The Handmaiden, Curzon Bloomsbury, 30 April 2017

So many people told us that we should see The Handmaiden, we eventually put our reservations to one side and made a reservation to see it.

We had previously pencilled in Sunday 30 April for Sense of an Ending, but having taken in a showing along with a Julian Barnes Q&A the week before, it made sense to see The Handmaiden that day.

The Handmaiden is explained, trailed and  emblazoned with cool photos on IMDb – well worth a click-through. Then you needn’t bother to sit through nearly 3 hours of film.

The Handmaiden is everything we were told it would be, hence our reservations about it. Beautifully shot with exquisite settings, absolutely no problem with that aspect.

But the film is extremely long for the relatively straightforward thriller plot (just a few twists and turns) and fairly predictable ending.

The female leads are both very beautiful and the soft pornish love scenes between the two of them are all in the best possible taste, as a well-known arbiter of such matters used to put it.

The torture scene towards the end, which we knew to expect, simply had me looking away from the screen for a few minutes.

We both found the whole experience a bit disappointing, but at least we can now tell people that we’ve seen it, which makes them stop lecturing us on how we would definitely love that movie.

On leaving the movie theatre, I checked the cricket score and it looked as though Middlesex had bowled themselves into a position where they were likely to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against Gloucestershire.

So we diverted to Lord’s on the way home and watched the last 90 minutes of the match from the President’s Box (temporary Middlesex Room), witnessing Middlesex then snatch defeat from the jaws of the victory that had early looked like the jaws of defeat.

Here’s the scorecard.

So that was two cringe-making torture scenes in one afternoon; the second of which panned out far more slowly than the first and it would have been a bit peculiar to have looked away from the field of play for the whole of the last hour.

We ran into Brian and Judy as we were leaving, so at least we had a pleasant chat with friends before departing the day’s second torture scene.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire Day One at Lord’s, MTWD Report, 27 August 2009

This was clearly one of those days when I had expected/hoped for more cricket time than I actually got.

But I was the MTWD match reporter, so I did my bit – click here.

Just in case anything ever happens to MTWD, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex till we die – Tomorrow Belongs To M(iddl)e

Turns out it was a fairly prescient report; not so in the matter of Adam London, but Messrs Robson, Malan and Compton certainly formed a nucleus for Middlesex’s improvement and success, following the dog days of the late noughties.

Middlesex v Gloucestershire at Lord’s, Day 3, 5 September 2008

I believe this momentous day was my first ever match report for King Cricket.  At the time, I was still editing the Middlesex Till We Die (MTWD) website, so I also co-wrote a match report for that one.

I had been campaigning quite hard for some time for MTWD match reports to be impressionistic and alternative, rather than traditional narrative reports of the game.  In the early days of MTWD, providing narrative reports was a useful “free service” for fans as it wasn’t so easy to find match reports on-line.  But by 2008, there was little need or demand for an amateur version of rapid narrative reportage on-line, although several of the reporters seemed wedded to “ball-by-ball match reports” (as Barmy Kev tended to describe them).

Meanwhile, I’d discovered the King Cricket site and loved his match report rules: “If it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. If it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.”  However, King Cricket sought match reports as fillers to be used weeks or months after the event; yet would not (as a commercial site, could not) simply recycle material that had been published elsewhere first.

This pair of match reports is, therefore, probably the only example of me writing pretty much the same story in different words for both sites.  From then on, I continued with occasional pieces (as well as editing) with MTWD for another couple of seasons while writing wholly different occasional stuff for King Cricket.

Here is the King Cricket version of the story, which was published in October 2008.

Just in case anything ever happens to King Cricket, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex v Gloucestershire County Championship match report

Here is the MTWD version of the story, co-“authored” with Barmy Kev, published that very evening, 5 September 2008 – click here.

Just in case anything ever happens to MTWD, I have scraped the piece to Ogblog – only click the link below if the link above doesn’t work:

Middlesex till we die – Kadeer Today, Gone Tomorrow, Day 3 Middx v Glos

If you really want to know what actually happened in the match (yes, there was sort-of a cricket match), here is a link to the on-line scorecard.

In King Cricket and MTWD match reports, Ged and Daisy are nicknames/noms de plume for me and Janie. Friends (such as Charley “The Gent” Malloy) are always referred to pseudonymously.   If my diary is to be believed, Charley was a substitute as my guest for that day, as the day is marked in my diary as a stumpfmerde, which means the original idea was to visit Lord’s that day with “Timothy Tiberelli”.  Something important must have come up for Timothy.

Dinner With John White at Hereford Road, Preceded and Followed by a spot of cricket at Lord’s, 3 September 2008, plus a snippet on 4 September 2008

Wednesday 3 September 2008

One of the regular/irregular meet ups between me and John White. John had not yet been to Lord’s to see proper (i.e. red ball, white clothing) cricket, nor had he yet done the pavilion thing.

As it was my turn to choose the eating venue, I hatched a plan for the meal to be at Hereford Road (which I was sure would be to John’s taste) and for both of us to finish work early for a change, starting our late afternoon at Lord’s. My e-mail to John a couple of days before:

We’re meeting early at Lord’s if you are still on for that – I have 4:30/4:45 in my diary.  I have booked Hereford Road for dinner – excellent restaurant between Lord’s and my place – owned and cheffed by the former chef from St John.

So John joined me at Lord’s for an hour or so of cricket and the informal tour of the pavilion, then the restaurant, both of which he seems to have enjoyed – John’s subsequent e-mail words:

As always a lovely evening.  It was very kind of you to let me into Lord’s.  Although nobody is really that interested I have been endlessly describing the various bars, characters and atmosphere of the place.  I don’t know if you won?  Orient managed a 2-0 win away at Walsall on Saturday if you’re interested.

The restaurant got and still gets good reviews:

As for the cricket, I did return the next day…

Thursday 4 September 2008

…but again only for the last couple of hours, primarily as a convivial meeting place with Steve Tasker to go through some UNISON business; probably thinking through project budgets for 2009. I’m sure we got to see a bit of cricket and enjoy a beer at the end of the day as well.

As for the Friday and the remainder of the match – I wrote that up at length at the time for both MTWD and King Cricket – all linked up and explained through the following Ogblog piece – click here. Rain-affected draw for those uninterested in clicking through to read the slapstick exploits of Ged and Charley “The Gent” Malloy, yet interested in an ancient match result.

Thank Evans For Little Gullys, “MTWD Lost Masterpiece”, Middlesex v Gloucestershire at Lord’s Day 3, 24 August 2007

The background to the phenomenon of MTWD “lost masterpieces” is explained in this link – click here. In short, Sportnetwork permanently lost a swathe of published features from 2007.

But fear not; I tend to keep everything.

Readers will be delighted to learn that I didn’t really chair the judging of double-glazing awards, but I was chairing the National Payroll Giving Awards in those days.

Connoisseurs will notice Ged (that’s me) using the Vaughanian third person a great deal in this report.

Thank Evans For Little Gullys – Middlesex v Glos Day 3

Early Doors

Ged decided to do a day’s work at Lord’s today.  He has been asked to Chair a panel of the great and good judging for a prestigious awards event.  The UK Double Glazing Awards, sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Double-Glaziers and Sealed Unitarians.  Goodness alone knows why Ged has been asked to fulfil this important and pivotal role in the wheels of UK commerce, but some senior figures from industry, the civil service and the charity world are set to have their casting vote cast by Ged.

So, Ged gathered 28 award applications, his trusty digital tranny, a small bag of rations and off he set to Lord’s to spend the day watching cricket and marking award applications.

He didn’t leave home until 10:30, which would still enable him to get to Lord’s on time for the start by use of public transport or a Hackney Carriage, but part of Ged’s pleasure on such days is the 35 minute walk, so, suitably comforted and watered  he got to a seat in the middle tier of the pavilion between 10 and quarter past.  Ed Smith had added half a dozen runs to the overnight score.

 

Down to Business

While Strauss and Smith got down to business trying to build a score worth having, Ged got down to the alternative business of reading through several applications for the “Best Excuse For Dodgy Double-Glazing Craftsmanship 2007” Award.  The repetitive nature of the applicants’ claims chimed nicely with the metronomic accuracy of Lewis’ and Kirby’s bowling.  Both were unlucky not to take wickets, as they bowled well, although Smith and Strauss were rarely troubled that much.  Ged felt that seeing off the new ball pair would be vital.

Around an hour into play, Ged moved on to the “Best Use of Attractive Daughter as Decoy on Double-Glazing Sales Visit 2007” award; the delightful young lady who had accompanied such a salesman on a visit to Daisy’s house earlier in the year strangely had not been nominated.  And around that time Hardinges (announced by Mr Perambulate the announcer in the singular; “Harding”) came on to replace Kirby at the Pavilion End to bowl pies that were suitably despatched square (ahh, “square pies” I hear you all sigh) and in front of wicket for four with delightful regularity.

Lewis seemed to want to bowl at the Nursery End all morning, but eventually made way for debutant Tom Stayt.  This seemed to be a suitable time to move on to the “Best Repair of Double Glazing Damaged by a Cricket Ball 2007” award.  Straussy, by now motoring, clearly thought similarly, but on 75, just before lunch, he holed out attempting a big one off debutant Stayt; 135/2 and that’s lunch.

 

Lunch

Ged was very much aware that he wanted to follow the England game on his radio as well as the Middlesex game before his eyes.  And while he can cope with two sets of stimulation (Middlesex and Glazing), three simultaneous sources might blow his mind.  So he swiftly moved on to the largest category, “Best Telesales Bullshit About Discounts Only Being Available If You Sign Up For Double-Glazing Today 2007” award.  Abstemiously, Ged merely munched an apple and a small bag of almonds while he marked.  Such can be the glories of a pavilion lunch.

 

Afternoon Delight, Glaws Style

In the 35 minutes between the resumption and the start of the England game, Ged marked the last two categories quickly; only two applicants for each which made it easy; “Most Ludicrous Freebie Thrown In With Double-Glazing Order 2007” and “Most Flagrant Extra Charge For Something That Wasn’t Included in the Original Price”.  Meanwhile Joyce and Smith were going great guns.  Ged read the proposed eulogy for the “Special Award for Carbon-Neutral-New-PVC of the Year Award”, plugged in his ears for the England game and then set to, summarising his scores and filling in forms.

At this point, unbeknown to Ged at that time (Ged remaining in the Pav until completing his work), Barmy Kev arrived at Lord’s and took his seat in the Upper Eddy.  The score was 197/2 and Middlesex seemed to be cruising.  Then, against the run of play (although Kirby had been brought back at the Pavilion End), Joyce got one that really flew across him and he was caught well at slip.  Two balls later, Rymps played on trying to leave one.  Next over,  Stayt got Smith caught at slip.  And only one scratchy extra was added before Scott was caught behind of Stayt for a blob.  197/2 had becomme 198/6 and everyone was wondering whether or not Middlesex would manage even one batting bonus point.

By all accounts, at this point the Turkeys in the Upper Eddy offered Barmy Kev considerable sums of money to go away and never ever come back.  And by those same accounts Barmy “Goes4cash” Kev seriously considered their offer.

But Middlesex rallied a bit, Vaas and Murtagh eventually getting that vital 1st batting point.  Ged finished his work and decided to wander round to the Upper Eddy for a change of view.  Despite (or perhaps because of) his abstemious lunch, he accidentally bumped into the ice cream van and felt obliged to help out on a chilly day by parting company with £1.70 for a small cone with flake.

As Ged emerged at the top of the Upper Eddy, cone already long gone, the light was offered and accepted in return for an early tea, with 44 overs still remaining.

 

We Had Joy, We Had Fun, We Had Evans and Some Evening Sun

The Upper Eddy was the place to be for that evening session.  Early tea was a wise move, as no overs were lost and the light improved considerably in those 20 minutes and there were even hints of possible sunshine – indeed the sun shone for a reasonable chunk of that session.

Middlesex pressed on to 300+, despite losing Murtagh soon after tea, Murali Kartik managed, with minimal footwork, to support Cha Cha Vaas to a respectable Middlesex score.  305/7 was enough to convince Ed Smith that we wanted 30 overs at them tonight, so declaration came and there was much debate about whether this was too soon, too late or about right.

At 50/0 it looked as though Middlesex had goofed, but Ed called on debutant Danny Evans from the Pavilion End, who looked quicker than the “medium-fast” tag on  his cricnfo sheet and who induced a hoik behind square from Spearman, caught well by Joyce, a big first wicket in 1st class cricket. 1-1-0-1 read Evans figures after his 1st 1st class over.

But then the clouds returned briefly and Ed entered into negotiations with the umpires.  On came Kartik at the Nursery End and Rymps at the Pavilion End.  Soon Kartik had induced stumpings off Hodnett and Ali; Ed almost shook hands with umpire Burgess to thank him for the enforced but inspired owling change.

And when the sunlight returned, Murtagh and Richardson managed to snare one each before the close.

Could Middlesex induce a follow-on even from here?  Can Middlesex dictate terms to some extent to agree a sensible declaration, joke bowl and chase.  Glaws are -5 on over rate at the moment – pitiful really even without a spinner – play finished about 19:15 – so they might see such a scenario as a way to bag 2.5 points.

It’s really hard to get a match done in 2 days, but Middlesex did all the right things Day 3 to try to make that happen.

An excellent day of cricket at Lord’s, given the dire weather-affected match situation at the start of Day 3.

If by any chance anyone is still reading and keen to know what happened in the match – here is a link to the scorecard.