Artgenda Movies

I don’t like films with “agendas” -even if it’s in support of a viewpoint I might otherwise agree with. At least not an agenda that must be conformed to in order to appreciate the tale at hand. If I want to be preached at I’ll go to church. I don’t think any “art” (and by that I do include “entertainment”) should have any leaning bias.

Viewers should be free to form their own conclusions and opinions -not have it forced upon them.

Pleasantville is an example off the top of my head.
It’s black & white and slowly goes into colour as characters develop less “50s strict” lifestyles and learn to live in increasingly more liberal ways.

Continue reading Artgenda Movies


A day spent not learning anything new is a day wasted. With that in mind here’s what I learnt today:

When browsing through drawers in the kitchen, if you come across an open packet of sweets or chocolate make sure you keep the drawer open as you examine further, otherwise you might forget which drawer they came from.

…I’m not saying it was me, but luckily I was able to quickly spin it… “Well if you managed to forget which drawer you left your Maltesers in, obviously you don’t have a clear recollection of how many of them you ate!”

HA! GAME SET AND MATCH! TAKE THAT FOUR YEAR OLD! You need to be sharper on your toes than that when you start school tomorrow!

Incidentally, apropos of nothing in particular, did you know Maltesers float in tea? Pop four or five of them in your cup and spoon them out individually for chocolaty goodness. While the drawer is open.

Pontins Day 5

If you haven’t already, check out the Pontins Progression beginning here.

– –

They got both types of food here in Brean Sands: chips AND curry!

That’s all well and good, but by Day Four one finds oneself yearning for the spud or the soup or the rice crackers. I’m not fatist, but the very high percentage of obese individuals roaming the territory is mildly disconcerting. There’s nothing like the sight of seven six-foot rotunders rounding out the queue in a chipper to inspire an inkling for the somewhat leaner cuisine. Somewhat leaner than a lump of lard washed down with a six pack that is.

After much pacing and menu-scanning at last we found a restaurant with an option for other than the above.

I had Mushroom Stroganoff. Mrs Rumm had the Drunken Cow Pie. Her sister had our kids.

Quite tasty and fairly reasonably priced it was too, even if counter service did the place no favours in distancing it from, say, an upmarket McDonalds.

I may have mentioned in passing the less-than-ideal sleeping arrangements, but now I find myself unable to avoid further details: we have two bedrooms in our ‘shallet’. One for the kids containing two beds with just enough room to step between them, and one for… for… well I’m not sure who for.

The under-sized double bed is like a cast-off from an old hospital. Its tuneful springs are held together by a heroic fibre, losing a mighty battle to keep it in one piece. Underneath… well let’s not over-burden ourselves with such details  now. Let’s just leave it with a tip: don’t bother looking under the bed until your bags are packed and the engine is running.
(Disclaimer: I never looked and I’m not going to either.)

So anyway, it was Mrs. Rumm’s turn with the couch. Hey I’m nothing if not fair, although in this case, the undulating, metal-bar-sprung pulldown is the preferable option.

I believe I pointed out the prevelance of the outsized form hereabouts, but tiny bedrooms and woeful beds are permitted one small concession: Mushroom Stroganoff is not so easy to find. You got to seek it out -And a good thing too I now believe, for I was awoken at 3 am by a howling, rancid wind. My own.

I swear it crowded the tiny room and slammed my face against the wall. My poor long-suffering wife was lucky in more ways than one she was on the couch. This isolation cell stank even too much for me. Good thing I don’t smoke in bed or the only thing left of Brean Sands, Burnham-on-sea would be a wisp of dark smoke fizzling over a solitary metal bedspring, spinning round the bottom of a deep, black crater. Mushroom Stroganoff me hole. Tis a long way from Mushroom Stroganoff I was reared I can tell you.


In summation: Have I enjoyed my stay here in Pontins, Brean Sands?
I’d have to answer, begrudgingly, yes.

Our beds were Guantanamoesque. The shallets/huts wouldn’t win any prizes in a sandcastle competition. Parents and adults are at the mercy of their offsprings and bedsprings. Shane Ritchie is God and hell is his domain.

That said, Pontins is all about the kids and their unbridled glee at being here outweighs the moans and groans of those of us who’d rather be sat at a quiet piano bar with internet access for the week. If the piano was broken, even better. If the bar was empty that’d be just fine.

Staff are very helpful and not overly pushy. There was no dragging to join conga lines going on. In fact, to be honest, I didn’t notice any conga lines at all.

The lighthearted nature of the staff rubs off on the guests too I think. I’ve seen no trouble or angry words exchanged. All adults are either already in the party-zone or share the same all-in-it-together weighted shrug of the shoulders (mostly us fathers it has to be said).

Would I come back to Pontins? Not by choice.

Will I come back to Pontins? They do the job so well (making sure the kids are happy and have plenty of things to do) I might not have a say in the matter. I just wish they’d devote a teensy bit of attention to the needs of those of us taller than five foot who would prefer to have the basics – ie. CAMP-WIDE CHEAP WI-FI INTERNET ACCESS! (at the moment it’s limited to the main building and you have to buy a scratch card for time-limited access. And it ain’t cheap. I paid 20quid for three days.)

I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to my tale. I’ll try to answer any questions as best I can.

For my next review I’d like to try something slightly easier, like reporting on the inside of a lion’s den perhaps.

Until then, (I’ve avoided saying it before now but what the hell)… Hi Di Hi campers!

Pontins Day 4

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.

I met a hula mistress somewhere in Waikiki,
Well, she was selling pineapple, playing ukulele,
And when I went to the girl, “Come on and teach me to sway,”
She laughed and whispered to me, “Yes, come tonight to the bay.”

The lovely beach, in the sky the moon of Kauai,
Around calypso sarong we’ll all be singing this song.

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.

And down on the shore they gather romance,
She showed me much more, not only to dance.

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.

The lovely beach, in the sky the moon of Kauai,
Around calypso sarong we’ll all be singing this song.

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.

Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, shake the tree,
Agadoo-doo-doo, push pineapple, grind coffee,
To the left, to the right, jump up and down and to the knees,
Come and dance every night, sing with the hula melody.


Why not check out how it came to this, beginning here.

Continue to Day 5 (the final day) here.


Day 3 of one father’s continuing reluctant adventures at Pontins. If you haven’t already, check out Day 1 here. Day 2 here.

– – – –

The family were out. I was sweltering in the bedroom, typing this non-blog when there came a knock on the door.

Knock knock knock.

I knew at once who it was and shouted to my brother-in-law, Richard, not to let them in.

Richard, being Richard, obliged the other, “proper” side and opened the door. He began to explain how we didn’t want to join in the festivities and organised family fun but he was knocked over the head by a burly female bluecoat and dragged outside to the crazy golf and abseiling, unconscious. Later there would be photographs confirming he enjoyed these events.

By now I had barricaded the bedroom and dug myself in under the bed, but they soon broke through. Two bluecoats stood before my protruding feet now as a third explained how it was for my own good.

“You’ll love it!” she assured me in a sweet, sympathetic voice. This was the same one who knocked out Richard without a word. Dear Richard. Dear, dear Richard.

“We have bicycle rides around the park,” she informed me, “and we even provide a child to cycle with if you can’t find your own.” A fat kid with a limp and runny nose was presented to my heels. My feet pretended they didn’t hear or see.

“We have face-painting for adults and candy-floss parties!” she enthused, but when she saw it wasn’t working she immediately changed tack..

“You can sit in the bar and just _pretend_ to join in!” she told me, but I knew at once it was a lie. Token partipation is not an option. She was willing to say whatever it took to coax me out from under the bed. It would look better for the records. I could hear the approaching sounds of a nearby Aga-Doo singing conga-line and knew at once her aim was for me to head it.

“You’re only making it worse on yourself you know,” the bluecoat was now telling me and sure enough, when I didn’t answer right away, she nodded silently to her accomplices, who began to pull at my feet.

By now I had dug in with my fingernails, but even that was no use. Two long trails of five were ploughed through the multicoloured polyester carpet as I was dragged to rights and to “FUN” with a capital-F.

Right before the chloraform-soaked rag was placed over my mouth I looked up to see
the face of one of my assailants: NOOOOoooooo!
“Thomas, how could you!” I cried. “I thought you were my friend! You fixed the TV for my Wii!”

How unfair is this place? It comes for me even in my dreams, reaches out and drags me in.

We failed to make the Pig & Donkey Races last night you’ll be saddened to hear. It was being held at the back of a nearby fair (we call them “Merries” where I come from).
By the time we made it through it had already started and they wanted a tenner from each adult and a fiver for each kid. For pig and donkey racing! Did we get to eat the winners afterwards for that price I wondered? Perhaps they were aiming for authentic fast food? No matter, we had already easily dropped a hundred in the preceding half hour. There was no way I was allowing anyone I knew pay for pork n’ ass. This _IS_ a family holiday after all you know.

Check out Day 4

Pontins -Day 2

There was something I left out in my previous post…

As soon as we made it to the room (here in Pontins) I unpacked the Nintendo Wii. Well you don’t think I’d go away for five days with mad children unarmed do you?

After setting up I turned the telly around, only to find a single coaxial ariel-type port at the back -not the required composite yellow/red/white or scart.

There was weeping, gnashing of teeth, floor-kicking, head banging and general non-specific tantrum behaviour. Luckily the children weren’t around to witness it.

Once I recovered I came up with a cunning plan!
“Quick -check the telly next door for a scart connector!” I called to my obliging wife. Her sister was late arriving you see. She missed the induction, er, I mean registration and we had their room key.

Sure enough their TV did indeed have the necessary port. Pontins’ upbeat air was beginning to rub off because I must admit it gave me great delight swapping those televisions.

But my joy was short-lived.

The Wii did connect, but there was no remote control in the room. The buttons on the front of the set allowed volume control and channel switching, but there was no way to switch to the AV channel. Gah!

Though fear not, for help was at hand… Mrs. Rumm stopped a member of staff outside the door and asked if there was a remote control for the TV. Alas, no was the reply, but the staff member promised she would see if there was anything to be done before slinking off. We all know what that means don’t we?

Imagine then my surprise when she slinked back five minutes later with another staff member who knew his onions.
“Which TV do you have?” He enquired as he stepped into the house, “I might be able to…” but once he spotted the non-brand brand he groaned. “We probably could’ve done something if it had been anything other than a LINSAR model…” he consoled me like a doctor delivering unsavoury news to a relative.

By the time he left the roles had been reversed. He was that upset at not being able to help I was consoling him.

Five minutes later he was back with a Thomson TV in his arms.
“I know it’s possible to switch to AV on this model” he beamed.
And he was right.

Another problem presented itself -brightness was very dim on the AV channel -something I was prepared to live with, but ‘Thomas’ was now taking it personally. He set off once more, this time in search of a Thomson remote from his own accommodation. Fortunately by the time he returned the problem had rectified
itself. Don’t ask me how.

Chalk one up for the Pontins staff -for Thomas in particular of course, but from what I’ve seen, everyone seems helpful around here.

Last night, as we watched TV, afraid of going to bed (I didn’t yet mention the kip that is the bedrooms), my daughter snuggled up next to me and smiled. “This is a nice holiday isn’t it daddy? Tomorrow I’m going swimming and I’m going to go down that slide!”
I had to join in her glee and return the smile.

I still hate the place of course, but don’t tell the kids that. They might… nah I suppose it wouldn’t matter one jot if I did or not.

…Reminds me of something unrelated. Or probably not that it reminds me, but what I mean is something else just popped into my mind…
On the ferry yesterday we traipsed the two available levels in search of seats for two adults, two children. Everywhere was full. People barricaded themselves behind bags, parents juggled up to three children in the air at once,

It was like being at a football stadium in the buildup to a hurricaine. Or like being at Pontins I was yet to discover at the time.

Then I spotted it: One young fella upstairs, in a corner, sprawled across a table, surrounded by five empty seats, with his back to the chaos. He felt my presence and looked up (immediately regretting it I could tell).
“Are these seats taken?” I enquired, moving into place with the two kids and wife in tow.”

“Yeah” he stammered.

I looked around at the empty seats with no bags.

“All of them?” I pushed.

He cowed into his arms (still spread across the table) “er, ‘cept one” he mumbled.

It would have given me untold pleasure to call his bluff, but Mrs. Rumm would never have taken it. Instead we shared some space with her sister’s family.

Later I saw that sprawled guy queuing at the Bureau De Change. I suddenly had a deep-seated urge to run up and sit in the corner seat upstairs. It pains me to admit I didn’t.

Later still, my sister-in-law’s child began to wander around the stairs and I felt it my duty to accompany him. We made it to the top and my suspicions were confirmed: Mr. “Er, ‘cept one” was once again sprawled across the table, surrounded by six empty seats. I had missed my chance at the Bureau De Change. I have now designated him my nemesis. He may have won the first battle, but our paths will cross again one day. Of that I am certain!

Meanwhile, back at Pontins, my sister in law is anxious to check out the pig & donkey race this evening (my money’s on the pig -never bet against a pig), my children are adament I’m to accompany them swimming and my wife just relieved me of the one pleasure I was having all day (cherry beer from the not-so-local Morrisons -she drank it!)
I haven’t bumped into Captain Croc yet, or any of the other camp mascots. In fact I’ve managed to keep low most of the day. With any luck I can get through this. Only three more days to go.

At least nobody mentioned Bingo yet.

Continue to Day 3.

Our Man in Hav, er, Pontins


I’ve been roped in to going on holidays with the family. Not my holiday, but theirs. I’ve already resigned myself to that.

I only discovered a few days ago our destination was Pontins, in sunny Somerset, England.

I’ll try to convey my thoughts on the place over the next few days, access permitting.

Registration wasn’t until 4, but fret not -there was plenty for us to do before then. We arrived at 3:15. A friendly staff member directed us to car park number 1 and then to The Fun Factory for induction, er, registration.

We slide-stepped and shimmied, we hip-hopped and moon-walked. Eventually we made our way through the thronging masses and the deafening hordes and flashy slot machines to The Fun Factory.

Induction, er, registration we discovered involved sitting at a table of our choosing, taking a six-barrel pistol from the centre, pointing it at our skulls and pulling the trigger. Later we discovered there was a bullet in only one chamber.

OK, not really.

Induction, er, registration had us listening to the well-practiced banter of a pleasant late-teens Pontins Vet. Then she released the crocodiles. Well, one crocodile. Captain Croc. He’s the camp mascot or something.

Children jumped for joy and ran to Captain Croc. They sang songs and danced in circles around him.
More or less. There’s nothing like a giant reptile to keep children happy.

OK Mr-A-Croc-is-not-a-reptile-Smartypants I have another one for you: This wasn’t even a real crocodile so who’s so smart now eh?  EH!!??

Finally the gates were opened and 400 or more families were allowed check in. Orderly queues were formed in the large hall in alphabetical groupings and the fun began.
Of course I left Mrs. Rumm deal with it. She’s good at that kind of thing, I took a kid of my choosing for a walk to survey the damage.

Bodies were piled three deep on the lawn. Some of them half-naked. Fat men and over-ripe kids mostly. Flies licked sweat from their crevices and stomped on their ice cream, but these people were oblivious. It seems dreary faces are not allowed at Pontins. Clearly they put something in the water or the food. Or the air maybe.

That’s why I’m holed up, sitting on the bog as I type this. I asked Mrs. Rumm to bring me some tin foil from the shop so I can fashion a hat for myself. I don’t want anything around here rubbing off on me. But did she hell. Instead she came back with tea bags, milk and cream buns.  CREAM BUNS!!
Oh the humanity!

The others have left for the beach, but I think I’ll just finish this before risking all in a bid to eke out some internet access. If you don’t read this it means I have failed. Please send one euro for my children.

The horror! The horror!


On to Day 2



I was shopping yesterday with the kids. The younger one (4) was starting to get a bit annoying so I plucked him up and stuck him in the trolley seat. He still fits. Just about. He starts school at the end of this month, so you can imagine he’s not pleased when I do this.



Anyway, he got over it and soon settled down.


When we reached the checkout there was a short queue so we found ourselves looking into each other’s eyes. He was laughing quietly to himself as he looked at me.


“One day you will,” he nodded with a big grin on his face.


“One day I will what?” I asked him, stumped.


“One day you will hate me.”
He said it, still nodding and smiling, like he found it a wise and amusing prediction.


“What!?” I gasped, laughing slightly nervously. “Why would I hate you one day??”


He paused, then with perfect timing said


“…because I will be the best gamer.”


Poker Rankings

My brother-in-law was sitting in the kitchen a while ago when he noticed a deck of cards on the table. He picked them up and the first five cards he turned over made a full-house. Happy with himself he laughed then asked what beats a full-house.

My daughter (8) piped up: “A royal flush!”

We both laughed at her knowledge, but she wasn’t finished.

“Four of a kind…”

“A straight flush.”

Just when we thought she was done she added

“…and if you’re playing with jokers you could have five of a kind.”

Confession: I didn’t teach her the rules, but I did discover she had dug out this poker-hands table a few days ago that I made up some time ago (mainly because I can never remember the answer to questions like “what beats a full-house?”

Continue reading Poker Rankings