Tales that Witness Madness Blog. Shirley Valentine.

30th August 2021.

So I noticed that the movie Shirley Valentine was on Channel 5 last night and it made me want to watch it again so I’m going to watch it later this evening, as I’ve got it on DVD. I first saw it in Spain, in 1992, when I was on holiday with my best mate at the time (and his dad). It was my first real holiday. And my first and last holiday outside of the UK.

Things in 1992 were far different from now. We didn’t have mobile phones or internet and our entertainment was primarily video games and playing sports such as football and tennis. Mad cow disease was rife (and put me off eating beef for the rest of my life – I turned veggie in 2007) and I had a Sega Mega Drive as a games console as well as over 600 films on VHS (which I subsequently binned in 2006, much to my dismay).

Anyway, the resort at Santa Ponsa (in Spain) was nice and relaxing; it wasn’t one of those resorts filled with loads of other British tourists, getting pissed and smashing shit up. In hindsight, it was probably more akin to a retirement resort.

To be honest, I’m glad it was quiet (and boring at times) though; I couldn’t imagine anything worse than spending money on a holiday outside of the UK, only to fly out and then find that your hotel and surrounding area is one of those 24-hour party places where every ned and chav from Aberdeen to Blackpool is getting drunk and drugged up, and filling the local bars and restaurants with their vitriol and disdain of local culture like they’re seasoned connoisseurs of the world. Screw that.

The main foyer in the resort we stayed at had a 16 inch TV (which was big back then) above the two arcade games – Football Champ and Streetfighter II. We played those games too many times and spent a good whack of our holiday money playing them (see enclosed photos!).

Left: me playing Streetfighter II. The 16inch TV above. Right: Some random watching as I channel Bruce Banner.

Now, every Wednesday (I’m sure it was Wednesday) the hotel put on an afternoon movie for the guests on that 16 inch TV in the foyer. One of the films they put on was Shirley Valentine and hence that was the first time I saw it. The fact that it was a British movie peaked my interest right away (we had very few films of note back then) and from the outset it grabbed my attention even more as it immediately breaks the fourth wall (the actor talks directly to the camera).

For those of you who haven’t seen it, well, basically it’s about a middle-aged Liverpudlian woman who is discontent with the way her life and marriage has turned out. She abruptly goes on a holiday to Greece and has a self-awakening over there, discovering a new life for herself. I’ll not give too much away if you haven’t seen it, but it’s worth a watch. I remember my mate telling me back then that the movie caused a bit of a stir as it influenced some women to leave their husbands to go and live abroad and play out their lives like the movie. That always stuck with me. I’d imagine that back then, in the early ’90s, it would have been seen as a champion of a film for the feminist movement I suppose.

Either way, I like the movie and I like that it’s a working class story. Both the leads in the movie were (are) working class actors (Pauline Collins and Bernard Hill) which, nowadays, is almost unheard of. Plus, Scottish actor Tom Conti is in it and his performance is not only great, it’s unforgettable and so funny in places. Again, the woke crowd will probably say that it’s taking the piss, being that he is playing a Greek, and only a Greek actor should play roles for Greek characters. But things were different back then and his character isn’t a satire or mocking Greek people. Watch it and make your own conclusion.

The film was originally written as a solo play which is interesting in itself, but probably not as well-rounded as the movie. The movie is more like an extension of the play, which is what you’d probably expect anyway.

I’ve got the script as a reference point as I’m hoping to write a full length play at some point. I always favour solo plays for some reason. I like the simplicity of them and I like how they’re similar to the first-person narratives you find in novels and short stories.

If anyone has got some good solo play suggestions then drop a comment, I’m always on the lookout for new ones. But if you get a chance then give Shirley Valentine a watch. See if you take anything from it.

Other than that I am still tweaking the short sci-fi horror story set in Edinburgh. I finished the first re-draft yesterday so I’m going through it again on the computer to check the sentences and paragraphs then I’ll print it up and leave for a few days before reading that copy.

I said I’d mention the vampire novel if someone commented on my last post. But no one commented (no one probably read that post anyway, much less reading this one!) so I’ll hold off until someone asks about it! Yadda yadda yadda.

Ciao for now -Tony-

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