Italians have only been a partnership for a short time, both having placed 11th in Sochi, Marchei as an individual and Hotarek with another partner in Pairs. Their jaunty joyful routine was fantastic to watch, and I thought they could be a real force in the future, if not today. Where medals are concerned the Canadians in Pairs are dominant, whilst the OAR, Germany and USA are snapping at the heels, with Japan and China lurking. Italy used a different partnership in the short program, so it’s difficult to really measure how Marchei & Hotarek fully compare against Duhamel & Radford. But it could make the Pairs competition a lot more interesting! In the Women’s short program Evgenia Medvedeva for OAR produced an elegant, powerful and very precise routine, whilst another OAR skater Alina Zagitova aged 15 a vision in red, pulled off with aplomb the most difficult combination of any woman, a triple lutz followed by a triple loop in her free routine. Alina reminded me of a ballerina spinning round in a jewellery box, she looked so delicate yet dedicated to her dance, and looked from her skating far more mature than her years suggest. Behind Zagitova came American Mirai Nagasu who gave a lovely performance and Canadian Gabrielle Daleman came third with her Rhapsody in Blue free routine. Her fast footwork and spins into the finale were fantastic. Rounding off the team competition Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir of Canada expressed perfectly why they are at the top of their game in Ice-Dance competition. Their synchronicity, power and passion flowed with the Moulin Rouge music, yet an equally beautiful subtlety and delicacy emerged through the slower movements, making an absolutely sublime viewing experience.

Team Canada top the podium (image credit abmj taken from BBC TV coverage)

Off The Beaten Track 6

BBC Radio 4 has a morning Book of the Week slot on week days, it’s not my usual listen, but due to intriguing descriptions in the Radio Times I’ve recently tuned in.  I’ve been enthralled by the stories concerning two remarkable women, one trying to escape Nazi occupied France, the other honestly chronicling the effects of living with early onset Alzheimer’s. Both have deeply touched me and I will definitely be buying the books, although I admit that the subject matter are areas I would normally shy away from, finding them upsetting to think about. But the indomitable spirit of both these women shone through the readings, and I found myself eagerly awaiting the next episode, in a kind of “wondering way”. Those ten 15 minute slots taught me more about life, survival, history and compassion than anything I’ve seen on TV.  The books are as follows:

NO PLACE TO LAY ONE’S HEAD Francoise Frenkell (Pushkin Press, £16.99)

My interest was caught when the Radio Times commented the book was initially published in Geneva 1945, and then seemingly forgotten until discovered in a French attic in 2010. A second edition was issued in French and now an English translation has been made. A firsthand account of a Jewish woman’s survival and escape from the Nazi’s in France, printed perhaps in the first few weeks of Europe peacetime in 1945, and then untouched until re-discovered in a modern day world.  Wow!

Frenkell came from a Polish Jewish family, was highly educated to degree level (I believe) having studied in Paris, and ended up opening a French bookshop in Berlin on discovering no such facility existed. Her clientele was illustrious, business brisk and successful and the future looked bright in early 1930s Berlin. Then the rule of Hitler and the effect of his policies kicked in. I listened as her beloved bookshop managed to avoid destruction as it wasn’t on an official destroy list. How she had to leave it behind and flee in the night, traversing through Europe from city to city, always somehow avoiding major crackdowns, or invasion, by a matter of days. Her skirmishes with authority and her escape attempts to reach Switzerland, finally successful. Frenkell’s words seem to be beautifully translated into an eloquent yet matter of fact way, and I listened with my “heart in my mouth” most of the time. I punched the air when her escape was successful and breathed a sigh of relief. My overall feeling was one of admiration for Francoise and her determined nature to survive in an intolerable society. But there was anger as well at the same society for its blinkered rule of law. It seemed to conveniently ignore, no doubt because of her Jewish ethnicity,  the fact Frenkell had all the necessary documentation (residency papers, visa) to live peacefully in France and to travel with ease to Switzerland.  My listening ended with Francoise setting foot in Switzerland where she survived the war to write her memoir, about her life before Nazi rule in Europe and her escape from it. The French publishing company Gallimard discovered Frenkell passed away in Nice in 1975 at the ripe age of 86 but could find no relatives.

SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW Wendy Mitchell (Bloomsbury £9.99)

My listening journey with Wendy began with her describing a “fog in her head” and inexplicable falls whilst she was out running. Doctors suggested she could have had a stroke, having discovered a heart condition that was fixed through surgery. The fog continued and eventually a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s was made after a seemingly painfully slow series of visits with health clinicians. Her description of looking at online videos of people living with the condition was searing, the initial thought of “but these are old people nearing the end of their lives” before finding one of a man in his late 50s like herself, who described his experiences in a mirror like fashion to her own.

Wendy worked as a NHS administrator known for her powers of recall and organisation skills. Slowly she had become aware that her grasp on things wasn’t the same. When she told management of her diagnosis the only thing offered was early retirement, there was no procedure to try and enable her to work within her remaining mental capabilities, which were still considerable. Her co-workers brilliantly rallied around to make tasks less stressful and more easy to deal with, enabling Wendy to continue in her job as long as possible. With unexpected early retirement foisted upon her Wendy decided to use her time attending conferences, doing speaking engagements and becoming a leading advocate for those living with Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Through this work she hopes to educate people to have a better understanding of the condition. I was certainly educated as I listened to excerpts from Mitchell’s book. Hearing how familiar things can suddenly seem strange and confusing, city living becoming too noisy to deal with, the use of technology to help try and trick her condition, the coping strategies Wendy uses to deal with the sudden onset of panic. It was illuminating to literally “see the world through Wendy’s eyes” and to hear how her condition is slowly taking over her mind. Her articulation is heartfelt, honest and at times perhaps unconsciously funny with a wry humour, like her wonderment at experiencing a gliding session and how quiet the flight was, whilst knowing she wouldn’t remember a thing about the safety video if disaster struck. The realisation “if you don’t use it you will lose it” after taking a three week break from her work and finding the computer keyboard incomprehensible for a few hours. How the person she is today is someone she doesn’t really recognise anymore, yet for the joys she has lost (like TV shows, long novels, cooking) an appreciation for new joys (short stories, poetry, old familiar films). I shared Mitchell’s sadness and resigned acceptance when her extra income from government support was removed, having been deemed fit enough to function on a daily basis.  Much of the “medical tests” used depended on the person remembering how they were before, a ludicrous concept when you consider the nature of an Alzheimer’s condition. Wendy’s resilience and determination to live life to the full for as long as possible was utterly compelling. Once again I had found a woman living in a difficult situation, making the best of it and triumphing in a way against the odds. Somehow both Francoise and Wendy made me feel empowered too.

In closing, I will mention a book that has been on my bookshelf since 2001. It’s called HAPPY TIMES by Lee Radziwill (sister of Jackie Kennedy Onassis). I read about it in a Sunday newspaper supplement, and asked my husband to look for it in America when he visited a few weeks later. There is little dialogue in it and is mainly a gorgeous photo book, rather like a family album. I’ve delved into it many a time, but only really read the dialogue this week. I’ve been happily updating my photo album with recent activity pictures, and from Wendy Mitchell’s book there is a strong element of how important photo’s can be for memories. We live in such uncertain times; I’ve chosen to look for the joy in things as much as possible. Photography is a passion and a joy, and my husband suggested I look at Happy Times again and actually read it. A quote in the introduction says it all for me: “I believe that without memories there is no life, and that our memories should be of happy times. That’s my choice”.


A Hundred Years of Voting For Women in Britain

Today’s news (February 6th 2018) in the UK, marks the 100th anniversary of an act of parliament which gave some women (property owners aged 30+) the right to vote. Much has changed for women in the political landscape since then, to the point where the country now has its second woman Prime Minister in office. It is not lost on me however, that Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May both became figureheads in the Conservative Party, undoubtedly the predominant ruling class where those early women voters came from! Neither Thatcher nor May had particularly affluent beginnings, yet were drawn to a party historically steeped in privilege and wealth. Interestingly the other main contenders for political office, Labour and to a lesser extent the Liberal Democrats, have never had a female leader, yet are perceived (particularly Labour) to represent the majority of the country’s people.

My beloved maternal Granny was born in 1898 and passed away in 1976. Although I only had her in my life for six and a half short years, her influence on me has been profound. Having lived through a time when women had no voice, Granny rammed home her point “women died for us to have a vote. So ALWAYS vote, be sure to put your cross in that box whenever you can. You may think they are all a bunch of charlatans, but that cross matters. Use it”. And I have used it, never having missed a major election vote since I came of age at 18. At least by voting, I feel I can have an opinion on the state of the country, those who choose to stay away from the polling stations should shut up. I’ve lambasted my younger brother for his lack of voting, whilst being only too happy to take any state benefit going. I know of several countries where voting is compulsory and I’d happily go along with that.

 I don’t understand people who say they don’t know what they are voting for, or that there is no one party that they fully agree on, so they won’t bother. Granny always read the leaflets that were delivered during the run up to elections, all party policies would be considered, and then she would look to her conscience, and vote accordingly. I learned at a very young age that nothing was ever really ideal, and that much of the time it was a compromise between what you thought right and what was being “promised”. To this day I do the same as Granny, read all the pamphlets and make my compromise. I abhor households that bin most of the leaflets delivered, keeping only those of the preferred household political party. I can’t help but think the children in those homes are well and truly indoctrinated from birth, by adults who should know better.

Elections come in several guises, parish council, county council, police commission, general & Euro elections and the occasional Referendum. Each has a distinct difference of influence ranging from very local issues up to national and international relevance. At times I’ve voted with my head and made a tactical decision at other times emotionally with my heart. I’ve tried to discern between local elections and national/international ones because the manifest can be very distinct for a specific area and purpose. I’m always a bit baffled that so many people seem to confuse the two.

Referenda by their very nature tend to have a bit of an earthquake effect, the national foundations are rocked and damage is done to both sides of the argument, regardless of the result. Afterwards an apparent cleanup is made, but nothing ever feels quite the same again. Alas today the UK is still “rocking” from the seismic effects of the EU Referendum, and protracted negotiations continue toward our release from membership of the European Union in 2019. I wonder what the women voters of 1918 would think of the situation we face today, considering Europe was still tearing itself apart in the throes of a savage world war back then.  By 1948 another huge war had once again afflicted the world and from the ashes of a decimated Europe, a vision of an Economic Community was born, which offered perhaps a sense of shared stability and responsibility in a shaky world. Yet we are walking away from it into an unknown future, at a time when the world seems yet again to be more than a just little unpredictable.

In today’s political climate I have no real affiliation to any party as I feel Granny’s description of “charlatans” is quite accurate, the country is not in good shape. And as  I watch the debacle of the Brexit negotiations, and roll my eyes at the much lauded mantra that the government is carrying out the will of the people, I can’t help but think that the Tories  “want their cake and to eat it, whilst maintaining a slim line physique”. But like the country they rule that isn’t going to happen!


Sir Bruce Forsyth: A Friend From The Telly

Sir Bruce Forsyth aged 89 sadly passed away on August 18th and for many the news felt like they had lost a dear friend. So much so that my husband and I spent the evening chatting away about him and remembering how ever present he had been in our lives. That was the kind of hold Sir Bruce had on his audience, little wonder considering his career, which began aged 14 as the Boy Bruce the Mighty Atom.

Sir Bruce had a natural affinity with his audience rather like the late Sir Terry Wogan. Although Wogan had a great TV persona, it was all based on his irrepressible “gift of the gab” but knowing when to listen. Forsyth on the other hand could turn a delivery into an act be it a joke, song, musical recital or dance. Seemingly a dab hand at the piano, a first rate tap dancer, with impeccable timing, a good voice and amazing facial expressions, Sir Bruce Forsyth was the ultimate performer. There was far more to him than the game show host tag which he probably became best known for.

In my childhood home soap operas and game/quiz shows were the main sources of TV entertainment, if my Mammy got her way which usually happened. So the Forsyth face and his catchphrases were known to me from a very young age through The Generation Game (good game, didn’t he do well!); Play Your Cards Right (I’m the leader of the pack, Dolly dealers, Brucie bonus) and The Price Is Right. I also religiously watched Come Dancing much to my mother’s bewilderment, and desperately craved to have music and dance lessons, which I never got. But I didn’t hanker after ballroom dancing but tap dancing? I had no exposure to anything in the dance world except through what I saw on TV, and I had wondered over the years why tap had been so appealing. Last night I realised who had influenced that notion Sir Bruce Forsyth, who I recalled being enthralled by as he did a tap routine with Sammy Davis Jnr. (the embodiment of Mr Bojangles to me).

Despite never cracking America during his career, it seemed many top names from US showbiz wanted to work with Forsyth when they came to Britain. They sought him out knowing that he was an equal they could work alongside, a credible voice to showcase their latest work, chat over old times and do improvised (though probably well-rehearsed) routines.

Although Sir Bruce began work at 14 he didn’t really make a name for himself until 1958, when aged 30, he was offered the compere role on Sunday Night at the London Palladium.  It made him a star, but his relentless work ethic undoubtedly took a toll on his private life, and two failed marriages followed over the years. In later life with perhaps a healthier work/life balance he found happiness with his adored wife Wilnelia Merced whom he married in 1983.

In closing Sir Bruce Forsyth was a classic old school vaudeville entertainer whose like will undoubtedly not be seen again. He made everything seem so easy to do, but worked excessively hard practicing his craft to make it look effortless. Jokes aimed at game show contestants were never cruel, and his affable manner made him liked and respected by his entertainment peers and audiences alike. Thanks for the memories Sir Bruce an entertainment legend “it was nice to see you, to see you nice”.