Saturday, 4 April 2009

Around this time many years ago…

…I was getting married as this ancient sepia tinted photograph shows. This day nine years ago we were supposed to be going out to celebrate our 2nd anniversary but Mrs Mick went into labour with our first born instead. But for complications he would have been born on our anniversary but he held on til the 5th. This year we're taking things easy.

Here’s some songs for the missus.

Henry Priestman - Greys The New Blonde
Nick Lowe - Hope For Us All


Planet Mondo said...

Happy Anniv' Mick - Mrs Mick and Mini-Micks - It's our - this year

"Traditional ... wedding anniversary presents have a theme of Books, Flowers and Fruit.
A contemporary or modern 4th anniversary present has a theme of Electrical Appliance."

Perhaps I'll get Mrs PM a smoothie maker - or download of the first Dead Kennedys albums

dickvandyke said...

Gercha! Flash bang wallop, what a picture, what a photograph.
Didn't know you were a Kray brother when you got married Mick.

Lashings of Love and Understanding on your electrical appliance day.

Mick said...

Thanks PM,

Apparently 11th anniversary gifts should be steel. Didn't bother sticking with that but I did give her wood on our 5th (sorry - been watching too many Carry On films)

BTW That's rumoured to be Grace Slick on those old Sesame Street songs.

Mick said...


Any more comments like that and you'll be wearing concrete boots at the bottom of the Thames.

Have you seen The Damned United? Have you made the final cut? I'll be looking for you in the crowd scenes with a Leeds United (yuch!)scarf tied round your wrist.

dickvandyke said...

Well remembered Mick.

I saw the 'blockbuster' this week. I couldn't spot myself on screen. I suspect I could have asked the YTS 'projectionist' boy in the picture house to pause the film just as I appeared - among those berating Cloughie in the Leeds dug-out - but it wouldn't've been fair.

Most of my day's filming was seemingly sliced and diced and discarded. Still, I have jolly good memories of the day. (Strangely enough, we were all given Leeds scarves to wear, fresh out of the packet. Looked a tad contrived - but not as much as my animated 1974 wig and ginger sideburns).

I wrote the following review this week ... which may interest you, 'young man'...

The Damned United

You know when people say, “It’s not as good as the book”? Well, in this case, the film and the book should be seen as totally separate entities.

If you wallowed in the uncompromising style of the book, you may consider the movie a rather bland cop out. The film is often pink and perky with convivial ‘made for TV’ lightness -incomparable to the harrowing, tortured paranoia within the darkness of the novel. Amiable and good humoured, I smiled and even laughed out loud at the film –particularly during the warm-hearted first hour or so.

Michael Sheen offers up a tremendous performance. Only occasionally does a sprinkling of David Frost appear, or a smidgeon of Kenneth Williams. (I also thought that perhaps ‘Ant’ of Ant and Dec fame had morphed into the character at one point!) Clough’s nuances and idiosyncrasies are captured perfectly.

I’m still unsure as to who will go and watch this film. (Except certain blokes of a certain age, with an inherent love of the not-so-beautiful game!) Perhaps one of many commercial risks it takes, is its virtual absence of any women characters. This of course rings true when portraying a grim all male workplace of around 4 decades ago, but it’s a point which may possibly alienate potential female audiences?

Like a football match, there are some lovely touches in the 90 odd minutes. There are very few lulls in the dialogue – in which an equally belligerent and charming Clough dominates throughout. Sheen is more than ably assisted by Timothy Spall as pragmatic super-scout sidekick Peter Taylor. Indeed it is the good-natured Peter Taylor who is one of the few folk to emerge from the film with reputation intact. The poignancy of their footballing ‘marriage’ is captured in their parting - as headline maker Clough turns away from lowly, parochial Brighton & Hove Albion - unable to resist the temptation of the job at the mighty Leeds Utd.

Clough’s abrasive swagger and overbearing cocksure manner is balanced against the passionate, likeable and endearing family man who simply displays poor judgment and mis-placed loyalty. His relationship with Derby Chairman and self-made businessman ‘Uncle Sam’ (Jim Broadbent) is a comical thread throughout.

From the off, Clough infuriates the dour Leeds Utd board by keeping them waiting, while he swans off en route to Elland Road to do an interview with YTV – where he publicly denounces the Champions and their manager Mr Revie.

Clough’s shame regarding his betrayal of Peter Taylor in favour of ruthless ambition, is clearly depicted when it all goes badly awry at Elland Road after just 44 days. He drives south (with his 2 sons in the back, of course) and seeks out a measured Taylor who is quietly tending to his garden.

The scene of Clough on his hands and knees begging for Taylor’s forgiveness and in having to “Apologise unreservedly for being a twat” stretches the point somewhat! Nevertheless, as Clough’s erstwhile conscience, Taylor re-iterates that while Brian has always been the ‘shop window’ in their relationship, Peter is the reliable ‘goods in the back of the shop.’

Chesterfield’s Saltergate – acting as The Baseball Ground, Derby, offers a superb working class backdrop to the dingy decay that hung over football, its mud-bath pitches and dilapidated stadia in the late 60s and early 70s. The tribal (British) warfare, the wooden stands, the narrow pokey corridors and the terraced houses beyond the front gate reflect the time perfectly.

Throw in the power cuts, the brown and beige fashion and the 3-day working week, and the monochrome mood is firmly set. There's a delightful - if unlikely - sequence of Clough whilst at the floundering Derby, preparing the away team's dressing room, placing an orange – and an ashtray – by each player's towel. Under the circumstances, such ‘poetic licence’ is forgivable.

The Leeds players appear obstinately loyal to their superstitious and unprincipled old boss - Don Revie. This perhaps is unsuprising given the chalk and cheese differences between the gregarious Clough and his rock solid (if charisma-free) nemesis Revie - played with great skill by Colm Meaney. Leeds were a truly great side and, in fact (not 'faction'); no more uncompromising than many other teams of that time.

Clough’s later alcoholism is foreshadowed, but not overplayed, whilst his loneliness and bitter frustrations - within the confines of the old Dragonara Hotel - during his 44 days at Leeds illustrate a man arguably at his lowest career ebb.

Thankfully, the football action is kept to a minimum - with the mistakes of past footy films fully considered. The players are portrayed as either simpletons, or a seething rag-tag and bobtail bunch - with little more than a nod in the direction of their true characters. Money, greed, revenge and cheating seem to be the mainstays of a footballer back in the day. Were the main protagonists still alive, I suspect more claims for ‘deformation of character’ would have arisen alongside that of ‘The Irishman’ Johnny Giles.

The filmed acting of the infamous Charity Shield match with Keegan and Bremner’s fisticuffs at Wembley is left on the cutting room floor in place of the actual BBC footage. Having witnessed the performance of a ginger-wigged Stephen Graham as Billy Bremner being filmed at Elland Road, I can understand why.

The various flashbacks and period jumping between ‘68 and ‘74 may become a little tiresome for the uninitiated within the audience. And I don’t buy into the ticket-sale argument that this is a film which will be fully appreciated by those with no knowledge of football or the period. (But then this doubt could easily be set aside when seeking the views of those who fit that description).

To some in the audience, the credibility of the production may be challenged by the mix of the fact with the fiction. It would be easy (heaven forbid) for the footballing officianado with a flair for nostalgia to point out the devil in the detail.

Nonetheless, the period re-creation is largely convincing and it is a film that rarely drags and, ultimately, succeeds as a hugely entertaining and watchable piece of work.

Planet Mondo said...

Grace Slick - well I never - that's as mad as this and this

Mick said...

This is still the best.

Kippers said...

Happy anniversary Mick & Mrs Mick. Oh, and Dicky - that review was fab.

JON said...

A few days late, but warm wishes from way over here...