7/7: In Memoriam

Fifteen years ago today, on the 7th of July 2005, domestic Islamist terrorists carried out a series of suicide bombing attacks in London.

Three bombs were detonated on underground trains, and a fourth on the top deck of a London bus.

52 people were killed, and 700 injured. The bombers also died in their own explosions.

Those killed were from 19 different countries, including Britain. Three of the bombers were British-born sons of Pakistani immigrants, one was a convert born in Jamaica.

At the time, I was living less than a 10-minute walk from where the bus was blown up. I had been on night duty, working for the Metropolitan Police, and was sleeping. I didn’t hear any of the explosions, but did hear the sirens of the emergency vehicles. Such sounds were so common in London, I paid them no attention, and went back to sleep.

Just Been Watching…(121)

Trumbo (2015)

Most people under a certain age will not know that much about the dark period in America’s history when thousands of people were blacklisted for having left-wing sympathies, or because they had been members of the Communist Party. Investigated by the government, vilified in the press, and even imprisoned, many suffered as a result of what was later know as McCarthyism, named after a senator who led the hearings. Careers were ruined, marriages broken, and homes and families lost.

One famous Hollywood screenwriter was a part of all this, and his name was Dalton Trumbo. His books and screenwriting credits are enough to fill the entire post, but you will know some of his work, even if you have not heard his name before. ‘Spartacus’, ‘Exodus’, Papillon’, ‘Roman Holiday’, to name just a few. At one time, he was the highest paid writer in Hollywood, living a luxury lifestyle on a ranch with its own lake, and enjoying a loving marriage with a devoted wife and children. But he was also an unlikely Communist, having served as a war correspondent in WW2, and been an active supporter of strikes in the film industry.

The film opens with him at the peak of his success. Best friends with Edward G. Robinson, and part of the Hollywood elite. He is about to sign a contract with MGM, and life could not be any better. But there are rumours that he and nine other writers are about to be summoned to appear at the House Un-American Affairs Committee, where they will be asked to confess to being Communists, and supply other names to the investigators. Trumbo and some of the others decide to fight back, and make a stand. They become known as ‘The Hollywood Ten’.

This is a fine drama, heavily based on real events, and the life of Dalton Trumbo. He is played by Bryan Cranston, in a bravura performance where he is almost never off screen. Trumbo is portrayed realistically, with his obsessive desire to work affecting his family, and his outspoken stubbornness causing rifts with his best friends and colleagues. The scenes during the hearings are filmed as if to make them look like authentic documentary footage, and attention to period detail is first class.

The supporting cast is no less excellent, with Diane Lane as his wife, and many others playing the parts of real people. Those include Helen Mirren as the bitchy gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, seeking to ruin Trumbo, and Michael Stuhlbarg with a very sensitive portrayal of a troubled Edward G. Robinson. Elle Fanning shines as Trumbo’s activist teenage daughter, and Dean O’Gorman is a very convincing Kirk Douglas. Even John Goodman shows up, enjoying himself playing John Goodman. (Actually he is Frank King, but still Goodman)

You don’t really have to be a fan of old films to enjoy this, or have that much interest in the history of the blacklist in the 1940s. It works perfectly as a compelling drama about a group of people who decided to stand up and be counted.

Here’s a trailer.

Sandwich: Finishing my crusts

The last of the four posts about the historic town of Sandwich, from 2015. The photos do benefit from enlarging them, as you can see fine detail. This reblog may be of interest to my more recent followers.

beetleypete

After my last three posts about this town in Kent, I thought I had more or less played it out. However, I have now decided to add the final photos, those omitted from the previous posts, for reasons of space, or interest. These will be the last ones, I promise.

Three rooftops. This shows the metal cupola of St Peter’s Church. Taken from a distance, it also shows the distinctive styles of rooftops in the town. One tiled, one made from stones, and the metal church roof. Like all the other photos that day, it would have looked so much better, had the weather been a little nicer.

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This circular room above what is now a gift shop looked suitably nautical. I wondered what it might look like inside.

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Holy Ghost Alley looks very much like the sort of alley where you might well encounter a ghost.

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This house dates…

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Sandwich: The last nibble

The third part of this photo post about the historic Kent town, from 2015. Despite the title, and what it says in the text, I did post a fourth one, and that will be up tomorrow. This is for new followers who haven’t seen it before.

The photos look a bit better when enlarged.

beetleypete

This is the last selection of photos from our trip to this lovely old town. On this occasion, I have included three photos of more modern buildings in the town. Given the great age of most of the houses and public buildings there, the term ‘modern, is used advisedly.

From 1916 until 1928, The East Kent Road Car Company operated buses in and around the town. They provided a service to the nearby city of Canterbury, and to coastal towns such as Ramsgate, and Deal. This quaint little building served as both the ticket office, and public waiting room, and has been left in its original place, though somewhat abandoned to nature.

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The wonderful Art Deco edifice of the Empire Cinema has stood since 1937. At night, it is still illuminated by the original green neon strip-lights outside. The cinema continues to operate to this day, showing mainstream films, as…

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Sandwich: The second half

The second reblogged photo post featuring this town in Kent, from 2015. Many of you saw these at the time, but they may interest more recent followers. It continued to be dull weather all day there, so it is probably worth enlarging the photos to get a better effect. (This can be done on the original post)

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Continuing from the previous post, here are three more shots from that day trip. Some of the oldest buildings in the town, and a view from the bridge along the quay, which now serves as a car park.

St Peter’s Street, with its lovingly-preserved mixture of houses, from Tudor to Georgian.

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St Peter’s Church, in the heart of the town. It dates from the 13th century, and has a famous crypt, once used as a charnel house and ossuary. There is also the distinctive metal cupola below the spire. It is hard to see from this angle, but if you enlarge the photo, it is visible. I wanted to go inside, but a large tour group had just arrived, for a pre-arranged visit.

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Standing on the new bridge that replaced the ancient toll bridge, this was shot looking east along the river, toward the sea.

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In the next and last…

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Sandwich: The first bite

More photo-post reblogs for new followers, from 2015. This is the first of four posts about the historic town of Sandwich, in Kent. The day was unbelievably dull, so the photos look flat and uninteresting. They are marginally better if you enlarge them. Worth posting though I think, as the small town is overflowing with history. More to come this week, with all four parts reblogged.

beetleypete

Sandwich is a town in Kent, on the River Stour, one of four English rivers bearing this name. It is close to the channel coast, lying south of Ramsgate, and east of Canterbury. It has been established as a town since Roman times, and was once a busy port. It was one of the original Cinque Ports, providing men and ships for the navy, in exchange for lenient trade laws, and low taxes. At the time of Edward The Confessor (1042-1066) they formed the first real navy organised for the defence of England.

The town still has a connection with the sea, and is popular with boat-owners, and those taking trips along The Stour. It has become something of a tourist trap, thanks mainly to its historical connections, the proximity to Canterbury, and the variety of well-preserved old buildings to be found there. Julie and I visited last year, and…

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More photos of Ollie

Another old photo post from 2015, once again for the benefit of new followers. Ollie is featured this time.

beetleypete

After the photo post recently, some of you asked to see more of Ollie. So here he is.

A rear view, walking in the woods. Not his best angle.

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By the new bench on the riverbank. (The bench is for Jude…)

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In the river again.

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Looking along the meadow, hoping to spot a friend.

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As with the others, all the large files can be viewed if you click the photo. And they can be enlarged from those too, for fine detail. I hope that you enjoy these shots of my canine companion.

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At last, some photos

This is another reblogged photo post for the benefit of new followers since 2015. Not much has changed around here in the last five years. 🙂

beetleypete

After the various posts about photos, both recently, and previously, I have finally managed to get some more onto the blog media library. They are not intended to be great examples of photography, far from it. This is not a photography blog, after all. They are in response to numerous requests to see Ollie out and about, and to give some idea of the area of Beetley Meadows, a place that features so regularly in my posts.

The photos were all taken with the new camera, trying it out on the first chance I got. For those of you interested in the technical details, they were shot on Aperture Priority, with f5.6 set on the lens itself. The film simulation mode was set before shooting, using Classic Chrome, a representation of Kodachrome 64, which was an old-style film, discontinued a few years ago. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kodachrome
Various exposure compensation was used, mostly…

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Lyrically Evocative (25)

In 2015, I heard a song on my car radio. I liked the voice well enough, but it was the lyrics that really grabbed me.

Perhaps you have to be a certain age, certainly older than the singer, to fully be engaged with such words. But he was young, and he seemed to get it, so that was good enough for me.

I later found out the the song was by a Danish pop group, with the name of Lukas Graham. The singer is called Lukas Forchhammer. I had never heard of the band before, and I confess that I have never heard of them since. However, some easy online research tells me that they are still performing in 2019, all around the world. Of course, they are still mostly known for this song, and trading on its reputation.

That doesn’t take away from the fact that it is indeed a powerful song, with particularly relevant lyrics to certain people.

And I am one of those people.

Here are the lyrics.

7 Years Old

Once I was seven years old my momma told me
Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely
Once I was seven years old
It was a big big world, but we thought we were bigger
Pushing each other to the limits, we were learning quicker
By eleven smoking herb and drinking burning liquor
Never rich so we were out to make that steady figure
Once I was eleven years old my daddy told me
Go get yourself a wife or you’ll be lonely
Once I was eleven years old
I always had that dream like my daddy before me
So I started writing songs, I started writing stories
Something about that glory just always seemed to bore me
‘Cause only those I really love will ever really know me
Once I was twenty years old, my story got told
Before the morning sun, when life was lonely
Once I was twenty years old
I only see my goals, I don’t believe in failure
‘Cause I know the smallest voices, they can make it major
I got my boys with me at least those in favor
And if we don’t meet before I leave, I hope I’ll see you later
Once I was twenty years old, my story got told
I was writing about everything, I saw before me
Once I was twenty years old
Soon we’ll be thirty years old, our songs have been sold
We’ve traveled around the world and we’re still roaming
Soon we’ll be thirty years old
I’m still learning about life
My woman brought children for me
So I can sing them all my songs
And I can tell them stories
Most of my boys are with me
Some are still out seeking glory
And some I had to leave behind
My brother I’m still sorry
Soon I’ll be sixty years old, my daddy got sixty-one
Remember life and then your life becomes a better one
I made a man so happy when I wrote a letter once
I hope my children come and visit, once or twice a month
Soon I’ll be sixty years old, will I think the world is cold
Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me
Soon I’ll be sixty years old
Soon I’ll be sixty years old, will I think the world is cold
Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me
Soon I’ll be sixty years old
Once I was seven years old, momma told me
Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely
Once I was seven years old
Once I was seven years old
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Christopher Brown / David Labrel / Lukas Forchhammer / Morten Pilegaard / Morten Ristorp Jensen / Stefan Forrest
7 Years lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Songtrust Ave

And here is the band, performing the song.

Just Been Watching…(111)

Spotlight (2015)
***A true story, so spoilers do not apply***

Another film I am late to, one that got huge praise from critics and viewers at the time.

This looks at the real-life events surrounding a famous investigation by a team of reporters working at The Boston Globe newspaper, around 2001. The ‘Spotlight’ team are tasked by a new editor to expand their research into allegations of historical sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the Boston area. They are told to take it all the way up to include the church hierarchy, including the powerful Cardinal Law.

Initially looking into the actions of a dozen or more priests since 1976, it soon becomes clear that almost one hundred priests were involved in this sex scandal, and that their crimes were covered up by not only the Catholic Church, but also by some police officers, and influential lawyers. They expose the corrupt system of pay-offs to victims, and the way that the guilty priests were moved around, or given long-term leave.

Many people conspire to obstruct the investigation. Records are ‘lost’, others sealed, and the team members become frustrated when they can get few victims to cooperate, and no help from any of the former perpetrators. The dogged reporters will not be put off, and put their own lives on hold as they work all hours, and travel around to demand access to paperwork, or try to get statements from those involved. Despite finding out that some of their own friends had stayed silent after being abused, and the team receiving threats from influential people in Boston, they keep going until the story is finally published.

I thought that this was an excellent film. Despite being very ‘wordy’, and having lots of characters to keep track of, it is never confusing or dull. And even though I knew the outcome before the film started, the tension stayed with me throughout. The locations are authentic, and the casting near perfect. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci, and Rachel McAdams are completely convincing as three of the journalists, and the campaigning lawyer who steers them with tips in the background. The script is sharp and realistic, and even though the subject matter is potentially distressing, none of the actual abuse is ever featured, or even discussed in detail.

A satisfyingly intelligent film, and very relevant in the 21st century.