A Favourite Movie
The Commitments is one of my all time favourite, music based films.
It is not a musical, as such, in that the cast do not burst into song as they go about their everyday business but rather it is a film about the formation of a band and its fight for success.
Set in Ireland, this 1991 film is entertaining, funny, quirky and includes some terrific music and great performances.
Directed by Alan Parker this movie is entertainment at its best.
About The CommitmentsIn ShortThe Oscar nominated movie The Commitments follows the formation of a fictional, new Irish band. With some very funny auditions a final line-up is at last in place and the Commitments band is born.
More about this MovieThis movie is based on the novel The Commitments which is written by Irish author, Roddy Doyle, and was published in 1987. The script for the film had additional input by famous British comedy script writing duo Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais. Scriptwriters Clement and La Frenais were the funny brains behind many British comedy series including Porridge, Auf Wiedersehen Pet and The Likely Lads. The pair also worked on films such as Flushed Away.
For me some of the funniest scenes in the film are the auditions near the start of the movie take place in a front room of a house and vary from the sublime to the hilarious.
However there is other comedy throughout this movie.
Once the band members are chosen the movie follows their journey to success.
From a rag tag group of mismatched talents they progress to be a worthy Irish band.
With female band members who not only look good but sound great, an elder band member who offers talent and knowledge and younger band members who have the necessary enthusiasm surely they will be a success?
The Commitments is a bumpy, entertaining ride of a film with glorious bluesy music along the way.
When released it was a breath of fresh air - down to earth, brash, funny and youthful yet a movie with cross age appeal.
Many of the young cast were relatively unknown when this film was released and some have pretty much stayed that way.
The lead singer in the band played by Andrew Strong had some music success with a recording career on the back of this movie but ultimately it was a poisoned chalice.
Andrew Strong was aged just 16/17 when this film was released, though his earthy, blues based voice sounded far more mature.
In 2016 Strong said “The Commitments was something of an albatross around my neck in my younger days because it pigeon-holed me as a soul singer.”
He was tied to the tracks of the film for too long but now almost in middle-age he has found musical success in his own right.
Tracks from the movie include:-
Robert Arkins, Andrew Strong, Angelina Ball, Dick Massey Michael Aherne and Johnny Murphy.
The Commitments is available on D.V.D. or you can buy the soundtrack on C.D. if you prefer.
The book not only spawned a film but a theatre production which has also proved popular.
If you have never watched the Commitments why not check it out?
Your viewing experience will be better if you love soulful music but this movie has a lot to other in other ways.
This film is not suitable for children as it features some expletives and adult scenes.
Recommended as a very funny film, with great music, for me The Commitments is the best Irish film to date.
Heatwaves Can Cause Water Shortages
The current dry spell in the United Kingdom has acted as a reminder that one of our most precious commodities, water, does not have an endless supply.
The month of June was exceptionally hot and dry and July has kicked off with days if not weeks of a mini-heatwave set to continue.
Fresh, clean drinking water is often taken for granted in western countries which can lead to careless use.
But you can make lots of little changes that will have little impact on your life but will ensure there is enough water for us all.
Don’t Be Selfish
Perhaps this is the most important point to make.
If you are selfish you may continue to over water your garden in spite of water shortage warnings, wash the car, leave taps or faucets running unnecessarily and throw water down the drain when it could be used elsewhere.
Becoming a savvy water user is not that difficult, it helps your community as well as your family, it can reduce your water costs and help prevent drought situations.
Consider having a water meter fitted.
In the United Kingdom residents pay an annual water tax, which has increased steadily since privatisation of our water supply and services.
However you can opt to have a water meter instead.
Most if not all new properties have water meters fitted but if you live in an old property you can usually get a meter fitted if you prefer that option.
Meters are free so it is worth checking this option out.
If you live in a property unsuitable for a meter you can get a water rate reduction.
But the great thing about having a water meter is if you economize on water you will directly save money.
It makes sense to harvest rainwater when it is in rich supply.
England remains a fairly wet country but demands on its water supply and mismanagement means we are never far away from a drought.
Make a Water Butt
You will need
Installing a water butt
Hints And Tips To Save Water
Some of this information has stayed with me since public information films about saving water in the 1970s. Extended periods of hot dry weather back then resulted in water shortages.
Perhaps governments should consider using such public information films again.
We can all save some water with thoughtful use of this resource such as:
Add soda crystals to a large watering can or bucket full of water. Sprinkle this mixture on any paths that have ingrained stains or need cleaning.
Leave the mixture; do not rinse away.
When rain does arrive it will wash away any residue.
This simple tip ensures brilliantly clean paths without the use of water conservation busting pressure washers.
Use your imagination but never compromise you or any other persons health and safety.
Use your water saving ideas outside of the home in your work place or school. Talk to your political representatives about local water improvements and green projects.
Once you decide to become water savvy you will be surprised how much water you can save.
You may also be shocked to realize how much water you have been carelessly wasting for far too long.
More water and summer reading
Op-ed; Talk to some young people about politics and the upcoming elections and you will get a mixed response. Nothing is ever cast in stone and we are all individuals but on more than one occasion this woman has encountered the politics of apathy.
But the politics of apathy strikes all ages.
Last year one taxi driver aged in his late 60s bragged to us he never voted and never had when asked about the EU in / out referendum.
But for some others it is genuine unresolved concerns and in other cases bone idleness.
"I live such a busy live I have no time for voting" is a good one.
My Dad worked hard all his relatively short life but he always managed to get out and vote. Sometimes this meant a 7am visit to a polling station as soon as it opened other times in the evening after work.
Certainly current shift patterns in NHS hospitals where nurses work around 13 hours in one shift are tricky but these days it's so much easier to register for a postal vote.
At one time you needed to be at death's door, if you know what I mean, to be allowed a postal or a proxy vote.
There is still a timeframe and voting deadline for postal votes but it means there is really no excuse for not voting if you are eligible.
And how many times have you heard "we do or did not get taught anything about politics in school?"
That has been the case on and off for years. Politics is of course taught in the public schools toffs attend ensuring they have an edge when it comes to elections.
Many older people adopted the habit of voting as a type of citizenship responsibility after watching their parents tootle off to vote. Family time TV viewing meant all age groups watched party political broadcasts and there was no live broadcasting from Parliament.
Currently it seems a younger generation wanting to appear more grown up than we were at their age are babies when it comes to some things.
The Internet is at peoples' fingertips and most younger voters are competent users of modern technology. Surely this means they can do a random search and find out what voting means for them, how to register to vote and register, which political party suits their views and actually vote?
Many times we hear and say "politicians are all the same" but that is not really true.
How about "politics does not interest me." Funny that one as politics ultimately determines what taxes you pay, education standards and so much more.
On May 4 you can help decide what matters in your area by voting in local elections
On June 8 you can decide which political party and people form the next government and what it will offer others.
Maybe you prefer to let others do it for you so that you can complain but if you do not vote you cannot complain.
This General Election could be make or break in many ways and on many issues and you have to be in it to win it.
Am I eligible to vote?
"To vote in a General Election you must: ... be 18 or over on the day of the election ('polling day') be a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen. be resident at an address in the UK (or a British citizen living abroad who has been registered to vote in the UK in the last 15 years)"
How do I register to vote?
"When you move you need to re-register to your new address. If you want to register to vote in England, Scotland or Wales, you can register online any time at gov.uk/register-to-vote. To register to vote in Northern Ireland, visit the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland website."
Possibly just for fun
In 2014 this woman wrote the following piece in support of the local RSPCA charity based at Clough Road Hull.
Like many people this woman also made a small donation to the charity and hoped for the best so she was sad to read this week that this same local RSPCA is once again facing a huge financial crisis.
But first the background - our piece from 2014.
"The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the RSPCA, has been the foremost animal charity in the UK for around 200 years. In recent years many other animal charities have been created, some local to the surroundings.
However, to my mind the RSPCA is still the leading animal charity in the UK but it struggles to survive. When the RSPCA was originally founded animal welfare was often not recognised. Ordinary children and people of that time were often left to suffer and so animals were obviously disregarded in many ways.
What the RSPCA showed, within a short space of time of being created though, was that such an animal charity was long overdue. Prosecutions for animal cruelty began and so did the sterling work of the RSPCA.
Almost 200 years later, you would think that we had would have learned a thing or two and animal cruelty be an issue of the past but this is far from the case.
Many people are aware of the acts of cruelty, to animals, meted out around the world, in countries such as China, but surely this does not happen in England?
After all, the English are a nation of animal lovers, aren't they?
Well I hate to admit it but the UK has seen an upsurge in the abandonment and maltreatment of animals in recent years.
Sometimes it is pets, but other times it is farm animals, and the workers that should be caring for them. Abandonment is often blamed on the current economic climate but plenty of pet owners use this excuse to part with their pet and then promptly take another into their home.
Bearing all of this in mind, I was sorry in 2014 to read in the local press that the local RSPCA was facing closure unless donations increased; the branch has been active for 106 years.
With the credit crunch charitable donations have fallen but costs have risen. This is also true of the amount of animals needing this shelter.Unfortunately there are more than ever.
Our RSPCA dog a few years ago
One of our previous dogs came to us via the RSPCA, Clough Road, Kingston-Upon-Hull, East Yorkshire. He had been neglected and in and out of the RSPCA over a few months. They rarely euthanize healthy dogs, so they stuck with it and eventually we adopted this dog.
He was a cross Alsatian or German Shepherd, with the sweetest nature. His two aims in life were to please his owners and to enjoy life. He was an adult dog when he came to us but he had six good years before bad health took its toll; did we have some fun though before he grew ill.
Without the RSPCA this dog would have to be put to sleep."
Donations helped Hull's RSPCA continue but it needs help once more..
Do not forget that the RSPCA is charity based and receives no help from the Government.
In the past the Clough Road branch have had to issue pleas for help and people have rallied and supported this charity, keeping it alive and kicking.
Looking online the Hull branch has previously faced closure more than once but now it needs "£1m to rebuild its Clough Road centre - or it could close."
The centre's last renovation was 80 years ago and it must be brought inline with current welfare standards.
Ways to help include
The Hull Daily Mail reports "For more details on how you can help call Alison on 01482 343875 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are concerned about an animal in distress or wish to report cruelty please call the National Helpline on 0300 1234 999."
There will be a new kid on the U.K. currency block Tuesday.
With millions of new pound coins ready to be released the clock will start ticking for the old coins.
The new coin is 12-sided and two tone. It is being hailed as the most secure coin ever but its introduction will cause some problems and costs to business. Just consider supermarket trollies and £1 coin machines; the new shape and thinner coin will require costly changes.
Both coins will be legal tender from March 28, 2017, until October 15, 2017.
If you have a savings jar full of £1 coins make sure you do not get caught out.
Old £1 coins that are returned will be used by the Royal Mint; they will be melted down and used in making the new coins.
Although the new coin was announced in the 2014 budget its release will catch some people out.
The coin has a similar look to an old threepenny piece in its shape.
In March 2014 we reported;
Days after the U.K. government announced a new one pound coin would be minted in order to try and beat the counterfeiters the jury is out on the good sense of such a move.
But there are so many fake £1 coins in circulation something had to give.
If this new coin is as secure as claimed it will be money well spent.
The Tory government has done little to increase the number of affordable homes across the United Kingdom. It also created the unjust bedroom tax which has resulted in hardship for many of the poorest people in the country.
Now unelected PM Theresa May's government plans to remove housing benefit eligibility for 18-21 year olds. If you are young and down on your luck you could easily end up homeless.
This woman has been contacted by one of a group of people organising a National Demonstration against the removal of Housing Benefit for 18-21 year olds under the banner #HouseTheFuture in Bradford Centenary Square on April 8 at Midday.
"Councillor Richard Dunbar @rdunbar83 is leading the group and is fresh from organising over 100 events for LGBT History Month. He has a strong record of getting things done and has chosen this issue because it is so pertinent to Bradford due to us been the youngest city in the UK.
Further details about the cuts in question are within the following brief http://www.crisis.org.uk/data/files/publications/Housing%20costs%2018-21%20removal%20FINAL.pdf
It is important to us that we make this a national event because all too often we find the national demonstrations taking place in London, beyond the reach of many teenagers and young people in the North.
Please can you support us in whatever way you can:
Thank you for your time in reading this and any help that you can offer will be gratefully accepted."
Make a note of the date and help in any way that you can.
It will be crazy Friday in the UK March 24, 2017, as Red Nose or Comic Relief day arrives.
Once every two years fund raisers give their all to encourage us all to donate whatever we can afford to help others.
In the run up to the day groups, individuals and celebrities are raising money for charity. In many cases it is "do something funny for money."
2015 was a special year in the history of comic relief
On July 13 1985 the first Live Aid concert was held. Bob Geldof, of the Boomtown Rats, and Midge Ure, Ultravox vocalist, had the idea to host a charity concert in aid of those suffering from famine in Ethiopia.
Images and footage of the suffering and dying were filling air-time around the world with people moved to act but unsure how to help alleviate the suffering; so Band Aid was an idea to help but not just any old concert; two simultaneous concerts, one in London in the UK and one in the USA.
Musicians were pestered by Geldof to perform for free and the event was going to be like no other concert, which was fitting as the Ethiopian famine was also breaking all records.
Live Aid and its associated charity raised millions in aid and continues to do so.
In the UK the money raised by musicians, by way of Live Aid, inspired other events and charities. Sport Relief and Comic Relief followed.
Comic Relief, which also became known as Red Nose Day, raises money for charity in fun and humorous ways
Every two years red noses go on sale. The design is tweaked a little each year so it is easy to spot a cheapskate who is wearing an old model.
A little history from the Comic Relief website; "On Christmas Day,  Comic Relief is launched live on BBC One from the Safawa refugee camp in Sudan during Noel Edmonds’ Late Late Breakfast Show. The producer is Helen Fielding (before her Bridget Jones days!)"
Wikipedia says "Comic Relief is an operating British charity, founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia." But it was Jane Tewson's idea. Jane is a well known charity worker.
"The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with sister project Sport Relief. Comic Relief is one of the two high profile telethon events held in the United Kingdom, the other being Children in Need, held annually in November."
Red Nose Day
British people are traditionally very giving even in tough economic times.
Comic relief will raise millions of pounds for charities across the world and at home in the UK.
And in 2017 people in East Africa are again facing severe famine.
As the UK gears up for main event Friday fund raisers are already working hard.
Friday will be a day of fun, and silly nonsense, all aimed at raising money for those who need help the most. Heads will be shaved, strips performed, amateur performances staged and races run all in the name of charity.
In 2013 we reported "Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £800 million to tackle poverty and social injustice across the UK, Africa and some of the world’s poorest countries" and that is a proud achievement.
But "At the end of the 2015 Red Nose Day telethon on 14 March it was announced that in the 30-year history of Comic Relief the Red Nose Day and Sport Relief appeals had raised in excess of £1bn (£1,047,083,706).
Please give generously.
There are always more worthy charities in desperate need than most of us can afford to support.
Even if it is just a small donation it all adds up.
But there are ways to raise money for such causes including;
Currently East Africa is in crisis and most major fund raising organisations have launched appeals.
But nearer to home homelessness in the UK is on the increase.
With unsecured tenancies, high levels of personal debt, high rents, a lack of affordable homes and the dreadful bedroom tax is it any wonder people of various age groups end up homeless?
Supporting the Breakfast in a Bag charity is just one way you can help a person struggling to survive life as a homeless individual.
The website introduction says;
Hello and welcome to Breakfast In A Bag!© Joupin Ghamsari
Set up a regular donation, make a one off payment or donate as and when you can afford to do so.
Many people are only a short step away from homelessness.
If you think "that will never be me" think again. Divorce, bereavement, unemployment and ill health are just a few ways your life can be turned on its head.
Homelessness - it happens - it could happen to you!
Drinking green tea has allegedly many health benefits but for many traditional tea drinkers in the U.K. that is a bitter sweet positive.
Let's face it if you have tried drinking green tea you will likely already know it can be a bitter drink with an equally bitter after taste.
But these days there are many green tea options.
This woman likes Tetley decaffeinated, not sure how that works, green tea with honey. It is packed in convenient tea bags perfect for work and home.
Pop a couple of the bags into your work or travel bag and all you need is hot water and a mug or cup.
They do not need sweetener or sugar adding unless you have a very sweet tooth. Making a cup of it for a hard working NHS junior doctor pre-retirement I was surprised that he wanted a couple of spoons of sugar adding. But he was an Asian doctor used to drinking hot sweet milk free tea.
The latest good buy green tea bag is by Heath and Heather retailing at £1.49 for 20 bags from Aldi.
Looking online Holland and Barrett have the same product retailing at £2.49 for 20 bags. At time of writing though they are on offer as a "buy one get one half price deal."
So not cheap either way.
This woman opted for the organic green tea and Moroccan mint variety. Packed in a pretty floral box as soon as the outer cellophane was broken a rush of mint filled the air. The bags are individually wrapped so that gives you an idea of the strength of the mint.
The aroma as you make the drink is strong mint almost spearmint.
But unlike so many herbal tea bags the mint flavour translates into the drink.
For this woman is was a nice relaxing and refreshing cuppa, no sweetener needed. To be fair she does not take sugar in tea normally
The Benefits of drinking green tea
Drinking green tea can reportedly aid weight loss and help reduce blood pressure. There are also claims it can help reduce cholesterol, control diabetes and improve heart health.
Note: Possible side-effects
GREEN TEA HAS BEEN USED IN TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE FOR CENTURIES TO TREAT EVERYTHING FROM HEADACHES TO DEPRESSION.
Op-ed: The unelected House of Lords is back in the spotlight.
As they debated the triggering of Article 50 Monday unelected PM Theresa May took the unprecedented step to sit on the sidelines in a somewhat intimidating way.
The Lords is also in the news as a fly-on-the-wall documentary airs on BBC.
With one Lady already confirming what most of us suspected, that some Lords and Ladies claim their £300 a day for doing basically sod all, does the House of Lords represent value for money?
Is it even fit for purpose?
Take a look at our earlier report from late 2014:
"Times are tough in the UK, at least for we plebs.
Most people balance a fine financial line which could snap at any time.
Homelessness, use of food banks, poverty in general, fuel poverty and the rich poor divide are increasing.
But fear not, as David Cameron and his ministers would say, we are all in this together.
If you still believe that blatant lie consider news reports that the House of Lords, often called the best club in London, refused a budget cut as it would mean cheaper Champagne. The story dates back a couple of years but is only now making headline news. The gist of it is still pertinent.
Lords and Ladies of the House, and I use those terms very loosely, are provided with £260,000 worth of Champagne each year. These 'people' are against a budget cut not as it will stop the free flow of Champagne but because it might mean they have to endure a cheaper version!
Their arrogance is unbelievable. But in recent days we have experienced a fair few 'Let them eat cake' moments in the UK which suggest too many politicians, elected or not, are completely out of touch with the real world; a world they shape and expect others to play along with.
Perhaps ChampagneGate will be the final straw for the general public.
Read details of the Lords abuse of the system at the Mirror. A portion is copied below:
The House of Lords has bought more than 17,000 bottles of bubbly in the last four years at a cost of more than £260,000 - enough for the 788 peers to have five bottles each a year.