Friday, August 08, 2014

Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow...

Lovely blog from buttercup who - despite all the recent problems re house maintenance (and other things too) has risen from the ashes and enjoying the sense of achievement from discovering what more can be done with what is already there.
It is so true, once we start looking beyond what we have, we can find all sorts of things that are more than downright useful.  Could be what someone has thrown out in a skip, or what nature provides us for free, or just odds and ends of food that 'other people' would normally throw away.

At the moment, my Beloved is enlarging our patio, laying different size slabs close together, but with narrow gaps filled with gravel to allow the rain to soak away.  The smaller pieces of broken slabs are fitted together to end up 'slab shape', a bit like neat crazy paving.    Running out of coarse material to lay under the slabs - then covered with sand to give a firm base - B has been allowed to take as much rubble as he wants from a great pile close to the gate of a house in our road where a paved area has been dug up to be replaced with a double garage.  Perfect!  And free!!

Yes Margie, I have watched the film Julie and Julia (twice), didn't much care for it the first time as it wasn't what I expected (not enough cooking shown to please me), but the second time I enjoyed it far more.  Think Julia Childs had the same approach as me - cooking as done in a domestic kitchen, warts and all (as I am so fond of saying).

Was annoyed with myself when I came to begin crocheting.  The pale cream wool (and three of the darker colours) is far too thick to crochet easily (I thought I'd just get the cushions finished more rapidly if the stitches were larger), so think I'll knit these as use them for the back of the covers, and buy thinner wool (I call it wool, but it is 'yarn' as it washes more easily) for the fronts.  I keep practising with the thinner wool, but these are deeper colours and not so easy to see the end result, so end up pulling it back after each day's efforts.  But the more I do the easier it becomes.  You'd think I'd been crocheting for years it can look that good.  Still haven't progressed from going round, and round....and round.

Quite a sunny day to start with so we had our Friday coffee chat sitting in the garden, but about noon it began clouding over and suddenly large spots of rain began to fall, so we retired to the 'conservatory' (yes, I know it isn't a proper one, but sounds so much nicer than 'the extension').  Think the rain stopped almost as soon as it began, but we stayed indoors until 1.00 when the phone rang and it was Norma the Hair changing my hair appt. (she was due at 1.30) until much later that afternoon which wasn't really convenient for me (I'd be preparing supper then), so cancelled and will now have to wait until next Friday.  It's not as though I was going anywhere (other than the church meeting) and doubt anyone would notice whether my hair had been done or not.  When younger my hair was dead straight and baby-fine, now it is still fine but seems to have developed a wave and the ends curl either under or over depending how it is brushed.  So with a bit of ruffling up with fingers, and a settle down with a comb and LOTS of hair lacquer, I can usually manage to look fairly respectable - at least from the front.  The back has a mind of its own.   At my age - who cares.  I certainly don't.  I now have to rely on my personality, and not my looks (but then have never relied on my looks as I don't have any).

A busy weekend for the sailing club.  At least that is the intention.  A 'taster day' (or the two days) when members of the public can be taken for a sail in many of the small boats/dinghys skippered by members of the club.  On Sunday afternoon an outdoor (of course) barbecue is planned, held in the car-park at the front of the club-house.  Unfortunately this now seems to coincide with bad weather forecast over the weekend.  Possibly it will only be the south of England that gets the full force of the now fading 'hurricane Bertha', but the weather charts show rain on the west coast this Saturday, and also the first half of Sunday, and not sure how much wind there will be.  So it could be a write-off as far as the club activities.  We just have to wait and see.

Have decided to give my 'disaster media memories' a miss today, and just recall one or two of the (few) highlights as these may come up with some surprises.

As I worked with Erica (Griffiths) for several years, we became quite good friends and she invited me to stay with her overnight at her home in Twickenham, the next day she would escort me all round the famous large BBC studios that were then in London.
Erica apologised for the continual air-traffic, her home lying directly under the flight-path to Heathrow airport, and the planes already reducing height as they flew over her garden.  Myself I really enjoyed watching the planes as I sat in her garden.  Think every 3 minutes to the dot one would fly over.  Some were small, some very large (Jumbo jets), and not as noisy as I would expect.  Except for one that could be heard before it was seen, and I was thrilled to be there at the right time to watch the very beautiful Concorde fly over.  Compared to the noise it made, it looked so very small. 

When we lived in Leeds, the sailing club that B belonged to was at Yeadon, the small lake they sailed on (called a 'tarn) was right at the side of the run-way for the Leeds/Bradford airport, and when I used to go with B, would sit and watch the planes either fly in (or fly out - depending on the wind direction).  At that time Concorde was still in use, and occasionally I'd see this lovely plane arrive (or take off).

This - of course - nothing to do with media work. But to continue my visit to Erica's (London), when she took me to the BBC, we spent a whole day there.  I was shown just about everything.  The costume department was lovely.  Racks and racks of clothes that were hanging ready to be used when another episode of a series was to be filmed - such as 'It aint arf hot Mum', and the ones I remember most are the costumes made and worn in the making of the 'Six wives of Henry VIII' (or was it Henry VIII and his Six wives'?).  Every item so carefully stitched, a lot of embroidery hand-stitched and also the jewels sewn on by hand. 
Apparently none of the clothes made were discarded and - at that time - the BBC kept previously made clothes in several large air-craft hangers where they could be hired by repertory companies and sometimes sold to theatres.

In a glass-fronted cupboard were lots of 'frontal padding' , made for ladies to wear under their garments to appear as if they were pregnant, so you can imagine all the different sizes right up to the 'just about to give birth'.
Also there were many cupboards with drawers full of old-style traditional underclothing, as apparently it made moving around more accurate when the body was hampered by the wearing of many petticoats, and long knickers (or even no knickers - as did happen in the old days).  Plus all the different types of corsets that ladies would have to be squeezed/tied into.

The day I was there, the head of department (he loved to chat) was showing us how thrilled he was to have been given a large piece of very strange material (think it was either rubber or plastic and covered in 'lumps'.   He said it was crying out to be used for one of the Dr. Who series, and he was having talks with the producer to see if they could include some sort of alien that could be covered in the material, even if it didn't have a speaking part.

From the wardrobe department, we moved to the wigs and hair.  In a tiny room, overlooking a railway line (and factories) sat a young girl carefully making a wig.  She was using a very tiny crochet hook, pulling hair through a very fine net that was fitted over a wig-stand.  Every strand had to be stitched in individually, and real hair was used - this we were told came from either Oriental girls who had long hair and wanted it to be cut short, and also girls who wished to become nuns (same reason). 
The wig was to be used for a drama shortly to be filmed, but as it was due to be cut as part of the plot, a similar wig had to be made in case something went wrong the first time it was cut.

Along the corridor was another wig department, but this time only synthetic hair was used, mainly for making wigs as worn in Georgina times (all those curls and ringlets) - where they did wear proper wigs anyway, especially the men.
Because it was synthetic 'hair' the wigs were able to be baked in an oven to set them, so they then need never be re-styled. Just popped on the head and worn.

Then we moved on to the bits and pieces of the 'costume dept',  where all the false noses, false teeth, warts, synthetic wounds etc were kept.  You name it, they had it.

After lunch we went round the main part of the building, where the filming actually took place, and at that time I never realised they had only two large studios.  One had an auditorium for the public to sit when they needed an audience, the other was used as for the 'sets' (drama and comedy).  I used to think that the sets were built and then stayed until a series had been finished, but each day the set was taken down (polaroid photos had been taken so everything was put back exactly in the right place - ornaments etc, and 'continuity' was responsible for this).  The various walls/doors, furniture etc, stored in outside large sheds, labelled and ready to be replaced.   Sometimes more than one 'set' would be needed each day, built up, taken down, and replaced by another (series).

We went into one room (a smaller studio) where the set had been built ready for filming the next day - this was for an episode of Dr. Who.  In this room there were several 'sets', all quite small but so well proportioned as to look enormous on screen.  I remember on supposedly being in a very large castle (or similar), the floor painted as though made of black and white square tiles, but with the walls angled (wide at the front, narrow at the back) and the 'tiles' also painted to follow the lines of the wall, when seen on TV it was the perspective that gave an impression of 'largeness', not how it really was.

In the same room was the 'Tardis', the blue police box.  I opened the door and peeked inside.  Of course it was only a police box.  At the side of this was the inside of the Tardis.  The working bit where all the levers were and the bit in the middle went up and down.  I was allowed to have a play with that, sadly though I remained in the studio.  Perhaps just as well. 
Bet there haven't been many mothers who have stood where Dr. Who has been, and moved the very levers his hands have been placed on.  My children (and their friends) were most impressed.

From there we went up to another small studio where there was a live TV prog being made - this was Blue Peter.  Much as we see it on TV except that there were several dog and cat handlers who would remove the creatures from the filming area when there were not needed, then bring them back and push them in front of the camera when they were.  Sometimes it's better not to see 'the workings' as after that I was never able to watch B. Peter again without knowing what really went on out of sight.

There were several make-up departments away from the above (I've been in at least one of these when I went in to have my photograph taken with other TV cooks for the cover of a Christmas issue of Radio Times),  and outside the main building there were lots of large 'sheds' that held loads of different types of doors, fire-places, anything that could be used when building sets, and also large carpentry sections where sets were being built.

Most of the offices for the BBC were held in different buildings.  There must have been some in the main one, but certainly the ones I used to visit (meeting the series producer of 'The Goode Kitchen etc) were at Ealing, right next door to the underground station (which made it very convenient when travelling).  Rehearsal studios were at East Acton.  These were just large rooms where generally chalk lines were drawn on the floor to represent pieces of furniture etc, and work round these.
When in the series Bazaar, even though I would be on screen for no more than ten minutes, once a week, each time I had to travel (by train) to London, then use the underground to arrive at East Acton by 10.00am (so a very early start from Leeds), then, when in the rehearsal room with the producer and director (other crew as well) I had to pretend a work surface and all the cooking implements/food etc and say what I would say, but miming what I would do. 
It really did take only ten minutes as I'd got it worked out in advance, and after lunch at the same building (that bit I did enjoy as then able to see well-known actors also rehearsing on the same day), then all the way back to Leeds, via the underground and train. 
Of course one day the underground broke down and I was rushing around London trying to find a taxi, but think I've already mentioned that.  Or have I?

For those who are uncertain as to who does what, a series producer sort of decides on what he wants to produce, then works out the cost.  A producer then takes over, probably choosing a director.  The director 'directs' all the filming, the actors, the camera shots etc, and probably is the one who chooses which camera crew and soundmen he would like to use (seems that most of these crew work free-lance and not always available, so often filming is done when the best ones ARE free - as in the case of the making of The Goode Kitchen.

We never needed to use location-catering, but these too are free-lance, usually companies who can travel from place to place, having mobile kitchens and also mobile canteens.  Food normally excellent (or they wouldn't be used again).

Friday has now come and gone, and - as usual - I take Saturday off from blogging, intending to use that day (now this day as it is after midnight AGAIN) for baking and a general clear-up of the kitchen.  My knee has been so bad lately I've not done as much as I should, but will be a good girl during the day, grit my teeth when necessary, rely on the radio to keep me company, and bake bread, biscuits, and hopefully Sticky Toffee Pudding.

Even if we do have a wet and windy weekend, we shouldn't grumble too much for we have had weeks of lovely hot weather, and be thankful for that as this is not that common (at least in this country). 

Tonight watched a new cookery series about making sweets.  Nearly didn't watch it as I thought we were all supposed NOT to be eating sugary things, but gave it a go.  Sadly nodded off (wish I didn't keep doing that), but managed to wake up to see Jo Brand presenting a spin off of 'Great British Bake-off' (think I nodded off a bit in that too - oh dear, old age is fast catching up with me.  Suppose I can always watch repeats on iPlayer (but rarely do).  Then nodded off AGAIN as I watched the second part of Corrie (an hour later on Freeview 33), so will hope to watch the repeat of that tomorrow.

Now it is time to go to bed I feel wide awake, but have a few things I need to do before I retire so will take my leave of you, returning again sometime on Sunday.  Hope you can join me then.