Why he refused to play golf

#Retired Bloke Quote

“A decision of the courts decided that the game of golf may be played on Sunday, not being  a game within the view of the law, but being a form of moral effort.”

Stephen Leacock 1869-1944

Canadian humorist

Over the Footlights (1923) ‘Why I Refuse to Play Golf’


Plenty of shade, light not so much

WEEK three of our Drawing and Painting class, and it’s on to charcoal and chalk. I’d never tried drawing with either of these before; messy, aren’t they?

Tim The Tutor explained the mysteries of “ground” – the laying down of a background colour or shade, as opposed to where you throw your drawing in disgust.

After a couple of attempts, I could have dispensed with the charcoal stick and prepared all the ground I needed off my fingers.

It was back to the same still-life arrangement as last week for a subject. For what it’s worth, here’s my effort. I know what you’re thinking: “what is it?” It’s a study in shade and tone, allegedly. And in my defence, I don’t recall Picasso being such a dab hand at drawing bottles either.

DSC00084Next week we are moving on to acrylic paint and the use of colour. Aren’t we getting on with things!

What is taste and fashion?

#Retired Bloke Quote

“The same costume will be

Indecent … 10 years before its time

Shameless … 5 years before its time

Outre … 1 year before its time


Dowdy … 1 year after its time

Hideous … 10 years after its time

Ridiculous … 20 years after its time

Amusing … 30 years after its time

Quaint … 50 years after its time

Charming … 70 years after its time

Romantic … 100 years after its time

Beautiful … 150 years after its time”

James Laver 1899-1975

British fashion writer

Taste and Fashion (1937)

Room really is as good as they said

THE Current Mrs Feeney and I have just come in from watching Room. It really is as good as the film critics said.

Ever since Home Alone, I have been naturally disposed to having my teeth set on edge by the mere sight of that dreaded thing, the child actor. But I am forced to admit that Jacob Tremblay is extraordinarily good as Jack, the child born and raised inside the room where his abducted mother has been imprisoned for seven years.

Brie Larson is utterly believable as Jack’s ‘Ma’. In fact, the whole cast give performances of great intelligence and restraint. Hats off to the director, Lenny Abrahamson, and to writer Emma Donoghue for turning her best-selling 2010 novel into a spare script that pulls your emotions in all directions.

Before we got to see the film, we had to endure the survival course that is the front counter at the cinema. No, it really is not a great idea to have one woman on duty, selling film tickets, drinks, and food.

And if she has to do it all, can she please give the couple in front of me everything they need for their coffees at the same time. Much quicker for us all than serving them their coffees, then walking all the way to the other end of the front desk to get the lids for their cups, and then walking all the way back there AGAIN to get their spoons and sugars! At which point TCMrsF said something unladylike under her breath and left me to it.

You want to know how good Room is? Within minutes we’d forgotten about the front counter and the ordeal by coffee. That’s how good this film is.

Retired Bloke Rating: OUTSTANDING *****

Snapshots of an unfamiliar part of the world

World Crime Atlas: the retirement project to read a crime novel set in every country listed in The Times atlas of the world.


The Mahboob Chaudri Mysteries, by Josh Pachter

The plot: The book contains ten short stories, which were written for American mystery magazines. Their brevity means that the plotting in each is of necessity brief.

Where and when: The stories were originally published in the early and mid 1980s, and gathered into a single volume by the author in 2015.

The Detective: Mahboob Ahmed Chaudri is a Pakistani working for the police force. We are introduced to him in the first story in the collection, The Dilmun Exchange, as a 28-year-old natoor (patrolman). In subsequent stories, the “small-framed Pakistani in the olive-green uniform of Bahrain’s Public Security Force” is promoted to the rank of mahsool (detective).

Sense of Place: The stories may be brief, and the plotting is sometimes slight, but they contain plenty of insights for the armchair traveller. The Dilmun Exchange opens on Bab-al-Bahrain Avenue, which we are told is the main street of the old shopping district of Manama, the capital (and only) city of Bahrain. In the course of the stories, Pachter introduces us to Jabel ad-Dukham (The Mountain of Smoke), the emirate’s highest point, from where on a clear day you can see the whole of the country, from al-Muharraq in the north to Ras al-Barr in the south. The concrete and glass towers of al-Khalifa Road, the centre of Manama’s business district, contrast vividly with the desert emptiness of the interior. This passage, from the story ASU, captures the energy and bustle of the city’s souk: “They watched grey-bearded tailors hand-stitch jet-black abbas, sitting cross-legged on the wooden floors of ‘shops’ barely three-feet wide and deep. They wandered down streets lined chockablock with gold merchants and tinsmiths and incense sellers and dealers in redolent herbs and spices. They passed open-air teahouses whose pale-blue benches were filled with grizzled old men puffing dreamily on tall glass water pipes. They saw beggar women swathed in black on every street corner and heard the babble of a dozen unfamiliar languages everywhere they turned.”

Worth reading? Certainly. There is not a lot of crime fiction set in Bahrain. This collection can be comfortably read in an afternoon, and will give snapshots of a country that many readers will be unfamiliar with.

Beautiful and brutal

I HAVE just come in from watching The Revenant, the film that everybody expects to finally land a Best Actor Oscar for Leonardo DiCaprio as the trapper who survives a bear attack and burial alive, and hunts down the man who killed his son and left him for dead.

Only when the film started did I discover that I had unintentionally chosen a screening that was sub-titled for the hard of hearing. I imagined what The Current Mrs Feeney would have had to say about this oversight. Fortunately for me, she was shopping with her sister.

It didn’t really matter that much, because some of the dialogue is in French, and more of it is in various native American languages, all of which would have required sub-titles for me to understand what was being said anyway.

Visually, The Revenant is extraordinarily good. There have been lots of stories about the extreme lengths that director Alejandro  G. Inarritu went to, filming only in natural light in remote and inhospitable locations in Canada and Argentina. The results of this bloody-mindedness are indeed stunning. This is a film of mountain and snow, of trees and wind, of river and fire.

So, will The Revenant mean 2016 is finally DiCaprio’s year? Very probably; however; obviously the role was hugely demanding physically. But I didn’t think it extended his acting capabilities beyond giving us his full repertoire of panting, groaning, screaming, retching and grunting.

He does them all with massive conviction. I’m just not convinced all of that adds up to an Oscar. Now co-star Tom Hardy is another matter. He has also been nominated for Best Supporting Actor. I thought his performance was brilliant.

The Revenant clearly wants to be a whole lot more than a beautiful but brutal revenge movie. There is a lot here too about rebirth and man’s relationship with nature. At one point, when DiCaprio’s character’s dead wife’s spirit floats above him and tells him that a strongly-rooted tree can withstand the fiercest storm, I feared we were straying into Lord of the Rings’ Galadriel territory.

But I quibble. This film is a visual and audio delight. It deserves all of its Oscar nominations.

Retired Bloke Rating VERY GOOD ****