Not The Man from UNCLE

It took me a while before I could bring myself to watch the recent reboot of The Man From UNCLE film. I tried to watch it when it came on Sky Cinema but I couldn’t get through it all. Then recently, when I was off work at the start of the Christmas break and I was at a loose end I thought I’d give it a go.

Before I go any further I must state that I like the films that Guy Ritchie has done, all of them, until now. I grew up in the generation that spawned the original series which I absolutely loved. Watching the old re-runs later on in life I saw how cheesy and silly they were but I still loved them all the same, probably because of how they were. This new attempt at bringing those characters and scenarios to life it seemed they took everything that made it what it was and threw it out the window and kept only the four character names. Henry Cavill as Napoleon Solo tried his best to capture what Robert Vaughn nailed in his portrayal of the womanising hero but his back story was radically altered to the complete opposite of the original. I’m not sure what other fans of this thought but I was incensed. Armie Hammer played Illya  Kuryakin and again his back story was altered beyond recognition. Instead of the enigmatic rock that kept Solo’s womanising in check he was portrayed as a violent sociopath dealing with trauma from his past.

That’s just for starters.

It get’s worse. The story is supposed to set up how these characters met and became the force for good we all knew and loved but they spend the entire film trying to get one over on the other until they learn a grudging respect for each other’s abilities. There is no mention of the world spanning organisation they worked for, none of the gadgets that made the show memorable and the whole feel for the show was absent. Gone was the innocent bystander dragged into the world of espionage to give it that different point of view, another detail that made the show so memorable. Waverley , their boss was only seen in a couple of scenes and the name UNCLE was only mentioned right at the end just prior to the end credits rolling.

To say this film was a mess would be too gracious. If they had wanted to kick start the franchise once more they should have started with a proper UNCLE scenario with the two agents fighting against THRUSH, everything from this fiasco of a film could’ve been condensed into flash backs or better still, discarded.

The Man From UNCLE is a beloved franchise that has a huge fan base and to give them this atrocity is nothing more than a slap in the face.

Personal demons, should we share?

To share our innermost feelings with anyone who will listen seems the thing to do just lately. How do you do that though if you were brought up in the generation where you were expected to ‘just get on with it’ or to ‘grow a set’? How do you convey to a stranger your innermost demons when you couldn’t even tell those closest to you how you felt about them? Further more, should you?

This is a question I have been pondering more frequently lately, more so when I get sick like I am as I sit down to try and make some sense from my thoughts.

I grew up in a mining community back in the early sixties, my father was a Polish immigrant who came over from his homeland near the end of WWII. He had been forced to join the German Army at gunpoint, a fact I learned after his death in ’82. There were many aspects of his early life I knew nothing about simply because when he arrived on our shores he could not speak the language. It was a testament to his intelligence that he taught himself to read and write and speak our language enough so that he could communicate on a daily basis. I doubt I could do that today even with the technology at hand. The subtle nuances of the language of course were lost on him which was a pity because he could not tell us, his family just what he was going through, not that he would have, he definitely came from a background where there was no time for expressing of one’s feelings. It led to stilted conversations and miss-communication. I never got over his death and I doubt I ever will, there was so much left unsaid between us.

As I grow older and I see how society changes, the advent of social media has made it easy to share your thoughts with anyone on the planet, whether they are willing to listen or not. I see, on a daily basis at least one person who feels the need to vent either their anger or frustration with the world or their personal triumphs or battles. A personal life becomes less personal with every comment made. People know more about you every time you log on to your favourite social media page. My question remains, should we? Is it right to share what we go through or is it a burden to those who listen? I have my own demons that I battle with on a daily basis, some days are better than others and then there are the days when they all come out to play and it’s a struggle to just live. There are two reasons why I don’t share all this, one because they are personal, its my fight and I have always fought my own battles, they are what define me, my successes or failures, and secondly there are literally millions of people worse off than I am in the world and I feel it would be demeaning to their struggle to even mention mine. There is a line of thought that says ‘just because it’s not a big deal to you, doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal to someone else’ and I understand that totally, everyone’s fight is different. The older I get though I find myself relying more and more on those around me for support in my battles, this is not a sign of weakness but simply of getting older. No matter how many personal victories I face, I know this is one battle I cannot win.


Change for the better

As this year draws to a close I look back at what has happened during the past twelve months and reflect on some of the changes.

2016 saw some massive occasions in my life both professionally and personally some of which have been documented here and on various social media. Personally, I became a grandfather again bringing the number up to four, all wonderful additions to the family. It brings home your own mortality when something like this happens. You begin to realise just how finite your time on this world is when you lose someone you love but also when another life is brought forth and laid before you. When you see that little bundle of joy, so small and vulnerable you begin to wonder just how much of it you’ll get to see before you shuffle off this mortal coil. Time travels so quickly as you get older and before you know it your kids are having kids of their own and grandkids are what I think of as being karma. All the things you put your parents through growing up, your kids put you through and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show as your grandkids put their parents through the same ritual called growing up.

Professionally saw some massive changes too. This year saw my twentieth year at the same job, the longest serving employee at a factory I helped get off the ground and become the success it became. It also saw me receiving redundancy from the same job. This came as somewhat of a shock as I had begun to feel like part of the furniture. I now work for a rival company where I settled in remarkably fast and am thoroughly enjoying the new challenges. The other major change came early in the year when I received my publishing contract for The Blackstar Gambit, the seventh book in the Col Sec series from Imzadi Publishing. The book will be out in Spring next year and things are progressing nicely with it. The editing has been completed, the cover has been produced an audio trailer has been issued and this week the video trailer for the book came out. This is something I have worked towards for the better part of two decades and it seems like all the hard work, the sleepless nights and all the effort is finally paying off. I’m about to be a published author.

2016 saw some massive changes to my life and I know that the coming year is going to be crammed with more challenges, more surprises and hopefully a sprinkling of success.