My latest brush with fame!

I’ve had a few brushes of contact with famous people in my life. Not many, but some!

My first brush with fame was when I was a 4 year old girl living in Jerusalem and the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs at the time, Max van der Stoel, came to visit. They wanted a small Dutch kid to present him with flowers and my parents were approached for this, I think through the mayor’s office. My dad and the mayor knew each other through the work my dad did. I actually remember this occasion! I was very excited beforehand, I remember wearing a light blue dress, but when the time came, I got too shy and my dad had to help me hand over the flowers. That’s Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek grinning in the far left of the picture, Van der Stoel with the flowers and dark-rimmed glasses, shy me with hands in my mouth and on the right my dad, grinning wildly after he helped me hand over the flowers.

Max van der Stoel

When I was 15, I briefly met German president Richard von Weizsäcker once when he visited my dad’s office in Germany in support of the work my dad did in Jewish-Christian dialogue (you can see the back of my dad on the left in this picture)…

1985 Von Weizsäcker in Buber House

Another famous man my dad worked with a lot and whom we saw on occasion was the former Archbishop of Canterbury from 1974-1980, Lord Donald Coggan. Donald Cogggan was a very special and warm man, modest, smart and funny. He used to call my younger brother and sister and me his ‘scallywags’ and there is one picture of us that I treasure…

Scallywags_ed

Another brief moment of contact with a famous person is with Gregory Peck, although I never met him personally. I had once written him a fan letter (the one and only one I have ever written) and requested an autograph from him. I never heard back, gave up on it, until two or so years later I finally received a response! I got an autographed picture, along with a note of apology. Apparently a bag of fan mail had been misplaced, which is why it had taken so long for me to get a response! That autographed picture has gotten lost in this house somewhere and I am still determined to find it, along with the note and the envelope it came in. The picture that was signed looked like this one (found this image on Ebay):Gregory Peck autographWhen I was 22, I went to a book signing in a bookstore here in The Netherlands and briefly met Peter Ustinov! He signed his book for me, which I was getting for my birthday on that day. Esje is my family’s nickname for me and I can’t remeber why I would have told Mr Ustinov that. I do remember him being very personable, maybe he asked if I had a nickname? It’s too long ago, I can’t remember…

I have of course met Richard Armitage briefly at the stage door in London in 2014 and have autographed items and a picture to help me remember that…

I have caught a glimpse of Pierce Brosnan up close and personal and he signed a picture my friend, a huge Brosnan fan, had…

I have spent an evening in the company of Michael Palin, listening to him talk about Ernest Hemingway and, a few months later, received a personally autographed book from him that my husband had gotten for me for my birthday!

And this past summer, I even briefly met and chatted with Lord Charles Spencer, Princess Diana’s brother. He also signed a book for us (but it’s also made out to my husband, so I won’t post a picture of that here, Mr Esther’s real name is not for this blog).

My greatest brush with someone famous on the internet was when actress Sara Wiseman, who plays Carolyn on A Place To Call Home, liked my retweet of her tweet on Valentine’s Day 2016 and I was stoked about that…

Sara Wiseman tweet like 14-02-2016

And now today, two and a half hours ago, I discovered my latest brush with fame: Marta Dusseldorp, lead actress playing Sarah on A Place to Call Home, actually RETWEETED my tweet of yesterday in which I gush about APTCH season 5! Holy crap, I swear my heart stopped for a moment when I saw that! I never aim to have likes, replies or god forbid, retweets of any kind, but this one certainly has me stoked! Here, a screenshot from my phone when I discovered it!

Marta Dusseldorp retweet

So, thank you Marta Dusseldorp for making my day! And may we enjoy your talents for a long, long time to come!

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APTCH season 5 – halfway mark

A Place to Call Home has started season 5 now, with (I think) 12 episodes in total. Last weekend episode 7 aired, so we’re at the halfway mark for this series. I have only gotten around to (binge-) watching them these past few evenings after emerging from my Suits cocoon. And boy, it is good again! Beware: spoilers ahead, so read at your own peril!

The show starts 5 years after season 4 ended. George (Brett Climo) and Sarah (Marta Dusseldorp) are a couple but a secret one, albeit an open secret. Sarah lives with their son David in a separate house on George’s property (Ash Park). They can’t be together because legally George is still married to Regina, whom he still hopes to be able to divorce. They need to keep up appearances because George is in politics but he comes over to Sarah’s often, although he takes care to never actually spend the night…

Regina (Jenni Baird), in the meantime, is in the insane asylum and after 5 years seems like a very changed woman. She is able to convince her carers that she has changed enough to eventually be released.

The big question throughout these 7 episodes is whether she really is different and good now. She certainly seems to be sincere and apologetic, trying to make amends, but after all the truly terrible things she has done over the 4 seasons before this, it really is hard to believe. George confronts her…

APTCH Regina George

… as does Sarah (I find it magical watching those two women playing off each other on-screen!)…

… but Regina remains humble and in one of the latter episodes tries to take responsibility for her actions and explains some of her actions to Sarah…

Yet, she is still in contact with the absolutely evil Sir Richard (Mark Lee), who, while pretending to be a friend and advisor to George, really wants to take him down!

Sir Richard has been ‘grooming’ her to help him exact his revenge on George, but the question remains: is Regina really in his pocket or is she really repentant? Her actions suggest she really is repentant, as she warns the Bligh family about Sir Richard several times. Yet, she also reports some information to Sir Richard via phone, so it all remains a little dubious…

APTCH Regina (2)

And there are more characters to follow, like George’s sister Carolyn (Sara Wiseman) and her husband Jack (Craig Hall). They are going through a rough patch in their marriage. Carolyn still misses her progressive life in Sydney and tries to find her place (and something to do) as the wife of a town doctor, while Jack is far more conservative and set in his ways. It breaks my heart seeing them so tense together, because they were such an adorable couple (they are married in real life too, btw!).

They are trying to work through it, which becomes clear in a tender moment, but the question really remains whether they can make it through this.

The only truly happy couple are Elizabeth (Noni Hazlehurst) and Douglas (Robert Coleby), who have now been married for 5 years.

Yet A Place To Call Home wouldn’t be A Place To Call Home if some drama didn’t hit and it hits hard when Douglas become terminally ill!

Douglas raises the question of euthanasia, but the world they live in isn’t ready for that. In the last episode so far (number 7), Douglas dies and the actual circumstances of his death are examined. It is heartbreaking stuff and some of it reminded me of my dad passing, which made it extra hard to watch.

It was so beautifully acted by the two but especially by Noni Hazlehurst as Elizabeth. Her grief is palpable, difficult to watch and hits close to home… This last episode shows the grieving Elizabeth leaving Ash Park and makes me fear the worst for her…

APTCH Elizabeth says goodbye (1)

We also have Anna (Abby Earl), who is long divorced from Gino and trying to follow-up the success of her first novel with a second one but suffers from writer’s block. She is in a relationship with her editor, called Ed (Matt Day) but holds back with him, due to the hurt she still feels over her divorce.

The secret boyfriend of Anna’s brother James, Dr. Henry Fox (Tim Draxl), has started working at the Inverness hospital. He butts heads with Dr. Jack, who is less progressive than Henry, and is desperately waiting for James and his wife Olivia to return from Europe (the expectation is that they will have created grounds for divorce during their European trip).

Olivia (Arianwen Parkes-Lockwood) eventually does return from Europe, with her little son Georgie, but James has stayed behind in Europe!

George, upset, calls his son James (David Berry, who now has a part in Outlander, which I guess explains why he isn’t in APTCH so much). James explains that he has decided to stay in the Riviera and build his life there, where he feels he can be more himself than at home in Australia. He has also reunited with his old secret love, which of course breaks Henry Fox’s heart…

I love that A Place To Call Home addresses all these social issues. Being gay is an issue, euthanasia was addressed this time around, psychiatric treatment is again referenced (it was a bigger issue in past seasons when they tried to cure James being gay through psychiatric and shock treatment), rape is an issue (never do a business meeting alone with a man in an apartment or hotel room – feels very topical with all the #metoo news nowadays!), there is a storyline this season of an Aboriginal man named Frank (Aaron Pedersen) and how much every day racism impacts his life…

We also have Sarah struggling with religion. She is Jewish and observant…

APTCH Sarah George Shabbat

… but, other than Shabbat celebration with friends (of whom the daughter is struggling with her Jewish identity), Sarah hasn’t done much to raise her son David in the Jewish faith. It becomes a huge discussion point between her and George when she decides she really does want to raise David Jewish after all.

Sarah is also confronted with her past in the concentration camp of Ravensbrück during World War II when, during a social event, she runs into a former camp guard! It totally throws her off course…

… and she later goes to confront this lady called Gerda/Frieda (Helen Thompson) in her hotel room. This is a tour de force by actress Marta Dusseldorp who battles with initial fear but overcomes it, becomes angry, threatening and makes it clear to Gerda that in the end her past will catch up with her.

She later tells George stories of what Gerda did in Ravensbrück, which too is heart wrenching…

I am still really loving this series and I especially love the very strong female roles. Sarah, Regina and Elizabeth are the three most fascinating characters and I swear they all 3 deserve awards for their performances! I also really like Carolyn (she could use an award as well!) and I like Anna too. The men are not exactly supporting characters but I think the stories really are mostly women-driven. You don’t see a lot of that on TV, I feel. Of the men, George and Jack are great to watch as well and I am so sorry we had to lose Douglas… I am loathing Sir Richard, which means the actor is playing his role well, and I am also sorry we’ll be having less James (I like him more than Henry).

There is still enough to explore for the rest of this series and if I were religious, I’d be praying that they won’t let Elizabeth die! I’m also hoping Sir Richard, that schemer and rapist, comes to some horrible end.  And will Caro and Jack make it? Will George and Sarah finally be able to marry? Is Regina really done with her evil, scheming ways? Many questions and more to be answered in the second half of this season and I am looking forward to it! I hope there will be a sixth season after this…

I bit the bullet – Sleepwalker

I’ve been so caught up in work, family and then with Suits and Gabriel Macht in my spare time (I even made a second fan video a little over a week ago) that my focus on Richard Armitage has suffered somewhat. There is Berlin Station that I haven’t been brave enough to wade into yet (I love Richard, but Berlin Station season one didn’t do that much for me and I fear the same for season two) and there is Sleepwalker. I haven’t been brave enough for Sleepwalker either… until today! This morning I decided to bite the bullet and just go ahead and watch it.

The thing with these kinds of movies is that I don’t generally enjoy them. These dark, psychological, almost supernatural kinds of thrillers just aren’t my thing. I have been surprised once or twice, I remember quite liking The Sixth Sense for instance, but generally speaking this is not my genre and I rarely watch movies like these. I feared that I wouldn’t much like Sleepwalker despite Richard being in it… and I turned out to be right!

To me the movie was all dark and weird, somewhat confusing and I even found it convoluted in places. For instance, what was even the use of that stalker character played by Haley Joel Osmond (the kid in The Sixth Sense!) other than him being a scary element in the story? And was the love story element even necessary, did their attraction really have to be consumed? It felt like an unnecessary add-on to me (despite the parallel with the husband that was revealed in the end) and that is saying something coming from someone who loves a love story! I felt that it should have either been left out or developed more. The ending I sort of understood, but wasn’t quite sure, and in honesty, I can’t be bothered to think too much about it to figure it all out. The movie just couldn’t grab my attention or fascination and if Richard hadn’t been in this, I’m sure I would have fast forwarded through most of this.  However I did find two redeeming qualities in this movie and they were Ahna O’Reilly in the lead role, she is a very good actress (I also remember liking her in The Help), and of course it never hurts to see Richard in action! He looked lovely and strong…

Ahna was confused and upset for most of the movie and looked very convincing being that…

The love story I found a bit convoluted but it did give us a few nice almost romantic moments…

… there was a little teacup scene (on the left in the picture below) which reminded me of the North & South teacup scene (on the right in the picture below) …

… and a sex-up-against-the-wall scene that made me think of Daniel and Esther in Berlin Station

… and even a shot which reminded me of the back shots we had of Richard with his dragon tattoo in Hannibal

Richard Armitage - Sleepwalker (74)

These were delectable little nuggets indeed, Ahna and Richard were good, but it wasn’t enough to make me like the movie.

Richard Armitage, I love you and I thank you for challenging me to watch you in things I wouldn’t normally watch but, nope, I don’t think this is a movie I will return to often…

Madness, they call it madness!

“Madness, madness, they call it madness! Well if this is madness, then I know I’m filled with gladness!”

Yep, Mr Esther and I went to see Madness live last night, they performed in a quite intimate venue in Utrecht, which made it extra awesome! They are probably most known for their “Our House… in the middle of our street” song. I really like Madness, Mr Esther loves them, so we went and it was a great night out!

Every time I think of Madness, I am reminded of my wedding when at the party (we had a DJ) Madness was played and Mr Esther and his best friend went all, well, mad! They jumped around like crazy on the dancefloor so that everyone dancing had to make room for them. Last night, sure enough, Mr Esther was jumping up and down again! The man never, ever dances but Madness brings something out in him and he just can’t help himself. I absolutely love that!

I preferred to enjoy the concert instead of documenting it faithfully, so I only made videos of bits of songs here and there that I put together in this one video. Like Mr Esther, I couldn’t stand still either, so the camera is all over the place. The sound is not great either, there’s this recurring static noise that is sadly annoying,  but you get the idea. Songs featured in this video are ‘Wings of the Dove’, ‘House of Fun’ (at 1:46 minutes), ‘Baggy Trousers’ (at 2:47 with a brief glimpse of Mr Esther jumping at 2:57 minutes), ‘Our House’ (at 3:42 minutes, the only song I recorded completely) and ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ (at 6:40 minutes). Mr Esther fervently hoped they’d play Cairo’ and they did that as an awesome finale.

They played a lot of their hits like the ones mentioned above and also ‘Madness’, ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘It Must Be Love’. That last one suddenly reminded me of one of the first fan videos (with screen caps only) that I had made for Silent Witness, using that song for my Harry & Nikki obsession at the time (I’m still not over them never actually getting together on the show).

The band really was great, the singer Suggs (Graham McPherson) sounds really good live, just like you’d hope for him to sound when you know his records, and it was an upbeat, happy evening all round! Suggs interacted nicely with the audience, even accepting a beer from one of them at one point. There was a little boy in the front row (maybe 6 or 7 years old) wearing big headphones and that boy was interacted with several times, which was cute! Suggs thought the venue looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from his point of view, which was worth a few jokes. 🙂

The only down side I could think of was that the concert lasted only 90 minutes; I wouldn’t have minded another half hour or hour on top of that at least…

Richard stuff & Gabriel fluff

I have been missing in action on blog and that happened in a time when there’s so much Richard Armitage news! But work’s been busy and then there have been other preoccupations… Still, Richard news has been followed closely! Like the news of him reading Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in a new audiobook (sorry, Richard, can’t follow you there, audiobooks really aren’t my thing despite your wonderful voice)…

Richard doing an awesome 40 minute podcast interview by phone, and yes, I actually did listen to this one, while I was working from home one afternoon: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/followingfilms/episodes/2017-10-29T15_20_30-07_00

There are 5 new Berlin Station episodes that I have yet to see (please, someone, reassure me that season 2 is better than season 1)!

I did like the little Daniel – Esther scene which I still have to see in context:

And of course there’s still Sleepwalker to watch (I still need to get into a weird movie mindset)…

There is some talk of a Urban and the Shed Crew DVD, as mentioned on Servetus’s blog (yay!), although when I looked on the Blenheim Films website this morning, the shop was empty.

Blenheim Films

But in all honesty, while I have partaken of all the Richard stuff, I have been more engrossed with Gabriel stuff and fluff. Yep, I continue to be preoccupied with Suits! And it’s got everything to do with actor Gabriel Macht who plays Harvey Specter.

He looks so familiar to me! And not because I may have seen him in other movies, but because he looks like I actually know him, personally, from somewhere. There is a familiarity to him and I just can’t seem to put my finger on it why that is. His dad is actor Stephen Macht who was also on Cagney and Lacey that I used to love watching way back when…

Stephen Macht Sharon Gless

… but to me Gabriel looks more like his mom than his dad…

Grauman's Chinese Theatre

So, no, I just can’t put my finger on why he looks so familiar, like he could be family, or an old family friend or something. He did dress up as painter Bob Ross for Halloween, which cracked me up (and I remember being mesmerized watching some of his painting programs long ago)…

He was even filmed by his Suits co-star and close friend Sarah Rafferty (she plays Donna) actually giving a faux painting class (there are 2 small videos if you click on the instagram post, especially love the second one when he mentions a happy raccoon at the end)…

While I am still trying to deal with this whole “why does Gabriel seem so familiar to me” scenario, I have after all sourced Suits clips and made a Suits fan video, which ends with the current mid-season cliffhanger…

(also on YouTube, but that got blocked in USA/Canada). Anyway, I hope that this fluff gets some of this Suits/ Gabriel Macht business out of my system for a bit, so I can start catching up on Richard Armitage stuff again…