Trichlorophenylmethyliodsalicyl or, the Stinging Weasel

I have a toothache. Not that you are in any way expected to care but there we go, it is true. To counter said toothache I have taken the only two sensible courses of action available to medical science: I have necked a tiny red orb of neurofen (the hardcore stuff that you can only score from a pharmacist) and then gargled with a dilute mixture of TCP and liquid nausea. So I am feeling a little queasy and clouded and, rather like a rudimentary cartoon character, I have a haze of TCP-fumes lingering around my face that I suspect are probably flammable. Please don’t get too close. And don’t offer me a fag.

I do wonder if I should provide a brief gloss here for readers who are not familiar with Britain’s Favourite Liquid Antiseptic (my capitals, I have absolutely no idea whether this is true – I suspect it is must be in the top three though). TCP or, as it is known colloquially in bars and clubs, The Stinging Weasel or, even more colloquially, trichlorophenylmethyliodsalicyl, is British attitudes to healthcare in liquid form. If you fell over in the 1980s whilst playing swingball or scrabbling to buy shares in a newly privatised utility company then your mother’s immediate response to the injury would be as follows. 1 – Say “it’s just a scratch” and then 2 – Liberally apply TCP, in quantities roughly proportionate to the severity of the injury; so if you’d grazed your bare forearm on some barbed wire as you snuck into a field to play football or bother the sheep then perhaps one capful would suffice or if you’d lost your leg altogether then maybe you’d need up to three capfuls. It is magical stuff and in a country when even most GPs will greet most medical complaints with a two pronged strategy of “have a glass of water” and “perhaps a couple of paracetamol” then TCP represents our first line of defence against the big bastard of Real Life who comes at us brandishing a bewildering arsenal of weaponry. Slice open a British child of the 70s or 80s and they will bleed TCP (and then of course please patch them up again and tend to their wound with Dettol Savlon TCP).

I have just spent over three hundred words writing about TCP. I could write a many more but I think I should probably move on. Although my research paper “TCP – Chasing the Stinging Weasel” will be published next month in The Lancet.

There is no way to link from liquid antiseptics into some Long Arm Films news so I won’t even attempt to contrive one. I will just let you know that after many months of having a rubbish website we now have one that isn’t rubbish. Actually forget litotes, we now have a REALLY QUITE LOVELY website. You can view it by clicking on this link that I have handily provided you here in text form. 

And if you are averse to leaving one site to look at another here is a picture of the homepage. Which through the magic of binary coding is also a link to the site.

Screenshot 2013-10-23 22.12.34

It contains all the same information as before but it looks a lot sexier. (And ladies (and men), can you find the hidden picture of Jimmy reclining, Roman Emperor-like, in a bath with a not quite sufficient amount Matey bubble bath to cover his modesty? – We call this feature “Where’s Willy?” – sorry, sorry, sorry, blame the TCP). Anyway we think it looks great and if only the BASTARD DNS settings would stop resetting themselves at our domain host, thus preventing the URL masking from working properly (first world tech problems) then I would be as happy as a cow. Three days ago I didn’t know DNS settings were actually a thing. Now I hate them with dark, treacle-like intensity. Still, if you’ve reached the end of this paragraph and still not visited then you can type and you’ll get there.

The still on the homepage (see above, at length) is from our feature film High Tide starring television’s Melanie Walters and Sam Davies. The rushes from the shoot are still with Dan in his edit bunker at the posh end of Swansea but I am pleased to say that last weekend I was able to see about fifteen minutes of edited footage. Now I know this will seem like I’m dancing from foot-to-foot in front of an enchanted door whilst waxing lyrical about the unbounded joy within but then telling you to bugger off because there’s no way you’re coming in. It may seem like that. Possibly. But I am afraid that I really can’t show you any of it yet. I’d get into all sorts of trouble with the producers, not to mention Jimmy who, when he’d hauled himself out of his bath, would go ape-shit (as we used to say in the late 80s) and kick my ample Devonshire ass from here to a week on Thursday. But please believe me when I said that I was very pleased with what I saw. Okay, enough dancing in front of imaginary doors.

I’ve just finished reading a book by David Mamet which was passed in my direction by my lovely friend Viv (thanks Viv). It purports to be a book revealing the ‘truth” about Hollywood – it is called Bambi vs Godzilla by the way – but it actually consists of Mamet mumbling on like a grumpy wizard about the various people who have pissed him off during his many years making films. He also uses incredibly arcane vocabulary (vocabulary that makes the word “arcane” seem as straightforward as “dog” – I do have some interesting chat about the etymology of “dog” actually but I’ll save it for when we are next in the pub together and I can bore you with it then) – I had to use a dictionary several times (shamefully in app form on my phone rather than a dusty tome pulled from a creaking shelf) – here’s one from page three – PICAYUNE, and on the next page MALFEASANCE and then EXCULPATORY .  .  and so on. However when he’s not having a pop at bastards or showing off that he has a wider vocabulary than God, he does write provocatively and with passing brilliance about filmmaking and creative processes in general. The book ends, appropriately, with a discussion about effective endings to films. Let me quote from Mamet briefly:

Stanislavski wrote that the last ninety seconds are the most important in the play. Hollywood wisdom casts it thus: Turn the thing around in the last two minutes, and you can live quite nicely. Turn it around in the last ten seconds and you can live in Bel Air.

That’s Hollywood as in filmmaking capital not as in Paul and his salt and pepper hair – just to clarify for British readers (this is James writing, not David Mamet).

Perfect endings are hard to come by. If they have been overly-signalled then they arrive with thudding predictability; if they come out of absolutely no where then they can be greeted with a collective OH COME ON from the audience. Followed by violence in the stalls. If they are too weird then they can leave an audience feeling betrayed – I still grumble about the final episode of Twin Peaks. I gave up SO MANY hours to this show, I loved its oddness, its unsettling and confusing multiple plot strands, I embraced Twin Peaks and then it ended without any answers but with a dancing dwarf in a maze. I love you David Lynch but I also HATE you.

Mamet makes some excellent choices about great endings. Who could argue that the final line of Some Like it Hot is anything other than perfection? I am therefore going to end this blog with two suggestions of my own.

1. Big Night (1996) dir. Cambell Scott and Stanley Tucci.

I think I have written about this before but two Italian-American brothers open a restaurant. They cook. They fall out. And then THIS happens.

Understated brilliance showing the wonder of what you can do when telling a story in pictures. And talking of brilliance:

2. Back to the Future (1985) Dir. Robert Zemeckis

There are only rubbish versions of this on youtube so you are going to have to picture the moment in your brain. Come on, you’ve all seen it.

Marty and Jennifer are about to climb into the big truck thing when POW! Doc Brown arrives in the DeLorean telling them they’ve got to go the future to save their children. Marty enquires politely that how will they reach the necessary speed for time travel because, verily, the road is too short. Christopher Lloyd, a genius, earns every cent of his fee for the film by saying (altogether now):


Bosh! Filmmaking perfection. Oh balls, I’ve found the clip now.

Admit it. It was even better in your head. If you saw Back to the Future in a British cinema on its release then the air would have been thick with popcorn, TCP and the stale odour of an overly-forced conclusion to a blog entry.

It’s time for my next shot Doctor, it’s time for my next shot.


6 thoughts on “Trichlorophenylmethyliodsalicyl or, the Stinging Weasel

  1. ‘Big Night’ – brilliant; but actually very reminiscent of my favourite ending ever, which is to John Huston’s ‘Fat City’. If you haven’t seen it, you might like it, even love it.

  2. You got me pondering great film endings and as much as I love Wilder’s zingers – ‘Nobody’s Perfect’, ‘Shut up and deal’ – it’s the pauses for witty, ironic, eloquent or just downright emotional reflection and a slow fade to black that make me melt: Fat City, Big Night, Unforgiven, Before Sunset…. ….High Tide?

    • Gosh, I haven’t seen Unforgiven in years – I must watch it again soon. Before Sunset – wow, yes indeed. Those two words that say so much . . . superb.

      High Tide actually ends with a high-kicking song and dance number so it probably won’t make your list Rob.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s