…but tomorrow I’m going to go for three miles in order to get back into my Saturday morning routine of doing a parkrun-length run. I’ll be taking it very easy as I’ve still got a few twinges and stiff joints, but it’ll be really nice to try running for a bit longer again.
Geth is doing his longest run of the year on Sunday so our weekend is going to be based around that – in non-running terms it will be very quiet and hopefully quite relaxing.
I’ll post my usual running vlogs over the weekend (and possibly a couple of race reviews if I can get them written!), but otherwise I’ll be back with an update on Monday.
…but I did go out for another walk in order to pick up my repaired phone. I had to wait in a coffee shop for an hour as the phone wasn’t quite ready when I first arrived… and it was the first time I’d been in a coffee shop since March! I had to give track and trace details, which I hadn’t done before. On the whole, I felt really safe – the table layout had been done well and everyone in the shop was keeping a good distance. It sort of felt like a nice piece of normality for the first time in ages.
I slept for ten hours last night as I’m still catching up on my missed sleep from the weekend. As such, I’ve not really had much time to do stuff today. Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get caught up with all my admin and then I can maybe have some me-time on Friday 🙂
Today’s earworm playlist:
Bill Conti – ‘Gonna Fly Now’ Justin Timberlake – ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ Gunship – ‘Rise The Midnight Girl’ The Midnight – ‘Gloria’ Queen – ‘I Want It All’ Michael Jackson – ‘Beat It’* The Midnight – ‘Crystalline’ Rage Against The Machine – ‘Killing In The Name’ Sacre – ‘The London Marathon [Theme From The Trap]’ Alien Ant Farm – ‘Movies’ Idina Menzel – ‘Into The Unknown’
…as I was testing out a new pair of shoes – one of two new pairs of running shoes that arrived this week! Since I started running every day, I have been burning through running shoes a lot more quickly, so I’ve decided to start getting older models on discount sites every few months. It means that I will have a better range in my rotation (meaning less chance of injury, which is always a bonus), and if a pair doesn’t happen to suit me, then I won’t have spent quite as much money on them as I would have if I’d bought the latest model (and any not-quite-so-suitable pairs can be used for short runs anyway).
It was quite a relief to be able to relegate my Brooks Transcend 6 to the ‘gardening’ pile. They were already worn down to the foam when I bought my Brooks Adrenaline 20 in Inverness in March, and having continued to rotate them with the Adrenalines over the last five months, they now have absolutely no tread left at all after 550 miles. Meanwhile, the Adrenalines themselves are starting to wear to the foam at the edges after only 200 miles, so maybe Brooks shoes just aren’t as resilient as they used to be (my first pair, which were Brooks Vapor 4, did 650 miles and still have plenty of tread on them). Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how my new pairs fare in comparison – I’ve bought a Saucony pair and a Mizuno pair, both of which are brands I’ve been meaning to try for a while.
Anyway, in non-running-shoes news, I’ve managed a good clean of the house today, and got a bit of day job work done for a client as well. Looking forward to seeing Kieran and Lisa, who are popping in for lunch tomorrow – it will hopefully feel like a nice bit of normality after so long!
…which really made me feel autumnal. I run a bit faster in the autumn because the weather conditions are best (and also usually because it’s my last push of race training for the season – we are yet to see if my last two autumn races standing will actually go ahead, but things may be very different this year… anyway, autumn is still associated with zipping along through the crunchy leaves for me, among many other things!). I expect we’re still due a bit of nice weather this month, though, so I won’t start hunting for Hallowe’en chocolate just yet.
I also didn’t run until lunchtime because I had a deadline for a client today and wanted to get the work done first thing. In that sense I was quite lucky with the weather today, as the last few days it would have been too warm to run comfortably after around 10am.
I’ve otherwise spent today getting on with admin and housework, and am looking forward to some videogaming time tonight as usual. I finished Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World yesterday, which is a decade-old game I’d been meaning to finish for years, and am planning to move onto Beyond A Steel Sky this evening.
Same again tomorrow, though I’m hoping to be awake earlier.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Manami Kiyota – ‘Satorl Marsh’ New Order – ‘Blue Monday’ James – ‘Come Home’ Traditional – ‘The Blaydon Races’
A slight diversion on a usual running route today…
…which made it a three-mile-plus run. Always good to get the extra distance in.
I’ve been feeling like my personal fashion style has changed again recently. When I reached my target weight in 2018 and had to buy a whole new wardrobe as a result, I went for a mixture of timeless investment pieces, which I knew would last me for life if I took care of them, and fun vintage finds, which satisfied my obsession with ’80s fashion.
I have not worn any of that stuff in months. My lifestyle, even before the lockdown, has shifted to that of a sort of active homebody – I get up in the morning and change into running gear, and after my run I go for my shower and then throw on a comfy leggings/t-shirt/jumper combo, because I know I’m going to be spending the rest of the day either on the sofa, doing housework, or doing a bit of yoga or Pilates. The numerous pairs of good quality jeans I bought two years ago are not comfy or casual enough for a spontaneous yoga session. My vintage ’80s stuff, other than my well-loved collection of cosy winter jumpers, is too fancy for lounging around the house. I have not worn shoes other than running shoes for over a month: I have two pairs in rotation for actual running, and one ancient pair that I use for going out to the garage or garden.
Even pre-lockdown, I rarely had anything to go to that required dressing up – nobody minds what you wear to Slimming World or ukulele class, and even poetry night is far from a formal affair. This year, I have only been out of leggings a handful of times – New Year’s Day, the LeBrock gig, a couple of family meals in February… and I think that’s about it. Most of my leggings cost £2 from Primark, but they’re getting a LOT more wear than the £50 jeans hanging in my wardrobe.
I’m not about to get rid of what I bought in 2018 – there may come a time when I’m interacting with the world on a regular enough basis that I might make the effort to wear something with actual fastenings again, although I expect it will be a slow road out of lockdown for me personally seeing as I’m appreciating the peace and quiet so much – but I don’t see myself buying any more investment pieces or filling up my bag at vintage fairs again for a good couple of years at least.
I may start spending slightly more than £2 on leggings though, seeing as they’ve been so good to me recently.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Hiroki Morishita – ‘Just Across This Mountain And We’ll Arrive Soon’ Nina Nesbitt – ‘Stay Out’ Nobuo Uematsu – ‘On Our Way’ Cast of The Muppet Christmas Carol – ‘It Feels Like Christmas’ Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘Road Trippin” Duran Duran – ‘A View To A Kill’ Gordon Duncan – ‘Sleeping Tune’*
…and since then we’ve just been in the house, hiding from the cancelled world outside. Geth went to Sainsbury’s, and came back with approximately half the things I’d sent him out for (panic-buying has officially set in here in Newcastle), but we’ll manage. I also went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription – the outside world feels a bit odd and apocalyptic at the moment.
It’s felt like a long day, but I’m not about to complain, because extra time is my most treasured thing and suddenly having a lot more of it is a real silver lining. Sage Gateshead has now closed, so my ukulele classes are not happening for the foreseeable future, and I don’t know when they’ll be rescheduled. The UK Games Expo confirmed this evening that they are postponing the event to August; parkrun will make an announcement tomorrow.
The North Tyneside 10k has also postponed to October, so that’s the last of my spring races fallen by the wayside. I’m amazed and grateful that none of my postponed races clash with each other (or with the GNR), and also feel quite lucky that I hadn’t booked any of my planned autumn races before this all kicked off. I had wanted to run the South Shields 10 Mile and the Great Scottish Run this year, but they’ll be there for me in the future.
Keeping in touch with family as the daily situation changes is my main priority at the moment, along with keeping myself and Geth safe and sane. Running is a big help with the latter, and I’m really glad I have that in my life at the moment.
Today’s earworm playlist:
Lightwood Games – ‘Link-A-Pix Theme’ Ollie Wride – ‘Back To Life’ Mesh and Mechanical Cabaret – ‘Born To Lie [Duet Version]’ Koichi Sugiyama – ‘Unflinchable Courage’ EMF – ‘Unbelievable’
The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) is the second silent film in this month’s horrorthon. I’m always interested to see what the backing track is on the DVD for these films!
Before we start, though – if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I can never resist a gratuitous ’80s music video, and when it comes to The Phantom Of The Opera, the Now! ’80s channel has been amply providing recently, with lots of videos made for songs from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version.
One of the videos they’ve been playing is this super saccharine performance of All I Ask Of You, with Sarah Brightman singing the Christine part (as ever – she also played the role in the stage musical) and Cliff Richard singing the Raoul part. Try not to watch the gross and awkward kiss in the middle of the video. Ewww!
Another one that comes on all the time is the video for the title song, with Sarah Brightman as Christine again and Steve Harley (he of ’70s glam rock fame as frontman of Cockney Rebel) as the Phantom. Apparently he was meant to play the Phantom in the stage musical but got acrimoniously replaced by Michael Crawford. Geth absolutely hates Steve Harley’s performance and won’t stop ranting about it whenever the video comes on!
Um, yeah, so we weren’t meant to be talking about the 1986 musical version, were we? I don’t think the 2004 film of the musical even counts as a horror film. I suppose we should crack on with watching the 1925 version.
The Phantom, in this version, is played by Lon Chaney, not to be confused with his son Lon Chaney Jr who played the Wolf Man and various other characters in the Universal monster movies during the ’30s and ’40s. Chaney Sr pulls off a brilliant performance, and is the best thing about the film.
The backing music on this DVD version is great from the off!
The setting for the story is the Paris Opera House, which was built over mediaeval torture dungeons. Usually in a horror film, I would ask why someone was stupid enough to build over somewhere that’s clearly going to be haunted, but I’m from Edinburgh, where the whole city is basically built over blocked-off medieval plague streets. In crowded European cities, that’s just the way it rolls – when you run out of space you start building on top of yourself.
There’s a pretty scene at the start with lots of ballet dancers on the stage, and appropriate performance music. Meanwhile, a deal is being done in a side room – the Opera House is being sold. The new owners are told about the ghost, but they laugh it off in glorious ’20s silent overacting style.
We’re introduced to the mystery of the cloaked figure in Box Five – apparently seeing his back is so terrifying that the owners run away at first, then find he’s disappeared when they look again.
We then cut to a fairly farcical sequence with about twenty ballet dancers running around the dungeons, frightened of the Phantom, and it’s not very clear what’s going on. ‘The Phantom is up from the cellars again!’ says one. One of them claims he has no nose (and I’m disappointed that nobody makes the classic ‘how does he smell?’ bad joke – maybe it hadn’t yet been invented in 1925), but another rebuts, ‘Yes, he did, it was enormous!’, indicating that the dancers probably haven’t actually seen the Phantom. A suspicious-looking man then appears from the cellars and goes upstairs, to the confusion of the dancers. During this sequence, they all run about in a pack, looking like little girls at play in their party dresses, which is a bit alarming given that they’re meant to be grown women.
The dancers speak to Joseph Buquet, one of the opera stagehands, who’s the only person who’s actually seen the Phantom. He launches into a florid description of holes in a grinning skull, yellow skin etc. – suffice to say the Phantom’s pretty ugly. Buquet also confirms he’s got no nose. Another stagehand tells Buquet off for riling the ghost. Anyway, Buquet shows them where he saw the Phantom, and all the others look terrified and run off, resulting in another few minutes of balletic running. There’s then another farcical bit with the fleeing stagehand accidentally climbing up through a stage trapdoor and getting chased off by some other workers.
Some dramatic music announces the formidable mother of Carlotta, the prima soprano at the Opera House. The Phantom has written to Carlotta, threatening her and expressing desire for Christine Daaé to sing the part of Marguerite in Faust instead. Despite the mother’s assertions that Carlotta won’t be threatened by ghosts, her daughter falls ill on the night – the Phantom apparently has some kind of supernatural power.
I still absolutely love this dynamic soundtrack – during the scene with Christine performing Marguerite, we get a track of operatic singing (I don’t know the opera but I presume the song is indeed from Faust), which is the only voice heard over this silent film.
There’s some mild drama with Philip de Chagny, brother of Comte Raoul de Chagny, suspecting Christine of being unfaithful to Raoul, but this isn’t really followed up. Raoul is not a very exciting love interest, but at least he’s not performed by Cliff Richard in this version. Boringly, he wants to get married straight away; Christine says she wants to stay in the Opera instead, because women couldn’t do both back then. Raoul leaves, and we see that a strange ‘melodious voice’ is speaking to Christine. ‘Tonight, I placed the world at your feet!’
We get another scene with Carlotta’s mother and her signature music. Carlotta is still being threatened, as are the opera owners (‘You will present Faust in a house with a curse on it!’). Neither feel particularly threatened (the mother thinks it must be Christine’s friends), and so Carlotta appears as scheduled. Raoul receives a note from Christine during the performance, telling him not to contact her again.
The ‘curse’ makes itself felt – the stage lighting starts playing up, and the opera house’s giant chandelier falls on the audience, causing panic. Among the confusion, there’s a bizarre faceoff between Raoul and the suspicious-looking man from earlier, where they just stare at each other for a few seconds. Raoul hides in Christine’s room and overhears a conversation between her and the Phantom. Christine goes through a secret mirror passage, which closes before Raoul can see where she went.
The Phantom approaches Christine, wearing a strange featureless mask. Apparently he’s ‘brought her the gift of song’, suggesting that she’s only able to sing so well because he’s cast some sort of spell. Christine seems hypnotised or somesuch, and faints. The Phantom loads her onto a horse that just conveniently happens to be standing there, and leads the horse away.
The Phantom takes Christine to his lair via boat across a hidden black lake, leading to a very pretty shot with her veil trailing in the water. In the lair, he declares his love in a very creepy way, and Christine runs off. She’s confronted by a large coffin in the side room. Apparently the Phantom sleeps in the coffin to remind himself of the sweet, sweet death that will come one day. He’s not a wannabe vampire, more of a proto-goth.
‘You’re the Phantom!’ gasps Christine, who’s apparently a bit slow on the uptake. ‘If I am the Phantom, it is because man’s hatred has made me so…if I shall be saved, it is because your love redeems me!’ claims the Phantom. Apparently his real name is ‘Erik’. This news causes Christine to faint again. I can’t stand these early female film characters!
We then get some pictures of newspaper headlines, which seems to have been a fairly common technique in silent film. ‘Christine Daaé Disappears Following Chandelier Disaster’.
Following a ‘night of vague horrors and tortured dreams’, Christine wakes up to a display of about six pairs of beautiful OMG SHOES! That would totally have won me over. Not so much the bridal veil and dress, which are totally creepy. The Phantom has left her a note, explaining ‘You’re in no peril as long as you don’t touch my mask’.
In comes the Phantom’s creepy organ music, which is the music most iconic to the story as far as I’m concerned! It seems to hypnotise Christine. The Phantom says the piece is Don Juan Triumphant (again, I’m not familiar with that piece of music so I don’t know if the organ music on the soundtrack actually matches this), apparently to signify love being triumphant, but with an ‘undercurrent of warning’. How romantic.
Christine, ignoring the note’s warning, rips the Phantom’s mask off at the dramatic climax of the music! The Phantom’s ‘deformed face’ makeup is brilliant, and was apparently created by Lon Chaney himself, who came from the old theatrical tradition where actors did their own makeup. Contrary to Joseph Buquet’s assertion, he does have a nose. ‘Feast your eyes, glut your soul on my accursed ugliness,’ moans the Phantom, whose dialogue apparently gets even more pretentious when he’s not wearing his mask.
Christine begs to leave, and the Phantom agrees, in order ‘to prove [his] love’. ‘But remember you are mine – mine – and you shall not see your lover again! If you do, it is death to you both!’ Charming guy. The frightened Christine agrees, but immediately breaks her promise by sending a note to Raoul, telling him to meet her at the Bal Masque de l’Opera.
We get a medieval calligraphy caption introducing the setting of the Bal Masque de l’Opera, and the footage for this sequence is colourised in this version, showing the attendees’ pretty costumes. Unfortunately, the Phantom shows up in costume to spoil the party. ‘Beneath your dancing feet are the tombs of tortured men – thus does the Red Death rebuke your merriment,’ he informs the partygoers, cheery as ever.
Christine and Raoul miss this doomy pronouncement, because they’ve escaped to the roof of the Opera House for a private conversation. ‘Are we alone, Raoul?’ asks Christine. Why’s she asking him? Can’t she judge for herself? Anyway, she tells Raoul about the Phantom…who also happens to be on the roof with them, having apparently hotfooted it from the main floor of the building.
Christine explains that the Phantom has put an illness curse on Carlotta again, meaning that Christine will be playing Marguerite the next night. How is the Phantom managing this? He’s clearly not a supernatural being, just a deformed man. Christine and Raoul plan to flee to England as soon as the performance is over. ‘She has betrayed me!’ wails the Phantom to himself. Why is this a surprise? Did he actually think his actions had won her over?
The suspicious-looking man is still creeping around. ‘Not that way, this way,’ he says to Raoul and Christine as they come down from the roof. There’s then a strange scene where a partygoer, who is fencing in costume as a musketeer, recognises the Phantom despite the latter’s costume and immediately faints. Silly, but I’m glad to see it’s not just the women randomly fainting in this film!
The suspicious-looking man comes to speak to the opera house owners. Ah! He turns out to be some kind of detective, and delivers them a letter. The Phantom, or ‘Erik’, is apparently an escaped violent criminal who was previously incarcerated.
Before the performance, Christine tells Raoul that the Phantom knows their plans – she has heard his voice again. She begs Raoul to save her; he’s sure the escape will be straightforward.
Down in the cellars, a hanging body freaks the main stagehand out. ‘Come quick! The strangler’s work again!’ There’s more group running, this time with stagehands instead of ballet dancers, but the body has been moved to the floor – it’s Joseph Buquet, who ‘knew too much about the Phantom’. His brother Simon vows to hunt the Phantom down.
We basically get lots of free tracks from Faust on this soundtrack, with both Christine and Carlotta singing various numbers as Marguerite.
While Christine is onstage, the Phantom grabs and kills one of the owners and appears in his place in the viewing box, causing Christine to scream. Her Marguerite wig is found on the floor in the confusion – she’s gone again. While Raoul is investigating the secret mirror, he’s joined by the detective, who introduces himself as ‘Ledoux of the Secret Police’.
Ledoux tells Raoul that the dungeons are ‘where he [the Phantom] himself was confined during the second revolution’. This throws the setting of the story into doubt. Up until now, due to the the fact that the costumes look very 1890s, I assumed that it was set around the turn of the century. If the ‘second revolution’ – which can apparently refer to either 1792 or 1830 – is within living memory, it must be set earlier, which completely contradicts the costuming.
In the cellars, there are lots of people wandering about. Raoul’s brother Philip is hanging around with a lantern, and some random stagehands are down there too. Ledoux somehow knows that Joseph discovered a trapdoor, which is why he got killed.
The Phantom, as expected, is angry with Christine. ‘You have spurned the spirit that made you great!’ He then launches into a rant that’s so florid I can’t tell whether he’s threatening to rape her or hypnotise her into loving him.
Meanwhile, Raoul and Ledoux fall ten feet down a hole to the cellar below, but they’re both perfectly fine.
‘I am human like other men – I will not be cheated of my happiness!’ rails the Phantom, which is horrifyingly reminiscent of the kind of creeps you get in today’s society who think they’re somehow owed sex and affection from women.
The Phantom overhears Philip, who has found the black lake, shouting for Raoul. The Phantom leaves Christine alone in the lair, wades into the water (ew), and goes snorkelling. Raoul, in another part of the cellar, calls for Christine, and she hears his voice through the wall. Meanwhile, the Phantom overturns Philip’s boat and kills him by drowning (how come nobody in these older films can ever swim?).
Raoul and Ledoux, on the other side of the door to the lair, tell Christine to look for the keys. Unfortunately, before she can find them, the Phantom returns with a campy villain line (‘The callers have departed.’) and returns to his seat at the organ.
Simon Buquet has discovered the Phantom’s hiding place and organises an angry mob of stagehands, so we get a nice ‘flaming torches’ procession going into the Opera House.
The Phantom catches Christine with the keys and then overhears Raoul in the next room. He’s apparently super prepared for such eventualities and turns up the heat, trapping Raoul and Ledoux. We get some great juxtaposition here between the three sequences of the angry mob, Raoul and Ledoux, and Christine and the Phantom, which are all colourised differently.
‘What do you offer for their lives?’ asks the Phantom. Ledoux finds an escape hatch from the overheated room, but the next room’s full of gunpowder. There’s then a weird sequence with some controls shaped like a scorpion and grasshopper, which the Phantom forces Christine to choose between – the scorpion to save Raoul’s life and submit to marriage with the Phantom, and the grasshopper to blow the whole Opera House up. She eventually chooses the scorpion, but it causes the water from the lake to flow into the gunpowder room. Christine begs the Phantom to rescue Raoul and Ledoux from drowning. After he’s done so, the angry mob arrive in the lair.
The Phantom runs off with Christine. Raoul, at first, is too weak to go after them, but after a moment he and Ledoux give chase alongside the angry mob. The Phantom steals Raoul’s waiting carriage, driving off with Christine in the back, but Christine escapes the carriage by jumping out. Before the Phantom can retrieve her, the mob catches up with them and Raoul runs to Christine’s side. We then get a chase through Paris with all its pretty architecture (well, actually through a Hollywood studio set, presumably, but they did Paris quite well).
The Phantom is killed by the mob and thrown in the Seine, and we get the ‘Finis’ screen.
In addition to the original film credits, we also get some credits for this particular version – apparently the soundtrack was done in the ’90s by a Canadian company. They did a really good job!
One sidenote is that I want to read the original book now – I think it would help me to make more sense of the story.
I was excited about going to the Bata Shoe Museum with Mum on Tuesday, because I’d been with Geth when we were last in Toronto two years ago. The main part of the museum, which is a history of footwear, doesn’t change much, but they always have really interesting exhibitions on. Two years ago, the exhibitions included a history of men in heels, so I got to see a pair of Elton John’s ’70s platforms and things like that. This year, they included the use of gold in shoes, footwear of the Arctic peoples, and a special exhibition on Manolo Blahnik, who is my favourite shoe designer.
It was the above poster that was the first sign we saw of the museum – it hangs on the east side, just before you turn the corner to the entrance if coming from the south.
I remember drooling over the above Zanottis circa 2011/2012, when platforms were still a huge thing. I wouldn’t wear them nowadays, but they’re still very beautiful to look at.
The above shoes are mid-century. I’d be more likely to wear ones like these than the Zanottis!
These Manolos are among the many that have been lent to the museum for the exhibition. I had to restrain myself from taking pictures of every pair there – we’d have been there for a while!
Instead, I bought the exhibition book, and a postcard. The gift shop guy was trying to get me to buy another Manolo book as well, which had things like the transcript of an interview between Manolo Blahnik and Mary Beard about his historical influences, but it was far too heavy to take back in my suitcase! I’ll get it online instead.
Overall, it was a really good museum trip, and I’ll definitely be back again next time I’m in Toronto. I wonder what exhibitions they’ll have for me then!
One of the shelving projects that Dad and I (mostly Dad) did over the weekend was for my shoes. Even though I got rid of a lot of shoes, I still need a good amount of storage for my remaining 59 62 pairs, especially as I’ve been on a bit of a shoe binge lately (though I think I’m satiated for now). Some of my pairs are ‘legacy shoes’ (i.e. old pairs I’ll never wear again but am keeping in storage boxes or on display for sentimental reasons), and there are a couple of pairs for gardening that I’m keeping in the cupboard off the kitchen, and my dancing shoes live in my gym bag, and my running shoes tend to stay in the Skubb hanger I bought for the hallway…but that still leaves a good 48 pairs that needed a place to live in the dressing room. Which they now have:
As you can see, there’s plenty space for more, which is probably a good thing knowing me.
It’s very nice having all my shoes to hand. Of course, since I put them all up, it’s been pouring with rain and I’ve not been out (save for a very wet run this morning) so I’ve been living in my slippers indoors. It will be good to get some use out of them once the weather clears up, though!
We built the Ikea Kallax wall for the boardgame collection today!
I designed this mishmash of Ikea Kallax units to fit our dining area space a few weeks ago, and ordered the requisite Kallaxes in the big Ikea order. I built the individual units over the last couple of days, and today my dad came and bolted them all together to make a nice solid structure. It got a bit tricky, involving having to shave bits off where the wall width was uneven, but the finished result looks amazing (and Geth finally has access to the boardgames again, which will keep him very happy).
We also started building some shoe storage, but that’s mainly a project for tomorrow!