‘Butch: I’ll jump first.
Sundance: Nope.
Butch: Then, you jump first.
Sundance: No, I said!
Butch: What’s the matter with you?!
Sundance: I can’t swim!
Butch (laughing): Why, you crazy?  The fall’ll probably kill ya!’

The unforgettable Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid!  Made in 1969 – fifty-one years ago, for goodness sake – it stands the test of time and more.  Still one of the best films ever made, the dialogue is superb, the humour intrinsic and the pathos?  A given.  Let’s face it, the film has everything!  Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Katharine Ross, Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head  and the best ending ever!  The first freeze-frame one I can remember and the fading into Sepia … pure genius.  If I had my way, it would be on the school curriculum throughout the land.  Best I can do, though, is honour my responsibility and educate my erstwhile Rugrats!

So it was that, on that gloomy Saturday evening just passed, the return of Strictly proved a blessing.  So staged, so fake, so deliberately ‘woke’, such Z-list ‘celebrities’, so many references to COVID, the gin bottle was on elastic for ease!  Forced to watch until Jamie Laing (Made in Chelsea) appeared, I could take no more and headed for the Classic Film Drawer.  There were one or two words of protest but my Birthday is imminent so they zipped it!  Now, Becca is often sceptical of my taste in music and films, complaining she feels as though she is living in the Seventies, but Manny is more receptive, trusting in my proven track record.  Thus … they loved it, conceding it deserving of my enthusiastic praise, regardless of my penchant for nostalgia.  ‘A proper film’, in the words of Paul Newman, devoid of special effects, its appeal lies, first and foremost, in the quality of the script but, then, in its delivery by actors of intelligence and stature whose chemistry – sparking a lifelong friendship – emanates from the screen.  The ending is so cleverly executed – and so sad.  A true story.  An absolute classic.

Believe me, that truly made my weekend!  I am so glad that I, finally, denied the utter garbage on television and handpicked a film with universal appeal.  So pleased, too, that Becca and Manny have finally – albeit, unwittingly – embarked on their Classic Film Course and look set to enjoy!  My choice for Classic Film Two?  I know exactly which one I am looking for and I am convinced I have it but …  To be continued.

I have questioned, for some time, the logic of paying for a television licence.  Ninety-nine percent of scheduled viewing is either diabolical or repeats (thank God for them) but, as I have mentioned before, one of the true shining lights amongst the dregs of small screen ‘entertainment’ is ‘Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild.  Captivating, I cannot praise Ben or the programme enough.  Unique, it takes one to remote corners of the world never seen before as one learns of the individual stories, many borne of tragedy or hurt but all driven by a shared disillusionment with the world and the rat race called life today.  Courage.  The courage of all those who break free and choose a life off the beaten track, far from the shallow trappings of the ‘developed’ world.  Developed?  Advanced economically or socially.  Really?  The irony is glaring.  Was anyone aware of the cost?  ‘Call some place Paradise, kiss it goodbye.’.  The words of Don Henley in The Last Resort (yes, yes, I know.  I am forever mentioning it but it is one of my favourite ever songs and the lyrics are so prophetic).  Suffice to say, I delight in the courage of others, marvelling at a life attune with Nature in wondrous scenery most will never see – or to which they are oblivious.  The thing is, I understand why they do it – up sticks and walk away in a quest for the simple life in all its rawness, devoid of materialism and the ‘finery’ which, so quickly, encumbers, masking all that is truly valuable.

I had one episode of the latest series – shown in the spring – left to watch and so watch it Manny and I did on Sunday morning.  This one was about a former war correspondent and his wife who, prompted by the onslaught of his PTSD, drove away from it all in an old camper van and ended up in British Columbia running a bear watching business.  Ben had, first, met and spent time with Julius Strauss and his wife, Kristin, in 2016 but now he was returning – three years later – to catch up.  Life was good.  They had been triumphant in their bid to have bear hunting banned and both the ranch and the business had taken root.  Nature and the majestic surrounds had worked their magic and the couple seemed at peace with their choices and the prospect of the future.  An hour’s escapism later, Ben said his goodbyes, once more, promising to return – and one knew that he meant it but … as the credits ended, there was an unexpected – and tragic – postscript.  Six months after filming, Kristin was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died within weeks.  Ben was, clearly, devastated.  Julius has put the ranch up for sale.  So ends the dream.  The question is why?  This couple had everything to look forward to; they were happy.  They had worked so hard and shown tremendous guts in their bid for utopia.  Julius had, successfully, laid the trauma of his former career – the sights and sounds – to rest … in vain.  The person he loved the most is gone.  I repeat, why?  Why is it that good guys don’t win?  Was Pop right?  How many times did he say, ‘God is a bastard, Trish!’, as we laughed at the obvious sacrilege?  How many times do I have cause to believe him …

I have three more points of note on a piece of paper in front of me: one is political; one is further disbelief at the free rein afforded to the extreme left driving this ridiculous ‘woke’ culture – just more evidence of the Tyranny of Tolerance.  The last is a name: Matt Baker.  He of Blue Peter and the One Show fame.  He of the Rickshaw Challenge, an eight-day cycling endurance test which raises money for BBC Children in Need fame.  He, who is so deserving of a Knighthood!  He is the Rickshaw Challenge.  It is from him that the amazing kids – each with their own challenges – glean the strength to persevere, in all weathers, for eight long days and nights.  He has helped each and every one of them raise millions, overcoming their fears along the way.  He is a true hero – and a hell of a nice guy, to boot.  So …

Someone tell me why Lorraine Kelly, previously awarded an OBE, was recently made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List?  For Services to Broadcasting, Journalism and Charity apparently.  God forbid!  Broadcasting?  Who would choose to reward her insistence in exaggerating her ‘Sco..ish’ (no ‘t’s) accent, becoming more pronounced over the years in her bid to appeal to the masses and, more recently, her ‘really, really good’ use of the slang, ‘dinnae’ and ‘disnae’?  Her Majesty, apparently.  In Lorraine’s lingo, ‘Aye, right!’.

I digress?  Not really.  More a case of highlighting the ridiculous juxtaposed with the great.  Matt Baker, I, for one, salute you.  I really, really do!

I have a card which I love and which I have had for years.  It used to adorn one of my old kitchen cupboards.  It is a black and white photo of the last scene of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  On the back it reads:

‘Butch: Wait a minute – you didn’t see Lefors out there, did you?
Sundance: Lefors?  No, why?
Butch: Oh, good.  For a moment there, I thought we were in trouble …’

Always makes me smile.  What spirit!

This is Trish, signing off.