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Yellow Submarine Goodbye, Pert Breasts: The Diary of a Newborn Dad I Shall Wear Midnight: A Discworld Novel Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1 Tales of Unease (Wordsworth Mystery & the Supernatural) Bunker 10

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70 years gone by… and we shouldn’t forget

Francs-tireurs and Allied paratroopers reporti...

Francs-tireurs and Allied paratroopers reporting on the situation during the Battle of Normandy in 1944. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today marks seventy years since the Normandy landings which pretty much swung the Second World War for the Allies. A huge amount of preparation went into the offensive, which was delayed until just he right moment. Technological advances were made, tactics changed and intelligence scrutinised.

But overall, it was the bravery of thousands of men and women who made it possible and made it work. Sickening numbers didn’t make it back. Many didn’t make it as far as the beaches.

Every single one was a hero. Every. Single. One. Whether they made it back or not, they deserve to be thanked, remembered, immortalised.

The Allied soldiers who assaulted the beaches. Men from so  many countries, including many Irish who, if they didn’t surrender their lives, surrendered their citizenship upon their return for daring to take the British side in the conflict.

So often forgotten or vilified for their “capitulation”, the brave men and women in the French Resistance. Without them, so much intelligence necessary to make the assaults would have been impossible to obtain.

Women who maybe didn’t make it to the front line back in those days, but who worked in munitions factories – many losing their lives due to the working conditions. And the many who were every bit as important to the work done at Bletchley Park as their male counterparts, decoding German transmissions.

Take two minutes today and ask yourself – “Could I be that brave? Could I actually imagine the sheer, staggering terror of being floated towards military bombardment in a tin can while seasick? Then fighting for my life afterwards?”

I know I couldn’t.

Thank you. All of you. You will not be forgotten.

One for friends and family

Gillian and me in Venice

Gillian and me in Venice (Photo credit: Iain Purdie)

I’m relieved and happy to say that my initial draft of this post has been overhauled and updated to reflect a slightly more optimistic view of the future, but that doesn’t lessen the importance of why I’m posting. I would be very grateful if friends/family could read this as it’s important to Gillian and I that you’re aware of our current situation and what may happen in coming weeks/months if things don’t work out.

Hopefully everyone will see this post at once. It seems the best way to get the “news” out.

Gillian and I came very close to separating recently.

As I stated in a blog post back in the new year, I was failing her as a husband and failing the kids as a father. Gillian was becoming less and less happy, and more certain that she was better off as a single mother.

In addition, I did something last year that I hugely regret. Use your imagination – you’re probably right and I don’t want to talk about it. However, at that time and while going through counselling to try and salvage our marriage (something I convinced Gillian to stop as I was finding it very uncomfortable and non-beneficial, in hindsight another error), I was given the opportunity to come clean about any other indescretions; one in particular about which I was directly questioned.

I chose to lie about it and cover up, believing that it was in the past, had no bearing on the present and future and was better left buried.

I was wrong.

Gillian discovered last weekend that I had been dishonest about this and asked me to leave the household forthwith. A friend, to whom I will be eternally grateful, offered me a spare room while I got my feet under me but – thankfully – after some frank discussions, some structuring of our life plans and some serious heart to hearts, Gillian has extended me one final chance.

I would ask all of you who may feel divided loyalties in this matter to bear this in mind: I am at fault. Entirely. Gillian is thinking, in the long term, of our family. I trust her judgement. I want nothing but the best for her and for our three wonderful children who I would miss more than I can ever put into words were we to part ways. She would, of course (we’ve discussed this), allow me full access. But I’d miss things like being woken up at 5am by a toddler screeching for Cbeebies. Much as I complain about this, it’s memories like this that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

More than anything else, I’m sorry for what I’ve done to Gillian who – and I appreciate that anyone would find this hard to believe given my actions – I love, respect and admire more than I can say.

Many of  you will have seen the post on the Moshville Times explaining that I’m putting it on the back burner at present – bubbling along, but not focussed on nearly as much as I have been up until now. This is the main reason. I’ve become far too distracted from my family and I need to dig myself out of the comfy, antisocial hole into which I had slid. Raising children and being a husband aren’t easy tasks, or at least they don’t come naturally to me.

The solution to this shouldn’t be to hide away from it as I have been doing, but to realise I’ve had a very rich and fulfilling (and easy) life up until now and to man up and face this new challenge. One which should (WILL!) be even more rich and fulfilling.

 

Me Vs Amazon update (Small Claims Court)

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Bunch of twunts

The court, no surprise, found in my favour on May 2nd. Amazon didn’t submit a defence. In fact, from what I can gather by the fact I’ve received an “Extract for Payment”, they’ve not responded to the court over the judgement either. I’m not sure what happens next, whether Amazon get in touch and send me a cheque or if I have to chase them. I’ve emailed the court to find out.

In the meantime, I posted the following to Amazon’s UK facebook page. Feel free to like/comment until they inevitably remove it. [and this one, as the "posts from others" seem to be hidden while this one isn't - hell, post your own messages!] I wonder if they’ll block me the way Arnold Clark did as well when I posted that they were pirates and thieves?

Yay! My Small Claims case against you finally came through after you refused to acknowledge your responsibilities under the Sale of Goods Act to have my rather expensive tablet repaired. No surprise there as everyone under the sun other than your “customer lack-of-service” department knew you were liable.

Love how you sent me a “we won’t admit liability, but will give you the cash if you sign something saying you won’t tell anyone why we sent you money” letter during the case. That’s pathetic.

It seems you’ve not replied to the court at any point during these proceedings, either to put up a defence or to respond to the award being issued in my favour. Please don’t tell me I’m going to have to get bailiffs sent in…

Much love from an ex-customer.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

120px-film-strip2Despite a night with no sleep courtesy of a vomiting baby, we staggered into the Glasgow IMAX screen for the 11:00 showing. Best seats in the house, as well!

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

“Soon, everyone in the city will know how it feels to live in a world without power, without mercy, without Spider-Man!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: The continuing adventures of Spidey, the return of Harry Osborn and the rise of Electro

See it if you like: Seriously? You need this information about a superhero film?

This films seems to be dividing the film-going public, at least as far as those I know who’ve caught it. Personally, I really enjoyed it. Gillian pretty much enjoyed it. One of my pupils labelled it “alright, I suppose” while a facebook friend dropped it into the “shit” box. Even so, the one thing most people do seem to agree on is that it’s better than the previous installment.

One point to make clear – and a thing that was worrying me from the trailer – is that the film doesn’t feature that many villains, at least certainly not all at once in a big battle or anything. It’s all the better for it, too. You can have too much of a good thing, and with a character like Spiderman, plot is as important as action. I’d not want to see him battling four villains simultaneously – it would just be messy.

Instead, we have one main villain in Electro (Jamie Foxx) whose development and origin are paced and explored much as Spidey’s was in the last film. I won’t spoil too many details of the others in the film!

Visually, this is one of the best superhero films I’ve seen bar none. Especially in 3D on an IMAX screen, the web-slinging scenes of Spiderman (Andrew Garfield) swooping and tumbling from location to location are staggeringly well done. Perilous drops, acrobatic flips and physically accurate (as a “proportionate strength of a spider human being” can be, I guess) movement.

There are moment where I felt that the pace dropped a little too low, but this was offset with plenty of little references to keep an eye/ear out for and the excellent comic timing and intonation of Garfield. People have generally responded negatively to his portrayal of the Webbed Wonder, but in this film I think he’s nailed it. Definitely not trying to be Tobey Maguire, instead marking his own territory.

When I’m absolutely exhausted, I usually don’t enjoy watching films much as I’m too tired and fidgety. Despite this, I really did enjoy this outing for the Webslinger and would happily recommend it. But, as I say, you may not fall on the same side of the fence as me.

One disappointment – the mid-credit teaser for another film (I won’t spoil the surprise) is not included in the IMAX presentation. You’ll only see it on regular screens. Boo.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier / The Raid 2

120px-film-strip2We managed to get early showing tickets for The Raid 2 so decided to try and cram in the new Marvel film before it. And almost managed. Courtesy of the usual delays (work, kids, traffic), we missed the first ten minutes *grumble*

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

“This isn’t freedom. This is fear.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Fury and Rogers are framed for treason while bad guys try to take over the world.

See it if you like: Jason Bourne with super-strength

Producer Kevin Feige described the film as “a 1970s political thriller masquerading as a big superhero movie.” And I agree completely. There’s more of a story here than you get in many superhero films and the leading characters very much come across as pawns in a much bigger game.

Sure, it’s full of explosions and incredible CGI – plus one of the best car chases I’ve seen in recent years. And, yes, there’s a guy with a metal arm and another with a shield made of indestructible metal (how do they forge that stuff anyway?) who can fall 20 storeys without dying. But it’s still a thriller at heart and not a bad one.

As far as action films go, it’s up there with the best of the child-friendly ones. The fight sequences are very well done and I gather that as little CGI as possible was used for them. It shows, with realistic movement and punches and kicks that really crunch.

If there’s an issue, it’s that it’s just a bit too predictable. Macguffins are visible a mile off and as soon as certain plot aspects are revealed, the remainder of the story unfolds in your brain an hour before it’s happened. “Oh, right – so that’s the bad guy, that’s the plot, he’s really that person, those need to be dealt with, he’ll end up there…”. Without troubling you with a spoiler, if the hugely prominent “man filling vending machine” doesn’t make you realise that it’s going to be used as a plot device shortly then you need to watch more films.

Chris Evans is good as Cap, and seems to have improved with each film. Scarlett Johansson brings the Natasha Romanoff character through from Iron Man 2 and The Avengers, and cements her place in the big scheme of things leading up to the next Avengers movie. Cobie Smulders also plays a part in linking elements of the Marvel Universe together, playing AGent Mariah Hill as she has done in the S.H.I.E.L.D. show on TV as well as Avengers Assemble.

Simply, though, it’s a great couple of hours’ entertainment. I enjoyed it easily as much as the first couple of Iron Man films which is high praise, despite the predictability.

The Raid 2: Berandal

“It will be a few months. You can’t know where I am. And I can’t be seen anywhere near you.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: The surviving police officer from the first film is placed undercover working with a gangster’s son to try and uncover corruption… with predictably blood-squirty results.

The Raid was a superb film. Buttock-clenching tension, explosive violence, incredible athleticism and all in a claustrophobic setting. Its sequel takes the lead character (Rama, played by Iko Uwais) and throws him in jail, acting undercover to get close to the son of a gangster so that he can weed out police corruption.

First thing – this is not a rehash of its precursor. No attempt has been made to run with the formula and do it all again. This is a more intelligent film, with more plot twists and characterisation. The downside of this is that there are far too many long, slow sections in between the kick-ass action that we came to the cinema to see.

Funnily enough, this film was supposed to be made before “Redemption”, but funding ran out on that so director Gareth Evans had to switch to a smaller budget option. The script for “Berandal” was thus adapted to take start two hours after the first film ended, so it continues directly on from the action there. A third film is being planned.

The plot itself isn’t terribly complex, but there are a fair few characters to get your head around and – let’s be honest – everyone in the cinema was there for the fight sequences. Thankfully when they arrive, they are not disappointing.

As the film progresses, the violence gets harsher, more over the top and far more bloodthirsty. Slashings, stabbings and so on take over from kicks, punches and twisted limbs which littler the earlier sequences. It’s pretty splattery stuff.

One point in its favour is the final one-on-one fight scene. Where I found its equivalent in “Redemption” to be drawn out to the point where it lost it’s realistic edge, this one is far better. When it ended, the audience I was with almost seemed to exhale at once as if we’d been holding our breath. I heard one “ffuuuuuck….” and one or two people clapping briefly.

Even that, though, is topped by the car chase which is simply lovely. In a “Look at him die! Wow!” kind of way, at least.

Definitely worth seeing, but harder work to appreciate than the first film’s all-out non-stop action.