Broadchurch – This isn’t about Meera Syal’s legal wig.

My name is Anthony, I live in Dorset and I’ve given up watching Broadchurch.

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Oh God that feels good.

This is my first blog in ages and it’s about Broadchurch, the crime show that is filmed near where I live in Dorset oh and other places too that the Dorset Echo never refer to but for the record include Clevedon – where my Auntie Hilary lives – Exeter, North Devon and I think possibly Sherborne where my wife and I once saw Jill Dando driving an Aston Martin DB5.

Broadchurch is big down here, well as big as anything can get in West Dorset, the local paper the Dorset Echo when not covering such important stories as a man not being able to use the staff toilet in Superdrug* have a massive stiffy for the show. Their website has a special section for it and details everything down to the minutist detail – we’ve had stories about the cast – understandable, they are big stars! The locations – it’s a beautiful place, who doesn’t want to see it as often as possible? The shops and restaurants where it’s filmed – hmm not so interested to be honest, not so much as an article, more a free advert for featured establishments. The filming schedule – losing me now, and the self-proclaimed “Broadies” who organised a coach trip around the locations – the Dorset ones only mind, a trip up to Clevedon wouldn’t have been cost effective – and I’m gone.

The thing is that I don’t think it’s that good.

This isn’t a reaction against the populist nature of the show, or the mass coverage it gets down here. I’m not really that bothered with the list of mistakes that appeared in the papers at the weekend nor do I really care about the generic “Alright my lover!” West Country accents that bedevil the show – if the producers had gone for a full on Dorset accent like the one my father in law has then nobody would have understood a bloody word. I’ve known him 19 years and still struggle to know what he’s talking about half the time.

We’ve had conversations over the years that have gone like this:

Him: “Something, mumble, something, mumble, something, lardy cake.”

Me: “Did you see that thing about cows on the news?”

Him: “Thaaaaat’s whaaaaaat eye’ve bin taaaalking ‘bout!!!!” **

No I just don’t rate it. I think I know what the producers were going for, a reaction to the Scandinavian dramas that BBC4 have shown on recent years and which I have watched and have enjoyed  – save for the ending of the series three of The Killing, what the hell was that about?!? So they’ve aimed impressively high but they don’t quite make it.

The main stumbling block for me is that I don’t like any of the characters in the show – no not even national treasure Olivia Coleman – she’s great as always but she’s not sympathetic but rather she’s pathetic and weak and gets trampled oncontinuously by everybody else in the show. I know that in the second series he’s been through a trauma which might explain that but she was like that in the first series before she went through all that. Danny’s family – horrible the lot of them. That bald bloke who works for Danny’s dad – a yokel simpleton – I could go on – nobody in the show warms the heart and I don’t care for them.

Where’s the Sara Lund whose jumpers I desire or the Martin Rohde who my wife compares me to and who she’ll miss more than words can say from series three of The Bridge?

That’s my main problem and why I gave up on Broadchurch it last week. Okay so I’ll backtrack yes the glaring mistakes do matter – it’s not like a show being set in the 1950s featuring a train from the 1960s, it’s worse than that and it affects the storyline. ITV have said that it’s a fiction and they’ve had support in that from eminent critics such as Mark Lawson but when the writer bends the law to enable a story to develop down a route which it wouldn’t have been able to develop without the bending then I have an issue.

I’ve done jury duty and have seen at first-hand how boring a criminal case can be but that’s no excuse for painting a false picture of what goes on in a Crown Court. Kavanagh QC never felt the need to do it and frankly it’s lazy writing on the part of Chris Chibnall to resort to such tactics.

I know what it wants to do and I really wanted it to work but Broadchurch has become more like a soap as it’s progressed and this process has been aided by the blatant shoe horning in of the David Tennant back story which we are meant to believe is something that was going on during the entire first series – oh come off it!!! Stop now please.

Maybe I was spoilt by the shows the preceded it and inspired it but Broadchurch can’t hold a candle to The Bridge or The Killing and no matter how hard it to tries to do so, I don’t think it ever will and I won’t be back to watch it.

That’s my other main issue, I want my crime drama to fascinate me, to keep me wanting to come back for me, to tease me, to shock me and to get my heart racing – Prime Suspect did that to me but Broadchurch just doesn’t and it has failed to do so since the very first episode. Characters came and went, were spooky or scary without ever really explaining why and the best character they had in series one – come on you know it was Pauline Quirke – was shamefully underused.

Maybe television has moved on from the days of classics such as Alec Guinness in the Smiley adaptations or Bob Peck in Edge of Darkness and my favourite, Ray McAnally in A Very British Coup.

These are dramas that decades on are still fondly remembered, eulogised over and watched with new eyes are drop dead classics of British television– will Broadchurch be so fondly remembered in five, ten or twenty years time? Getting quality actors such as Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Charlotte Rampling into a production was a casting coup for ITV – it just seems such a shame to have put them into such an underwhelming thing as the second series of Broadchurch.

The word subjective comes into play here and means that some of you will be saying “Yes” and some “No” – I fall in the latter camp but I’d honestly  – and despite what I’ve just written would rather be in the former.

*Here he is! http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/localnews/dorchester/11687754.Loo_refusal_causes_customer_outrage_in_Dorchester/

** No, not racist, Dorset people are not a race.

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Book Review: Mick Herron – Slow Horses

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My first love when it comes to reading is crime fiction, I do enjoy a lot of non-fiction but I also love spy fiction. My knowledge isn’t encyclopaedic but I know what I like, my Kindle has the complete works of Ian Fleming and John Le Carré on it and I’ve read lots of books by newer spy writers too and the latest of these is the first in a series by Mick Herron. 

Slow Horses features a group of MI5 agents who for a variety of reasons have found themselves internally exiled to Slough House where they are given boring, mind numbing jobs in the hope that they will decide to leave the service without the need for industrial tribunals or the need for a pension to be paid out to them. Overseen by Jackson Lamb, this band of agents don’t really like each other or their colleagues who are still in the game and enjoying the careers that they had until catastrophe struck. River Cartwright for example closed Kings Cross at rush hour when a training exercise went wrong, it wasn’t his fault but for reasons that become clear as the book progresses certain people wanted him out of the way and pushed him out to Slough House where he became what is known as a Slow Horse – Slough House/Slow Horse. 

Now however this band of misfits have a crime to look into, Hassan a young British Asian student has been kidnapped and his kidnappers a group of white British extremists have vowed to behead him in three days on camera, there are no demands, he’s going to die. Can the Slow Horses save him whilst battling against the forces set against them? 

I loved this book. First off it’s a great spy novel with enough details about the inner workings of MI5 to keep a spy buff happy – who cares if they are realistic or not, the truth is that we don’t know and all that matters is that Slow Horses feels genuine and at times the image of Harry Palmer popped into my head – this in my humble opinion is a good thing. The characters emerge throughout the book and are establish efficiently and with enough detail for you to like them, get frustrated with them and I got nervous at various points in the story – I needed to know what was going to happen. 

Secondly Slow Horses is a book with a sense of humour, the agents riff off each other with one liners, jokes and there is an element of satire throughout the book – there’s a none too subtle portrait of a prominent politician halfway through the book which made me laugh and also question my opinion of the person in questions. Finally the book offers a commentary of the situation of Britain and the relationship between members of its various ethnic communities something which is a decisive an issue now as it was back in 2010 when Slow Horses came out. It doesn’t for one minute give us any answers but sadly the main storyline portrays a situation which I wouldn’t be too surprised to see happen at some point in the future – I hope I’m wrong.

Slow Horses is a good as I’d hoped it would be and I’m already reading the sequel Dead Lions and that’s even better. 

A book review: Chelsea Cain – One Kick

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Chelsea Cain’s new series features the Kick Lannigan survivor of an abduction who was rescued by the FBI after six years of captivity during which time she was abused and that abuse was filmed and then sold across the internet. Ten years later she’s still getting notifications from a federal agency that the films of her abuse are being bought and sold. As is pointed out to her at an FBI field office, after all these years she’s still the biggest box office draw on paedophile message boards and websites. 

When a girl is abducted Kick is approached by Bishop a mysterious man with seemingly unlimited resources who wants her to help investigate the disappearance as well as that of Adam Rice who disappeared a few months previously and whose abduction Bishop believes is linked. With resources seemingly unavailable to the FBI, Kick and Bishop travel to various places of interest across the American North West where clues are discovered, people are beaten up and Kick and Bishop do what was obvious they would do the minute the two of them set eyes upon each others. Kick’s brother James is a computer genius who creates algorithms that can trawl and fish data to aid Kick in her job, oh and throw in some stereotypical paedophiles, a pushy ‘mom’ and a grizzled FBI agent with heart of gold and that’s your book – at times it’s almost a thriller by numbers with an ending that not so much sets up the rest of the series but shouts out to the reader “YES, THERE ARE MORE BOOKS COMING!!!” 

I’ve really enjoyed the Chelsea Cain books that preceded One Kick – featuring Archie and Gretchen, the damaged cop and his devoted serial killer nemesis/number one fan, the six books had characters you got to know and care about and get upset about when bad things happened to them. They had a sense of humour, situations which you couldn’t work out how they would be resolved, impossible scenarios that never seemed too outlandish or unrealistic even though at times they probably were but that didn’t really matter as you were just along for the ride and it was a thrilling ride. I guess what I’m trying to say is that everything Cain’s previous books were and everything that I loved about the Archie and Gretchen series turned into everything I really disliked about Kick. 

One example of what annoyed me about this book was the character of Bishop, he’s a fixer, a success with the ladies who can clear a high security prison corridor when it’s needed for a chat, he can tell the FBI what to do, knows things before anybody else does but only shares this after the other person has worked it out, he is cold, mysterious, apparently has a wife who he cheats on but he still is able to undertake a sentimental task towards the end of the book – he’s not a complete bastard you understand. He is however a crushingly predictable character – the corporation’s big man who gets things done and won’t let anything or anybody stand in his way but who at the same time probably loves his mum and watches cat videos of YouTube. The issue for me is that he’s not the only cliché riddled character that populate Kick. 

I was so disappointed by this book especially as I’d had really high hopes having thoroughly enjoyed all of Ms Cain’s previous books. Previously to this I’d read a book which had similar themes entitled The Edge of Normal by Carla Smith – that was a fantastic read which achieved everything that for me Kick failed to do. My advice would be to read that and then get stuck into Cain’s Archie and Gretchen series – I can’t recommend them highly enough. 

If I did them then a sad face smiley would be here. 

One Kick by Chelsea Cain is out in the UK on 14th August

Quick Book Review – Douglas Lindsay: Lost in Juarez

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If you read an earlier entry on my blog then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of Douglas Lindsay – I’ve read lots of his books but there are quite a few that I’ve not read yet and this is either down to the fact that I’m treating them like a fine wine, savouring each one and taking my time over them or that I’m too lazy to read them.* 

Anyway I finally read his book Lost in Juarez this week and devoured it, it was gone in two settings and I thoroughly enjoyed it. At times is reminded me of the atmosphere created by works such as Defence of the Realm, Edge of Darkness and A Very British Coup, seminal works of the 80s that portrayed a Britain at the beck and call of its security services, the Establishment and our old friends the United States. 

Lake Weston is a children’s writer who has the second most successful series of books after the Harry Potter works. He is rich, shags women left right and centre and hates the series that he has created. The other books he writes get refused by his publisher and when the next book in his series gets rejected due to Government pressure he decides to write Axis of Evil, an Animal Farm for the 21st century. His publisher helps him get it published by a revolutionary that he met whilst researching Axis of Evil, it becomes a media storm and that’s when the shit hits the fan.

Three people know who wrote the book, Lake Weston, his mainstream publisher and the publisher of Axis of Evil and the Government take their wrath out on all three in ways which might have seemed preposterous before 9/11 but which in the light of extraordinary rendition and the disclosure of secret prisons on overseas British territories seem all too real nowadays. 

Lost in Juarez is a short, punchy read and there are aspects of the main character that show up in other Lindsay works (e.g. Bob Dylan adulation and shagging a plenty) but it doesn’t matter, it’s a satire of the British political environment that still works some six years after it was first published and in the light of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill that’s getting Royal Assent on the day that I’m typing this, I’d argue that it’s more relevant than ever.

 

* I would say that the truth is somewhere inbetween the two

RIP Keith II 2003-2014

Our beloved car ‘Keith II’ broke down this weekend and I think that in all probability it’s terminal. The phrase “blown turbo” sent a chill down my spine and a subsequent look on the internet where fellow Citroen owners shared their tales of similar events and how much it cost to sort it all out led me to this conclusion. Our car is of a certain age and the chances are that it won’t be financially sensible to try and replace so as of yesterday we are officially a carless family.

Rather pathetically at first I felt embarrassment about this state of affairs – our boys go to schools where parents seemingly change cars every month, 4x4s aplenty, convertibles and some parents there even have different cars for specific occasions – a parent of one of my of son’s friends at one point had four cars: “Wilf, if it’s the school run then we’re taking the 1986 VW Golf Cabriolet!” There were times when I felt I was letting the schools down by turning up (on the very rare occasions that I did travel to school in the car) in our battered, paint damaged, one lock not working, fan belt squeaking Citroen Xsara Picasso.*

It is a much loved and much used car though not so used these days and this is where I’m going to be terribly un-British and be optimistic about the broken turbo. I want to turn this negative event into a positive one and maybe see it as a way of changing not only my lifestyle but that of my family’s too.

The question my wife and I put to ourselves last night was do we need a car? In my old life – that’s another story which I’m not brave enough to write about just yet – I was a commuter and I drove to work every single day and after work having sat down on my sofa I’d invariably get called in to deal with emergencies back at work. I’d visit projects all over the south west of England and I got the chance to go and sit in Police interview rooms in stations throughout Somerset. Frankly I’m amazed the car lasted as long as it did.

My life has changed in the last two years, I now work within walking distance of my house and we use the car mostly for shopping and getting the boys to activities that mainly take place within walking or cycling distance. Okay we have the odd day trip out but for all that, is it worth having to payout for all the expenses that having a car entails? Road tax, insurance, fuel oh and we also have to find money to pay for a car parking permit so we can actually park outside our house and the cost of that is rising by 25% next month.

Do we need a car?

The thought of not having a car really scares me, will we lose our independence, will we say we’re okay managing without one and then be on the phone every other day to my in-laws asking “Is there any chance of borrowing your car again?” Will we ever get to Studland again, see our friends in Chichester? Will we be able to go on holiday ever again?!?!

I know, I’m being pathetic and worrying too much, of course we will be fine and we will manage. It’s going to be tough getting used to but the reality is that a friend had sown the seeds of this discussion already when she asked us recently why we had a car as it just sat in the car park every single day. Whilst it’s nice that the lower mileage over the last few years has seen a nice decline in our insurance costs I’m not sure that alone is reason enough to keep a car.

We can hire a car for those weekends away and we get a discount on car hire too via our employer in Dorchester which is good, we can get our shopping delivered and we have a Friends and Family railcard that is a bit underused at the moment – these are all positive things that we can actively do in the absence of a car.

So this evening we will be walking to cricket, Google Maps has told me it’s a twenty two minute walk from our house to Dorchester Cricket Club and what I’m asking myself is that shouldn’t we have been doing that all along? It’s lovely to be able to jump in the card and be there in five minutes but a twenty minute walk isn’t going to do any of us any harm and this is the change of lifestyle that I know we need to consider.

I’m overweight, have been for years and (To quote the Pet Shop Boys) when I look back upon my life I do wonder when I got lazy and when I decided that the car would be used for even the shortest journeys.** Was it gradual? Did I suddenly decide that I’d go without those crisps I needed*** if I couldn’t go in the car to get them? Why not use the bikes to get the boys to basketball training?

Frankly I’m a (non) walking cliché and yes it’s going to be difficult adjusting to life without a car but when I take a long hard look at myself then I know that I need to do this and maybe I am just putting a positive spin on things so I won’t break down in tears, whilst throwing myself at the bonnet of the car wailing about the unfairness of it all but I know in my heart of hearts that I need to do this.

That all said if anybody reading this wants to donate a car to me or the cost of repairs on Keith II then I’m not too proud to accept charity.

* Now being used by Citroen as an advertising slogan.
**Okay only one bit of that was a direct Pet Shop Boys quote.
*** That’s right, needed.

Book Review: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair

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If the publishers have their way then The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker is going to be everywhere this summer as having been translated from its original French it’s finally getting published at the beginning of May. There have been newspaper articles about it, online book sites have been getting ready for its arrival and now it’s arrived on sites such as Netgalley then bloggers such as myself have been given the chance to read and review it. Does it live up to the hype? Can it live up to the hype?

The first thing I need to say is that The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair was originally written in French and arrives in English courtesy of a wonderful and sympathetic translation by Sam Taylor, there weren’t any occasions where the language clunked or jarred, indeed there were passages that ached with beauty and sadness and this is a book that shouldn’t be rushed. The book starts with the publication of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair and it’s author Marucs Goldberg walking through the streets of New York, the darling of literary scene from there we travel back and forward in time to Somerset in New Hampshire – Jones suffering from writer’s block has gone to his old college professor, mentor and successful author Harry Quebert to try and work through it and shortly after leaving Somerset having unsuccessfully address his issues the body of a fifteen year old girl Nola Kellergan who went missing some 35 years previously is found in the garden of Harry’s house – Goldberg knows that this girl is someone who Harry had fallen in love with and after her disappearance his book The Origin of Evil had been published to great success, what transpires is that this book was a disguised account of Harry and Nola’s affair and when this news breaks the book is pulled form shelves and schools across Amercia. Following Harry’s arrest Goldberg travels back to Somerset to defend his friend and to investigate what happened all those years before. This investigation becomes his way back into writing and as he digs deeper the people of Somerset reveal secrets that have lain hidden since Nola vanished. Goldberg faces hostility, threats and the realisation that what he thought he knew about his friend might not necessarily be the truth.

At times The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair reads like a Stephen King book about small town life and I was also reminded of Donna Tartt’s ‘The Secret History’ with the explorations of guilt, love and small town university life. (Images from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet also seemed to regularly pop into my head) Without reading the original French – for which I’m woefully under qualified – it would be difficult to know if this is a deliberate act of homage or whether the translator added these stylistic flourishes but despite or maybe because of them I enjoyed this book from start to finish – one proviso is coming though – and the pace of the book was sublime. This is a book which slowly speeds up, it’s a gradual thing and as I read the story I hardly noticed that I as getting more and more engrossed in it and as I finally reached the point where the we find out what happened all those years ago I a) realised I’d been reading for hours, b) didn’t see the ending coming and c) was moved by what happened.

I like it when books do that to me.

The sections of the book that didn’t quite work for me were the ones to do with the world of book publishing. There have been satires about that world before and it did seem that Joel Dicker was attempting to satirise that world too but he resorted to under developed caricatures of people – the fair-weather agent, the unrequited love of the secretary and the evil publisher himself always threatening to sue his successful writer and offering to deploy a team of ghost writers to make sure the book got written – maybe these things do happen but in the context of this book they didn’t quite ring true.

I mentioned a proviso and it’s this; there are too many twists! This might have been because The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is a multilayered story and each one needed a resolution but they didn’t half come thick and fast as the book reached its climax. Whilst I enjoy the metaphorical carpet getting pulled from beneath me in a thriller they just kept on happening and when the all important big reveal about what actually really did, no I mean this time, honestly, this is it, happen to NG then it was such a blessed relief that I had to re-read the relevant section again just to make sure that I’d understood it and that nobody else was going to say they’d killed Nola.

It’s a minor issue that I had with The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair – because overall it’s a wonderful read. It is very sad in places, Dicker writes about love, loss and grieving in a manner which is warm and touching and this book did move me at times. The book is also about friendship and how at times you have to choose what is important to you and if you can choose friendship over everything else even if that might mess things up. Dicker writes about people who chose to stay in the small town, who chose to make do and no go after the love of their life and how the consequences of those actions can reverberate for decades of not for the rest of someone’s life.

Does The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair live up to the hype? I’m going to answer that by saying that I hope that the hype doesn’t overwhelm the book and that people don’t pick up the thing thinking it’s going to be an easy throwaway read for the beach. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a difficult book but you do need to concentrate, I think you’ll be reading back over certain passages to ensure that it makes sense but I think you’ll love it – I know I did.

Thanks to Quercus for sending me a copy of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair to read.

Film review: Frank

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I never done a film review before but here goes…

Last night I travelled over to Bridport down here in beautiful Dorset for the opening night of the From Page to Screen film festival where the film ‘Frank’ – a film about the late comedian Frank Sidebottom – was being shown in a special screening at the Electric Palace. The film’s two writers Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan were present to introduce the film for what was its British premier and a Q&A session with them took place after the film.

My Frank Sidebottom memory interlude:

I was a convert to Frank Sidebottom after I saw him perform in the comedy tent at the Reading Festival back in 1991.My friend Aydin and I got down to the front of the crowd ready for the headline act and Frank was on before him* and as he came on we both groaned and said “Oh not him!” but we had our precious places so we stayed there and agreed to weather the storm that was coming our way.

Oh my God he was brilliant. The songs, the jokes, more songs the football getting kicked off the stage and Little Frank was there too – it was just fantastic and having never really got Frank when I’d seen him on the telly, in a live environment he made total sense and had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. I laughed, I sang and when he saluted the magic of Freddie Mercury I knew that I was in the presence of somebody special and to this day some 23 years on it remains one of my all time favourite gigs. Anyway back to the film…

‘Frank’ isn’t a biopic about Frank Sidebottom but the story is inspired by him – Ronson played with his “Oh Blimey Big Band” band in the 80s and has written about him before for the Guardian and recently published a book about Sidebottom to tie in with the release of the film – it’s well worth a read if only for the account of him supporting Bros at Wembley Stadium!

Following their introduction to the film as Peter Straughan walked off stage he said that he hoped we enjoyed their strange film and I have to say that it was very strange but it was lovely, funny, sad and thoughtful and I can’t stop thinking about it today. I really want and need to see it again because I know there were bits in the film that I missed and that I’d like to see again.

Franks begins with Jon’s recruitment to Frank’s band in an unnamed seaside town after their previous keyboard player is sectioned. The band members take an instant dislike to Jon but he travels with them to Ireland to a holiday lodge to play and record their album. Whilst there Jon gets to know Frank and begins to realise that despite his dreams and declaring himself a song writer he’s just not very talented. He learns more about Frank and the reasons why he wears the papier mache head. All the while he is using social media to update his growing number of followers about the progress of the recording.

Michael Fassbender plays Frank complete with papier-mâché head and his performance is incredible and at times I found myself thinking “But that’s Michael Fassbender!!! Is that really Michael Fassbender?!?” and despite the fact that throughout the film his real face is hidden from us he projects the sadness that is inherent in Frank, the magic that he brings to people and the belief that he instils not just in his fellow band members but in people as such as a German mother of one.

When the film reaches its final act it needed the actor who had been in the mask to have actually been Frank throughout to portray that sense of torment and sadness that is revealed and for it to be real and moving. It all makes sense and explains the surrealness of what has preceded in the film and Fassbender does all that and made me love him even more than I did before. I found the section where we learnt about Frank from his parents and where he came from and what he’d been through incredibly moving and Fassbender IS Frank and he is loved unconditionally by the people in his life – it’s just an exquisite bit of film.

Please don’t think that this is a depressing film – there are sad moments in it but there are lots of genuine laugh out loud ones too – my favourite involves a tin of food supplement which makes total sense in the context of the film. Maggie Gyllenhall is superb as the Theremin Jon hating player in the band and if you’ve read the book then you know that she is based on a real member of the Oh Blimey Big Band. Domhall Gleeson who plays Jon puts in an understated performance as a musician who tries to grab the opportunity that he’s been given and in doing so ends up realising that he’s never going to make it and sees his actions gradually destroying the thing that people who detest him loved.

Frank shows the process of finding redemption and the ending of the film is heart-warming and lovely and dare I say that I had a tear in my eye at the end of the film? Well of course I do because I did.

The Q&A after the film was really informative and we learnt such things as nobody really seems to know how Michael Fassbender got involved and that from the off he knew he’d be wearing a mask throughout the film. Lots of scenes that the writers loved got cut out and I really hope they get put on the blu-ray when it comes out. Oh and I now have the urge to listen to Trout Mask Replica by Captain Beefheart but probably just the once and I can’t wait to read Jon Ronson’s book about Twitter when it comes out.

Frank is dedicated to Chris Sievey who was Frank Sidebottom and I can’t think of a more appropriate and wonderful tribute to a much loved and unique entertainer.

*The headline act was Dennis Leary and when his stand up comedy is ever mentioned then legally one has to condemn it and state that he completely ripped off Bill Hicks’ act.

We also saw Simon Day that weekend and he was trying out new stuff – this was before The Fast Show and he was mainly known at that point for Tommy Cockles. It didn’t go well and at one point Day asked the audience for a chance and that he had to try out new stuff, it did get a bit uncomfortable but come on, Dave Angel?!? Competitive Dad?!? The stuff of comedy legend!