December 2006: George Clooney

Yep, it’s that man again. I have been known to bore people with the history of my Clooney-crush and I can’t believe I’ve let you people get away with it for so long (it’s possible that I haven’t and I’m repeating myself, but what the hell – it’s my blog).

So. Back in the olden days when people first had videos, my dad had a mate who owned a video shop and we used to get a lot of films out. One of them was this idiotic thing about killer tomatoes. I remember a scene with what looked like blood on the floor and the police officer tasted it and said “Catsup” or something. I was horrified to think that police might test blood by tasting it, but what did I know, I was only about 10. I remember that the tomatoes could be “killed” by a certain song and that once the song was playing, but the tomatoes kept on coming and then you saw they were massive and they were wearing earmuffs. And I remember this cute guy.

Then Channel 4 started and started to show US comedy shows at 9pm on a Friday night (I think). There was this one called ER or Emergency Room starring Elliot Gould and it had this cute character called Ace. He was thick, but he was cute. Me and my sister loved him. We checked his name in the credits: George Clooney. I was then – as now – obsessed with US TV and whenever I watched anything, I crossed my fingers and whispered “George Clooney, George Clooney” to myself. One day, it worked. He was “Special guest star: George Clooney” on Crazy Like A Fox.

A few years passed and 9pm Friday on Channel 4 was Roseanne. And Roseanne’s boss was Booker. George Clooney. This time he was a bit of an asshole, but he was funny and sexy and my mum joined me and my sister in our crush. (We adored Roseanne in our house.)

A few more years went by and I read about a TV show called ER starring George Clooney. But. That made no sense. It had been years since ER had finished, they surely couldn’t be bringing it back now. It was just a coincidence. A different ER, but the same George Clooney. And goodness me, he’d grown up a bit since Roseanne. He was Dr Doug Ross and he was, well, he was incredible. Sexy, charming, funny, damaged, principled, strong and weak. I loved him.

I loved that he was so upset by giving a little boy (his name was Che-che; and his mother was played by Lucy Liu) a spinal tap that he shagged Carter’s girlfriend. I loved that when he saw the footprint on the back of a little girl who’d “fallen” off a balcony that he ran straight out and smashed her father in the face. I even loved that Hathaway had been so devastated by their break-up that she’d tried to kill herself (and that’s so not healthy). I loved his relationship with Mark and how incredible he looked in that black t-shirt and jeans when he went to retrieve his father’s body from … somewhere hot.

I loved how he wasn’t afraid of anyone and that he was his own worst enemy and knew it. I loved how he tried to take care of the homeless girl played by Kirsten Dunst even though she kept abusing his kindness. And, oh my god, I loved how he burst out of the water, holding that almost-drowned child, wearing a tux, in the helicopter’s spotlight. And I loved his face – and his beard – when Carol moved to Portland to be with him and their twins and his sodding boat.

February 2003: Cagney & Lacey

CagneyI’m spending the weekend and the in-laws in Blackburn and I’m full of cold. I’m a one-woman snot-making machine. This afternoon, David went to the match and I sat on the sofa with a Beechams, a pile of newspapers and books, and two boxes of tissues. After a while I got a bit bored and the house was too quiet so I put the telly on and ended up watching an episode of Cagney & Lacey from 1983.

It started with Lacey being annoyed with Cagney who was trying to ingratiate herself with the men by joining in when they’d hired a stripper for someone’s birthday. Then a woman came in and asked specifically to see female cops. She told them she’d been date raped. I was only half watching and still flicking through the papers until this point, but I was surprised to find a date rape case on Cagney & Lacey. I remember loving the programme, but I don’t remember it covering serious issues.

So they’re discussing it with the other cops who are all sceptical and then the lieutenant says, “How come when Rhett Butler throws Scarlett on the bed, that’s romance, but when some poor schlub does it, that’s rape?” and Tyne Daly says, “If you don’t know the difference between rape and romance then you’ve got a serious problem.” And she walks out. And the lieutenant says, “Is it her time of the month or what?”

At this point I was seriously suprised and started making notes. When I did the access course at college one of my Media Studies essays was a comparison of sexism in an episode of The Sweeney, remembered for lines like “Get your knickers on and make us a cup of tea,” and The Bill, supposedly a “modern” programme. Well, like for like, The Bill was more sexist. I’d compared a programme from the 70s and one from the 90s, so I was interested in the 80s take.

The episode of Cagney & Lacey went onto have the “guys” fixing someone up with a female impersonator as a joke, and then, as revenge for the joke, setting the Lieutenant up with a hooker. And all the time Mary Beth is questioning this. (“Excuse me, I thought you were a cop, not some Gloria Steinem” was one of the comments she received.) I was 12 in 1983 and, as I watched the programme today, I wondered what I would have made of it aged 12.

Would I have questioned any of it? Whose side would I have been on? Would I have thought, like everyone else did (even Harvey!) that Mary Beth was taking it all too seriously? Could that have been the first time I became aware that these issues even existed? Has anything even changed in the past 20 years? Later, I was back to reading The Telegraph and in the travel section I found my answer:  ‘Noel Josephides, Managing Director of Sunvil Holidays, a specialist in Greece, blamed the “disco culture” for the increasing violence, saying: “Youngsters go to these resorts, get drunk and wear next to nothing, so it’s not suprising that these things happen …”.’ He was commenting on 34 reported rapes of British citizens in Greece last year.

Little Howard’s Big Show (featuring David)

We all absolutely love Little Howard’s Big Question on CBBC. It’s one of only a few shows that David and I will happily watch without the boys (see also: Phineas & Ferb and Horrible Histories).

David took Harry to see the Little Howard live show a couple of years ago, but I missed out because Joe was too young, so when I spotted they were on tour again, I booked tickets for all of us.

We didn’t tell the boys and when we got to the theatre and Joe saw the poster for the show, he said, “Can we go and see that one day?” Heh.

Disappointingly, there were not very many people there at all. I counted about 40, but it seemed like less since the theatre was about 75% empty. I really don’t understand it, since what, um, Big Howard does is so original, clever and funny – he should be hugely famous in my opinion.

Despite the slight awkwardness – which Howard acknowledged – the show was great. David ended up on stage. Sort of.

Harry thought it was hilarious, but Joe wasn’t sure at all, partly because of the added cartoon eyes and “scary teef!”

We all thoroughly enjoyed it, but it would have been even more fun with a full crowd. If you get a chance to see Little Howard’s Big Show, you really should go. There’s nothing like it. And, you never know, you might end up being part of the show.

Chicken or small?

I’ve got SO MUCH I want to write about – my plan to exercise every day (apart from scheduled rest days) in June, flexi-schooling (which is all over the place), our new iPad (squee!), but Joe’s got chicken pox, which isn’t actually taking up much time so far, but it has addled my brain, so instead I’ll leave you with this clip from one of my all-time favourite episodes of Friends.

Weirdly, one of my favourite West Wing quotes is also pox-related (although I think you have to see it to really appreciate it):

C.J. Cregg: Josh!
Josh Lyman: Yes ma’am?
C.J. Cregg: There’s an article I want you to read in the New Yorker.
Josh Lyman: What’s it about?
C.J. Cregg: Smallpox.
Josh Lyman: The disease?
C.J. Cregg: No, the dessert topping Josh. Yes, the disease.

Kathryn Joosten

“Some people in Hollywood think of me as a model for dramatic midlife transitions: suburban housewife to Emmy-winning actress. But I never plotted out a master plan for following my dreams.”

I had no idea that Kathryn Joosten didn’t begin her acting career until she was in her forties. All I knew about her was how completely awesome she was in The West Wing – it’s one of my favourite all-time shows and her character, Mrs Landingham, was one of my favourite characters.

When I heard that she’d died (via my friend Anne-Marie), it made me cry. Joosten was a wonderful actress and, judging by the bio on her website (where the above quote is taken from) a pretty amazing person too.

I got an email from Miss Representation this week, suggesting subscribers should “champion” an inspiring woman. Kathryn Joosten certainly fits the bill. She’ll be very much missed.