Fiona Duff: I’m happy with my lot after this harrowing film

A scene from I, Daniel Blake

A scene from I, Daniel Blake

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On the way to see I, Daniel Blake my friend and I were having a general moan about our lives. You know the sort of thing we like to do when there’s nothing else to talk about.

However, two hours later after watching this harrowing (although not without moments of humour) film we realised that we were in no state to complain about anything ever again.

The performances by Dave Johns and Hayley Squires are absolutely outstanding – at times this film, which is directed by Ken Loach, feels as though it is a fly-on-the-wall documentary – but it’s the staff in the benefits centre that really get you.

Apart from one, who is reprimanded for showing any sort of compassion, they are the sort of jobsworths who make you want to bang your head against a wall.

Of course, I am sure it has been manipulated slightly for a more powerful impact but it shows how just getting on the wrong side of one’s health or on the receiving end of a few hard knocks can spiral downwards to a place where common decency doesn’t exist.

The next time I am in the supermarket instead of bemoaning the fact that I can’t find any pine nuts I shall buy a couple of extra cans of beans and some breakfast cereal and make sure that they go to a food bank.

When my computer slows down and starts buffering I shall not curse but remember that I am lucky to have instant access to technology that I have a vague idea how to use.

If my daughter complains that she only has two pairs of jeans and not the latest style of footwear I shall take her to the film so she can see what the mother has to do in order to buy her child school shoes.

It’s certainly not a “feelgood” movie but oddly enough it is likely to make you happier with your lot than anything that a doctor could prescribe.

Penny for the step class

Guy Fawkes Night this Saturday. Funny how we all get together to celebrate a man who tried to blow up the home of modern democracy, but we Brits are an idiosyncratic bunch really. However, if you are asked to give a penny for the guy it might be worth noting that until this Sunday for exactly the same amount of money you can join Edinburgh Leisure.

With over 30 venues offering one climbing centre, three soft-plays, six golf courses, ten swimming pools, 15 gyms, 23 tennis courts, 140 pitches and 700-plus fitness classes per week, it is no surprise that they call themselves the “biggest club in town”.

At this time of year as the nights get longer, the mercury drops and there’s a lot of good programmes on television it is just far too easy to snuggle up on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate. But I am going to make an effort; I’ll find those baggy old leggings and go to a few classes or actually use the golf clubs that my mother gave me now that she can no longer make it round a golf course.

So don’t look astonished when you see me next – I could well be a shadow of my former self. Now I just need to look down the back of that sofa and find some change for the guy and the gym.

Yes, we had a grand day out in old Durham town

The other day my mother phoned. Nothing unusual in that as it is a fairly regular occurrence. However she had a request – in all the years that she had taken a train to London she had never got off at Durham. So, she wanted my sister and me to accompany her on a day trip.

She’s obviously had some sort of windfall as she also announced that we would travel first class and she was going to pay for everything. Well, it would be churlish to look a gift horse, or indeed the woman who carried me for nine months, in the mouth so we agreed a date and off we went. It’s not the largest of towns, but the centre has pretty little winding streets and the cathedral is quite spectacular.

Unfortunately our guide had the most appalling delivery with a quiet monotonous voice to which we gave up listening and just wandered around ourselves. My sister lit a couple of candles by Cuthbert’s resting place; I have no idea what her two wishes were and perhaps they have come true.

We then visited the castle, had lunch, did a bit of shopping and on the way home ate our complimentary smoked salmon sandwiches. As Wallace and Gromit would have said – it was a grand day out.

Everything to loose in this row

So I was driving round Eyre Crescent on Monday. It’s quite narrow and there was a Scotloo lorry parked. Normally I get really wound up at people blocking my route – usually it is just plain bad manners.

However I didn’t peep the horn or get out of my car to give the driver a piece of my mind. You see, I reckoned that annoying someone who was holding a hose attached to a large vat which held the contents of goodness knows how many portaloos was not a good idea at all.