Posts Tagged ‘Love Actually’

Christmas music – it’s an inescapable part of the season.  From November to New Year’s radio stations, shops and public squares blast the same dozen or so holiday classics endlessly reworked by a wide range of artists in various styles. For example, Bing Crosby’s signature “White Christmas” has been covered by performers as diverse as Lady Gaga, Rascal Flatts and Cee Lo Green.  I don’t know about you but there’s only so many times I need to be cheerfully informed that “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” or repeatedly advised that “Santa Claus is (in fact) coming to town.”

But as inundated as we Americans are with festive holiday carols, we don’t have anything quite like the venerable British institution of the Christmas number one. I first heard of of this annual contest when I became acquainted with rock legend Billy Mack from Love Actually.  In this radio interview he does a pretty fair job of explaining the Christmas number one concept and what it can mean for a washed-up musician’s career.

Although the UK Singles Chart has been documenting number ones since 1952, it wasn’t until the early 70’s when Christmas-themed songs started making a significant showing during the holiday season.  Novelty tunes and songs benefiting charities are also popular during this time of year.  And while I read that “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” has been number one on three different occasions, the original 1984 Band Aid version has no equal in my opinion.

Who will capture the coveted Christmas number one honors in 2013?  Susan Boyle, Lily Allen, Robbie Williams or, at 100 to 1 odds, could Retrobot possibly pull off an upset win?

All I can say is I’m thankful the decision’s not in my hands.

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Valentine’s Day is over and with it the avalanche of flowers, chocolate and other outward displays of romantic sentiment.   I just read about an online survey stating that the British and Irish are the least romantic Europeans based on how much they spend on Valentine’s trips.  Quite self-serving since it was sponsored by a travel site and also suggests that money equals love.  I mean look at the film Love Actually.  There are big romantic gestures there with little to no financial burden involved – Colin Firth learning Portuguese so he can speak to his beloved in her language, Andrew Lincoln and his handmade PowerPoint love confession, Liam Neeson helping his stepson sneak past airport security to tell the girl of his dreams how he feels about her.  To be fair a Richard Curtis film may not be the most accurate measure of British romance.  So let’s look the medium of television and see how romantic British couples really are:

Miranda and Gary (Miranda):  I absolutely love this couple for at least two reasons.  They were good friends first and, despite appearances, Gary is almost as dorky as Miranda.  Now they’re trying to find their way, ever so awkwardly, towards a romantic relationship.  The second thing is that every time they’re together Miranda has this adorable expression on her face as if to say she can’t believe this man is interested in her.  But even better, Gary never looks as though there’s any reason he shouldn’t be.  However, it is one of those budding relationships that keeps getting derailed which of course is what keeps us coming back.


Rachel Bradley and Adam Williams (Cold Feet)

This couple definitely had their problems (more of them caused by Rachel than Adam, in my opinion) but there was always such chemistry and playfulness which grew into something deeper.  Through infidelities, illness, and various other misunderstandings they emerged a couple destined to go the distance.  Unfortunately, or fortunately, I have yet to see the last two series which I am aware end on quite a tragic note.  But I prefer to remember them when their love was new and Adam romantically serenaded Rachel in the nude with a rose stuck up his bum.


Amy Pond and Rory Williams (Doctor Who):  

If you search for Amy and Rory on YouTube you will find about a million fan-made videos of this couple yet it’s a relationship too complicated to explain. I can’t think of any traditionally romantic gestures between them.  But then again, they’re not your traditional couple what with all that time travel and having to save humanity, if not the whole universe, on a regular basis.  Amy tends to be the more no-nonsense, less demonstrative type.  (On more than one occasion, she  refers to Rory as “stupid face”).  Rory is actually the more nurturing one (he is a nurse after all) and has a nagging suspicion that Amy prefers the Doctor to him.  But in the end, they’re always there for one another.  For example, Rory watched over Amy for 2000 years while she remained in stasis in the Pandorica.  In return, Amy gets very distraught every time Rory dies.  It’s just something you have to watch to understand, I’m afraid.

So I would conclude that romance is valued and expressed in the UK.  I mean, if it can be found in sitcoms, dramedys, and classic sci-fi series, love really must be… all around.

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10 Years On

As it’s the 10th anniversary of 9/11 today, I’d like to share my thoughts and experiences from that time.  I, like many others, remember the beautiful blue sky and perfect early fall weather.  I had just dropped my children at school and I had a good feeling about the day.  I would eat breakfast and get a lot of errands accomplished and then spend the rest of the day with my kids.  But as I sat down with my coffee to enjoy the The Today Show, everything changed.  I remember being confused by what had happened with the first plane and then, like countless other people, I witnessed the second plane crash into the tower on live television.  I watched in disbelief which quickly turned to fear as we started to hear about the other hijacked planes.  I worried about my kids at school and if my in-laws had actually returned from their vacation the day before or if they might have been delayed and were actually flying that day.  And I had to acknowledge that I had known this (well, not something as unimaginable as this, but a terrorist act) would come to our shores.

Fifteen years before, I had been studying in London.  The Christmas time terrorist attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports had been in the news right before I left for my semester abroad.  During my time in Europe, there was a bombing at a Berlin disco, machine gun-toting police visible in public squares in Italy, and a small incendiary device which exploded in a trash can in Oxford Street, only walking distance from my London house.  When I approached the staff at my program headquarters, the nice woman told me that they were keeping an eye on the situation and this was really not so bad.  “It’s nothing like when Harrod’s was being bombed, ” she reassured me.  This was only 1986 but England had already had it’s share of terrorism. Then the US had attacked Libya using a UK airbase to refuel their jets and the country seemed on a higher alert. Londoners were expressing their unhappiness with Reagan and I knew I felt less safe due to US policy decisions.  Upon my departure from London, I arrived at Gatwick airport to find barbed wire and tanks surrounding the perimeter and a much stricter check-in policy in place.  As I waited to board my flight, I couldn’t forget there had been a man who duped his unsuspecting, pregnant fiance into carrying a bomb onto a flight at Heathrow which could have killed hundreds, including his unborn child.  Fortunately that plot had been foiled, but I had been exposed to a reality that the average American citizen at that time wouldn’t have believed possible in the US.

We live in a very interconnected world and we become more so every day.  In some ways it makes our lives feel quite endangered, but it can also give us cause to have hope.  When 9/11 happened, the country did unite in grief and we supported one another.  The world joined us in our sorrow and outrage.  In the accounts of people who were there or who lost someone, you feel their pain but you also recognize all the love that was expressed that day.  And that has to be counter to what the terrorists were trying to achieve.

The following is a clip that I always think of when this anniversary comes around.  It’s the opening monologue from Love Actually in which the victims of 9/11 are mentioned.  This scene always makes me tear up because I agree with Hugh Grant’s prime minister, “Love actually is all around.”  (Sorry for the quality of the clip, it’s the best I could find.)

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Continuing on with the second day of our Royal Wedding blitz, here are some important tips for William and Kate to keep in mind for the actual ceremony:

1)  Don’t invite these guys:

The Thin Blue Line coppers 

2)  Make sure your best man has the ring:

Only Fools and Horses best man, Del Boy


3)  Take time to remember those who can’t be with you on your big day.  You might need a hankie for this one – I did!

Gavin and Stacey  and the ride to the church

4)  And finally, end with a brilliant musical surprise!

Love Actually – Peter and Juliet’s wedding

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