Tuesday, August 5, 2003

"Once upon a time in the midlands"

I've had better ideas than going out after drinks, on an empty stomach, when feeling a mite peaky to see a free film. Still, free film-festival action is free film-festival action, and the ticket to the Victorian premiere came with my British Council pre-departure briefing. I only hope that "Shaolin Soccer" on Friday, for which I have paid, is a trifle more rewarding.

"The Midlands" is an eminently predictable film. Amusing and charming, perhaps, but in a straight to small screen way.

Men, it seems, come in two types:

(1) simmering, broody Scottish criminal sex-pots (ie Robert Carlyle), who walk out on you and their new daughter ten years earlier, and are basically losers; and

(2) gormless, tall, Welsh, well-intentioned providers who make a mockery of themselves proposing to you on television, and who are, basically, losers with good hearts.

The woman in question gets to vacillate between the type (1) from her past, and the type (2) in her present, causing needless suffering all round.

No character has any emotional depth except the 12 year old daughter, though the only thing approaching character development occurs with bloke (2) learning to stand up for himself a bit.

Yes, there's some touching stuff about what it means to be a real father, but it was better explored in "After the Deluge" which did not resort to those limp, tired stereotypes.

The scholarship breifing itself was good. The Kitten Club was a decent venue. Nice to meet lots of other people on various British programs (all clutching their newly issued briefing kits like little transparent briefcases). Good to know the others have all had the same (or much worse) encounters with university bureaucracies and feel they have endless pre-departure to do lists. One had only just heard back from Cambridge as her file had - literally - got lost down the back of an armchair for some weeks. One who was off to Oxford was rejected by four colleges before getting one in the final round lottery.

Still, what I am doing among them bemuses me: not having worked overseas, for a UN agency, for a community legal centre, not writing my first textbook and not wanting to study anything really useful like environmental science and land management. There were definite moments when neither my CV nor aspirations really seemed to stack up.

I kick myself more, though, for missing the chance to meet David Wenham at the UK Alumni meeting before the film and to ask him about his rumoured starring role in the production of a Murray Whelan TV series ...

PS today's entry is late and brief as I seem to have come down with a sore throat following sitting on a cold beach to watch penguins on the weekend. More of that adventure later.

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