Here’s the link to episode three in case you missed it.
It’s three weeks in for Peaky Blinders now, and tonight’s episode was slightly disappointing. Not just because the promised “good ‘urquharts” (good haircuts) didn’t materialise during Tom’s trip to the gee-gees at Cheltenham, but because the episode mainly centred on Grace, who is by far the weakest link in the show.
Dublin’s answer to Mata Hari was here there and everywhere this week. If she wasn’t eavesdropping through walls, she was shooting an IRA man up the scrotum, if she wasn’t flirting with Tom then she was wandering around the art gallery with C.I. Campbell (who made it very clear he’s pimping her out, albeit in an avuncular way), if she wasn’t dancing with Tommy she was pimped out to Billy Kimber, if she wasn’t – oh you get the picture I’m sure.
“If you wanna be part of my organisation, you have to make sacrifices,” Tom tells Grace. She’s been sacrificing all through the episode mate, you don’t need to tell her now! Still, at least she wasn’t singing.
Grace did think all her hard work was paying off when she got to dance in her new red dress with Tom at the races. Suddenly they were in the Jazz Age of Downton Abbey and Brideshead Revisited – all marcel waves, flapper gowns and, dare-I-say-it, proper haircuts. He called her ‘Lady Sarah’ playfully, whirled her around the ballroom, gazed into her eyes and almost entrapped her before she could entrap him – then he used her as cover to escape with loot at the most romantic moment between them thus far. Oy gavalt! Grace is the worst operative in the world as she appears to have fallen in love with her mark and can’t work out that he’d throw her over in a nanosecond, or in this case just bail from a decent party. ‘Lady Sarah’ looked momentarily despondent as she gazed at the amorous couple in the space he had left behind, both wearing elegant attire and sporting really good haircuts.
I’ve noticed the girls in Peaky Blinders (apart from Aunt Polly – Queen of Darkness, of course) seem to have very white stockings and collars. Not just Ada (who managed to stay pristine on her shotgun wedding day to Freddie the Horny Bolshevik) but whiter-than-white Grace. But how, with all that smoke and coal smote flying everywhere do they stay clean? I wouldn’t even bother trying. It’s like that ginger kid on the washing powder ad – she just accepts people are going to throw stuff at her and gets on with life; that’s character. I don’t know if Grace and Ada are dumb or just overly optimistic.
The Black Swan in Sparkbrook came in for a bit of a roasting tonight. A place for inept, wannabe IRA rebels to hang out apparently. Later in the episode, the man Grace kills is shown coming out of The Black Swan, a rough building either caked in dirt or painted in tar – it’s hard to tell, and the moniker hastily written straight on the wall in chalk. It looked characterful, damp, smelly, a real dive. I wanted to drink there, or just be a fly on the spittoon. I had a look to see if it still exists but could find no mention of it anywhere. However, there is a White Swan in nearby Deritend on the Bradford Road. Maybe a power-hose was all it took for the name to change (maybe not, as the WS is a big old brown stone Victorian boozer).
A lot of people have read these Peaky Blinders posts in search of either the filming locations (disappointingly, a lot was filmed at the Black Country Museum rather than in the neighbourhoods themselves) or historical accuracy. Hmmm, this is a programme that routinely uses The White Stripes instead of meaningful dialogue so I’m thinking it’s a good 80 percent fictional. I’m not saying The White Stripes aren’t a pleasure to listen to (and being from the grittier bits of failing car town Detroit, they oddly fit the bill to draw parallels with industrial/ criminal Brum), but I don’t think we’re going to be seeing any ‘making of’ documentaries that are heavy on the Historical Advisor talking heads or vox pops. Otto Bathurst, the director has said: “Once I took off the shackles of historical accuracy, then we could make a really cool show.” I will start researching posts on the real Peaky Blinders gang, but just try to enjoy the show for what it is: an inventively entertaining Thursday night gangster-fest.