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Home Fires

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I have to read up about the Women's Institute in the UK because I thought they did stuff like make jams, knit socks, etc. Anyhow, I thought it was odd that an obviously rural community would have that kind of snobbery.

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I've been watching Great British Menu on BBC which is a competition for cooking at the 100th Anniversary of the Women's Institute banquet so I've been hearing A LOT about the WI lately. 

 

I really liked it.  Though, all the talk about jam - where's the mention of the fries :-)

 

If you want more info, its based on a book by Julie Summers (its called Jambusters in the UK and Home Fires here in the States).

Edited by M. Darcy
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Agreed Milz.  I also find it odd that the women on the "good' side can see the future and know that the war is going to last a long time, will begin on the high seas, and afterward the whole world will be completely changed beyond anything they've known before. Amazing foresight.   I don't like to be so obviously led by the writer.  It's making me almost side with Joyce-the-Snob because she actually is having to listen to an awful lot of homilies about how her world is over and all her friends are snobs and sycophants.

 

Actually there were lots of women during the wars who got together with a few friends to make jam or knit socks, they didn't have to have the official sanction of the WI.

 

[Personal tangent]  We lived in England for a few years and when first there we encountered a group of women who were clearing some brush off a village lane.  My husband stopped and helped them lift some heavy things and I talked to the women (WI) and expressed interest in joining.  One of them promised to stop and by my house and pick me up for the meeting that evening.  She stood me up.  I figure the other women told her an American just wouldn't fit in.

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That's another thing too, Judy. The Great War was no more than 20 years ago, surely the older women at the WI remember the hardships of that war. For them to be optimistic that any war with Germany would end in a few months, is kind of unrealistic to me.

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I tuned in last night, and liked this much better than "Indian Summers" which followed it on my PBS station.

 

 I am a sucker for a period piece, but have to admit that  I've seen enough that I found myself making predictions throughout the episode.  

So far, I think I figured out that the new school teacher and the headmistress were, at one point, or will become romantically involved but in secret of course.

My personal favorite of the ladies was ( I don't know anyone's name except Claire.  I love how it sounds with a midlands/northern accent) the lady with the dog.

 

I think this will fill up the time before Call the Midwife comes back quite nicely, thank you!

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Yes I enjoyed it too.  So many great "faces" with Francesca Annis, Samantha Bond and others.  "Jam and Jerusalem".   Looking forward to watching it unfold.

 

Oh, speaking of J&J,  if any of you haven't seen it I recommend Clatterford (as it's listed as here in the US) as another more modern view into village life and the WI.  It's billed as a comedy because Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders are in it, but it's not really a comedy (funny in places). 

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We lived in Britain during the sixties, and one of our closest family friends was a big deal in the WI - genuinely formidable (and wonderful).  I really enjoyed this - am looking forward to the next episode.

 

However, it did show off one of my pet peeves about period dramas.  They put so much research into getting the costumes right, but the fact that all the older women apparently dye their hair (or at least the wigs they wear show no trace of gray).  In the 1940s it just wasn't done.  It would have been the biggest piece of gossip in the village that Joyce and Frances (Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond) dye their hair.  Only floozies and actresses dyed their hair.  In fact, in the 1950s Clairol based an entire ad campaign around that "mystery" - "Does she or doesn't she?  Only her hairdresser knows for sure."

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You're so right about the hair Crisopera.  While looking at photos of the real WI from that time, the first thing I noticed was all the gray haired women.

 

I had almost decided not to watch it, because the power struggle between two rich, spoiled, self-satisfied women didn't interest me, and the writer had not made me hate Joyce enough to enjoy tall women telling her nobody liked her and if she didn't embrace Change she was evil.  Or whatever that was.  I kept comparing it negatively to "Midwives," where we would have had a last minute scene showing us why Joyce was the way she was and making us love her a little bit.

 

However, I just read a review that says if I stick with it I will be firmly hooked by the third episode.  So I'm in.  After all it's Sunday night so it has to be PBS.

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I watched this last night & I'm hooked.  I love a good WW2 story and '30-40's fashions. That it takes place in England is icing on the cake (or "Sponge").  So far I like the ladies, but I was kinda distracted from the story at times b/c my brain lept trying to play "Hey! It's That Guy/Gal!".  I will have to spend some time researching imdb later today...

 

I was really hoping poor Pat would be rid of her a-hole husband.  I thought he was going to die from choking on a fish bone.  I'm already getting sad for Dr. Campbell and the butcher's son.  I don't see happy endings for those characters. But then again, it's WW2 so not a whole lot of "happy" on the horizon for anyone.

 

Only one teeny detailed bugged me.  The 1st episode starts in August, 1939.  When they show Frances & her hubby strolling along the blackberry hedges at night, they are both dressed as if it were October. They both had coats on.  I have never lived in the UK,so maybe my understanding of the climate is off.  Would it be chilly enough to require a coat in August @ 7 or 8pm?

 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the next episode. 

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Would it be chilly enough to require a coat in August

I'm not an expert with English weather, but yeah....it could be.  Heh, a friend of mine was visiting in June to London and asked what the dress codes were about wearing shorts and my reaction was shorts?? In London????.  Its too cold!   And, I know it gets warm sometimes but mostly, no.

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I thought this was boring and very cliche. Of course the upper class woman is a snotty bitch but I find the abrasive woman challenging her not any more likable. There wasn't enough hooking me to continue with it.

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I'm not an expert with English weather, but yeah....it could be.  Heh, a friend of mine was visiting in June to London and asked what the dress codes were about wearing shorts and my reaction was shorts?? In London????.  Its too cold!   And, I know it gets warm sometimes but mostly, no.

June 1995 was hot enough for shorts and swim suits in Kensington Gardens (and at Loch Lomond!!) but that was one of the hottest summers on record in the UK.  Usually it's chilly enough at night for at least a light coat.

This wasn't great, and it was awfully familiar and predictable, but there were some characters who interested me, and hey, it's British.  I'll keep watching for now.

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Francesca Annis is sort of channeling Joan Plowright, right?

 

Under the ironclad rule that Nobody is Ever Shown Coughing Unless Dying, the nice doctor was already a goner in the first couple of minutes.

 

I thought it was odd that an obviously rural community would have that kind of snobbery.

 

In my experience, small towns are the worst when it comes to that kind of thing. In more populated areas, diversity can be tolerated, or at least overlooked. In a small town, conformity is a much bigger deal, and vicious factions tend to be the result. Any 'weirdos' around have to be really isolated.

 

Seeing how contented Pat was to wake up in a husband-free house, I thought maybe she'd spiked the fish that made her douchebarge man sick. But it looks like no. So sad. Still: another chance to stress the Omar Rule: You come at the king, you best not miss!

Edited by attica
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I love the Claire spencer subplot. It was hilarious how she just walked off to talk to spencer while her boss was still talking and how all the other servants are plotting to help Claire get her man.

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Why all the fuss about a new "headquarters" where the WI could meet?  Mrs. Barden's house certainly looked big enough to host 20 or 30 ladies an occasional meeting.

 

I found it creepy that the doctor's daughter rode all the way back home in the car with the dog's blood on her face.  Just yuck.  The pilot is super cute, though..

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I get nervous every time there's a Pat/Awful Hubby scene. I imagine it's worse to live that way. ::shudder::

 

I'm downright crazy for the theme song and score. So so pretty.

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OK, Bob the "writer" has got to go and make it soon.  He's too old to be called up for duty, but maybe an RAF transport truck can run him down?  Or he gets hit in the head - HARD - while playing cricket?  I know the war means bombs will start dropping, but I won't wish for any to drop on him.  I don't want the village mussed up.

 

I wonder what kind of trouble Miriam will have coming her way for lying on the registration form? Was it that easy to fool the draft board?  Just omit the young man from the list and she thinks no one will notice that every other teenager & twenty-something is called up but him?

 

I am confused why Mrs. Barden doesn't have the WI meetings in her home.  It's large enough, and it seems like she & her husband are the only ones living there.  No children have been mentioned. 

 

So Pat & widow lady who took in the new teacher are going to be in severe economic straights sooner than everyone else.  Poor Pat has no income & now widow accountant will lose her income b/c she won't cook the books for the greedy profiteers.  I guess she might at least get some rent money from the teacher?  I know Pat is trying to get a job, but until Bob is gone or incapacitated, I don't know how that will work.

 

This is awful, but evertime they show a male character, I'm thiking "yup, he's toast.".  Whether it's disease or the war, I don't think too many men under 40 are going to be on screen very long.

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I guess the Doctor's daughter had to meet the pilot somehow but they didn't have to run over the doggie to do that.  FYI, the actress that plays Kate played Wendy in the really good Peter Pan movie from 2003 (the one with Jason Isaacs). 

 

Or he gets hit in the head - HARD - while playing cricket?

I just read a mystery where I think the killer put poison in the lemonade they drank after they played cricket.  That could work.

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What was the treatment for lung cancer in 1939? I guessed surgery and expected that in this episode the doctor and his wife would discuss plans for surgery, but they didn't. He still smokes too. Maybe he has decided not to do any treatment, but it would help viewers if someone said something.

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Surgery was probably the only option for lung cancer in the 1930s.

 

i'm hoping the writer will be recruited by the propaganda office to write pamphlets  that will be dropped all over occupied Europe. That will get him out of the village and out of Pat's life for the time being.

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They did lampshade the fact that cars run over an awful lot of wildlife on the roads. Maybe he'll be making his way home from the pub and is hit by a car speeding along the lanes with blackout-treated headlights...

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With the W.I. chapters being governed by a national organization, maybe they aren't permitted to meet in private homes?  That's the only thing I've got for why they don't meet at the Barden house.

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OK, Bob the "writer" has got to go and make it soon.  He's too old to be called up for duty, but maybe an RAF transport truck can run him down?  Or he gets hit in the head - HARD - while playing cricket?  I know the war means bombs will start dropping, but I won't wish for any to drop on him.  I don't want the village mussed up.

 

 

 

I just read a mystery where I think the killer put poison in the lemonade they drank after they played cricket.  That could work.

 

I was hoping for the cast iron frying pan to the back of the head scene from Six Feet Under.   :-)

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Put my vote down in the "Bob has to go" column.  He's terrible and I would root for his wife to poison him, but I don't want her to get into trouble, so...hit-and-run it is, I guess.

 

I'm totally confused, so I must have missed something.  This show has two sisters, Sarah and Frances, I believe.  Frances is the new president of  the WI.  But what is going on with Sarah?  She was talking to that very cute lodger about how she didn't like the lamp that he broke anyways, and it was a gift from her husband's mother (I think?).  Is her husband dead?  Was that her father sitting next to her?  Whatever's going on, I'd like to see more of that lodger, please.  imdb tells me that his name is Nick and I will, indeed, see more of him, so yay!

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Frances Barden's younger sister, Sarah (Ruth Gemmell), is married to the Reverend Adam Collingborne. Several RAF airmen have been billeted in their home.

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What was w form pat was mailing back? Why does she need money?

Cute the way daughter number two met a handsome soldier too.

I love Claire and spencer together. He's being an ass.

As a journalist injustvhave to laugh at the writer getting all excited over a 300-word assignment and stressing out about it, that's about 12 inches. Please.

I think the women of the town are going tobe onto him, anybody else think maybe he hasn't been physically violent before?

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So the teacher is gay, right? I'm not hallucinating Gay Anvils, am I?

 

I'm pretty relieved the doctor lives close enough to Pat and Evil Bob that they can hear him knocking her about. Which means he'll choose his chances more carefully, probably. 

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Put my vote down in the "Bob has to go" column.  He's terrible and I would root for his wife to poison him, but I don't want her to get into trouble, so...hit-and-run it is, I guess.

 

 

And he has to go in a ghastly way too.

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Oh, Bob.  Do us a favor and choke to death on a fish bone or something.  What a terrible excuse for a human being.

 

Poor Alison would have been better off to break down and admit to stealing the WI money than to agree to cook the books.  If she had just told the ladies what she had done in her desperation, I imagine they would have helped her out.

 

Wow, it seems like the doctor's daughter married awfully quickly.  She met her now-husband when Alison's dog was injured.  Now, I'm not sure how much time has passed, but Alison just received the bill from the vet, so it can't have been long.  He seems sweet, so I'm hoping that all works out for her.  

Edited by SonofaBiscuit
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They said, "a fortnight," so it had to have been two weeks or a little more, certainly not enough for her to think she was pregnant. Both the doc's daughter and Claire make me cringe with their pushiness.

Alison shouldn't have stolen from the WI and she sure shouldn't have gone in with the crooks. Just let the vet wait a little, he isn't going to repo Boris.

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Am I the only one cringing over putting cash in a payment envelope? I remember doing that kind of thing when I was a kid, but it's been so drummed out of me I can't even watch it in the past!

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I spent part of the episode screaming at Pat: "Poison him!  Hit him with a frying pan!  Bash him with a brick!"  Someone is BOUND to notice, and I hope they do a damn fine job of hurting him back!

 

btw: I have loved this story so much I got the book!

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As much as I want Bob to get punished for his treatment of his wife, I don't know how realistic it would be for Pat to leave him.  Or for Bob to be arrested for his abuse.  1939 laws and women's/victim's rights were not what they are today.   I think the best we can hope for is a NOT unfortunate "accident" to befall Bob. 

 

I knew most of the village men would be leaving to join up, but I was surprised the Vicar would be accepted into the Army/RAF.  Wasn't there an age limit?  I want everyone to come home safely, but I guess we all know that isn't going to happen.  I just don't want to spend the last half of the season guessing who is going to be widowed next.

 

It kind of surprised me how quickly Kate's little sister joined the service.  I suppose things would have moved very quickly in order to get the war effort going - staffing offices and homefront military bases had to setup fast. Just seems like a lot has happened in 3 months since this started.

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Am I the only one cringing over putting cash in a payment envelope? I remember doing that kind of thing when I was a kid, but it's been so drummed out of me I can't even watch it in the past!

Yeah, all I could think was how times have changed...and the darn envelope wasn't even sealed that well! Yeeps!

Edited by Eliza422
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People got married quickly in wartime. That didn't phase me. You move fast if you think you might lose your chance of seeing someone ever again. In order to stay with him they had to be marrried.

I kind of loved Claire and Kate's pushiness. Admired it.

I hated Trevor standing her up "for her own good." That just lowered him a lot in my estimation. If he can pull that crap once, he can do it again. Too bad because I thought otherwise they were so good together.

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I've been thinking of a stray bomb that doesn't hurt anyone else or any animals. He has to die and soon. Also, historically, not even marital rape was illegal until recently, so would domestic abuse have been actionable? Horrid that things were like this for so long. And in many parts of the world they are still horrid. Die, Bob, Die. 

 

Problem with Bob. He's never outside, so stray bomb is not a good idea. 

 

The actress playing Sarah seems so familiar to me, and I finally realized that she looks somewhere like Rachel Stirling (daughter of Diana Rigg) from Bletchley Circle. I wish they'd to more series of BC.

 

 

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I've been thinking of a stray bomb that doesn't hurt anyone else or any animals. He has to die and soon. Also, historically, not even marital rape was illegal until recently, so would domestic abuse have been actionable? Horrid that things were like this for so long. And in many parts of the world they are still horrid. Die, Bob, Die. 

 

Problem with Bob. He's never outside, so stray bomb is not a good idea. 

 

The actress playing Sarah seems so familiar to me, and I finally realized that she looks somewhere like Rachel Stirling (daughter of Diana Rigg) from Bletchley Circle. I wish they'd to more series of BC.

 

No, I think that wife-beating was pretty much an assumed activity, and not really looked down upon too much.  Even today, there are men who think it is their right to rape and beat their wives; they own them.  I hate Bob, I really do.

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He's not just abusive, he's so sly and sneaky. Tricking her into thinking he wanted her opinion. Argh.

I suppose he believes and she believes that "only if" he were working steadily etc. he'd be nicer. In fairness, I'm sure some of it is his own frustration with himself. But it's festered now.

To make such hay over a nothing 300-word story makes it all the more pathetic.

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I thought, when he saw her called up to the podium, and the great response she got, that he maybe had an idea "Hey!  Maybe she isn't just a lump!  Maybe she has a brain in her head, and I can admire her!"  I truly thought he had had an epiphany.  Bastard.

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It's hilarious how we are all working out ways for Bob to die that won't hurt Pat or hold back the plots too much. I keep thinking there's a reason they made him a writer --the series writers must have developed something especially insidious to befall him.

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Now, I'm not sure how much time has passed, but Alison just received the bill from the vet, so it can't have been long.

 

The notice we saw Alison reading was a final demand, so she'd received previous bills.

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It's hilarious how we are all working out ways for Bob to die that won't hurt Pat or hold back the plots too much. I keep thinking there's a reason they made him a writer --the series writers must have developed something especially insidious to befall him.

 

One can only hope.

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So the teacher is gay, right? I'm not hallucinating Gay Anvils, am I?

If you are, so am I.

 

I knew most of the village men would be leaving to join up, but I was surprised the Vicar would be accepted into the Army/RAF.  Wasn't there an age limit?

I believe he is going to be a military chaplain. Maybe they were harder to come by, or maybe preference was actually given to more experienced clergy, I don't know. But he won't be armed, so I guess some of the physical expectations are different.

 

The notice we saw Alison reading was a final demand, so she'd received previous bills.

I think she'd ignored them all, though, because she was surprised at the amount.

 

It sounded like the same kiss sound over and over again at the beginning with Kate and Jack. It was driving me nuts.

Edited by dcalley
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