Isn’t it ironic…..don’t you think?

A little too ironic.

I was reminded of Alannis Morissette’s iconic 1995 song Ironic and lyrics* when I saw Katie Price’s latest TV show – In Therapy – in the listings.

The ex glamour model is undergoing psychological analysis of the effects on her of having lived the last 20 years of her life in front of TV cameras. The therapy sessions are with Dr Claudia Bernat….and of course they’re all carried out in front of TV cameras.

Go figure, as our friends from across the pond might say.

Other examples of irony:

what is irony

11.) Tow trucks gonna tow.

20.) PSHT, I don't need your help sign.

*ALANIS MORISSETTE LYRICS

“Ironic”

An old man turned ninety-eight
He won the lottery and died the next day
It’s a black fly in your Chardonnay
It’s a death row pardon two minutes too late
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you thinkIt’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought… it figures

Mr. Play It Safe was afraid to fly
He packed his suitcase and kissed his kids goodbye
He waited his whole damn life to take that flight
And as the plane crashed down he thought
“Well isn’t this nice…”
And isn’t it ironic… don’t you think

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought… it figures

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face

A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…

It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought… it figures

Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out

Book review – Being Mortal

I am indebted to Steve Dover, our next-door neighbour, friend and founder of the West Surrey Book Club.

For creating a blokes-only forum to discuss chosen books and drink ale in some otherwise unexplored hostelries. And most recently for his book selection – Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

I rarely read non-fiction books. I’m sure it says something about my own life, but I enjoy lapping up a fiction writer’s imaginative plot and characterisations much more than reading about history, a biography or a book about the development of the motor bike engine during the 20th century.

But reading Being Mortal was a bit of a revelation.

It’s not a fun subject matter. It’s not written by a brilliantly creative writer. And it doesn’t provide any definitive answers.

But it does raise some very important and emotional questions about how we live the end of our lives. Particularly when we know that end is coming.

Atul Gawande is a US-based surgeon, and writer, with Indian roots. He questions whether the advances in medicine and technology actually provide the best solution for patients with terminal illnesses, or approaching death from more natural causes.

I’ve wondered myself whether a doctor’s obligation to keep a patient alive is always necessarily the best solution. Gawande goes further, and ultimately concludes that each individual should be consulted on how they want to spend the last period of life.

Of course each situation is different and far from black and white, but he suggests the medical profession should carefully discuss the outlook with the patient before an obligatory next chemo session, drug dispensation or injection.

If it’s possible you have only 3 months left, would you prefer to undergo non-stop medical efforts to extend your life marginally further, or would it be better to enjoy some final treatment-free time with your family, friends, doing what you enjoy and coming to terms that the end is close? What trade-offs are you willing or happy to contemplate in the dilemma of painful life extension v happier living?

As Gawande says: Medicine’s focus is narrow. Medical professionals concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of the soul. Yet – and this is the painful paradox – we have decided that they should be the ones who largely define how we live in our waning days. For more than half a century now, we have treated the trials of sickness, ageing and mortality as medical concerns. It’s been an experiment in social engineering, putting our fates in the hands of people valued more for their technical prowess than for their understanding of human needs.

That experiment has failed. If safety and protection were all we sought in life, perhaps we could conclude differently. But because we seek a life of worth and purpose, and yet are routinely denied the conditions that make it possible, there is no other way to see what modern society has done.

Gawande highlights his conclusion through insightful – and emotional – cases he has experienced himself, or is aware of from colleagues.

I found the book uplifting and empowering. Surprising, given the subject matter.

Thanks, Steve.

You can’t beat a Great Fryup

Just back from a splendid trip ‘oop north, to the Lake District in the north west and then to the North York Moors in the north east.

We stayed at two excellent B&Bs, both providing breakfasts to set us up for long, hard days exploring the Cumbrian fells and the Yorkshire moors in our faithful old walking boots.

I love a full English but even I was wilting after 9 consecutive days of fried breakfasts.

A few observations:

  • the skinny Cumberland sausage is a bit of a wimp, and not a proper man-sized banger like they serve up in Yorkshire
  • you just can’t beat a simple fried egg. Poached, scrambled, boiled – even en cocotte – have their place, but a full English breakfast without a fried egg is like an orchestra without a violin
  • baked beans are the oil that lubricates the engine: without them, the other staple ingredients are a tad too dry. Nice, obviously, but a bit hard-going. The egg yolk does its bit to reduce the density of the sausage and bacon, but for real symbiotic liquidity, it has to be beans
  • bacon should be local and treated with care. If it’s over-cooked, it detracts from the overall dish rather than adds to it. But a couple of rashers belong on the plate, as essential to the orchestra as the fried egg
  • mushrooms can be a lovely addition, especially if chopped to the right size and shape to fit with the rest of the ingredients. And they must be fresh, cooked in just a little butter and definitely still al dente, rather than limp
  • tomatoes can cause arguments. I’m talking about small, fresh ones obviously. Never, ever open a tin and plonk those on the plate next to the other sacred ingredients. Some people like a few small halved fresh tomatoes, grilled and with some herbs sprinkled on their shiny skins. I don’t
  • hash browns. These are American potato concoctions and should NEVER find their way onto a plate with a full English breakfast

Loosen your belt a notch or two by the third day.

And marvel that there really is a place called Great Fryup on the North York Moors. And little Fryup Dale for the small eaters.

 

 

 

Movie review – 45 Years

Can you ever really know someone, even after spending a lifetime together?

This is the premise of 45 Years, a dissection of the marriage between Kate & Geoff Mercer, a childless, middle-class couple living in a rural property on the Norfolk Broads, in the week leading up to a party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.

But the arrival of a letter takes Geoff back to his life before Kate, when he was in love with a German girl who suffered a tragic death.

Layers of the story and of Geoff & Kate’s relationship are unpeeled in real time. The pace is slow, reflecting the routine of a retired couple with their own interests, and you feel as though you’re eavesdropping on their private lives and thoughts.

With each day of the week ahead of the party, Kate uncovers a small, new piece of information about the German girl and what she meant to Geoff. This all happened a lifetime ago, but what does it mean for their marriage now?

The landscape is haunting. The soundtrack is atmospheric. The acting is mesmerising, particularly from Tom Courtenay as Geoff and Charlotte Rampling as Kate.

The final scene, where they’re dancing together at the party – to Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, as they did on their wedding day – will stay with me for a while. The look in Kate’s eyes says more than a thousand words ever could.

 

 

 

Movie review – Legend

In a memorable line from Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, one of the lippy lads defines history as one f***ing thing after another.

What is it about the 1960s era that makes us see corruption, violence, racism and sexism through – if not rose-tinted glasses – then certainly a fuzzy lens of misguided nostalgia?

The Great Train Robbers, and especially Ronnie Biggs, were written into folklore more as lovable rogues than violent criminals.

And somehow, the Kray twins image is as much successful East End boys done good, as psychopathic gangsters.

Tom Hardy pulls off the impressive acting feat of playing both Ronnie and Reggie Kray in the new movie Legend, directed by Brian Helgeland. They may have been identical twins at birth, but Ronnie was an out-and-out nutter, and Reggie – slightly more sensible -found it increasingly difficult to control his brother’s wayward excesses.

The film is told largely from Reggie’s perspective, but voiced by Frances who is just 16 when  she meets the more rational brother. They marry when she’s a little older, but as much as Reggie loves her, he can’t escape the brotherly bond, despite it being inevitable it will destroy them and everyone in their wicked web.

This is not an easy movie to watch. It’s splattered by blood and littered with swearing. But it’s a real tour de force by Tom Hardy as the twins, with an excellent supporting performance from Emily Browning as Frances, the fated young East End girl.

And it’s a little piece of 1960s history, which you can interpret as you wish.

 

Murray v Kyrgios – endurance v brilliance

Nick Kyrgios announced himself on the world stage over the last 12 months, reaching the quarter finals of Wimbledon in 2014 and the Australian Open in 2015.

Watching the young Aussie play Andy Murray in the first round of the US Open earlier this week was a real treat for tennis fans.

Kyrgios is a precocious talent, making the former US Open & Wimbledon champion look ordinary at times. Combined with his youth – he’s just 20 – and a reckless attitude, the Aussie is a breath of fresh air for spectators and tournament organisers. He puts bums on seats, as they say, like Nastase or McEnroe did, back in the day.

But that same approach that won him some incredible rallies, and the third set, also meant he would inevitably lose the match. If he works out that it is possible to entertain and grind out points, games, sets and matches, I believe he has the ability and potential to become a top 5 player at some stage.

But if he doesn’t learn quickly – and also curb some of his off-court antics – that potential may never be reached.

After the Murray defeat, Kyrgios  took a chewing gum wad straight out of his mouth and handed it to a female assistant, when asked to do a court-side interview with a journalist. And recently he abused Stan Wawrinka on court, saying that another professional player had “banged his girlfriend”.

You know he’s creating a stir when Shane Warne, a renowned Aussie larrikin himself, was moved to write an open letter this week to the troubled young tennis player .

 In the open letter on his Facebook page the Cricket great said Kyrgios had 'a lot to learn'

If Kyrgios learns to add the endurance and focus of Murray and Djokovich to his undoubted talent, he’ll zoom up the rankings. But if he continues to show a lack of respect to the sport, spectators, female assistants and his fellow players, he’s in danger of exhausting everyone’s patience and diluting his own potential.

And that would be a waste.