Comedy, not a laughing matter.

You might be relieved to know this is not going to be a long one this week. I have got way too much to do this Sunday and, to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was going to talk about. From where I am sitting I can see into the downstairs loo and I know, that at some point today I have to turn off the water and try to replace the flush and ballcock.

Me.

An idiot.

Just promise me that no-one will tell my insurance company when I inevitably get it wrong and flood the house.

I was lying in bed this morning, (Not laying, I was told off on Twitter about that this week.) wondering what had crossed my path during the week that I’d like to explore. Most of it is far too depressing, the world is not a happy place right now and we seem, as a global commune, to be trying to make it worse. But I remembered one thing that made me laugh this week, made me laugh a lot, but also did that wonderful thing of making me think as well. There was sketch on the Tracey Ullman show a couple of weeks ago, and it went viral this week. A woman police officer is interviewing a man who has been mugged. He’s a nice young man in a suit and the officer implies that perhaps he was dressed provocatively, in a nice suit, inviting being robbed and that perhaps he’d been drinking and giving out the wrong signals.

It was, of course, a thinly veiled stab at how woman are often treated by the police and media after a sexual assault, victim shaming and implying they brought it upon themselves. It ends with a pay off gag which I just loved. I don’t know if you enjoy a little Font based humour as much as I do, but implying that using Helvetica is leading someone on was sublime. The sketch was written by Gemma Arrowsmith, who I know of a little. She co-hosts, with Susan Harrison, an improvised comedy podcast called Two Stars, where they play two insufferably pretentious arts reviewers. It might not fit everyone’s taste, but the improvisation is great and occasionally you get that lovely moment where someone starts getting the giggles, which I find utterly charming. It’s an effect they use often on Mrs Brown’s Boys, breaking the fourth wall to imply something has gone awry, except, in that case it’s clearly all pre-planned and staged and falls flat on it’s face. In my opinion at least.

But that sketch just goes to show the power of comedy. There have been god knows how many heartfelt, beautifully written pieces written about victim shaming. But one five minute sketch can communicate the principle and change minds, in a way a thousand word essay can’t.

Look at Donald Trump. Sorry, I should have warned you to prepare for that. Hundreds of thousands of people have hurled abuse at him on-line. Page after page, programme after programme have been produced pointing out his legion of faults, his apparently limitless stupidity and ignorance and it’s all water off a duck’s back. But what really grinds his gears? Alec Baldwin’s impersonation of him on Saturday Night Live. He throws a little hissy fit after every time they do one. Good comedy when it’s also good satire can change how a country thinks. Remember John Major’s puppet on Spitting Image, that probably did lasting damage to his reputation. (Although I suspect Margaret Thatcher probably would have quite liked hers.)

So, I guess the moral of the story is, don’t throw insults or stones, throw puns instead. Land punchlines not punches. Change the world with a smile on your face.

Anyway, I’m off now to fetch the waders from the shed and try to find the stop cock. Whatever else, plumbing is funny right?

PS Just as a post script, I was wondering, can Right Wing comedy ever be really funny? The only right wing comedians I can think of indulge in the ‘I’m not saying my wife is ugly…’ type comedy. Just something to muse on.

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back on the stage…

Back in October last year, I wrote a piece  (An Actor Unprepares…Part 2 – ‘The Stoopid Embargo’) about one of the important preparations I undertake before appearing in a play. I.E, not doing anything daft and injuring myself before the opening night. I was less than usually successful on that last show though, when I managed to introduce my thumb to a rubber mallet whilst helping build the set. The nail still hasn’t fully recovered, but at least it’s no longer black.

I was reminded of ‘The Stoopid Embargo’, at some volume, by Mrs Bloke yesterday as I was playing a game with Little Bloke in our local Lidl car park, which has a decided slope down towards the trolley bay. I decided to call the game ‘Daddy Curling’ and balancing myself up on the handle, freewheeled the trolley down the slope to see if I could reach the bay without putting by feet on the ground. ( I failed, inertia and  friction are no friends of the husky gentleman.) However, I didn’t injure myself and promised I wouldn’t do it again.

Which is a long way of saying that, yes, I’m back on the stage soon. I am lucky enough to be playing the eponymous lead, well both eponymous leads really, of Jekyll and Hyde.

16707460_1270948396287060_6460036767523785894_o

It is one hell of a part. The last play we did, it was very much an ensemble cast, with no stand-out lead or star character. I also had fewer lines to learn for that. This part is proving to be incredibly challenging. To start with, it is essentially two roles. I have to try and portray two very different personalities within the same play, even, during one section, at the same time, where Dr Jekyll and the evil Mr Hyde hold a conversation.

I have taken on large roles before, Hercule Poirot in Black Coffee and the saintly Lt. Osborne in Journey’s End. Each had about four hundred lines to get through. Jekyll is nearer three hundred lines so, in theory, should be easier. But, by god, am I struggling. We were sat yesterday at the kitchen table; Mrs Bloke, Little Bloke and I just going over the same five line speech again and again. Still not sure I’ve got it right. We’re rehearsing now without books and, I’ll admit, it’s hard word.

It is also, just by definition, an extremely difficult role to play. We are not using any make-up or prosthetics for the transformation between Jekyll and Hyde. It is a slightly laughable cliche to have the hero clutching his throat, falling behind an armchair, then rise again, hairy hands and wild wig applied. No, it is being done entirely physically, by changing my stance, my voice, my facial expression. Hyde, needless to say, is much more fun to play; he slopes and slithers across the stage, gravel voiced, violent, wild, unpredictable. Rather than portray him as deliberately evil I am instead trying to make him an unpolished wild animal, all lusts and urges he can’t control.

Now, I’m going to let you into a little secret, but you must promise not to tell my Director. The inspiration for my portrayal of Hyde was not any classic horror movie telling of the story, but rather a radio sketch on ‘John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme’, a wonderful Radio 4 sketch show. You can listen to it on You Tube here – John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme Jekyll Sketch. It’s worth a listen, trust me. Hyde’s wild enthusiasm and uncontrolled appetites define the character for me and if I can, maybe, draw a tiny bit of sympathy for him from the audience, I’ll know I’ve done a good job.

Whenever we choose a new play, I read through, thinking what character I want to try for. I’ll admit, it is not anything edifying I look for. It usually boils down to a few parameters. Do I get to;

  1. Do some lovely shouty acting?
  2. Die on stage? (The good way. Not the bad way, though I did do that once doing some comedy at a little show in Northampton. Still have flash backs.)
  3. Kill or fight anyone?
  4. Kiss anyone?
  5. Get the best laughs?
  6. Get the most tears?

Yes, I am that shallow and this part does tick several of those boxes. Frankly, acting is about the only thing I’ve ever been competitive at. And I think striving to be the best is a good thing. We may be an ‘Amateur’ group, but we have very high standards and have won many awards. We are currently nominated for two awards for our production of All My Sons in 2016, where I didn’t have such a large role, but was noticeable in that it was the first appearance on the adult stage of Little Bloke, playing a neighbourhood kid. Heart bursting pride at that one.

So, opening night is just over two weeks away and I’m still wrestling with lines. I’ll get there. I need that fear to drive me on. I’m slowly raising my performance, up from Force Five to about Force Eight. By opening night I’ll be on scenery chewing, heart rending, spine chilling Force 10. (Raising to 11 on the night my family are watching.) I am extremely hairy at the moment. I haven’t shave for months so, come the production I can carve an impressive muttonchop moustache out of my beard. Frankly, with the full beard and long hair I could be mistaken for a hipster at the moment. My wedding ring is off, as Dr Jekyll is a bachelor, so that there is no sign of a white band on my finger. Told you I take it seriously.

If you happen to be in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Lincolsnhire or Peterborough on the 28th March – 1st April. Why not come along for a watch at The Angles Theatre, Wisbech. Modesty forbids me from saying it will be great.

But it will.

You can book tickets online here – www.anglestheatre.co.uk/jeykll-and-hyde.html

Now, where’s my script? ‘It is a false face we put to the world……’

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com

 

 

 

 

 

This bloke was made for walking..

I am a pedestrian. A walker. I don’t drive. I had a motorbike once, that was…not a success. Keeping a bicycle on the road seems a technical challenge beyond my means and at a forty mile commute a physical one as well. Besides, any vehicle I pilot carries the inherent risk to other road users of me drifting off into inner space and not paying any attention to my surroundings.

I’ve been known, when leaving the house in the morning to walk to the bus station, to suddenly find myself outside my son’s old nursery, the opposite direction. My feet have gone on autopilot whilst my brain has been on loftier levels of imagination. (Probably working on my zombie apocalypse survival plan.) Since I’ve not been wiped out by passing traffic I can only assume I’m sentient enough to look both ways.

So I plod the streets. A usual working day is about 8 miles of pavement time. Which is nice and healthy. (Imagine the size I’d be if I didn’t!) But it does require a comfy pair of shoes. Or, in my case, my trusty old Karrimor Walking Boots. They have been for years my support on many an adventure. But now, I’m afraid, they are being retired, the soles are cracked, the heels worn down. They are (*sniff*) an Ex-Boot.

A good pair of boots are like a good marriage. Sure, you may lose the shine, but it molds to fit you perfectly and give you the support you need. Ironically, I bought these pair of Karrimor Boots not long after Mrs Bloke and I got married thirteen years ago (I’m going to keep using the brand name, just in case Karrimor want to repay the free advertising by sending me a new pair. Worth a shot right? I did really love my boots.)

They were bought for me to wear during a five day charity survival challenge in the wild woods of Rutland. It was to raise money for the Anthony Nolan trust, a cause close to my heart. Although I never needed a Bone Marrow transplant, the Anthony Nolan trust maintain a register of people willing to donate to those suffering Leukaemia and other blood diseases. And, if I may just pause to bang their drum a moment, I would recommend everyone look into it. I had bone marrow extracted as part of my treatment, in case I ever needed a transplant in the future I could be given my own back. So I know what the procedure feels like and, trust me, it’s no big deal. A quick general anaesthetic and a couple of days mild bruising round the hips. Actually it was following that procedure that I had confirmed what my mother had always told me. I wasn’t fat, I am indeed thick boned. Dr Chapman, my surgeon, told me they had trouble getting the bone marrow out of my hip bone from the back, so they had to flip me and do the front as well. Thick bones you see.

Anyway, check them out, sign up. A couple of days mild discomfort to give someone, often a child, a chance of life is a great deal in my opinion. You can find out more here..www.anthonynolan.org/

Anyway, back to my boots. I spent that week in the woods, in pouring rain and storm force winds, living under leaves and branches. We had a local news reporter staying with us and a camera crew following us round all week. Which led to complaints, as, during a live link up during  children’s TV we could all be seen gutting the corpse of a deer in the background. ‘Mummy, what are they doing to Bambi?’

The mud of those woods never really came out of the boots but I wore them as a badge of honour. They splashed through streams, carried me along beaches and pounded many, many pavements.

They were on my feet when I spent a day hiking the Northumbrian Coastal Trail which, for reasons known only to the route makers leaves the coast for an excursion into the foothills of the Cheviots. Up in those hills I strayed from the route to visit St Cuthbert’s cave. St Cuthbert is a local religious celebrity in Northumbria and, if memory serves, to avoid his body being stolen or defiled during Viking raids on the coast, his remains were taken to safety in Durham. Legend has it was rested on this site. Set into the hillside, it is less a cave than a large overhang of rock. Now surrounded by a copse of fir trees it was easily the most spiritual place I have ever visited. It is a fair distance from any road, so visitors are few and I had it to my self. It was warm, quiet and so, so peaceful. The rocks surrounding the cave had burial inscriptions carved into them, along with graffiti scratched centuries before. If you ever get the chance, visit.

st-cuthberts-cave

Those boots carried me along the North Norfolk Coast, sponsored to walk one Million Steps for Leicester Royal Infirmary, ending on the 10th anniversary of my diagnosis. It coincided with a plague of Ladybirds that August and I crunched along red tracks for three days. One of the little blighters even started eating my arm. Didn’t get far I’ll admit but it left a tiny scar. Who knew Ladybirds did that? Mrs Bloke and a very small little Bloke met me at the finish line on Cromer pier. We let him go on a bouncy castle, every time he jumped, a cloud of Ladybirds would be flipped up into the air  as well. Just another irreplaceable memory.

Their last big romp out was with Little Bloke this year, taking his first big walk, tramping the Iceni Way, from King’s Lynn up to, in theory, Hunstanton, via Castle Rising and Sandringham. Twenty miles. I never thought his little legs would make it, but by God he showed me. We had a lovely day, chatting and walking. Lunch in Castle Rising Castle, a brass band playing Abba in Sandringham and a huge deluge in Dersingham. We didn’t quite make Hunstanton, but he gave it a bloody good try. When I measured it out afterwards he had done seventeen miles. That’s a lot of steps for a nine year old.

wp_20160820_09_24_40_pro.jpg

So, the practical part of me now has to battle the sentimental part, and make me sling those old boots in the bin. And whilst that makes me sad, it means I need to get another pair of good boots to carry me once again thousands of miles forward.

And I start to think of what adventures those new boots will take me on, what memories they’ll forge. And then I itch to pull out a map or two….

And if anyone from Karrimor is reading this, I take a size Nine thank you.

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com

If you liked this piece, you might enjoy some of my other wistful posts;

reminisce

My little boy ain’t so little anymore….

Bill the Cat – A legend and a friend

Love your Peeler

And if you did like it, please tell someone, I’m always keen on new visitors!

 

 

 

Blogging about my blog – Meta self promotion!

This week, we’re going to be tackling one of my favourite subjects…Me! Just for a change right?

A few weeks ago I started work on a new blog, because I have apparently absolutely nothing better to do with my time. As regular readers will know I am a bit of a fan of the BBC Radio 4 soap, The Archers. Its little slices of bucolic life act as a salve to some of the worlds stresses. Plus, to my delight, I have discovered a whole subset of Twitter devoted to the show with some very, very funny people. So when the villainous Rob Titchener recently made an abrupt (and slightly odd departure)  I thought it would be rather fun to create a fictional diary of his adventures, the central conceit of which is that he had never left and that he continues to lurk, unseen, in Ambridge, spying on the ongoing events.

(You can find it here –  https://whatrobdidnext.wordpress.com/ )

This means I write an entry for every episode, and have to find a way to shoehorn Rob into each day’s action. So for example, if, in the episode, Eddie and Lillian are stood outside the village shop having a chat, in my blog, Rob, dressed as a pensioner, is lurking behind the post box, listening in and taking note.

At first, this seemed a fun and jolly idea. But, very quickly, I realised it presented a whole new level of a creative challenge. If I was just writing a story about Rob, I am in control of the entire plot line, I can introduce characters and events as I see fit, to construct a (hopefully) satisfying and entertaining storyline. However, by tying Rob’s activities to each day’s episode I am handing over creative control to script writers, and I don’t know what is going to happen each day. So, for example, I can’t have Rob burn down the Village Hall, if, in the next days episode, the WI meet in there. So far he has only interacted with main characters in a very low key way, which need not cause comment in the episode.

To try and counteract this, I’ve also been building an entirely separate plot line based on the Boarding house Rob finds himself in, its unlikely Landlady and its dubious inmates. But this of course, takes it away from The Archers which is the hook most of my target audience would be caught on.

It is also a challenge to time management and discipline. Ideally, I want to ‘post’ the morning after each episode is aired. Which means in practical terms I listen to the podcast walking down to the bus stop, hoping there is a nice interesting outdoor or public scene for me to use. If all the action happens in kitchens or living rooms then I’m stuck. Hopefully inspired by that day’s action, I then write the approx 500 hundred words on the bus. (Who knew art would be happening on the X1 bus right?) It means I have very little time to tweak or proofread before I post the blog entry. (Which meant the other day I said Will and Emma Grundy were BDSM swingers, when of course, it should be Ed and Emma. Very embarrassing)

Last week I was poorly, so got a few days behind and it was quite an effort pulling it back up to date.Thankfully there are websites run by fellow Archers nerds which have summaries of each days episode, so I could go back and construct a narrative.

This leads me onto another challenge. What does the character know, and what do I know? Thanks to the podcast, I haven’t missed an episode in years but little details, which add to the authenticity, can be forgotten quickly. The other day I had to dump a whole bit of action because I couldn’t remember where Peggy Archer got her hair done. I’ve already left Rob manning a bicycle and having to do a much bigger round trip then I originally planned because it turns out I’ve mixed up the location of Borchester and Felpersham, the biggest towns near the Ambridge. Still, all those miles will keep him fit and lycra, shades and a cycle helmet make a great disguise.

But it also means I have to get inside the head of Rob, who is a pretty revolting character. I  can only have him know what I think he should know of the other characters in Ambridge, and to view everything through his own sense of injustice and narcissism.

I’ve even invested in an official map of Ambridge and district, which means I can actually pace out distances between farms and houses etc. It has also messed up the mental image I’ve had of Ambridge all these years.

So far, it seems to have been quite well received with a few, mostly nice, comments. The visitor stats I compulsively follow show that most visitors stay to read a number of days entries and I’ve had a number of people sign up for email updates, which I’m guessing they wouldn’t do if they hated it.

This takes me down to one of the root causes of why I’m writing it, and part of the reason why I write this blog as well. To find out if I have any ability in writing. I’ve always fancied that I can turn a phrase but have carefully avoided putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, to prove that as correct. I showed some promise at school but a lot has changed since then, not least my waistline, my hairline and my blood sugar count.

The blog is growing, slowly; more visitors, more readers returning and more followers on Twitter, so for the time being I’ll keep going. Of course, the day will come, when the real Rob will return to the show and my blog will dissolve into pure fan fiction. I’ll have to find some other outlet for my nonsense then and of course, I’ll still be writing my weekly outbursts on this blog.

I mean, eventually someone is going to say, ‘Hey Fat Bloke’, here’s a great big Advance, go and write the 21st Century’s great novel.’ right?

Right?

*sigh*

If you would like to have a look at my new blog, you can find it at https://whatrobdidnext.wordpress.com/

The entries started on the 5th February https://whatrobdidnext.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/

And you can follow What Rob Did Next on Twitter – @whtrobdidnxt

 

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com

 

Valentine’s Day Special -Too much *ahem* Romance?

It’s that time of year again. Where we empty our pockets for more Hallmark inspired obligation and red roses appear in great swathes in the supermarkets. St Valentines day is, when you get down to it, pretty awful really. If you are single it’s just a way of reinforcing the fact. In a relationship, then you’ve got to make sure you balance each others efforts or else that causes stress. Of course, our retails overlords are happy to tell us that real love needs Jewellery, Lingerie anything with a price tag, not just a card. As ever, as with Christmas, and Easter, the message is that money equals love.

Now, I’ll make a confession, Mrs Bloke and I didn’t even exchange cards this year. And it is an anniversary for us. It is an eye watering 27 years this Valentine’s since I first asked her out, back in the heady days of 1990. We were doing our G.C.S.E’s at the time and I am absolutely sure here parents were delighted I appeared on the scene to drag her grades down.

I caught some of ‘Who do you think you are’ with Warwick Davies the other day. And his glee at discovering that one of his ancestor’s marriages took place just a couple of months before the birth of their child got me thinking. Because, in my own family history research, I have discovered similar evidence of, shall we say, over enthusiastic ardour?

In fact, and don’t tell a soul this, Mrs Bloke and I had our own little scare all those years ago. A trip with her family to The American Adventure Theme Park coincided with an upset stomach and, well, lets say, some calendar worries. Boy was that ever a long couple of days. Needless to say it was just an upset stomach but not before I was preparing plans to pack a bag and run away to join a circus. Of course, as I wrote recently My little boy ain’t so little anymore…. , having children would turn out to be a whole ‘nother thing.

My paternal grandfather, Douglas, was born in 1913, in Sept. His parents married in 1913 in, oh, July. Bless ‘um. Different world then up in the North East of England. His father, my G.Grandfather Elijah, worked as a miner at Usworth Colliery, near Washington, Tyne & Wear. He worked down the pits with his father and brothers including my great uncle Joseph who fell at the Somme just a few years later.(I talk about him here Remembering one forgotten man: The Somme 1916.)  My grandfather, would also spend time down the mine.

The patriarch of that family, Elijah’s and Joseph’s father was another Joseph. And he was the product of another pre-marital encounter. Though in his case, it wasn’t followed by marriage and a happy life. Joseph senior first appears in the census record in 1861, aged nine years old, living in Penrith Workhouse in Cumbria. On further digging though I found he was actually there in 1851 as well, though still safely installed inside the womb of his mother, Emma. He was born in the workhouse a few weeks after the census and, as far as we can tell, spent his whole childhood there before going off down the mines in Maryport, Cumbria. Hard to imagine a more miserable start to a life. I have a copy of his birth certificate. It only lists his mothers name and her signature is just a large ‘X’. She would have been separated from the baby quite soon and at some point she left the workhouse. Poor Joseph, just like Oliver Twist grew up alone under lock and key. That he came from that, worked hard, got married and had a large family earns him my greatest respect, and just one of the reasons Little Blokes middle name is Joseph.

Emma, his mother. Had had a tough life as well. She had a sister and parents in a tiny village nestling under the bulk of Cross Fell on the Pennines. Her father, again also a Joseph, had a brother in the same village and we know from court records that they both did time in prison for theft. We don’t know yet quite what happened to Emma. We know her mother and sister died when she was quite young. Then, when she was in her early 20’s her father died as well. I would have liked to think her Uncle’s family, in the same village took her in, but apparently not as she found herself pregnant at the gate of the Workhouse. Part of the workhouse policy then would be to get the mother to identify the father so the parish could pursue him for costs in supporting the child. I have not been able to track down the record of any such interview, if it still exists, but since the father is anonymous on the birth certificate I can only assume she kept silent or, god help us, she never even knew his name.

It is easy to think of her being cruel in leaving behind her son but, at that time, she probably felt she was doing the kindest and best thing for him and I suppose we’ll never know who the real father was.

My point is, all this lust and romance, can often get out of hand and historically cause many, many problems, even within my little family tree. We may not have the same moral standard these modern days but I can’t help thinking that’s a good thing. When a woman who has become accidentally pregnant can only find shelter in the workhouse and not with her family, you know society is not at it’s morally and compassionately strongest. Not to mention the quality of sex education and contraception in days gone past.

I want to finish though by talking about the practices of the little community on the Isle of Portland, way down south, dangling below Weymouth. In centuries past the community there was so tiny and hard to reach they had a very different approach to courting. If a couple expressed an interest in each other they were encouraged and given every opportunity to sleep with each other. If the girl fell pregnant than a marriage was performed and a new family created. If, after about 6 months, no child was on the horizon than the couple were split up to move onto fresher partners. What an amazing policy. However, when industrial quarrying began in the 19th century and outside workmen came to the isle the practice fell apart. Can you imagine the delight of the workman to find an island full of sexually experienced women who would happily jump into bed with them. Unfortunately, they didn’t understand the other side of the bargain and the number of children born on the island out of marriage sky rocketed as the workmen would run for the hills on finding out they were to become fathers.

So, the moral of the story? Just be careful and don’t let yourself get too swept away in the greeting cards romance of this week.

That being said, big kisses for you all! xxxxx

If you have liked this blog piece, or others I have written, I would be very grateful if you could help spread the word by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.  

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com

 

 

The Lego Batman Movie and this AFOL

In an early episode of The Simpsons, Homer buys Marge a bowling ball for her birthday. A ball he obviously wants for himself. This act of sub-par husbandry  (so to speak) has led, in our house, to the expression ‘Homer Present’ meaning a gift one gives that you really want yourself.

With that thought in mind the Fat Bloke Family, in celebration of Mrs Bloke’s birthday, decamped down to the cinema to watch The Lego Batman movie on its preview weekend. ‘You like Lego Batman don’t you honey, remember, you smiled slightly at the trailer?’ Now, because I’m a gentleman I won’t tell you her age, except to say that there was a spirited conversation in the car about what point Early 40’s ended and Mid 40’s began. I felt that when you are nearer to 45 than 40 you are in the ‘mids’.

Apparently I am wrong.

15443016_10154490259573110_1717204549510871550_o

Fat Bloke and the Dark Knight

The movie though was great and we all enjoyed it. This is the second Lego movie and, what at first seemed the most cynical of Toy cash-ins, is actually becoming a truly ground breaking and innovative franchise. The first Lego Movie, released in 2014, won the Bafta for Best Animated Film and blew my mind. The action was frenetic, the gags piled high and the sheer, crazy imagination created a story that was so different to other kids films and, at times, was genuinely moving. Add to that a range of characters from the licences Lego has for producing toys and you ended up with a film where Han Solo, Batman, Dumbledore and Gandalf all rub shoulders. It was such a chaotic mixture of craziness it was utterly irresistible. The Batman in that movie was dark, into death metal and only wore black, (and sometimes very, very dark grey)  was egotistical and emotionally distant. Voiced by Will Arnett this comedy Dark Knight seemed to exemplify better in one inch of plastic every other Big and Small Screen outing of the Dark Knight.

That this character earned his own spin-off movie also made me think ‘Cash In’, but the trailers looked fun and in a similar vein to the first movie so we gave it a shot. (Incidentally I must give a shout out to The Light Cinema Wisbech, three tickets for a brand new film for only £4.50 each. Excellent value.) I was laughing straight away. It is immediately knowing and tipping  a nod to the audience that, whatever this is, it is not a standard superhero movie. I am pretty certain I missed many of the sight gags and inside jokes, they came so thick and fast. (For example a sign up Arkham Asylum pointing to the ‘Museum and Gift Shop’ and ‘Basket Weaving’ and a sign on The Jokers cell saying ‘No Stationery’ – Disappearing pencil from The Dark Knight anyone?) They refer to all the previous Batman movies, including the ‘weird 60’s one.’ (I miss the 60’s, Alfred the butler at one point complains.)

What I liked though was that the plot and best bits were not all laid out in the Trailers. Far from it. The character list explodes again from the DC universe. (Condiment Man?) to a mind boggling list of cinema villains as Batman wrestles with his own emotions and fears. (Clown Snakes being one apparently)

It does not, perhaps, have quite the emotional punch of the first film’s live action sequences, but again it is bonkers, and imaginative, and doesn’t take itself seriously. It is not a toy cash-in. These are stand alone films of real worth in the genre of Children’s Animation. Would I go and see it if I weren’t taking a child along? Yup. Would I go see it again? Yup, ‘cos I want to catch more of those jokes I missed. It’s a very solid 4 out of 5.

But then, well, I have a confession to make.

I am just a bit of an AFOL. That is, what us big boys and girls who have failed to grow up, call ourselves – Adult Friends Of Lego. I love Lego, always have. From being a tiny sprog playing with my brothers handed down bricks. (Many of which I still have and, thanks to the construction quality of the brand, still work.) I was lucky enough to grow up in the golden age of Lego, when the Space and Castle themes joined the existing City range. Some ranges have worked out for them, some haven’t. Joining up to create Star Wars sets was economic genius. Those early sets in the Star Wars range are now serious collectibles. In times of financial stress I’ve had to sell sets on Ebay and sold them for more than the Purchase price. Some Lego minifigures are literally worth their weight in gold.

I love those little minifigures. They are so tactile and friendly and fit so well into their world. So many times I’ve seen my son, with just a couple of those little guys disappear into an epic adventure played out in tiny scale.

Yes, there are issues with representations of race and gender but it’s getting better and yes, there is the common complaint that ‘in my day it was just bricks’ where as now many sets have complicated larger, formed plastic sections. But the bricks are still there, you can use both and all are fully compatible. Lego can take you from newborn baby with Duplo up to Graduate level robotics with Mindstorms. (Check out mindstorm machines on You Tube it is amazing what people can do.) And all those bricks are compatible, made from high quality plastic, formed to within tiny margins of error. Ever tried to get apart two flat bricks? Hard isn’t it, that’s because the fit is so damned good.

So, how to do you make friends with an AFOL? Buy them a random 1kg bag of bricks off eBay. How do you make an enemy of an AFOL? Tell him Megabloks is just as good. (Oh, the heresy. It really, really isn’t)

And how does an AFOL amuse himself after going to see The Lego Batman Movie? He visits Frankie and Benny’s and logs into their wifi as Bruce Wayne of Gotham, with I AM BATMAN as an email address. Well Little Bloke thought it was funny.

All in all, to quote Pink Floyd, it’s just another brick in the wall.

So, you see, Mrs Bloke, we may be in our early (mid) 40’s, but this husky fella is still a little boy at heart and always will be.

If you have liked this blog piece, or others I have written, I would be very grateful if you could help spread the word by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.  

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com

 

 

 

One for ‘The Archers’ Fans only….

If you’re not a fan of The Archers, most of the below won’t make any sense. But trust me, it’s comedy gold!

SPOLIER WARNING – IF YOU HAVEN’T HEARD THURSDAY 2ND FEB’S EPISODE, DON’T READ ON!

So, the Archers plotline we have all been expecting has finally come to pass, the evil Rob Titchener has kidnapped his son, Jack. Last seen heading across a field, into the rain, with Jack in his car seat.

Here are the odds on what I think will happen next…

2/1 – Mowed down on the green by Lily Pargetter on a driving lesson. Jack thrown clear and caught, unharmed, by Toby Fairbrother. Jill not impressed.

10/1 – Drowns, hiding in the Culvert in all this rain for a 100% Ironic death. Jack floats to safety in car seat like Moses.

20/1 – Escapes with Jack, lives life of peace on a farm. Jack returns in 20 years to claim Bridge Farm, marries Tracey Horrobin..

50/1 – After fit of remorse, found hanging in Millennium Wood, dangling from Fallon’s missing bunting. (Yes, that was him too, the monster)

75/1 – Runs to a hideout in a seedy part of Brighton, recruits gang of ne’er do well’s to do his bidding. Toby Fairbrother singlehandedly takes them all on and, bloodied and beaten, emerges with Jack safely in his arms. Hailed national hero. Jill still not impressed.

100/1 – Chokes to death on Tuna Bake in motorway services. Jack taken by passing circus folk and raised as an acrobat. Has unexplained dreams about sausages and organic cheese.

1000/1 – Get’s job as President Trumps spokesman on women’s rights. Fired for being too liberal and politically correct.

10,000/1 – Has change of heart, returns Jack, hands himself in to PC Burns. Becomes changed man in prison, writes autobiography called ‘My Struggle’ and has gender reassignment surgery. On release saves village from nuclear destruction when Justin Elliot’s Farm Park and Toxic Waste Dump goes critical. Marries Tracey Horrobin.
Would love to hear any of your suggestions fellow fans. You know, this started as a tweet but I got a bit carried away.

Just one serious comment that has ticked me off with this last bit of the storyline. The idea that a strange man can repeatedly go upto a school fence and talk to one of the pupils without getting noticed is just ridiculous. Not least of which, what 5/6 yearly old can keep a secret like that? Especially one who sounds like Henry.

If you have liked this blog piece, or others I have written, I would be very grateful if you could help spread the word on Facebook or Twitter. 

Find me on Facebook – www.facebook.com/fatbloketalking  and on Twitter – @fatbloketalking or email me at fatbloketalking@outlook.com