Race to Which Mountain?

Here I am again.  Children of Mine are now in bed.  Husband of Mine has gone to the local pub with his ukulele and the other half of The Renegade Dogs to launch their new career as folk singers and buskers.  There are a hundred things I could or should be doing: including sitting down for the first time this week in a comfy chair, in front of a roaring fire, with something decent on the telly and a glass of wine in my hand (or more likely, a nice cup of tea).  But instead I’m sitting at the computer, adding some more memories to this growing collection.

Actually, this could become a bit of a competition.  You see, Charming On-Stage Lover has been so inspired by my collective ramblings that he has decided to start his own online memory box, wittily entitled ‘Better Offer?‘.  Let’s hope he doesn’t get one before opening night.

I’m actually quite flattered that he’s taken the time to read and digest my musings, and delighted too that, like Artist Masquerading as a Manager did for me, I’ve provided the inspiration for him to start on his own creative journey.  

In his blog, he makes reference to the coincidence of his very first performance on stage in The Sound of Music being not only the opening inspiration for my blog, but also being our first show together.  I was a mere child at the time, and dressed in a nun’s outfit to boot, so back then we would have had no inkling that we would ever end up playing opposite each other in quite the current manner.  It occurred to me though that we have been in many productions together over the years, and it’s going to be really interesting seeing how our individual recollections of these times differ.

So perhaps a blogging race might develop over the coming days, weeks or months?  Perhaps it won’t.  Certainly not if it involves me having to get all my scrapbooks out of the roof.   Not just yet, eh?  I had heard a rumour that summer was on the way… and surely sorting out the roof is an autumnal activity?  So in the absence of The Sound of Music memorabilia from 1983, I thought it fitting to concentrate on adding a page for a more recent reincarnation of me in a habit – playing Sister Robert Anne in composer Dan Goggin’s Nunsense.

Theatrical rivalry?  Never.  Shared memories and blogging tips and tricks?  Of course.  And I’m always saying I could do with a tame IT professional. 

But who will lead the way up the blogging universe that towers above like a formidable mountain?  The answer is to leave you with the memory of the opening moments from the film version of The Sound of Music – a sunny alpine meadow, Maria twirling, arms outstretched. 

But where is she? 

Why High On a Hill, of course.

The Stuff of Nightmares

Hey there, visitor number 0004 – bet you missed reading about my scintillating life yesterday. You see, I had that day off that I had promised myself on Friday.

Actually, I couldn’t think of anything yesterday that I felt compelled to write about. It was a pretty ordinary day really; the Family popped into Chichester, and left me to amuse myself in town while they went swimming.

I have to be really, really hot before I have even the faintest desire to get in a swimming pool, and even then, can think of nothing worse than going to the leisure centre with the masses for a public swim. Not that I have a problem with taking my clothes off in front of people (just refer to my earlier posts) but I just can’t bear the whole indoor water thing. Water, for me, is designed to be dipped into outdoors, when it is very, very hot – and just enough to cool off and nothing more.

Anyway, the pretty ordinary day ended with a Family screening of The Monolith Monsters, and what a film! All the elements I remembered were there; the small American town; the gigantic black columns towering over the terrified population, and even the dam, which played a vital role in saving the town from the alien rock which had spewed from the fallen meteorite. I had completely forgotten the impact on the human population – the falling monoliths turned people in their path to stone by gradually extracting the liquid from their bodies. It was quite selective as to who it acted upon though, as the hero of the film suffered no ill effects (as heroes do) despite being in close contact with the rock several times.

The Monolith Monsters

Children of Mine gave it 3½ stars out of 5.  Interestingly Son of Mine didn’t find it scary at all; Daughter of Mine found it only marginally scary (she was the one who let out the odd whimper last night as she was watching it).  Both thought it would have been better in colour, rather than black and white and this sparked some deep discussion as to the actual colour of the monoliths themselves – they settled on deep purple.

We all picked up on how sci-fi films of this era seemed to give no thought to what would happen after the film’s conclusion. In this case, the monoliths were stopped in their tracks by a simple water and salt solution; the afore-mentioned dam was blown up to release the water down the mountain and across a salt mine, creating a salt water barrier across the route to the town.  As Husband of Mine commented wryly, some poor sod would have to traipse over hill and down dale in search of every piece of shiny black meteor, and all before next rainfall. Maybe there was a sequel?  Revenge of the Mighty Monolith Monsters?  Perhaps I wasn’t so far off after all with the Revenge of the Killer Icicle Candles.

However,  Husband of Mine has earned a significant number of brownie points with this very personal gift.  Awww.

Having re-read this post I must now apologise for waffling on so.  This was never intended to be a review of a 53-year old sci-fi movie.

As I’ve already said, I didn’t really have any inspiration yesterday. And then it came to me in the middle of the night. Or rather, Son of Mine did, actually, having had a nightmare.  “About The Monolith Monsters?” I can hear you exclaim! “Why on earth were you letting him watch a scary movie, made before film classifications made parental decisions for you?”  And before you ask, it wasn’t about the Minotaur or the multiple-headed Hydra from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief either.

My point is that his nightmares don’t follow the pattern of the nightmares of my own childhood. He doesn’t wake screaming hysterically, demanding the light be left on, or one of us to sit with him until he falls asleep again. Instead he just wanders into our room, mutters matter-of-factly that he has had a scary dream and quite often is happy to just go back to bed on his own. He couldn’t even say what last night’s dream was about.

I had two recurring nightmares as a child. The first was about diggers – the big, yellow JCB kind. I think that is why I have a lot of empathy with Arthur Dent. These colossal diggers would chase me relentlessly along pavements, paths and roads, with nothing stopping them, not even hedges and walls – they were able to travel along them with ease.

The second, perhaps more sinister dream, involved my family who were living in an unusual round house. We would be busy doing something normal that a ’70s family would probably be doing, say, watching the Generation Game or painting our wall bright orange.  Suddenly, there would be a grinding noise, like a series of giant cogs starting up, and the whole house would slowly start to spin and sink into the ground with us all trapped inside.  Sometimes one or more of us would make it out into the garden or street, and stand there, transfixed, as our circular house disappeared into the soil.  Rather like The Monolith Monsters in reverse. Or that giant drill in Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

I’m not sure what today’s psychologists would make of this – probably write me off as a disturbed youngster and give me a fancy label.  My own theory, with the circular house at any rate, is that I read too many books in Enid Blyton’s Faraway Tree series. Re-reading this with Daughter of Mine recently, I think I was obviously negatively influenced by Moon Face’s circular house with its curious Slippery-Slip – a slide which allowed the characters in the story to descend to the bottom of the tree.  At the top of the tree, reached by a ladder through a hole in a cloud, were a series of enchanted lands, not all of them nice, which ‘move on’ from the top of the tree at an alarming rate, getting the poor children and their magical friends into all sorts of scrapes if they happened to be left behind.

I have no understanding of why I had nightmares about diggers, but do sometimes shudder when walking past one even now.

So are children today desensitised to fear, by the images that bombard them throughout their early childhood?  Or are some, like me, just predisposed to more vivid dreams?

Perhaps I just watched too much sci-fi in my formative years…

Cinema – past and ‘present’

The Family are fortunate enough to have been to the cinema three times this wet and windy half term.

Fantastic Mr Fox was the first offering. This classic Roald Dahl book was one of my favourites as a child, and the modern adaptation didn’t disappoint me – I thought it was rather quirky with the more traditional animation making a welcome change to the CGI animations that currently flood the market for children’s films.

Film number two was Astro Boy. I’d heard, and read, mixed reviews about this – one parent at school said it was okay, if you happened to be a seven-year old boy. I really enjoyed it, so not sure what that says about me!?

Today, we saw Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief; a Harry-Potter-esque fantasy, complete with superb special effects and a great story based on Greek mythology. It’s certainly the one that’s had the most impact on Children of Mine – they have been running around the house since we got in from the cinema with sheets for cloaks, pretending to be demi-gods!

But personally, I am most chuffed about the film I received as a present from Husband of Mine this morning. He has read, digested and acted upon my blog and discovered that the film we both saw as children, and that I wrote about in Revenge of the Killer Icicle Candles is, in fact, called The Monolith Monsters! I am now the proud owner of a DVD of this 1957 classic sci-fi movie, starring Grant Williams and Lola Albright, and am looking forward to watching it this Saturday afternoon. Particularly if it is raining.

I can’t yet tell you if the plot is as I remember it. The DVD blurb is in Spanish (apparently the 1950s sci-fi genre is very big in Spain – Husband of Mine bought it from a Spanish e-bay seller); the film, thankfully, is still in English with Spanish or French subtitles.

Until tomorrow then, when “un meteorito gigante cae en la Tierra.”

Revenge of the Killer Icicle Candles

During the recent snow, Children of Mine and I had embarked on an Arctic Adventure (to the local shops), bumping into friends on the way there via the local copse known as ‘The Plantation’.  Before I knew it I had opened my mouth to invite nine children and four adults back to mine for a cuppa. With adults snugly in the warm kitchen, the children –  to be more accurate,  just the boys – had begun to terrorise the pristine peacefulness that had been my winter wonderland and within minutes had managed to snap off all the icicles that had been slowly descending from the roof of the wooden cabin.

“But I haven’t taken a photo of them yet!” I cried.  Later that day, undeterred by seeing the remains of those beautiful icicles lying smashed and shattered on the frozen ground, we gathered up the best of what was left of them in a bucket and set about creating a snowy birthday cake, complete with icicle candles, on top of the small hexagonal table on our patio.

Ice columns from another world?

And here’s the resulting photograph.  Captured like this; set so eerily against the silhouette of the trees and the fading sun to the west, it reminds me of a
sci-fi film I once saw as a child.  It was a black and white, 1950s B-movie type, that I remember watching on what was probably a rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.  The plot, as I recall it, involved some kind of alien species that had fallen to Earth, creating what appeared to be columns of black carbon that grew out of the ground across the suburbs of a quiet American town.  The columns grew ever larger, until they were eventually the size of skyscrapers; towering over the town and causing havoc by collapsing, damaging property, injuring civilians and destroying a nearby dam. 

Husband of Mine remembers this film too – and we believe we probably watched it at the same moment, one weekend sometime in the late ’70s, when he was about 10 and I was about 9.  Over the years I have asked many people about it and there are some who’ve said, “Yes! I saw that too!”, and some who have even remembered the film’s title.  I am cross with myself for never writing down the title, as I’d love to watch it again with the Family and see how little it scares those Children of Mine.

So.  If you know the title, why not indulge me and reply to this post.  Come on, sci-fi fans – what are you waiting for?