Monday, February 15, 2010

Having dinner with your parents...

Yesterday, of course, was Valentine's Day, which as a writer of romantic fiction, I can hardly ignore, can I? In case you thought Valentine's Day is for unrequited lovers, let me put you right, according to this article here, St V was more interested in established partnerships and the real man for the job is St Raphael (handy that I put him in Last Christmas then).

Spouse and I tend to use St V's day as a rare opportunity to get some quality time together. This can be a variable feast. Last year we ended up in a cold chalet at Pontin's, but you can't have everything you want in life.

This year the day falling on a Sunday, and us normally having aged mil for Sunday lunch, we felt going out for dinner was a bit of a waste of time, and given no 1 had a party till 8.30 on Saturday (sigh, her social life is sooo much more interesting then ours), going out then was a no no too. So we went for the Eating In is the new Eating Out option (or one of my pet hates, "date night", ugh). When the children were little, this was a relatively easy way for us to have some grown up time to ourselves. But now of course, they go to bed really late, so trying to get a quiet intimate dinner round the table takes some doing.

Added to which Spouse always thinks a trip to Ann Summers is in order before we have any time to ourselves. A slightly mortifying proposition for both of us - he lives in fear of meeting his patients, I live in fear of meeting school run mums, or worse, their husbands... I am always impressed by the sang-froid shown by the younger generation though, who genuinely don't seem to be as embarrassed by the presence of so many rampant rabbits as I am. And don't mind at all being asked by the staff if they need help. It is bad enough that I have managed to get myself through the door of Ann Summers. I most DEFINITELY do not want help when I get there.

As a result of my mortification, my first trip Ann Summersward , left me coming away empty handed. But then Spouse had the bright idea of a Sutton shopping trip on Saturday. While he distracted the children in Primark, I was sent off to buy something nice in Ann Summers (and actually once I get over the discomfit, I am not averse to buying nice underwear - if I was buying it in M&S I wouldn't even blink). It was quite liberating knowing the chances of meeting someone I knew were zero (though have just had the awful thought in a few years I shall probably be meeting no 1's friends in there, eek), so I came away with something suitably slinky. Result.

What then ensued was that when we got back home and I decided to slip into my something slinky for a later point in the evening when the offspring had all departed to bed, no4 took it upon herself to nosily wonder what I was up to. Her notion of what I was up to involved her imminent birthday, not any idea of her mother having some kind of Other Life which most definitely does not involve children. So every time I tried to secrete my new purchases from my bag the door would fly open and in would burst my youngest saying, suspiciously, What are you doing, Mummy? (you have noooo idea...). This was slightly less tricky to deal with then the time no 2, then aged 7 came running in when I was trying to force my somewhat bulging post baby body into places it really shouldn't go, which involved buttons pinging off inconveniently and I had to hide behind the bed and have a conversation with her (yes, really, and so as not to waste the embarrassment, I put a similar scene in Pastures New, oh yes.) In the end though I sent her packing and locked myself in for ten minutes, so she probably spent the next half an hour scouring my bedroom for birthday presents.

Then it was time for Saturday evening with the family. Usually this involves Chinese from Sainsbury's, but I forgot to buy crispy Duck, so had to make do with a duck we had in the freezer which took forever to cook. In the meantime I had to go up to visit mil to do various tasks, before picking up the eldest from her party at 8.30pm. By the time we got back at nine, everyone was still up, and no one had eaten, so any chance of Spouse and I having some ahem quiet time together vanished into the distance.

Honestly, he said, it's worse then living with your parents.

This is very true. OTOH, I feel that maybe we can add an extra spice into life by managing to keep that side of life going without them guessing at all. After all, as far as they're concerned we're practically old enough to have bus passes, so I'm sure they don't think we get up to THAT sort of thing anymore at all.

In fact as far as the youngest knows, who has had the Daddy puts his seed into Mummy's tummy chat, we've only ever done it four times.

Yup. That's right. Four times. And it was so disgusting we'll never ever do it again.

Or at least, not until our children have grown up and left home...

Monday, February 01, 2010

Being Human Series 2

Last year I blogged here ,(rather incoherently )here, here and here about Being Human, which was my favourite programme of 2009. I loved it so much I was desperate for the new series to start, and so far while it hasn't quite matched the dizzy heights of last year, neither has it disappointed. I would have blogged about it earlier, but life has been a tad busy, and you may have noticed I haven't been blogging much at all anyway. But last night's episode was soooo good, I couldn't put it off any more, and have to do a bit of squeeing and say, yaayyyy, for Being Human being back, yaaayyyy for Gorgeous George, yaaayyyy last night for Tough Annie, yaaaayyyy for Moody Mitchell's moral dilemmas and yaayyyy for Toby Whithouse for coming up with something so inventive.

As usual....















I have to fess up to having felt a little let down by episode 1. It didn't help that we missed the first five minutes and children kept coming and interrupting us so I didn't have my full attention on it, but I just didn't quite enjoy it as much as I'd hoped. Firstly, it seemed a little flat - maybe this is natural, after all, the whole concept isn't new and fresh like it was last year, the immediate threat from Herrick and the vampires has gone (leaving not only Mitchell without purpose, as George points out, but perhaps the series too), Annie seemed to have gone back to being vapid and girly again, George was mean and moody and dark (though I liked that actually, for once I didn't like him), and I was at a loss to see the point of Daisy and Ivan pitching up and Daisy seducing George. It also lacked focus, in that I wasn't quite sure who the baddies were this time - the slightly insane Christian group who appear to be trying to cure werewolves by injecting them with something and putting them in a pressure chamber to stop the change happening. Only so far it's a bit disastrous as the werewolves can't cope with pressure and tend to have their brains spattered against the walls - or Daisy and Ivan, who just seem there to cause mischief.

However, I did go back and rewatch it on iplayer, and it worked better on a second viewing. It is still very much a picking up the pieces, where do we go from here, kind of episode, but there are some funny moments - Mitchell meeting Lucy in the loos & telling her "As much as I sympathise if we're comparing isolation and disappointment I think I win", and realising as far as women are concerned he's turned into George - and some extremely touching moments, when Nina finally reveals to George that she is a werewolf too, and George stops Daisy from killing her daughter. Not quite up to par with last year, but still good, because of top notch performances from everyone, including of course lovely Russell Tovey as George, who thankfully by the end of the episode had got over his grumpiness and was sad in pain, sweet George once again.

Episode two was much better, but again we watched it in a fairly disjointed fashion as we missed the first fifteen minutes, and then watched them later to try and find out what we'd not seen, which didn't really work. Thank god for iplayer, eh? Cos watching it again it all made much more sense. I loved this episode, it was really really scary, with Annie, being befriended by Saul, a man she's met in the pub, only for it turn out that Saul has had a near death experience and is having visions from tvs and radios telling him to get Annie to come with him. The creepiest of these was via Terry Wogan on Perfect Recall (a programme I didn't know even existed till I coincidentally caught it a couple of days later). I love Wogan as blog readers probably know (and am still mourning his loss in the mornings), and I thought he was a brilliant choice for this role - delivering his lines with his usual avuncular style but with a dash of hidden menace which gave the whole thing panache. Top casting, and really really spooky. And I never thought I'd say that about Terry Wogan.

In the meantime, Nina is having issues with George about the whole werewolf thing, and Mitchell is having huge issues with the vampires. Thanks to the loss of Herrick, there is no longer a system for disposing of incovenient dead bodies - and one turns up in the shape of the human lover of one of Mitchell's vampire friends, Karl. Despite Karl being clean for years, he has finally given into his desires and ended up killing his lover (oh what an understatement, when asked how the lover looked, Karl says, "disappointed"), and now, there is no system to cover it up. So Mitchell arranges for Karl to fake a suicide and then he and George, with the help of Ivan spirit the body out of the hospital, and away to a new life in Brazil.

While all of this is going on, Annie has problems of her own - the spooky voices on the tv having persuaded Saul it's a really good idea to drink loads and go out for a little drive, with the inevitable consequences. Annie duly turns up at Saul's bedside, only for her to discover, when he dies, and a door appears in the ward, that she and Saul have both been tricked by the voices on the other side. In a totally nightmarish sequence, which scared the bejeesus out of me in a squeeing kind of way, Saul tries to drag her through the door, while all the radio plays music (not quite sure what it was but fab choice) , and the voice talks about the men with sticks and ropes, and black black feathers (eek) waiting to play with Annie on the other side. Fortunately for Annie, Saul decides he can't do it and as George falls into the room, Annie is sitting shocked as the door has slammed shut with Saul behind it. Do you know, I hope we NEVER get to see what's behind the door, because I know it will be a disappointment...

If that wasn't enough to freak me out, when Annie turns up at her next shift at the pub, Hugh, the landlord who's been in love with her can no longer see her, and Nina ends up leaving George at the end of the episode, telling Mitchell they've all gone native, only to fall into the hands of creepy Christian guy at the end (in ep 1 the creepy Christians managed to bug the flat so they know all about Nina)...

By episode 3 I felt Being Human was getting back into its stride - it started with a blackly funny flashback to the 16th century when the tunnels under Bristol were used by Witchfinder Generals (or perhaps Vampirefinder Generals - wonder if any of them were called Van Helsing?) to flush out the vampires living there. There was a horribly funny moment when the Vampirefinder General was readng out their punishment and stopped to ask his assistant to move the light so he could read better, before sending them all to have their teeth smashed out and leaving them stuck down in the dark. Properly nasty that.

Back to the present day, and it appears that vampires are running amok in Bristol, without Herrick to control them, nothing is preventing them coming out to play. Mitchell's new love interest, Lucy, who's a doctor at the hospital, was already joking about the gay vampire lover last week, and now has a patient whose girlfriend has been killed, and who has come in with puncture wounds to his neck. Mitchell realises this has got to stop, and is forced into an unholy alliance with the chief of police, who though human was in cahoots with Herrick and will keep the "process" going if it means the vampires can pay him off, and they concentrate on killing lowlives to keep the crime rate down. I loved this episode - once again, Mitchell is trying to do the right thing, but in order to do so, he has to take some morally dubious decisions. First of all, agreeing to blackmail the human pathologist who has refused to sign anymore false death certificates, by threatening his grandchildren, and then more horrifically having to prove to the rest of the vampires he is really in charge. Egged on by Daisy who points out quite rightly, that Mitchell (who wants them all to go clean ) is asking them to do something against their nature, Mitchell tries to take control of the situation, getting the system back in place, by getting the vampires back at work in the funeral parlour, just as they had been under Herrick.

Contrasting the darkness of this, Annie decides to get Hugh back with his ex girlfriend, by making George go out with her and being so rubbish about it, she'll realise what she's missing in Hugh. This leads to some very funny scenes, with George sure she'll hate it if he takes her to a subtitled German film, only for it to be her favourite type of movie, and then thinking she'll hate being taken for a kebab afterwards, which of course she loves. His piece de resistance, to read a very very bad poem (which he'd composed for Nina), ends up with her throwing her arms round his neck, and snogging him silly.

There's also a hilarious sequence when Annie tries to get them to have a flat meeting (Mitchell, being otherwise preoccupied hasn't been pulling his weight), and instead of talking their problems through and team building, the boys demonsrate how much from Mars they are by deciding all they need to do is get pissed down the pub, and then Mitchell has a huge and extremely funny hissy fit when he realises that The Real Hustle's schedule has been changed, which is the straw that breaks the camel's back.

The relationship between Mitchell and George is also explored rather poignantly, when George tells Mitchell he's missed having his best friend around, and Mitchell tells him he should grow up, and stop feeling so sorry for himself, he says that's what's mates are for. What? says George, to be insensitive? No, says Mitchell, to tell each other the truth. I felt like cheering - it's those little moments in Being Human that make it so fab - the relationships between them are so strong and their frailties so human, you accept the moral difficulties they have, even if in Mitchell's case they are taking him into a very dark place indeed.

Having sorted out the problem of the boy in hospital with puncture wounds on his neck (simple, dodgy chief of police sends in colleague to inject him with something and make it look, rather uconvincingly like suicide), Mitchell then ends up with another problem in the shape of Cara, who takes it upon herself to attack two fifteen year old girls in a shopping centre. Cara, is probably the most gross of the vampires - a not very bright former cafe assistant, turned by Herrick because he was bored, she has become lost since her "father" died, and doesn't understand at all the constraints Mitchell is trying to place on the vampires. Mitchell cannot allow her to go freelance in this way, and once again, challenged by Daisy, takes her down to the vaults underground, where the vampires eventually adopted the same punishments as the humans did, to control those who need it. One of Being Human's greatest strengths is subverting expectation, and suddenly, from having despised and loathed Cara, when Mitchell took her down there, knocked her tooth out and left her sobbing in the dark, I felt immense pity - not even Cara deserves that fate, and it makes me wonder where this is going for Mitchell. Is he going to end up Macbeth like steeped in blood so deep, he's going to return to drinking? The scene where the vampires cheered him as their new king was heady and terrifying - what IF Mitchell becomes the new Herrick? I love the possiblity of that happening, even if I want Mitchell to stay on the straight and narrow.

George in the meantime takes heed of Mitchell's strictures that he should take responsibility and goes to Hugh's ex, Kirsty, and reveals that he hasn't been honest with her as he's still in love with someone else, leading to an unusually happy note as Kirsty and Hugh get back together. George of course isn't allowed to be happy, so the episode ends with Nina ringing to say goodbye, and making him promise that he will start a new life and live it properly for her. And in between sobbing for George and Nina (you have to you know, they are so meant to be together and clearly cannot be on account of their both being werewolves, and presumably in time having lots of little werewolf babies), I got the shock of my life, when it turns out that not only has Nina got conned into the whole weird Christian thing,but the doctor helping her is LUCY. Oh boy I so did not see that coming. Well done BH team for THAT twist...

I felt SURE this would mean that Nina was for the chop this week. Like I say, I cannot see a happy ending for her and George, much as I want to (and I think it would imbalance the trio of George, Mitchell and Annie - maybe part of the problem with ep 1 was that Nina was in the mix and it didn't quite work), so I felt sure we were going to see her head exploding in that pressure chamber, but it didn't work out like that...

I have to say this episode returned to proper Being Human form for the first time. It was very very funny in places - George writing himself lists to get his life back on track, getting a job in a language school and teaching this students bad language, Mitchell being offered an emo to suck, as she's advertised for it, George and Mitchell behaving like Annie's two dads when she brings home a ghost who saved her from going through another door, George developing Werewolf Tourette's after his plan to put the werewolf to sleep while he changes goes horribly wrong...

And of course this is all interwoven with the usual dark stuff, and boy was some of it dark. Annie's facing up to the realisation that the people behind the door are going to come and get her, and begs Sykes, the ghost who's saved her for help. At first he refuses, but she persuades him and soon he' s teaching her to spot auras, turn off scary tv/radios when the people behind the door start speaking through them, and eventually (in a brilliant Annie on top and in control, yayyy to that woman moment), how to close the door when it opens. He seems to have helped her, and I think he's on her side, but I am not entirely sure. In Being Human, anything can happen, so I wouldn't be surprised if Sykes pitches up later and turns out to be on the side of the men behind the door.

George has thrown himself head first into his new job and new life, even finding himself a potential new love interest (which is taking Nina's advice a little too literally if you ask me), emboldened by his discovery that he can put the werewolf to sleep with tranquilizers, and lock him up in the cage George has had built for this purpose (of course he has now become known in Bristol for S&M activities, but in George world that's better then being a suspected werewolf(-:) Unfortunately, the bi product of this is the wolf is pretty pissed off and is taking over George at random times in the day, leading to his Tourette's style swearing, and over aggression, which eventually leads him to beat up the smarmy head of the college George teaches at, for sneering at him for fancying the college secretary. To see George's loss of control and realisation of what he's done is heartbreaking, because as ever he's been trying to do the right thing and it's all gone horribly wrong.

Mitchell's attempts to get the vampires clean, seem to be working somewhat better, especially when he manages to persuade Ivan (who as the oldest vampire among them carries much weight) on board. Of course, nothing is that simple, and Ivan can't do it, so now he's going to Mitchell's BA meetings and swearing blind that he's given up the red stuff, when Mitchell knows he needs feeding and ends up giving him to the emo who Mitchell rejected at the beginning. Oh Mitchell, you're on a slippery path now...

In the meantime, when it looks like Nina's head is going to be exploded against the pressure chamber, Lucy persuades them to stop - we see from her back story she's written a thesis about an evil gene, and mad Christian man has persuaded her to join him, so she can actually research it. But Lucy is clearly having doubts, pointing out that Mitchell is trying to get the vampires clean, while mad Christian man, is sure that now the system is back in place Mitchell is reverting to type, because vampires can't be saved....

I absolutely loved this episode, it was sharp, witty, scary, tense - and every bit as squee making as any of the episodes last year. I think series 2 has finally discovered its groove, and I can't wait to see what next week brings (Mitchell falling off the wagon and Lucy potentially putting a stake in his heart by the looks of it...). AND I've just realised we're only half way through as this series of Being Human has eight episode. Squee, squee, and squee some more....