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Wimbledon stadium

Next weekend Greyhound racing will end in London, probably (hopefully) for ever. Last weekend, and contrary to so much of what I see as right, Hazel, Adam and I went to the dogs.

Plough Lane
Memorial to a former football ground

I don't like or approve of dog racing (or for that matter gambling) but did see this as the end of a part of London's past, and for that reason I thought we should go for one last time (I had been a few times in my less enlightened past), to see the end of an institution. Adam asked if I'd have rushed off so eagerly to the last public execution! Maybe.

The last dog racing in London will happen at The Wimbledon Stadium ~ across The Wandle from the former home of Wimbledon FC, and a place I spent a great chunk of my growing up - between 1980 and 1991. Once the dogs have gone, AFC Wimbledon (different name, same club as far as I'm concerned) will be (fingers crossed) coming home to a new stadium built on the site.

Wimbledon Stadium is a sprawling, ugly mess of a place, it has no charm, and no beauty - no gorgeous neon welcome.

We arrived and I dragged my family around the housing estate where the football ground once was, and then we headed into the dog stadium. There was a queue - maybe because of curious people like us.

We stayed for three or four races, it's an ugly "sport" and it makes people (even us by association with it) become ugly. We photographed the end of this era and left, not sad to see it go, and feeling a little dirty at having done it.

2017-03-11: Wimbledon Stadium

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Tell the folks back home this is the promised land calling and the poor boy is on the line #chuckberry #rip

I saw Chuck Berry twice in the late 80s, both times at the Hammy Odeon. I love that I can say that - they're memories I wouldn't do without.

Having said that they are memories that are muddled and murky, I don't remember what he played - I hope he played Promised Land, both times - let's just assume he did.

I do remember at one point a young man jumped on stage and started dancing energetically around and Chuck wandered over to him, mid-song and said something to him. The young man wandered off the stage… and returned with a bunch of pals and they all started dancing! I loved that despite his reputation Chuck clearly loved how his music made people feel.

Capital Radio, the morning after one of the gigs was gushing about the fact that Chuck had been contracted for a 60 minute set but had actually played 64 minutes! Suggesting that he was so lost in the show that he gave us four minutes of his time for nothing!

We were lucky. I'm glad.

Chuck kept coming over but I never got around to seeing him again.

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Number Seventeen (1932)

Rather thrilled that Number Seventeen is #17 in my Hitch watching series (although #2 wasn't seen)

The film is cracking little yarn - Hazel wasn't as keen as me on the first half but I loved the humour and the shadows and the silly little yarn.

But what really makes the film great is the fantastic chase - with beautiful models, nobody would have been fooled into thinking the models were real, but that's the joy of models over CGI, becuase neither look authentic ... but models are real and therefore give authenticity, and with authenticity comes tension.

The chase is on!

This was like watching proto-Thunderbirds … but much better paced! The cast were charming and the silliness of the plot has never been something to put me off!

Watched: 2017-02-26
Source: DVD
Rating: 6/10

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Fred comes home, bored

And so we arrive at the first true gem of Hitch's sound era (because Blackmail was a more of a gem of the silent era and can only be counted once!). Rich and Strange is both rich, and strange - not perfect, perfection's still four films away (or maybe eight), but still a thoroughly enjoyable time-passer.

The opening sequences are fun and seem to have Hitch playing a bit with styles (and ripping off Asquith's Underground). Fred and Emily deserved better sassy dialog - but still had some priceless moments, one of my faves being the drunken walk back to their room on the cruise ship that culminates with a lovely gag about bedtime prayers.

Emily prays

The love story and Fred and Emily's parting of ways is a little tired and overplayed - and Fred comes across as an oaf, Emily deserves so much better. But they reunite, now out of cash and having to take a cut-price journey home, which is where the film takes a particularly strange, and sometimes a bit dark, turn.

There's a beautiful sequence of them escaping from their room - and a hilarious gag with a cat (that might not appeal to cat-lovers - although it appealed to this cat-lover).

… and so the adventure ends … and we're back to the beginning.

Watched: 2017-02-14
Source: DVD
Rating: 6/10

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The Skin Game (Alfred Hitchcock - 1931)

The Skin Game is based on a stage play, and, like Juno & The Paycock it shows - however, unlike that film this was a tolerable yarn, although so very wordy that it was crying out for Hitch to let the pictures tell a bit of the story - but, no the whole bally thing was practically read out for us.

Luckily a lot of it was read by Edmund Gwenn which helped a lot - it's a a tale of tradition vs progress, inherited wealth vs earned wealth, and how you can never escape your past.

Maybe this is Hitch just doing a job, there are few glimpses of what we want, and it doesn't have the charm and humour of Murder! - and to be honest I maybe love Hitch's skill at humour more than his skill at suspense. There's very little humour in The Skin Game.

Also, I still don't know what a Skin Game is?

Watched: 2017-02-01
Source: DVD
Rating: 4/10