room on the sofa… christmas telly 2012

Maybe I’m not sentimental enough for Christmas telly.

Writing in the left-overs strewn lull between Christmas and New Year my favourite character so far is the grumpy cat in the rather lovely Room on the Broom.  There was a certain amount of fellow feeling there as he shrugged and sulked and then gave in…  Gracelessly…

catIf you didn’t see it seek it out and have a watch – it’s only half an hour and really nicely done although I’ve never seen such a clumsy witch! If she’d invested in a decent handbag instead of dropping everything it might have been a different story.

Alas, the big hitters of Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey both left me dry eyed and not purring.

Call the Midwife had all the traditional triggers – destitute ex-workhouse woman redeemed by penicillin and a good wash, young girl secretly giving birth in an old shop – not quite a manger but yes we got it thanks.  It added a grittier edge – birth in the communal toilet, lots of emerging plastic heads and a chunk of missing placenta but I’m afraid I was left mostly unmoved. It also managed the most resolutely un-cute Nativity yet seen.

I will say that it was beautifully written and not a foot was put wrong in the performances but just not my thing.  I do like the period detail – when did you last see a row of babies out in prams unsupervised? – but the snowy scenes felt very fake and the sun was much too high for winter.  Maybe that is what added to the feeling I had of being a step removed.

CTMI did learn a useful medical fact.  You can catch pneumonia from lino.  It was on the BBC so it must be right.

The nurses do seem a slightly po-faced lot – I think I’d prefer to share a festive mince pie with the nuns!  Maybe Sister Evangeline could be persuaded to give us a tune…

EntsDowntonWomen_1639457aThere were lots of lovely hats, fabulous frocks and gorgeous interiors on Downton Abbey but sadly that wasn’t enough to get us through two tedious hours (was it really only two hours?) of lack of plot and tension.

Downton Abbey has become such an unstoppable juggernaut that I’m guessing no one quite had the nerve to suggest a bloody good edit.  An hour might have spared us the Yorkshire stereotype with his eyes on Mrs Patmore’s hams.  And why Scotland?  Apart from a couple of new characters whom we’ll presumably never see again it seemed a complicated ruse to allow the lethal Lady Mary to pod unaccompanied.

The Bates’ marriage, now it’s jail free and saccharine sweet, has lost any dramatic impact and the grand surprise was that – wait for it, you may want to sit down – Anna had learned to reel.  Yes.  I did too.  The cheeky new maid setting her cap, apron and pretty much everything else at Branson would have been more fun if we’d had a chance to get to know her first.  I was briefly curious about why she was so blatant and so sure of not needing to know her place but no one else was.  Not even the redoubtable Carson took her aside for a word before she attached herself to the junior master’s trouser buttons.

DABy the time the fourth decade of watching approached there was only one thing to do.  Kill someone.  Anyone.  I was ready to volunteer. The great big massive huge shock was sadly spoiled by the papers so I was far more perturbed to see that Cousin Matthew went so far as to drive in his shirtsleeves.  How terribly uncouth.  At least he had to decency to expire before any of the lower orders saw him…

I surprised myself by enjoying Doctor Who. I’m not much of a Whovian (and wasn’t a fan of Amy Pond AT ALL) and many of the references go straight over my head but the schmaltz free parts of the Christmas episode were fun.  I could happily do without the tears save the world twaddle or whatever that was and the icemen/snowmen seemed to be rather easily defeated despite their fearsomely toothy grins.

There were some wonderful images – the spiral staircase to the cloud was just lovely and the subtitles assure me that walking on the clouds made a metallic springing noise!  Richard E Grant always makes a good villain although he was sadly underused here and I’d like one of those giant snow globes for growing malevolent snow.  Please.

DW2Not sure if the new companion is going for the record held by Rory for repeated dying but it’s an intriguing set up.  Just what/who/when is Clara Oswin Oswald?  Despite the characteristics taken straight from the ‘feisty, slightly sexy, a bit clever’ stereotype box I like Clara and – if they skip the faux-romance which is always so dull – it’s a good set up for the new series.  I’m interested to see how they develop the character once she gets more settled – introductions are always a bit frenetic.

I do like the sparse makeover of the TARDIS interior but I’m really going to miss the giant glass dildo cheerfully going up and down (don’t tell me you didn’t notice).  It made me snigger childishly every time…

I still have a few things to catch up on – Miranda, The Girl and the documentary on the creator of the Moomins. I’m also looking forward to Restless and Ripper Street.

Hopefully at least one of those will batter my cynical head into some nice uncritical enjoyment.

That would be nice…

…although I haven’t a clue what I’d write about then!

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all I want for christmas…

Dear Santa

That naughty or nice list you have?

Well.  I can explain…

Love me x

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What do I really want for Christmas?

Not much.

Honest…

bunny__s_letter_to_santa_by_sebreg-d4w5554To start with an either/or.  I’d like a magic wand.  A real one but maybe with a few sparkles and some shiny bits? No point in anything too drab.  If that’s a problem I’d be happy with a common sense stick.  I know they are rare and I promise not to hit too many people with it.  Who knows where that might end?

I’d like the time to spend with family and with old and new friends, time for laughter and silliness and putting the world to rights.  With beer.

Shoes.  You know that but I’m not asking for Louboutins…  Jimmy Choos will do.  Even Prada.

Let people count their blessings, see all the good things in their lives and appreciate them.  Yes life’s a bitch but dwelling on it lets it win.

By the way – please don’t turn me into Pollyanna.  I don’t do happy skipping…

Or pinafore dresses.

Please send me barmen who don’t say ‘are you sure you want a pint?’ And what the hell does a real beer drinker actually look like anyway?!

imagesI think around this point I’m supposed to add world peace and fluffy kittens.  If that’s not too much trouble.

I’d like to see Cardiff in the sunshine.  OK, let’s not go mad.  Just not in the rain…

A small jar of inspiration wouldn’t go amiss.  Maybe two if they fit in the sleigh.   And a quiet day or two to open them and savour the contents.

Finally I’ll raise a glass (or two…) and wish that everyone has the Christmas that they want.  Really want.  Not the one that the supermarket adverts make us believe we have to have.  No rules, no obligations.  Buy the dinner ready-made.  Never eat mince pies.   Don’t have a tree.  Go all out, make your own crackers and eat turkey and pudding until you burst! Whatever works for you…

Ho Ho Ho/Bah Humbug*

*delete as applicable

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dressed to impress… Hollywood Costume at the V&A

hollywoodWhen you see antique clothes in a museum your imagination has full rein.  Who wore them?  Where and when and how? Were they made for them or hand-me-downs?  Just what had those clothes seen?  Whether they are beautiful high class embroidered silks or plain hardwearing work clothes there are endless stories and speculations.

To display costumes is so much harder.  We already know exactly who wore them and why.  We know they were carefully crafted to create a character or a mood.  We really don’t need our imaginations at all.

So how do you make an exhibition of the most famous Hollywood costumes exciting and attention catching?

Exactly as the V&A have done.

You start with a huge screen playing key movie moments and the dark rooms, cleverly lit to spotlight the exhibits are rather like walking into a dark cinema.  Although thankfully without the smell of kia-ora past and the crunch of stale popcorn under your shoes.

chaplin little trampThere’s no easing you in gently ether.  Straight away you’re faced with Chaplin’s Little Tramp from 1914, a cough and a spit off a century since it was first seen on screen which is pretty mind boggling.

There’s so much to see it’s hard to remember it all and it’s the random thoughts and moments that linger.

There was a slightly surreal moment when I looked up to find Superman – or his suit at any rate – flying over my head!  It looked rather thermal but I suppose when you’re off out of the atmosphere you would want to keep all your bits and bobs warm…  And who would take seriously a superhero in a cardi?

spidermanThe superheroes were shown off nicely – as well as a flying Superman, Batman was perched on high looking down and Spiderman was half way up (or down) the wall.

Halle Berry’s patchwork leather Catwoman costume stalked us from above – and was one of the ones that while it seemed larger than life was actually teeny-tiny!

Indiana Jones’ costume is analysed in detail – how it was created, adapted and aged, how he sat on the hat.  All those little details and intriguingly Steven Spielberg had initially sketched his vision of what Indy should look like.  It’s pretty close to the end result although it is quite reassuring to see that with all the other talents he has he really can’t draw!

hollywood costumes insideNot all of the costumes are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.  Some are frankly hideous.  I’m looking at you trouser suit.  Yes you, you from Valley of the Dolls.

Some costumes could be worn today (please) – Tippi Hedren’s classic suit from The Birds was still covetable and such a neat touch to project a varying array of birds with it.  Some you can’t imagine how anyone could have worn them – the various versions of Elizabeth I not only look heavy and inflexible but corseted to hell and beyond.  A good moment to mention Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet curtains ensemble – and its unbelievably tiny waist!

I was lucky to visit early enough to see one of the original pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.  Another reminder of the power of film – in the original L Frank Baum book the slippers were silver, they were changed to ruby red to contrast with the yellow brick road – all in glorious Technicolor!

Modern CGI techniques aren’t ignored and a clip of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? reminds us that it was one of the first films where some of the animated characters had a costume designer.  And I have to say that Joanna Johnston certainly did Jesica proud!  I’d never noticed before that Jessica’s dress only sparkles with sequins when she is on stage.  (That’s a nice little bit picked up from the book that accompanies the exhibition – well worth getting.)

7year itch dressOne of the dresses I was looking forward to seeing was Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black Givenchy gown from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It was there but it was curiously lifeless.  Beautifully cut, impeccably glamorous but just a dress.  The same with the two gowns worn by Marilyn Monroe – Sugar Kane’s sequins from Some Like It Hot and the white silk that billowed so memorably in The Seven Year Itch.  They just hung; limp and lifeless on their mannequins, not attracting the attention I would have expected them to demand.  Those dresses are testament to the eternal allure of the women who wore them and brought them so vividly and unforgettably to life.

A true case of when women maketh the clothes…

It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite – there were beautiful costumes, some astonishing in their complexity, some in their simplicity, some with background details and quotes that made them even more memorable.

The wedding dress from Camelot lingered in my mind – from a distance so simple and almost out of place among the Elizabethan bling.  Up close however the finish was immensely complex – it took ridiculous numbers of  craftspeople to create all the hand crocheted fabric and the trimmings are tiny seeds and shells – so much more appropriate than the more obvious pearls and crystals.  With its stately train it is an apparently understated but perfect confection, a wonderful 1960s view of the medieval.

adams familyI’d wear Morticia Adams’ gowns every day if I could. (And if – of course – I was as tall and slim and elegant as Anjelica Houston.)  (Which I’m not.)

I keep thinking of more and more wonderful and iconic costumes – and how amazing it is that so many of them have survived to be displayed.  There were cloaks galore – Hedy Lamarr’s peacock feathers from Samson and Delilah and Dracula’s sweeping silk and the less glamorous but just as fascinating outfits from Brokeback Mountain, Fight Club and a surprisingly plain suit from Twilight with not a sparkle to be seen!

I keep wanting to add more, to remember this one and that one – oh, and that one but what I should say is just go and see it for yourself.  You won’t regret it and if you do, well, tough.  There is clearly no romance in your soul!

And if I had to take one home?  Just one?

red dress bandw-tileI think it would have to be the gown worn by Joan Crawford in The Bride Wore Red.  And she most certainly did!  Glowing, sparkling red sequins, ultimate Hollywood glamour – practically perfect in every way and all the more so for being filmed in black and white…

ruby slippersOh – and I’d slip the ruby slippers in my handbag…

You won’t tell, will you?

what’s up doc…

One of the TV shows I should have written about last year was ITV1’s Monroe.  As the second series starts in a week it seems a good time to revisit series one.

I didn’t intend to watch it.  If I’m honest it sounded dreadfully derivative.  Maverick, sharp-tongued surgeon with disastrous private life; faithful but very slightly drippy best friend poised to point out the error of his ways; cold-hearted, damaged female surgeon with no private life at all to speak of and a sprinkling of trainees seemingly selected on the tick box system.

So far, so House

I was wrong.

I should have known I could trust Peter Bowker.  Monroe does have all those potentially clichéd characters but it does something very clever with them and twists them in ways that makes them properly three-dimensional.  Within the classic medical drama case of the week format there’s a lot to get your teeth (or scalpel) into.

Gabriel Monroe (James Nesbitt) is provided with the traditional touch of tragedy and ravaged home life but it’s easy to find some sympathy.  His wife calmly leaves him after they see their son settled in his University rooms, a move she’s planned for six years, since Monroe had an affair.  It seems cold and calculating but as we learn more about the family it’s hard to see how else she could have done it.  The death of their daughter Charlotte was always going to fracture the family eventually.  It’s warming to see how the three do manage to find some kind of new relationship throughout the series and the scenes of Monroe and Anna after he’s failed to save a girl a similar age to  Charlotte are touching and real.

Of course if this were a proper clichéd drama there is the perfect set up for an unlikely romance between Monroe, the brain surgeon ruled by his heart, and Bremner, a heart surgeon ruled very firmly by her head.  As it isn’t, there isn’t and Bremner actually gets entangled with the oh-so-nice Shepherd (Tom Riley), much to Monroe’s amusement.  Although he does seem to take just a little too much pleasure in seeing them floundering.  Monroe’s plea to Bremner that she and Shepherd join their damaged souls together to form “one great big damaged… thing” falls on determinedly deaf ears.

When I started writing this it took me by surprise how little we know about the lead characters.  There’s a but of back story for Monroe and his family and something that Bremner reluctantly confides to Shepherd? But there’s not a scrap of detail about Shepherd.  he’s the proverbial good sort; popular, kind, funny, good at his job, probably a bit of a romantic – but how has he managed to stay so nice?  Charmed life?  Genie in a lamp?  No idea…  I’d like to know more about him.

He can’t be as good as he seems, can he?  Bremner calls him a rescuer and I can see that but I wonder why he is?  Did something happen in his past to make him that way?  The occasional flashes of anger hint at a much darker side to Shepherd that we’ve yet to see.

Jenny Bremner (Sarah Parish) can’t see why anyone feels the need to fix her or why Shepherd wants to rescue her.  She’s fine as she is.  The suicide of her father when she was 16 taught her to keep people at arm’s length, that way no one gets close enough to hurt her.  I’m sure she thinks of herself as firm but fair although her trainees certainly find her daunting.  When she finally tells Whitney she had no doubts about her competence it obviously comes as a relief and a shock.

She gets some of the best lines though, especially when she – well, I was going to say consoles but that’s not the right word at all – Mullery when Fortune is in surgery for the aneurysm that Mullery blames himself for.

Masculinity requires many myths to sustain it but there is no orgasm on earth that caused an aneurysm all by itself.  Fortune’s condition cannot be put down to your unbridled passion.  I’m sorry to disappoint you.

The moment when Mullery tells her that he’s happy to be talked about tells much about both of them.  It’s a glimpse of his ambition and a certain ruthlessness that lurks below the surface.  For Bremner, I’m sure she’s content enough with professional accolades but the thought of her personal life being discussed and dissected is anathema and she looks at him as if he’s a new and unknown species.

It’s Sally Fortune (Manjinder Virk) who shows us the side of Monroe that teaches and cherishes his protégés.  He’s sarcastic to her – as he is with everyone – but encouraging and supportive.  If he’s on your side that must feel like a good place to be.  Sadly Fortune is sacrificed to a convenient (plot wise) brain operation after some – presumably enthusiastic – sex with Mullery much to the surprise of pretty much everyone.  The sex, that is, not the operation.  On top of that she also has a heart complaint and Monroe and Bremner get to fight and then bond over her treatment.  When I say bond I mean they talk about each other quite nicely to other people, not any of that sloppy face to face stuff!

A more cynical person – like Springer – might wonder if trainees Whitney (Christina Chong) and Wilson (Michelle Asante) were chosen to round out the ethnic balance.  Although he does concede that Whitney isn’t “ethnic ethnic”. How she managed not to slap him is a mystery.  Wilson moves on from fainting to being quietly competent but she lacks confidence and you wonder how she’ll ever elbow her way past the brash Springer.  Whitney, however, has the confidence and the backing of Bremner and – out of the four – seems the most successfully integrated into hospital life.  She goes home occasionally for a start!  And she’s invited to the poker nights, a privilege that Springer takes time to earn.  Were Wilson and Mullery ever invited?  Somehow I don’t think so.

Springer (Luke Allen-Gale) is weighed down by the terrible burden of being white, male, middle class and affluent.  It’s a nasty affliction with the side effect of being snidely and viciously competitive.  Basically he’s a slug and I rather enjoyed despising him until he made me laugh in episode six.

I could say something tactless and offensive if that would help?

Damn him. I can’t possibly get to like Springer, house colours for Bridge forsooth.  I shall have my little red book confiscated…

my blog hat…

With my other blog hat on (the rather lovely one that I wear when I write about Being Human) it would be remiss of me not to give a slightly disproportionate amount of space to Andrew Gower as Mullery.  Monroe was his first professional role and he followed it with a rather different doctor in Frankenstein’s Wedding.  He then went on to play an absolute blinder as nasty vampire solicitor Cutler in series four of Being Human.

Mullery – AKA Dozy Bollocks – doesn’t get a great deal to do for a while except be slightly vague and rather endearingly ineffectual.  It’s to Bremner’s credit that she doesn’t make total mincemeat out of him as she well could!  He strikes me as better academically than practically or maybe the confidence in applying his diligent research just needs to catch up a bit.  He’s an awkward mixture of eager to please, ambition and foot in mouth.

It’s interesting that there are a number of characters who give no hint of any life outside the hospital, Mullery being one of them.  Always in scrubs, never seen in street clothes, but I suspect there’s a determination and a steely edge somewhere under that fluffy head of hair – or possibly a level of petulance that we’ve only glimpsed.  (And it’s not fair…)    Will he stick with Fortune? Or she with him?  I doubt it; I think his ambitions go further than that.

And for those fans of Andrew Gower’s music did you spot the song played when he invited Fortune on a date after her operation?  It was “Better of Me”, performed by Emerson, co-written and sung by Andrew Gower.  Nice touch!

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Only a week until series two starts so what am I looking forward to?

Neil Pearson.

Seeing what happened to Shepherd and Bremner and maybe seeing more of the darker Shepherd that I suspect he’s been hiding.

Slightly concerned about Mullery’s development as ‘quirky’ and I really hope the writing stays good enough to pull that off. Please don’t let quirky = zany, ‘I’m mad me’ or the acquisition of unusual hobbies.  No taxidermy.  No casseroling road kill.  No morris dancing…

Neil Pearson.

Please let Springer be vile so I can happily resume despising!  The glimpse of braces bodes well on that front.

Series two starts 18 months on from the end of series one – that’s a really good gap to get a whole new set of challenges and stories started.

Oh, did I mention I’m looking forward to seeing Neil Pearson back on my TV?

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the shovel list…

“I employ this thing I called The Shovel List.”

A shovel..?”

“No, a shovel list. It’s more of a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much I want to hit them in the face with a shovel.”

That’s a quote from Marian Keyes’ new novel “The Mystery of Mercy Close” which is lurking on my kindle waiting for me to have time to read it.  I need time as I suspect it’s a one-sitter and I don’t want to be interrupted by stuff like work, cooking or the need to scour the bathroom.

But the Shovel List has got me thinking.  We all have one.  I know I do although I’ve never sat and worked out exactly what’s on it.

This is the first attempt!

(Actually, this is harder than I thought. Worried I may miss something.  Many somethings…)

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Bad manners. Not etiquette and all that rigmarole, just basic lack of please and thank you and shoving people around.

Brown shoes.

People who wear full lycra get up including the padded arse shorts and special shoes on a folding bike.

Weather haters.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too wet.  Too dry.  Too windy.  Too still.  What the hell do you actually want?

Tall, Grande, Venti. What’s wrong with small, medium, large?  (and extra large, extra extra large, humongously large and wheel me to a seat)

Adults who complain they are bored.

People who eat fish and chips in the cinema.  Actually, people who eat in the cinema.  And talk.  And discuss the plot.

Amazeballs.  Hilar.  Totes.

People who look at you sadly when you say you’re single, even though you like it.

‘Comedy’ ties, socks and underpants.  Just be told – they don’t make you funny.

Miming inverted commas.

Creative borrowers/work thieves.  Those who take credit for knowing the things you told them. Or ‘reinvent’ your work.  Usually badly. Always uncredited.

Anyone who stops dead when they get off an escalator.

Asda.

People who have no idea that they might have to pay or pack their shopping in the supermarket.

People who abandon their trolley in the middle of the aisle in the supermarket.

People who insist on having their trolleys across the aisle in the supermarket.

(Stop it with the supermarkets…)

Women who insist on taking men who loath clothes shopping clothes shopping.

PMSL.  Really?  How messy…

People who insist on eating in faceless chain restaurants because “You know what you’re going to get.” Well, exactly.

Anyone who when asked how they are actually tells you.  In detail.  With diagrams.

Cupcakes.

Parents who refuse to believe you when you politely say “No, I really don’t want to hold your baby…”

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And there’s so much more…

I should be getting embarrassed about how long this list is getting!

But I’m not.  Because it’s all so very, very reasonable.

What’s on your shovel list?

hobby horse…

It’s official.

I have too many hobbies.

In case you haven’t figured it out that’s my excuse for being MIA on this blog for an embarrassingly long time.

I’ll have you know I’ve really been quite busy – blogging about Being Human, making jewellery, watching TV, buying shoes, thinking about buying shoes, location stalking sightseeing trips, a bit of photography, generally making things – oh, and boring stuff like working for a living, eating and sleeping.  And there was you thinking I was just filing my nails and looking out of the window.  I mean, have you seen the state of my nails?!

Something had to give.

(Mostly it was housework.)

And I now realise that random blogging had been pushed behind the sofa cushions of my brain and got lost, and until just recently I hadn’t missed it.

Now I do miss it so here we go again.

Random thoughts. TV reviews.  Probably on the sarcastic side although I like to think affectionately so.  You may disagree.  Please do!  Some new shows, some I meant to write about when they were on and just didn’t.  There will very likely be shoes.  Possibly a rant or two.  Maybe even a few chuckles.  There may even be something reasonably thought-provoking…

Here’s hoping anyway!

Back soon…

…promise.

things’ll be great when you’re Downton…

I suppose the water cooler talk on the return to work will be all about Downton Abbey.  If you work somewhere normal that is – no one speaks by the water cooler near my office.  It’s an entirely private experience.  Anyway, I digress…

Did I watch Downton? Well, yes I did.  I’m not a huge fan – allergic to bonnet drama – but did wade through the previous episodes and have a vague but hopefully sufficient idea of who is who and what is what.  I may be about to prove that a complete lie!

The Christmas special lasted several eons and lurched dangerously close to Acorn Antiques territory at times.  I really expected Mrs Patmore to don a leotard and present her macaroons

Bates is in jail or gaol or clink or prison.  He’s been eating well in there hasn’t he?  Conveniently his trial was slotted in between the shooting and the servants’ ball – good of the courts to sit in the hols just to expedite the plot.  And of course the upstairs toffs would have flocked there in support, waving their pom poms and starting the Mexican wave, free the Downton one and all that. Rather more likely they’d have both been sacked with alacrity and without a reference.  But let’s not get too hung up on historical accuracy or we’ll be here all night.  I don’t care – I’ve nothing else on.

After the good folks of Downton had done their level best to condemn Bates to every hell possible the judge had no choice but to pop on his black cap and pronounce the death sentence.  There was weeping and lamenting and the consideration of an appeal.  Luckily this was swiftly resolved, a reprieve obtained all within, well, minutes.  Just so the New Years Eve servants’ ball could continue unaBATEd.  Sorry.  The servants all produced some decent frocks and amazing dancing abilities and were whisked around the floor by their various employers to the strains of a small orchestra who were luckily without a festive booking and available at short notice.  How lovely, no side at all, not a scrap of historical accuracy to get in their way!

Best use of a spurious prop ever?  I know, let’s use the Ouija board – sorry the planchette – that has popped up from nowhere to convince the daft kitchen maid to GO TO THE FARM.  No one will realise…  It’s been in the kitchen all along.

Honestly.  Did you never spot it?  Me neither.

Nigel Havers charmed his way in for a spot of upstairs/downstairs dalliance.  You just know he’s going to be a cad of the very first order from the moment he opened his mouth.  And he was.  No fortune, fiddling with the maid – disgraceful, do pass the smelling salts.  Banished, of course, but not until the morning train.  How terribly civilised.

Finally we were near the end, I’d grown several years older and it snowed.  Not cold snow judging by the lack of goose pimples around the edges of Lady Mary’s frock but enough to give a suitable setting for Drippy Matthew to propose (again).  And not just because his mother told him to.  Or probably because his mother told him to.  Luckily his mysterious unmentionable injuries have gone unmentioned for some time and we have to assume all is in proper working order.  An heir and a spare please and look snappy.  Unless he knows he’s protected from the Lady Mary’s seemingly voracious appetites with some lingering war wounds that might just stop him going the same way as Pamuk…

Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess got all the best lines as always.  When the panto villain newspaper magnate (bet he was hacking the telegrams) said they would never meet again her instant riposte of “do you promise?” was the best laugh in the show.

Oh, and was anyone else shouting “Fenton” during the grand hunt for the random plot device?  Sorry, the mysteriously missing Isis?

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Ever since I typed the title of this post I’ve had Petula Clark in my head… it’s only fair to share!