I participate, from time to time, in the odd blog challenge. Just because. There’s a particular one to which I’m quite partial. Not because I’ve ever won, but because it gets me thinking. About things. All sorts of things. It’s run by an international bunch of guys and gals hailing from the UK, US and Canada. When I read the entries, one of the things that strikes me is how often there are things that unite the world. More often than there are things that divide us.
The monthly Your Top 3 has shown, for example, that no matter who you are, or where you live, food is the epitome of comfort. Often defined by our own experiences and cultures, food is sustenance for the soul. Now, though, the world is in a very peculiar place and we’re all united in one major concern: Covid-19. Many of us have been confined to our homes and estranged from family and loved ones. Birthdays have passed with virtual celebrations. I speak for myself when I say, that as we approach being locked in for 50 days, it’s beginning to tell. The news is never good; the more the scientists know, the less they know and, frankly, the less I want to know.
A welcome diversion
So, to have something entirely different to contemplate is a welcome diversion. Not that I participate every month. I don’t. This month’s contest made me think, though.
It’s no secret that I’m a great lover of books. I love books and have a hard time parting with them. Frankly, and I’ve also often said so, I’d rather read the book than see the movie. This month’s contest is about DVD/TV box sets. A foreign concept in our house. Partly because we don’t spend a lot of time in front of the
box screen other than in the evenings around/after supper.
If I were to choose three must-have sets, what would they be, and why?
My first two choices are based on my penchant for thrillers and crime. As well as cooking. Of course.
On thinking about which of these to choose, I was hard pressed between three:
On a similar, but different vein is CSI. I also prefer the first in the franchise. I enjoyed not only that each episode stood alone, but that the characters and the relationships developed as the series progressed. As they do in NCIs. However, when I really thought about it, there really was only one choice.
The Blacklist ticks every box: complex characters, good acting, even more complex plots filled with intrigue and thrilling suspense. Reddington is so awful as to be likeable at times. Liz Keen’s character has developed and become complex and contradictory over the seasons. She, too, invokes mixed emotions. Then there’s Ressler’s insanity countered by the
good, solid Dembe whose touchstone role, in my opinion, is underrated.
Oh, and there are two other reasons that The Blacklist really does do it for me: firstly, there is often a hint of international and political intrigue. Secondly, the plot hovers – only just – on the bounds of reality.
Or does it?
Getting down and dirty in the kitchen
I quite like watching cooking programmes. I have to admit that I’ve not seen many lately that have really piqued my interest. Thinking about it, and looking at my bookshelf, I should be choosing Ed Baines.
I have watched him on TV and follow him on Instagram. I actually met him at the Cape Town Food and Wine show where he also cooked with some of “our” products. But sorry, loyalty and having clapped eyes on the man, are just not quite enough.
I guess if I were also basing my choice on what’s in my bookshelf, and chefs I’ve met, I should be choosing Jenny Morris. I have two of her books – I draw on them often. Especially for Sunday Suppers and when I entertain. And in the days that email newsletters were a “thing”, I had a subscription to hers. She (or her son) would send out the recipes she’d discuss on a local radio show. Jenny Morris lives up to her Giggling Gourmet moniker. She’s warm and lovely, and when I mentioned that I had two of her books, she impulsively planted a kiss on my cheek!
However, my choice must go to the first ever cooking show that I really watched.
The Naked Chef
It wasn’t so much about Jamie Oliver. It couldn’t have been because nobody knew who he was. Then. I don’t know how I fell over him because the show was on a Sunday afternoon and, in those days, I was often up to my elbows in the garden. Then, as now, we rarely had the TV on during the day, so it really is a mystery.
‘E was still a young fing just frowing things t’gever in the kitchen.
I liked that. The food was simple, as was the approach. He cooked food to share. I like that, too. Oh, and I particularly like that he knows the members of Jamiroquai.
This was one of my songs at the time….’twas the year The Husband and I married…
I guess the series could be quite dated now. Still, though, I’d make a point of watching The Naked Chef again and again.
If you thought I was taking rather far you down memory lane, I’m not stopping at 2002.
I used to be an unashamed SciFi series fan. I loved Star Trek. And when I was at home, would watch it with my dad. From Kirk to Picard, and everything in between. I now realise that my father must have been a fan from the days when we still lived in England. My mother loathed the programme, so he and I would watch it. She’d retreat to the kitchen. I admit, though, that I’m not a fan of modern SciFi. It seems to be a mishmash of modern fantasy, and I can’t really get beyond Dune.
When I thought about a series I’d binge-watched (not that it was a thing, then), the series that came to mind was V: Mankind’s Last Stand. The original 1983 series.
It would have been 1987, and I was sharing a house. In those days one could hire a video player – not just videos – for a weekend. How we ended up hiring this series, I’m damned if I can remember. I do remember, though, that it’s the only time I’ve ever spent an entire weekend just watching videos and just one series. That’s all we did. Other than go to the video shop for the next tape.
With hindsight, and thinking about the themes of repression, oppression and restriction, it’s not surprising it resonated for me. The mid-to late eighties were the height of the struggle years in South Africa. These themes simply reflect the times we lived in, and some of the things we encountered every day. It was never on television. It does occur to me that had the South African censors understood symbolism and/or allegory, this series would never have reached the video shops in South Africa.
As an aside (but not really):
Prior to 1994, laws restricting freedom of speech and association were so zealously enforced that films that included mixed race and same sex relationships were banned. Unsurprisingly, the epic film Cry Freedom about Steve Biko was banned. As were Hair and The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I admit that I didn’t watch the more recent remake of the series. I would, however, watch the original V – for all the reasons I’ve mentioned – as well as for the then rather delicious Marc Singer. In closing, I also wonder if choosing this series is not, to some extent, influenced by the potential ramifications of the restrictions imposed to stop the spread of Covid-19.
Until next time, be well
The Sandbag House
McGregor, South Africa
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