Thursday, January 27, 2011

OH YAY! The Return of Being Human...

Readers of this blog may be aware that Being Human is one of my all time favourite TV shows, so please indulge me while I do a huge self indulgent SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! of a post to celebrate its return. I fell in love with show when the pilot episode was aired, and then was devastated to discover there wasn't a series at the time, but my patience was rewarded two years ago with Series One, during which I fell head over heels in love with a werewolf called George. I know most people fancy Mitchell, but George is just so - George - and I adore him. Series Two was fantastic, though not quite as good as the first, but still good enough to leave me gagging for more. Particularly as it ended on such a brilliant cliffhanger with Annie having been spirited away to purgatory and Daisy and Cara reviving Herrick who I have to say I really really missed last time.

Because I am a saddo obsessee fan I frequently visit the Being Human blog where they have been teasing us with Annie's Broadcasts from Purgatory (tho I do think they missed a trick in not showing more of that in episode 1 cos they were proper scary as my 12 year old would say), so was very very excited about the new series coming back on Sunday. For the first time we let no 1 watch (she has been infuriated with me for the last two years because I keep telling her how good it is but that she's not allowed to watch it) because otherwise we'd have either had to send her to bed at an unacceptably early hour, or we'd have watched it unacceptably late. (Oh teenage children, how they force you into difficult choices). Actually, I gather Misfits is ruder, and I KNOW she's watched that, so I don't feel I can censor BH any longer.

Anyway, we all sat down to watch with great anticipation (and also a lot of nervousness on my part, because I soooo want it to stay good), and hurrah hurrah, Toby Whithouse delivered once more. And with such style...

So we see Mitchell, Nina and George moving into a new home in Barry Island - an ex b&b which is perfect as it has a convenient basement for Nina & George to change in, a bar, and a Hawaiian picture on the wall. Perfect. I thought I couldn't love their new home as much as I loved the Bristol flat, but I was wrong. Particularly as I've just watched Nina take me round it on the BH blog. I love the detail that there is one of Robson Green's tapes on the shelf. Hilarious. (Robson Green is a new character, McNairn, a cage fighting werewolf.) It is that kind of detail that makes me love the BH team.

Mitchell sees Annie on the TV telling her she is being sent to hell and decides he has to go and rescue her, though George doesn't want him to go (I can't lose you too. Oh George is it possible for me to love you more?), and Nina warns him to be sensitive when she finds him a terminally ill patient to follow through the door to purgatory. I did love the scene when Mitchell and George are waiting for him to die - George tries to read Jewish prayers, driving Mitchell nuts, while Mitchell does crosswords, but the moment of death was beautifully filmed, with Mitchell displaying tenderness and concern for the man as he takes him through (no mention of the men with ropes this time, I note...)

The moment when Mitchell went through the door was the moment this episode really took off for me. There was a lot of other stuff going on - we get introduced to Robson Green's McNairn, who is kidnapped and forced into a cage fight with an poor unsuspecting human, while his son encounters George in a forest both preparing to change (George and Nina are taking it in turns to share the basement so he is out in the forest setting himself a trail to follow), which leads George in turn to follow him and end up accidentally meeting a group of doggers. It could only happen to George and created a brilliantly hilarious BH moment when George is arrested, despite telling the police, in that George voice I love, I've got a condition, and locked in a cell just as he is about to change. Meanwhile he manages to get a phone call to Nina, who is also on the verge, and she has to come and rescue him from his police cell. Let's hear it for Nina! I am so glad she is properly a lead now. I love Nina as much as George. My favourite werewolf couple. Though, what is going on with her hair, people?

Nina trying to resist her werewolf tendencies while she gets George out of jail by persuading the cops that his condition is so serious they'll be in a lot of trouble if they don't release him was one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. But then just to ratchet up the tension, we also see the preparations for the cage fight (people holding up placards: Ten Minutes to Full Moon. Genius), and George and Nina desperately racing to find somewhere to hide so they can change safely and then having to lock themselves in together, despite George's fear that they'll kill each other. Another beautiful moment when they tell each other they love one another before falling to the floor in agony. Woohoo. And THEN seeing the cage fight, where full marks to the BH team, they didn't flinch once from the full horror of it. It was brutal and bloody and terrible, with the truth of the situation suddenly dawning on the victim in a terrifying way. But worse then the werewolf were the baying mob, and the leader of the kidnappers (played by a very sinister Paul Kaye) being disappointed that he's lost his bet that the human would last two minutes...

And while ALL this is going on, Mitchell is in Purgatory down a long corridor with many doors, with his spirit guide, Lia. Who knows he's a vampire, and knows stuff about him and keeps saying H12, to his and our confusion. Mitchell keeps asking to see Annie, but instead she offers him the choice of which door to open. As a catholic, I LOVED this version of purgatory, it felt really like it might be like that (my aged fil had a near death experience after his stroke when he was in a corridor knocking on doors and people on the other side wouldn't let him in. He wasn't at all religious but was convinced that's what happened till the day he died.)

Mitchell's choices force him to look at who or what he is, so the first door takes him back to WW1, just after he was turned, when he goes back to his regiment and ends up poisoning his friend Arthur and taking his life. He doesn't want to confront what he's done, but Lia leads him to see that he couldn't really help it, he was confused, and a victim too. They move onto the next door and its back in the 60s and this time the victim is a young girl called Sally. Now things are different, Lia tells him, Mitchell claims it got chaotic - he says he was out of control, she points out he was in control enough to have sex. It's almost as if you enjoyed it, Lia says and Mitchell claims he is not that man any more. When a desperate Annie shows up on the tv screen again Mitchell begs to be told what to do, but Lia says its his choice... At that moment Mitchell nearly gives up, It was brave of you try, says Lia, but then he can't leave without Annie, so chooses another door.

And suddenly we're in the carriage of the train in which he and Daisy went on a feeding frenzy last series. As this was one of the most shocking scenes from series 2 - I had got so used to Mitchell as the good guy it was truly horrific to see him fall from grace - it was brilliant to see Mitchell have to confront what he'd done. Suddenly he has an explanation of who Lia is, H12 - the seat she was sitting in, she's one of his victims too. Lia introduces him to the others: the train driver with five kids, the woman who'd survived breast cancer so he can see the ripples of his actions - till Mitchell can bear it no more. He says sorry, and relentlessly she tells him its not enough, she forces him to look at the way he hides from what he's done: Mitchell excuses it by saying its a compulsion, he was angry, Daisy made him do it... Lia tells him he's after forgiveness, and uses the good things he does to make up for the bad, and finally Mitchell confesses that he's an animal and he doesn't deserve forgiveness. I was dead and I never felt so alive, he says and admits to being addicted to a lack of conscience. It was a thrilling and wonderful performance from Aidan Turner (and suddenly I'm feeling all that Mitchell love...), as for the first time Mitchell properly faces up to his past actions, without the excuses. And this time, Lia warns him there will be consequences, as the price for getting Annie will be his death by way of a wolf shaped bullet. Mitchell is the final piece in someone else's story, and they have to kill him. Ouch.

So Mitchell has got Annie back. Nina and George didn't kill each other but shagged instead (I predict the pitter patter of wolf cub feet), and McNairn's son killed the vampire kidnapper (I missed that till the last minute, duh) and tells him about having seen George.

Being Human's well and truly back. Major major SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Toby Whithouse. I think I love you.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Breast is Best

... This is the mantra that has been drummed into new mums by what I just heard referrred to on the radio as The Breastapo for years and years.

When I started out on this parenting malarkey I think The Breastapo were just coming into their own. I can remember going to an antenatal class (NCT - natch, I'm middle class, but GOD I hated those classes, run by well meaning but narrow minded folk who could not accept that sometimes babies don't arrive easily, sometimes pain relief is necessary and sometimes, god forbid, even intervention is. As a result of their well meaning efforts I felt a complete failure after no 1's delivery which involved an epidural, forceps & episotomy), where a very bossy woman stood up and repeated the Breast is Best mantra which quite frankly, in my child bearing years I grew to hate. She told us, I seem to remember that as an alternative to breast milk had only been around for fifty years or so, this was nature's way of saying that babies should only be fed from their mothers, and that ALL mothers could feed. A statement so sweepingly ignorant it failed to recognise that pre-formula milk being available babies DIED because their mothers couldn't feed, or used wet nurses. It just simply isn't true that ALL mothers can feed their babies. Most probably can, but some just can't.

I was lucky. I produced enough milk to keep my babies going probably far longer then the currently recommended six months, but jeez, how I hated breastfeeding. Saying that in itself is the ultimate heresy for The Breastapo. It's like declaring I don't love my baby. But before I had babies the idea didn't appeal, and once the whole messy painful procedure presented it to me in all its glory, I discovered, that me and breastfeeding, really really didn't get along. So it was that within six weeks of no 1 being born I switched to bottle feeding (and did the same with all my others to no ill effects that I can now see. None of them being stupid, or behind at school as threatened. Two of them true are asthmatics, but asthma is in my family and I don't believe for an instant that my breastfeeding a bit longer would have stopped them getting asthma), albeit feeling so guilty I remember hiding the bottles when the midwife came round. Can you credit it, a grown woman in her own house, sneaking around like a guilty schoolgirl? But that's what The Breastapo reduces you to. Bonkers.

I mention all of this because in the time since I had my babies, the power of The Breastapo has grown to the extent that thanks to a directive form the WHO that says newborns should be fed exclusively breast milk for the first six months of their lives (surely a policy that is more relevant in third world countries where they are at greater risk of infection), now all new mums are bullied - I mean advised - that they should not give solids until six months.

When I first heard this policy I thought wtf? Not only did I stop breastfeeding mine early, but given how hungry they were (all of them were over a week later and 8lbs+) I also fed them solids at three months. Yes I did say three months. They were hungry. I had got to the limit of how many bottles a day I could give them (along with dire warnings about making them fat if I gave them too much formula. Are we the most bullied generation of mothers, ever? Discuss.) and once they were on solids they slept through the night. Result. I feel immensely sorry for the poor women who are struggling to keep their babies on breast milk for the whole six months. If their babies are anything like mine were they must be worn to the ground.

So I heartily applaud the sensible study which today led by a paediatrician from UCL's Institue of Child Health, whom I presume knows what of he speaks, has suggested that breastfeeding for six months exclusively is not necessarily always in the best interest of the baby, who may not receive the right amount of nutrition (hello, isn't that rather obvious?) and in some cases may end up iron deficient as a result. Of course the Royal College of Midwives, the heads of the Breastapo have jumped on this claiming it is a study that only helps the baby food industry. Bollocks. It will help mothers to make a more informed choice about how long they breastfeed for, and in turn that will help their babies.

I am not for one minute suggesting mothers shouldn't breast feed. (Nor am I suggesting that all midwifes and health visitors are bullies. Most are sensible people who give you good advice and are obliged to follow the latest guidelines however misguided they are.) It has been proved without a doubt that there are health benefits to mother and baby (and yes, you do lose your baby weight quicker when you do it, one of the only reasons I kept at it, quite frankly), but this bullying one sided coercion of new mothers in particular (who are very very vulnerable and need sensible support not bullying) has to stop. Breast is certainly best for babies, but feeding them is a multifactoral thing, and what suits one mother and baby doesn't suit another. New mums should be given enough advice for them to make up their own minds and then be allowed to get on with it.

Breast may be best, but I think most mothers know best as far as their babies are concerned anyway...

Friday, January 07, 2011

New Year, New Me, New Post

It seems a bit late on January 7 to be wishing y'all a belated Happy Christmas, but helas, this year time was agin me round the festive season. First, I had a deadline, which took up the first half of December (along with rather a lot of snow), then I had to catch up on present buying/wrapping, card sending etc the week before the kids broke up, and THEN in a moment of utter folly I decided to clean the house the week before Christmas. A totally pointless exercise, as within minutes of Santa's arrival it looked like a bomb had hit it (though today's post festivity clean up actually was easier as a result, or that's what I keep telling myself). We went up to my mum's for a few days after Christmas, and then I just basically lounged lazily about, and hardly was online at all (it doesn't help that I have to fight for computer space when the offspring are home), hence my pathetic lack of seasons greetings.

Anyway. Hope it was a good one for everyone reading this. Ours was quiet. And uneventful. And restful. Which after a stressful couple of Christmases is just the way I like it. I actually felt like I'd had a break for once.

Now back (sort of) in the swing, so hope to be a better blogger in 2011 then I was in 2010, when I seem to lose my blogging mojo a bit. I have had lots of things I wanted to blog about recently: the snow, Christmas, the return of Primeval (yay!), and better still the imminent return of Being Human, (double yay!), but the moment has passed. As I am about to get embroiled in the rewrites on my next opus, Summer Season, I maybe slightly quiet for the next few weeks, but hope to write something here. At some point. I promise...