Blogging Bert


Menu Close

Page 3 of 21




I don’t know why we are here, but I am pretty sure it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

More Gym Talk

I overheard two men talking today but couldn’t see them.  One said out of the blue “Why do people lie?” and then started pouring his heart out that a woman had said she’d meet him and hadn’t.  He was quite upset and the man he was talking to (they didn’t sound as if they knew each other), was very sweet and sympathetic.  Even suggested he read some poetry.

I really wanted to see who they were so hurried up drying myself so I could walk past them on the way to my lockers.  There was Greek man in his sixties on his own so I presumed they had gone.  A tall black guy probably in his early thirties walked past me – and I heard the two voices start up again.  The older man was the one who had been let down, and the younger guy was his sympathetic listener.


On Saturday evening I went to a Memorial of a dear friend of mine who died a year ago. I knew her from a school I taught at where she specialised in Drama with the children.  But at her funeral last year this extraordinary life appreared I knew little about. She was trained as an actor and worked steadily in TV series from the 1970’s through to the around 2000 I think. She was very politiclly active and played a big part in the community of her Synagogue in North London.  I learned at her funeral, if I remember correctly, she was the first woman to read from the Torah there. She wrote poetry and plays.

A long time ago I broke my leg, and even though I didn’t know her very well at that time, because she lived fairly near me she offered to drive me to school and back, and she did so over some weeks.  That’s how I really got to know her.  She has a son of whom she was immensely proud – especially when he got arrested for protesting. He is a composer and musician and now he is starting to make his name. Her ex-husband with whom she continued to be on good terms  worked in television, directing some well-known series and dramas.

She had two dogs when I knew her.  First was Ella (after Fitzgerald) and when she died she couldn’t live long without another one, and so along came Billie (Holiday) who had the same spirit of adventure and love of life as her owner. When she became ill she had to give Billie away and I know that would have broken her heart.  I used to walk on  around Ally Pally with them, or bump into them at the local shopping street. She went to my yoga class (without Billie) for a while but gave up because there were too many Sun Salutations!

I still pass where she used to live on one of my regular bus routes. She came to my birthdays and was just enormously kind.  I really miss her. At the Memorial which involved a group of known (Miriam Margolyes, Marion Bailey and David Horovitch as well as Mike Leigh) and unknown actors performing four of her plays, I heard her acute ear for dialogue; the plays were funny, angry and deeply compassionate.  Marilyn never seemed to take anyone or anything at face value.  I wonder what she would have made of Trump. She was forever telling me off if she sensed me  spouting a received opinion (as I usually do). It was a lovely evening including two recordings of her voice. I’m so proud to have known her.


The wonder is not that the field of stars is so vast, but that man has measured it.

Anatole France


These two boys were sitting in an exquisitely beautiful, tiny chapel in France. The picture makes me laugh because it reminds me of how I used to feel at their age.  And still do although now I am supposed to hold such feelings in.  I sometimes fail to do this in the cinema or theatre and (apparently) start sighing a lot out loud.  I have a friend who used to come out of meetings with pages of detailed and rather lovely doodles which everyone in the meeting would have seen her making.  I never worked out how she got away with it other than no one wanted to confront her.  Last Christmas another friend bought me a mug with a Ladybird book cover on it: Shopping With Mother.  It reminded me of the times I went shopping with my own mother when I was a child and the excruciating boredom I went through, though I can’t remember what she was doing.  Trying on and buying clothes?  I still feel like this inside now and come close to behaving badly.  What holds me back is not that it would be considered as childish behaviour, but rather I don’t want to be rude to people – although I have failed really badly at this on a few occasions in the past and paid the price in the consequences.  I went to a series of talks recently, and the amount of people playing on their mobiles was astonishing.  Maybe some were taking notes but I could see a lot weren’t.  I was bored but I respected the fact that the speakers had taken the time and energy to put together their presentations and so I made an effort to look as if I was listening.   There’s a difference between being bored because you haven’t got anything to do (arguably those days are gone in the advent of mobile phones) and being bored by a situation.  I’m very reserved in public situations and would much rather observe than seek out people to talk to.  Hopeless as I am now trying to get a job.  That’s partly because I dread getting talking to some I don’t find interesting – I’m quite aware I bore other people – and I haven’t the social skills to get myself out of it with ease and charm as some people can.  Part of me will be screaming LET ME OUT OF HERE and a bigger part will see me through with a few  sighs and some feet shuffling. I’ve got to go to an event tonight and there’s a fair chance I’ll be bored and won’t talk to anyone.  Does it matter? Why go? Well, you never know.  I may be surprised.

Strictly 2

My text messages to family member (one-sided) whilst watching The Results:

  • Watching Results.  I’m guessing Alexandra will be in the dance off but of course won’t lose
  • They are all my favourites this week except (genuinely) Alexandra which is why I don’t think she’ll get audience votes.  And she called Shirley, Arlene….need I say more? I thought they were hard on Gemma.  I LOVED Joe, Davood and Debbie (I know Debbie shouldn’t be in it but I don’t like the Argentine Tango as a dance but I loved the choreography  in hers).  I liked Susan’s dance but I guess she’ll be out.  Are Mollie and AJ an item? That Pasodoblathon was a waste of time for TV viewers – ok here we go.
  • Joe’s mouth is twitching into  smile as the Music of Doom plays.  I think  I want him or Davood to win
  • Oh yes and Debbie said she was surprised to be in the dance off last week.  Possibly not the best thing to say for audience support…
  • Ahh. Joe thanks to the camera first.
  • Oh that’s knocked her. I bet she’ll cry
  • As if she’s going to lose….
  • Interviews  – bathroom beckons
  • Don’t know who Kelly Clarkson is so going to make some tea. No wait, Gorka’s dancing…
  • Round 2
  • Ahhhh Susan.  She knows she’s out.  “I’ve never seen a more uneven contest in my life.” Haha she’s got grace and humour.  More than someone else.
  • What a ridiculous dance off
  • Forgot – more  interviews.  I like Davood. He’s modest.
  • Oh this is just bizarre
  • Did AB really just say “if this is my last dance…?”  Good grief
  • Uck! Look at her rushing on to hug Susan.
  • What a lovely speech from Kevin
  • I really need to calm down


Be the first to not do what nobody has ever thought of not doing before.

Brian Eno


Strictly Come Dancing

Let’s make it clear.

I do not watch Strictly every week.  I do not record it and watch it over Monday and Tuesday evenings. I do not spend Tuesday and Wednesday mornings reading Heidi Stephens’s “Strictly As It Happened blog in the Guardian.  I do not watch It Takes Two up to four times a week. I do not think about it as I am going to sleep or in my yoga class on a Monday evening.  I do not go to the toilet in the middle of the night and get back into bed thinking about it.

Right.  Just wanted to be clear.

So this week was hard.  Tears over Jonnie whom I have secretly wanted to win but knew he wouldn’t.  He has been a gentleman and a gentle man.  Laid back, reserved but at ease with  himself, and rather than showing an ambition to win as you would expect from an athlete, just wanting to learn and get a bit better each week.  And he got to Blackpool and what an exit.  His final thank you to the judges for treating him as an equal to all the other contestants was so moving.  I don’t use the word of people very much, but he is an inspirational man.  And when the gorgeous livewire Oti (who will partner me when I go on Strictly) said being with him had been life changing, who would doubt that.  Seeing his surgeon who amputated his leg, and his friend from school who had pushed him in his wheelchair (because as Jonnie said, he – his friend – needed someone to be his friend) dancing in front of them were great moments.  How they must have felt watching him dance is hard to imagine.  I am so going to miss watching him.

So who are we left with?

Professional dancer Alexandra Burke.  Not the brightest light in the house. She can stop the tears and telling us it was the hardest dance yet.  I’m hoping people will get bored with her as she’s only had one score out of the 30’s since the beginning.  And there’s no warmth between her and Gorka, the most beautiful man in the world.

Debbie McGee.  Well on age I think she is amazing but she is a trained ballerina.  But I love her with Giovanni (“Deb-eh”).  They seem genuinely to adore each other, but sadly no romance.  I struggled with the Spice Girl episode which frankly was a bit weird. Tess did say Geri had sent her a message but we never heard what the message was…pause for thought…

Joe McFadden. I thought he was a bit vacant but I have really grown to like him.  He is a bit like a big puppy and comes across as genuine.  I love it when they are all waiting to hear who is through to the following week and everyone looks like they are about to mount the scaffold except Joe who just can’t hold back a grin at the camera.

Gemma Atkinson.  She’s Northern so a superstar by default.   Prejudices aside she never has make-up in the VT’s which is sweet and I think she is the real dark horse.  She’s a grafter. I’d like her to win.  And she and Aljaz are hilarious together.

Davood Ghadami.  Now he really annoyed me at the beginning as I thought he was full of himself but as time has gone on I have realised he is just very serious – nay intense – and now he has not only lightened up but is proving himself a grand dancer.  I did have a problem with his James Bond shirt in Blackpool, though Tess and the judges obviously didn’t.

Mollie King. Not the greatest dancer but she’s had a really  hard time to fight on psychologically after two dance-offs.   I like the fact she’s so attractive and admits to finding it hard to be sexy in the Latin numbers. She and AJ are like Von Trapp siblings.

Susan Calman.  Oh Susan we all love you. Well most of us. You and Kevin are a match made in heaven. Part of me thinks it should have been you and not Jonnie.  What does Saturday hold for us to see???

Yes Aston’s gone but he’s setting up a dance school which is brilliant.


Yes we need to talk about Shirley.  I like her but her scoring is a bit odd.  Once you have Craig’s you can generally work out Darcey’s and Bruno’s.  But she does throw in quite a few from leftfield. There’s a lot of pressure on her and I don’t think she’s comfortable in the role yet.  She needs to do another series.

Some of my favourite bits that spring to mind:

“It’s hard for the man”

Eammon Holmes and son in every week till Ruth was out

Claudia’s and Tess’s dresses

Darcey’s earrings and Shirley’s glasses

Celebrities who get motion sickness spinning

“I’ve  got a friend for life.”


I’d probably enjoy Strictly if I ever watched it.

Black Friday (sigh!)

Click here  for Waterstones Black Friday

(I don’t even know what Black Friday is. Don’t want to, either)

My recommendations:

Half Price Offer – The Essex Serpent

Beautiful books for Under £10 – The Underground Railroad (my review in due course – a must read)

– The Power (on my to-read list)



It is the way to educate your eye, and more.

Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop.  Die knowing something. You are not here long.

Walker Evans