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Cruising into wedded bliss

THE Locks are the very essence of the bickering, bantering Jewish couple who drive one another mad, yet somehow love one another enough to stay together for life. Documentary-maker Paddy Wivell first encountered them last year, while making a film about Hasidic weddings.

He was so taken with them -- and they, presumably, with him -- that he joined them on their first every holiday in 40 years of marriage: a 12-day "kosher cruise" around the Mediterranean. The result was the splendid Two Jews on a Cruise, a warm, funny, touching film streaked with undeniable melancholy.

Tikwah is the less adventurous of the two. "I'm scared of anything I don't like," she admitted. The gregarious Gaby loves to talk (and argue) was excited at the prospect of new experiences: "If you don't take no chances, you won't get nowhere."

Still, at least Tikwah was getting away from the pile of junk amassed by Gaby, a serial hoarder with a sizeable collection of worn-out fluorescent bulbs. Apparently, if you put them in the fridge, they come back to life.

Since the 898 other Jewish passengers on the cruise ship, the Golden Iris, weren't as religiously observant as the Locks, it was never going to be an entirely smooth trip. They lasted five minutes at the evening cabaret, where they found the music too loud and the morals (showgirls in skimpy costumes) too loose.

Squashed like sardines in a throng of people eager to get off the ship for an excursion to Crete, Gaby retreated into the peace of his own head and prayed. But he's obstreperous even when being peaceful and loudly likened the jostling crowd to "animals". It didn't go down well.

Neither did the row he sparked at a towel-folding demonstration, where he berated a passenger who was incessantly babbling next to Tikwah's ear. In another port, he mercilessly badgered an exasperated rabbi about whether it was right or wrong to disembark on the Sabbath.

But what was bugging Tikwah most -- and seems to have been bugging her for most of their married life -- was Gaby's habit of wandering off.

"I do have times when I feel very lonely," she confided. "He goes his own way and forgets about me."

Gaby knows he does it but seemed unrepentant.

"I have to be able to do what I want and if she can't come with me, I have to do it alone."

Tikwah decided to sign them up for onboard relationship-counselling. Amazingly, Gaby agreed to go along with it and found himself engaging in the practice of "mirroring" his wife's feelings, whereby he acknowledges his faults and agrees to change. Even more amazingly, it had an effect.

Gaby left Tikwah dine alone again -- but only so he could sneak off and buy her a present. She was even more delighted the next morning, when he brought her breakfast in bed. She was still sceptical, though: "It will come down with a bang when we get home."

Funnily enough, it didn't. When we last saw him, Gaby was starting to dump his used bulb collection in the bin. It's a start.

Skippy: Australia's First Superstar, a hilarious documentary about the 1960s TV series starring a super-intelligent kangaroo, a kind of marsupial rival to Lassie or Flipper the dolphin, somehow, ahem, skipped under my radar when first shown on BBC4.

Like millions of other kids around the world, I loved Skippy. She could dial telephones, open doors, play the drums and alert humans when her nine-year-old owner, Sonny, had fallen down a mineshaft. Which he did frequently.

So it was a shock to hear from cast and crew members that kangaroos are actually "dumber than sheep". Skippy had to be kept in a sack between takes to stop her from brainlessly bounding off.

Actually, there were nine Skippys, which meant her size and colour often changed from shot to shot. Not that we noticed; we were watching on a black-and-white TV.

two jews on a cruise HHHHI skippy: australia's first superstar HHHII