Crimes of Passion – Dangerous Dreams – Bit of a nightmare?

Crimes of Passion – Episode 5

Dangerous Dreams

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Penultimate episode alert! Only one to go after this!!  Let the smoking begin.

So what circumstances will conspire to find Puck, Christer and Eje in some beautiful country house in the middle of nowhere this week? Well we don’t find out straight away as we begin with a pregnant woman opening a package and taking out a book by an Andreas Hallman, which is signed by the author to “Ann-Louise”.  She clearly expected something to be in the book as after flicking through it, she shakes it, but nothing comes out.  This must have been particularly disappointing as we next see her standing by the water’s edge somewhere and she walks into it until she is completely submerged.  (Let’s hope the postman didn’t steal whatever she was expecting).

The Frid and Frid music begins and the titles play. Aah.

Puck and Eje appear on screen, in a car, discussing the same novel that was in the opening sequence. The book apparently won Andreas the Nobel Prize.  I’m guessing for literature rather than physics, chemistry, physiology, medicine or peace. But where have Eje’s glasses gone??  He had them on all last week, but there is no sign of them now!

It turns out that Puck has got a job as Andreas’ secretary and Eje is driving her to her new job. It is in a beautiful country house in the middle of nowhere.  Some of you may be getting a feeling of déjà vu here.  Yes, this blog is as bad as all my others.

Kare, son of Andreas comes to the gates of the property and lets Puck in, but doesn’t allow Eje in. His “genius father” doesn’t allow outsiders in.  Kare explains to Puck that she is taking the job of his sister, Ylva.  This may explain why Ylva looks like she is sucking on a lemon.

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We meet the rest of the family. Andreas’ wife Bjorg, Andreas’ son from a previous relationship Jon (who has a heart defect and must avoid excitement.  He should be ok watching this), Jon’s wife, who is also his former nurse – Cecilia.  Then Andreas arrives in the room but what’s this!  It’s Viggo from Arne Dahl!  Any chance I have of taking this episode seriously has now gone.

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We see Puck going up the narrowest staircase in the history of the world and then doing her traditional snooping. Andreas, who had told her to be at his study at 3.30 catches her.  She manages to say she had got lost.  Andreas says out loud his thoughts and Puck writes them down then types them up for use in his next book.

Puck walks past Jon and Cecilia’s room to see them getting intimate, with Cecilia in her sexy underwear. Although this is a surprise given what’s been said about Jon’s heart condition, Puck stands watching quite a bit longer than is necessary.  Ylva is watching Puck watching, this time chewing a wasp.

Family physician Dr Isander has now arrived and joins the family for dinner. For dessert, different family members get different coloured bowls.  They have always done this.  (This will be significant klaxon!).  Jon has a bit of a coughing fit after eating a grape from what appears to be fruit salad.  He reassures everyone that it is delicious, just a little too hot.

Puck wakes up from a nightmare (either that or another incredibly loud ticking clock at the side of her bed woke her). She hears a thump and walks out of her room to investigate.  She almost falls over Jon’s body lying on the floor.  He manages to say “murder!” to Puck before dying.

Dr Isander says that Jon’s heart finally gave out. Puck asks if he is sure of this and tells him about his final word.  The doctor says she probably misheard and he was saying “mother” as he was looking forward to seeing her in heaven.

Kare and Ylva are telling Cecilia that she has no reason to stay at the house any longer, but Andreas overhears and tells her she can stay as long as she wants.

Puck phones Eje at his work and what’s this? He’s wearing glasses as he works!  It would seem his eyesight has improved significantly and he only needs them for reading now.  She tells him what she heard and that she doesn’t feel comfortable.

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Next we see someone entering Puck’s room and smothering her with a pillow. The snooping and interfering and thinking she has all the rights of the police are over!  But no, she was dreaming again.  She has had enough now and packs her cases and goes to leave, but the front gates are locked.  As she tries to find another way out she finds Andreas who tells her that he needs her and that she has signed a contract.

With there being a large part of the programme already gone, it’s a big surprise there has been no sign of Christer, but don’t worry ladies, here he is. Saying at the gate intercom that he was Puck’s brother and he had some urgent communication for her, he is reluctantly let in.  Eje had called him and he went to investigate.  Once again, whatever he may have been working on in Stockholm is irrelevant.

Christer quickly announces that there should have been a post mortem given the doubt in place following what Puck had heard. He was clearly later arriving into the episode as he has been away drinking, as he tells old sour puss that she is beautiful.  To follow all the other episodes, this means that she is ruled out of having committed any murder, as whoever looks like being the object of Christer’s attention gets to leave with him at the end.  For the first week though, he hasn’t gone for the best looking one, which is clearly the newly single Cecilia.  Does this mean she did it?

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Andreas again forbids Puck to leave, but Christer comes to the rescue and takes her away. Puck checks into a hotel.  It’s not clear why she is hanging around, but she manages to get the last available room, which is a double.  It’s clear this will have Christer connotations.

Andreas announces at dinner that he is going to give permission for a post mortem on Jon’s body which will be exhumed. Almost immediately, he chokes and falls from his chair, dead.  He has been poisoned with strychnine. Christer of course, is suddenly investigating this despite not being the local police.

Puck is delighted to find that the woman who runs the hotel she is staying in is as much of a busybody as she is, as she tells her that Bjorg has tried to kill herself and that Andreas has brought several female conquests to the hotel. Doesn’t sound much of a recluse to me!

Christer is interviewing the family members and tells Cecilia that “some say you’re a gold digger”. Sadly, he doesn’t break into the Kanye West and Jamie Foxx song.  Cecilia advises him that she had swapped Jon and Andreas’ portions around as there was quite a bit of ginger in Jon’s bowl.  So was any poison present meant for Andreas?

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Christer goes to Puck’s hotel room and asks if he can sleep over as there are no rooms left. He sleeps on the couch.  Next we see him joining Puck in bed, but it’s just another of her dreams.

Puck and Christer return to the Hallman home, everyone forgetting again that Puck isn’t actually in the police. They discover Bjorg and the doctor holding hands on the sofa.  Puck is soon off snooping in Andreas’ room and finds a photograph of a woman.  Ylva finds her and quickly rips up the photo.

The pathologist advises that Jon’s death was indeed heart related.

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We see the doctor going into Andreas’ safe and removing an envelope. The key had been missing but he clearly had it all along.  As he is leaving, Christer asks for a word. He asks if anyone knew that he had strychnine in his bag. The doc says that Cecilia may have known as she has helped him in the past with being a former nurse.  He tells Christer that he has found the safe key.

Puck has reassembled the ripped up photo and it is a picture of Ann-Louise. The pathologist wants to see Christer.  Puck asks Yrla who Ann-Louise was.  Yrla explains she was a previous secretary of Andreas and Kare was in love with her.  Andreas sent her away and Kare said he would kill him.  Nice camaraderie with her brother there.

The pathologist tells Christer that Jon was indeed poisoned. It was by something used as an insecticide in plants.  Puck, who remember wanted to leave not so long ago, goes to the greenhouse to speak to Kare.  He gets angry at Puck asking about Ann-Louise and grabs her, but Christer turns up and asks what is going on.  For some reason, Puck says “nothing”.

So Christer gets them all in a room again. He accuses the doctor of poisoning Andreas, who, once again when they are all in a room together like every other episode, he admits to.

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Christer is having dinner with Eje in the hotel and the line of the series occurs when Eje sees the photo of Ann-Louise and says she is Christer’s type. Christer asks what his type is and Eje replies “any woman”. The gossipy hotel owner sees the picture and says it is no wonder that Ann-Louise killed herself after Andreas had got her pregnant then abandoned her.  She also mentions the dead girl’s younger sister Irma.  This seems to strike a chord with Christer, although I have no idea why, and he and Eje rush to the car.

Puck is still at the Hallman house as the publishing company want the rest of what Andreas dictated typed up. The bulb in the room in which she is working goes out and she wanders off to find a replacement.  This leads her to Cecilia’s room, where she finds a photograph of Cecilia and Ann-Louise together.  Cecilia catches her and soon they both realise Puck knows that she was Ann-Louise’s sister.  Puck runs and Cecilia chases after her, picking up a heavy ornament on the way.  Cecilia eventually catches up with Puck and hits her across the face with the ornament.

Christer’s car breaks down and he and Eje have to run to the house. Puck wakes to find herself tied to a chair.  Cecilia tells Puck that after what Andreas did to her sister, she wanted to make him suffer.  She had seen Bjorg and the doctor put poison in Andreas’ fruit salad and swapped it round so that Andreas would suffer more at the death of his favourite son. She then killed Andreas.  Cecilia says she is going to burn down the house and injects Puck in the neck as we see Christer and Eje arrive.

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Next we see Puck coming to in the hospital and it looks like everything is going to be ok. There’s still time for us to see Christer leaving the hospital arm in arm with the miserable Yrla.

Slightly better episode this week, but that may just have been with the appearance of snow. The cinematography is still fantastic though.

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Only one episode left. I guess that must be because Christer will no longer be in heat.

Issues:

  • Given all the secrecy surrounding the family, just how did Puck get the job?
  • It seems that Jon was poisoned by eating one grape.
  • Why would the pathologist have found the key? Do they think he swallowed it?
  • Puck was wearing the same top several times. This doesn’t happen. Although the big coat she was wearing would mean she wouldn’t have any more room in her suitcase. (Apart from for her funeral outfit).
  • Were exhumations really carried out at night in 50s Sweden?
  • So after a death Puck wanted to leave? WHAT HAVE THEY DONE WITH THE REAL PUCK!!
  • Swedish for ‘inherits nothing’ sounded like ‘a ring a ding’.
  • I suppose it is fully understandable that Puck had her funeral outfit with her by now.
  • It was very obvious that Puck was dreaming when Christer got in her bed.
  • Why did the nosey hotel owner have a newspaper cutting to hand about the death of Ann-Louise?
  • Why did Puck have to type up the notes she made from Andreas at the house? Could she not have done it elsewhere?
  • The snow made it feel a bit more Noir than previous episodes.
  • None of the family seemed to smoke shocker! (But Puck lit up constantly).
  • I know what to expect from this now, so Henrik Stenson was the Swede I was most hoping for a good performance from on my TV this weekend.
  • When the word ‘fantastisk’ was used, was the translation really ‘excellent’?
  • Are we absolutely sure that Puck isn’t a serial killer?
  • Another story of everyday murder ends happily ever after.
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Bloody Scotland – Stirling – 21 September 2014

A beautiful day awaits us as we step off the train in Stirling to bright sunshine. Coming to the Bloody Scotland Book Festival seems quite appropriate just a couple of days after Scotland decided to stay as part of the United Kingdom, as it could have been the words used by around 45% of those who voted.

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It’s the 3rd Bloody Scotland, established by Scottish crime writers Alex Gray and Lynn Anderson and the second I have attended after going to see Jan Arnald (Arne Dahl) and then Jo Nesbo last year.  Last year both the events I attended were in the Albert Halls whereas both of this year’s events are in the same room at the Stirling Highland Hotel.  I’m not doing it on purpose.

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Lasting for 3 days, there are a large number of talented authors in attendance from Scotland and beyond. Being the only festival in Scotland entirely devoted to crime writing, it always seems to be well attended and there are some great venues in Stirling to host it.

Additions to this year’s programme include a play at Stirling Sheriff Court where you get to be the jury in a performance about the trial of Peter Manuel, one of Scotland’s most notorious serial killers who was arrested in 1958 and convicted of 7 murders, a football match between Scottish authors and English authors (which the Scots won 14-1) a tour around Stirling Castle where a recreation of a real murder scene from the castle’s bloody history would be performed and a Bloody Cinema event.

There’s 45 minutes between the two things I’m attending which is actually a bit of a relief, as the hill to get to the hotel is not for the faint hearted.  My lack of fitness means an oxygen tank would have been a useful accessory by the time we get there.

Things aren’t exactly well signposted either but we manage to embroil ourselves in the queue, which is expanding quickly.

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Sunday 21 September 2014 – Icelandic Noir – Ragnar Jónasson, Quentin Bates and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Academy Suite, Stirling Highland Hotel, 12.45pm

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It’s disappointing that more consideration wasn’t given to the many fans of Nordic Noir in Scotland with this event being put on at the same time as an event about Finnish writing.

Three authors for the price of one (4 if you count host Michael J Malone) for my first event of the day and each known slightly differently in Scotland.

Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976 and is a lawyer. He also currently teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

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He isn’t well known in the UK. He has had the short story Death of a Sunflower published in the renowned Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, the first story in the magazine by an Icelandic author. Another short story Party of Two was published in the Crime Writers’ Association 2014 anthology Guilty Parties. He is most well known in his native country for the Dark Iceland crime series set in Northern Iceland, but these novels have only been published so far in Iceland and Germany. A leading Icelandic TV production company are developing a TV series based on the series, so hopefully we will see translated versions of the books and also television versions on the 9pm BBC4 slot in the not too distant future.

Quentin Bates was born in England in 1962. In 1979 he was offered the opportunity to spend a gap year working in Iceland and that year turned into ten.  During these years he worked as a netmaker, a factory hand and a trawlerman.  He also met and married an Icelandic girl and began a family.

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For the last 15 years Quentin has been a journalist writing for a nautical trade magazine. He goes back to Iceland twice a year and the Icelandic financial crisis inspired him to try his hand at fiction.

His debut novel, Frozen Out was published in 2011 and since then Cold Comfort, Winterlude, Chilled to the Bone, and this year’s Cold Steal have followed. His books have been published in the USA and Canada and translated in Germany and Holland with Polish and Finnish versions on the way.

Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, born in 1963, is the most well-known of the trio. She works as a civil engineer in Reykjavik, the city in which she was born and is married with two children. She is an international best selling and award winning crime writer and writes the Thóra Gudmundsdóttir series as well as several stand-alone thrillers. She made her crime fiction debut in 2005 with Last Rituals, the first instalment in the series, and has been translated into more than 30 languages. She also writes children’s books.

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Five of the series have been published in the UK as well as two stand-alone novels, including her most recent release, The Silence of the Sea.

Today’s host is Michael J Malone. Michael was born in Ayr and has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK. He has written two books featuring his Detective Inspector McBain as well as, earlier this year, The Guillotine Choice, a novel based on the true story of an Algerian man’s years in one of history’s most notorious prisons.

Michael first asked, what makes Nordic Noir so popular? Yrsa answered that she thought it was because the scandic society was perceived as a good society, but she thought it was nice to find the worms and maggots hidden away under the carpet.  Quentin added that it was down to the quality of the writing, which was so good, and straight to the point. Ragnar added that for him it was about the settings – they could be extreme, from really cold winters, to 24 hour daylight during the summer (and lots of mountains to get lost easily in).

The discussion moved on to whether Iceland was different to the other Nordic countries.  Quentin said Iceland was indeed very different, but that each one had a distinctiveness from the others.  When asked about Iceland’s USP, Yrsa said it was that they didn’t have guns – there are very few murders with guns there.  There’s also the closeness of society, where we would normally talk about six degrees of separation, in Iceland, it could be as little as two, so there was a risk that someone would always know who you were.  Ragnar added that whilst there might not be very many guns on the surface, there were certainly a few if you took into account the hunting fraternity.

So, did that mean there tended to be a depressing stupidity to any murders in Iceland? Yrsa agreed with that, adding it all tended to be drunk people arguing and then pulling a knife, so she was often disappointed that a real life murder wouldn’t be enough, even for a short story.  That was the challenge for writers in Iceland – to write something which was believable enough for the reader to think that it could happen.  Quentin added the other challenge was the size of the place, for example, you couldn’t rob a bank, as what would you do with the money? You couldn’t spend it, nor could you take it off the island easily.

Michael asked Quentin if he saw Iceland differently from the two writers who lived there (Quentin now visits to do his research and then comes back to the UK to do the writing) He said he thought he did, although when he visits, he tends to go a bit native again.

Michael tells the audience that Ragnar started translating Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic when he was in his late teens, and Ragnar adds that his publisher just told him to pick any book he wanted – he ended up translating around one a year.  Ragnar thinks that doing this has influenced his writing in a number of ways – he realised the importance of setting the scenes and he always tries to have a twist at the end.  He was also keen not to kill too many people off in the one place!

We move on to talk about the Icelandic Crime Festival, the second one taking place in November this year.  Quentin tells us the idea was born over a curry and a beer one night and that Ann Cleeves (author of the Shetland series) was instrumental in making it happen – when asked if she would attend she accepted straight away, without even asking when it was.  There was no crime writers community, so they have set up an arm of the UK crime writers association, to network and get to know everyone writing crime in Iceland a bit more.  The media have taken an interest with both TV and radio interviewing Yrsa and others about it.

Quentin pointed out that only 4 Icelandic authors have actually been translated into English (a few more have been translated into other languages though, such as German).  Yrsa reckoned that that was because there are so many good crime writers already published in English that there wasn’t the same urgency for even more.  There used to be a bit of a divide between Icelandic literature and crime writing, and the only cultural show on TV tended to concentrate a lot on poetry.  According to Quentin though, when he was first over, cultural heritage was popular, but now there are lots of crime books.

Quentin talked about how he had resisted for a while from setting his books in Iceland, however he eventually realised he should write about what he knew.  Yrsa pointed out that they considered Quentin to be Icelandic as he could speak the language, which was a really important thing for him to have done. He told us how he had gone to work in a net loft at first and had struggled to learn the language in the first few months, as the Icelanders speak very fast and it’s often difficult to work out when one word ends and another one starts. Yrsa asked him if the locals had laughed at him at first and Quentin said they had, it’s all to do with hearing your own language spoken back to you and because not many people took the time to learn it, it would have been a novelty to them.  He of course learned the swearing first, but we hear from Yrsa that swearing in Icelandic is rubbish – Quentin adding that their swearing tends to be more blasphemous whereas ours is more gynaecological.  Nowadays, the youngsters tend to just swear in English.

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The next sets of questions are about the main characters the authors have.  Ragnar’s is a young guy, just graduated as a policeman, and working in the northernmost village in Iceland, which is actually where his father grew up.  It’s a very cold, snowy and dark place, and can only be accessed by sea or over mountains.  His main character, who has left his girlfriend behind, becomes very isolated and depressed.  When the murder takes place, his boss doesn’t appear to be particularly bothered and he ends up having to do a lot of the investigating on his own.

Quentin’s character is a large, ordinary female copper, with nothing remarkable about her at all.  He tells us that originally she was going to be the sidekick, but when he realised his main protagonist was just a series of clichés, he decided to bring her to the centre.  He goes on to say that two thirds of the way through writing the book, he decided to do some research, so he arranged to meet someone from the police in Iceland, and she was exactly as he had been writing the character.  He ended up having to change loads of what he had written as a result.  Yrsa and Quentin discuss the egalitarian attitudes in Iceland, talking about how women have a hard time in the police and there’s often a glass ceiling in many jobs.  Only 14% of the police force is female. Yrsa’s character was always going to be female, and she decided to go from a different angle, by making her a lawyer.  Her latest book was inspired by the story of the Marie Celeste which she has always been fascinated by.  She even took a diving course as part of her research.

Quentin’s latest release has been published as an e-book only, and is about a burglar who breaks into a house one day and comes face to face with someone he really doesn’t want to meet.  Encouraged to talk about the last book to be published in hard copy, that’s ‘Shot to the Bone’, about a dominatrix and someone who has a heart attack.

Ragnar’s last book was a selection of short stories, including one about New Year’s Eve.  The book he is writing now is set in the south east of Iceland, near some glacial rivers and is about an elderly gent who welcomes an old friend from 30/40 years ago, there are some unresolved issues and the obligatory twist at the end. The best thing about writing a series, Yrsa says, is that you have a suite of main characters ready and waiting, but the worst thing is keeping them interesting enough.  Ragnar says that having a main character can have its strengths and weaknesses – you have to use him, but as you go along you gather more background on him.  But, it’s also important to make sure that even though you are writing as part of a series of books, each one also has to stand alone as not all readers will read all of the books or necessarily in the right order.  Yrsa agrees with this adding that she actually wrote a stand-alone book after writing five in the series.  She found this gave her a great deal of freedom and she just wanted to kill everyone off!

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What are the weirdest things the authors have done by way of research? For Yrsa it was watching a gallbladder operation (It wasn’t that interesting).  For Quentin, he reckons the research tends to just jump at him, rather than him going to look for it (he has some questionable contacts, about whom I won’t go into detail here!) Ragnar uses his friends in the police force and medical profession.  We finish this part of the session by discussing how important good translators are.

The questions section covered the following:

- what did the writers think of Burial Rights by Hannah Kent, set in early 19th century Iceland.  Yrsa commented that this had only just been translated and there appeared to be a sense of amazement that someone would be interested in writing such a thing.

- how do the writers feel when handing over a book to be translated, and did the sales of Agatha Christie books increase as a result of Ragnar’s translations? Ragnar tells us that no, sales did not increase but that was because more and more people were reading in English.  His books are also translated into German, however in one case he had written a joke which was a play on Icelandic dialect, and this has just been completely left out by the German translator.

- if murders are generally simple in Iceland, where do you get your plots from? Yrsa says they can come from anywhere, as long as she can find something interesting, but not completely unbelievable (she’s killed someone off using  Botox before…) Ragnar says he gets a lot of stuff from British newspapers, and that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a crime headline that sparks off his imagination.

- has there been any animosity towards Quentin as an outsider writing about Iceland and did he ever consider using a more Icelandic sounding name? It’s been more puzzlement than animosity, and he has been accepted as one of them, given his learning of the language.  He wishes he had used a pseudonym now.

- would Quentin translate his own books into Icelandic? No, he would want Ragnar to do it.

-reflect on the similarities between Scotland and Iceland.  Ragnar says he is fascinated with The Black House, by Peter May, which could easily have been written about Iceland.  The far north of Scotland is very similar in landscape to Iceland.  Yrsa added that there had been discussion about if Scotland had voted for independence whether it could have joined the Scandinavian culture, giving there are lots of things in common such as fishing, agriculture and the landscape.  She adds that of all the countries she has visited outside Iceland Scotland is the one she has most affinity with, and could see herself being Scottish. Quentin adds she would make a better Scot than a Norwegian and there’s no disagreement from Yrsa on this point!

A very interesting event with very likeable authors.

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Sunday 21 September 2014 – John Gordon Sinclair and Arild Stavrum, Academy Suite, Stirling Highland Hotel, 2.30pm

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John Gordon Sinclair first broke into our consciousness as the star of one of Scotland’s best-loved comedy films Gregory’s Girl, which he now won’t mention by name. Lots of TV work and film roles followed.  He has just finished a role in a West End production of Jeeves and Wooster. Now 52, he has published his second crime novel Blood Whispers, the follow up to debut Seventy Times Seven.

Arild Stavrum was a professional footballer who played in his native Norway as well as Sweden, Turkey, Germany and Scotland. He scored 26 goals in 54 appearances for Aberdeen between 1999 and 2001.  He also had two games for his national side.  After trying his hand at management he has turned his hand to crime writing.  Footballers are traditionally not considered to be the brightest.

Now 42, he has had 5 books published in his native Norway. His second novel Exposed at the Back has now been translated into English and has been released in the UK.

Host this time is Craig Robertson. A former journalist who reported on many major stories including 9/11, Dunblane, the Omagh bombing and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann. He has interviewed three prime ministers, spent time on Death Row in the USA and dispensed polio drops in the backstreets of India.

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His own crime novels are set on the streets of Glasgow. His first novel, Random, was shortlisted for the 2010 CWA New Blood Dagger and longlisted for the 2011 Crime Novel of the Year. He is also the author of SnapshotCold Grave and Witness the Dead.

Arild was asked about his new book.  He said that he had had a long life in football, from 5 to 32, so it had been a big part of his life.  The football language was something that was familiar to him so he wanted to use that in a setting for the book.  There are lots of relationships in a changing room, from jealousy, tensions to who is getting paid the most, so lots of possibilities to make up a crime story.  He touched on the corruption in the game, finishing off by saying that football should be the beautiful game and not about the money/professional side.

Craig then asked John about his, which is a thriller involving Albanian gangsters, to which John said he couldn’t tell us if he knew any personally.  Different from Arild in that he wanted to write about something he didn’t know much about at all. He also wanted his book to be something he would like to take on his holidays, and referred to books he had read where he had enjoyed the ride, but didn’t feel like he had made a connection with any of the characters – he wants people who read his books to feel something. Arild talked about the corruption that goes on in his book and tells us that not everybody was happy with what he’d written. He wrote about match fixing, was told that that would never happen in Norway, then two months later it did.  He likes to explore the darker side of football, some of which was based on real life situations, like the agent who was banned from dealing in players, who a few years later was brought back to negotiate the TV rights, and subsequently conned the football association out of a substantial amount of money.

Craig highlights the plight of young footballers who don’t make the grade and are kicked out onto the street.  Arild added that no one cares, you can go to Barcelona and there will be a whole warehouse full of African players whose careers have been affected by the recent goings on.  What happens then is that a fair number will turn to drugs and prostitution.  Arild is really animated about this subject and tells us he is really angry with the top of FIFA which just seems to be getting bigger and bigger. There is some human trafficking at the beginning of John’s book Blood Whispers. Taken from a Herman Hess saying, the book is about a female lawyer who represents a drug trafficker/drug lord.  As a youngster this lawyer killed someone so she begins to question whether that is something she would be prepared to do again. John gives his character a hard time, but has never really thought about whether it’s different or difficult to write as a female character, as he just thinks about how a character would react to that type of environment.  Craig adds that he chickened out writing with a female lead, much preferring to write from a serial killer’s point of view…

Arild said that he had received really good feedback from some people who had read his book, saying that they found the setting realistic.

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We are then let in on a little secret – John studied Norwegian when he was 15, being the only pupil in Scotland to do so.  He also talks about part of his new book being set in the very hotel we are holding the session, remarking that he wanted somewhere which looked good, just in case it ever got made for the telly.  He throws in another fact for us at this stage, which is that Cornton Vale is the only female prison in Scotland.

When asked about why both authors changed from sport and acting to writing, John says that he is currently 50/50 split between the two, but that he would want that to tip towards writing in the future. For Arild it’s about keeping some of the discipline football has (getting up at a particular time etc and sticking to your writing plan).  But he had also written stories and articles for a number of years.

We then move on to talk about John’s shed at the bottom of his garden, something which as a qualified electrician he (eventually) wired himself.  He uses his shed to do the writing and was pleased that he got to choose everything about it.  And because you aren’t restricted to a particular budget when writing, you can have whatever you want in each scene. He adds that when he writes he has the film playing in his head and when editing it he thinks about what a friend in the advertising world would do in each scene.

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When asked if they had learned any new skills, Arild said that it was a natural transition for him, as football and writing are both quite instinctive.  John said he just sat down and wrote the book without telling anyone he was going to do it.  He said that it’s better to just to start writing, you will find your authorial voice and then the story might just take on a life of its own.  John said he sometimes found he could make himself laugh or cry when writing and Arild added that he would often talk to himself and treat the characters like real people.

The writers talked about whether or not they should do readings as part of these sessions.  Both did not like to do them, with John adding that when he read a passage out loud his voice did not fit with the story. A straw poll of the audience seemed to suggest quite an even split for and against readings.

As a detour from crime, Arild is now writing some children’s books before going on to do another crime novel.  John says that his books are not a trilogy but they do link.  The stage show he just finished is off on tour so he will be writing in order to tie off a few loose ends when that is on.

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Questions from the audience:

- which crime writers inspired our authors? Arild said there wasn’t one, but many, including Carl Hiaasen. He writes nothing like him, but is really dark and concentrates on the environmental issues in Florida. He is also a big fan of Elmore Leonard, who John says he was about to say and that his books often tip a hat to him.

-how do you research books? John reads a lot of stuff. One of his books, based on Ireland in the 70s, was something he had to research a lot as he didn’t know a lot about the country or the bombings at that time.

- what’s been the pinnacle of your careers? For John selling the first book and getting a badge at the Edinburgh book festival which said “author”. Also he worked on “The Producers” with Mel Brooks in London, saying that was the best year of his life.  For Arild, a goal to win the Swedish championship, and a goal in the Scottish cup final.  Taking a penalty in front of 30,000 is an immense feeling when you score. But he also adds seeing his book in print – and confirms that he thoroughly enjoyed his time at Aberdeen.

-what books have you not read and you think you should? John’s reading factual stuff at the moment as he doesn’t like to read fiction when he’s writing. Arild says he is reading John’s book at the moment, and that he has to read something completely different to what he’s working on.  You can’t get much more different than children’s books and Albanian gangsters!

Another entertaining hour positively flew past.

As well as the authors I went to see, at various points I saw James Oswald, Doug Johnstone, Malcolm Mackay and Kati Hiekkapelto.

After getting something to eat, there was still time to meet up with local and fellow Nordic Noir fans Miriam and Siobhan Owen to sample the local beer.

I’m sure we will be back next year.

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Crimes of Passion – Roses, Kisses and Death – And Cigarettes.

Crimes of Passion – Episode 4

Roses, Kisses and Death

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So what will Nancy Drew be investigating this week? Five Go Mad in Sweden is into its fourth week.  I alluded previously to the Swedes not being too keen on this and I understand that after the first one, it went straight to DVD.  So, to this week’s episode with the usual backdrop of privilege and gentility.

We start with Fanny the clairvoyant reading her tarot cards and they show her roses, kisses and death. We haven’t seen any of the assembled throng in the room before other than Christer. He must be pleased to be already at the venue this week, as he usually has to travel from Stockholm.

The maid, Sofia, is listening in to the conversation about “Odd Gertrud” real name Gertrud Uddgren who had disappeared, many suspect murdered, several years ago. Next, the maid has gone outside with a torch and meets up with Bjorn and he is soon digging in the earth cellar. He quickly comes across a skeleton.

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Then we are treated to the magnificent opening sequence, with the great music and titles. They really deserve a much better programme to introduce, but I digress.

Eje and Puck arrive (expect more dead bodies) and Eje is wearing glasses!! Not particularly impressive ones, but he seems to be trying to rock the Clark Kent look. They talk of how nice it is that Christer is engaged. What?? Serial womaniser Christer?? Some mistake surely!

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Our wet twosome are soon meeting with Christer and fiancée Gabriella (Bella for short) and the rest of her family, as engagement guests. They are grandfather Frederik, his sons Jan-Axel and Otto, the latter’s wife Helene and Aunt Fanny.  Local policeman Loving arrives with Bjorn to say they have found a body on the estate.  Bjorn is also an Uddgren, and the son of the murdered Getrud.

Puck has a cold, but her nose is bothering her in more ways than one as hearing voices when in bed, her nosiness gets the better of her as usual and she sees that Otto and Frederik seem to be arguing. She is later woken up to be told that Frederik has had a heart attack.  Family doctor Dr Severin has arrived.

Eje and Puck are called to see now bed ridden Frederik, who wants them to witness his rewritten will. He says that he wants to put things right even if it means taking the shame to the grave.  The ever curious Puck doesn’t seem to question this at all.

We see Puck waken up at 3.25am, although I’m not surprised as she seems to have the loudest ticking clock in all of Sweden in her room. She sees someone leaving the house but can’t tell who.  She goes back upstairs and sees in Frederik’s room that he appears to be dead, with Fanny motionless on the chair beside the bed and Puck can’t wake her up.  She goes and wakes Christer who tries to get amorous, which seems to be his permanent state, but he is just half asleep and soon we see that Fanny had just had her coffee drugged.  (Maybe not such a good idea to lubricate Fanny after all?  I’m so sorry).  Frederik is indeed dead and has been poisoned.

As we see Helene struggling to contain some of her assets inside her dress, I opine that she seems much more Christer’s type and I’m sure he will be getting with her before the end.

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Christer is testing all the pills in the house to try to ascertain what had been put in Fanny’s coffee. He is crushing them up and seeing if any of them don’t make the coffee taste bitter.  He eventually discovers one that had been obtained from Helene’s cabinet.

Christer, Eje and Puck are trying to find the rewritten will in Frederik’s room and Puck eventually finds it under the mattress. It has been amended to give large sums to Bjorn and Helene.

Eje has a seminar he has to leave to go to but Fanny persuades Puck to stay and help Christer. I’ve no idea why she does this.

Christer visits Bjorn and finds wet paint on his boat outside. He also takes a photograph from a table when Bjorn isn’t looking.  As he leaves, we see that Bella had been hiding in another room.  Christer then visits Dr Severin, lighting cigarettes wherever he goes.  The doctor tells him that Gertrud had been a “good time girl” and that he had been with her at one point.  He also says that Helene is pretty much addicted to drugs now.  This time Christer steals Frederik’s medical file.  Police procedure wasn’t big in 1950s Sweden.  We see Frederik phoning to tell someone all about the visit after Christer has left.

Puck, snooping about again, sees Jan-Axel having sex with Helene (his brother’s wife). Christer goes to speak to Daniel, but finds that he has been shot dead.  He also manages to let a dog into the room to walk right through the crime scene.

Christer’s fiancée isn’t pleased that he was checking her alibi, along with everyone else’s, for the time of the doctor’s murder. Puck and Christer find the same paint that was on Bjorn’s boat at the side of the water of the house they are staying at.  Christer visits Bjorn who pulls a knife on him then runs off.

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Helene tells Christer that Bella and Bjorn had been an item and that they had been together again. Frederik had put a stop to the relationship, but following his death, it was back on.  He goes to see Bella but she isn’t in her room.  She sees him go back downstairs.  Christer gets a whisky and a cigarette and sits in a chair.  After taking a drink he slumps in the chair and drops the glass.

Bella goes in to see Puck and tells her Christer is not back yet. She also warns her that the murderer is still out there.  After Puck saying it is unlikely that she would be a target, Bella says “who knows what your sensitive nose might sniff out”.  No, I’ve no idea either.

We see Bjorn back across on his boat again, then Puck wakening up. As the door handle turns to her room and someone enters, she hits them over the head with something, but it’s Eje who has returned from his seminar.  She tells him he shouldn’t have sneaked up on her, and says, jokingly “I want a divorce!”  Eje doesn’t seem to be harmed.

Puck joins Christer by the waterside and sees him throw his engagement ring in the water. They have a moment together and their “will they won’t they” goes on, something akin to David Addison/Maddy Hayes in Moonlighting or Ross/Rachael in Friends, but with the addition of one of them being married to the other’s best friend.   Puck and Eje aren’t getting on well again and Eje tells her that “you make my head spin and not in a good way”.  Try watching it Eje!

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It seems increasingly that Puck is attracted to Christer simply because of the excitement of his world (and possibly the dullness of Eje). Do we want our two main characters to get together?  Eje is Christer’s best friend.  Puck is Eje’s wife. Christer will sleep with anyone.  Do we care?

The noises coming from upstairs in the house have to be investigated and Puck actually lets Eje come with her to do so. It must be his birthday or something.  There they find Fanny, Bjorn and Bella having a séance.  Bjorn runs for it, but Eje and Christer manage to catch him on the staircase.  Bjorn and Bella try to cover for each other by taking responsibility for killing Frederik, but neither of them was responsible.

So we end again with Christer and all the cast in a room, as the denouement is reached. He tells them that all the alibis they had given the local police for where they had been when Daniel was killed were bollocks.  He must really be getting sick of everyone lying every week.  Particularly so this week when it includes his fiancée.

But what’s this? Christer is doing all the talking!  Clearly Puck’s powers of deduction/interfering don’t work when she has the cold, although as is always the way in this series, the murderer decides to just give in immediately that everyone is in a room together.

He had discovered from Frederik’s file that he had been unable to have children, so it was not he who had made Gertrud pregnant. Helene tells them all that Otto was impotent and had never had sex and that she had done well to last 15 years before straying.

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We have a flashback to Otto as a soldier, where he looks like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. He and Gertrud had been in love and he had got her pregnant.  He made an appointment to see Daniel to have an abortion, but she didn’t turn up and wanted to keep the baby.  The scandal would have been too much, so he shot her.  His father Frederik had a heart attack after he told him of this, thinking he already knew, and his dad had told him he had to come clean or he would do it for him, so he had to kill him too.  When Daniel phoned to tell Otto of Christer’s questions, he decided to tie up that last loose end.  So 3 murders, two of which are to cover up what he had done originally, yet he spills the beans at the first hint of being caught.

There’s just time for Christer to get together with Helene, newly released from her sex free marriage and he newly fiancée free. She tells him that he is not one for grieving; completely ignoring the fact her husband is a triple murderer and will be going to Swedish prison for a very long time.  He says “In the right company, it can be quite pleasant”.  Up on the screen comes the word “slut” which is the Swedish word for “the end”.  It’s not clear whether they mean Christer or Helene.

An episode about sexual frustration, with none of the sexy. How I yearn for The Killing, Borgen, Spiral or Salamander on a Saturday evening. Ok maybe not the last one.

Two weeks left!

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Issues:

  • When people find a skeleton, why is it always the head which is uncovered first?
  • With a Fanny featuring again this week, are we back to a pussy again next week?
  • Christer’s hair seemed to have returned to normal.
  • Puck should have business cards with ‘dead body finder’ on.
  • Wasn’t particularly nice to refer to Bjorn as “gypsy” all the way through.
  • What was with the endless need to carry candles in the house in the dark? Did the lights only work during the day?
  • It has seemed to calm down on the cigarette smoking in the last episode and had been replaced with cake, but the fags were back with a vengeance tonight.
  • When Christer was speaking to Bjorn, the translation came up “You’re alibi”. Aaaarrrggghhh!
  • Have we discovered the point of Eje yet?
  • Did anyone else find Christer getting engaged to Bella completely implausible?
  • Were Eje’s glasses maybe some kind of cold deflector? This would explain why he didn’t seem to have any trace of the cold despite kissing Puck on the lips at least 4 times.
  • I seem to be caring less each week who the actual murderer is.
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Crimes of Passion – No More Murders – Oh Yes There Is!

Crimes of Passion – Episode 3

 No More Murders

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So here we are again. Episode 3 of the series set in 1950s Sweden.

What are we in store for this week? How long will it take Christer to get someone into bed?  How annoying and interfering will Puck be?  Will Eje be fixing something in his vest covered in oil?

We start with the usual TV company logo appearing on screen, which looks like the San Francisco 49s American Football team badge. We open this week with a woman, resplendent in curlers, knocking on her neighbour’s door looking to borrow some coffee.  As seems to be the way in 50s Sweden, when she gets no answer, she tries the handle of the door and goes in.  She finds her neighbour lying dead on the kitchen floor.  We then jump to a man thanking someone for a lift and entering a cabin.  Then up comes the excellent title sequence, with the James Bond/Mad Men theme music.

Christer appears and talks to the woman in curlers (she doesn’t look his type) and is told that the dead woman, Britt Andersson has “a lot of visitors” and “likes a drink” and to “have fun”. She tells him that a young man visited recently and that Britt had said it was quite an ordeal.  They seem to like saying the word ordeal.  Maybe because it sounds like they are saying “pish” in a Glasgow accent.

Puck and Eje are now newlyweds and, complete with Puck’s father’s cat, Thotmes III they’ve borrowed Eje’s sister’s old wooden house and her housekeeper Hulda. (We are told that you can’t beat Hulda’s cabbage pudding. I think I’d be doing my best to beat it to death. Cabbage pudding???)

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The cat, who we are told shouldn’t be let out of the house, gets out of the house immediately and Puck and Eje seems to be leaving doors and windows open on purpose with the number of times it gets out. On one of these occasions, it returns with blood on it, and Eje asks his feline friend where it has been. Thotmes the third must be Swedish for Lassie, as it takes him straight to a dead body. Eje decides this is something his wife should see (she hasn’t seen a dead body since last week) and shouts on her to come and see.

The unfortunate deadee is Tommy Holt. The chap we saw right at the start entering the cabin and the bloke we have seen creeping around watching things. He is the son of Colonel Wilhelm Holt and Margit Holt, and brother of Agneta. Although he isn’t really. Margit has enough forehead for the whole family. Tommy seems to have been asked to leave 3 years ago for a reason that the Colonel is not prepared to divulge.

Glamorous blonde Lou Mattson (and favourite to be Christer’s conquest this week) appears as an old friend of Eje. She is married to Yngve, who looks way too old for her and Yngve is the brother of successful authoress Elisabet.

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Christer appears, as there is a link to the Holts and the murder of Britt Andersson. It seems that Tommy was in fact adopted, which is news to his sister. It would also appear that Britt was Tommy’s mother. Although the Colonel had told his wife that his mother had died during childbirth. Way to mess up the family Christer!

We meet the busybody sisters, a kind of posh 1950s version of Cissie and Ada, as portrayed by Les Dawson and Roy Barraclough in the 70s and 80s. They let slip to Puck and Eje that Tommy had been staying with them. And that they had seen Tommy arguing with the Colonel. The Colonel, and everyone else, had said they hadn’t seen Tommy.

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As seems to be a feature of all of these, everyone in it seems to lie to Christer. It keeps us on our toes who might be the murderer, but are they not all committing an offence?

Christer meets Lou for the first time, as she is swimming in her pool. He looks her up and down creepily as she exits it. Yngve turns up so no action there.

The clues come thick and fast, well as fast as this programme allows, as we see someone stealing keys from Elisabet’s house. (Why does nobody lock their front door?) Puck sees Agneta and the handyman, Borje, arguing. Christer is talking to a mystery man (colleague perhaps?) in a restaurant and they talk about Yngve being home the night of the murder. A waiter interrupts to say that Yngve had in fact been very drunk in the restaurant that night and left at closing time. Elisabet tells Yngve that he has to tell his wife. It isn’t clear about what, but an affair between them seems most likely.

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Thotmes III has escaped the house again and comes back with a bow which we are told is “all yucky”. It’s not clear what this means.

We see Lou playing the piano at a party that her and Yngve are throwing. Everyone seems to be there which is odd given there has just been a murder. Puck is off investigating again and is going through Lou’s bedroom. Why she is doing this is anyone’s guess. Lou is playing the piano and suddenly bursts into tears and Christer sees her to her room (surely not!). Neither of them seems to bat an eyelid that Puck is already in the room. Puck finds a pair of shoes in Lou’s closet with one missing a bow.

Borje the handyman, looking increasingly like a young Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander, tells Christer that he had seen Tommy at the house. Lou is taken in for questioning. Having a cat steal one of the bows off your shoe was clearly a crime in Sweden in those days.

We see someone walking into Elisabet’s house again, this time turning the gas on. It doesn’t seem to do her any harm as she turns up at Tommy’s funeral with Yngve and thinks she left it on herself. They are asked to leave the wake by the Colonel, at the insistence of his wife. As Lou is in police custody they think that it isn’t appropriate that her family attends.

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Christer and Puck are out walking again. (Just how does Eje put up with this?) They just happen to hear a cat meowing and then a splash. They run to the water where nobody can be seen, but a bag is in the water. Puck wades in and takes out the bag, which turns out to be Tommy’s jacket that he was wearing the day he was killed and Thotmes III is wrapped in it. Are you not supposed to put stones in it if you are trying to drown a cat? They are doing a great job of keeping it indoors.

Puck and Christer happen upon a cabin near the water and find Agneta and Borje inside in a state of undress. Agneta comfirms it was Tommy’s jacket. Christer says that there isn’t any blood on it. There also doesn’t seem to be any water on it as it looks completely dry!

Agneta and Borje explain that Tommy had caught them in a similar situation 3 years ago and told them that Agneta’s mother was on the way. She would never accept her daughter and the handyman as an item. As Borje hid, Margit arrived. (They could probably hear her forehead banging off everything.) Seeing Agneta in a state of undress with Tommy made her think they had been having an incestuous relationship. To protect Borje, they didn’t say anything and Tommy was banished. Really??

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Next, Borje is delivering groceries to Elisabet and there is no answer at her door. He of course goes in. No sign of her, but there is a letter on her typewriter saying she can’t take it anymore. Christer, Puck and Eje go to where the cat had been and find Elisbet’s shawl in the water. (We won’t wonder how they knew it was hers). They head to her house and find Borje next to the typewriter. Puck says that Borje must be in shock and Eje should make him a coffee. How Eje puts up with her I will never know. It certainly wasn’t like that here in the 50s! Christer opens a box in the room and immediately comes across a picture of Britt. That was lucky! (Sigh).

This somehow means that Lou is clearly innocent (?) and Christer picks her up from the police station. She doesn’t seem particularly bothered that she had been accused, or indeed that she missed Tommy’s funeral. Particularly when she tells Christer that Tommy had been at hers when Yngve had been away on business. She went out for dinner with friends after having sex with Tommy and returned to trip over Tommy’s dead body on the lawn. The flashback of this showed her to dive almost as badly as Cristiano Ronaldo as she fell over the prone body. She then saw her very drunk husband return from the restaurant and fall in the living room, with blood on his shirt.

Christer, continuing to be the bearer of bad news, tells Yngve that Lou had been having an affair with Tommy and that he knew Yngve was bankrupt and getting money from his sister. Christer returns to Elisabet’s house and finds her will under the typewriter which leaves everything to Tommy.

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Christer sees Margit heading off in her car and finds Puck and follows her. They find Margot arguing with the Colonel. It turns out that it was Elisabet that was Tommy’s mother and she had gone to Stockholm when she discovered her pregnancy. She had met Britt Andersson and used her name when she gave birth. Elisabet is also there. With Tommy looking for his real mother, he had gone to meet Britt in Stockholm. Tommy had found out the truth and was blackmailing his father. Puck tells them that it wasn’t Tommy that was having an affair with Agneta. It was Margit who had killed Tommy after finding him back home and him saying he now had a proper mother. She had also killed Britt in Stockholm thinking that was who had been having an affair with her husband.

So another case solved. We see Christer drive off after saying goodbye to Puck and Eje. Thotmes III has survived his many escapades, although he may have been the best actor. Just as we think Christer has got through a whole episode without any conquests, he stops to pick up Lou.

Excellent opening graphics and music. Great clothes. Poor story.

Issues:

  •  Was this week sponsored by the Great British Bake Off? There was cake everywhere!
  • Elisabet looked like a fortune teller with head scarf on at the funeral.
  • Lots more suitcases this week to justify Puck’s outfit changes.
  • I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Puck packed her funeral outfit.
  • I’ve no idea how authentic the rest of it is, but Swedes drove on the left until 1967.
  • Did Britt Andersson not used to be in the band Suede?
  • What on earth was Margrit talking about after meeting Thotmes the 3rd when she said “spit, spat, devil’s cat”?
  • What happened to Christer’s hair this week? It looked like a wig for most of the episode.
  • How did the waiter in the restaurant know what Christer and colleague were talking about and what night? He must have been listening for ages.
  • Eje told Puck at the start that nothing ever happens in Skogo, but that’s where they were last week, where multiple murders took place.
  • It seems the creators are happy to kill humans but not cats.
  • Translation seems to be getting very English. Phrases this week included “It’s all yucky” and “Am I in a pickle now?”
  • When Christer and Puck were following Margit in the car, how did they know where she turned off?
  • Does Christer only wear a light coloured suit once the crime has been solved?
  • Last week we had fanny and this week pussy. I was half expecting Mrs Slocombe to appear.
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Crimes of Passion – King Lily of the Valley – Hate it with a passion?

Crimes of Passion – Episode 2

King Lily of the Valley

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It’s touch and go whether I watch tonight’s episode of the drama series based on Maria Lang’s crime novels set in the beauty of Bergslagen, Sweden.  The first episode last week was very Enid Blytonesque, although they are all entirely different stories.  Anne-Marie McGarry in one of the many Facebook groups for lovers of all things Scandinavian Crime suggested I blog about it. So you can blame her for this.

It turns out each episode is based on an early novel of Maria (real name Dagmar Lange), written in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Although these were not reported to have been received well in Sweden, BBC4 clearly saw something in them, and decided to screen them for the many in the UK with an insatiable thirst for all things Nordic.

Set mainly in Bergslagen in the 1950s, the films follow Puck Ekstedt (Tuva Novotny), her boyfriend (now fiancé) Einar Bure (Linus Wahlgren), called Eje, and their friend, police Superintendent Christer Wijk (Ola Rapace), as they solve various crimes.  I hadn’t realised these were permanent fixtures in each episode, but appears they are.

For those wondering, Ola was married to Noomi Rapace until 2011.  She of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo fame.  He also played Patrice in Skyfall.

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We begin with a wedding this week, with Christer attending with his mother.  Puck and Eje, now engaged are also there, but not before the opening scene where we see a car rocking from side to side, but contrary to what those of you with dirty minds might think, it is moving as Eje is trying to fix a flat tyre.

Lothario Christer is soon admiring a woman and discovers it is Dina, who he knew when he was very young, but hadn’t seen her in a long time.  After the church had filled up, groom to be Joakim stands in front of the assembled throng and thanks everyone for turning up, but that it appears his fiancée has decided not to.  As the opening credits play, I can’t help but think we are in for more lashings of ginger beer.

Alliteration fans would be delighted to discover that the potential bride, Anneli, had last been seen (according to Dina who turns out to be her best friend) at Fanny Falkmann the Florists.  I’ll try not to take the juvenile route with her name.  Anneli had gone in but not come out.  Fanny says this didn’t happen.

As everything had been paid for and people had travelled, a decision is made to go ahead with the wedding reception.  Here we meet Lars Ove-Larsson, looking like a young David Van Day, who is sitting with Dina.  He leaves and tells Dina not to come with him.  Christer is over in a flash and invites Dina to sit at his table.  We then see our three series stalwarts leaving with Dina and then Christer and Dina having sex.  It only took him 15 minutes this week!  He does seem to always manage to get the best looking woman in each episode into bed.  The lovely Marianne Vassbotn Klasson being this week’s conquest.

Puck joins Christer in walking the dog the next morning (yet more Blyton being introduced!!) and they discover Anneli’s  body at the side of a lake.  She seems to have been stabbed.  Her bag is lying nearby and contains, amongst other things, a key ring with Rock Hudson on it.  Christer goes and tells Anneli’s mum Gretel and step-dad Egon the bad news.  Egon is wearing a fine pair of striped pyjamas.

Christer discovers that the keyring had previously had the keys to her work on, and that she had gone to her boss’s house to give the keys back.  After visiting the boss, Sebastian, he finds that this is another person who had claimed not to have seen her.  Various witnesses had said that they saw Anneli running away from his house in tears.

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Fanny had been lying when she said Anneli hadn’t been in her shop.  But this was to disguise her having sex with married man Sebastian.

Puck is doing her usual amateur sleuth stuff.  She goes to Lars’ house and goes in.   A member of the Famous Five if ever there was one.  We see Lars returning and he walks into his house to see her in the living room.  Next up, Christer is knocking on the door and Puck answers!  Lars is lying unconscious on the floor.  Lars admits to driving away with Anneli, but she asked to be dropped off at the woods and for Lars not to come looking for her.

Christer and Puck go to the woods and just as they come across a cabin, they see a man hanging by the neck from a tree.  After investigating the cabin, they find it belongs to a Mats Norgaard, and it has pictures of Anneli all over it.

The information is coming thick and fast now, with us finding out that Sebastian was having a meeting with Egon (Anneli’s step dad remember) and also that Mats had been the ex of Anneli, and had written 3 letters to her from his home in Germany.

A word must go to the beautiful location of this week’s episode.  They refer to it being Skogo.  Gorgeous place.  Perhaps more style than substance though.

The autopsy is completed on the dead girl and her mum Gretel comes out with the line of the evening, saying that they should have the funeral as soon as possible, as she has “so many freshly baked buns”.  A key ingredient of any funeral as we all know.  We also discover that Mats was dead before he was hanged. (Or is it hung?)

Christer goes to speak to Lars again, and this time, the interfering Puck starts going through his car!  She finds rope in the glove compartment like the stuff used to hang Mats.  Lars runs off and jumps into the car that Dina is in the back of and drives off.  As Christer and Puck gives chase we hear the squealing of tyres and as they get round the corner, Lars is out of the car trying to strangle Dina.  We have a moment between Christer and Puck where he almost kisses her, but he doesn’t.

I suppose at this point I should mention that throughout the episode, the relationship between Eje and Puck is constantly shown.  Things aren’t going great and the marriage looks in doubt.  Maybe it’s just me, but I find myself not really caring.  Eje seems a bit wet and Puck seems more interested in being an amateur detective.

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We see Egon and Gretel’s Maid, Elvira trying to phone Christer about something she has found.  At the wake, Elvira is nowhere to be seen, until the ever inquisitive Puck (for inquisitive, I mean annoying) finds her drowned in the washroom.

Christer speaks to the assembled throng at the wake and accuses Egon of the murder.  Well he had accused pretty much everyone else by this point.  He scoffs at this.  Then Puck says that he didn’t love her as a father and suddenly he confesses all!  He had hidden the letters to his step daughter, he had been speaking to Sebastian about needing Anneli to marry Joakim for his money, he had stabbed Anneli after trying to grope her and she grabbed the knife and he had killed Mats to make it look like him.  He had also planted the rope in Lars car.

Puck tells Eje she doesn’t want to marry him because she doesn’t want to be a housewife because she wants to complete her doctorate and doesn’t want to do housework.  But because Eje loves her, he says this is ok and as long as they love each other, everything will be ok.  Awwwwww.  (boak).  This seems to do the trick.

We end as we began, with a car rocking from side to side.  But this time it is what the dirty minded think.  With Christer and Dina in it, caught after Eje and Puck drive past and catch them.  How they laughed.

It’s not really Nordic Noir, it’s Nordic Yellow.

I think it was better than last week.

Issues:

  •  Would a key ring with Rock Hudson on it have existed in the 50s?
  • You’d think Christer would get increasingly irritated at Puck’s interfering in police work.
  • How come Christer is an inspector in Stockholm but gets to investigate cases wherever he is? Are they glad to see the back of him? Has he already offended every woman in Stockholm?
  • After Christer had paid her a visit, Fanny said “Inspector” in a very strange way as if this was an insult?
  • What’s the story with the Swedes and funerals? Male family wear white ties?
  • As a civilian, and with no search warrant, I expect Puck could be done with breaking and entering, trespassing, assault etc.
  • I get the feeling a Swedish TV executive watched an episode of Mad Men and wondered what books they could do that could be of the same time.
  • If Puck focusses on her doctorate, how will she continue to investigate these crimes she seems obsessed with?
  • Every time Christer and Puck go for a walk, they find a dead body.
  • Enid Blyton or Agatha Christie? You decide.
  • Did they not ban cigarette advertising on TV?
  • How does Puck always turn up with a tiny suitcase and yet has about 15 changes of clothes?
  • Ironic that Christer appears to lust after every woman he meets, with the exception of Fanny.
  • I didn’t manage to avoid the juvenility of my mind and her name all the way through.
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Football Season 2014/15 – First pre-season games

Thursday 3 July 2014, Victoria Park

Pre-season seems to get earlier and earlier.  The World Cup is still in full flow when I attend my first friendly of the season at Victoria Park, Innerleithen.  Vale of Leithen of the Lowland League face Dumbarton of the Scottish Championship (that’s the latest nomenclature of the second top league in Scotland).

Very sad to hear that Vale are in deep financial trouble and are not far away from going out of business.  A new management team and new board members are trying to turn the club around.  Some attractive friendlies are hoping to attract some much needed funds.  The owner of local ice-cream parlour Caldwells forked out for new strips and other local businesses have been mucking in.

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It’s therefore very disappointing to see such a small crowd in attendance.  I doubt there could have been more than 50 for the game which, although on a Thursday night, is during one of the World Cup rest days.  Do the locals want the club to survive?  Dumbarton don’t have the biggest support generally, so they were unlikely to bring a large number with them, but there seems to be more of them than home fans.

Dumbarton are in much better shape than the hosts. They finished a very creditable fifth in the Championship the previous year and former Hibs stalwart Ian Murray along with his about to depart to Hearts, assistant Jack Ross, seem to have “the Sons” overachieving.  Ironically, I saw Dumbarton in their last game of the previous season, up at Dundee, in the game which won Dundee the league.

Dumbarton brought a large squad with them.  Vale had several players still on holiday and featured just one player from the previous season’s squad. It always amazes me how lower league clubs have players missing due to holidays, but it seems a regular occurrence.  I expect they have full time jobs and are limited on when they can get time off/school holidays etc.

Dumbarton played an almost full strength team and when Jordan Kirkpatrick opened the scoring in just 4 minutes, it looked like a long night was ahead for the home team.  The away side knocked the ball about well and although Vale weren’t out of it, it was clear who was the team from a higher level.  The excellent Kirkpatrick scored a great individual goal for the second on 23 minutes and then set up Colin Nish for a third five minutes before half time.

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Following a number of substitutions, Vale came a bit more into the game in the second half, but it was Dumbarton who completed the scoring when new signing from Morton Scott Taggart scored on 72 minutes.

Full Time: Vale of Leithen 0 Dumbarton 4

Admission: £5

Vale of Leithen: McMullen (Wilson 60), Sclater (Marshall 45), Gill, Elliot, Blaikie, Lynch (Anderson h45), Rixon (Brady 45), O’Brien, Ferguson, Morris, Tulloch.

Dumbarton: Lumsden (Grindlay 60), Van Zanten (Taggart 60), Linton, Graham, McLaughlin, Murray (Hopkins 72), Turner (Cook 72), Agnew, Nish, Kirkpatrick, Fleming (Megginson 60). Referee: Scott Millar.

Saturday 5 July 2014, Victoria Park

So two days pass until I am off on the road to Innerleithen again.  This time to see Vale of Leithen  play Hibs.  A lot of interest around this one as it is new Hibs manager Alan Stubbs first game in charge and the Sky Sports News cameras are in attendance.  Decidedly busier as well with 1,375 making the journey to Victoria Park.  There is even a tent selling hot food as opposed to the usual hole in the concrete wall, which is part of the dressing rooms.  Hilariously, some chairs have been placed in the undercover section of the ground.

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Vale have what is reportedly their first ever full colour programme on sale and there is a raffle on the way in to win a signed Hibs shirt.

Vale have Penicuik Athletic forward Scott McCulloch, a former Vale player, up front as they are still short of players.  Hibs seem to have brought pretty much everyone still on their books.  A lot of youngsters and the remaining first team players following the exodus after their play-off relegation on the last day of the previous season.  They also have two trialists in tow.  We are told Hibs will have a first half 11, then an entirely different second half eleven

Both clubs wore new kits with Vale giving the first outing to the kit sponsored by Caldwell’s, while Hibs were clad in new all bottle green jerseys, in recognition of the famous 5.  I’d heard it hadn’t been well received and it certainly wasn’t easy on the eye.  I think I only saw one Hibs fan wearing it in the crowd which maybe tells its own story.  The first half was pretty much one way traffic but despite their possession, Hibs were not creating much.  A couple of Hibs fans behind me started singing “We’re gonna win the league”, with the score still 0-0.  Jason Cummings scored the opener for Hibs from close range

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While the first half team was made up of a mix of 1st teamers and youngsters.  Despite the promised different 11 in the second half, Stubbs left a couple of the first teamers out for the second half, just in case things went wrong I assume.  Cummings also scored the 2nd then was taken off.  Liam Craig and Alex Harris scored towards the end as Vale tired, having played twice in 2 days.  In truth, Hibs were on top for the duration with very little threat from the home team.  A fine moment at the pie tent in the second half when one Hibs fan said to another “I can’t believe there isnae any singing.  Never heard us so quiet”.  His mate responded with “It was this quiet against Hamilton”.  (Who they lost to in the play-off final).

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A large crowd and hopefully Vale will have alleviated some of their financial problems.

Full Time: Vale of Leithen 0 Hibs 4.

Admission: £7

Vale of Leithen: Mullen (Wilson 64), Sclater, Dickson (Rixon 68), Elliot, Blaikie, Lynch (Tainsh), Brady, McCulloch (Ferguson 75), O’Brien, Morris (McGregor 50), Tulloch.

Hibernian: Perntrou (Brennan 45), Buxton (Dunsmore 45), Martynuik (Booth 45), Stevenson (Forster 45), Nelson (Hanlon 45), Gardiner (Burke 45), Martin (Craig 45), Tudur-Jones (Harris 45), Cummings (Crane 60; Sinclair 80), Handling (Allan 60), Todd (Stanton 45). Referee: Gavin Ross.

Saturday 12 July 2014, 3G Arena (Netherdale)

I’m not entirely sure if the best way to spend your birthday is watching a pre-season friendly in Galashiels, but that was where I found myself for Lowland League Gala Fairydean Rovers against East of Scotland Football League First Division side Eyemouth United.

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Gala joined the Lowland League from the East of Scotland Football League in 2013. At the same time the club changed its name to Gala Fairydean Rovers, following a merger between Gala Fairydean and Gala Rovers.

Eyemouth were previously members of the Scottish Football Association and were allowed to enter the Scottish Cup. Their most successful run in the competition was in 1959-60 when they reached the quarter-finals, eventually losing 2-1 at home to that year’s runners-up Kilmarnock.

Netherdale, or The 3G Arena has been the club’s home since 1929 and is located next to the rugby ground.  The ground’s stand was designed by architect Peter Womersley and built in the mid 60s. The stand has a capacity for 750 spectators and the ground as a whole up to 4,000. The cantilevered concrete structure is protected as a Category A listed building.

Both teams were short of players with Gala having half a dozen at weddings or T in the Park with Eyemouth having 9 players pulling out following the funeral of club stalwart Robin Aitchison the previous day.  A minute’s silence preceded the game which was observed impeccably by the 100 or so in attendance.

David Bonnar opened the scoring for the home side after 5 minutes and just two minutes later, Gibson made it 2-0.  Eyemouth were competitive, but had no cutting edge and Ross Aitchison scored the third with a great effort that went in off the underside of the bar just before half time.

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Aitchison got his second of the game after 50 minutes and Dean McColm made it five with 20 minutes left.

An injury to Aitchison meant Gala played the last 18 minutes with 10 men, having used all their subs, but almost immediately, Ashley Langford made it 6-0 on his debut.

Aiden Lauder got one back for Eyemouth with a beautiful chip from 20 yards over the head of keeper Dodds with a quarter of an hour to go.  The Eyemouth keeper shouted that “The comeback was on” (and smiled to himself a little too much), but  Noble restored the six goal margin with 11 minutes left.

A goal bonanza, and not as one-sided as the scoreline suggests, but Gala were clearly the better team.

Full Time:  Gala Fairydean Rovers 7 Eyemouth United 1.

Admission: £3

Gala Fairydean Rovers. J Dodds, L Stephen (K Hogg 46), D Thomson, G Robinson (A Commons 56), P Hossack, D Bonnar, R Aitchison, D McColm, J Gibson (A Langford 56), C Pinnons (R Noble 46) S Noble.

Eyemouth United. A Mutch, G Burrull, J Watt, R Wylie, D Burns, R Aitchison, A Lauder, M Scott (G Scott 59), C Lough, J Thomson & T Wyman.

Sunday 13 July 2014, Ferguson Park

Less than 24 hours after the previous game and I’m off to Rosewell to see Lowland League’s Whitehill Welfare take on the under 20 team of Scottish Premiership side Hamilton Accademicals.

The Junior club, Rosewell Rosedale, used to play at a park in the centre of the village, just to the south of St Matthew’s RC Church.  After the war this land was taken over for building houses, and the club moved over to its current location. The turf was provided by a farmer named Ferguson

Hamilton certainly seemed to have a few players that were well over 20 in their line-up.  Star attraction was Champions League winner and World Cup goalscorer Benni McCarthy lining up for Whitehill as a guest player.  Now 37, the South African is the brother-in-law of Whitehill’s right back John Hall.  Whitehill also have Penicuik’s goalkeeper Youssef Bejaoui playing as a guest, a former Whitehill player who left to sign for Cowdenbeath.

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It doesn’t take the SPL new boys long to open the scoring with Jaison McGrath putting the Accies in front after just 7 minutes.

McCarthy didn’t look full of running but the ability was clearly still there and he scored with a bullet header, from a good way from goal to equalise in 14 minutes.

He continued to influence the game and gave a perfect lay off to former Ross County player Kerr Dodds who rifled home from 25 yards.  Dodds then shows great feet in the box after half an hour and finishes well to put Whitehill 3-1 up, which is the score at half time.

I’m sure everyone in the ground is disappointed to see that McCarthy has not come out for the second half, but he stays to watch his team mates after getting changed. Having a quick chat with him, I tell him that it was “some header”, to which he replies “Beginner’s luck”.  He also smells amazing(!)

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Eamonn Brophy  reduced the leeway for Hamilton four minutes after the interval then equalised in the 59th minute.  McGrath then got his second of the afternoon to make it 4-4 Accies and The first of their trialists rounds things off with 9 minutes left.

Full Time:  Whitehill Welfare 3 Hamilton Accademicals 5

Admission: £5

Whitehill Welfare:  Bejaoui, Martin, Thom, McLaughlin, Hall, Dodds, Manson, A.Kidd, McCarthy, McIntosh Quinn. Subs Gallacher, Flynn, Noon.

Hamilton Accies:  Accies: Hill, Reilly (Hughes 55), McMann, Harrison, El Zubaidi, Smith (Trialist A 55), Armstrong (Trialist B 55), Simpson (Tierney 66), McGrath, Brophy, Docherty (c)

Referee: David Doig

Tuesday 15 July 2014, Ferguson Park

A quick return to Rosewell to see Whitehill Welfare up against Berwick Rangers of Scottish League Two.

For the second home friendly in a row, Whitehill have produced a programme, which is inexpensive at £1.  The content, however, is almost identical to the one for the Hamilton game.

Whitehill are along similar lines to their previous game (Sadly, Benni McCarthy free).  Berwick have brought “an experimental side”.  I expect they must have left their test tubes on the team bus.

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Kerr Dodds opens the scoring with another goal for Whitehill in the 26th minute.  Thirteen minutes later Dean Carse gets the equaliser for Berwick.

A Tuesday night in Rosewell in July is clearly not the time to be outside at a football pitch, as a plague of midges appeared almost as soon as the half time whistle blows.  Astonishing how many there were and pretty much everyone seemed to be affected.

Most of the second half entailed fighting off the midges, but Danny Noon set up Steven Manson who restored Whitehill’s lead in the 62nd minute and they held on for a well-deserved win.

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Berwick Rangers manager Colin Cameron told me he remembers Hearts 1998 Scottish Cup Final (which he played and scored in) “like it was yesterday”.

A good win for Whitehill.

Full Time: Whitehill Welfare 2 Berwick Rangers 1

Admission: £5

Whitehill Welfare: Young, McLaughlin, McDiarmid, W.Kidd, Thom, Manson, A.Kidd, Dodds, McGlashan, McIntosh, Noon.

Berwick Rangers: TBC

Referee:

Saturday 19 July 2014, Ferguson Park

Yep, it’s Rosewell again for my third visit in less than a week to see Whitehill Welfare against Penicuik Athletic, in their first game since ending the season as winners of the East of Scotland Premier League (And going up to the East Superleague).

The nice weather has disappeared and the ground is surrounded in fog.  And even some rain!  A seat in the covered area is procured.  102 brave the elements of a Scottish summer.  Another programme produced by Whitehill and it is the same one again!!  I think only 2 pages are different.  Home manager Mike Lawson has returned from holiday and will be at his first home pre-season game.  It’s Penicuik’s first game of pre-season and Whitehill’s fifth.

The kick off was reported to have been moved from the advertised 2.30 to 2.00, but at quarter past 2 there is still no sign of the game starting.  The game had been moved back to 2.30 but they hadn’t told anyone.

Penicuik goalkeeper Bejaoui is “in Aberdeen” and Penicuik have in goals someone who appeared to be warming up with Whitehill before the start.  Whitehill full back John Hall is playing in right midfield due to him receiving staples in his head following a knock in his previous game. It is considered he won’t head the ball as much in this position.  Penicuik don’t pick him after 2 minutes up as he cuts inside and hits what looks like a weak shot which somehow goes past the keeper.  (Fix!).

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Penicuik are back on level terms after 9 minutes when former Hearts, St Johnstone (etc) midfielder Neil Janczyk volleys home from close range on his debut.

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A lovely move carves open the Whitehill defence and a through ball by Janczyk finds right back Greg Ross, who lobs the ball over the onrushing keeper to put Penicuik in front after 17 minutes.

Penicuik haven’t learned their lesson and John Hall finds himself through on the keeper who takes him out as Hall attempts to go past him.  A sending off in anything but a pre-season game and manager Lawson turns to the crowd telling nobody in particular that he would have “been going mental” that he hadn’t been sent off if it wasn’t a friendly.  Wayne McIntosh dispatches the penalty to put the teams back on level terms.

Almost immediately Lawson is going “mental” at a refereeing decision, but he doesn’t seem to see the irony.

The half ends with the teams all square in what has been an entertaining, competitive match.

Three substitutions at half time by Penicuik and it being their first game made the second half a bit more one-sided in favour of Welfare and they played some good stuff against a tiring Penicuik.  They banged in 3 goals in the space of 10 minutes with the completely unmarked McIntosh getting his second with a header from a corner  in 59 minutes and then seven minutes later, a long range effort from Darren McGlashan spins over the keeper’s grasp.  That man again Kerr Dodds completed the scoring in 67 minutes when he finished off a great passing move from Whitehill.

The mist got increasingly worse as the game progressed, but you could always hear Whitehill’s high pitched Wayne McIntosh complaining!

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Both teams still have players absent, but Whitehill are shaping up well for the new season and Penicuik look like they have achieved a coup with the signing of the classy Janczyk.  Sad to see the perennially injured Penicuik striker Ryan McCallum not fit enough to take part.

Full Time: Whitehill Welfare 5 Penicuik Athletic 2.

Admission: £5

Whitehill Welfare: Young; McDiarmid (Trialist), McKenzie, W.Kidd, Thom; Hall, McGlashan, A.Kidd, Manson (Trialist); Dodds, McIntosh.

Penicuik Athletic: Trialist, Ross, Cunnison, Young, Dickson (Bunyan45), Burrell (Trialist B), Jancyzk, Lister, McCulloch, Killin (Trialist A 45), Montgomery.

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Kelis in Glasgow: Hungry for Success?

Kelis at the O2 ABC, Glasgow, 3o June 2014.

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Kelis Rogers born August 21, 1979 better known as simply, Kelis. In the midst of this gig, she talks about her first appearance in this part of the world in 1999, while she was still a teenager. A bloke from the crowd shouts out that he was there and that she played Smells Like Teen Spirit at that early concert. After a brief chat with the bloke, she speaks to the band, I think trying to see if they could play that again and seems genuinely disappointed that they don’t know it well enough. Kelis isn’t your common or garden pop star.

Born and raised in Harlem, Kelis got her slightly strange moniker as a result of a combination of her father (Kenneth) and mother (Eveliss) names. In her youth, she sang in church choirs, and learned to play several instruments. At the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, she formed an R&B trio. She was introduced to Pharrell Williams and with his support, managed to land a record deal.

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The singer-songwriter, who first rose to prominence on Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s ‘Got Your Money’ in 1999, released her first album Kaleidoscope, also in 1999 and breakthrough hit Caught Out There gave her a number 4 single in the UK. This song appears to be absent from her set lists nowadays. Further charting releases Good Stuff and Get Along With You meant a solid debut album was in the bag.

Second album Wanderland didn’t maintain the success upon its release, despite critical acclaim in the music press in 2001 and she left her label that year.

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Third album Tasty put her career back on track in 2003 with the quirky Milkshake becoming a huge hit and second single Trick Me was also a big European success. Further singles Millionaire and In Public kept the success going.

Kelis’s fourth studio album, Kelis Was Here, was released in 2006 with single Lil Star reaching number 3 in the UK. She was then dropped by her label in 2007. After she had left the label, they put out a fourteen track “Greatest Hits” in 2008.

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2010 album Flesh Tone saw another top five hit in the UK with Acapella. 3 further singles were released from the album, with 4th of July (Fireworks) being the most successful.

Latest release Food came out earlier this year. And the title may pay a nod to her training to become a cordon bleu saucier.

She has won Brit Awards, Q Awards, and NME Awards, and was nominated for two Grammy Awards and has released six regular studio albums so far. Outside her native United States, she had 10 top ten singles in the United Kingdom alone.

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She has collaborated with the likes of The Neptunes, Andre 3000, Enrique Iglesias, Nas, Bjork, Cee-Loo Green, N.E.R.D., Basement Jaxx and has even written for Cheryl Cole. (That’s a song, not her autobiography).

Given her history, it’s a bit of a surprise to find the venue far from full when we arrive. The tickets suggest “Plus Support”, but it’s that con where anyone turning up early is subjected to a “DJ” playing records. This is not a support act! In a first for my visits to the ABC, there is a curtain up pre-gig, which obscures the entirety of the stage. Is there some elaborate set behind the stage awaiting us?

As it turns out, no there isn’t. The curtains open just after 9 and Kelis and band take to the stage. (The venue had said she would be on stage at 8.30). One backing singer and two on brass. Both halved from her appearance at Glastonbury at the weekend just passed.

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Kelis has her hair tied up in enormous bunches at the back of her head and has a very tight kimono style dress on, with split up the thigh. She is certainly looking in good shape and immediately proves that her voice is in equally good shape, launching into the beginning of the Nina Simone classic Feeling Good.

The venue has filled up a fair bit since I arrived, but it’s certainly not full. A decent crowd in attendance though and it is a Monday night, in the midst of the World Cup.

She tells us that we are going to be hearing some old and some new. (If the dress was any tighter we might have been seeing something blue). She launches into the latest album opener Breakfast, one of the many highlights on that LP. The crowd are really getting into it now, and even more so when Millionaire is played next. The band might have been trimmed since the weekend, but they are sounding great and the backing singer has a beautiful voice in her own right, perfectly complimenting Kelis’s smoky lead vocals. Keyboards, bass and drums complete the line-up.

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As is the format with gigs, the set is a combination of the most recent album and old favourites, as she promised at the start. Kelis, however, can never be accused of being formulaic. We hear seven songs off the new album, but these are far from disappointing. While some of the instruments used in recording the new album are not in attendance, the band manages to recreate much of the sound, and it is an eclectic mix. While it would be easy to dismiss the music as R&B, it is so much more than that, and often not that at all.

Much of the set is done in her trademark husky tome, but the high note she hits on Cobbler is quite breathtaking. She sits down mid set, but this doesn’t reduce the quality, or interaction with the crowd. A fuller arrangement makes Milkshake sound like an almost different song and the trumpet on Trick Me is another twist. Acapella is given a more disco feel. The new songs sound very sing-along, and with extended airplay and more people hearing them, it is easy to picture stadiums joining in with them.

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All too soon, we are hearing Feeling Good again, which is reprised as the outro to the beginning’s intro. Kelis returns with band to play one more song, Friday Fish Fry, and then announces with minimum fuss that she will be signing things after the show “if we want”. This wasn’t very audible and I don’t think many heard it. I did though and was delighted to meet her post show.

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I’d recommend going to see Kelis if you get the chance. And have a listen to the new album. She is now selling her own range of sauces and piloted a cookery show on television in the United States. Who knows how much longer you might get the chance to hear her make music.

 Setlist

Feeling Good (Intro)

Breakfast

Millionaire

Cobbler

Trick Me

Rumble

Forever Be

Get Along With You/Good Stuff/Glow

Lil Star

Floyd

Milkshake

Jerk Ribs

4th of July (Fireworks)

Acapella

Feeling Good (Outro)

 Encore

Friday Fish Fry

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