Spectres and Sandwiches that will Spook You Silly
THERE’S nothing like curling up with a nice glass of wine of a Friday October evening, with the sole intention of being spooked to within an inch of your life. Halloween is just around the corner, the nights are drawing in, the whole world’s a terrifying place right now so a bit of ghostly escapism is nothing but the order of the day.
Enter The Haunting of Bly Manor, the follow-up to last year’s roaring success, The Haunting of Hill House. The latter was based on Shirley Jackson’s book of the same name, and was a masterclass in classy jump-scares and psychological manipulations, the former is an update on The Turn of the Screw, and features much of the same cast as Hill House, in new roles.
Bly Manor was dropped in full on Netflix last Friday, and one of the things that immediately struck me was the inauthenticity. The main story, told by a wedding guest to the bride and groom and some assorted others in America, 2007, takes place just outside of London in 1987.
The kitchen of the manor house is on the ground floor, directly off the hall, they have a basement, the two children due to come under the care of an American au pair are too plummy and posh for words, there’s just something a bit ‘off’ about the general vibe.
But, with a sort of epiphany, I have come to believe that what the audience is seeing is actually from perspective of one of the guests to whom the story is being told, explaining the stereotypical English mannerisms and manor house that’s not quite right. This is jolly old England through the eyes of an American, bringing their own pre-conceived notions to how the story appears to them, and explaining away some of the inconsistencies.
With that in mind, I enjoyed the first few episodes, despite a slight bang of tele-play that evened out after a while. Comparing it with its predecessor, it doesn’t quite match up, but as the series goes on, the mysteries deepen and back-stories are explained, it has proven ideal fare for cosy evenings in. The sixth episode (of nine) is the weakest, full of exposition and lengthy filler, but carves the way for the finale, which at the time of writing, I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to.
Now for something to really put you off your lunch. How many of us have been known to nip in to a supermarket or service station to pick up a pre-packaged sandwich for a quick meal on the go? I’d say the vast majority, and while they’re usually nowhere near as good as one you’d make at home, or get made at a deli or sandwich shop, they serve their purpose as a nutritious stomach-filler.
Or do they? Channel 4’s The Truth About Your Sandwich, which aired last Thursday, exposed troubling short-comings in the UK sandwich industry. Let’s not hyperventilate over yet another health-related crisis just yet; the programme was very Britain oriented, and focused on a lot of facts and figures from over that side of the pond, not to mention the food processing plants their sandwiches are made in.
But still, it made stark viewing. Sandwiches are one of the most complex food items to produce, having a huge environmental impact and carbon footprint, providing all of the ingredients that go in to them. It can also take just one little thing to go wrong in the processing procedure; an expert says just two rogue sesame can cause an allergic reaction, so knowledge in knowing as much about knowing where your sandwich comes from and what is in it, is power.
Can’t we have anything nice anymore? Why yes, we can! Making your own packed lunch will ensure you know vastly more about the levels of sugar, fat and salt in it, and eating at a trusted local source should do the same. On a visit to Raynor Foods processing plant, presenter Helen Skelton uncovered the fact that it’s absolutely possible to have exacting standards in food processing, something that could be re-enforced in certain plants in this country as well, knowing what we know now thanks to conditions uncovered during the Covid crisis.
- First published in The Tuam Herald on 14 10 20