St Trinian’s done to a T

Trips to the cinema usually involve something of a binge for me, what with a GBP7.00 return bus fare for me alone on top of admission – economics that always make it cheaper to wait for the DVD. The result is that when I go, especially with Jimjams, we try to fit in as much as possible.

This time, rather than fit in shopping, lunch and a film, we went for the two-film marathon, fuelled only by breakfast, popcorn and a large beaker of sugary fizz. Enchanted (Disney) and St Trinians (Ealing Studios) were the targets, as Enchanted had a late morning slot and St T’s an early afternoon slot, allowing us to stumble out of one and into the other. (We steered clear of The Golden Compost, based on the recommendations of evilscheesescientist.) The plan was to try to snatch lunch in-between, but in the end with just 10 minutes between end and start times, we had to make do with cinema snacks. Headaches and moaning from one daughter, however, did result.

Enchanted has been plugged to death on the Disney channel and looks superficially interesting, if not just for its softly irreverent mocking of the whole Disney fairytale thing. However, the excerpts on the Disney channel spoil the whole movie, revealing most of the obvious jokes, and making the actual viewing a rather inert experience. Technically, I loved the idea of fairy tale becoming reality, and this saves the movie, though it will never be a favourite until I have forgotten it for two or three years. I cannot second the marks of 8 out of 10 it gets on – nearer 6 for me.

St Trinian’s, however, more than lives up to expectations. I have always loved Ronald Searle’s anarchic schoolgirls, and the films from the 1950s and 1960s. This 2007 production is a welcome update which, while as empty of deep plot as its predecessors, lives up to their riotous antics and updates them to suit a modern context. Russell Brand is an inspired choice as Flash Harry, and there’s comic value to be found in having Colin Firth played off against numerous Pride & Prejudice jokes.

The film is undeniably straightforward and obvious in its approach (it is based on the original Belles of St Trinian’s), but lives up to its heritage with pride. St Trinian’s movies work on the simple premise of schoolgirls behaving badly and no one should expect much more. It often had me both in stitches and in tears. Worth an 8 out of 10 from me any day.


Squeezy Marmite

An unwholesome addition made it into the food cupboards recently: a container of squeezy Marmite. I’ve got nothing against Marmite myself: the whole family likes Marmite, and it’s one of the finest toppings to a lightly browned slice of buttered wholemeal. But squeezy Marmite is the work of the devil.

For a start, the stuff’s uncontrollable. It’s too runny and soaks into toast before you get a chance to spread it thinly, which means you get gooey Marmite explosions in the mouth. I like my Marmite thinly and evenly spread, and squeezy Marmite doesn’t play ball.

But the worst thing is the sphincter that delivers the Marmite. It bears an unfortunate resemblance to a cat’s backside, and in use I can’t help but imagine a cat with squits.

With the options of runny, uncontrollable but uncontaminated Marmite, or a conventional jar that inevitably gains butter deposits and toast crumbs when used by children, I’d favour the one that doesn’t make me think of sick cats.

My worst ever Mac

My current Mac, a glossy white Macbook with Intel Duo chip, is the worst in the line that started with an LCII, progressed to a PowerMac 6100, and enjoyed years with the beautiful and largely trouble free G4 Cube.

Performance wise, the MacBook is fine: it runs at speeds that make my PC look like a sloth – and in particular takes a fraction of the time to start up – and the design is excellent. But compared with its predecessors, the build quality of it, its components and its accessories is terrible. Without doubt it’s an Italian sports car of a machine: beautiful and fast, but bits fall off or go wrong.

Take the Matshita UJ-857 DVD-writer. This drive has repeatedly burned coasters throughout its life and cannot be trusted to produce reliable data DVDs. Apple has produced one patch for the drive, but for reliable disc burning I use an external Lite-On drive in a D2 casing.

The internal Bluetooth is flaky. Apparently there is a cable fault which means that the Bluetooth connection sufferes an intermittent fault. The cheap fix, compared with the costs of getting to and going to a service engineer, has been an external Bluetooth adapter.

Even so, the associated Apple Mighty Mouse and wireless keyboard are far from reliable. The Mighty Mouse has long since been replaced by a Logitech wireless mouse: the Mighty Mouse suffers from three big faults: unworkable right button clicking, a bottom plate that repeatedly falls off, and a scrolling ball that works intermittently and which is impossible to clean. The wireless keyboard often needs re-registering via Bluetooth, and the keystroke lag is unacceptable.

Finally, after a year of use, the top plate of the MacBook’s own keyboard has cracked above the battery case. Out of warranty, this is a fix only achieved by superglue. Attractive it is not.

The worst thing is that all the above faults or behavioural oddities are often reported on Mac forums, or in reviews on Apple Store, yet if you ring Apple support it’s as if no one has heard of them happening before.

Macs are cheaper than they ever used to be, but I can’t help but wonder whether build quality has declined as the price has dropped.