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We’d spent five years dodging the wedding bullet. Now, though, after picking me up at the UK airport and bringing me to his rented house, dear Rodent was down on both knees and talking seriously about something.


Me: “It sounds—and looks—like you’re proposing marriage. Are you?”

Rodent: (Lots of words we don’t remember.)

Me: “But I thought we didn’t want to get married.”

Rodent: (More words we don’t remember.)

Me: “I had no idea you wanted to get married. Did you just think of it now or something?”

Rodent: “Oh no, I told my kids a couple months ago, and they were quite pleased.”

Me: “But you didn’t tell me! Why didn’t you tell me?!”

Rodent: “I guess I just forgot.”

Me: “Forgot?? You FORGOT to tell me?! How could you forget—“

Rodent: (Breaking in) “I wanted to ask you in person.”

Me: “Awww….”

Rodent: “But you haven’t answered the question.”

Me: (Swept away with joy and tears) “YES, OF COURSE!!”

 

After much discussion, we decided to get married in England before I had to return to the USA. I would need approval from the British government in order to marry in the UK—-unless we got married in an Anglican Church in England.

So we met with the vicar of the largest, oldest, most beautiful Anglican Church in town. Among other things, he told us we’d need to attend services once a month, so for the next few months we went to Evensong and very much enjoyed his sermons and the choir.

The vicar had also told us to go to our parish church and hear our banns read three weeks before the wedding.

Arriving at the parish church a few minutes early, we saw that no one had shown up yet. Since there seemed to be no church parking spaces, Rodent dropped me off at the door and went to find a parking place. I watched him drive off—and crash into the church’s brick wall—but he instantly rallied, backing up and driving off.

Minutes later he returned, but still no one had shown up. We waited for a half hour and then went to get groceries. Rodent happened to glance at the supermarket clock…..and saw that it was newly Daylight Savings time. We had turned up at the church an hour early! We rushed back and seated ourselves just in time, holding hands and smiling at each other as our banns were read.

Days later we moved into, and frantically readied, our newly-bought home for our children and grandchildren coming from L.A. and the East Midlands of England.

Meanwhile, I searched for proper wedding clothes since my usual garb is jeans, and Rodent found the suit he’d worn to his father’s funeral. I bought an antique wedding ring online which turned out to be too big, and Rodent found his father’s wedding ring which fit perfectly.

We were ready….and nervous….and it had begun to snow rather seriously. The entire family piled into two taxis, giddy that The Day had come. I was immensely relieved when we got to the church five minutes before the 2:30 ceremony.

The church was magnificent and silent, with large red and white bouquets on the altar.

The vicar smiled, greeted us, and said: “We didn’t think you were coming. The ceremony was to begin at 2.”

Horrified, I said: “OH, MY GOD!!!”

I glanced around, horrified again, and said: “OH NO, I JUST SAID ‘GOD’ IN CHURCH!!”

The vicar seemed amused but didn’t waste a second. He signalled to the organist to begin the processional, and gently started me walking down the aisle on my son’s arm.

We joined the waiting Rodent and his son at the altar and began singing a hymn, but for some reason there was a little red-shirted body between me and Rodent—-my grandson who’d decided to sing with us, after which he stepped back to take photographs. His blue-shirted twin brother had already begun to video the event.

As the ceremony continued, the vicar quietly said to Rodent and me that he’d picked up the wrong copy of the Bible, so he went to his office for the right one. The twins’ mother came up and asked where the vicar had gone, and I dug around in my pocket for our wedding rings, passing them along to Rodent to give to his son.

The vicar returned and read from the Song of Solomon. Then Rodent and I exchanged rings and said our vows. We were aware only of one another, as if no one else existed.

In closing, the vicar said he’d been told that happy couples laugh and read and talk together, and he felt that we were one such happy couple.

Thus the fallen-away Quaker and the lapsed Calvinist son of a Scottish minister were wed.



Vicar, Judy, Rodent









Signing wedding certificate






TAGS: , , , , , , ,

Judy Prince JUDY PRINCE, a retired college teacher and union activist, now lives half the year in Norfolk, Virginia, and the other half in Darlington, UK.  She has published articles in the L.A. Times and the Virginian-Pilot, and was a Chicago Dramatists Short Plays Competition finalist.   She is now at work on a play about Shakespeare the woman, and recently launched Frisky Moll Press with the poetry pamphlets of Robin Hamilton (Anacreon translations) and Patrick McManus (On The Dig).   Her own poetry pamphlets have been published by Phantom Rooster Press (2006 and 2009). Prince's work is included in the first James Kirkup Memorial Poetry Competition Anthology (Red Squirrel Press, UK, 2010). Her Poems2 is reviewed in SPHINX 12, HappenStance Press .

159 Responses to “Judy and Rodent Get Married”

  1. Judy! This is lovely and witty and genuinely romantic. I’m sort of neutral re wedding tales but yours is so moving and well-written and funny. You pulled off a happy ending in writing and in life, the hardest feat of all. Many great wishes to you and the Rodent!

    • Judy Prince says:

      How kind you are, Litsa! Thanks so much for launching me and Rodent into a new year of many great wishes. We feel incredibly fortunate to be together, and I find myself wanting to matchmake all my dear friends and acquaintances. ;-)

      All best thoughts and delights to you…….and I have this list of eligible bachelors, just in case you might want to meet that Someone Special…….

  2. Irene Zion says:

    Judy!

    I have been waiting for this tale!

    What a perfectly wonderful and wonderfully funny wedding.

    I wish happiness and comfort and co-operation and patience and joy and good health for you both.

    (I’ll be late in answering, should you respond, we have to leave for the airport at 6pm then the first flight is at 11:30pm, then 3 hours at Heathrow, going to a different terminal then the next flight. 27 hours once the first flight leaves, if all goes as planned. I’m pretty sure you could get to the moon in this allotted time.)

  3. Judy Prince says:

    Irene, my dear friend and TNB Queen, thank you for your kind remarks!

    Why in the world will it take 5 1/2 hours to get from wherever you are (Mumbai, was it?) to the airport? BTW, the weather in London from Tuesday thru Friday is forecast to be about 45 degrees Fahrenheit with very little wind and no snow, so that leg will be fine. I don’t envy you a 27-hour journey, though, no matter how fine the weather. Ah, but you can sleep, watch films, read your Kindle and tickle Victor.

    I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures!

    • Gloria says:

      She really, really is the TNB Queen isn’t she? I call her the TNB mom. Maybe she could be the TNB Queen Mother?

      Okay, I’m reading this now…

    • Irene Zion says:

      Judy,
      It was Bombay, but now it’s Singapore.
      It doesn’t take that long to get to the airport, but we were supposed to leave the hotel at 10 AM, so we paid $100, plus $26 for internet to stay until 6 PM.
      People say the Singapore airport is so amazing that it’s good to go early and experience it.
      So, we have lots of baggage and nowhere to go, so off to the airport!
      There’re no direct flights to Miami from Singapore, although, we got the cheapest flights we could, so I believe we are flying in the wrong direction. There were flights non-stop to LA , then just a simple cross-country to Miami, but they cost much more.
      We literally use: cheapoair.com.
      (I bet you think I’m making that up.)

      Don’t let Rodent fix the smooshed car.
      It’s yet more documentation of your glorious wedding day!

      • Irene Zion says:

        Judy,

        Wait.
        Ask Rodent not to fix the smooshed car.
        Never tell him to do anything.
        (One of the rules of a long and happy marriage.)

        • Judy Prince says:

          Oh dear, Irene, dear Rodent always says he wants me to be direct so that he doesn’t have to figure out what I want. So instead of saying, “Honey, it would be lovely if you washed the dishes,” he’d prefer something like, “Wash the dishes now.” I tested it out again tonight, and yup he wanted the no-confusion Command Mode.

          Re his car, he did check it out for a big crunch, but no damage appeared (we didn’t check the church’s brick wall, though, I admit). Rodent keeps steadily chipping away at his car, a dent here, a hubcab flung off there, a mysterious steering wheel screw on the floor….. I keep suggesting that we get another car, but he says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” which seems a wildly inaccurate description of the car’s condition.

        • Irene Zion says:

          Well, were I you, I would listen to Rodent and take him at his word, Judy.
          Soon enough you will find out if he actually means it, or just thinks he means it, and you can adjust your actions accordingly.
          These things are always in flux, Judy, always in flux.

          Re: the smooshed car, I agree with Rodent.
          If the car runs, it ain’t broke.
          No need to fix what ain’t broke.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Soon enough you will find out if he actually means it, or just thinks he means it, and you can adjust your actions accordingly.”

          Irene, you’re so serious and it makes me laugh. I mean, how is Rodent gonna know that he only *thinks* he means it?

          Having read what you said, Rodent says he prefers the Direct Request. Then, if he doesn’t mind doing the thing he’ll do it straightaway, but if he doesn’t want to do it, he’ll just ignore the request—and then require several periodic Direct Requests. HA!

          Yesterday, I said: “What are the things you’re gonna do today?” and he earnestly offered some of my former Direct Requests that I’d forgotten, so I smiled and added 2 more. Circumstances (blizzard, cancellations) have now eliminated the old ones (ah, the Rodent power of procrastination/patience!) and today he’s cleverly waiting for something to eliminate the need for the new Requests.

          Dear Rodent is pleased that you agree with his not fixing what ain’t broke. I wonder just how much a person can chip off bits of his auto before it collapses. He bought his Ford Fiesta when it was a year old, five years ago, and it’s required no repairs so far. Rodent luck!

      • Judy Prince says:

        You’re right, Irene, I *did* think you were making up “CheapOAir”! But I clicked on it and, incredibly, it’s real! Oh, your Victor really finds the choicest airlines. Does this mean that there were strikes and Mounties in Bombay and Singapore?

        • Irene Zion says:

          Judy,
          I know!
          No one believes me.
          We can get somewhere cheaper than anyone.
          (I’m not saying that we’re more comfortable, mind you, but it’s quite adequate.)

        • Judy Prince says:

          I’m almost afraid to ask what riding on “CheapOAir” is like, Irene. But I love the name!

  4. Gloria says:

    Ah, Judy. Tears.

    Congratulations, sweet lady.

  5. Judy Prince says:

    You touch me with your tears, Gloria. Gotta confess that I had some, too.

    I welcome your warm congratulations! All the joyful best of a new year, to you, as well!

  6. Fantastic, Judy! I’m very, very happy for you guys. I’ve been waiting to hear about this for a long time. I love that he “forgot” to tell you.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thanks, David, for the wonderful well wishing to us.

      Yeah, I love that he “forgot” to tell me, too. Good thing he thought of the “real” reason bcuz I was off on an incipient rant right in the middle of the proposal. I’ve been wondering what response male persons would have to Rodent’s “forgetting,” and if they’d think it no big deal. HA!

  7. Don Mitchell says:

    I’m very fond of the Song of Solomon, for a wide variety of reasons.

    Will you say which passages? I’m curious.

    There’s an interesting little book by Updike (yes, that Updike) called “The Song of Solomon: Love Poetry of the Spirit.”

    Oh, and the congratulations and best wishes thing — yes, both of them.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Aw, Don, you at last offered the “congratulations and best wishes thing.” That’s cute. I heartily thank you for both Rodent and me.

      We were mostly like deer in the headlights about every aspect of the wedding, Don, so I forgot our selection from *Song of Solomon*, which is gorgeous throughout. I’ll look it up and let you know, as it’s a beautiful passage.

      Haven’t heard of Updike’s book, and I usually eschew his works because his lexis stretches my brain like a bad Speedo. Years ago I saw *The Swimmer* based upon his book—-and that film was mesmerisingly convincing like Absurdist plays, bits of it staying with me all these years.

    • Judy Prince says:

      “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”

      Don, this is the beautiful little jewel from *Song of Solomon* (Chpt 8, King James Version).

      Lusty’s the word for much of the work. One passage in the King James Version is a hoot:

      “My beloved put in his hand by the hole [of the door], and my bowels were moved for him.”

      Some sources have noted that “bowels” denoted “nether parts.”

      Re the novel titled *Song of Solomon,* it is by Toni Morrison.

      • Don Mitchell says:

        The Updike (small) book is more or less scholarly/critical. It’s interesting that Updike did it but it’s not Updike-like.

        The one you used is a very nice passage.

        I’m fond of this one:

        I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.
        As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
        As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
        He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
        Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
        His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
        I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
        The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
        My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
        My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
        For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

        The American composer William Billings (1746-1800) set this to music, and it’s quite beautiful.

        http://wn.com/The_Rose_of_Sharon_-_William_Billings

        I think the first performance on the page is the best of the lot, musically.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Oh, yes, Don, that passage is stunning, and it reads like the magnificent KJV!

          The YouTube link to Wm Billings’ music is being temperamental at the moment, giving a minute of buffering (I first wrote “buggering”) for each 2 seconds of sound (grrrrrr); I’ll try it again later; so far the first selection sounds spritely.

          What about Updike’s scholarly/critical book did you especially like? I’m fascinated that you say it’s not “Updike-like.”

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Ah, I’ll have to go out to the barn and find it. I haven’t looked at it for a decade or so. I should get it because I’m back working on some fiction in which the Song of Solomon plays an important role, and it was when I was first working on it that I wanted to know more about the Song, and subsequently happened on the little Updike book.

          All I meant is that it’s a straightforward discussion of the Song of Solomon and it didn’t read to me as if it were “novelist looks at KJV OT verses.”

        • Judy Prince says:

          Don, is this the book: THE SONG OF SOLOMON: Love Poetry of the Spirit; Edited by Lawrence Boadt; Foreword by John Updike; St. Martin’s / Griffin; $10.95; 64 pp.”

          From a brief review of the book by LATimes staff writer, Nick Owchar (21 August 1999):

          ” ‘The Song of Solomon’ is a voluptuous song of love, an exquisite sequence of sensual and royal images that places love at the peak of human fulfillment. It was so popular in its day, John Updike writes in the foreword to the Classic Bible Series edition, it was stamped with the name of the legendary King Solomon to ensure its survival as a jewel of Hebrew literature (though today it is also known as ‘The Song of Songs’).”

          “The early commentator Rabbi Akiva, Updike writes, ‘claimed that ‘the whole world is not worth the day on which ‘The Song of Songs’ was given to Israel; for all the writings are holy, but ‘The Song of Songs’ is the holiest of the holy.’ ”

          How luscious to be working on a fiction piece that calls upon the *Song of Solomon*!

        • Don Mitchell says:

          Yes, that’s the one. I may have exposed my failings of memory, though, if Updike wrote only the Forward.

          Damn. 20 degrees, a couple of feet of snow and a balky barn door. But I guess I have to do it.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Maybe not, Don. P’raps a meditation on the text of S of S will yield much from you without the snow-trudge to the barn. Or, p’raps the trudge itself will yield a gold mine of experiences as well as lotsa books you’d forgotten you had—-oh the wonder of discovered oldies!

  8. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Charming! Congratulations, Judy! I love the little details–the rings, the quest for clothing, the slips with time. May the laughter and love be with you every day of your lives together.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Ronlyn, I so appreciate your wonderful comments!

      It’s so helpful to hear what someone likes about a piece, and you’ve highlighted parts that I had hoped would bring smiles, as they did to us—–but usually well after the frustrating experiences themselves, natch. ;-)

      Best new year’s blessings to you!

  9. James D. Irwin says:

    Oh, this is lovely.

    Congratulations and all the best for the New Year!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Delighted to hear from you, James—-thank you for your generous words!

      Are you still living under the stairs? Have you succeeded in hooking up with your new surroundings? And how’s your weather?! We hear that Darlington, for example, is still pretty snowed in.

      • James D. Irwin says:

        Haha! Yes, I am back under the stairs whilst I’m home for Christmas. It’s quite nice and cosy actually.

        The weather down here is cold, and wet but devoid of snow. I’m in East Anglia at the moment which apparently doesn’t get much snow. I think it’s something to do with being very flat or some such. I don’t know. It seems much worse further north, where it is a touch colder as well.

        Before I came home I was down in Winchester, which was covered in a beautiful layer of snow. It was very pretty down there, and it was a shame to have to come up to this barren farmland…

        • Judy Prince says:

          I was confused, apparently, James, having thought you’d moved permanently into the house and the understairs room. Now that I’ve consulted a UK map, I see that in East Anglia you’re equidistant between Cambridge (east and slightly north) and Oxford (west and slightly south). It looks as if there aren’t many large towns for several miles around Milton Keynes, for example, so you must be nestled in agricultural areas and plots of grazing sheep and cows and horses—-my absolute faves!

          You make me realise how much more traveling I want to do in the UK. Oh, it is so beautiful. How can I ever communicate the joy of seeing the farms and grazing animals—-and the UK’s truly inimitably beautiful skies?! I think it takes the eyes of a foreigner to appreciate it all so keenly.

          Will you return to Winchester, then? Now I’ll consult the map again for Winchester.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Oh no, this here is my parent’s house where I live during university breaks over Christmas and a bit of the summer.

          Yes, we’re in the middle of nowhere. Well, Cambridge is about twenty-five minutes away by train, but other than that there’s nothing for miles. I live about five hundred yards from a sugar beet farm.

          I think I agree with you, at least in part. We get so used to the boring grey skies and rambling countryside we sort of take it for granted, when it is absolutely beautiful. There was a fantastic sunset on Christmas Day. I was walking my dog through a field and way over in the distance was Ely cathedral— one of the medieval wonders of the world. The sky behind it was a bright, burnt orange and it was simply fantastic.

          I used to long to live in the US, but recently I’ve changed my mind. I don’t know what it is, I’ve suddenly become incredibly glad to live in Britain. And now I live in Winchester, which is on the edge of the New Forest and is arguably the prettiest part of the country. There’s a massive cathedral down there as well.

          I can’t wait to get back actually. So many dark, cavernous pubs to visit in harsh winter weather… Obviously I have to go back quite soon to resume university work. Oh, it really is quite fantastic. And there’s a little tea room run by a woman who looks like she should be married to Father Christmas.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irwin, I remember your talking about the gorgeus Ely Cathedral. It’ll be one of the major sites on my list when I return to the UK. Lovely moody description of your seeing it as you walked your dog.

          Closest I’ve gotten to the New Forest, and which is latitudinally parallel to it, is Salisbury. Winchester’s quite far south, fairly close to Southampton and the sea.

          What uni in Winchester are you attending? What degree? Which year of the degree?

          I’d love to visit Cambridge U, too. Somehow I get more excited about its history and graduates than I do about Oxford, though I loved the architecture of Oxford campus and town, visiting them the week that Rodent gave his paper there for ICHLL (International Conference for Historical Lexicography and Lexicology) in June.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          It’s definitely worth a visit. Ely is a lovely little town.

          I’ve never been to Salisbury, but we have tablemats featuring engravings of ancient Salisbury on them. I presume they were purchased by/given to my father.

          Winchester is very close to Southampton, a short train journey. I’ve been a few times, although I prefer Brighton. I have, of late, really begun to miss living by the sea. We lived in along the coast between the time I was twelve and twenty. I have a friend now from Brighton and she always makes me miss the place very much.

          Haha, Winchester is a small ‘city’ and has but one university. Even that is quite new, but it’s a lovely little campus. I’m on the Creative Writing course, which is apparently one of the best in the country. It is very enjoyable course, and a nice environment to study in. I’m currently in the middle of my second year.

          I do like Cambridge. I’ve always preferred their university because it has produced the majority of my favourite comedians and writers. I beleive Oxford may have a slightly more impressive range of buildings, but Cambridge won the Boat Race…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Oh, Irwin, I love Salisbury, but it’s a bugger to drive through, what with its ring road and miasma of brief one-way streets. It’s close to my heart, bcuz it’s where Rodent and first met. My most fave close-by village is Wilton, just 3 minutes’ drive from Salisbury, with Wilton House, the ancestral home of the Earls of Pembroke, with a magnificent collection of paintings, especially in its Double Room which has been the setting for films.

          You touch so closely my love of living by a body of water. Right now, in Norfolk, VA, I can see the Lafayette River on two of its edges from most of the windows of this little rental house—-the river so soothing and alive in its various moods, and even more gorgeous when one walks along it, with the geese dipping their heads down for fish, the seagulls’ spectacular diving for their catch.

          I keep trying to get to the sea in the UK, and I think Norwich was the closest we’ve come. Rodent strongly feels that living near the sea would be disastrous for the possible encroachment that it might be upon land. And the consequent reduction of house prices.

          Your recommendation of Brighton is just what I’ve been hoping for. Several seaside locales are oft-mentioned in the media, but I always want to know what friends say about these places.

          Creative Writing courses are immensely popular and prolific in the States, but I understand they’re slightly less so in the UK. Can you tell me the names of the classes you’ve taken? Do you specialise at this point? Do you have workshops?

          On poetry lists there’s often a very divided and usually intense discussion about Creative Writing courses’ impact on students’ writing. Both strong views provide convincing points.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I wouldn’t have any idea about driving. No-one in my family drives, and I am utterly convinced I am too stupid an unco-ordinated to manage it without causing serious damage and distress. Have you ever driven through the epic magic roundabout in Swindon? I was born there, and that vast series of roundabouts is probably the reason neither of my parents bothered with driving…

          I find myself torn between country and coast. I do like rivers, but there is just something about a good seaside town… I’ve not been to Brighton for quite some time, and I’m sure it’s not as nice as I remember it. The famous Pavillion is very nice though— yet another old building filled with old paintings and priceless trinkets.

          My house in Winchester isn’t far from the river Itchen, although it isn’t much of a river. It’s one of the narrower stretches and was created by the Romans diverting the river to form a moat. It’s half as wide as it was, but I like to walk home past it, rather than the route along a main road. The houses on the other side are all large, grand homes set far from the river and with lovely gardens, some with little steps down to the water. There’s a bridge and an old pub and recently walking home in the dark, cold night it’s been nice to look back and see the warm glow from the pub and the odd light striking against the water.

          House prices on the coast do seem to go up somewhat. And I beleive we’ve discussed the price gap between houses north of London and houses south. It’s a bit unfair, but I suppose it’s because everyone would prefer to live in a big house by the sea than a small house in the middle of nowhere…

          Creative Writing seems to be a valid discipline in the States. In this country it’s considered a bit soft… a bit of a joke. Most arts subjects are though. It’s often easier to tell older people I’m studying English instead of having them start talk to me as though I have some sort of brain defect. And there is a lot of spare time, and I don’t do much work and seem to get decent grades, but at the same time I’m using my spare time to run a comedy troupe and write plays that are going to be staged over the course of next year. One of them is a version of Hamlet.

          Next semester I’ll be taking Writing for Stage, Writing for Television (taught by a friend of John Cleese, a man who collaborated with the Pythons, appeared in Life of Brian and worked with Douglas Adams), Textual Intervention (we study texts and do our own things with them). We did it last semester too. I also took Media Writing, Writing Short Screenplays, and Writing and the Word (essentially non-fiction). The first year is sort of a buffet where you try out short story writing, poetry, non-fiction, and scriptwriting.

          It may not be studying Classics at Oxford, but given what I want to do after I leave university I think it’s a pretty good set up. We get more specific in our final year, but I don’t know what’s on offer.

          We do workshops, but it doesn’t work very well. Everyone is too nice and afraid to offend.

          I think the quality of the education is down to the tutors. I did poetry last year, something I hate, but grew to enjoy it because our tutor was young and open to different ideas and experimentation. Some of my friends this year are upset because their tutor is a middle aged man in a scarf who used to live in Italy and will only give good grades to poetry he likes, in the style he prefers. This also applies to other types of writing… there is a tendency with (mostly older) tutors who are set in their ways and in their ideas of what writing is. I’ve been quite fortunate in having younger tutors for the most part who aren’t stuck in 19th century ideals etc etc and are too young themselves to have their own rigid rules…

        • Amanda says:

          I am learning to drive this year, at the age of 37, which is 21 years after becoming old enough to legally be permitted this privilege. And, it is utterly terrifying!!! I suspect the reason they train people beginning at age 16 is because then you still believe NOTHING can kill you, not even your own stupidity. By nearly-40, however, the possibilities seem endless.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          A friend of mine recently failed her test, and I suspect it’s because she’s too nice, polite, and aware of the inherent danger of crusing around in a large metal container.

          I can’t even comprehend trying. My co-ordination is so poor there is no hope of me ever being able to push peddles, pull gears, and steer a wheel at the same time. I like driving boats though. Far less dangerous, and much more like a space ship. Probably.

        • Judy Prince says:

          ” I suspect the reason they train people beginning at age 16 is because then you still believe NOTHING can kill you, not even your own stupidity. By nearly-40, however, the possibilities seem endless.”

          Strong points, Amanda. Youth has its advantages…..and lotsa car crashes.

          Do not be worried. You can always manage in one way or another. I passed my driving test (both the written and the driving parts) by being obnoxious. As the examiner was grading my written test, telling me the correct answers for my wrong ones, I asked to borrow his pencil, erased my answers and wrote in the correct ones, and he let me pass. Re the driving test, the examiner said to stop on the hill and as I was about to come down the hill he said I’d failed bcuz I hadn’t stopped on TOP of the hill, so I demanded to talk to his superior about that weird reason. He left me in the car and walked away angrily, never came back, and when I went into the testing facility, I found out I’d passed the test! (I’d borrowed the car from the guy a couple places behind me in the line for the test, so I took a taxi home)

          Neat thing is that there’s no (ok, very little) actual danger in taking the driving test itself. After that, natch, all driving hell breaks loose; it’s every driver for herself! Good luck, Amanda!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irwin, remind me never to get into a boat or spaceship that’s near one you’ll be driving! (Just kidding)

          Your Creative Writing course at Winchester sounds wonderful, and you are certainly being creatively busy! You say: “I’m using my spare time to run a comedy troupe and write plays that are going to be staged over the course of next year. One of them is a version of Hamlet.”

          Is playwrighting/scriptwriting your preferred area, then? It sounds like it from the classes you’ll be taking next year.

        • I’m actually fairly competent at driving boats. We used to go on boating holidays every summer, and I was allowed to drive because the English Waterways are like a no-holds barred cage match: there are no rules. Except sometimes speed limits.

          I’ve gone from being whatever the opposite of busy is to incredibly busy. All the business has occured in the last few months.

          I actually changed my modules over Christmas, to include writing for stage. Before I was doing ‘Author Study’ which seemed like a good idea at the time. But yes, at the moment scriptwriting is my main interest and after last term I’m bored of non-fiction and not all that keen on writing short fiction.

        • Judy Prince says:

          ” . . .the English Waterways are like a no-holds barred cage match: there are no rules.”

          Aha, Irwin, that explains a lot. Rodent and I made a wild and crazy narrowboat trip that took 3 days, and we never got out of the town we’d started in! (Definitely a TNB piece in that experience) The speed had to be low, which made it seem a safe mode of travel, but it got downright scary and complicated at times.

          “Author Study” sounds a bit strange; can’t really imagine what it means.

          Anyway, I rather feel the same as you about non-fiction and short fiction. Maybe we’re born to be playwright/scriptwriters, Irwin. It’s certainly always been my preferred writing genre. Becoming acquainted with theatre companies in the UK has been fascinating. But, then, acting itself is so superior, for the most part, in the UK that your country, to me, is a glorious magnet.

          Rodent and I saw Lenny Henry as Macbeth in London last year—-he and the fabulous troupe were smashing! Even a little puppet theatre in London showed such charm and imagination. And last month we saw a London-based traveling company perform “Much Ado About Nothing” at the Darlington Arts Centre; most impressive and raucously funny. Yet the BBC version gives an entirely different spin on the play, is majestic, whole and thoughtful. The possibilities for creative interpretation in theatre are limitless, the playwright having the last word….whereas in tv and film that is not the case, unfortunately (I think).

        • Ooh, narrowboats are far too difficult to steer. Left is right and right is left. It’s all nonsense.

          Author Study is the study of an author’s work and style. You have to write an essay on them, or produce a homage to their writing.

          I do enjoy non-fiction, but in the last two semesters it’s almost all I’ve done and I prefer just getting on with it. I like fiction to, but only occasionally when I feel up to it. I’m more interested in performance, and prefer the idea of working on bringing a script to life and sharing a story that way. Stand up is essentially a one man stage act— or at least the way I do it because I have to pretend to be someone slightly different.

          I’ve found that my interest in theatre has led to the end of my desire to live abroad. I’m not an expert on US theatre, but we certainly have a tradition and culture that still holds a lot of respect and reverence for theatre productions. I sort of get the sense that having a play put on here is an acheivement, whereas across the pond it might be considered less noteworthy than writing for film or television.

          I certainly agree about creative interpretation. Apparently the BBC/RSC version of Hamlet with David Tennant (which was excellent) re-interpreted the tone of the ‘To be or not to be’ speech. I mean there are thousands of versions of Hamlet, and that doesn’t happen in TV or film. It’s not possible, and probably not desirable. That applies to all plays really, I’m just thinking about Hamlet too much at the moment…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Ah yes, Irwin, plays are wonderfully, infinitely interpretable.

          You’re reasonably thinking much about Hamlet now. Of Tennant’s performance I’ve only seen the great soliloquy, and yes he does a smashing job of it, those big eyes of his keying his wavering emotions. Prior to that, thanks to Netflix (and lovefilm, in the UK), I had thought that Ethan Hawke (2000) did the best job overall, then Mel Gibson (1990), but I really didn’t go a bundle on Richard Burton’s interp (1964), nor did I like Olivier’s (1948).

          It’s a mighty muscular piece, Hamlet, and open to much interpretation of H’s motivations at any point along the narrative line. I still find myself wondering at his behaviour with Ophelia.

          In Hollywood it seems that appearance is all, and we’re left with a body of well known actors who do a barely passable job, and have no competition from much better actors. It’s a tragedy for the cultural life of the USA.

          UK films continue to be well written, acted and set, and they are often frequently admired by folk in the H’Wood film community such as George Clooney.

        • I thoroughly recommend Tennant’s version. It really is quite superb, and the rest of the cast are equally good. Also the little modern twists on it keep it quite interesting.

          I generally don’t like acting that pre-dates the 1960s. It’s impressive in it’s own way, but very ‘actor-y’ if that makes sense.

          My favourite part of Hamlet is Shakespeare’s idea of how mental illness works and it’s consequences.

          There are a few great American actors, but not many. And it is very much a result of the country being so large, the predominate forms of entertainment being television and film, and the prevailing desire to earn as much money by appealing as broadly as possible. And it’s such a shame that we always seem to be so desperate to follow the glamorous path of our American counterparts, or import shows wholesale. We almost take our acting talent for granted, which is a great shame. Our schedules are filled with US sitcoms and dramas, whilst we relegate our own to cable channels late at night with limited audiences. At least from next year Channel 4 has is going to stop broadcasting Friends all day everyday…

        • Judy Prince says:

          “My favourite part of Hamlet is Shakespeare’s idea of how mental illness works and its consequences.” You’ve focused on the crucial pivot of the play, Irwin. Amazing. Most discussions and debates try mightily to nail the reasons for H’s actions, but they miss the mental illness aspect which in fact colours everything in the play.

          I thoroly agree with your take on USA’s global influence in entertainment (as well as every other area). Since I don’t watch tv, I hadn’t known that UK is so filled with USA sitcoms and dramas, to the near exclusion of its own. Ironically, much that USAmericans assume to be their own entertainment creations are, in fact, knock-offs of Brit genres going back to early tv and even much earlier to the music hall entertainments. USA is a huge country, having had until recently little need to know other countries because of our immense natural resources and our geographical separation from others. Thus, other world cultures have needed to understand us, but we have not needed to understand them. We are indeed—-more than other countries—-a “melting pot” of ethnicities; however, others tend to, naturally, assimilate to what they find here, so we still have no need to go abroad and discover what is unique to other cultures, to compare and contrast our cultures with theirs, except through the narrow eye of US-driven media.

          Yet, for all of USAmericans’ pride in their country and culture(s), we have, as well, a strong and continuing self-critical aspect. I’ve experienced it here in the USA, and I’ve observed the same thing in the UK. For example, Brit writers will regard publication in the USA as a feather in the cap—-and USAmericans will regard publication in the UK as a feather in their cap. Yet we’re each very protective and defensive about our own cultures. A fascinating, if frustrating dynamic.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I’m writing a script at the moment that sort of makes fun of absurdity of Orphelia’s descent in insanity. It is frankly ludicrous to think mental = simply a complete change in character. But on the other hand, if we take Hamlet to be a man suffering psychological problems it’s much better done and believable. It also explains alot about his actions.

          The whole play-within-a-play idea is not the move of a rational, straight thinking induvidual.

          I’ve just read an interesting interview with Matt LeBlance, or Joey from Friends. He’s in a new sitcom which has been made and developed in Britain but about the American television industry. It sounds quite interesting, and reinforces the idea that US television is green lit by a a commitee, written by a committee, and produced by committiee to the detriment of the end product. It’s more quantity over quality, where British television works on a smaller scale, to a smaller budget and gives writers slightly more freedom.

          What is incredibly frustrating is that buried underneath piles of reality crap, and US imports (although some shows, mostly from HBO, are excellent) are many, many great shows that are given six episodes and then ignored for about a year. For example Stephen Moffat, a superb writer, brought Sherlock Holmes into the 21st century and it was brilliant. Beautifully shot, the old stories wonderfully re-worked and the cast was amazing. But after three episodes that was that.

          Over the last few nights I’ve been watching an update of a 1970s show, Uptairs, Downstairs. The original version was immensley popular, but a bit cheesey. The update was on the BBC. The story revolves around a house in Belgravia and the upperclass residents and their servants downstairs. The cast is huge, and it’s very much like a play. Dame Eileen Atkins played an interfering mother-in-law with a pet monkey. It weaves together the running of the house, the personal lives and personal drama of the characters, whilst drawing on the political issues of the setting (1936). The male lead works in the Foreign Office and the episodes dealt with the rise of fascism in Europe. It was a very quiet, enganging show that one could watch forever. Except it only last three episodes as well so I can’t. It just feels like a dreadful squandering of talent and resources.

          Executives seem to be under the impression we all want to watch fancy Americans in fancy Hollywood settings, when in fact it doesn’t really matter as long as the story is interesting and the actors are good.

          I think here in the UK ‘breaking the US market’ is more a status thing than anything. Obviously the American market is huge, and it’s rare for Brits outside the music industry to make it really big over there. What’s disheartening is how often people strive for mainstream acceptance, and success in America rather than credibility and respect in their own country.

          I can see the feather-in-cap aspect from the other perspective though. At least up until late, before the culture of celebrity was so deeply entrenched. Traditional Britian has embraced great American performers who have been less appreciated in their own country. The comedian Bill Hicks has written several letters about his disappointing lack of success in America, and his surprise and gratitude at the reception he received over here and talks of ‘following the same path as Hendrix’ who was in a similar position.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Great ideas here, Irwin.

          I tend to think that the psychological problems Hamlet had didn’t change his personality, perceptions or motivations completely, but rather grandly distorted them. His unforgiveable behaviour towards Ophelia may’ve been a distorted anger at thinking that she was in league with her father, Polonius, against him, doing her father’s bidding; depends of course on how one interprets an unclued (in speech or in stage business) scene and efforts to fit it into the play’s context, including their relationship. But, basically, I find it more disturbing that O is such a wimp; she’s such a lackluster character I find it impossible to sympathise with her.

          I don’t necessarily think that the play-within-a-play is the brainchild of an irrational mind. It seems a rational, clever and creative trap, and it works to get H what he says at the time that he seeks.

          I watched with continued fascination the original “Upstairs, Downstairs,” written by the actor who played Rose, one of the maids (forgot the actor’s name). Would love to see the new one—-but it’s gone already! How sad. What is behind BBC’s cancellation? Surely, if they launched 3 episodes, after all that planning they must’ve had a better reason than wanting to imitate H’Wood.

          Re breaking into the USAmerican market, it’s easy to understand why it’s so important—–so much more money’s to be had in the doing! The tragedy’s that the acceptors most probably would insist upon Americanised productions.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irwin, the updated “Upstairs, Downstairs” may well be revived on the heels of viewers’ ratings. A Guardian reader’s recent comment to a blog article comparing “Upstairs” with “Downton Abbey” briefly sums up Upstairs’ edge:

          “Upstairs Downstairs was absolutely superb. Who cares that the BBC crammed it all into 3 hours? the storylines were perfect. I watched and enjoyed Downtown Abbey, but Upstairs Downstairs was leaps and bounds superior. Full marks to Jean Marsh and Eileen Aitkins for setting the scene perfectly from where the original Upstairs Downstairs left off, I only hope that enough of us enjoyed it to warrant a series next year. Well Done BBC.”

          How can I watch either of these from the USA? I think copyright restrictions preclude access, but I’ll try to chase the shows down.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          you should be able to see them on the iPlayer. I hope.

          The Guardian reader got something wrong. Although Jean Marsh (Rose) and Eileen Atkins wrote the original, the follow up was written by someone else.

          The BBC only do three episodes of things because of money, fear, and because a sort of tradition. It’s such a shame as well. I don’t doubt there will be another series, but the wait will be ages and it would just be lovely to be able to get lost in a program for a prolonged period of time.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Rights agreements mean that BBC iPlayer television programmes are only available to users to download or stream (Click to Play) in the UK. However, we are aware of demand for an international version.”

          That’s what BBC iPlayer wrote in their FAQ responses, Irwin. It’s so disappointing because so much BBC tv programming’s fantastic, but it can’t be seen outside the UK. One hopes they can swing an international version, as they call it.

          You were right, of course, that Jean Marsh and Eileen Atkins, the original “Upstairs, Downstairs” writers, didn’t write the updated recent version.

        • Oh BBC, you fools! It should be on DVD soon, which would probably be worth the cost. Just about. Alternatively google ‘tv links’ which is a pretty good streaming site…

          Actually it’s worth buying on DVD simply for Eileen Atkins and her pet monkey.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Thanks for the information, Irwin. I’ll take your suggestion about getting the updated “Upstairs, Downstairs” DVD which won’t be out until February; hence, I can get it when back in the UK. I might also get “Downton Abbey” which seemed as popular.

          Keep us posted on your upcoming theatre tour!

        • That’s another thing I don’t understand about the BBC: the massive turnaround between broadcasting and DVD release. Other channels put their best stuff out in the shops the week after the end of the series.

          I never watched Downton Abbey. I don’t actually watch that much TV anymore, or at least not new television.

          I’m hoping to post more regularly in 2011 as various projects start taking off and what have you…

        • Judy Prince says:

          “That’s another thing I don’t understand about the BBC: the massive turnaround between broadcasting and DVD release. Other channels put their best stuff out in the shops the week after the end of the series.”

          And I thought, Irwin, that a February DVD release for “Upstairs” was quick!

          Hope you enjoy getting Hamlet up and running; it’s a wide creative world of possibilities.

        • That is actually, for the BBC, pretty swift. But in comparison to other stations it’s bloody ages.

          I can’t wait to start writing the script for Hamlet. I’m working with a good friend of mine and fellow comic on a comedy interpretation of the play based on a project my friend did on his drama course.

          We’re also hoping to make a film version of our ‘sequel’ before Easter as well, depending on how things go with a project I’m working on for my tutor/an arts festival. That’s a play as well. Or it will be if I get around to finishing it…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Scriptwriting after your friend’s concepts, making comedy out of tragedy, then filming it. Wow, Irwin, that’s a lot of work—-and great fun!!

          Have you had experience with camera work? I once taught a film class in which for part of the semester the students in small groups created brief scenes from a short story. They devised storyboards, wrote the lines, acted, directed, shot and edited. It was marvelous. One group’s scene was a complete hoot because after the camera person had set the camera in position someone bumped it slightly and the entire scene focused on the main character’s bum. ;-)

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Well, the two of are highly ambitious, and have a lot of love for the play itself. I normally try and slip at least one Hamlet reference into anything I write. It makes me feel very clever and sophisticated, no matter how hamfisted the reference is shoe-horned in!

          I’ve made a couple of short films, although nothing with proper cameras. Last semester I had to make a ten minute film for a project and failed to write the script or get a camera in time so I made a mockumentary with my digitial camera about the failure of my project. It was largely improvised and it went down incredibly well. I got a First for it as well.

          But I did ‘direct’ kind of properly, in that there were scripted parts, and I’d have to set the camera up to film myself and my friend/co-star because it was the night before the deadline and no one was there to hold the camera. One of my favourite shots is a kitchen scene where we both chat next to a kettle whilst the camera is dangerously perched on the edge of the fridge…

          When it comes to filming later on the script wil be very simple and we’ll have a bit more help. Although I’m hoping we can play the roles of Horatio and Hamlet because we won’t get to in the stage versions. Also my writing partner is a proper actor, and I’ve done a bit. Also the Hamlet in this film will be a ghost and completely different to ‘proper’ Hamlet and thus less of a challenge. I hope.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Cool about the mockumentary and the fridge-edge camera, Irwin. Such openness in response to problems is essential to creative works, and most artists know it, but few do it bcuz making something “perfect” or without “mistakes” is so strong a pull in the opposite direction. Truffaut’s jump cut is thought to be brilliantly planned, but I think he inspiredly reacted to the limited equipment, resources and time he had at the moment.

          Yesterday I re-watched the DVD of Jamie Johnson’s “Born Rich” in which he interviews his mega-rich friends. He has a good photographer’s zeal for getting The Truth—-and the whole Truth—-as well as an artist’s inspired use of accidental occurrences. For example, he leaves a fantastic but obviously embarrassing (to himself and his father) few seconds recording his dad suddenly terminating an interview, and he chooses to record an equally uncomfortable scene of him listening to his attorney advise him about his friend suing him for recording an interview (the judge threw his friend’s suit out of court).

        • James D. Irwin says:

          The whole project essentially happened the way it did because of lack of time and resources, and I maintain it was much better for it. We just had to focus intently on getting the thing done, and mistakes and sound quality weren’t quite as important as they might have been.

          Although I spent an uncomfortable amount of time having to arrange each scenes to tell a story, and had to edit it on Windows Movie Maker. I had to align the picture and sound up as well, absolutely precisely (otherwise it sounded like a horrible robot/alien hybrid). The only thing I got marked down for was the slightly dodgy picture quality (which I quite like) and the sound quality which isn’t bad, but I can’t really argue that it’s anything more than adequate. It’s on youtube, along with a harsh critique from one sole commenter:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jFOH5q4-PJM

          That sounds like a fascinating documentary. I might have to see if I can track that down somewhere…

        • Judy Prince says:

          I liked your mockumentary, Irwin, could really get into it—-far more, I’m sure, than I’d've gotten into the mini-midget nuns or wotever thing you were writing about. *You* were the focus, not the project itself, which served as a vehicle to reveal and dramatise you. Your friends’ reactions were varied takes on you, ranging from understandable responses to (and analyses of) the failure of the proposed project to the female dissing you for your drinking problem and your resultant ineptness.

          It was a brilliant choice—-yes, it was a *choice*—-to go for the mocku rather than some moshed-together knockoff.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I’d like to make clear that ‘Midget Nuns with Miniguns’ was never the actual idea I was going to do.

          I was fortunate in that I knew the people who would be seeing it were my friends and classmates so I could exagerrate my reputation as a drinker (I don’t drink that much, or that often but thanks to a few high profile ‘incidents’ people think I’m a borderline alcoholic), and I could overplay my worship of bad action films.

          I was so pleased with my friend Sara in that film. She’s so lovely… the nicest, most pleasant person I’ve ever met and she managed to say some really nasty things. It was one of the few bits that was scripted, but only vaguely.

          I’m sorry to be a little rude and disgusting, but I had the idea whilst I was on the toilet. I was worrying about my project, not having started it when it was due so late. It was supposed to be a much more convoluted fake documentary (which I talk about at the start) and I suddenly struck upon the idea of making a film about failing to make a film. It gradually got more absurd, up to the point I was pretending to make a big budget action film, although that was essentially an overblown version of my tendency for overambitious plans that are totally impractical and unrealistic.

          The scene at the end where I say ‘I’m sure we’ll string something together at the last minute’ is basically a subtle-ish admission that it was made last minute. There’s an alternate take in which I look into the camera and wink.

          It was supposed to be about the film, but it did end up really being about a deluded and drunk version of myself that’s probably more true to life than I’d care to admit…

        • Judy Prince says:

          I doubtless suffer the “too literal” syndrome that sheri reports about herself in another comment thread, Irwin. Dear Rodent is convinced that USAmericans, for the most part, intepret literally, hence don’t “get” the irony and certain other subtleties that UKers are bred to. If that’s true, it may explain why I didn’t get the OTT aspects of your mockumentary. The only part of the mocku that had me going “Hang on, Irwin—” was when you were typing the midget nuns scenario into the computer. But I figured if you were sloshed, you might actually do such a thing. Another hint was the character/actors list, of which you were the exception in playing yourself. How I could’ve missed the unsubtle meaning in the word “mockumentary” I don’t know! I’m more impressed by the mocku now that I know it was not a documentary! HA!

          Good work, my friend—–and your friends, as well!

        • James D. Irwin says:

          It’s often said that Americans don’t ‘get’ irony, which I don’t think is quite true, but certainly we Brits grow up with irony and it’s perhaps more central to our comedy output.

          The film was also quite confusing, partially on purpose but mostly due to the improvised nature of the thing. One of the things that I really liked was that due to the time we shot most of the footage I’m so tired I sound quite drunk. That wasn’t just after a normal day but after I’d stayed up late watching three films before heading to London to watch a football game which my team lost (and it was an important one), and we didn’t start shooting the internal scenes until about 3am.

          I think though that a mockumentary is most successful when people are unsure, or unaware if what they’re watching is real. Although I try to make sure people know eventually, otherwise I’d get taken for some sort of alcoholic writer of lesbian fetish pornography…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Actually, Irwin, when you were typing in the “pornograhic” bit and your friend stopped you, it seemed non-docu, especially as the entire midget nuns thing was so OTT. But your friends were extremely convincing in their roles, so it had me deciding that the video was a docu.

          You asked about Jamie Johnson’s “Born Rich.” Lovefilm.com doesn’t have it, but here in the States, netflix does and has it either as a rental DVD or for streaming. I bought the DVD when it wasn’t available on netflix. Following’s some detail about the film itself, after which Wiki tells about Jamie and how he came to do the film:

          “Born Rich is a 2003 documentary about young people who have inherited enormous wealth produced by Jamie Johnson, heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune. It consists primarily of interviews by Johnson with other wealthy heirs concerning their experiences and challenges of living such privileged lives.”

          “S.I. Newhouse IV, heir to the Condé Nast Publications fortune, reflects intelligently about possessing great wealth and how you can lose it all in a second. He chooses to room with his peers in the cramped quarters of on-campus housing en route to getting a Ph.D. He does so, he says, not because he wants to deflect envy but because he finds it more enjoyable to live with his friends on campus. Josiah Hornblower, of the Vanderbilt and Whitney families, is a soft-spoken sensitive man who tells the story of an Uncle taking him around NYC when he was a young boy and telling him, “you own this” while pointing to Grand Central Station and “you own this” pointing to some other massive New York City icon. Josiah exclaims “What a thing to tell a young kid!” He also occasionally denigrates past family actions of aggrandizement alluding to some of these acts as bordering on outright theft. Thus, he distances himself from the caricatures of the rich and famous by denigrating those caricatures.”

          “Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of New York mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg, cultivates a passion for competitive horsemanship and evinces a very healthy contempt for opinions coming either from her own family or from less wealthy friends that do not respect her passion for the sport.”

          “Stephanie Ercklentz, “finance heiress,” is an extraordinarily beautiful woman who tried a stint as a financier but got bored with the 20-hour days. She saw no sense in trading off time with friends for time sitting in front of a bunch of numbers on a computer screen. She thus does not expend much effort in fending off the envious stares of others. The equally beautiful Ivanka Trump, daughter of real estate tycoon Donald Trump makes no apology for her parent’s success and expresses an ambition to add something of excellence to the NYC skyline just as her father did.”

          “Cody Franchetti, heir to Milliken & Co, doubles as a high fashion male model. He too makes no apology for the money he has access too or the good looks he was born with. He eschews any feelings of guilt and points (erroneously) to “puritanical Christianity” as the purveyor of such ignoble attitudes.”

          “Juliet Hartford, A&P heiress, daughter of Huntington Hartford cultivates her talents as an artist and Christina Floyd, “professional sports heiress”, daughter of golfer Raymond Floyd expresses pride in her father’s accomplishments and healthy bemusement regarding all the exclusive country clubs she toys with in her spare time.”

          “Perhaps the most interesting and intelligent of the bunch (besides the filmmaker himself) are Luke Weil, heir to the Autotote gaming empire, and Carlo von Zeitschel, heir to the German Kaisers (presumably the House of Hohenstaufen). Weil appears to be struggling with opposing tendencies in his soul: On the one hand, he finds the life he leads as vacuous and empty and on the other hand, he looks at the alternatives and finds them wanting too. Same with von Zeitsche. Later we discover that Weill sued the filmmaker for defamation of character but lost.”

          “Obviously all of these young men and women faced the intense desire to be loved and to belong to the rest of humanity even while realizing that they simply, through accident of birth, were special and did not belong to the masses. The question then became what do you do then? Most settle on developing some excellence of their own whether it be competitive fencing, competitive horsemanship, historical interests, fashion, real estate development and so on. After sitting through this documentary one develops an admiration for the ways in which these young people have navigated the treacherous waters of wealth and how wealth sets them apart from all others, thus making them objects of envy . . . ” (review by P. McNamara, see external referrences, end of Wiki article below)

          And here’s Wiki on Jamie Johnson and “Born Rich”:

          “Born Rich is a 2003 documentary about the experience of growing up as a child in one of the world’s richest families. It was created by Jamie Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune.

          It was purchased by HBO. The film was described as “a documentary on children of the insanely rich, directed by one of their own, Johnson & Johnson Inc. heir Jamie Johnson.” It consists primarily of Johnson interviewing his friends and peers about the experience of living life free of financial constraints. These interviews are offset by Johnson’s exploration of his own experience and family. Jamie’s uncle is screenwriter and novelist Dirk Wittenborn, whom Jamie credits with encouraging him to make a documentary about the experience of wealthy children.

          The documentary was nominated for two Emmy Awards[1] including ‘Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming’ for the director, Jamie Johnson. The other nomination was in the category ‘Outstanding Nonfiction Special’ for the producers: Sheila Nevins (executive producer), Dirk Wittenborn (produced by) and Jamie Johnson (producer).

          [edit] CastBorn Rich features interviews with:

          Ivanka Trump, daughter of real estate tycoon Donald Trump
          S.I. Newhouse IV, heir to the Condé Nast Publications fortune and grandson of Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr.
          Josiah Hornblower, of the Vanderbilt and Whitney families
          Georgina Bloomberg, daughter of New York mayor and media mogul Michael Bloomberg
          Stephanie Ercklentz, “finance heiress”
          Cody Franchetti, heir to Milliken & Co
          Luke Weil, heir to the Autotote gaming empire
          Christina Floyd, “professional sports heiress”, daughter of golfer Raymond Floyd
          Carlo von Zeitschel
          Juliet Hartford, A&P heiress, daughter of Huntington Hartford
          [edit] References1.^ Shout! Factory Store
          [edit] External linksBorn Rich at the Internet Movie Database
          Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems – The troubled life of Luke Weil
          Review by P. McNamara “

        • Judy Prince says:

          Aha, Irwin—–I knew it was the *writing* that made Downtown Abbey so good, in contrast to the new Upstairs, Downstairs!

          Last night I stream-watched The Young Victoria, a recent brilliantly written, directed, shot and acted film that was heads and shoulders above another recent film about Victoria and Albert, while covering much the same historical terrain. Julian Fellowes wrote the superior The Young Victoria.

          He also wrote the film Gosford Park, and I’ve just bought (for a penny on amazon.com) his novel, SNOBS, which loads of customer reviewers really enjoyed.

  10. Jude says:

    Congratulations to you both. From your description of your wedding day, it sounds like your marriage is going to be filled with laughter and much joy.

    Love the caricature. Best wishes to you both.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thank you so much, Jude! Truly, the wedding ceremony was a combo of hoots and deep tenderness, which is pretty much how we operate, thank God. I’m totally delighted that you liked the caricatures, and appreciate your saying so.

  11. Amanda says:

    …but he rallied…

    Well played.

    : )

  12. Lorna says:

    Congratulations Judy and Rodent.

    This was such a delight to read. I so enjoy the easy going nature you have in dealing with arriving early, then late and Rodent crashing into the church wall. The vicar’s words about happy couples made me smile.

    And they lived happily ever after.

    • Judy Prince says:

      “And they lived happily ever after.” We hope so, Lorna; bless your heart for the wish!

      Re the easygoing nature, it was more like being punchdrunk with so much to do, so little time to do it—-and the inherent nuttiness of it all!

      I’m glad you, too, liked the vicar’s words. He said it elegantly (not like I rather inelegantly reported it in the post), and it touched us very much.

  13. angela says:

    aww, congrats to you and Rodent! :)

    • Judy Prince says:

      angela, you sweetie! I’ve missed you and your great posts; must try to catch up!

      Rodent joins me in thanking you for your kind congrats.

  14. Becky Palapala says:

    A picture of Rodent! One more of life’s mysteries solved.

    Also, either he is incredibly tall or your are very short. :)

    Congrats!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thanks for the congrats, Becky!

      I’m considerably shorter, having been run through the Woman’s Wedding Torture machine pictured behind Rodent in the photo. It’s standard in Anglican churches throughout England. But who knew?!

      Hey, Becky, noting your new (to me) Gravatar, now you and I are sister squirruls!

  15. jmblaine says:

    Ah I so love
    when someone tells
    a story with’
    both Beauty
    & Chaos
    because it rings so
    true.
    So true.

    He ran the car into the church wall.

    <I am my beloved
    & my beloved
    is mine

    • Judy Prince says:

      JM, so much thanks for your beautiful message. You, once again, brought me smiles and tears and powerful fresh views. And I love that you wrote: “He ran the car into the church wall.”

      • J.M. Blaine says:

        I love that he
        ran the car
        into the church wall

        I think God
        loves that he ran
        the car into the
        church wall.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Even though it said “comments wont nest below this level,” after your lovely words, JM, I’ve decided to try nesting a comment (besides, they spelled “won’t” without the apostrophe; how uncool is *that* on a writers’ website?!).

          Let’s see if it works, the nesting, I mean.

          Yes! I, too, think God loves that he ran the car into the church wall!

          YIPPEE!

  16. Gregory Messina says:

    Congratulations, Judy!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thank you, Gregory! BTW, I lobbied strenuously for a honeymoon day or two in Paris…..but alas we just ran out of time before coming back to the States. How does it go with you?

      • Judy Prince says:

        Gregory, dear Rodent just read this aloud: “A parasite is a man who lives in France.” Now I can’t recall who said that. Dilbert? Sartre? Villon? Pogo? Charlie Brown?

  17. Joe Daly says:

    Congratulations, Judy!

    That is a fantastic and colorful story and I’m stoked you shared it with us. A half hour late for your wedding! That Rodent is an old school romantic, eh? Well done!

    Thanks for sharing the pix, too- a fitting conclusion to a very enjoyable read. :)

    • Judy Prince says:

      Joe Joe Joe, I just don’t understand male persons at all. They are more enigmatic than turtles hedgehogs. They don’t even understand themselves, so how can we weak vessel females ever “get” them, and should we even bother our pretty little heads about them?

      Rodent wanted to get married because he didn’t want to bother faffing around coming to the States to be with me and never knowing whether he’d be allowed into the States or whether I’d be allowed into the UK. That’s the reason I agreed to marry him, too. Not romantic in the least….on the face of it…….but underneath was the solid fact that we wanted to be with one another as much as possible, and we had tried various visas and other plans, but wedding was the rock-solid legal event that both countries’ governments sanction. I hope it works!

      Delighted you liked the story and the pics, Joe—-and of course thank you for your kind words and congratulations!

  18. sheree says:

    Brilliant. Cheers!

    • Judy Prince says:

      sheree—-Wow! Thanks! Now I feel brilliant!

      (BTW, I’m sooo not getting people’s Gravatars; and yours is one I’m not getting, though it is lovely. I figure that the the Gravatar images have to become so small to fit to the place on TNB that they’re difficult to distinguish clearly. Yours looks as if an unseen person or an antler is playing bocci (sp?) or some kind of bowling on a ship.)

      Chirs!

      • Dana says:

        I hope she tells you because I’ve been wondering for ages what the heck is shown in Sheree’s avie!

        • sheree says:

          It’s the shifter on my youngest sons work crane. He emails me photos of himself at work. So i don’t feel the empty nest so deeply. My children are grown with lives of their own in states away from my own. It’s their way of keeping me a part of their daily lives. Pretty sweet of them.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Aha! It’s a total bummer for one’s kids to live in other states, sheree, and clearly your sons know that, so they keep you connected continuously. That is wonderful of them, and frankly quite unusual.

          I do think, in this instance, that your son has found an unemployed reindeer and, pitying his condition, he has employed him to play bocci (sp?) shuffleboard on shipboard somewhere in another state than yours, despite what he has told you. You must’ve raised him to be profoundly charitable around Christmas time, as well as to be humble. Good work, you!

        • sheree says:

          Watching my sons become men of independant standing has been well worth the gnawing pangs of an empty nest.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I agree, sheree; it’s just so heartaching that they can’t be men of independent standing AND live closer to their mom.

          My son’s been in L.A. since he began law school, while I was in Chicago for some 12 years and then in Virginia up til now. And now that I’m about to live mostly in England, the geographic breach will be even more vast. And I think that breach DOES, for most families, shrink the feelings of intimacy that come naturally from continuous physical closeness.

          I have often envied Rodent his geographic closeness to his children. I don’t believe it is something that he or others in the UK think about, but the relative smaller size of their country does more often guarantee that families are physically closer.

          I strongly feel the same about students and their teachers, in the sense that if there were fewer students per teacher, then each student would have more time on a regular basis with their teacher and be better understood, thus, in most cases, better taught and better able to learn, as they become accustomed to the give-and-take of regular face-to-face communications.

  19. Dana says:

    Congratulations Judy! (Rodent too!)

    I’d never heard of the tradition of banns, it’s quite amusing really. Glad you two held it together enough to get the job accomplished. I’m thinking a watch with an alarm might be an appropriate wedding gift. ;)

    It’s weird to think that you’re right up the road from me. One day I’ll probably bump right into you* on Granby!

    *I’m rather clumsy.

    • Judy Prince says:

      I forgot to say, Dana, that I hooted out loud at this: “I’m thinking a watch with an alarm might be an appropriate wedding gift.”

      Frankly, I might need a watch with a *calendar* alarm, as well because I could’ve misremembered the day of the wedding, as I had the time. You see, I had for months been telling folks the time was 2:30….., and when I asked Rodent (who’d taken the notes directly from the vicar the day we set the date), he said he couldn’t find his notes, and neither of us thought to phone the vicar.

      I shudder now to think we might not have, as you say, “held it together enough to get the job accomlished.”

  20. Judy Prince says:

    Hang on, Dana—–you’re the one whose comments on TNB posts I always love and of course agree with, and your comments are always better expressed than mine, so I just say “I echo Dana.” And you’re the one who forced her pore husband to drive in Ireland whilst you yelled “Drive on the left side!” each morning at him.

    And now you’ve moved to Norfolk, VA? I don’t remember that! Pleez explain.

    Re the banns, they are truly fantastic, completely outmoded and probably useless. They’re read 3 times in one’s parish church (and, it turns out, in the church where one weds, as well, if it’s a different church). The importance of hearing them the first time, at least, is so that if the minister forgets to read yours, then your wedding certificate cannot be legal. So if we hadn’t heard our names we’d've told the minister immediately. As you might expect, the purpose of reading the banns is so that anyone objecting to the marriage (we could be bigamists, after all!) would speak up right away. We didn’t know a single person in the parish church, and of course fewer and fewer folks in contemporary congregations may actually know one another, so the purpose for reading banns is pretty much null. But, as with so much we did for the wedding, there’s a sweetness, logic, sensibleness and connecting to tradition that, to me at least, was winning. My first marriage was in Chicago’s City Hall—-none of the same kind of memories. Since I was a little girl I’ve never wanted a formal wedding ceremony, but this time around we couldn’t avoid it—-and we truly loved it.

  21. Simon Smithson says:

    Oh! Congratulations and best wishes, Judy and Rodent!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thank you for your congratulations and best wishes, Simon! I know we didn’t surprise you, because you commented on Uche’s post that you hoped our marriage would be “filled with health, happiness, and hazelnuts!” Leave it to Simon Smithson to wit well his comments.

  22. Richard Cox says:

    Congratulations, Judy and Rodent! What a great story. I love your relationship with time in this. Hour early? Half hour late? What?

    Time has no meaning!

    • Judy Prince says:

      Richard, you are the only one who’d've isolated the time factor (or lack thereof) in this post. It’s at the core of your *The God Particle* and *Rift* in their sci-fi themes as well as action deadlines.

      I once was a union grievance chairperson and after wrestling with how to write the grievances, I realised it came down to the simple matter of “Time is all.” That is, it was imperative to get the grievant to tell the situation fully chronologically; i.e., this came first, that came next, and so on. One time slip (inversion or omission) would’ve entirely altered the grievance, for good or for ill, for the grievant. You’d think a simple narrative would be easy to stick to, but it was not. Understandably, the grievant’s emotions hooked into the narrative, pulling them from it constantly, back and forth in time with associated events and details. It was the rare grievant who could shave their story to strict chronology, who somehow had processed the entire event and could see it, as if standing aside from it. They could see it all as a strict time sequence—–in addition to any other sequence or association they might have had about it.

      In dear Rodent’s and my case, we had so many major deadlines to meet in 6 months; namely, to sell Rodent’s house; move into and out of a rental house; search for and buy a new home; satisfy the rules for wedding in the Church of England; collect and tourist with my USA family in London, having prepared for their staying at our house; select the nature and order of the ceremony itself; coordinate an after-wedding dinner; get enough food for the bunch at home; get gifts for the wedding party folk; get car seats for the grandkids, and so on.

      The profusion of deadlines and their details were laughably complex as well as near-tragically important. Any one of the deadlines or details might’ve derailed our main aims. We were so fortunate to have our friends and the vicar’s elastic understanding and patience and love.

      A possible factor for you to consider in your writings, Richard: PATIENCE is usually, conventionally, wed to time. I’ll leave it to you to consider what that fully means, but I feel it’s on target though I haven’t reasoned it out fully, except to say that patience can affect people’s view of time as well as their ordering of events.

  23. Zara Potts says:

    Congrats to you and Rodent!
    Ahhh. Weddings -they make me come over all romantic!
    All my best wishes to you. What a wonderful pair.
    xx

    • Judy Prince says:

      Awwww…..thank you, Zara, for your lovely words!

      Being a romantic is a glorious thing, I think. It’s braver than its opposite, and it flies in the face of modern convention that thinks “romance” is weak, impotent and unrealistic. It’s as difficult to cherish, build and keep as is peace in the face of war. “Romance” is the manifestation of “love”—–could anything be more valuable?

      You’ve made me think of weddings I’ve attended in these past years, and at every one of them I wept with joy and deep emotion. Always, they renew my faith in love and the survival of the spirit.

      Blessings, Zara, for the warmest, sweetest, most loving times in your new year.

  24. Erika Rae says:

    Oh, this made me so happy. Congratulations. And the two of you look lovely and happy and a permanent part everything good.

    But shame on you, Miss Judy. Saying “God” in church. I am horrified. Good feelings gone.

  25. Judy Prince says:

    I stand chastened, Erika Rae. ;-)

    I should’ve crashed into the church wall instead. Dear Rodent had it right. Better a crash than a blasphemy.

    Thanks so much for your kindnesses, my lovely dear Erika Rae—-with a slinky new Gravatar!

  26. D.R. Haney says:

    You’re a fallen-away Quaker, Judy? Huh. Quakers, fallen away or not, always seem to take me a little by surprise. Ian MacKaye, for instance, of the bands Minor Threat and Fugazi, was raised a Quaker, I’m fairly certain.

    I’m glad you included the photos. They helped me to picture the day in its entirety. And of course, like everyone before me, I offer my congrats to you and Rodent, as well as my wish for a happy new year.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Surprised by Quakers, Duke?

      Reminds me that my son’s 3rd grade teacher, surprised he was a Quaker, said, “I thought they’d have all run out by now.” A clever little bugger who knew his history, my son said, “You’re confusing Quakers with Shakers who didn’t believe in sex.”

      The Society of Friends is indeed a deeply impressive group, typically pacifist, who match their actions to their beliefs. Initially, I was awestruck with their leadership in the Abolitionist and pro-native American movements. Most amazing, though, from the Friends’ beginnings in 17th century England, women shared in the leadership, beginning with George Fox’s wife Margaret Fell, widow of judge Fell. Quaker women, as well as men, were “clerks” of the Meetings (congregations), the major role in Friends’ Meetings for Business, the Friends’ engine for actions. This provided female Quakers in England and USAmerica the experience to step into public and ad hoc (e.g., prisoners’ rights, women’s suffrage) leadership positions previously held only by males. There’s a fascinating parallel between George and Margaret’s co-leadership and that of Muhammad and his wife Khadijah who encouraged his beliefs and financially enabled him to do his work.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        I know the Quakers were very involved in efforts to educate American Indians in the nineteenth century. There was an idea at the time of “Kill the Indian but save the soul” — in other words, make the Indians more like whites — but I’m not sure if that was a Quaker idea and, if so, how widely practiced it was. Either way, it was bound to have been comparatively enlightened at the time.

        • Judy Prince says:

          I don’t recall reading about Quakers educating Native Americans, Duke, but I do remember reading much about William Penn’s forging a relationship with the tribe known as the Delaware (Leni Lenape) and Penn’s colony. The story’s a fascinating account of political dealings. Here’s one historian’s conclusion:

          “Penn’s relationship with the Natives ties in with his overall concept of his colony. He had a just and fair plan, though one formed by a conception of himself of lord of his domain. His planning was simultaneously ‘idealistic’ and pragmatic; he had grand visions of life in the New World, and realized them as much as was practicable. And as the various iconographers of Colonial America, including the Capitol sculptors, realized, his method did stand out from his contemporaries. While those who would argue that he essentially sought the same imperialistic goals, only in a kinder, gentler manner, may have a point, one must argue that this ‘kindness’ was relatively speaking, better than much of the outright hate and distrust that characterized Indian-White relations.”

          Here’s the historian’s whole account which wonderfully reveals the complex political web that all sides had to maneuver:

          http://xroads.virginia.edu/~cap/PENN/pnind.html

  27. So sweet, Judy! Congratulations! I love the happy chaos at the church. I’m always suspicious of weddings that happen without glitches … and of couples who can’t have a laugh at the glitches when they do happen.

    • Judy Prince says:

      You’ve got a wonderful relaxed take on weddings, and probably all formal ceremonies, Cynthia.

      I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately, having seen my yearly quota of 4 contemporary films, on the airplane. The one I mainly remember is *Salt* with Angelina Jolie.

      Subsequently, in Vanity Fair, I read an interview of Jolie who says about her and Brad Pitt’s *Mr and Mrs Smith* that they’ve not yet found an excellent follow-up script. I truly enjoyed the film for its comedy and action.

      Back to *Salt.* Recently netflixing Zhang Yimou’s *House of Flying Daggers,* I thought about how Jolie in *Salt* was in many ways reprising the role of the female dancer/spy/fighter in Yimou’s film. In her VF interview, Jolie said she’d been asked if she wanted to be a Bond girl, but replied that she wanted to be Bond, and eventually she was asked to be Evelyn Salt, a major action/whodunit protagonist. Basically, all of this was done first in *House of Flying Daggers.* Not well “read” in films, I don’t know whether *House* itself was a knock-off, or if it turned a corner for female protagonist action/whodunits, thus engendering *Salt.*

      • I cannot believe I haven’t seen House of Flying Daggers. I don’t *think* I’ve seen it, anyway. There was a time around Crouching Tiger that I stayed up on such movies. Now I’m making it a point to see it after hearing you describe it! Also haven’t seen Salt yet. I absolutely love that she answered the Bond girl question with, “I want to be Bond.” Did we already have a conversation about Le Femme Nikita? That was ’90, and also there was The Long Kiss Goodnight in ’96. Kill Bill in 2003. How sad is it that these female-driven spy/action films are so few and far between? I think that corner has not yet been turned.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Yes, Cynthia, Jolie’s retort was excellent. She and Brad seem like bright, engaged and engaging people.

          Thanks for the information. I’ll netflix the three female action/spy films you’ve noted; am curious to see how they compare and contrast with *Salt* and *The House of Flying Daggers.*

          I should think that female-protagonist action/spy films would be box office bonanzas since they’d draw both females and males. Who wouldn’t want to watch them if they like the genre at all?

          *Salt* is a bit too serious/intense for my tastes, but it has great action and a cool reverse in the plot—–and it’s obviously built for sequeling.

        • And I’ve got Salt and House of Flying Daggers set up on *my* Netflix. We’ll have to have this conversation again when we’re all caught up!

          Salt got really poor reviews, I think. I could be completely wrong, but it seems to me that action films starring women are critiqued more harshly than those with men — by fans *and* reviewers. I remember one reviewer, I think in Entertainment Weekly, saying that Jolie was too diminutive to be believed in the fight scenes. Uh-huh. I don’t think Matt Damon’s all that big of a person either, but nobody was saying that about his Jason Bourne.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Salt got really poor reviews, I think. I could be completely wrong, but it seems to me that action films starring women are critiqued more harshly than those with men — by fans *and* reviewers. I remember one reviewer, I think in Entertainment Weekly, saying that Jolie was too diminutive to be believed in the fight scenes. Uh-huh. I don’t think Matt Damon’s all that big of a person either, but nobody was saying that about his Jason Bourne.”

          Wow, fascinating to think about, Cynthia. I absolutely love Matt Damon in the Bourne films, and agree that he’s not a big guy, and that didn’t seem a detraction. P’raps it’s the male musculature that we’ve gotten used to which is seldom bulked in females, and viewers expect bulk as necessary to heavy-duty fights. I did feel, at times, that Jolie’s fighting, as well done as it was, felt insufficient to the results. On the other hand, I’ve always felt the same thing about men in action films—–that the action looks trumped up and as unbelievable as fairy stories.

          A more noticeable thing, to me, which may be a gender-perceived disparity, is the silent broodingness of Jolie in *Salt*. It fits with her character’s backstory, most certainly, but then so does Damon’s silent broodingness fit with his Bourne character, and it somehow works really well. Yet Jolie’s demeanour really spoiled the film for me. Is that because a female can’t pull off being strong and silent?

          It is true, in many flicks, that the strong silent dude will say something funny on rare occasions. It works into his persona somehow and lightens the mood and audience before he kicks someone else’s arse. I had wished that the Evelyn Salt character could’ve done such, but her excruciatingly painful past experiences, apparently, wouldn’t allow such playfulness, even for a minute. Hmmmm….

        • I think the harshness of audience and reviewers to female leads in action films is that by and large action films tend to be, at best, pointless fun and more often than not utter shit. (I love Commando, but I’m never going to try and claim it’s on par with Casablance).

          Traditionally girls don’t like action films. Action films are targeted at men, and the male action hero gives us a pathetic idol to aspire to. We like action films because we like to imagine that given a vest, a lack of shoes, and a hostage situation on Christmas Eve we could be John McClane. Alan Rickman’s character even alludes to this in the film I’m alluding to, when he calls accuses McClane of being ‘another American who think he’s John Wayne’ (or words to that affect).

          The typical traits of action heroes don’t translate well to female characters. It’s hard for a woman to be grizzled for example. A laconic, phlegmatic female doesn’t sit well or appeal to the predominately male demographic.

          It can be done of course. Ripley in the Aliens franchise and Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 are strong women of fairly few words. In fact I believe Ripley was voted THE greatest action hero in a British film magazine on the strength of Aliens. But Aliens and Terminator 2 are both exceptionally good films, and do more with the genre than most action films.

          Regarding Bourne, I think Matt Damon is 5’9 or 5’10, but he’s in incredibly good shape in the Bourne films and so looks physically intimidating. It’s much harder to make a female character look physically intimidating. Especially when it’s someone like Angelina Jolie who is regularly voted the most beautiful woman in the world. Kiera Knightley didn’t look terribly intimidating in Domino. Because, again, she’s a thin beautiful woman.

          Going back to Ripley. That works because although Sigourney Weaver is quite pretty, she’s also incredibly tall. And it’s established in the first Alien that she is a strong, capable, and fearless woman so Ripley’s role as the hero of the story is less jarring than it might have had Aliens been released on it’s own standing with a 5’6 ample bosomed blonde starlet playing Ripley…

        • Judy Prince says:

          Hang on, Irwin. If “by and large action films tend to be, at best, pointless fun and more often than not utter shit,” then films with male protagonists would be trashed equally with those having female protagonists.

          And if male action flicks are still targeted mainly at males, I wonder if those same males wouldn’t love to see Angelina Jolie in action—–in addition to females who’d want to see a “role model,” not to mention the sheer beauty of her moves. Seems to me that it’s an optimum time for female action films, and that some folk in the H’Wood industry have recognised that fact. Makes $$$$$ sense, after all.

          You’re on to something here: “It’s hard for a woman to be grizzled for example. A laconic, phlegmatic female doesn’t sit well or appeal to the predominately male demographic.”

          I think it’s rather difficult, given USAmerican conventional concepts of femininity, that a laconic, phlegmatic female wouldn’t sit well or appeal to either females *or* males in the USA.

          Yet, in the UK, a female actor who’s that way is often hugely popular. I’ve seen few contemporary UK-made films, so am using slightly older films and of different-than-action types to form my judgement. Some of them are classics such as Jane Austen’s “Emma” (especially the best Emma, as acted by Doran Godwin, 1972), a strong and independent protagonist, as are most of Austen’s female protagonists. Other films I’m using to form my opinion are in the last 15 years or so, with Francesca Annis, Helen Mirren, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Vanessa Redgrave playing equally strong main characters. USAmericans have few such strong female character types and few female actors who can continue their box office popularity after they’ve reached 40.

          Yet, it’s still difficult for me to imagine, in action films, one of the strong UK female actors in middle age kicking arse such as USAmerican actors like Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee are shown to do. But most frequently, when any actor hits middle age they’re not given action roles, but more often detective flicks or tv shows, like the immensely well written and well acted, Glasgow-based “Taggart.” Have you seen “Taggart”?—-it’s awesome!

        • Irwin! So, I love action films and can identify with a male action character even though I don’t have an, erm, male appendage, so why can’t men identify with a female action character? Huh, huh? Answer for your entire gender, man! Now!

          Jolie’s only two inches shorter than Damon, for one thing, so I’d worried that comment by the reviewer was code for “I’m not going to accept a woman in a lead action role.” However, I’ve found myself strongly disliking Jolie in other action roles because I didn’t like her coldness. So, interesting point you and Judy have made about what (largely) Amercians will believe in a female lead. Uma Thurman in the Kill Bill films, however, was strong and silent and kicked butt and I *loved* her. I also love Jane Austen characters beyond reason along with the Helen Mirrens and Judi Denches of the world. So … possibly it’s the actor/character that makes the difference for me.

          I’m very psyched to see Salt now, Judy, and see what I make of her!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Just be warned, Cynthia; if you think Jolie’s cold in other films, then this is one Salt that won’t melt ice under any circumstances. P’raps playing emotionless is a tougher tackle than I’d thought. I’ve often felt that Humphrey Bogart, for example, was so lacking affect in his roles that it was goofy; I never understand his appeal—–most especially as a romantic lead. But it still may be the “ideal” for USAmerican male behaviour, at least it was in the 40s and 50s.

          Bottom line, I think, is that an inexpressive character is unappealing. Jolie as Evelyn Salt could at least play anguish (she does, briefly) and fury and frustration….but I wasn’t aware of those emotions in her portrayal, it seemed robotic for the most part. One wonders if the director has urged her emotionless demeanour, or if she finds it difficult or thinks her lack of affect is exactly what she should be doing in the role.

          The female protagonist in “House of Flying Daggers” plays cold for most of the film, but she softens in sufficient chunks of it to allow our identification and sympathy.

          The bottomline, though, is: Do the tough inexpressive female actors turn us off (both males and females), whereas tough inexpressive male actors turn us on (that is, make us sympathise with them)? That was your original query. I suppose unless I saw the same role portrayed by several actors of both sexes, I wouldn’t be able to answer that question responsibly.

        • Generally my arguement was poorly made… or at least poorly expressed.

          And I’m going to totally run away from the arguement.

          NO! WAIT! I can respond to one of Cynthia’s questions intelligently. You, as a woman, can identify with a male character because women are cooler and more open minded than men, whilst identifying with a female hero ina traditionally male role is considered a bit weird and ‘gay.’ Rightly or wrongly, that’s just how society operates.

          I think ultimately it comes down to conditioning. If we were to have a consistent stream of great action films with women in the lead things would probably change. But old habits die hard, as it were.

          Judy, I love Taggart! Nearly always watch it when it’s on.

          Also I think your last point above is a major factor.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “Taggart”—-yes, Irwin! I’ve never gotten into detective flicks/tv programmes like I got into that one. It *has* to be the writing, first, that makes it kick. The writer has, incredibly, managed to do fully rounded characters, and characters who say and do things that resonate believably with their personae…..yet show them growing in their self- and others-understandings, such that viewers can not only identify with them but learn from them. “Taggart” has stretched the detective genre beyond its trad boundaries. In fact, it makes most films/tv programmes feel plodding, dull and predictable.

          BTW, Cynthia, I love many action films, too! And, Irwin, I can’t let you trash your gender by elevating ours—-especially since it’s a false premise you provide in your comment to Cynthia; namely: “You, as a woman, can identify with a male character because women are cooler and more open minded than men, whilst identifying with a female hero ina traditionally male role is considered a bit weird and ‘gay.’ ”

          I’ll let Cynthia fashion her own response to that, but mine is that females have *had* to identify, insofar as they can, with male action heroes because they’ve had no other choice, since until recently they’ve seen no female action heroes. Further, it may not be “identification” we’re talking about, but females’ understandable delight in watching handsome bulked males strut their stuff. Let me add that females are “allowed” to enjoy watching sexy females, whereas in the past it’s been taboo for males to seem to enjoy watching sexy males. Thank goodness that at least in the States, it’s beginning to be ok for men to seem to be drawn to other men. That’s an area that I think lags, relatively speaking, in the UK, for historical reasons I’m yet too ignorant to understand.

          Oh Wow, Irwin—-I forgot to say I’ve watched the first 2 episodes of the recent update of “Upstairs, Downstairs”—–and it’s really good stuff! Rodent downloaded it from one of the sites you mentioned. I do hope BBC continues it. And since such a debate has begun about it and “Downton Abbey,” I wanna see that, as well. Have you?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I love loads of detective shows. Have you ever watched Midsommer Murders with John Nettles? I mean technically it’s terrible, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything it isn’t The murder mystery element is always pretty strong and John Nettles is a lovely person to spend a Sunday evening with solving crimes. Apparently Johnny Depp is a massive fan and wants to guest star.

          Of course Inspector Morse was always the heavyweight Sunday night TV detective with John Thaw. I’m about to trash ITV, but they do put on good detective dramas. Although that’s pretty much all they do at the moment.

          I think you’re right. Again I was trying to express myself in the early hours and looking back I haven’t really said what I was trying to say very well and come off as quite basic and generlizing.

          I’m glad you got to see Upstairs Downstairs! I think the second episode is probably the best of the three, although the thrilling final part does have some excellent moments.

          I haven’t seen Downton Abbey, and I don’t intend to. Although a similar period drama, the period is much earlier. One of things that appealed to me about Upstairs Downstairs was that it was set in 1936, a period that fascinates me and excites me. I expect I was probably the only person who yelled ‘brilliant! Jochaim von Ribbentrop!’ in the first episode, and got excited about the teaser for episode 2 because it referenced Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia.

          Meanwhile Downton is set between 1912-1914, a period which I’m less interested in. Also it’s not as focused on the foreign affairs of the time and seems to be a more traditional period drama. More than anything everything I’ve seen of Downton leads me to beleive it’s ludicrously quaint and uninteresting.

          Also Upstairs Downstairs starred Keeley Hawes, and I love Keeley Hawes. Both in the sense that she’s a wonderful actress, and also in the sense that I would like to marry Keeley Hawes and live in a big house in the country with her… Have you ever seen either Life on Mars or Ashes to Ashes?

        • Judy Prince says:

          Upon your recommendations, Irwin, I’ve now netflixed *Midsommer Murders* and a zillion of the episodes of *Inspector Morse.*

          I do like period pieces set in the UK, so will try to get *Downton Abbey* as well. They could be babbling about grilled pork or skeleton keys, and I’d love it, as long as the sets and costumes are true to the times.

          Oh yes, I agree that Keeley Hawes is gorgeous, elegant and a fine actor—-as is the actor who plays her husband. And Eileen Atkins is perfect! HA! I like her conventional-unconventional wardrobe. She’s like an uppercrust hippie.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Prepare for a lot of hammy acting in Midsommer. It is lovely though. Also the ‘sidekick’ changes. I think there have been three. The most recent one is the best, I think. Morse is usually impossible to follow, but John Thaw is fantastic in it, his car is brilliant, and you gets lots of lovely shots of Oxford.

          A lot of people like Downton Abbey, and I’m sure it’s quite good. But generally I don’t like really periody periody dramas. The late 19th/early 20th century is done to death on television.

          I am utterly in love with her. It’s her voice, I think. She has a lovely voice that just sounds like cream tea and country homes. She also guested on one of my favourite sketch shows playing herself in a dream as somebody’s fantasy wife.
          The male lead is Ed Stoppard, I believe. He too was excellent, and made his character immensely likeable. And as for Eileen Atkins… she really is quite mad. I read a interview with her in the Radio Times after Christmas, and she came across as wonderfully eccentric. Also the monkey was her idea.

        • Judy Prince says:

          That’s it, then, Irwin—-I’ve got to watch Morse if there’re lotsa lovely shots of Oxford! And, of course, if John Thaw’s car is brilliant. Oh, I do want to drive a Bentley in racing green. Actually, I love London’s black taxis, too.

          I blanked on Ed Stoppard’s name prolly bcuz I have no use for the plays of Tom Stoppard. However, Ed Stoppard is *totally* watchable, oh yes!

          Irwin, if you find how I can get that Eileen Atkins *Radio Times* interview, do let me know. I’m quite curious about her creds and background. The monkey is major OTT ! And I love the authority in Atkins’ character. I don’t remember Atkins in the original *Upstairs, Downstairs*—-was she in it?

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I should go to Oxford at some point. I spent the day in Cambridge yesterday… Morse has a classic Jaguar in deep red.

          Atkins opted against appearing in the original series, although she co-wrote it. The monkey is supposed to demonstrate she’s not lived/living the conventional life of a woman who has been living in the colonies supporting her important husband.

          The interview might be archived at some point and appear online, but there’s an excerpt from it here:

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/8190071/Dame-Eileen-Atkins-why-must-actors-have-regional-accents.html

        • Judy Prince says:

          I envy you your trip to Cambridge, Irwin. Aren’t you back at uni yet?

          This from Dame Eileen Atkins, excellent point:

          “Her own roots were in east London, where she grew up as the daughter of a seamstress and a gas meter reader, but she shed her cockney accent before embarking upon her career. ‘You have to be pushy to get out of the working class,’ she explained.”

          Isn’t the *The Telegraph* thought to be a trashy Tory rag? ;-)

          The Jaguar XKE (pronounced “JAG-yoo-R” in the UK, I believe) was designed by a graduate in Engineering at Loughborough University.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          I’m heading back tomorrow or the day after. Classes don’t start until February but there are a few assignments due in.

          The Telegraph is a classy Tory-obsessed paper. It is a broadsheet.

          I love Jaguars. Although obviously if I could afford a Jaguar I’d buy an Aston Martin.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “The Telegraph is a classy Tory-obsessed paper. It is a broadsheet.” The antithesis of the Guardian, then, I suppose, Irwin.

          How long is your term or semester, 10 weeks, 12 weeks? How many terms per year? When do they end? Your winter break seems lengthy, relative to USAmerican universities.

          I must look up Aston Martin, just remember it as a beautiful machine.

          My first car was a tiny Austin-Healy Sprite with super-comfortable blue leather bucket seats and a tiny boot which my then-toddler-aged son would sleep in on long trips. No kiddie safety seats in those days, and a convertible top on the Sprite, as well.

        • James D. Irwin says:

          The Guardian like to think of its self as a more independent, left wing broadsheet with high standards of journalism and is still a broadsheet. In truth it’s blinkeredly liberal, and it’s becoming less and less high class as journalism tries to appeal to computer folk. A lot of the Guardian makes me angry, and the comments sections are always horrible to read. This is the paper I read by the way. Out of choice. I liked the Times but they put up a paywall on their site so I can’t read it anymore. That was far from perfect though.

          The Guardian quoted me once, which was cool. They took a post from a radio station forum I’d made and completely ignored the irony and sense of fun of what I’d said to try and make a point about the particular station’s listeners…

          Our semesters are 12 weeks. We have about a month for Xmas, another 12 week semester, easter, and a final 12 weeks.

          Those tiny old cars are the best!

        • Judy Prince says:

          “They took a post from a radio station forum I’d made and completely ignored the irony and sense of fun of what I’d said to try and make a point about the particular station’s listeners…”

          Once media gets hold of somebody’s work, Irwin, it’s a free-for-all. You’ve no control over anything, and interpretations of what you’ve done seem bizarre and nonsensical. But…..well, you knew that.

          So your uni semesters are smack in the middle of most uni semesters in the States which are either 16 weeks (2 a year, with summer months off) or 10 weeks (3 a year).

          I tend to agree that those little cars are awesome! I derived my joy from my sister and her husband going on rallies in their little inexpensive sports car—-and I saw all those gorgeous pricey cars, beautiful to look at and to hear. But for a long time I’ve opted for (ok, can afford only) slightly bigger and non-sports cars, though still 4-cylinder standard ones, mainly bcuz in the States most folks drive huge threatening thundering behemoths. Makes you want to get a Hummer if only to protect yourself on the road!

        • James D. Irwin says:

          Fortunately it was an article that appeared online. The point they were trying to make is that classic rock radio is for pathetic middle-aged men, and they took my post to be a very sad, pathetic middle-aged man writing about a festival experience on a forum that exemplified the nerdish, outcast nature of what they want classic rock fans to be.

          I was only 19 at the time, so I could respond at length and in detail just how wrong they were and that they had built their argument around a quote from a 19 year old Neil Young fan.

          Most of my favourite cars are those big, classic muscle cars, but if I learnt to drive it’d be great to have a ‘crap’ car. Preferably a proper Mini.

        • Judy Prince says:

          “The point they were trying to make is that classic rock radio is for pathetic middle-aged men, and they took my post to be a very sad, pathetic middle-aged man writing about a festival experience on a forum that exemplified the nerdish, outcast nature of what they want classic rock fans to be.”

          Now that is a HOOT, Irwin! A pathetic situation, really. They’d made up their minds about classic rock listeners and then just took your words to bolster their attitude.

          Did they give your defense equal air time?

          If you can get around to your various destinations with no probs, on the train and buses, I don’t see a need for a car. Your transport over there is terrific, relative to here, and you’re accustomed, I’ll bet, to walking a lot. That’s wonderful. Most folks’ first cars are “crap” cars, and they don’t last long, not worth the money that’d have to be thrown at them to get them fixed. Maybe we can hand off Rodent’s car to you when you’re ready to get a car. ;-)

        • Well, it existed as a long comment on the online article which a lot of people responded to.

          I don’t think I’ll ever drive now. Neither of my parents do and I’m happy walking long distances to get places. I once walked 13 plus miles to visit a friend and walked back home again (although that was also to prove a point).

          Our public transport is okay, but incredibly expensive— although I’d wager still cheaper than buying, insuring, and running a car. I’m so used to not having cars to rely on, and I’m weirdly proud of the fact we’ve been brought up willing to walk around as a mode of transport.

          Then of course there’s the fact that I absolutely love walking. It annoys me when people say they’re going for ‘a relaxing drive.’ How can it possibly be better than a nice walk? And thanks to iPods you can just plug yourself into some pop culture and you don’t even have to pay any attention to the dull boring nature that you go past…

          Of course walks are better with dogs, and perfect when a country pub comes along. The 13 mile walk weekend was one of the best of my life. It was the middle of summer, my friend Ben was with me and we met our friends in the village and had a well earned pint and ploughmans on arrival. The next day we went to the New Forest, had ice cream, beer in a beer garden and played a bit of football. I’m a lot like an old man, but it was just really, really pleasant.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irwin, I had to ask Rodent as well as Wiki “ploughman’s lunch.” Wiki says:

          “A ploughman’s lunch (often just called a ploughman’s) is a cold snack or meal originating in the United Kingdom, composed of cheese (usually a thick piece of Cheddar, Stilton or other local cheese); pickle (called “relish” outside the UK), bread (especially crusty bread, which may be a chunk from a loaf or a bap); and butter.[1] It is often accompanied by a green salad; other common additions are half an apple, celery, pickled onions, pâté, crisps, diced hard boiled egg or beetroot.”

          Sounds pretty much like a cheese sandwich with Branston’s pickle and butter, but the description including additions makes me hungry!

          Good for you in walking everywhere. I applaud you and others for doing it.

        • A ploughman’s is so much more than just a sandwich with sidedishes!

          It really doesn’t get much better in terms of cold meals. All of that on a plate, with a cold local ale and an earned appetite… Wonderful. Also the fact that it varies from pub to pub, from place to place so you never quite know what will arrive. There’s usually a type of meat as well. Normally ham, but sometimes cold beef.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Hmmm….Irwin, I’ve googled several images of ploughman’s, and each looks delicious: a big plate cheese, crusty bread chunks, salad with onions, and beets, maybe even a Melton Mowbray pork pie. It’s enuff food to feed a horse…..but then a full English breakfast would do the same!

          I’ve 2 fave restaurants in England: (in Darlington, Durham) *Sardi’s,* run by 2 brothers from Sardinia, their fresh meat, fish, veg and subtly-seasoned sauces beyond compare; and *Anacapri* in London’s West End (homey, with an opera-singing owner, congenial waitstaff and great food). And I’m a total freak for pubs and pub food!! The bartenders are devoid of foodside manner, intent on their work, not chitchat; and you can play at darts, sometimes bar billliards (snooker), pet the pub dog or your own, sit by the fire, listen and look at the huge cage of colourful parakeets and parrots. What’s not to love?!

        • haha, oh I love a full English!

          Those places sound kind of fancy.

          Pubs down here, or at least the ones I go to, I think are a bit different. The bar staff are always very friendly, especially to regulars. I’ve got a horrible feeling I’m going to have to abandon my favourite pub now because one of my friends has just split up with her boyfriend who was a barman there. Food varies from pub to pub. Once a landlady gave me a free sausage because the kitchen had closed and they were going to be thrown away otherwise. It was delicious.

          Pubs with dogs are the best though. At the aforementioned favourite pub there’s always a guy with his dog Sassie. Sassie and I get on quite well, because she always wants to play and I can’t say no to sad dog eyes staring at me.

        • Judy Prince says:

          Yeah, each pub is distinctive in its food, personnel, architecture, decor, games and pets. That’s the beauty, really, isn’t it? You don’t know what to expect, but you know you’ll feel comfortable, warm, and be able to chat to someone or, if you want, just sit with the dog!

          Now I’m recalling something rather weird about a restaurant in Surrey (near London’s Gatwick Airport). Rodent and I had a fantastic meal there, so I wrote its name and such on a card and googled it later for more details. News reports said that the previous chef had butchered his girlfriend and gone to prison for it. I wondered if he’d used her flesh for entrees. YAK!!!

        • Judy Prince says:

          Irwin, I just finished watching the last episode of “Upstairs, Downstairs” and was a bit disappointed, thought it too contrived along “pc” message lines. It’s like the potential engine of the series ran down with somewhat hackneyed “feel good” pc themes. Yet there’s such potential in the characters! It’s like the writers got stoked, created great characters…..and then let them figuratively run off the page. Think I’ll rent “Life on Mars” and “Ashes to Ashes” now. Also, dear Rodent’s downloading “Downton Abbey.”

          Netflix has just sent “Luther” with Joseph Fiennes (who turns Luther into a media whore) which I got bored with after 30 minutes. Now I’m gonna watch “The Hunt for Red October” which you had recommended; wanna see how Sean Connery handles the role, and Alec Baldwin (Alec Baldwin in a serious flick?! He does comedy so well).

        • Judy Prince says:

          “A lot of people like Downton Abbey, and I’m sure it’s quite good. But generally I don’t like really periody periody dramas. The late 19th/early 20th century is done to death on television.”

          Irwin, I do hope that you’ll watch at least a couple episodes of Downton Abbey. Rodent downloaded it for me, and it’s crystal clear visually and aurally.

          From the off, I got right into the characters and plots, and I’m now into the 6th of 7 episodes, and really loving it! I look forward to each episode as if these were my family members.

          It does introduce political issues, but more roundedly character-driven than *Upstairs, Downstairs.* And for your own delight, I’m certain you’ll find at least one of the Downton Abbey daughters very attractive—especially the one playing Sybil, who rivals the beauty and sound of Keeley Hawes. The actors, every one in the fairly large ensemble, are brilliant; it is certainly not only Maggie Smith who ballasts the series. Powerful, wonderfully played performances are strong throughout the cast, and the episodes are giving a full play to each character, incredibly.

          Camera-wise, the episodes sequy frequently and successfully from one to another of the subplots, and the camera moves more *with* the characters than into tableaux distance, as in *Upstairs, Downstairs.* The sets, however, are still thoroughly and lovingly intent on presenting the era’s gorgeous furnishings and costumes in the dining room as well as downstairs kitchen/eating views, and in the servants as well as upstairs folk’s bedrooms.

          Mainly, I found Downton Abbey’s characters believable in their complexity, even the couple patently “evil” antagonists. Each of several unfolding love stories is different-stanced from the others, yet folded into the entire family-servants grouping.

          I hope Downton Abbey continues for several years!

        • Rodent says:

          Hi, Irwin.

          You might be interested in this piece on Downton Abbey and associated programs, which was printed in the NYT:

          http://tv.nytimes.com/2011/01/07/arts/television/07shameless.html

          Fairly comprehensive and enlightening piece, I think.

          R.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Cynthia, I just watched Angelina Jolie in *Girl, Interrupted* and thought she did a magnificent job in a demanding, complex role. It was a thoughtful, absorbing film with a terrific cast. I haven’t read the book upon which it’s based, but I reason that it represents it well.

        The characters are multi-dimensional and sympathetically drawn. There are no “heroes” or “villains” or romance—-and a careful close look at suffering and tragedy as well as a compelling, growing strength of compassion and emotional uplift in the main character (wonderfully played by Winona Ryder), Jolie’s character, and the others.

        I’d be interested to know your views on the film.

  28. J. Ryan Stradal says:

    Judy,

    This is wonderful. Congratulations to you and Rodent!

    And thank you for the history lesson on Quakers. They are indeed surprising. Any of note currently in politics? We need more Quaker presidents besides Hoover and Nixon (although, Hoover was a fine mining engineer, conversant in Chinese, and was an able secretary of commerce before he inherited and abetted a financial disaster).

    I *love* the dialogue above — even the parts you don’t remember. Once again, wonderful story — thank you for sharing this event with us.

    J. R.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Thank you for clueing all of us to your name: J. R. !

      And thank you for saying you liked the dialogue—-even the parts we couldn’t remember.

      I don’t know who’s a current Quaker politician, JR, but the two presidents you mention are, to me anyway, a major embarrassment. Originally, Quakers didn’t take political roles because they forswore to “swear” on a Bible, reasoning that if you had to “swear” to do something, it implied that at other times you were not telling your true intent. They must’ve gotten over that well before Hoover appeared on the scene. ;-)

      On another topic you might find interesting, following are brief descriptions of 2 amazing USA schools:

      1) Science Leadership Academy (grades 9-12) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

      A magnet school that uses few print textbooks, the students create their own resources with course management software and a “learning by doing” method; for example, a Spanish teacher guided an analysis of films depicting conflicts in South America: Her students identified on-screen human-rights violations and then compiled their findings on a school website.

      2) Minnesota New Country School (grades 6-12) Henderson, Minnesota

      At this rural school, opened in 1994, students create the curriculum and choose the advisers who will guide them on their projects at MNCS’s faculty-run cooperative of 100 students and 7 “advisers” (the preferred term for “teachers”). After morning large-group discussions of news and expectations for the week, students disperse to work at their own pace, sometimes spending hours in the computer corner, woodworking shop or art studio, and so on. Only math classes are communal, taught in groups of 15, and a 45-minute period each day is set aside for reading. The school’s model has been replicated in more than 50 locations, and the Department of Education has lauded the school for its success in closing the achievement gap. Some students travel as much as 100 miles a day, round-trip, to attend.

      ————-

      I hope your tutoring’s continuing well, JR!

  29. Gareth says:

    Sorry, I only just got caught up with this.

    Hongera sana!

    I was away from the internet for two weeks (actually, it proved much easier than I thought … I may do it more often) … and since I got back I have been frantically trying to catch up with my work (the work I should have done BEFORE I went mincing off home for a fortnight, obviously).

    Rodent: “Oh no, I told my kids a couple months ago, and they were quite pleased.”

    Me: “But you didn’t tell me! Why didn’t you tell me?!”

    Rodent: “I guess I just forgot.”

    Priceless!

    One day I’ll tell you the story of our wedding day (at least I didn’t demolish parts of the church).

    • Judy Prince says:

      I love wedding day (and “How we met”) stories, Gareth. I also love to read (in the Ladies Home Journal) the monthly “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” which Rodent calls “Should This Marriage Be Saved?” ;-)

      How went your fortnight home?

      Two weeks without the internet? That’s a tough bullet to bite! It was easier for me to quit tv-watching some years ago than I think it’d be to non-internet. I’ll bet returning to it was rather unsurprisingly without incident……as if you’d never left it bcuz no one bloody noticed!

      We noticed, though, and are glad you’re back.

      And that you enjoyed Rodent’s response, which was word-for-word what he’d said. You’re right: Rodent’s words are priceless!

      • Gareth says:

        Our wedding day has a suit that doesn’t fit, a map with a missing roundabout, a haircut, a prostitute, a missing minister, a narcoleptic organist, gate-crashers …

        It was great being home after so long away. I drove 2,126km over ten days, and have a badly sunburnt right forearm.

        On the other hand, my son does now know how to slaughter chickens (although he is a little miffed that his teacher won’t let him use this a s a “show and Tell’ item) … and he got to pee in the Obama family toilet when we went to pay our respects to Mama Sarah.

        • Judy Prince says:

          ” . . . a prostitute, a missing minister, a narcoleptic organist, gate-crashers …”

          That soooo trumps our wedding for style, Gareth.

          Where were you that you could drive so many miles, slaughter chickens, and pee in the Obama family toilet? And who is Mama Sarah? Were you in Kenya?

  30. Gareth says:

    One tries one’s best to add style to all undertakings.

    Yes, we were in Kenya. The driving (we were only actually driving on five of the ten days) represents Nairobi-Sigomere(near the Ugandan border)-Kisumu-Sigomere-Kisumu-Sigomere-Ndori-Bondo-Kisumu-Nairobi-somewhere beyond Kiserian-Nairobi. Wot larks!

    Mama Sarah is Barack Obama’s Kenyan grandmother.

    On the same day we did hope to get to pee in Jaramogi’s* toilet as well, but the house is being refurbished as a museum, and the plumbing wasn’t connected.

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaramogi_Oginga_Odinga

    • Judy Prince says:

      You didn’t need to pee IN the toilet, Gareth, but p’raps BESIDE the toilet—-the important things being: a) Your leaving a living (ahem) memento; b) Your being able to say you peed in the w.c.; and c) If you had to pee, you should’ve peed.

      As my mother used to say: “When nature calls at either door, don’t attempt to shun her, but haste away both night or day, or you are sure to suffer.”

      Moving along, if you expect me to wrap my tongue around those place names, Gareth, you’re massively mistaken. I cannot even pronounce *Kenya* correctly, having thought that KEEN-ya was correct for 40 years, and now finding that KEN-ya is correct. Ignorance is not always bliss.

      Have I run through a sufficient number of cliches, yet?

      Sometime I really do wanna hear about your uber-stylish wedding!

  31. Gareth says:

    Yes, I know … she’s actually his STEP-grandmother.

    • Judy Prince says:

      “Yes, I know … she’s actually his STEP-grandmother.”

      Oh, like I would know, Gareth. I’m still trying to work out what to call the kinship (relationship) words for my grandtwins and Robin’s kids. And I’ve already decided to chuck the words “wife” and “husband”—–except for their facilitating entry into the UK and the USA, natch.

  32. Ducky Wilson says:

    I’m a big, soft romantic at heart, so thank you for this love story, tempered with madness and comedy, the best combination. Love love love the way you open (lots of words I don’t remember – LOL!)

    • Judy Prince says:

      You’re spoiling me, Ducky! Keep it up, keep it up! ;-)

      OMG, so you’re a big soft romantic at heart—-I should’ve guessed from your Sonic poem.

      A big soft romantic!!! Makes me so damn happy! No one will admit to being a romantic—-with the exception of Zara, bless her heart, so it’s a delight to hear you “brand” yourself as one.

      On Rodent’s and my flight from the USA back to England (now permanently my home) today, I once again watched Mr and Mrs Smith with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and was broadly smiling and laffing throughout. It’s a magnificent satire on just about everything, was the film which began their own romance, and is sappy silly romantic.

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