Do not feed the fish…

fish

You will understand why I did it though?

Imagine the scene. I am sixteen years old, waiting to see a man who is not keen to see me. Mr McMahon. A man with a big responsibility. A maths tutor, handsomely paid by my parents and charged with getting me a maths O level. Two fails already, the pressure mounting. My dad is pessimistic and especially when I assure him that I am 110% confident of passing next time.

Sitting in Mr McMahon’s home, under his stairs and waiting while he finishes up with some other dullard, I have strict instructions not to approach his tank which is opposite me. Not a war tank, like a model but a fish tank, poised on its own plinth, all lit up and containing only one fish.

A piranha.

You can see my temptation now?

Mr McMahon, a gruff Irishman who did little to hide his disdain for boys like me even although we paid his mortgage. A big man and suitably foreboding, his word was rarely defied.

But, come on, it’s a blinking real life flipping piranha fish…

His on-going lesson still had ten minutes to run, so I had time and the necessary equipment which I had brought from home and for this very purpose.

What I hadn’t accounted for though, but I now understand well, is that Mr McMahon was a man of a certain age and one who drinks a lot of coffee and possibly to stay awake. But it meant that he required frequent toilet breaks and these were difficult to predict.

To get to the lid of the fish tank I needed to stand on a chair which is how he found me. I had stabbed my thumb with my compass (what else are compasses for?) and I was squeezing blood in to his fish tank. I hoped to see the piranha go ape-shit-mental. Only it didn’t. It barely even moved unlike me when Mr McMahon appeared.

And it is with this aquatic violence in mind that I tempted my youngest son, sixteen year old Paddy down from his Broadband lair with the prospect of watching the movie, Jaws.

As ever I made the school boy error of being too exuberant. This movie had rocked my world but will it do the same for Paddy?

No is the honest answer and I have some sympathy. Ironically, it has much less teeth than I remember.

Another dad fail then but undeterred I demanded another movie night – and this time I went for a movie that really couldn’t fail…

Misery.

Its star, James Caan has some form in this area. While my eldest son, Tom was making The Impossible in Alicante (the tsunami wave sequence) he contracted an ear infection and was bed bound for a week. I was flitting back and forth as my gigs permitted (do we remember when we gigged?) and I arrived back in Spain armed with a bunch of movies for Tom and I to gorge on and bond over and including Rollerball which I hyped out of all recognition. Barely twenty minutes in, Tom was asleep and I needed to reassess how easily pleased I was in childhood.

But Misery with Kathy Bates and James Caan is a success. Not as well received as The Shawshank Redemption which we have already chalked off in lockdown (another Stephen King, so maybe The Green Mile beckons) but very much enjoyed.

As you will recall, Misery is a story about a famous author caught up in hell and it presents some parallels with my own life but which wouldn’t have occurred to me on first viewing.

Not that I am a famous author or that I am locked up with a female psychopath.

But that James Caan’s character suffers enormous pain associated with his writing. In this instance, unimaginable pain with repeated compound fractures of his legs and feet. But surely his pain is salved by his bountiful sales? His book tours, festivals, signing and general acclaim.

In the movie we see him after his ordeal in Manhattan. Smartly dressed in a suit. Walking to an expensive restaurant albeit with a limp and a cane but so what?

As literary hurt goes, try enduring the pain of writing a novel that no one reads?

I’m only suggesting this but most unread authors would snap their own legs if it meant a trip to Hay and the chance to share a green room (marquee) with Joanna Trollope.

I did finally gain my maths O Level by the way and no one was more delighted than Mr McMahon because he would never have to see me again. But I suspect that his Piranha missed me terribly.

 

*

 

Your suggestions for films for Dom and Paddy to bond over gratefully received in the comments.

 

 

 

 

52 Comments

  1. emilia February 21, 2021
    Reply

    depends if you want an action or 80s movies .
    action would be ; transformers, hunger games, Pacific rim,
    skyscraper, the lion king
    80s would be ; breakfast club, ferris bueller’s day off, sixteen candles and even though it’s in the 90s Fight club
    Just some suggestions for you 🙂

    • Lucy Spellman February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Funny this post should appear now as just last week I watched Misery with my family for the first time and I loved it 🙂 I’ve yet to see Jaws but hopefully some time soon I will!

    • Susie February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Stretch…this is not a request for a pre movie exercise. The movie is called Stretch is has a star studded cast and is a hidden gem. I promise you that you both will love it. Google it!

      • Letícia Cardoso February 24, 2021
        Reply

        Hello Mr. Holland! I loved your article! I hope one day to write as well as you do. Maybe because I’m the same age as Paddy, we have my style for films, or not. One of my favorite films that I recommend to all my friends is Fragmentado, it is very interesting, and it has some truthful facts in the midst of so much fiction. A fantasy film that I could recommend would be the Secret of the Moon Valley, it definitely was and still is my favorite of all time. A movie to cry would be The Miracle in Cell 7, very exciting. A laugh movie would be Just Go With It and Blended with Adam Sandler, my dad and I love watching it. Horror and suspense films, which in my opinion are the best genres, would be Shut In, Fractured and Seven, respectively. Films that are adaptations of books, Percy Jackson, Inkheart (my favorite book, Marley and Me, The Art of Racing in The Rain. And finally, films based on real events The Untitled AA Milne Project, Surviving With Wolves, Intouchables and Hachi: a dog’s Tale. Well these are some films that I have a certain admiration, thank you for your attention. Sir I’m sorry if i wrote something wrong, i’m still learning english, because my native language is portuguese, since i’m brazilian. Thanks again, and have a nice day!

    • Rebecca OFallon February 22, 2021
      Reply

      I love the movie October Sky, Shag, The Monster Squad, The Goonies, Gremlins, etc… All classic and great movies I think Paddy would love!

    • Letícia Cardoso February 24, 2021
      Reply

      Hello Mr. Holland! I loved your article! I hope one day to write as well as you do. Maybe because I’m the same age as Paddy, we have my style for films, or not. One of my favorite films that I recommend to all my friends is Fragmentado, it is very interesting, and it has some truthful facts in the midst of so much fiction. A fantasy film that I could recommend would be the Secret of the Moon Valley, it definitely was and still is my favorite of all time. A movie to cry would be The Miracle in Cell 7, very exciting. A laugh movie would be Just Go With It and Blended with Adam Sandler, my dad and I love watching it. Horror and suspense films, which in my opinion are the best genres, would be Shut In, Fractured and Seven, respectively. Films that are adaptations of books, Percy Jackson, Inkheart (my favorite book, Marley and Me, The Art of Racing in The Rain. And finally, films based on real events The Untitled AA Milne Project, Surviving With Wolves, Intouchables and Hachi: a dog’s Tale. Well these are some films that I have a certain admiration, thank you for your attention. Sir I’m sorry if i wrote something wrong, i’m still learning english, because my native language is portuguese, since i’m brazilian. Thanks again, and have a nice day!

  2. Jo February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hi Dom! I’m very interested to know whether Paddy is allowed to see Cherry or not… seeing as it’s age rating 18, but different families have different strictness levels when it comes to these things!

    • Mila February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Hello sir Holland, when I was younger I loved watching the gremlin with my father!. I also like the mask, but other than that I mostly rewatch the classics like Harry Potter, the hunger games and the lord of the rings. (Fun fact. My youngest kitten has his name (Frodo) from the lord of the rings!) have a lovely day

    • Amelia February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Yes that would be interesting to know

    • Rebecca OFallon February 22, 2021
      Reply

      I would assume Paddy has already seen Cherry since Tom watched it with his family and that would include Paddy.

  3. Jess February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Great blog! I watched Jaws with my dad who was very excited to watch it, but it didn’t really thrill me. A few weeks later I came up with some movie suggestions that actually worked for the both of us. Here they are:
    1. Red Dog, True Blue (movie based in Australia and it centers around a dog called Blue and the adventures he and a 14-15 year old boy have. Warning: sad ending)
    2. 6 Underground (an action movie)
    3. Dead Poets Society (Robin Williams, need I say more?)
    4. The Mask
    5. Dumb and Dumber
    6. Beautiful Boy (this one’s quite serious.)

    Hope it’s helpful! Happy Sunday.

    • Derek Shakespeare February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Hi Dom.
      Whilst never having bonded with my father over most things in life,I do recall that there were certain films we both liked,and would watch together, if they came on the TV. Certainly “The Wild Geese” comes to mind, with Richard Burton,Richard Harris and Roger Moore. Older films,of that genre were more his taste,but I did occasionally consent to watching some of them. We did both like the more action type movies,or an occasional disaster film(Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure, etc). Obviously all older movies,from a different era.

  4. Louise February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hi Mr.Holland! Great blog 🙂 One of my favorite movies would be “Now You See Me” (1&2) starring Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Mark Ruffalo and more (forgot their names…) It’s about street magicians who steal/rob from con men.

    • Alice February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Hello Dom!
      1. Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society
      2. The map of tiny perfect things
      Lovely blog. Looking forward to reading more!

      • Kirsty February 22, 2021
        Reply

        Great blog! Happened the other way round for me as I was the one who sat my Dad down in front of films I thought he’d like. I’ll hazard a guess that you’ve already watched Stand by Me if Stephen King is a theme. I’d recommend Heathers for a great mix of black humour and violence.

  5. João Victor Gama February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Imma recommended one that I’ve seen many years ago, so I don’t remember much of it. The movie is called Murder On The Orient Express, and even though the title is quite self-explanatory, it is about the investigation of a crime committed during a train trip. I really enjoyed it and I think you guys are gonna love it… especially you!

    • Rebecca OFallon February 22, 2021
      Reply

      I would assume Paddy has already seen Cherry since Tom watched it with his family and that would include Paddy.

  6. Sara February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I can recommend Fractured the Movie on Netflix. Also The Day after Tomorrow, San Andreas and How it Ends are good Movies. That’s my suggestion Have a nice Sunday. Greetings to you all.

  7. Joice Caroline Ferreira February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Well , I Just wanted to leave the message that I love read your blog every single Sunday. You are amazing.
    You’re shinning star. Thanks for the entertainment.
    And also want to say that you are my father in law. Yes , that’s right . Tommy and I are supposed to be together. See you mate .

  8. Andréa February 21, 2021
    Reply

    If you are looking for another movie about an author in pain (though these ones more psychological,) ‘ The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Girl, Interrupted’ and musts.
    However if it’s pure entertainment- you can’t go wrong with (rewatch?) ‘Mission Impossible’ or ‘James Bond.’ Hard to get bored with the spectacle!
    Enjoy!

  9. Isobel February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I’m 13 (only three years younger than Paddy) and a good action film I enjoyed watching was called Poseidon on Netflix. There’s also The Meg which is similar to Jaws but a modern day version. Hopefully this is a win?

  10. Lauren McNamee February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hello Dominic,
    Just wanted to say I’ve been enjoying reading your blogs each week (including this one) and if your looking for a good movie suggestion to watch with Paddy, I personally would recommend watching inglorious bastards by Quentin Tarantino- if you haven’t already – I love watching that film with my dad, such a good story, cinematography and a great cast.

  11. Hannah February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I’ve got to say one of my favourite movies I’ve watched with my dad over lockdown has to be “The Departed” now that was 10/10! Is it only you and paddy at home at the moment? Are your other three sons working on Spider-Man together?

  12. Rachel February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Another great blog Dom! Made me laugh, I quite like The Meg if you want to try another shark film! Action films my mum and I watch together is Olympus Has Fallen and Vantage Point (which is one of my favourites!), another one I like is 2012. I hope you find something!

  13. Nina February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hi!

    Love your writing!
    I suggest: Zoo. It’s not a movie, it’s a serie but it’s amazing. It is about animals who fight back to humans.
    As for a movie, I liked the zoo keepers wife a lot or maybe suicide squad for something modern.
    Let me know, if you watched it, what your opinion is.

  14. Kaity February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I’m a bit older than Paddy and just watched Jaws for the first time a few nights ago and loved it, if you’re still looking for iconic action/thriller movies from the 70s over 80s there’s Alien and the Terminator, if you’re looking for a comedy there’s also The Mask, The Waterboy, Weekend In Bernies, and The Money Pit. Hope you enjoyed those suggestions!

  15. Hannah February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hey Dom, over lockdown me and my Dad wanted “the departed” with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio and it was an amazing film I would highly recommend! How come it’s only you and paddy? Are all of your other sons out of the country for work?

  16. Angie February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hello!
    I can recommend you 2 action movies and I can assure you that you will both have fun watching them: Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser and the sequel, Journey 2, with The Rock 🙂 Also, if you like some oldschool action movies, first 2 The Mummy movies will be a good choice too.

    Greetings from Poland for you and your Family 🙂
    Angie

  17. Jacquie McCarthy February 21, 2021
    Reply

    1. Not a very popular movie but being a musician myself I adore August Rush starring the great/late Robin Williams as a modern day Fagin (Oliver!) collecting orphans and taking care of them. He finds a musical protege in a young Freddie Highmore. From there sky’s the limit until the World wants to hone his skill. Love this movie!
    2. On Golden Pond always makes me cry.
    3. Rudy!- the great American football classic of Sean Astin’s. Fight to be on the great Notre Dame football team even though he is not built for it at all (very small compared to the usual players). But his spirit is unwavering to prove to his father he can do it. And in his eyes to finally make his Father proud. If this movie comes on I stop everything and have to watch! Also stars a very young Jon Favarau so some connection to Tom as well.
    Hope those help!
    Enjoy!
    Jacquie

  18. Lorraine February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I love the picture you created while I’m reading this blog Dom. Curiousity is a strange master, it can lead to either an answer or an injury it was lucky that you were caught in time before your experiment went any further. Have a great week. Looking forward to the live tonight ☺️

  19. Sebastian February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Great! I always love it to read your blogs. Written so vividly and beautifully.
    To the films: Big Fish (2003), Beginners (2010), The place beyond the pines (2012).
    For more excitement and action [Be careful, I’m not sure of the age rating]: Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Terminator (1984), Terminator 2 (1991).
    And of course great Disney films, Marvel films and Spider-Man films ;))

    • Rachel February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Evening Mr H, love your blog but missing your podcast!
      I’ve done this recently with my 13 year old son we’ve watched all the karate kids, day after tomorrow and we watched shutter island the other day which he loved! Not sure what’s next for us but I’m interested seeing these suggestions.

  20. Lucy Spellman February 21, 2021
    Reply

    My movie recommendations would be:
    1) worlds end
    2) Shaun of the dead
    3) hot fuzz
    I’m sure you might have already seen them but they are all by the same people with the same main actors and they are hilarious! I frequently watch them with my dad 🙂 (I am 17 next month, so same age as paddy)

  21. Jess February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Along the same vein, I would recommend “Stand By Me” (1982). It not only stems from King but with Reiner’s direction and performances from a stellar ensemble — you cannot go wrong! It’s purposefully dated, ahead of it’s time and so well acted and verse that it simply becomes a timeless story for the ages. This is particularly true for the coming of age and the author’s own commitment. One of the best lines ever in my humble opinion and relatable, immortally remains: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

    • Jess February 21, 2021
      Reply

      Modest correction, 1986, I was thinking of the novel circa ’82. Worth the read, certainly worth the watch for you and your Son(s).

    • Rachel February 21, 2021
      Reply

      One of my favourite cinematic lines of all time. Brilliant movie

  22. Kayla February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hmmmmm……. a film that Dom & Paddy can bond over. Only one title springs to mind, Titanic. I’m joking of course. I personally love the classic action comedies. “Beverly Hills Cop” franchise for one or really just anything with Eddie Murphy. “Galaxy Quest” is a fun one. Paddy is a gamer & you both may enjoy “Love & Monsters”. It has a very Fallout 4 vibe to it & the cast is wonderful. How about “Interstellar” or the “Martian”. If those are too current then “Space Cowboys” is very funny & has some veteran actors. “The Fugitive” or “Air Force One” are both fantastic. There’s always “The Rock”. Some quotable Cage dialogue there. Quotable as a joke but still quotable. What movie you might enjoy and I feel it’s lesser known is “America’s Sweethearts”. Having some knowledge of how that avenue works will play into the humor even more plus it has a very good cast. Lastly, there’s always good old “Ocean’s Eleven”. Clooney for the win & Pitt eating something in every scene. Great heist movie.

  23. Susie February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Stretch…this is not a request for a pre movie exercise. The movie is called Stretch is has a star studded cast and is a hidden gem. I promise you that you both will love it. Google it!

  24. Jess February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I recommend checking out Clue (1985). It has one of my favorite actors, Tim Curry. Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean and more. It’s a comedy/murder mystery based on the boardgame of the same name. It’s also fun because there are 3 possible endings. Happy watching!

  25. Mandy Young February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Child’s Play or Fright Night would be a good choice since there were directed by your eldest when he was just a gleam in your eye.

  26. Mary-Teresa February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I would recommend My Cousin Vinny, 16 Blocks, The Court Jester-with Danny Kaye or Operation Dumbo Drop.

  27. Victoria February 21, 2021
    Reply

    While I am Paddy’s age, I do enjoy 80s movies. And while I have never seen Misery, your blog made it catch my interest since I want to be a writer one day.
    However, the movie I suggest is not from the 80s, but it is still good: I Am Number Four. The story is about John Smith, an alien struggling to survive on Earth after his home planet is attacked. He and eight other kids were sent away. The Elders of his planet put a ward on them that meant the bad guys (mogadorians) could kill them in a specific order. One-Three are dead. John Smith is Number Four. Now he must learn to use his powers to stop the Mogs whilst keeping his secret.

  28. Isabella Benz February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Given your background of using your own blood as an appetizer for certain hungry fiends, might I suggest Little Shop of Horrors? In the very least, the soundtrack will not disappoint. My brothers are around Paddy’s age, and it seems the only movies that can grab their attention are ones like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Wayne’s World, and Biodome. Certainly not revolutionary, but I suppose it has enough humor to fit the audience. If you are attempting to watch The Green Mile, I would advise you to cancel all plans and make sure your pajamas are comfortable enough to lounge in all day, because that movie has about a hundred miles of film to watch. (3 hours and 9 minutes to be exact). Another option, should you want to make the couch your permanent place to rest, would be a Godfather marathon. But the real question here is not what to watch, but how long Paddy’s attention span will last on some of these films, which may result in viewing one of the afore mentioned selections, courtesy of two like-minded teenage boys…

  29. Sydnee Coleman February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Lovely blog, Mr. H, I also would be fascinated with a piranha I mean who wouldn’t be, lol. Also, for somebody who has watched every single one of those films and loves them deeply it pains me that they aren’t getting them. But then again I watched them at a young age, I believe I first saw Jaws when I was 6 or 7, I snuck the VHS and watched it when I was suppose to be sleeping. I don’t remember if it ever scared me but I enjoy it. If Paddy likes Stephen King; Rose Red is a personal favorite, but it’s a haunted house movie and a bit dated, but I love it.
    Another good movie is Day after Tomorrow, it has Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, plus end of the world type stuff. Some other are; Top Gun, John Carpenter’s The thing, The Count of Monte Cristo, The 13th Warrior, War Games (again a bit dated), Demolition man, The Green Mile, Twister, Short Circuit, Field of Dreams, Fargo, The Illusionist, American werewolf in London, (it has a great deal best werewolf transformation trust me), A knight’s Tale. Those are just a few that are favorites of my family and if he(Paddy) likes his fair share of a parody and if he likes Star Wars, Spaceballs is a good one, Mel Brooks is great and one of my brother’s (whom is 18) favorites. One of these should strike Paddy well.

  30. Avery Wickersham February 21, 2021
    Reply

    I quite enjoyed “Tombstone” with Val Kilmer and Kurt Russel when my parents watched it with me. Both my mom and my dad like it, which is a miracle considering they’re divorced! That’s how you know it’s good. “Blended” and “50 First Dates” are also cute movies with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. I highly suggest them!

  31. Faaiz February 21, 2021
    Reply

    Hmm… Let’s see. “Spy who dumped me” is an excellent film released 2018. It’s on Netflix. If you’re looking for a series, watch “You” on Netflix.

  32. Katie February 21, 2021
    Reply

    The Silence of the Lambs. It’s got some suspense, mystery, Anthony Hopkins doing the slurping sound. I’m in my 30s now but in my teenage years I watched the hell out of this movie.

    Also try Spy Games if he enjoyed Shawshank Redemption.

  33. Eva February 21, 2021
    Reply

    without more to say, you convinced me with this to do my best to buy one of his books

  34. Yuna Cardoso February 22, 2021
    Reply

    Hi dom ,good night,sobre os filmes entao :Esquadrão Bizarro (Netflix),Chip e Posto(Netflix),Dragões (Netflix),Jumanji(Netflix) adoro o dwane ,Go (Netflix) essa e a minha favorita , Supergirl(Netflix ),Vera(Netflix),Super Monstros Em Ação(Netflix,oi Ninja(Netflix),Pequenos Espiões,The Devil ALL the time,Giby(Netflix) Dude o cãozinho (Netflix),Annie With E(Netflix),A Menina EO Leão (Netflix),Benji(Netflix),O impossível,Coração do mar, Homem aranha,Cherry,Chãos walking, Uncharted,esses são os melhores dom,você e meu sogro,vou casar com o tom lol.assista esses filmes com eles tá e quando forem jogar golf ,de uma tacada e quando o tom chegar em casa,de tantos abraços nele por mim Lol swit dreams

  35. Gretchen February 22, 2021
    Reply

    I often try to get my teenage daughter to watch movies with me. A couple that we both enjoyed are:
    1. “The Sixth Sense” and
    2. “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape”

  36. Rachel February 22, 2021
    Reply

    The ending of Shawshank is something else. I don’t know why it impacts us so much, and why it’s so satisfying, but whenever that movie’s on, my family always clicks in for the last couple of minutes, no matter how busy we are. The letter. The Pacific Ocean. The embrace. Perfect cinema.
    That’s so crazy that you would cut yourself to try and feed a piranha (that’s really boss).
    You should watch The Elephant Man, The Sixth Sense (even when people know the big surprise, it’s still got great performances), Good Will Hunting, Cinderella Man, or Ford vs. Ferrari, to name a few.

  37. Julie February 22, 2021
    Reply

    Beautiful Boy would be a good film to watch but it is a quite serious film.

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