Monday, February 28, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Days Twenty Six - Twenty Eight

Um, sorry, I give up. It's February 28, the official last day of Fawlty Feb. I have fallen over on the job with this one. Just too much on, too many thoughts, useful and otherwise, filling up the grey matter.

I've tried but I just can't squeeze out another funny. I'm hot and bothered and exhausted. A bus knocked the back end of my car off as I was driving Will to Learning Links today, adding to what was already a stressful afternoon. We're both fine, the car is driveable, it was just one of those stupid, time wasting, slightly surreal moments.

Now I'm sitting here trying to tidy up the end of Fawlty Feb, which seemed liked such a fun idea at the time. I'm reading the script and the words are melting together in front of my eyes. All I really want to do is flop on the lounge and watch an episode of Come Dine With Me, my perfect veg out program.

So please forgive me, dear reader/s, for not completing this odd little challenge.

Today marks three months until we head to the big apple so our busy lives will ramp up just that little bit more as we start to prepare in earnest.

Here's to March, to Autumn, to cooler weather, better sleep, better blogging, to turning 43, to the four thousand events we will be attending in the coming month, to fun, to survival.

Good night.

Fawlty Feb: Day Twenty Five

Let me introduce Basil the Rat...

Manuel: I say to man in shop, "is rat". He say, "No, no, is special kind of hamster. Is Filigree Siberian hamster". Only one in shop. He make special price, only five pound.

Basil: (calmly) Have you ever heard of the bubonic plague, Manuel? It was very popular here at one time. A lot of pedigree hamsters came over on ships from Siberia... (he takes the cage)

Manuel: What are you doing?

Basil: I'm sorry, Manuel, this is a rat.

Manuel: No, no, is hamster.

Basil: Is not hamster. Hamsters are small and cuddly. Cuddle this, you'd never play the guitar again.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Twenty Four

Ever wondered how the Nazis got started?

Basil: This is typical, absolutely typical... of the kind of... (shouting) ARSE I have to put up with from you people. You ponce in here expecting to be waited on hand and foot, well I'm trying to run a hotel here. Have you any idea of how much there is to do? Do you ever think of that? Of course not, you're all too busy sticking your noses into every corner, poking around for things to complain about, aren't you. Well, let me tell you something - this is exactly how Nazi Germany started, you know. A lot of layabouts with nothing better to do than to cause trouble. Well I've had fifteen years of pandering to please the likes of you and I've had enough. I've had it. Come on, pack your bags and get out!

Basil does make a mountain out of a molehill... I mean the poor man just wanted a Waldorf Salad.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Twenty Three

Drum roll please... yes, it's time for Waldorf Salad.

Basil: I have looked. There's no celery, there's no grapes... walnuts! That's a laugh, easier to find a packet of sliced hippopotamus in suitcase sauce than a walnut in this bloody kitchen. (he looks in the fridge)

Sybil: Now, we've got apples (holding up some)

Basil: Oh, terrific! Let's celebrate. We'll have an apple party. Everybody brings his own apple and stuffs it down somebody's throat.

Sybil: Basil, I'll find everything. Just go and get a bottle of Volnay.

Basil: What's a waldorf, anyway - a walnut that's gone off?

Sybil: It's the hotel, Basil. The Waldorf Hotel. In New York.

Basil: (struck with an idea) Wait, wait.

Sybil: (warningly) Basil.

Basil: (going into the dining room) Everything all right?

Mrs Hamilton: Yes thank you.

Mr Hamilton: Never been better.

Basil: Oh good. Um... by the way. I wonder... have you by any chance ever tried a Ritz salad?

Mr Hamilton: A Ritz salad?

Basil: Yes - it's a traditional old English... thing. It's apples, grapefruit and potatoes in a mayonnaise sauce.

Mr Hamilton: No, don't think I ever tried that.

Basil: Ah!

Mr Hamilton: Don't think I ever will, either.

There's lots more but I'm tired now so you'll just have to look it up or watch the episode if you want to relive all the glory of Waldorf Salad. Good night.

Fawlty Feb: Day Twenty Two

Lost in translation.

Mr Hamilton: A scotch and water and screwdriver, please.

Basil: Um... and for you, madam?

Mrs Hamilton: The screwdriver's for me.

Basil: I see... um... would you like it now or after your meal?

Mrs Hamilton: Well, now, please.

Basil: There's nothing I can put right?

Mrs Hamilton: What?

Basil: Absolutely. So it's one scotch and one screwdriver.

Mr Hamilton: I think I'll join you. (to Basil) Make that two screwdrivers, will you?

Basil: You'd like a screwdriver as well?

Mr Hamilton: You got it.

Basil: Fine. So it's one scotch and you each need a screwdriver.

Mr Hamilton: No, no, no. Forget the scotch. Two screwdrivers.

Basil: I understand. And you'll leave the drinks.

Mr Hamilton: What?

Basil: Nothing to drink.

Mr Hamilton: What do you mean? 'Nothing to drink'?

Basil: Well you can't drink your screwdrivers, can you. Ha ha.

Mr Hamilton: What else would you suggest that we do with them?

Mrs Hamilton: Vodka and orange juice.

Basil: Ah, certainly madam.

Mr Hamilton: Make that two. And forget about the screwdrivers.

Basil: You're sure?

Mr Hamilton: We can manage without them.

Basil: As you wish, sir.

And because we're running out of Fawlty Feb days, I'm going to throw in an extra one today. No extra charge.

On Harold Robbins (not that awful Harold Robinson).

Basil: Oh, of course, yes. My wife likes Harold Robbins. After a hard day's slaving under the hair-dryer she needs to unwind with a few aimless thrills.

Sybil: Basil! (she exists into the kitchen)

Basil: Have you ever read any? It really is the most awful American... well, not American, but trans-Atlantic tripe. A sort of pornographic muzak. Still, it keeps my wife off the streets.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Twenty-One

On coping...

Sybil: I'm talking to Mr Libson, Basil.

Basil: Good. Well, that's a help.

Sybil: I'm sure you can cope.

Basil: Oh, yes, I can cope. Coping's easy. Not pureeing your loved ones, that's the difficult part.

Amen to that, Basil!

Fawlty Feb: Day Twenty

Not everyone is Gordon Ramsay, you know!

Miss Gurke: Er... excuse me.

Sybil: Yes?

Miss Gurke: I'm sorry, but do you think we could cancel our fruit salads?

Sybil: Well, it's a little tricky, Chef's just opened the tin.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Moment

I've been thinking a lot lately about how difficult it is to live in the moment. This moment. Of course we're all actually living each moment, physically we're in each and every moment; there is no escape and no option. But mentally, emotionally... I am rarely in this moment.

Is this the human condition? Is this our normal state? Maybe all this talk about living in the moment is nonsense. I suspect it is, or at least partially so.

When I contemplate the subject I realise exactly how much of my time is spent planning for the future or examining the past. There are so few instances of the present being the main focus. When I'm cooking or eating a meal I'm often thinking about the next one or the special one I'm planning for the next day or the next week. When I'm dressing the kids for school I'm thinking about a myriad of school related issues or what I must remember to get done at work that day.

Holidays are one of the best examples of this: I will argue for the affirmative that the most enjoyable thing about family holidays is the planning and the memories. I love planning holidays; the daydreaming about how relaxing, exciting and fun they are going to be. It is a particular sort of savouring which no reality can ever live up to. Thinking back on holidays is also wonderful because the human mind is very good at editing out the bad stuff (or at the least turning it into a hilarious story) so that you are left with mental images of the great stuff sans the annoying stuff.

Let's be honest, most family holidays involve a lot of annoying stuff. No-one can tell me it's fun to hang around airports, entertain small children on never-ending flights, watch as your child refuses to eat an overpriced meal in an overseas restaurant. Yet my brain deletes all these scenes of irritation and keeps only scenes which involve me lounging around in the infinity pool with a Pina Colada in hand. Thus constantly making me yearn for the next holiday.

I've just finished reading Emma Donoghue's Room about a kidnapped woman and her five year old son living in isolation in "Room". I wouldn't say it's the best book I've ever read but it does give you food for thought. One of my trains of thought was about how much distraction we have in our lives; our lives are choc-full of stuff, so much of it... no wonder it feels like life is going by so fast. When these things are taken away, when people are isolated from all that and put in a restricted space with almost nothing to distract from the simple act of living... life is very different.

There is no moral to this story. I'm just musing on the tangle of thoughts floating around the void between my ears. I don't know the answers or if there are any or if we need any. I'm mostly happy to accept life for what it is. I don't think I can force myself to be in the moment any more or less by thinking about it. I just think the phenomenon of generally dwelling on the past or projecting into the future is really interesting. Is this what the idea of meditation all about? Is this why I find it impossible to meditate or often even sit still for very long? Have I unconsciously trained my mind to be a pinball machine ball, constantly bouncing from one idea, project, task to another? Hmmmmm.....

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Nineteen

It's hard to get customer service just right, isn't it.

Sybil: I've had it up to here with you.

Basil: What, dear?

Sybil: You never get it right, do you. You're either crawling all over them licking their boots, or spitting poison like some benzedrine puff-adder. (she goes into the office)

Basil: (to himself) Just trying to enjoy myself.

Fawlty Feb: Day Eighteen

Fancy a quick read?

Mrs Abbott: Do you have a guide to Torquay?

Basil: A guide... um... oh, dear, I think we're out of them again.

Mr Johnson: (to Mrs Abbott) Do you want to look at this one? I got it in the town.

Mrs Abbott: Oh, thanks... What's on in Torquay.

Mr Johnson: Yes, it's one of the world's shortest books. (they laugh)

Basil: What?

Mr Johnson: One of the world's shortest books... like "The Wit of Margaret Thatcher" or "Great English Lovers".

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Seventeen

And so we bid a fond farewell to Mrs Richards and her communication problems and have a short visit with The Psychiatrist.

From: The Psychiatrist (the second episode of the second series, broadcast 26 February, 1979)

Sybil: Seventy-seven! Isn't that amazing... old people are wonderful when they have so much life, aren't they? Gives us all hope, doesn't it.

Mr Johnsons: Mmmm...

Sybil: My mother... on the other hand... is a little bit of a trial really... you know, it's all right when they have the life force, but mother, well, she's got more of the death force really... she's a worrier...

Mr Johnson: (to phone) No, it's all right, I'll hold.

Sybil: She has these, well, morbid fears they are, really... vans is one... rats, doorknobs, birds, heights, open spaces... confined spaces. It's very difficult getting the space right for her really, you know...

Mr Johnson (nodding, not much interested) Mmmmm...

Sybil: Footballs, bicycles, cows... and she's always on about men following her... I don't know what she thinks they're going to do to her... vomit on her, Basil says...

Mr Johnson: (to phone) Can I leave my number, he can call me back...

Sybil: And death.

It'd be quicker to make a list of the things she's not afraid of.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Sixteen

Have we been missing Manuel? I have.

Basil: The money! The money! Do you remember?... Manuel. Manuel. Come here. Manuel... you remember I had some money yesterday. (Manuel looks suspicious; Basil whispers) The money I won on the horse.

Manuel: Ah! Si...

Basil: Tell Mrs Richards. Tell her I had the money yesterday.

Manuel: (with pride) Ahem. I know nothing.

Basil: What?

Manuel: I know nothing.

Basil: No, no.

Manuel: Nothing.

Basil: No, no, forget that.

Manuel: I forget everything. I know nothing.

Basil: No, you can tell her. You can tell her.

Manuel: No, I cannot.

Basil: Yes, yes, tell her, tell her, please, please, tell her, tell her... I'll kill you if you don't.

Manuel: (runs his finger along his throat and winks at Basil) No, I know nothing. (to Mrs Richards) I am from Barcelona. (Manuel leaves)

Wouldn't you love a T-shirt which states "I AM FROM BARCELONA"? It just explains everything.

Fawlty Feb: Day Fifteen

This was due yesterday, and since it was St Valentine's Day, this is very fitting.

Sybil: (suspiciously) You seem very jolly, Basil.

Basil: Hmmm?

Sybil: You seem very jolly.

Basil: Jolly?

Sybil: Yes, jolly. Sort of... happy.

Basil: Oh, 'happy'. Yes, I remember that. No, not that I noticed, dear. I'll report it if it happens, though.

Sybil: (accusingly) Well, you look happy to me, Basil.

Basil: No, I'm not dear.

Sybil: All this dancing about, singing and rubbing your hands.

Basil: No, just my way of getting through the day, dear. The Samaritans were engaged.

Sybil: I thought maybe you were in love. (laughs)

Basil: Only with you, light of my life.

And a little bit later, with Mrs Richards...

Mrs Richards: I don't need your arm, thank you. I can get down the stairs perfectly well by myself.

Basil: Down the stairs? Oh, well, don't stop when you get to the basement. Keep straight on. Give my regards to the earth's core.

Sybil: Are you sure you can manage?

Basil: And if you give us anymore trouble I shall visit you in the small hours and put a bat up your nightdress. Well, that was fun, wasn't it dear. The odd moment like that, it's almost worth staying alive for, isn't it. (Sybil is poker-faced) It's nice to share a moment like that, isn't it, dear. It's what marriage is all about. I know, it said so on the back of a matchbox.

Sybil: Basil, sometimes...

Basil: (putting a hand on her waist) Seriously, Sybil, do you remember, when we were first... manacled together, we used to laugh quite a lot.

Sybil: (pushing him away) Yes, but not at the same time, Basil.

Basil: That's true. That was a warning, wasn't it. Should have spotted that. Zoom! - what was that? That was your life, mate. That was quick, do I get another? Sorry mate, that's your lot.

Sybil: Basil.

Basil: Back to the world of dreams. Yes dear?

Sybil: (irritated) What are we going to do?

Basil: Give it another fifteen years?

I couldn't have said it better myself, Basil.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Days Thirteen and Fourteen

Why one should never work in customer service... because, damn it, the customer is rarely right and mostly they're just plain bonkers.

Basil: Good morning, madam - can I help you?

Mrs Richards: Are you the manager?

Basil: I am the owner, madam.

Mrs Richards: What?

Basil: I am the owner.

Mrs Richards: I want to speak to the manager.

Basil: I am the manager too.

Mrs Richards: What?

Basil: I am the manager as well.

Manuel: Manaher! Him manaher!

Basil: Shut up!

Mrs Richards: Oh... you're Watt.

Basil: ... I'm the manager.

Mrs Richards: Watt?

Basil: I'm ... the... manager.

Mrs Richards: Yes, I know, you've just told me, what's the matter with you? Now listen to me. I've booked a room with a bath. When I book a room with a bath I expect to get a bath.

Basil: You've got a bath.

Mrs Richards: I'm not paying seven pounds twenty pence per night plus VAT for a room without a bath.

Basil: (opening the bathroom door) There is your bath.

Mrs Richards: You call that a bath? It's not big enough to drown a mouse. It's disgraceful (she moves away to the window).

Basil: (muttering) I wish you were a mouse, I'd show you.

Mrs Richards: (at the window, which has a nice view) And another thing - I asked for a room with a view.

Basil: (to himself) Deaf, mad and blind. (goes to the window) This is the view as far as I can remember, madam. Yes, this is it.

Mrs Richards: When I pay for a view I expect something more interesting than that.

Basil: That is Torquay, madam.

Mrs Richards: Well, it's not good enough.

Basil: Well... may I ask what you were hoping to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydey Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeeste sweeping majestically...

Mrs Richards: Don't be silly. I expect to be able to see the sea.

Basil: You can see the sea. It's over there between the land and the sky.

Mrs Richards: I'd need a telescope to see that.

Basil: Well, may I suggest you consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea. Or preferably in it.

Mrs Richards: Now listen to me: I'm not satisfied, but I have decided to stay here. However, I shall expect a reduction.

Basil: Why, because Krakatoa's not erupting at the moment?

Mrs Richards: Because the room is cold, the bath is too small, the view is invisible and the radio doesn't work.

Basil: No, the radio works. You don't.

Mrs Richards: What?

Basil: I'll see if I can fix it, you scabby old bat....

Tomorrow, the rest of this delicious scene.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Twelve

On the joys of marriage and fire breathing dragons...

The Major: Going to have a flutter, Fawlty

Basil: No-o, no, no...

Sybil: No, Basil doesn't bet any more, Major, do you, dear?

Basil: No, dear, I don't. No, that particular avenue of pleasure has been closed off.

Sybil: (quietish) And we don't want it opened up again, do we, Basil? (she goes into the office)

Basil: No, you don't dear, no. The Great Warning-Off of May the 8th. Good old St George, eh, Major?

The Major: Hmmmm.

Basil: He killed a hideous fire-breathing old dragon, didn't he, Polly?

Polly: Ran it through with a lance, I believe.

Manuel: (running in) Mr Fawlty, Mr Fawlty. Is Mrs... er... room, no like... she want speak to you, is problem.

Basil: (moving off) Ever see my wife making toast Polly? (he mimes breathing on both sides of a slice of bread)

The Major: Why did he kill it, anyway, Fawlty?

Basil: I don't know Major. Better than marrying it (he follows Manuel upstairs)

The Major: Marrying it? Bue didn't have to kill it though, did he? I mean, he could have just not turned up at the church.

Fawlty Feb: Day Eleven

I use this one at work all the time.

(Still with Communication Problems, we'll be here for a while.)

Basil: (to Sybil) A satisfied customer. We should have him stuffed.

Non Fawlty Feb Stuff

Um, not so much to report.

Have survived the first two weeks of school OK. Kids (and us) are coping well with the busy schedule.

Marianna is going to drop piano because, despite having a talent for it, she won't practice and thus won't improve and thus I just don't want to pay $30 a lesson for something that's not going anywhere. She's only five, so there's plenty of time to give it another try a couple of years down the track.

Have been eating well but have only lost about 200 grams; hardly worth mentioning. Maybe it'll be a slow build up and then - wham - 5 kg gone overnight. I've bought Blackmore's Metabolism Advantage because I'm always looking for the "magic" thing. Will get back to you on how useful it proves to be.

I made Empanadas today. Have been meaning to for ages. They are my favourite Colombian dish. La Cumbia, the Colombian restaurant at Kensington, makes wonderful Empanadas. I happened to be passing there yesterday and dropped in for some of the special cornmeal you need to use for the Empanada dough. Today I made some and they were delicious, especially with the green onion, tomato and corriander aji I made to spoon over them. Damn it, why are deep fried things so yum?

Well, that's about it. Not much happening around here. Until next time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Ten

Now we arrive in the wonderland which is Communication Problems, the realm of the one and only Mrs Richards... this will take a few Fawlty Feb days. So sit back and enjoy...

From: Communication Problems (the first episode of the second series, broadcast 19 February, 1979)

Mrs Richards: (to Manuel) Now, I've reserved a very quiet room with a bath and a sea view. I specifically asked for a sea view in my written confirmation, so please be sure I have it.

Manuel: Que?

Mrs Richards: ... What?

Manuel: ... Que?

Mrs Richards: K?

Manuel: Si.

Mrs Richards: C? (Manuel nods) KC? (Manuel looks puzzled) KC? What are you trying to say?

Manuel: No, no - Que - what?

Mrs Richards: K - what?

Manuel: Si! Que - what?

Mrs Richards: C. K. Watt?

Manuel: ... Yes.

Mrs Richards: Who is C.K. Watt?

Manuel: Que?

Mrs Richards: Is it the manager, Mr Watt?

Manuel: Oh, manager!

Mrs Richards: He is.

Manuel: Ah... Mr Fawlty.

Mrs Richards: What?

Manuel: Fawlty.

Mrs Richards: What are you talking about you, you silly little man [I often shout this phrase at the radio when listening to 702 ABC talk back]. (turns to Polly, Mr Thurston having gone) What is going on here? I ask him for my room, and he tells me the manager's a Mr Watt and he's aged forty.

Manuel: No. No. Fawlty.

Mrs Richards: Faulty? What's wrong with him?

Polly: It's all right, Mrs Richards. He's from Barcelona.

Shame to stop now but there's more, so much more, from this episode, choc-full of nutty goodness. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Eight and Nine

OK, I'm cheating a little because I'm so strapped for time but also because this is one of the greatest episodes and has so much "stuff" it's surely enough to make up for two days' worth of Fawlty Feb.

From: The Germans (the sixth episode of the first series, broadcast 24 October, 1975)

*A little note for those not familiar with Fawlty Towers, Basil is particularly manic in this scene because he's just released himself from hospital after getting concusion after the moose head fell on him. So his gibbering is more ridiculous and out of control than usual.*

Basil: Right, right, here's the plan. I'll stand there and ask them if they want something to drink before the war... before their lunch... don't mention the war! (He moves in front of the guests, bows, and mimes and eating and drinking)

2nd German: Can we help you?

Basil: (gives a startled jump) Ah... you speak English.

2nd German: Of course.

Basil: Ah, wonderful. Wunderbar! Ah - please allow me to introduce myself - I am the owner of Fawlty Towers, and may I welcome your war, your wall, you all... and hope that your stay will be a happy one. Now would you like to eat first, or would you like a drink before the war... ning that, er, trespassers will be - er, er - tied up with piano wire ... Sorry! Sorry! (clutches his thigh) Bit of trouble with the old leg ... got a touch of shrapnel in the war... Korean, Korean war, sorry, Korean.

2nd German: Thank you, we will eat now.

Basil: Oh good, please do allow me. May I saw how pleased we are to have some Europeans here now that we are on the Continent...


Basil: I didn't vote for it myself, quite honestly, but now that we're in I"m determined to make it work, so I'd like to welcome you all to Britain. The plaice is grilled, but that doesn't matter, there's life in the old thing yet... No, wait a minute, I got a bit confused there. Oh yes, the plaice is grilled... in fact the whole room's a bit warm, isnt' it... I"ll open a window, have a look... and the veal chop is done with rosemary... that's funny, I thought she'd gone to Canada... and is delicious and nutritious... in fact it's veally good... veally good?

2nd German: The veal is good?

Basil: Yes, doesn't matter, doesn't matter, never mind.

1st German: May we have two eggs mayonnaise, please?

Basil: Certainly, why not, why not indeed? We are all friends now, eh?

2nd German: (heavily) A prawn cocktail...

Basil: All in the market together, old differences forgotten, and no need at all to mention the war... Sorry! Sorry, what was that again?

2nd German: A prawn cocktail.

Basil: Oh, prawn, that was it. When you said prawn I thought you said war. Oh, the war! Oh yes, completely slipped my mind, yes, I'd forgotten all abot it. Hitler, Himmler, and all that lot, oh yes, completely forgotten it, just like that (snaps his fingers)... Sorry, what was it again?

2nd German: (with some menace) A prawn cocktail...

Basil: Oh yes, Eva Prawn... and Goebbels, too, he's another one I can hardly remember at all.

1st German: And ein pickled herring!

Basil: Herman Goering, yes, yes... and von Ribbentrop, that was another one.

1st German: And four cold meat salads, please.

Basil: Certainly, well, I"ll just get your hors d'oeuvres... hors d'oeuvres vich must be obeyed at all times without question... Sorry! Sorry!

Polly: Mr Fawlty, will you please call your wife immediately?

Basil: Sybil! Sybil! ... she's in the hospital, you silly girl.

Polly: Yes, call here there!

Basil: I can't, I've got too much to do. Listen... (whispers through his teeth) Don't mention the war... I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with all right ... (he returns to his guests) So it's all forgotten now and let's hear no more about it. So that's two eggs mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Hermann Goering and four Colditz salads... no, wait a moment, I got a bit confused there, sorry... (one of the German ladies has begun to sob) I got a bit confused because everyone keeps mentioning the war, so could you...

The second German, who is comforting the lady, looks up angrily.

Basil: What's the matter?

2nd German: It's all right.

Basil: Is there something wrong?

2nd German: Will you stop talking about the war?

Basil: Me? You started it!

2nd German: We did not start it.

Basil: Yes you did, you invaded Poland...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Seven

My favourite... duck surprise. Who can ever forget this wonderful scene?

Basil: Yes. Lucky old bin, I say! So this is your new menu.

Colonel Hall: Duck with orange... duck with cherries... duck surprise?

Mrs Twitchen: What's duck surprise?

Basil: Ah... that's duck without orange or cherries.

Sorry, short and sweet tonight. Good night.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Six

Has this kid been taking lessons from my Marianna? Or possibly watching too much Junior Masterchef?

From: Gourmet Night (the fifth episode of the first series, broadcast 17 October, 1975)

Ronald: Haven't you got any proper chips?

Basil: Well these are proper. French Fried Potatoes. You see the chef is Continental.

Ronald: Couldn't you get an English one?

Mrs Heath: (to Ronald) Why don't you eat just one or two, dear?

Ronald: They're the wrong shape.

Basil: Oh dear - what shape do you usually have? Mickey Mouse shape? Smarties shape? Amphibious landing craft shape? Poke in the eye shape?

Ronald: ... God, you're dumb.

Mrs Heath: Oh, now...

Basil: (controlling himself) Is there something we can get you instead, Sonny?

Ronald: I'd like some bread and salad cream.

Basil: ... To eat? Well... (pointing) there's the bread, and there's the mayonnaise.

Ronald: I said salad cream, stupid.

Basil: We don't have any salad cream. The chef made this (indicating the mayonnaise) freshly this morning.

Ronald: What a dump?

Mr Heath: (offering Ronald the mayonnaise) This is very good.

Mrs Heath: (coldly) He likes salad cream.

Ronald: (to Basil) That's puke, that is.

Basil: Well, at least it's fresh puke.

Mrs Heath: (shocked) Oh dear!

Basil: (indignantly) Well, he said it!

Mrs Heath: (loftily) May I ask why you don't have proper salad cream, I mean most restaurants...

Basil: Well, the chef only buys it on special occasions, you know, gourmet nights and so on, but... when he's got a bottle - ah! - he's a genius with it. He can unscrew the cap like Robert Carrier. It's a treat to watch him. (he mimes) And then... right on your plate! None on the walls! Magic! He's a wizard with a tin-opener too. He got a Pulitzer Prize for that. He can have the stuff in the saucepan before you can say haute cuisine. You name it, he'll heat it up and scrape it off the pan for you. Mind you, skill like that isn't picked up overnight. Still, I'll tell him to get some salad cream, you never know when Henry Kissinger is going to drop in, do you.

And on the subject of Gourmet Nights...

Sybil: Andre thinks Thursday nights would be best.

Basil: Thursdays?

Andre: I think so.

Basil: Right. And on the other nights we'll just have a big trough of baked beans and garnish it with a couple of dead dogs.

Mmmm, doesn't that sound yummy?

Fawlty Feb: Day Five

Some people...

From: The Hotel Inspector (the fourth episode of the first series, broadcast 10 October, 1975)

Basil: ... if anybody wants you?

Hutchison: I'll be in the lounge. (goes into the bar)

Basil: (calling after him) Anyone in particular?... I mean, Henry Kissinger?... or just anyone with a big net? (goes into the office, where Sybil sits filing her nails) I don't know what it is about this place... I mean, some of the people we get here...

A little later...

Basil: I'm on the telephone.

Hutchison: Well, you haven't finished dialling yet, have you? (he puts his finger on the receiver rest, cutting Basil off; Basil slams the receiver down; Hutchison gets his finger away just in time) Now listen... there is a documentary tonight on BBC2 on Squawking Bird, the leader of the Blackfoot Indians in the late 1860s. Now this commences at eight forty-five and goes on for approximately three-quarters of an hour.

Basil: I'm sorry, are you talking to me?

Hutchison: Indeed I am, yes. Now, is it possible for me to reserve the BBC2 channel for the duration of this televisual feast?

Basil: Why don't you talk properly.

Hutchison: I bet your pardon?

Basil: No, it isn't.

Hutchison: What?

Basil: It is not possible to reserve the BBC2 channel from the commencement of this televisual feast until the moment of the termination of its ending. Thank you so much.

I'm personally going to try very hard to incorporate the term "televisual feast" into my every day vocabulary.

Fawlty Feb: Day Four

[Better late than never.]

From: The Wedding Party (the third episode of the first series, broadcast 3 October, 1975)

Sybil: Tell them you made a mistake.

Basil: Oh, brilliant. Is that what made Britain great? "I'm so sorry I made a mistake". What have you got for a brain - spongecake?

And while we're on the topic of Australian politics, here's what Basil has to say about women a little later in the same episode. I find it's a little bit more amusing if I insert the words Julia Gillard and Kristina Keneally where he refers to "women" and "my wife". I'm so easily amused.

Basil: I'm sorry... I'm so sorry, but my wife has made a mistake, I don't know how she did it, but she did, she's made a complete pudding of the whole thing as usual, it'll be perfectly all right for you to stay. I've sorted it all out, I'm frightfully sorry but you know what women are like, they've only got one brain between the lot of them, well not all of them but some of them have, particularly my wife...

True [S]Grit

Our date night movie on Friday night was True Grit. Oh! the blissful anticipation. The Coen brothers at the helm, Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges... it was a wealth of riches and the reviews were good, even from my sister.

So you know I really wanted to enjoy this film, I wanted to love it, adore it, worship the ground it's reels rolled on. But I didn't.

I can't write a coherent review because I just have a bunch of random thoughts about it (it was so slow moving I had ample time to have random thoughts... and I had many):

* It was like a Jane Austen novel in the wild west. All that witty banter, so right in Pride and Prejudice, so wrong in True Grit.

* The sight of Matt Damon in western gear with those spurs.... oooh... um... what was I saying?

* Matt Damon was amazing, gorgeous, wonderful in Good Will Hunting.

* Jeff Bridges is very hard to understand. After a while I gave up squinting at the screen in the hope of understanding what he was saying.

* Jeff Bridges was very excellent in The Big Lebowski.

* The Coen brothers are capable of such wonderful filmaking: Raising Airzona, Barton Fink, Fargo, The Big Lebowski... even No Country For Old Men. Why this?

* If you spend millions (many) on a high calibre movie hire someone to check the details. E.g. if a girl swims through a river behind a horse she will get out dripping wet; if a man gets shot through the back of his jacket, through his shoulder, there will be more than just a clean hole where the bullet went through... there will be blood on the jacket, at least there will be black gun residue.

* A 14 year old girl, no matter how feisty, will be raped quick smart when left out in the wilderness with a bunch of outlaws.

* This story would have worked much better as a dark tale, with the inheritent dangers built up and played out, rather than as a quaint period drama with an emphasis on beautiful [clean] costumes and flowery language.

Sorry Ethan and Joel, you've really missed the mark with this one and I can't believe this has received such glowing reviews. Did we all see the same film?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Three

Since we're on a roll with O'Reilly... and since I've been thinking of Julia Gillard...

From: The Builders (the second episode of the first series, broadcast 26 September, 1975)

Sybil: O'Reilly, I have seen more intelligent creatures than you lying on their backs at the bottoms of ponds. I have seen better organised creatures than you running around farmyards with their heads cut off.


I think that's what the commercial media are feeling this morning. I just don't think Yasi gave them the desired level of disaster and destruction, certainly no lives lost (thank goodness). Yes, houses have lost roofs, banana crops have been "devestated" and I'm sure a few smaller towns like Mission Beach are a real mess but I just get the feeling that's not enough.

The term "disaster porn" has been put out there and I love it. The media has been wallowing in it big time - the bushfires, the mine disasters, the floods, now Cyclone Yasi. They just can't get enough of this nonsense in the guise of keeping us updated with latestest (non)developments.

This constant, on-the-spot reporting of absolutely nothing is really stupid. It's hanging around waiting for something to happen and filling in the time with gibberish. For the dumb viewer like me it's emotionally draining and of no particular use. For the people really experiencing these emergencies I'm sure the "news" coverage is of no use whatsoever - most have their power cut and would be relying on radio news if they have access to battery powered radios.

What I really hate is the emotive language used in these constant reports. It's always the "worst ever", "terrible", "horrific", "devestating", "carnage", "apocolyptic". Words that inspire panic and dread but don't really tell us anything about the situation in specific terms.

This is the evolution of the sort of news reporting which hatched out of September 11. I blame CNN.

While there were (hopefully) no deaths as a result of Yasi there was at least a gift from the media gods, a Yasi Baby. All is not lost.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day Two

I think we can all relate to how Basil is feeling here - tradesmen can drive you to despair (nevermind that I can never look at Garden Gnomes the same way again).

From: The Builders (the second episode of the first series, broadcast 26 September, 1975)

Basil: (back on the phone) Now look here, O'Reilly. I want my dining-room door put back in and the other one taken out by one o'clock, you understand? ... No, no, I don't want a debate about it. If you're not here in twenty minutes with my door, I shall come over and insert a large garden gnome in you. Good day.

And now a few wise words from O'Reilly himself...

O'Reilly: Well, let me tell you, if the Lord had meant us to worry he would have given us things to worry about.

Basil: He has! My wife! She will be back here in four hours and she can kill a man at ten paces with one blow of her tongue. How am I supposed not to worry?

O'Reilly: (calmly) Just remember Mr Fawlty, there's always somebody worse off than yourself.

Basil: Is there? Well I'd like to meet him. I could do with a laugh.

O'Reilly: You'll have to worry for the both of us. I tell you, if the Good Lord...

Basil: Is mentioned once more, I shall move you closer to him. Now, please...

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Fawlty Feb: Day One

I can hear the groans from around the world.

Oh no, Sweet Baby Jesus, she's really going to do it.

Because you're either with us or against us and if you're against us then February is not going to be a happy month for you here in Chez Deep Kick.

So without any further fanfare may I present the first Fawlty Towers' quote of my choice (there will be 27 more, in no particular order).

Enjoy... or not.

From: A Touch of Class (the first episode of the first series, broadcast 19 September, 1975)

Sybil: I don't know why you wanted to hire him, Basil.

Basil: (sitting at typewriter) Because he's cheap and keen to learn, dear. And in this day and age such....

Sybil: But why did you say you could speak the language?

Basil: I learnt classical Spanish, not the strange dialect he seems to have picked up.

Sybil: It'd be quicker to train a monkey.*

* This is one of my favourite quotes and I use it, and variations of it, on an almost daily basis. Try it... it's so satisfying.