Thursday, August 26, 2010

Film Break: Timothy Spall as Albert Pierrepoint

Released in 2006, the film Pierrepoint brings us the story of one of England's most prolific executioners, Albert Pierrepoint. Played compellingly by Timothy Spall, Pierrepoint assumed the mantle of family tradition, following in the footsteps of his father and uncle when he received training for and was placed on the list of executioners in 1933.

As the film opens, Pierrepoint and others are being instructed in the process of delivering a condemned prisoner to the hangman's noose, which we learn is a matter of precision and timing as well as physical condition, weight and height. It is this attention to detail and precision which later distinguishes the otherwise unassuming Pierrepoint,eventually bringing him to the attention of British military officials. One of these selects Pierrepoint to come to Germany to execute Nazi war criminals from the concentration camp in Belsen. But for the publication of this fact, Pierrpoint may have continued working anonymously.

While it might be easy to dismiss any hangman as brutish or callous, Spall's portrayal of Pierrepoint reveals a happily married man with neighbors and friends who sees his hangman's duties as service to England's home office. Furthermore, the specificity with which he renders his services leaves no room for the condemned to suffer, something Pierrepoint views as compassionate.

With his identity and reputation as a hangman exposed, Pierrepoint is initially widely cheered for executing nazis. However, as the hangman for English felons, he also faces contempt and the rising tide against the death penalty beginning in England.

The grocery delivery man turned publican also experiences a shock when one of his pub regulars, convicted of the murder of a former girlfriend, is to be hanged, and Pierrepoint learns he is the man's executioner.

Albert Pierrepoint resigned his post in 1955, later writing a book about his experiences as a hangman. Two footnotes appear as the film. One notes that Pierrepoint took part in 608 executions. The other is a quote in which Pierrepoint observes that the death penalty, rather than deterring crime, only satisfies a need for revenge.

The last hanging in England occured in 1964, and the death penalty for murder abolished there in 1969, although it remained in effect for certain other crimes until 1998.

As a viewer, I was left wondering why anyone would choose to become a hangman. The motive certainly wasn't money since hangman were paid little and sometimes nothing at all.

Tim Spall's performance makes this a must-see, one's views on capital punishment not withstanding. Other equally notable cast members include Juliet Stevenson as Anne Pierrepoint and Eddie Marsan as James "Tish" Corbett.

An interesting aside is that this film was titled The Last Hangman and in fact, Albert Pierrepoint was not the last at all, simply the most well known.

Until Next Time...

H-Wave, I Love You...

Thanks to those of you who extended good wishes on my previous post; I'm on the path to feeling well without drugs which do not help my particular problem.

In addition to intensive stretching,exercise, massage and e-stim, my DPT and clinic provide h-wave technology to patients. Unlike Tens and e-stim, h-wave does not fool pain receptors, it actually shifts fluid through an injured area which improves circulation, reduces inflammation, breaks the pain cycle and promotes healing. I was hooked up for 25 minutes today and I'm pain-free at present for the first time in a month.

If interested in further explanation, you can go to the website for Electronic Waveform Lab, the U.S. creator and seller of h-wave at I receive no compensation for sharing this link with you, nor am I connected in any way with the company represented.

I will say that the staff and owner of this PT clinic appear to have done their homework.

One of my recent commentors observes that I spend a lot of time "keeping myself up."
I elected to delete the rest of what was said in the interest of decorum but cutting a long story short, yes, I do, and so do most people who live with either disability or chronic health concerns.

After all is said and done, the quality of one's life and the energy it takes to live are sometimes proportional to effort expended. I've weathered changes I never thought I'd see and like everyone, I want to be as pain free and productive as possible.

Until Next Time...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just When I Was Having A Bit Of Fun...

Thanks to those of you who have stayed around to wonder where I've been the last month. My apologies for the unintended hiatus. I wish I could relate some spur-of-the-moment adventure in an exotic locale but the truth is purely mundane, I'm afraid.

Remember when I promised you would be reading a few tidbits about films, an essay or two and perhaps some poetry??? I did not lie. I had several things selected, but life often interrupts best laid plans...

I was watching an off-beat spawn of Showtime and laughing when I felt the first frightening twinges of spasm in my left low back. Quickly becoming tighter than a fist, the pain eventually spread over my entire left side and into my hip and butt, and I knew it was back to the physical and massage therapists for me.

This problem dates from a motor vehicle accident almost six years ago, but it re-surfaces now and again, and is generally held at bay with a series of stretches and exercises I do daily with almost religious fervor.

Though I was able to book the massage therapist for a Saturday appointment, I would have to wait until Monday for a PT slot...So began a regime of heat, stretches, and ice. The first of what was to be four massages was a Godsend. I could actually sit without wanting to scream afterward...

I will probably conclude PT this week. The upshot is that Godot in his original condition did not provide sufficient back support, and sitting without that aggrevates the original problem. Additionally, I cannot just do my home regimen, it and other core strengthing exercises must become part of my fitness routine at the hospital.

Godot's backrest is now brimming with added padding...I have yet another birthday behind me and I'm wondering where the prized digital camera is hiding...Pardon me while I contort...I'll catch up with postings later this week.

Until Next Time...