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Posts Tagged ‘Only Fools and Horses’

Did you know today is National Siblings Day? No, neither did I until I heard it mentioned on The Today Show. But apparently there is such a thing so I’m taking advantage of the internet searches that will inevitably be undertaken to find out what this needless public recognition of our brothers and sisters is all about.

My complaint with a day commemorating this relationship is do we really need to be reminded? Siblings are our first playmates and our first adversaries as well. We’re unlikely to forget the injustices and pranks we survive at the hands of our closest relatives after all, are we?

That’s not to say siblings don’t bring positive things to our lives as well. They are the people with whom we share our formative years and, if all goes well, the ones who we know the longest. I have had an interest in birth order for some time and studied psychology in college so of course this makes me totally qualified to talk about the impact TV siblings have on one another.

Just look at the example of poor Martin Moone, the only boy and youngest child of four children in his family. His three older sisters ignore, belittle and abuse him at every turn. Sinead is probably the worst because she seems to delight in causing her baby brother pain and embarrassment. Take for example the time she painted Martin’s face with make-up in his sleep and he ran off to school without realizing he was sporting a slightly more feminine look that morning.

Martin Moone upon discovering his sister Sinead's prank image credit Baby Cow Productions

Martin Moone upon discovering his sister Sinead’s prank
image credit Baby Cow Productions

Childhood experiences are usually quite vivid and so we carry them forward into our adult lives. If we are fortunate enough to get to see our siblings much as grown-ups they are often our best friends. That closeness, however, doesn’t come without some emotional baggage. Here are a few telly examples of brothers and sisters who despite their love for one another tend to dwell on childhood bones of contention.

 

Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes (Sherlock)

There must have been quite a lot of competition in the Holmes house seeing as their mother was a eminent mathematician and both the boys could be described as bright to say the least. This sort of youthful antagonism is bound to have residual effects in adulthood with one sibling feeling to need to dominate the other.

 

Del Boy and Rodney Trotter (Only Fools and Horses)

In the case of an older sibling raising a younger one, often a surrogate parent-child relationship develops. The problem is that in adulthood the older sibling, in this case, Del Boy, can tend to interfere in his brother’s life more than in a more traditional nuclear family scenario. Also long buried resentments can bubble to the surface revealing the pain of a childhood cut short out of necessity.

 

Connie and Clarence Emsworth (Blandings) 

Children of privilege are expected to grow up to be upstanding, decisive administrators of their estates. Unfortunately for Connie Emsworth her older brother Clarence shirks all family duties and only wants to spend time with his prize pig, The Empress. As a result, Connie has become a nagging and bitter woman who knows in her heart she could run the affairs of manor if only she were a man.

 

Edith and Mary Crawley (Downton Abbey)

I’m not exactly sure why Ladies Edith and Mary don’t get along. Sure, Edith is the plain middle daughter who never gets a second look or any of the good marriage prospects. (Sort of the Jan Brady of the Edwardian upper class). But why Mary is always so mean-spirited and condescending to her less fortunate sibling, I’m not sure. If she showed just a bit of patience and sisterly kindness, perhaps she could have avoided a confrontation like this one.

 

Adam and Jonny Goodman (Friday Night Dinner)

These two young men have only recently moved from the family home so when they reunite weekly for family dinners, they tend to bring some lingering sibling rivalry and brotherly horseplay along with them.  Also Adam is still a chronic tattler, a strategy that he probably employed to make up for the fact that he is significantly smaller in stature than his brother Jonny.

 

So do any of these relationships remind you of you and your brothers or sisters? Did I miss one of your favorite sets of telly siblings? Make sure to tell your siblings you appreciate them and then thank (or blame) them for making you the person you are today!

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In 2013 Channel 4 ran a gritty mini-series called Run. Picked up by Hulu here in the States, I put it on my watch list for one reason only – Olivia Colman was in it.

Olivia Colman plays a tough single mum with two out of control sons.

Olivia Colman plays a tough single mum with two out of control sons.

 

When I learned that each episode was self-contained, one story just slightly overlapping the next, and that Ms. Colman only appeared in the the premiere, I considered stopping after watching her performance.  By the end of that first hour, however, I realized Run was well-written and superbly performed. But most of all, I had a feeling there were lessons I could learn from watching these people struggle on the streets of South London.

1. Council Estate Tower Blocks – Though I personally never saw tower after tower of council flats when I was in London, they are quite common in British TV crime shows such as Law and Order UK and Luther. 

 

London Tower Block

London Tower Block

 

Built to alleviate the housing shortage after the Second World War, high rise apartment complexes were popular at first, but quickly design flaws and shoddy construction turned many of these buildings into crime-ridden, rundown slums for the working class poor.  Many of the characters in Run live in similar conditions or worse.

That doesn’t mean fun and levity can’t be found on council estates as well. After all Dell Boy and Rodney lived on one, didn’t they?

 

2. The Immigrant Issue –  Two of the four episodes in Run featured illegal immigration as a major part of the story – a young Chinese woman named Ying (Katie Leung) lives a miserable existence. As if sleeping on the floor of a communal flat with other Chinese illegals, selling pirated DVDs and stolen electronics on the street and being perused by the police isn’t enough, Ying must also report to a brutal gang leader to repay her debts for passage into the country.

 

Kasia, a Polish woman who also entered the UK illegally, is still working a menial labor job after several years in London. When she discovers that her boyfriend (who happens to broker marriages for foreigners seeking British citizenship) has been living a double life, Kasia finds herself with no money and a very uncertain future.

 

It goes without saying that I’m no expert. I don’t know a thing about the United Kingdom’s policies on immigration or any quotas that exist. Nevertheless I surmise from watching Run and other dramas that portray similar circumstances, there is rampant mistreatment of people desperate to immigrate to London and other cities to improve their lot only to have abuse perpetrated upon them, often by their own ethnic group.  Obviously exploitation isn’t what the immigrants expect when they arrive in a land of opportunity and none of this activity  is good for British citizens either.

If any UK readers would like to enlighten me further on this situation, I’d be happy to hear how reality differs from TV drama.

3. Tough Mums  – While there’s nothing particularly British about family dysfunction, the hardened mothers of Run do what they think is best for their sons who’ve gone astray on the streets of London.

For example, when Richard (Lennie James) tries to enlist his mother to get him access to his estranged teenage daughter, his mum (Mona Hammond) is resolute in her refusal to enable her drug dependent son.

 

 

Carol (Olivia Colman) is a single mother, worn out with trying to hold on to her idle sons. She tries to bribe them with a new TV and home cooked meals but they appreciate nothing. Abusive to women and randomly violent, it doesn’t take long to realize the apples haven’t fallen far from the tree.

 

In the end, Carol must decide whether to protect her sons or turn them in for a violent crime in hopes of keeping them from becoming even more monstrous. A difficult verdict to reach when your own flesh and blood is involved to be sure.
Come to think of it, perhaps stern matriarchs are a British thing after all…

 

The Dowager Countess of Grantham in all her stern glory - ITV

The Dowager Countess of Grantham in all her tenacious glory – ITV

 

Run was a great mini-series that literally came full circle in the final scene. While harsh reality outweighed happy endings, the hope the characters were allowed lightened their difficult lives and made them bearable…because a mother made a hard choice, because a young woman sacrificed her chance at better life for the happiness of a friend, because a grown man finally took responsibility for his past mistakes, because a woman who’d been wronged refused the tainted path offered to her and chose to run instead.

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On occasion I’ve shared with you the summer exploits of the Anglophile/expat group I lead at my library.  Well, this year we decided to put on a British car show.

Our parking lot was a showcase of British motor engineering  – Lotuses, Mini Coopers, Jaguars, MGs, a Triumph or two, a Landrover, a Mini Moke and the most rare of all – a 1950 Healey Silverstone.

Our winner received a gift certificate for auto detailing and an almost one of a kind Stig Pincushion Cat.  If you want to buy one for yourself, check out Fat Cat Crafts here.

I was really chuffed with our first attempt.  We attracted 21 area car owners and drew a crowd of about 100 British automobile enthusiasts. We had beautiful weather, but it was the generous assistance of my fellow Anglophiles that made this inaugural event so successful.  From helping with set-up to recruiting car owners, from donating crisps and biscuits to being my cheerful greeting staff, their attendance and participation was key to such a wonderful day. They’re the best!

But as much as I enjoyed marveling at all these unique and sometimes exotic vehicles, when it comes to cars I’m a very practical woman. ( I drive a 1998 Toyota Camry with over 215,000 miles on it after all). So  I thought it might be nice to organize a little virtual cruise-in right here featuring some functional, hard-working, telly automobiles.

Welcome and please enjoy the Working Man’s British Car Show:

1. Ford Cortina TC Mark III GXL   – Life on Mars

Gene Hunt’s beloved Ford Cortina was involved in its share of police car chases in and around 1970’s Manchester.  I think he loved this car more than his wife…who we never did see, by the way.

2.  British Leyland Mini 1000 – Mr. Bean

Mr. Bean’s Mini was definitely an extension of the man himself.  It was quirky and reckless and multipurpose- whether he needed it to be a dressing room or a delivery van.

3.  Reliant Regal Supervan- Only Fools and Horses

Del Boy and Rodney ran their dodgy black market business, Trotters Independent Trading Company, out of their dilapidated Reliant Regal Supervan so it literally was a working man’s vehicle.  Though perhaps they shouldn’t have chosen such a conspicuous color or model if they wanted to avoid the notice of local coppers.

4. The Reasonably Priced Car- Top Gear

Top Gear‘s newest model for it’s reasonably priced car segment was the Vauxhall Astra.  That’s all anyone needs really, even a star like Benedict Cumberbatch.

5. Type 40 TARDIS – Doctor Who

I know. You’re saying hold on, the TARDIS isn’t a car.  But it’s my list, my blog and this classic British mode of transportation is exactly what I would choose if I could find one in working order. Besides they come with a Time Lord chauffeur.

Vote for the People’s Choice award by commenting below.  If you’re not satisfied with the entrants, write-in candidates are welcome.

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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

http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/collections/p00gfk01#p00gg55g

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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