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Wednesday 12 July 2017

Mutton's Choice Cuts: Sean Bean and More

Prepare to be surprised, amused or annoyed by Mutton's Choice Cuts, the random thoughts of Is This Mutton's Gail Hanlon
Welcome to another edition of Mutton's Choice Cuts. This month I'm talking about Sean Bean, "forbidden words" that we shouldn't use in job interviews, and a formula for a Kathy Reichs book.

Sean Bean: Britain's most underrated actor!

The six part drama series "Broken" on BBC 1 recently was bleak and grim in content but highly engrossing because of Sean Bean's pivotal role as Father Michael, an embattled parish priest. Fighting his own demons, with constant flashbacks during Mass, Father Michael had to deal with heart breaking problems among his parishioners.

This did more to rehabilitate the image of the Catholic priest than anything I've ever seen before. Father Michael was a believable character, having had a "normal" life before he became a priest, and regretting how he treated women. He was occasionally angry at rules, regulations and the police when they attempted a cover up around the death of a young black man, but always governed by fair play and kindness.

I would be surprised if Bean wasn't considered for a BAFTA.

In the UK I'm convinced he's sometimes overlooked for the quality of his acting because of the many roles he's had where he's a villain, or gets killed  (he holds some sort of Internet record for the number of times he has died).

Jimmy McGovern, who wrote Broken, was also responsible for another drama, Accused,  in which Bean took the role of an English teacher, Simon Gaskell, and his alter ego, Tracie. A more unlikely actor to play a transsexual is hard to imagine but Bean totally nailed it. He won an Emmy for best actor for this role.
Sean Bean won an Emmy for his role as transsexual Simon Gaskell in Jimmy McGovern's Accused
To me though, one of his most stand out roles was as Ned Stark in series one of Game of Thrones. It was a masterstroke by the producers to include actors of the calibre of Bean, Charles Dance, Diana Rigg and Jonathan Pryce to stabilise the inexperienced younger actors.

Ned Stark, as GoT fans will know, was a deeply honourable* and dignified leader, even when going to his (inevitable) death.

The stand out scene for me was when he was secretly watching his young tomboy daughter Arya brandishing a wooden sword. His pride and understanding of her emerging character and grit was palpable, and in a later scene he gave her "needle," a miniature, hand-made sword, and arranged for her to have sword fighting lessons.

Now most male actors ham it up when they have to act as a loving daddy. But many of us have fathers who were more remote or distant, even though they were very loving. Bean's understated father was far more believable for not making it obvious how much he loved his younger daughter. It showed through his eyes and acceptance.
A kiss for daughter Arya from Ned Stark in season one of Game of Thrones

"Just a quick mention for innovation...."

I sometimes wonder if HR, or "Talent Acquisition" as they are now styled, have too much time on their hands. Google and Apple have apparently decreed that we should never use the word "innovative" in our CVs, or during interviews.  ??? Heaven forbid that any individual would claim this distinction as surely only Apple and Google have ever "innovated." Or not.

Meanwhile, the word "just" has also been black listed by the HR mafia. This will come as news to the long-running BBC Radio 4 comedy series, Just A Minute. It seems using the word "just" diminishes whatever comes next. Well, as a stiff upper lipped, and modest, Brit, "just" is a word we like using. Where would Captain Oates be without his famous phrase, "I'm just going outside and may be some time."

And finally, some companies now take a dim view of candidates who refer to their achievements in a CV, without making it sound like a collaborative success. When I used to hire people, I needed to hear about their achievements. It's all too easy for a poor performer (or manager) to hide behind the achievements of a collective. Surely with the right questions, any hiring manager worth their salt is going to find out if the candidate is good at collaboration. But if we are all to become clones who cannot claim any successes for ourselves, we might as well go home now.

The Kathy Reichs Formula

I love finding an author with a rich back catalogue*, and on holiday recently I thoroughly enjoyed the first in the series of the Temperance Brennan books by Kathy Reichs.

Reichs is herself a forensic anthropologist (as is Temperance). I long been an admirer of Professor Dame Sue Black, the leading UK forensic anthropologist who did such tremendous and heart breaking work in Kosovo.

I was so enamoured* with "Deja Dead," book one in the series of 18, that I downloaded and devoured books 2 and 3.

I'm now relieved I didn't take up Amazon's offer of buying all 18.

The reason is that after three books, I have identified a distinct formula.
1) Temperance will always have a theory which the police don't believe;
2) Someone close to her will get dragged into the crime (book one, it was a friend; book two, her sister;  book three, her nephew) and she has to rescue them;
3) the baddies will invariably send Tempe a warning shot, to stop her interfering  (for example, a head in a plastic bag in her garden, or the skeleton of a cat).
4) She will get too involved in the criminal case, doing the job of the police  (for example, meeting a prisoner in book 3 and not telling the police chief);
And (4), there will always be a violent show down between her and one or more of the criminals, and somehow she always gets out of it alive - even though data shows that most women freeze in violent situations.

So intrigued as I am by the prospect of 15 more books (let's assume Tempe must have a very big family),  I'm bailing now. Unless you want to tell me differently....

* UK spelling 

Sharing this post with Claire Justine's Wednesday Blog Hop, Saturday Share at Not Dressed as Lamb, and Rena at Fine Whatever.

Finally - in case you were wondering about the outcome of the Biscuit World Cup, as reported in Mutton's Choice Cuts last month, the winner by a very tight margin was my favourite, the Jammie Dodger.

For More Mutton

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  1. Nice read Gail, Isn't Sean a fine actor? Jacqui

    1. Thanks Jaccqui, he makes everything he is in so watchable.

  2. Great post! I need to see some of his work. Sounds like a great actor!

  3. What an intelligently written piece. Brainy and beautiful. I am interested in your list of taboos for job-seekers. Recently applied for a position as a public librarian. If called for an interview, I will review your post beforehand.

    Wonder if we can see Broken here in the States yet? Will be checking. Certainly admire Bean's performance in GoT.

  4. Thanks Leslie! I don't think Broken is off to the US yet but I wouldn't be surprised if you don't get it soon.

  5. Great read Gail :)Thanks for sharing at The Wednesday blog hop.

  6. I've never heard of him---you must think I live with my head in the sand...ha ha!!
    But now, I need to look into this guy!!

    1. He's a British actor but has been in a few films - the films are usually the sort men like. He was in Flight Plan (Jodie Foster). And season 1 GOT.

  7. Good post, Gail.
    I've always been a Sean fan. Initially simply (just?!) because I fancied him (what is there not to like?). But quickly I discovered what a deep actor he is so I added that to his CV!

    1. True Mary, we all started the Sean odyssey because he was a bit of a looker. Who turned out to have hidden depths!

  8. I want to watch that series where he played a transexual. It is very difficult for me to imagine Ned Stark like that.



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