strange_complex: (Anas Penelope)
The news has been full of travel woes of all sorts today, but I was particularly struck by this picture, which has been featuring on various BBC News reports today:


That's the jack-knifed lorry I drove past on the right (southbound) carriage-way there, while the car in the middle lane on the northbound carriage-way could literally be mine. It's too dark and blurry to tell, of course, and the odds of it actually being mine in reality are low - but I think I was in that lane at that point, and it looks plausibly like the rear view of a red Honda Jazz.

Anyway, it's a striking memento of a situation I hope never to experience again. Feel free to imagine me sitting inside that car, saying words like "Jesus Effing Christ on a bike!" a lot as I took in the scene to my right.

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What fun!

Friday, 26 December 2014 23:52
strange_complex: (Claudia Cardinale car)
What fun it is when you're driving along the motorway, and you can't tell whether or not you are properly in a lane because you can't see the white lines under all the snow!

What fun to discover that when you try to correct your position, the car starts skidding!

And to realise that all of the other drivers around you have no more control over their cars than you do!

And to gradually see the illuminated signs which are telling you that there are hazardous driving conditions and that a temporary speed limit of 40mph is in force disappearing behind a coating of snow!

And when what would normally be a 2h15m journey takes closer to 4 hours because even 40mph is in fact way too fast in weather like that, so that you have to do most of it at more like 20-30 miles an hour.

And seeing at least 15 vehicles at the side of the road with their hazard flashers on during that time, only one of which was being attended to by a repair van, and three of which were in actively dangerous positions.

And driving past an articulated lorry which had jack-knifed across all four lanes of the opposite carriage-way, complete with a van and a car smashed into the side of it.

What fun!

I'm glad to say I am safely back home in Leeds now, but that was easily the worst drive I have ever done. I very definitely wouldn't have set off if I'd had the faintest idea it would get that bad, but Birmingham was merely slushy, with the snow that had fallen earlier in the evening actively melting; and weather reports had told me the same was true in Leeds, which was perfectly accurate. It was just everything in between that was the problem - and by the time I discovered that, it was way too late...

Update: obviously I couldn't take a picture, as I was driving, but this person did:


They were clearly heading in the opposite direction to me, and didn't know yet about the jack-knifed lorry causing the jam. Just horrible, all round.

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strange_complex: (Claudia Cardinale car)
I didn't so much read this book as listen to an abridged audio version of it, read by Cushing himself, while driving along in my car. But still, it is a book which I have experienced, so I will review it anyway. That is, insofar as an autobiography really can be 'reviewed'.

In fact, this is Cushing's second autobiography, following on from a earlier volume called Peter Cushing: An Autobiography published in 1986 (which I haven't read, or listened to). But, as he explains in this one, apparently fans were disappointed that the first one focused so much on his personal life, rather than on the film career for which he is famous, so he wrote another volume to satisfy the demand.

That said, it is still a very personal book. It begins with his utter devastation following the death of his beloved wife, Helen, in 1971, and more or less ends with his own experiences of being diagnosed with, and surviving, prostate cancer in the early 1980s. There is also a lot about life in his home town of Whitstable, and his hobby of collecting and painting military miniatures.

But he does talk about his film and television career as well, while making no bones about what unglamorous hard work it really is. I particularly enjoyed a section in which he enumerated the many and varied ways in which he had been killed on screen - while also being well aware that if Christopher Lee attempted a similar listing, you could go off for a three-course meal and night on the town, come back, and he would still be only about half-way through it. And yes, of course, he talks about their collaborations and their friendship, in the very warm and grateful tones that both of them have always used when speaking about each other.

Though I'm sure the printed book contains more material, I think listening to Cushing reading out his life history in his own voice adds a great deal to the experience. He is kind, gentle, polite and utterly un-self-pitying throughout, as anyone who has ever seen or read his behind-the-scenes interviews will expect, even when talking about experiences which were clearly utterly devastating for him at the time. I would defy anyone to listen to it and not feel immense fondness for him, no to mention considerable sorrow that he is no longer with us. Certainly, he makes for an excellent travelling companion up and down the M1.

Very many thanks indeed to the lovely [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan for *ahem* enabling me to listen to this! ;-)

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strange_complex: (Janus)
Mine has certainly started out well. I decided, rather late in the day, to host a New Year's gathering at my house - nothing epic, as I knew most people would already have plans by the time I announced it, but just a convivial little get-together with canapés and champagne. And so it transpired. My neighbours and their friends popped round to kick off the evening with a glass of wine, and then [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan and [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy arrived, shortly followed by [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau and [livejournal.com profile] biascut . My pictures are a bit rubbish, because my proper digital camera has died, so I could only use my mobile phone which has no flash. But I hope they give some inkling of how glamorous and lovely everyone looked:


We discussed topics as diverse as false nails, plushies and how people respond to civil partnerships, punctuated by a lot of uproarious (and increasingly filthy) laughter, and then saw the New Year in with Heidsieck champagne to the accompaniment of Big Ben's chimes and seemingly infinite quantities of fireworks on BBC 1. And we'd hardly started at that point, either. More champagne and the fun of compiling this year's Death and Scandal lists kept us going until nearly 3am.

Talking of the lists, I have ended up left with the paper copies of both, so I assume it is my responsibility this year to type them up. Last year's are both available on [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan 's journal, though to friends only. The Scandal List doesn't seem to have scored a single hit, unless you count the low-level miasma of scandal which perpetually surrounds both Nick Griffin and Silvio Berlusconi. The Death List did a bit better - we correctly predicted the death of Michael Foot, who was first on the list. But otherwise I don't think we got anybody, despite taking a scatter-gun approach and listing a hundred-odd people. Anyway - can we do better this year?

Scandal List )

Death List )

Obviously there are quite a few names on both lists - so it's bonus points if they die in a scandalous manner.

[livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan and [livejournal.com profile] planet_andy wended their way home in the early hours, but [livejournal.com profile] glitzfrau and [livejournal.com profile] biascut stayed overnight - so we had girlish dormitory-style fun getting into our pyjamas and calling out 'goodnight!' to each other, and then having coffee and chat this morning. Once both had taken advantage of my shower (a rare luxury, as theirs has turned into a 'unique water feature' which is currently unusable for its intended purpose), we headed out to a local cafe for a hearty English breakfast over a shared copy of the Saturday Guardian. And finally I was a big brave girl and gave both of my guests a lift down to the railway station - much helped by [livejournal.com profile] biascut's navigation and a general absence of traffic. There certainly weren't any buses to contend with, anyway, because for some reason they just don't run at all for the whole of New Year's Day in Leeds - which is a pretty rum deal if you ask me.

And now ITV 1 is thoughtfully doing a re-run of Downton Abbey, which is very kind of them, as I missed it the first time round, and it is just the ticket for sitting writing an LJ entry in front of. The characters are all a bit more spiteful and back-biting than in the lovely new version of Upstairs, Downstairs, where the household itself was largely wholesome and kind-hearted and most of the drama came from external events instead. I think I like Upstairs, Downstairs better - but that's partly because what I wanted from it was a heart-warming nostalgia-fest, and that's largely what I got. I do hope it will get a longer run with more time for slow-burning story-lines now.

All in all, then, an extremely pleasant turn to the year - and I'm sure it's no coincidence that I am feeling quite optimistic about the prospects for 2011 as a result. The only downside so far is that I had thought over the past couple of days that I was probably fighting off the first signs of a cold, and by the time I went to bed last night it had indeed settled firmly in my nose, making it rather difficult to sleep. But I don't feel too ground down by it, and don't exactly have much to do today anyway. So it could be worse.

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