Locked in, Locked out, Lucked out (14.2021)

I start this week’s post with a tale of locks on a bridge in Bakewell.

Maybe I don’t have a romantic soul (although I’m pretty sure I do) but I don’t understand the point of putting locks on a bridge. Most bridges aren’t particularly romantic places (industrial architecture, traffic just two things spoiling the ambiance for me) so why attaching a padlock – not a pretty thing in itself – to a bridge should be considered a romantic gesture I don’t understand. Plant a rose bush or sponsor a tree but putting a lock on a bridge in a town where you don’t even live? Take a photo or get a tattoo but don’t put a lock on a bridge. They rust away. If you don’t live in the town you aren’t even there to see it happen. And this bridge is between a carpark and the agricultural business centre. hardly romantic. And even if it was romantic, I still don’t get it.

(C) Getty Images

Radio 2 had stories of people using the bridge to remember lost loved ones (did they live in Bakewell, did they particularly like this bridge?) or to remember happy times. It just seems a bizarre way to commemorate something. And this whole kafuffle about the bridge needing repairs and people upset that their locks may be removed. Well, you don’t own the bridge, it’s a public bridge and it needs repairs. After all the main purpose of the bridge is not to hold your padlocks, it’s to get people between the car park and the agricultural business centre.

I will be in Bakewell in the last week of June so I shall report back then on whether the bridge is a romantic destination.

This week we heard the news that Prince Philip, the Queen’s husband, had passed away at the age of 99 years and 10 months. Two more months and he would have been eligible for a 100th birthday card from his wife. I felt quite sad at this news which surprised me. Maybe it’s the facts – being so close to 100, the couple having been married for 73 years (how does the Queen even begin to grieve the loss of someone who has been by her side so long?). Or maybe I’m feeling sad for the Prince Philip as played by Matt Smith in The Crown.

The real Prince Philip and as he was portrayed in the Crown by Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies

Prince Philip was not known for being PC, and the portrayal of him in The Crown didn’t make him out to be a particularly sympathetic character, although it did explain his tough childhood that made him who he was. I remember this video of him with the Queen in Ireland at the Guinness factory. He’s looking at that Guinness with a particularly thirsty intent.

Now if you are thinking about drinking a Guinness, you might want a snack to go with it. And what could be better than a deep fried chip butty? Let me explain this for any non-UK readers. A chip butty is a sandwich with a filling of hot chips. (Yes, carb on carb.) Usually your butty will be made on white bread, sometimes even a soft white bread roll.

Several chippies (takeaway food establishments specialing in deep fried food – mostly chips) in the North of England have taken the butty one step further. Make your chip butty, dip it in batter, and deep fry it… and then serve it with a side of chips, of course.

Tasty treat or calorific horror?

What do you think – would you try this deep fried chip butty? And if you did, would you go with red or brown sauce to accompany it?

We also had some luck this week. Having not left the house in daylight all week, we needed to do some shopping, so Friday at lunchtime we walked down to our high street. Having picked up what we needed, we .passed by a new cafe that was doing a half price special on milkshakes. Well now that’s a deal, we thought, and it’s Friday, and we deserve a treat. And they did milkshakes in flavours such as Nutella (which Husband had) and Biscoff (speculoos flavour) (which I had).

So we are walking home on a sunny Friday afternoon, slurping on our milkshakes, thinking this is pretty good, when a man approaches us on the street.

“Have you had your corona virus vaccinations?” he asks us. “I’m from the NHS centre across the road and we’ve had several no-shows today so we have spare vaccines. We’re looking for people to use them up so they don’t go to waste.

Now, Husband has been lamenting all week that the closer we get to his eligible-for-a-vaccine birthday, the further away his potential vaccination date is getting on the omni queue calculator. So he was right onto this opportunity, very excited to get in there, roll up his sleeve and get a jab. So this made a good Friday even better. (Although Husband had none of the feverish side effects that I did. Not even a sore arm.)

Whereas three weeks after my vaccination I was still getting odd body aches – this week I’d been having chest pains – all right side so nothing to do with my heart – but they started in my pectoral muscle which made me think it was probably a postural thing from not having my home office desk set up properly. But by Friday it had moved to my oesophagus and the centre of my chest which worried me and I wondered if I should go see a doctor. 

Well I did, kind of. On Friday night I dreamt about visiting the doctor about my chest pain and whatever she said or did or prescribed in my dream, I woke up on Saturday and the pain was gone. This leads me to think that my pain was possibly work-stress related, and reaching the weekend, with two days away from work ahead, the source of my stress vanished along with the pain.

This weekend we put aside a long stretch of time to watch the revised Zack Snyder Justice League film, which was four hours long. I’ll try not to say too much about it (except that I love Wonder Woman – how often in films do you get a strong female lead – and she is pretty strong – who isn’t there as a love interest?) (Although – obviously Batman is a bit smitten with her but scared of her at the same time; and the Flash is just openly enamoured.)

Whenever I watch a DC comics movie, I remember a play I saw back in 1993, called There were giants in those days. It’s by an Australian playwright, Steve J. Spears, and it has stuck with me much longer than more well known plays with more famous casts in more salubrious theatres. The synopsis is given:

A year after Batman’s death, Superman and Wonder Woman are the only heroes to gather at Wayne mansion to mourn with Robin. A wild night of sex, drugs, self-discovery and assassination. Robin is coming out. Superman is overweight. Wonder Woman is an alcoholic. Hilarity ensues.

Superman and Batman had been having a superhero strength contest you see, and Superman forgot that Batman was just a man with technology, he had no superpower. (“I’m rich,” as Bruce Wayne says to the Flash in Justice League.) So in their strength challenge, Superman did something – threw a train carriage or something for similar for Batman to catch – but Batman, for all his technology, is just a man. And Superman killed him.

And that’s why this play was so fascinating – you’ve got a fat out-of-condition Superman who is eaten up with guilt. Wonder Woman is trying to get him back into Superman saves the world mode but she’s eaten up with her own demons and is drinking heavily, and then in the midst of it is Robin, coming out as gay.

I think this play is due for a revival on the back of all those superhero films we’ve seen in the past few years.

Having finally finished watching Queen’s Gambit and the 2nd season of The Mandalorian, we’ve now moved onto Wandavision, which starts off cute and funny but obviously something darker is afoot and we’re just at the point where that is being revealed. Nice short episodes – and we aren’t pacing ourselves with this one so we’ll probably finish the series this week.

I’ve finished my course on how to structure a novel, so the next step is to sit down with my plan and my two works-in-progress and work out where I am – what do I have already, what do I need to write, and for “the Berlin novel”, what do I need to rewrite now that Andreas has turned out to be the central character, not Megan. And how much more research on life in East Germany and East Berlin do I need to do to write the remaining parts of the story? Stay tuned as I whinge about this in future posts.

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