Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 131: Is This England?

Today's soundtrack: Mighty Diamonds - Deeper Roots

Started the day with a raft of housework today, changing beds and cleaning floors in anticipation of our houseguest, a colleague of Mrs W's. The girls are out on a 'works do' tonight, so I get control of the remote (for once!)

I also had to stay around the house today, following a letter from the water company regarding our water meter - a water meter I had no idea we had, nor where such a thing might be located if we did, indeed, have one. As is the norm, there was no set appointment time - 'sometime between one and five', the letter said. The letter stressed it was very important that I was around to give the water man access, so I positioned myself in the lounge with a view of the street, ready to answer the door when needed (we've a fickle doorbell, and I didn't want to miss the man when he turned up).

Sure enough, at two thirty, a big white van pulled up outside. The water man got out, went straight to an inspection hatch on the pavement outside our house, lifted the cover, unscrewed a metal cylinder about the size of my fist, replaced said cylinder with a new cylinder, got back into his van, filled in a few forms and drove off. Never got as far as the drive, let alone the front door.

At least I know where the water meter is now.

Dropped the ladies off in town, then back home to settle down in front of the telly with a Sainsbury's curry (lamb rogan josh, since you ask - very nice too, with some chick pea curry on the side and a plate of chapatis), a nice bottle of Cabernet and Shane Meadow's 'This Is England' in the DVD player.

I've had This Is England for a while now, but never got round to watching it. It always promised to be a touch depressing and unsympathetic - back in the day, probably like everyone of my age, I'd had one or two run ins with gangs of skinheads...let's just say they were never my youth tribe of choice! That said, I'd heard lots of good stuff about the film so thought, in the absence of a better alternative, to give it a go.

And I was so glad I did. The recreation of post-Falklands Thatcherite England was spot on, and the film was a lot more sympathetic and heartwarming than I expected - albeit with a simmering violence not far below the surface - that exploded dramatically at the film's climax. Plenty of strong performances, not least from Stephen Graham, in the role of Combo, the racist, violent skin recently released from prison. Watching the film, he looked strikingly familiar from other films, but I couldn't place him at all and it was only after consulting the IMDB that I realised he had played 'Tommy' in 'Snatch'. I'd never have made that connection - not least because, although clearly a scouser in This Is England (and real life, born in Kirkby), he produced a faultless (to my ears anyway) cockney accent in Snatch. Having a full head of hair probably helped, as well!

All in all an excellent film and I'm glad I got round to watching it. If you can get past the grim subject matter, I'd recommend it to you all as well. Although set in 1983, are their parallels for today's situation? No skins, but economic decline, the rise of the racist right, the aftermath of a distant war? Is this still our England?

Let's hope not.

With synchronicity at work, a touch of reggae on the soundtrack today from The Mighty Diamonds. Not the most famous of reggae bands in this country, although their 'Right Time' is one of the classics of the genre. Deeper Roots was released in 1979, and in my version comes with a separate album containing dub versions of the main album. And mighty fine it is too. My copy is a snide internet download - but I'm not sure how readily available the disc is in the shops anyway.

And through the magic of YouTube, here they are in Channel One Studios performing Long Time. Ridim!

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