The Last Duel – An Update

I went for a run earlier today and I ended up thinking about a number of things about this film, mostly to do with how annoying it was. I keep wondering if it was genius or shit to have the story told three times from different points of view. I think I have settled on “shit”. I know the film was trying to be clever but as I get older I am convinced it is the job of media to push for equalities of rights and to make the world a better place. All the undertones of modern film should be progressive. Just maintaining the status quo doesn’t do enough. We live in a world where people are treated differently because of who they are and that’s wrong. We also, very obviously, live in a world where there is a pandemic of violence and mistreatment of women. Rachel Parris said it well in the recent episode of The Mash Report.

So, the concept of telling this story in three parts, two of which are from a male point of view and one of which wasn’t even involved in the rape is bollocks. By focussing two thirds on the film with a male point of view demeans the actuality of what happened to the woman. The fact that we see the rapists point of view as part of this film is shocking and sad. It tries to justify the rape with the emotional intelligence of a fucktard. The c(o)unt doesn’t think he did anything wrong.

The fact that the court trial focussed on the woman’s sex life and things she had said to her friends speaks volumes as we STILL DO THIS TODAY. Women are blamed for the violence that happens to them. Men are excused from being violent sexist pigs because the whole world and rules for everything are designed for men by men.

This film missed the chance to do so much. It could have sent a message around the world, it could have been a commentary on the modern world [same rules as 700 years ago]. It even had it’s own #metoo moment but it got lost in bullshit men fighting it out for their honour. I bloody hate this sort of film and probably shouldn’t have seen it. I thought it would be a good use of some spare time. Live and learn eh?

This is comms#1976

  • 23000 die in Guatemala after an earthquake.
  • An explosion at an ammunitions factory in Finland kills 40.
  • Viking 1 lands on Mars.
  • First known outbreak of Ebola in Zaire.

On The Cusp

This year has been an experience for a number of reasons, Covid being the most/worst important, and heating my house and having hot water being my second stressy thing. I think the heating and hot water started to be a little temperamental in February and because we were in the second or third wave of Covid it took ages to get the boiler seen. Lots of parts were replaced and then eventually it died properly. Fortunately it died a few days before I had booked to get a new boiler installed. So, finally, the new boiler is now installed and I have efficient heating and lovely hot water.

Hopefully The End Of Woes - A New Boiler
Hopefully The End Of Woes – A New Boiler

I did have a mild panic that the walls of the boiler might not be iron based and therefore the magnets wouldn’t stick but it turns out I needn’t have worried. I mean, where else would people stick shit like that if the boiler was made of plastic??

I am aware that having a new gas powered boiler right in the middle of a gas supply crisis is a little worrisome. It bothers me too. I looked into a heat exchanger and, firstly, I can’t afford one, secondly, a friend who is a green energy expert said to leave it a few years for the technology to catch up. I would love to have installed some green energy heating device but I’m stuck. I am hoping to get ten years of use out of this boiler before things become too expensive or illegal to run. Then, with luck, I’ll be able to install some green tech and feel happier about my contributions to fucking this planet over.

This is comms#1975 and so here are some things that happened that year:

  • An earthquake in China was predicted but it still kills over 2000 people.
  • The Birmingham Six are wrongfully imprisoned.
  • The AH-64 Apache makes it’s first flight.
  • Iron Maiden is formed.
  • 2000 die in an earthquake in Turkey.

The Last Duel

I went to the cinema to watch The Last Duel. It wasn’t on at a suitable time at my local cinema so I went to Ashford – even then I couldn’t book online and I had to just turn up and pay there because the Ashford cinema is in a different “booking category” to Rochester and the online website won’t let you pay the difference, you have to do it in person. So, I have no idea what the tide looked like as I drove to the cinema. I can tell you the M20 to junction 9 is as boring as ever and it feels like it takes ages but I think it’s only fifteen miles.

After I saw this film I rated it on the IMDB website. If, while watching a film, I’m starting to think what score I would give it, then the film isn’t holding my attention. It didn’t take long for me to wonder where on my scale of film scoring this film stood. I then shared this score in Twitter because it gives me something nice to embed right now:

This film was as boring as shit. I really didn’t enjoy it and I did consider leaving, but there was a person at the end of my row and I had driven more than normal to get here. Most of the characters were assholes and the only nice character was the lead female who, because of when the film is set, has all her rights fucked over.

So, this is a film in FOUR chapters. We get to see the same scenes over and over and I really didn’t like this aspect. No doubt someone will tell me how clever it was and how the mood really changed from one chapter to the next, but mostly, it was boring and while the differences were there they were over emphasised and could have been more subtle. Three times we got this whole story. Then the final chapter concerned the start of the film because, tension or something.

The first chapter seemed to be all castles and horses and battles and there were dates up on the screen but who is able to follow those and really piece together a time line? I don’t think a film should have dates, you should be able to make the film understandable without those things. Maybe just one at the beginning so we know what era of misogyny we are dealing with. Now, there might be a stroke of genius in the overall “feel” of each chapter but it wasn’t stark enough for me. The first chapter was horses and battles and boring as fuck. The second chapter was wine and fucking and the third was oppression of women. If the film was design with clear artistic differences between those three then they failed as I felt only the first chapter had a different taste.

I did wonder how many times can you have horses galloping up to castles and I got bored. Were we meant to recognise the different castles and the local politics of the time? I hated some aspects of this film. It’s also hard to recognise French named places when the cast constantly talk in American English but switch to French accents when pronouncing names, I could be being generous there, but I wasn’t “ready” for the French and it took me ages to finally get what they were saying.

How long would it take to bleed out from a femoral artery wound?? Not long and that’s what the final scene had for me. Do they not do first aid?

This film could have been so easily made to actually say something. It could have pushed the parallels between the legal system then and what happens now. It could have highlighted the plight of rape victims in modern times and it could have made so much more for women’s rights of the past and today, but it didn’t.

I just read something about Jean De Carrouges life and it turns out that he went to Scotland to garner support from the Scots to attack the North Of England. The film does not make this clear in the slightest and I left the film under the impression that he was fighting the Scots from the north of England. A small point, but actually quite a difference.

Anyway, all those irritations aside, the main character in this resided at Carrouges in France and this excited me as, when I finally understood the name, was somewhere I had been. I went on holiday near there in around August 2008 or so. I had a look around the chateaux in the village. The chateaux was built by Jean De Carrouges, the main chappy in this film. I don’t think I was aware of that side of the story when I visited it. Why would I be. It doesn’t seem that a duel from 700 years ago would interest the locals. I hope they get a reasonable source of income from the fame produced by this film.

Carrouges Chateaux
Carrouges Chateaux

There was an art exhibition on in the Chateaux while I visited and I remember liking it a lot. I can also remember that the day was chuffing hot.

Art in the Carrouges Chateaux
Art in the Carrouges Chateaux

This is Comms#1974 [+- 1] and so here are some things that happened in that year of the mostly common calendar used in business and governments around the world:

  • 174 die in a fire in Sao Paolo.
  • The F-16 Viper flies for first time.
  • India becomes the sixth nation to have and operate nuclear weapons.
  • The IRA bomb Westminster Hall.
  • Ceefax is started.
  • The Arecibo message is sent towards Messier 13.

Correction Communication

Something went wrong. I’ve recently been adding some extra information to my communications, partly to keep track and partly to add content that might be interesting. I’ve been using the “posts” count within WordPress and at the end of each communication I write a little about what happened in that year, just as an extra. I did try this somewhere in the 1600s as I thought it would be fun but I got bored and couldn’t be bothered. Then I started it again in communication number 1897.

There has been a problem along the way because the communication number I have been using at the end of each post is now out of synchronisation with the number that WordPress thinks it is on and I have no idea how that happened. Either I can’t count [which is likely] or WordPress can’t count, which is also quite likely as there is no fool proof method for computer systems to count things. So, this communication will not have any exciting information at the end of it to bring the comms# into line with the WordPress number and to make sure that I hit 2000 spot on, or close enough. It’s almost embarrassing that the count on this site is going to be 2000+-1.

So, for a little extra content here is an embedding of my most popular YouTube video when scored by views:

This video was recorded just at the beginning of my lockdown in 2020 and features my new Philips Ambilight TV.

We Didn’t Even Ask

Had a trip where we swung by the RAF Museum in Hendon. It’s free to enter so it’s a great place to go. If there was payment then I would have to balance to cost with what is there and so the greatness would depend on the exhibits and the cost giving me a measure “value”. Now, I’m into aircraft and this is free. So it’s an excellent place. Actually, it is an excellent place and not by default.

Short Sunderland - RAF Museum Hendon
Short Sunderland – RAF Museum Hendon – they built 749 of these!

Now, I can’t just swan off to places like this in the work week without actually having good reason and so we did bring some cadets with us to have a look around. You might be disturbed by this but I think the motivation to leave school for some and have a day out of lessons is actually overcome by the fear that they will miss something important and, if I’m honest, we didn’t bring as many as I had hoped. It’s there choice but what have we done to education if children think a day out with friends learning about “other things” is not worth the effort?

EH101 - Hendon
EH101 – Hendon

This beast is one of the prototypes of the EH101 and it is pretty fucking big. It’s in the corner among all the other aircraft and this one is just huge. We were just hanging around and one of the museum helpers came over and asked if we would like to look inside. Well, you don’t need to ask aircraft nerds twice! So we took up the offer and wandered around the cabin – it was big enough to “wander around” – and then we sat in the cockpit as we were invited to. Really grateful to have had the experience.

EH101 Cockpit - RAF Museum Hendon
EH101 Cockpit – RAF Museum Hendon

Here’s a picture of me pulling a stupid face – I want to point out that I was deliberately making stupid faces – but I guess you can disagree with the deliberate part of that if you want.

Comms#1972, here are some things that happened that year:

  • The Godfather premiers in New York.
  • I was born.
  • A fire in a nightclub in Osaka kills 115.
  • US Officials own up to the Tuskegee syphilis study.
  • Apollo 16 lands on the moon.
  • Apollo 17 lands on the moon.

Liushi Shan

I’ve spent a fair amount of time recently flying around the world, in a flight simulator. Let’s make that clear, I’m playing a game on a computer. I’m not doing this in real life. This started as a coastline tour of the UK from RAF Valley heading south and I just got stuck following coasts all the way to Pakistan. One day there will be a list on this site of all the airports I’ve landed at, well, at least since I’ve been keeping a list, which I think starts in Africa.

I’m going to skip the coastline of India and head across the Himalayas to see some mountainous scenery. I’m not sure where I’ll go once I hat the coast again, and I’m not sure when I’ll head back to the UK. Maybe I’ll just do a trip around the eastern hemisphere for now? I don’t know.

The Coast Of Hingol National Park
The Coast Of Hingol National Park

While I’ve been flying I’ve been learning more about operating the aircraft and trying flight plans etc. I think I’ve just about managed to program a plan into the flight computer, but I haven’t yet followed it because I keep seeing valleys to get low down in.

China India Border With A Friend In Tow
China India Border With A Friend In Tow

I had been using some software to add other players into my game, but no one is really around where I am so I’ve been using the PC to generate other planes. This picture shows another T7 following me. I was worried it was going to shoot me down as I have combat turned on, but they just kept their distance and left me alone. It was quite nice to have someone else in the sky, even if it’s just an “AI” plane.

Just Over Surigh Yilganing Kol
Just Over Surigh Yilganing Kol

So, I#ve recently landed at Leh, in India and I think it’s the first landing I’ve made in India. I’m not sure. The borders around here are a little hazy! Looking at Google maps I’ve just missed K2 and I won’t be going back for it. I’ve got to keep on moving eastwards.

This is comms#1971, so here are some things that happened in that year:

  • First One Day International Cricket match.
  • Apollo 14 lands on moon.
  • Decimalisation of money in UK and Ireland.
  • Apollo 15 lands on the moon.
  • First Mr Men book.
  • A Clockwork Orange film is released.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Well, I went to the cinema. It had been a while and I was starting to miss it. More importantly I was panicking because I thought I might miss Dune and the local cinema is showing it once a day, but it turns out they are only showing the David Lynch version so I haven’t missed the extravaganza. I went to see Ten Rings. On the way I noted that the tide was pretty low and discussed this with one of the children. I think they get mildly embarrassed or something when I explain what I’m doing noticing silly stuff.

After the film I tweeted my rating of the film, giving away what I thought of it. Although actually I think my position on the film is a little more nuanced.

I couldn’t leave the cinema as my children were with me, and if they weren’t I would probably have stuck it out. But, it wasn’t a good film. It was another Marvel film and mostly dull. We were the only people in the theatre and so spent our time checking out the view from different seats and generally having fun in the boring bits.

I will say this: this film is the biggest waste of Ben Fucking Kingsley I’ve ever seen. I hope he either fan-boy his way into the film or got fucktons of money.

Comms#1965, here’s what happened in that year:

  • The Gambia becomes independent from the UK.
  • 400+ killed in Chile after an earthquake causes dam failures.
  • What the fuck -the US launch a test nuclear reactor into low earth orbit.
  • 274 killed in a mining accident in India.
  • A 70mph speed limit is imposed on British roads.

Letter Writing Phase

This past summer I have spent some time crafting words and paragraphs into letters to send to various organisations. Some were complaining, some were suggestions. This is a run down of what I’ve done.

The year started and also might end with me writing letters of complaint to British Gas Services. I pay, what I think is quite a bit of money, to British Gas Services to have my boiler maintained and fixed whenever it breaks. I had booked a repair session earlier in the year which kept getting cancelled by BGS. This was rather annoying as every booking pretty much required me to ask for time off work. When this was cancelled I looked a right tit. I think it took about four months for an engineer [actually a technician] to come and fix the boiler. I had, by then, written three letters of complaint and posted them to BGS. The first was quite polite. The second was more angry and “firmly worded” and for the third I just swore. How to you get anger and annoyance across once you’ve done the whole passive aggressive polite thing.

A sample of the writing from letter three:
I waited for some form of message, a text, an email, something but I heard nothing. So, out of curiosity I looked at the British Gas app and was quite surprised to see that an appointment was booked for 13th May. I had no direct contact about this. When I got to work after seeing this I saw my boss, booked the day off and organised my Friday around this appointment. A couple of days before the 13th I thought I would check the British Gas app on my phone just to make sure things hadn’t changed given the history we now have together. Fuck me if the date on my phone had now moved to the 21 May. I had no direct message to tell me this and it is sheer good luck that I found out. Once again, I had to go to work and tell them what had happened and spend MORE time rearranging a day off and musing about what a pissing waste of time all of this has been.”

Apart from the piss poor service from BGS and discussions with a complaints person over the phone, they did come through and offer me some money. I refused their first offer and their committee of “higher ups” agreed I deserved more. They are still on my shit-list as recent communications with them have been . . . . . . fraught.

Private Eye magazine has a column called Dumb Britain and in it they highlight the answers that people give to questions on TV and sometimes radio quizzes. I used to think this section of the paper was quite funny but as time has moved on I’ve realised that if you don’t know something, then you don’t know. I felt a connection to those poor souls being placed in the spotlight as if I didn’t know the answer then sometimes I thought I would probably give the same response as them. I could see how they got to that particular answer and it didn’t seem so dumb.

“As a fan and long time reader of your magnificent organ I felt it was time to defend the poor souls featured in the Dumb Britain section. General knowledge is just that, general and if you don’t know a thing, you can’t figure it out. It has very little to do with intelligence levels. Given the pressure of television or radio show recordings along with associated brain freeze most of the answers seem quite reasonable and not a cause for general concern that quiz contestants are proving how stupid Britain has become. My subscription remains intact,”

I did get a response from the editor of Private Eye but my letter wasn’t included in print which was a shame. It would have been my second such occasion.

“Thanks for your letter. Point noted.” Ed.

Electric-Charging-Point
Electric-Charging-Point

I’d like a new car. Who wouldn’t? I would also like an electric car. Not just because as I write this the UK has run out of petrol but more because electric cars are the way forward, a way to the future, as long as we can generate the electricity in a green manner. There’s no point everyone having electric cars if all the carbon production is shifted to some arsehole end of the country where we have coal or gas fired electricity plants.

But, where I live is a tiny Victorian terrace street built as housing for the local brickworks and not built for any modern utilities. Running water, electricity. internet and gas supplies were not in the minds of those who built this housing. Very rarely can I actually park outside my house. If I return home to the street anytime after about 1500 I can be assured of having to park about a minute’s walk away from my house. This doesn’t really bother me that much. I’ve lived here long enough that it’s just the way it is. But, I’d like to be able to have an electric car and charge it. So, I wrote to the local council and asked them if they could fit some charging points in communal areas.

I had a lovely response explaining the rules of charging points and how the funding is allocated. I doubt very much that my village will be getting one and if I’m honest, I don’t think I can afford a new car anyway. Maybe I should get a fuck-off-big hybrid 4×4 and just drive it over the fields out that back of my house, fields that will soon be not-fields.

Bluewater Logo
Bluewater Logo

Over the summer break I went to Bluewater shopping centre. I can’t remember what for, maybe I just went there by mistake, I probably mention it somewhere in this communication. Bluewater are quite clever with the hoardings they place over empty shops. They put pictures and adverts on them so if you aren’t looking too close the whole place still looks occupied. If you want to know how your economy is doing then have a look around the town centre or shopping centres. If there are empty spaces then your economy is fucked. Anyway, one of the closed shops was covered with an advert for Calvin Klein [I think] it had a man and woman about twenty foot tall both in their underwear. The man’s pose was full frontal, proper man-spreading. My immediate thought was “ooh, interesting choice” but it got me thinking.

Humans have such an obsession with nudity and the human form. The obsession is that we don’t want to see it. We think it’s rude to talk about penises and vaginas. We giggle at breasts. We talk about private parts. I suspect that a lot of this is historically a religious thing as sexual body parts are for procreation and sex. Sex is a private thing and so body parts must be private. Personally I don’t give a shit. All this guilt around sex and talking about body parts means many many people find it really hard to talk about problems they are having or even seeing the doctor about medical issues we have.

Isn’t it such a crazy world where extreme violence can be shown at lower age ratings in the cinema or on TV but sex, a completely natural and everyday part of life, gets a higher rating. We can’t show people loving each other but it’s easy to see images of people being murdered or killed in a spray of bullets. There’s an embarrassment about totally normal bodily functions that, I think, is really fucking stupid. These things need to be normalised. People need to feel comfortable with issues of their body. We need to change society to make these things acceptable to talk about and stop the shame people feel when discussing these things.

So, I wrote to Bluewater:
“While walking around Bluewater and looking at the empty shop hoardings that you have I wondered whether you, as an organisation, should be adding to either social justice or general humankind with images instead of the ones you have. I understand that social justice might feel a little “political” and so maybe you could have some images that normalise the human body as a campaign to try and make people feel more comfortable about their bodies and talking about them.
It is a big issue for many people to talk about parts of their bodies either in public should they be so inclined or to the doctor. There is a lot of shame and embarrassment incorrectly associated with various “private” parts of the body. This causes issues when talking about them or even downright mental stress for some people.
Perhaps you could have some shop hoardings which attempt to normalise the naked body? Perhaps with images of parts of the body like those in science books? You already have massive posters of people in underwear but I think the next step is to show there’s no shame in openly talking about our bodies – especially to health workers.
No doubt there would be some press attention for a shopping centre to have pictures of naked people, but I doubt it would be a negative thing for footfall.
I’m not a social scientist or an advertising specialist. I thought I’d pass on my idea.”

The reply was a lovely, thanks, but no thanks, passed on to management etc. But I felt I had done my bit.

Comms#1964. What happened in that year?

  • US Surgeon General declares that smoking might be dangerous to health.
  • 100 deaths in Calcutta because – religious riots.
  • Protests against de facto racial segregation in New York.
  • The last death penalty sentences carried out in UK.
  • The XB-70 makes its first flight.

Golden Hour Time

That’s definitely “hour” and not “shower” in the title of this communication. What kind of site do you think this is?! Recently I had the opportunity to spend some time at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford Airfield. Now, I’m going to skip all the issues I have with museums of war and empire, there’s plenty of time for that in future and past communications. However, I do love a pretty aeroplane and Duxford has fucking loads. In the last week I have spent three days at the airfield.

Camp Duxford
Camp Duxford

2523 (Linton) Sqn invited some of our cadets along to a weekend assisting Duxford in the smooth running of their Battle Of Britain airshow. We arrive there early(ish) on the Saturday and helped them out. We were allowed entry to the airshow once we’d done our jobs. It was a splendid day with plenty of propeller drive aircraft rumbling through the skies. For me, gas turbines hit the spot and so while not WW2 era, it was a delight to see a Whirlwind, Wessex and Sea King flying above Cambridgeshire.

Fighter Squadron
Fighter Squadron – you need to look a little closer for full effect

Once the show was over we managed to get up close and personal with the three helicopters of the Historic Helicopter flight. If you ever thought your hobby was a touch expensive and not much gained from it, but you enjoy it anyway, then imagine trying to keep helicopters airworthy, for the hell of it. Photographs were taken.

Historic Helicopters
Historic Helicopters

It seems to me that a good photograph is all about being in the right place and having the right amount of nudge with the big man in the sky to make the heavens look absolutely glorious. The golden hour in the communication title refers to the hour before sunset when the lighting for photographs is bloody amazing. The grand finale of the airshow was a flypast of fifteen WW2 era fighters. Such an amazing sight and sound.

Battle Of Britain Fighter Wing
Battle Of Britain Fighter Wing

I do worry slightly about a country celebrating not-losing a few battles. It is something the UK seems to do a lot. It’s as if it reinforces the natural superiority of the British above everyone else. The Brits have such nostalgia for things that only went their way though luck and good fortune that I guess it’s about time for that luck to run out. Oh, wait, now I remember the last five years.

I also spent a day at Duxford on Wednesday, just as a day trip to give some newer cadets the experience of a CCF trip along with seeing some amazing planes. We got up close to the Bristol Blenheim and some cadets even helped push a few Spitfires around to clear Shed 3.

Bristol Blenheim Up Close And Personal
Bristol Blenheim Up Close And Personal

There’s something about standing in a hangar staring at the only Blenheim in the world while surrounded by a collection of airworthy Spitfires, Hurricanes and Buchons. Some places are just a bit special. Much like the exhaust view on the Spit. Thanks BW.

Merlin - The Magical Kind
Merlin – The Magical Kind

Comms#1962. Here are some things that happened in that year:

  • Algeria gains independence.
  • The first 24 hours of Daytona, is run as a three hour race.
  • John Glenn orbits the Earth.
  • The Centralia Mine Fire starts.
  • Slavery is abolished in Yemen [I mean, how the fuck did it take that long].

If You Have To Ask The Price . . . .

As we have one very busy week end it’s only two more weeks and then I can probably think about organising all the other stuff that needs to be done. In the past seven days I’ve been i/c of two cadet trips, both of which weren’t even known about four weeks ago. If you have any idea how long it takes for authorisation for trips to come through from the “higher-ups” then you’ll know that I’ve pretty much been a one-man miracle for the last month. On the Aerospace Camp I met BW and he had some events in the pipeline and invited us along. It would have been rude to say no and so I got to sorting them out.

The first of these joint trips was to attend the Air Charter Expo at Biggin Hill. It’s a hanger and hardstanding area full of executive jets ready to be chartered. It’s like a car show but for more expensive items. The cadets did some work and I drank some coffee so all was good in the world. I could have done without the rain storms on the way to Biggin Hill and slightly less exciting weather would also have meant the traffic might have flowed a bit better but we got there and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Gulfstream G450
Gulfstream G450

My favourite aircraft for interior, comfort, and friendliness of staff was this G450. I neglected to ask how much it was to charter but then, if you ask those things, then you can’t afford it. The cabin crew I spoke to wouldn’t tell me who the most badly behaved celebratory was, but then again, they wouldn’t tell be the best behaved either. The crew were lovely, really nice people.

I got to sit in the cockpit of a King Air and this was quite strange as I’ve spent a lot of time playing the flight simulator and learning my way around the buttons and switches of this exact type. I didn’t have a go at starting the engines!

King Air Cockpit
King Air Cockpit

While the King Air looked the poorer cousin of the display I would like to mention that the pilot of this craft seemed the most honest and genuine flyer there. He was really chatty and love talking to the RAF Cadets, it’s almost as if he ignored the actual people with money. I suspect he was just pleased to talk aviation and flying rather than trying to sell the plane.

A great time was had by all and the day went smoothly in the end. It’s a hard life sometimes.

This is communication number 1961 and I had forgotten that I was doing this stuff, so here goes, here are some things that happened in that year. The year being the common one used by most even if it’s white colonialism.

  • The Portuguese Colonial War begins.
  • Yuri Gagarin orbits the Earth.
  • French police attack protestors, possibly over 200 dead.
  • The first edition of Private Eye is published.