#Tea and Talkies: Their Finest

Pat-Their Finest-2 (2)

A top film based on a good read. Shame about the photo…

Last Monday (5th June) our friends at the local Warner Bros cinema once again provided a Tea & Talkies film for Millman Street Community Centre members.  This latest cinematic treat was Their Finest, set in a Ministry of Information film unit in 1941.  Based on Lissa Evans’ 2009 novel Their Finest Hour And A Half, the film explores the progress of Caitlin Cole (Gemma Arterton clad in 1940s chic and a Welsh accent – there’s tidy!) as she helps the film unit make a morale-boosting propaganda film about the previous year’s Dunkirk evacuation.  Sam Claflin co-stars as Buckley, the love interest, and there is also Bill Nighy, playing the poncey actor Ambrose Hilliard.  Richard E Grant and Eddie Marsan are included in the supporting cast.

Naturally, your HCA reporter was absent from the screening, but actually has a copy of the novel.  Shame it’s on his yet-to-read pile, as he could have given a far better summary of the story had he read it.  However, in traditional HCA Last Word In Film Reviews style, the blundering fool sought the opinions of Millman Street Centre members who did see the film, and cobbled together a critique.  Of sorts:

“It was good,” said David.  “It [the film within the film] was about twins” who pluckily took their little ship to France to help evacuate British Expeditionary Force soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk.  “The boat conked out,” David continued.  “They had to pump the water out” before bringing the soldiers back.”

As for Gemma Arterton’s character, he said: “Her husband [Ellis Cole, played by Jack Huston] had an affair.  It was very good,” he added.  “A great film!”

Volunteer Gloria, conversely, was “Not as enthusiastic as I usually am” about the film.  Helena said, “It was alright; a bit heavy for me.”

Rose also attended the screening, and liked the film well enough.

Sarah said: “It was set in World War Two.  She (Arterton) was a screenwriter.  They made a film with an American actor.  Her husband cheated on her.  They made up and kissed and all that.  They [the Nazis] bombed the movie set and…[here she gives away the ending; excised so as not to spoil it for others]…I did enjoy it.  Towards the end it was interesting,” but there was, “Too much romance” for her:  “I like mysteries and thrillers.”

Alongside the romantic and propaganda elements of the film, Their Finest is also about the implicit misogyny of the British film industry of the time, with Arterton’s character brought in to do “the Slop”, which dialogue for females was apparently dismissed as.  She is also told that her contribution to the film unit’s output will garner her “no screen credits” and that “we can’t pay you as much as the chaps.”

Bloomin’ cheek.  No wonder Women’s Lib caught on a few years later…


So what was our Finest Hour-and-a-Half?  And does it have to be against the Germans? [for the purposes of this, yes it does].

  • You’d have to say England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final – if it were not for the fact that it went to extra time and was, therefore, English football’s finest two hours….


  • Then what about The Great Escape?  Once a staple of Boxing Day afternoon television, the film goes on far, far longer than 90 minutes….


  • So, we’re left with Went The Day Well?, Ealing Studios’ 1942 propaganda film, directed by Alberto Cavalcanti.  In a sort of precursor to The Eagle Has Landed [1976], Nazi paratroops infiltrate a small English village, but are rumbled thanks to a sweet tooth for chocolate, and then fought off by a cast of plucky Brits, including Mervyn Johns and Thora Hird [yes, that Thora Hird] and a woman who sings a song about eating “parrot pie”.  Well, each to their own.  Not everyone likes chocolate…  Anyway, Went The Day Well? is the sort of wartime morale booster that Their Finest may have been based on.  It’s hard to say if you haven’t seen the film.  Or yet read the novel…


Holborn Community Association would like to thank Warner Bros Cinema for once again providing our members with a marvellous Tea & Talkies presentation free of charge.

went the day well

Thora Hird and parrot-pie eating pal fight off the Nazi invasion…

Rambling review by Notes Smudger


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#RADA to Visit Millman Street Community Centre Again


RADA’s previous visit to HCA…

HCA is pleased to announce that another taster workshop will hosted by our new friends from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), after the first one back in April. It is again intended as an insightful, exploratory, practical workshop designed to offer an insight into RADA’s Elders Company, for people aged 60 and over.

The session will begin at 1pm and run for two hours on Tuesday, 13th June.

No previous drama experience is required, and there is no charge. Participants will again explore drama exercises, games, voice work and movement. Joined by graduates of RADA’s Elders Company, attendees will discover more about the Company, its work throughout the year, and the tutors and ethos of RADA.

HCA members are all invited to attend. We still can’t promise you a glittering career in film, television or theatre, nor a mantelpiece creaking under the weight of Oscars, Baftas or Olivier Awards. But you just might get a taste for treading the boards.

To join

, please contact Andrew at andrew.rogers@holborncommunity.co.uk

The idea for staging the workshops at Millman Street came from Carys, the Widening Participation & Outreach Coordinator at RADA.  She can be reached at:


Holborn Community Association would once again like to thank RADA for providing Millman Street Community Centre members with this wonderful opportunity.


A class act: RADA at Millman Street Community Centre…

Photos by Sarah; recycled report by Notes Smudger

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#No Fuchsia: Green Seeds Gardening at Millman Street Community Centre


Lily shocked to be associated with nonsense blog…

In 1977, No Fuchsia was a short-lived gardening show which spectacularly failed to capitalise on that year’s punk rock craze.  Perhaps unwisely, the first episode was broadcast live on the eve of the Queen’s silver Jubilee.  It began well enough, with host Percy Throw-Up safety-pinning some clematis to a trellis in the Blue Peter Garden.  Then guest band The Adverts mimed to their song One Chord Wonders on the ‘punk rockery’.  Alas, Percy then embarrassed himself, adding an unwanted, ahem, ‘water feature’ to the garden,  on a red, white and blud silver Jubilee flower bed after being caught short.  The show swiftly descended into debacle as compost was thrown at the cameras and indeed between the guests, which included clean-up TV campaigner Mary Blighthouse and punk poet John Super-Duper Clarke.

It didn’t take the following days’ tabloid headline “The Tilth And The Fury” to tell you that No Fuchsia would be banned, nor that the recording of the broadcast would be consigned to the depths of BBC Television Centre, never to be shown again…

Wouldn’t it be great if any of this was true?  But it is, of course, all nonsense; a pathetic attempt to cover this reporters’s ignorance of (a) gardening and (b) most what goes on at Millman Street Community Centre.

Take last week’s fiasco, where the fool knew nothing about what Rema and HCA members were doing in the Millman Street garden: the subsequent report on this blog was an interminable paean to his benighted incompetence.

This week, the ignoramus was a little more attentive to what went on.  Mind you, it hasn’t improved the report much, as you’ll see below the following slideshow…

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Today, Rema’s Green Seeds gardening group met at Millman Street Community Centre continued. This afternoon’s session saw Helena, Rose and Anne planting senecio and – in contradiction of this week’s title – fuchsia in pots of compost, which everyone agreed was a slight improvement on the aroma of your HCA hack.

Rema also intends to grow some hebes, a plant native to New Zealand, she explained.  Meanwhile, volunteer Gloria did some weeding, and Lily and Fred worked out in the garden, under the supervision of Olive…

The idea is to grow and sell the aforementioned plants at the Open Day at Millman Street Community Centre, which is on Friday, 16th June between 11am and 3pm.


“One Chord Wonders? You sure they didn’t sing Gary Gilmore’s Eyes…?”

Rema’s Green Seeds group meet on Wednesdays at Millman Street Community Centre.

Good photo (top) by Andrew; blighted photos and decaying report by Notes Smudger

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#Green-Fingered Holborn: Gardening at Millman Street Community Centre


Gardener’s whirl: Sarah arbitrates twixt Rose (left) and Queenie…

Last Wednesday (24th May) there was an outbreak of fascination with all things green-fingered at Millman Street Community Centre.  That is to say, there was another of Rema’s Gardening group meetings.  Our members seemed to be enjoying themselves, but gawd alone knows what they were doing, as this reporter – green-fingered due to internal rotting – wasn’t privy to the fun.  But he vaguely recalls Percy Thrower muttering about “prize marrows”, “a fine tilth” and “John Innes Compost” from his youth.  So possibly (though probably not) it was something to do with that..?

To cover up this appalling ignorance, the following photos were taken and are now presented in a kind of retrospective pictorial to commemorate the event:


Queenie advises Rose: “Beware the Triffid…”


Helena dons white gloves ahead of cavity searching a cactus…


Rema unearths Anne’s horticultural talent…


Anne’s entry for the Chelsea Flower Show was a beauty

Rema’s Gardening group meet on Wednesday afternoons at the Centre.  Weather permitting, they sometimes even take place in the garden.

Flowering photos by Andrew; rotting mulch of a report by Notes Smudger

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#Open Day at Millman Street Community Centre

On Friday, 16th June, Millman Street Community Centre will hold its annual Open Day.

The event will take place between 11am and 3pm, and entry is free to HCA members.

Among the activities will be:

  • Beauty Makeovers

  • Befriending

  • A Prize Raffle

  • Free Buffet

  • Arts & Crafts

  • Vintage Sales

  • Live Music, Reading and Plays

  • Bric-a-brac – please bring yours to sell on the stall


Beauty Makeover: Before…


Beauty Makeover: After…

All proceeds will go to Holborn Community Association Funds

Notes Smudger

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#Beyond The Great Wave at the British Museum

Great Wave

Give us a wave: Katsushika Hokusai’s most famous work…

Last Saturday (20th May) the British Museum held a preview of Hokusai: Beyond The Great Wave, an exhibition of the works of Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).  Best known for his The Great Wave Off Kanagawa (1832), the exhibition also featured such works as Hibiscus And Sparrow (1830), Bullfinch And Weeping Cherry Blossom (1835) and Two Beauties (1900).

Two Beauties (1900)

Two Beauties

Hibiscus and Sparrow (1830)

Hibiscus and Sparrow

Bullfinch and weeping cherry (1835)

Bullfinch And Weeping Cherry Blossom

Naturally, the British Museum didn’t want people like this reporter there to sour the atmosphere, so the hapless hack tried to track down any Millman Street Community Centre members who had attended, but couldn’t find any to interview.

However, our Older Peoples Services Manager, Andrew, went along and also supplied some pictures.  Not of the Hokusai: Beyond The Great Wave exhibition, as the BM takes a dim view of photographs of its displays being taken.  Instead, there are snaps of Lena holding a flyer for the exhibition, and some of Andrew and volunteer Joss – HCA’s own Two Beauties – the former resplendent in a Cramps T-shirt:

Asked if Hokusai: Beyond The Great Wave had been soundtracked by The Vapors’ Turning Japanese or Life In Tokyo by the futurist band, er, Japan, Andrew immediately sensed where this was going and headed off such cliches.  There was, he said, pastoral music in a Japanese style to accompany the tour round Hokusai’s paintings.

Lena said that the exhibition was “Very inspiring”, and Andrew added that it was “Very beautiful.  It made me feel at one with nature.”


Lena wields the exhibition flyer…

Hokusai: Beyond The Great Wave runs at the British Museum from May 25th to August 13th (closed between June 3rd and 6th).  It costs £12 (free to members).

Photos by Andrew and Joss; report: Notes Smudger

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#The Holborn Flood: Indoor Gardening at Millman Street Community Centre

Today, the Gardening Workshops regularly hosted by Rema in Millman Street Community Centre garden was forced indoors after flood waters from last night’s downpour refused to seep away into the drainage system as nature intended.

Rema was tight-lipped about what she and HCA members were actually doing, so (as ever) this ignoramus of a reporter was left to mull over her words: “We’re potting tomato plants” and look at the photos in a vain attempt to fathom what she meant.  Judge for yourself via the gardening slideshow:

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As for the flood…

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Poxy pix and water-ridden report by Notes Smudger

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