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Pumpkin

Pumpkin

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Reviews written

since 28/04/2001

252

BBC2: League of Gentlemen 15/09/2005

"I WANT TO SPEAK TO DAVE"

BBC2: League of Gentlemen In my humble opinion, The League of Gentlemen is a comedy masterpiece. Conceived and performed by Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Mark Gatiss, together with their writing partner Jeremy Dyson, it is set in the fictional town of Royston Vasey (a homage to the Gents' favourite comedian, Roy 'Chubby' Brown - Royston Vasey being his real name) and features the every day lives of some of its inhabitants. Essentially, the programme is a character sketch show, but unlike many of its counterparts (The Fast Show, Little Britain etc.) it has an ongoing story which runs through it, linking some of the characters together and also allowing the characters to develop a lot more than standalone sketches would do, whilst still allowing for some hilariously funny one off characters and sketches (my personal favourite, for the benefit of any other fans, being aspiring actress, Pam Doove). The good thing about the format is that there hasn't really been anything comparable made since, so it still seems fresh and innovative now, several years on from its inception, whereas something like The Fast Show, whilst excellent in its time, now looks somewhat dated and tired in comparison to more recent sketch shows. The characters in Royston Vasey range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Some are very subtle, well observed portrayals of people you could expect to meet in your own town or village: the constantly arguing, unhappily married couple; Mike, Geoff and Brian, the three local ...

Everything that starts with P ... 14/09/2005

A well travelled Pumpkin...

Everything that starts with P ... I've just seen this challenge, and thought I'd have a go. I am hoping that the lazy option (of doing a challenge) might inspire me to do some proper writing soon. NAME?: Hannah AGE?: 27 Country of birth: UK. NATIONALITY?: British. HOW MANY HOLIDAYS DO YOU TAKE PER YEAR? Two or three - it varies. I'd like to take four, but money and amount of annual leave are a bit prohibitive there! HOW LONG DO YOU GO ON HOLIDAY FOR? Normally a two week stint, a one week stint and another break which would be between 4 days and a week. DO YOU DO SHORT BREAKS?: Yes, but not very often. I prefer to save my time and money for a longer holiday. The way I see it, you've still got to spend time and money getting there, so what's the point of only going for a few days? As a result I never end up doing European city breaks, which I actually would really like to do, I just find them disproportionately expensive. DO YOU PREFER TO HOLIDAY ABROAD OR IN THE UK: Definitely abroad. I don't feel like I've had a proper break unless I get away to another country. WHAT DO YOU GO ON HOLIDAY FOR? Lots of things! I find it relaxing (although the sort of holidays I like to do are normally quite stressful to plan, but relaxing when I get there!), I like to experience different cultures, see beautiful scenery, try different activities, eat different food, stay in lovely hotels and not have to cook, clean or wash up the whole time I'm away! HOW MANY PEOPLE ...

Harry Potter and the Half - Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling 16/08/2005

HARRY POTTER AND THE TEENAGE ANGST

Harry Potter and the Half - Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is the sixth, and penultimate, book in the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. The series has followed Harry since he started at Hogwarts School for Wizardry and Witchcraft at the age of eleven, and now our teenage wizard friend is nearly 17, and in his second to last year at the school. This book, as with all the others, has been eagerly awaited, particularly since the ending of the previous book in the series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, finished on a very dark note, with the return of Lord Voldemort, the most feared Dark Wizard in the world of magic, who was responsible for killing Harry's parents when he was one year old, and has been seeking to get to Harry ever since he survived the attack. The previous book also ended with the revelation of a prophecy which went some way to explaining why Voldemort has always been intent on killing Harry - who seemingly was just an ordinary wizard. Once the title of book six was revealed, there was much speculation amongst fans and press as to the identity of the Half Blood Prince. All Rowling would say was that it was not Harry or Voldemort - and we were able to discount a few other characters by virtue of the fact that they were 'pure blood' - in other words born to a family of pure wizards - or 'Muggle born' - born to non-wizarding parents. Rowling tantalised us further, in similar style to the build up to book five, by telling us that a major character would die in book ...

Big Brother 6 (2005) 13/07/2005

BIG BROTHER'S BARE BREASTS

Big Brother 6 (2005) I've read a number of reviews of Big Brother 6 recently, but very few have actually given much of an opinion on the show, preferring to simply run through a list of the contestants, giving views on each of them. I'm going to attempt to break the mould and concentrate more on the show itself. Big Brother started in 2000, and was one of the first proper reality shows to grace our screens, previous shows having been more 'fly on the wall' style documentaries featuring people in real life situations - such as Airport, Driving School and the like. Big Brother promised a new concept: 10 strangers put into a communal house for 9 weeks, with no contact with the outside world. One housemate would be evicted each week as the result of a public vote between two or more housemates selected through a nomination process by the housemates themselves, and a weekly task given to them to determine their weekly food shopping budget. The show had echoes of MTV's The Real World, but with the main distinction that the housemates would be cut off from friends, family, news reports, TV and anything that would keep them in touch with real life. It seemed to be an exercise in deprivation and endurance: who would survive the longest inside the house and collect the £70,000 prize? What followed, back in 2000, was a fascinating 9 weeks' worth of TV, as we watched personalities develop, relationships form, and minor celebrities being made as each housemate in turn exited the house in the weekly ...

Mulholland Drive (DVD) 05/07/2005

MIND TRIP

Mulholland Drive (DVD) Director David Lynch is probably best known for his TV series, Twin Peaks, which was loved and loathed by audiences in equal measure when it was first aired, due to its confusing and often incoherent plot, combined with its general weirdness and use of alternate realities. Lynch has also directed a number of films, often in a similar vein to Twin Peaks, in that they are generally open to interpretation. Mulholland Dr. is one of these films, and is certainly one of the strangest, most confusing movies you may ever see. The plot begins with a character who becomes known as Rita (Laura Elena Harring) seemingly being kidnapped in the back of a car. Her captors pull a gun on her, but just then the car is involved in a horrific accident. 'Rita' appears to be the only survivor, but is left traumatised and with amnesia, unable to remember her own identity. Rita's path then crosses with Betty (Naomi Watts), a fresh-faced and aspiring Hollywood actress, who has just arrived in LA in order to pursue her career and seek fame and fortune. Betty wants to help Rita to remember who she is, but all Rita can remember is that she was on her way to Mulholland Drive, home of the rich and famous in the Hollywood Hills, and that the name Diane Selwyn is of some significance to her. The two embark upon a search for Rita's true identity, and a lesbian affair into the bargain. This synopsis of the plot makes the film seem like a fairly straightforward story, but it really is not. I ...

Summer Sisters - Judy Blume 24/03/2005

THOSE WERE THE DAYS, MY FRIEND

Summer Sisters - Judy Blume I first read Summer Sisters on holiday a couple of years ago and was absolutely captivated by it. The characters stayed in my heart and mind for a long time afterwards and as soon as I got home I bought the book myself, having borrowed it whilst on holiday. I left it a while before re-reading it as I wanted to leave it long enough that I would have forgotten the finer points of it and could therefore enjoy them again. I recently read it for the second time and it is now amongst my all-time favourite books – and is likely to stay there for a long time. I don’t normally like to re-read books, but I know I will probably end up reading this one every few years. Judy Blume is best known for her novels for teenagers, such as “Tiger Eyes”, “It’s Not The End of the World” and the ever popular “Forever”, notorious when I was at school for its descriptions of sex that were read over and over again by groups of giggling girls at break time. Less well known is the fact that she has also written several adult novels, including “Summer Sisters”. Set in the USA, the book is the story of Vix (Victoria) Leonard, who – at the age of 12 - is befriended by the enigmatic new girl at her school, Caitlyn Somers, and is invited to join Caitlyn and her slightly bohemian extended family at their summer home on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Vix has no idea why she has been selected for this honour by the most popular girl in her class, but she passes Caitlyn’s test of friendship where other ...

A Question of Integrity - Susan Howatch 07/09/2004

AKA THE WONDER WORKER

A Question of Integrity - Susan Howatch “A Question of Integrity” was the original title of the book that is now “The Wonder Worker” by Susan Howatch and forms part of a trilogy, set in and around St. Benet’s Healing Centre, a centre for Christian spiritual healing in London’s square mile. I had already read “The Heartbreaker” which is in fact the final book in the trilogy, but I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to read the other two books in the series. This book is the first. Set in the early 1990s, the book tells a remarkable story through the eyes of four of the main characters, each of whom narrate a section of the book. Susan Howatch generally writes in this way, which I quite enjoy, as it enables us to have different people’s perspectives on similar events, which is particularly good when there is a subject matter such as religion, which tends to be viewed differently through different people’s eyes. Despite the fairly frequent changes of narrator, there is little repetition and the story moves on each time the narrator changes, rather than going over old ground. Howatch manages this style remarkably well, and I never once felt as if there were gaps in my understanding of the story, or how it affected different characters, suggesting that she has chosen the most appropriate character to narrate each section and still managed to give us glimpses into what the other main players were thinking. Our first narrator is Alice Fletcher, a dumpy girl with few friends, who has spent most of her adult life ...

No Second Chance - Harlan Coben 12/08/2004

WORTH A SECOND GLANCE

No Second Chance - Harlan Coben Dr. Marc Seidman is a successful surgeon, specialising in reconstructive facial surgery for patients with deformities. He has been married for just over a year and his wife, Monica, comes from a well to do family, although she is all but estranged from her father. Marc and Monica have a baby daughter, Tara. But Marc’s seemingly perfect life is shattered forever when he wakes up in hospital to the devastating news that his wife has been shot dead by an intruder to the family home, his daughter has vanished, and he himself narrowly escaped death by shooting. Marc remembers nothing of the events that led up to this shocking incident, but with time since Tara’s disappearance already ticking away, he is determined to devote his all to finding her. The police investigation offers few clues as to Tara’s whereabouts and the motive for the shooting, and as details about cracks in Marc’s relationship with Monica come to light, Marc is shocked to find out that he is one of the key suspects. Then, his father-in-law Edgar receives a ransom note: Tara will be returned for a ransom of a million dollars. They are not to tell the police. If they do, the deal is off. There will be no second chances. From this moment on, Marc finds himself drawn into an extraordinary search for his baby daughter as he endeavours to track down the people responsible. His search reunites him with his college sweetheart, Rachel, whom he has never quite got over. Rachel is an ex-FBI agent, but appears to ...

Being John Malkovich (DVD) 02/08/2004

EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?

Being John Malkovich (DVD) Have you ever wondered what it would be like to see the world through someone else’s eyes? Have you ever thought how different life would be if you had been born as a different person? And have you ever made your brain hurt by thinking about the fact that you will only ever see the world from your own point of view, and never experience the thoughts and feelings of anyone else? I know I have. Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think so. This film explores the possibility of actually being someone else – and all the questions and problems that this possibility raises. Knowing that “Being John Malkovich” is a film by Spike Jonze, the man responsible for – amongst other things – Jackass, and Fatboy Slim’s famous video for “Praise You”, I knew that I should expect something a little out of the ordinary and slightly off the wall. Therefore, I was prepared for something unusual when I watched the film, but little did I know how unusual and thought provoking it would be. Craig Schwartz (John Cusack) is a struggling puppeteer who lives in a flat in New York with his animal obsessed wife, Lotte (Cameron Diaz), and their menagerie of pets, including Elijah, a chimpanzee that Lotte treats as her baby and wants to put into psychotherapy to get him over his traumatic childhood. When Craig fails to find any work using his puppeteering skills, he is drawn to an advertisement in the paper seeking a nimble fingered employee for a filing company, Lestercorp. Lestercorp is no ordinary ...

Once Were Warriors (DVD) 21/07/2004

A FAMILY AT WAR

Once Were Warriors (DVD) “Once Were Warriors” tells the story of a struggling Maori family in 1990s New Zealand. Beth was forced to leave her family and her home colony behind when she fell in love with her husband Jake, who was deemed by her family not to be good enough for her. 18 years on, she still loves him and finds him irresistible – despite the fact that her family’s judgement of Jake turned out to be right. Jake is a lazy, violent man, who likes nothing better than spending all day drinking with his friends before inviting them back for drunken parties in the family home – which invariably end with violence towards Beth. This lifestyle has already started to take its toll on the couple’s children, with the eldest son leaving home to become part of a violent, tattooed gang, and another son charged with burglary and taken away to a home after his welfare officer visits and sees his mother with a bruised swollen face after one of Jake’s attacks. Holding the family together is 13 year old Grace, who loves to write stories and spend time with her best friend Toot, who lives in a wrecked car nearby. So far, Grace has come through her childhood relatively unscathed, but one day, what begins as a happy family outing to visit her brother in his home ends horribly and something happens that is to change Grace’s life – and the life of the family forever. Anyone who wants Hollywood gloss, clever special effects and classy acting will probably be disappointed by this film. But if you want to ...

Jongleurs / Comedy Club, Southampton 19/07/2004

3 OUT OF 4 AIN'T BAD

Jongleurs / Comedy Club, Southampton Jongleurs Comedy Clubs are the ideal night out if you fancy something different. There are a number of different locations across the UK, and you can find out if there’s one near you by checking out their website (www.jongleurs.com). My “local” Jongleurs is in Southampton and is the subject of this review, as it is where I spent a recent Saturday night! “Eat, Drink, Laugh, Dance” is the strapline for Jongleurs. Three of those we managed to do without any problem, but one of them caused us a problem – more about that later! The concept is simple: a modern, fun comedy club, where you can go with a group of friends for a cracking night out that encompasses all the normal components of a good time, with the added bonus of getting to see some great comedy. Entry is by ticket only, and you need to book in advance, through the website or by telephoning. Membership used to be required, but was almost always renewed for free and really just seemed to be a way of getting customer details for mailshots. £16 per person guarantees you entry into the club and a table for the night. Slightly cheaper tickets are available if you don’t mind having an obscured view or having to vacate your table after the comedy acts in order to make way for the dance floor. I’ve only ever been with groups of four people and we’ve never had any problems booking up to a couple of days before we want to go, but if you are planning a night out with a big group for a special occasion then it is highly ...

Clarins Blue Orchid Oil 13/07/2004

WD40 FOR THE FACE

Clarins Blue Orchid Oil Not so long ago, my teenage skin formed its own natural oil slick every day and I spent much of my allowance on products to dry it out and mattify it. Now, some ten years on, my skin has gone completely the other way and is almost permanently dehydrated. I recently had my make up professionally done for a wedding and the make up artist commented on my dehydrated skin. I said that I had tried all kinds of rich, intensive moisturisers, but to no avail. She suggested that I try an oil, informing me that oils absorb into the skin much better than moisturisers. After a bit of research, I decided that Clarins Blue Orchid Oil was my best bet. Clarins do three different skin oils, but Blue Orchid is designed specifically for dehydrated (as opposed to dry) skin. It contains 100% natural plant extracts. The oil does not come cheap. The RRP is £26.00, I got mine for £22.50 in Duty Free and the cheapest I have found it on the internet is £19.99 including postage. This princely sum buys you just 40 ml of the oil, but do not fear, a little goes a very, very long way (think about how much cooking oil you use if you are brushing something with oil to cook – this is the type of coverage you need on your face and it really doesn’t take very much at all). The oil comes in the normal understated Clarins packaging – white and gold with a little bit of red. The bottle inside is small, cylindrical and squat, made of glass, with a chunky white lid. For some reason I was expecting the ...

10 Signs You're Getting Old 05/07/2004

Not quite ready for my bus pass yet...

10 Signs You're Getting Old I know, I know – I’m not THAT old. I have to admit that my recent 26th birthday is disturbing me more than a little: I can no longer kid myself that I am “early 20s”, and my 30s are much closer than my teens. That said, I am aware that there are many people who would happily have me shot for saying that 26 is old, so I won’t say that I am. However, over the past few years I have noticed that there have been some significant changes in the way that I see and do things. Although in some ways I feel no different from the way I did when I was in my teens, there have been some subtle changes, and it is these that make me realise that life is moving on, and I am definitely, irrevocably, a “proper grown up”. So that is the subject of this review. The little signs that make you realise you’re not a teenager any more, no matter how young you feel, and which sometimes make you feel you are turning into your parents! ·· ”It’s not a fashion parade” ·· Go back a few years or so, and I could often be found going out for the evening in all manner of inappropriate clothing. Short skirts and strappy tops were de rigeur, even in the depths of winter, and I would no more sully one of my oh-so-attractive clubbing outfits with a sensible warm coat than I would go out dressed up in a gorilla suit. I happily braved sub-zero temperatures in little more than a nightie, all in the name of fashion. My Mum would regularly tell me “It’s not a fashion parade” as I protested that my warm coat just ...

10 Most Embarassing Moments 02/07/2004

Engage brain before putting mouth in gear

10 Most Embarassing Moments I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading other people’s reviews in this category over the years (does that make me a sadist?) so thought that I would regale you with some of the most cringeworthy moments I have experienced so far. More than a couple of them are to do with me and my big mouth… 1. JUMP LEADS This one was not embarrassing for me at the time, more for my parents. Now, whenever the story is related, I feel very embarrassed! It is one of my boyfriend’s favourite stories, he found it hilarious the first time he was told, and still laughs about it now. I must have only been about 4 years old, if that, as I have no recollection of the event at all. It was a weekend and I was at home in the garden with my parents. Some neighbours called round to ask my Dad whether, by any change, he had some jump leads that they could borrow, as they were having problems starting their car. My Dad replied that no, unfortunately he didn’t have any jump leads. I, on the other hand, for reasons best known only to my 4 year-old self, piped up: “Yes he has, he just can’t be bothered to go and get them.” To this day, I have no idea where that came from. My Dad definitely did not have any jump leads, but goodness only knows how my parents managed to explain this one away. Whenever the story is told now, I find myself apologising profusely to them. Incidentally, the neighbours in question still exchange Christmas cards with my parents every year, so it obviously didn’t sour the ...

Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia 01/07/2004

MY LOVE AFFAIR WITH A FRUITY LONG-HAIRED HIPPY

Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Despite being a fan of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for many years, even having visited their factory and head quarters in Vermont as a teenager on holiday some years ago, until recently I had not tried Cherry Garcia, one of their most popular flavours. The reason for this was that I am not usually very keen on chocolate and fruit mixed together (although both items on their own are strong favourites!) so the formula of cherry flavoured ice cream with cherry pieces and dark chocolate chunks did not appeal to me as much as some of the other flavours on offer. However, last Friday I found myself with an ice cream craving, standing in front of the freezer in my local One Stop, with a very limited selection of Ben and Jerry’s to choose from. The other flavours available all contained nuts (something which I am not keen on in ice cream – I’m a fussy so-and-so, aren’t I?) so Cherry Garcia ended up being my chosen flavour. Call it fate, call it whatever you want, but this chance meeting was the start of a beautiful relationship. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream has been something of a success story in recent years. The company was started by two free spirit hippies (can you guess their names?) who made ice creams using fresh, natural ingredients. Their empire took off to a such an extent that the brand is now a permanent fixture in ice cream freezers across the world, competing with the likes of Haagen Dazs. This particular flavour was named after Jerry Garcia, lead singer of the hippy ...
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