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Monday, 30 May 2011

Mrs Blighty's Inner Strength

People often ask me what gives me the strength to keep going, when the going gets tough.  They say to me,  "Mrs Blighty, what gives you the strength to keep going, when the going gets tough?"

Right now the going is just a little bit tough: instead of being in the United States of Americaland as a judge on X Factor Who's Got Talent Celebrity Bootcamp Get Me out of the Dragon's Den, I am here facing a week of  those little blighters my beloved Boys 1 and 2 on parole from the young offenders' institute  hols from school and having to keep them from breaking the furniture motivated and inspired with educational activities.

So how do I keep centred, calm, in balance and grounded in these circumstances?
The answer is: murder. 

I explained this with a happy grin to the lady standing next to me at the library the other day.  She quickly moved away.  Can't think why.

But it's true, in trying times I take refuge in novels and DVDs featuring murder and other torrid crimes.

Here's some I read recently:

" A Field of Darkness" is the first of three novels featuring WASP outcast Madeline Dare and in this one she sets out to prove her cousin was not involved in the murder of two girls years earlier.  It's good, but I like her second book, "The Crazy School" best.

"The Last Fix" by K.O. Dahl is one of those Scandanavian detective novels.  This one is Norwegian and as usual features a depressed detective ( this one talks to his goldfish) and his mixed up sidekick (relationship issues).  The success of Henning Mankell's Wallander has led to an influx of Nordic detectives onto the bookshelves.  I prefer Arnaldur Indriðason's Icelandic Inspector Erlendur -  he is marvellously miserable.

 "From The Dead" features Mark Billingham's detective, Tom Thorne.  He's quite depressed, has relationship issues but no goldfish.  Thorne gets to go to Mijas and Puerto Banus in Spain so I guess Billingham is already thinking about the TV adaptation.

And now some DVDs:

Hmm, Silent Witness.  I watched half the first episode and I am sorry, personally I find this a bit pants.  It insists on spelling everything out VERY CLEARLY in a very BBC sort of way so the viewer cannot fail to get what's going on :
Scene 1

Military helicopter crashes.
Top pathologist : " I can't believe they said it was pilot error when they don't yet know the cause of the crash."  Cue atmospheric music.

Scene 2
Government Minister attends scene of crash and says to Press:
"We believe it is Pilot Error."
Scene 3
Top Pathologist (getting angry) says: "  I can't believe they said it was Pilot Error when they.. etc etc

Mrs Blighty nods off for a bit, goes to make a cup of tea, fills in her tax return etc. before catching up with
Scene 28
Top Pathologist (angry and emotional and really doing Acting on full throttle):
" When a crash happens it's only too easy to push responsibility down the Chain of Command and say it was Pilot Error, particularly (pulling out all stops and going for Major TV Acting Award) if the pilot is not in a position to answer back as he is DEAD.." Cue dramatic music etc etc.

Actually, as I type this I realise I have in fact enjoyed Silent Witness tremendously, but for all the wrong reasons.  My enjoyment is increased by a quick read of the plot synopses on the DVD case:
"Nikki clashes with DCI Whatnot ...."
"Harry tangles with a Russian oligarch.."
"Harry....clashes with the police..."
"Nikki clashes with Zambian police.."

What a lot of clashing ( and a bit of tangling)!  Excellent! 

And I do so love "clash".  Have you noticed it is only ever used in the newspapers or in plot summaries?  When was the last time you asked your hubs, "How did work go today dear?" and he answered, " Well, I clashed with my boss first thing but....."?

"A Touch of Frost" - this was more like it.  I have always liked Frost as he wears an anorak and a pork pie hat and has a boss called Inspector Mullet who always gets involved on a case if there is any chance of a TV appearance.  Frost is based in fictional Denton, a town near London.  I love the episodes where there is a psychopath at large and young policewoman/dog handler/nun/nurse etc decides it would be a great idea to go for a midnight stroll in Denton Woods.. "What do you mean, you saw Amy/Suki/Immaculata/Wendy going into Denton Woods?"

Among all the murder and mayhem, I read "Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad", as I heard a piece about it on the radio.  It's the real life email friendship between a BBC journalist (Bree, married, 3 young children) and May (an Iraqi academic living in Baghdad after the toppling of Saddam Hussein). As I am horribly nosy, I loved reading the emails between the two women and getting a view into both their lives.  It's also very clear that May (and so I assume many of the Iraqi middle class) resent the invasion and hate the ensuing chaos, bloodshed, militia groups, tribal score settling and lack of basic amenities like power, petrol and rubbish collection,  and actually found life much better under Saddam...

But don't worry - I have got myself a far more soothing read for tonight...

All book and DVD pics whipped from Amazon - did you guess??


  1. No wonder the lady in the library stepped away from you! ;)

  2. Oo-er although I often wistfully reminisce about my days at the schoolchild interface, it's nice of you to remind me how dreadful it was in reality! I can absolutely empathise with the escape into bloody murder. Actually I still do so even 30 years after the fact, the trauma being so long-lived. So thank you very much for the recommendations, apart from mimsy Emilia Fox and Frost neither of which do anything for me. Keep on keeping on in these tough times Mrs B!

  3. Yay! A WASP detective! I will buy this and just think you could have made 12 cents if you'd included an Amazon money magic link:).

  4. K.O.Dahl sounds promising. Books are one of my favourite companions.

  5. I love a bit of crime (fiction) and scare myself silly when I'm home alone.

    Hope you and the boys survive the holidays. Although, doing time could give you some of that much needed alone time.

  6. Dear Mrs Blighty, I would be very good if I were your boys, what with your ability to call for airsupport from Mr Cameron! Murder works for me too although I have a limit when it comes to the number of bodies (too untidy) and am not very keen on the Serial Killer either. I quite like a British murder mystery. Mr LiC and I remember many a happy Friday night when our children were but twinkles in our eyes watching Taggart (when the protagonist was actually called Taggart and was a grumpy Scot). You have us all nostalgic in Santiago. love Lindaxxx

  7. ^^ Oh Linda, Mr. Exeter and I just love Taggart!

    Blights, love those Scandinavian slaughters - did you watch The Killing? - but Frost leaves me cold. Why is he so rude and inpolite? Is it beyond possibiity to have a cop with basic manners, a smart wardrobe and a happy social life? If Frost questioned me he'd get No Cooperation at all until he mastered please and thank you and stood up from the table when I did!

    Hope your dear boys enjoy their half term (wasn't it just Easter?).

  8. Ha, I loved the old taggert, I would end up speaking Scottish in my head for days afterward. Frost leaves me cold too (pardon the bad pun). I just like Hustle at the moment. Not usually any murders, just cheeky criminals. I also don't mind midsomer murders when I am tired because I usually doze off and wake up for the end. Good luck for the holidays.

  9. I thought - for a lovely moment - that when you said that murder keeps you going, you were about to ask to join the Jaggy Knives Wives Club.

    I am, of course, the founding member of this group and we are now a dozen strong. If your knife arm ever involuntarily twitches when your husband a) digs up all your carefully tended seedlings and bins them as weeds b) rolls home at 3am unable to tell you where he as been - or even who he might be c) buys a Ducati when he only nipped out for a wiper blade....then you are well on your way to becoming a member.

    Our motto is: Don't worry, there's not a court in the land will convict you.

    Wanna join?

    Ali x

  10. Hello? Helloooo? Heeeeelllllllooooooo??????
    I'm looking for Mind Mannered English Mum of Two called Blighty.
    Also looking for lovely ladylike and charming blog commenters usually found here.
    Seem to have stumbled into a crime scene - sorry if I'm intruding.

  11. And I stuffed it up again!

    MILD mannered, the Mind was playing up on Me.

  12. Hello:
    We have much enjoyed this post - hugely entertaining, amusingly written and informative. We too have a love-hate relationship with crime fiction, currently rating Jo Nesbo whose novels, at least those we have read, are set in Norway with, of course, the obligatory manic depressive dectective!

    Although we do not have television, nor have we had for the past thirty years, we are avid film goers and watchers of DVDs.

    We are delighted to have arrived at your varied and eclectic blog via Belinda of Wild Acre. We shall look forward to more!

  13. It was a dark and stormy night outside of No. 1 Blighty Close, when all of a sudden there was a thunderous knock upon the door. "KNOCK, KNOCK!" "Whose there? squealed Mrs. B as she kneeled down to peek through the mail slot and see if she could tell..... But all she could see was a hand, hanging at his side, holding a knife, dripping with blood.....and then a roaring command "For God's sake honey, open the door! It's freezing out here and I'm soaked".....stay tuned until next week when we find out....Does Mrs. B really know this crazed knife wielding man at her door? OR Has Mr. B been
    driven to a life of crime to satisfy his wife's taste in literature and a penchant for her sordid taste in books creeping into reality?

  14. Dear All, thank you all so much for your comments which I really enjoy and appreciate. And an apology: I am sorry I have not been responding much to your comments recently but my own blog won't let me comment on it!! The blog seems to have taken on an evil life of its own and can't even be controlled by its creator Dr Blightenstein... now let's see if I can get this comment on!!

  15. Hurrah! It worked!! maybe it's just my computer that hates me?
    Now - LPC, do try old Cornelia Read, her character has lots of angst about her forebears and their money etc and she does some good cameos of affluent Waspie types..

    Elegance, The Moerks and Mrs Exeter, can't believe you don't like Frost but I agree, he is grumpy! Which I like! Agree with you all about Taggart when Taggart was actually in it.
    Alison - count me in for the Jaggy Knives Wives Club, sounds very Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction ( though she wasn't actually his wife.....)
    Louise - yes we have all gone homicidal here, try the Fluffy Bunny Poetry Blog instead...uhoh, no, don't go there, Glenn got to the bunny first....
    Dear Jane and Lance, welcome! I am with you on the not watching television - I just cannot bear all the ads and there is never anything on when I want to watch...the other day I was looking for some nice soothing telly and it offered me Female ads
    Leslie - hello! This is BRILLIANT! really made me laugh (in a mad, Jack Nicholson in The Shining sort of way...)

  16. Dear Blighty,
    you never fail to amuse. Your kids have lots and lots of holidays don't they? Worrying. Stay Sane xxxxx

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