Posted in Acting, TV

The First Rule…

I joined a film club.  The first rule of this film club is we don’t talk about film club.  Sod that, I’m going to anyway!

Actually, I was ‘specially selected’ to be invited to join the film club.  That made me feel quite special, actually.

For two reasons.  One, that they were thinking of me when considering who to invite to the inagural gathering; and two, that I was thought of because ‘they needed some younger females’.

They needed some YOUNGER females and thought of ME!  I don’t really consider myself *old* for someone who’s going to be 40 next year; but in an industry where most casting briefs are for 18-25 year olds; and people are posting in online actor forums “I’m 28, is it too late to go to drama school?  Am I too late to become an actor”; that someone, anyone, remotely linked to this industry considers me a ‘younger female’, is a bonus!

However, just a quick glance through casting directories like “StarNow“, or others of its ilk, where anyone can sign up and ‘put themselves out there’ (There are some that require at least some proof of experience or professional training in order to sign up to); any number of young, good-looking, aspiring-model types list themselves; and jobs such as ‘reality’ shows (You didn’t think Big Brother and Love Island just found these people randomly on the street, did you?) and ‘promo people’, or even ‘normal’ jobs get listed to entice ‘resting’ actors to apply for… there aren’t that many ‘older’ actresses ‘starting out’; nor are there the job listings that are looking for them.  I’ve seen a few more, recently, when you actually look, usually when looking for “Social worker 1” or “Mother of the lead character”. (Strangely, despite being a full-on mum to 3 little boys, I don’t get cast too often as a ‘mum’ – funnily enough, in TV land, even ‘mumsy types in their 30s’ still all look like a size 8-10  catalogue model who’s main experience of childcare is taking her niece to the zoo…)

And, more inspiringly, ‘older’ actresses are getting more press… Shirley Maclaine and Maggie Smith being the coolest characters in Downton Abbey? Diana Rigg ruling Game of Thrones?  Everyone adoring Helen Mirren in pretty much anything she does?  And my favourite person of the moment, who also happens to play my ‘sister’ in ‘medieval times’, wrote this blog piece about how she came to do Acting & Writing, instead of just day-dreaming about it.

The other day, I showed her something I am involved in writing.  And she loved it. Despite the fact that the leads were not necessarily 18-25 year olds.  And it reminded me of something my writing partner had been told, sometime last year, about not waiting for the parts to come up, but writing your own stuff was the way to go (of course…that depends on how well you write…but hey, there are ways around that!) and then…at this year’s BAFTA film awards, it was mentioned how successful ‘older’ women are successful, mainly, when they go out and write their own material themselves…because sitting around waiting for someone else to write you a character, well, may be a very long wait…

And so, back to Film Club… It’s, very basically, a group of people who just want to make stuff.  Some of us get paid to do it, some of us want to learn, some of us can see a huge potential for this group to be a good lerning/teaching base, a forum for furthering causes (for example, mental health is a big focus at the moment, particularly mental health in the arts, and a current project deals with this) or just for producing entertainment; with no requirement for dealing with budgets or sponsors or ‘money-men’ – we have directors, writers, producers, actors, cameramen, sound ops, editors… and anyone at any time can opt to beome a student of any of these roles and learn from each other, depending on the project we’re creating.  Just for the sake of creating. And being able to show something that we created. Just because we created it.

Advertisements
Posted in Acting, Creative, Home, Life, writing

21600 minutes

21600 minutes.

That’s how many minutes are in 15 days.  15 days since my last blog entry…I’m slipping again.

And the silly thing is….it’s not because I’ve not been doing anything exciting.  I have. 21600 minutes of doing stuff. Good, fun, exciting non-houseworky non-parenty stuff.

It’s just all secret.  I can’t tell you about it.  Although…technically..since this is my secret little blog that I don’t tell anyone about I’m not sure it would count as publicising.

keeping-secret-253

I was doing housework one day, last week, and I got a message asking “Can you be at *** for 3pm and be free for the next 3 days?” {dun-dun-duuuuuuun how covert is that?}. So that took up most of last week (it was Good Friday on…er…Friday so no-one would have been working that day anyway otherwise I’m sure I’d have been working that day too.) Yes, it was work…of sorts. Filming.  Some people know already (one of those ‘worst kept secrets’ things).  I should be able to talk about it in…er…September.  Statute of limitations on certain types of filming work where one is employed in a certain type of role… 😉

And then…I got specially selected to join an exclusive Film Club.  And since the First Rule of (said) film Club is that you don’t talk about film club…well…there ya go.

Ooooh, I guess it’s not-so-secret that I’m going to be a Doctor Who tour guide.  I haven’t signed the tour-guides-official-secrets-act for that one; however I’m playing with ideas in my head that *I* want to keep secret so that anyone wishing to join my tour will have a couple of nice moments they didn’t know about before…

AND it’s been the Easter holidays from school…although I didn’t get to do much with the children last week due to the top-secret last-minute filming booking (which was *REALLY* fun to do, by the way.)  But, we did get to go and see Dewi & Dwynwen the dragons and their new…er…born (?) eggs at Caerphilly Castle … they’re SO fab.  Someimes I wish they were real…

And we had a BBQ.  Oh, and we went to the rugby!  Judgement Day V .. what a day out that was.  Apart from *some* unruly junior players sat around us, who I suspect lack both the discipline and the self-control to ever really make it to the top of their sport… Luckily, I like to think that my little player, despite being the smallest in the team (he has the speed to make up for it though…) has the the dedication and the passion to do just a little bit well (seriously…he gets REALLY upset when he has to miss even one training session or game…and he’s only in the Under-7’s!) ….and I’m looking forward to my free tickets to the hospitality box when he does… #ProudRugbyMum 

Posted in Creative, Harry Potter, Life, Movies, Social Media, TV

Fandom taking over…

A while ago I wrote about my own personal earlier experiences with fandom, before and after the invention of the internet.

Years ago, geeks and nerds and cosplayers (which wasn’t even a word then…adults who play dressing up); were derided. Even conventions, VERY big business today, were covert trips.  They were the uncool kids.  The spotty bespectacled kid in the corner who was at best, ignored, and worst, had mashed potato slingshotted towards them from the back of a spoon (well, according to American TV shows and movies I saw…I don’t think I ever noticed any of these individuals in the UK…or wherever in the world I happened to be at the time).

It’s funny how the internet has changed this one particular walk of life.  Like I said above, Conventions are now huge (and there are so many more of them…everywhere…no longer do you have to save up a lifetime to go to San Diego for Comic-Con…) as is cosplay.  It’s now uber-cool to post pictures of yourself in your costume when heading off to {insert your city here}-Con; it’s perfectly acceptable to spend your social time discussing in-depth the comparisons of the latest Doctor Who series compared with the Peter Davidson or Patrick Troughton years over your Caramel-Macchiato (coz…y’know, no-one goes for a pint at the pub anymore….it’s always a coffee at that cool coffee-house on the corner…).

Because we’re no longer simply at the mercy of what we read in a handful of papers or what our neighbours and friends tell us in some kind of chinese-whispers type of way; or based solely on what we see on 3-4 TV channels that some TV boss somewhere has decided we should see or think is cool.  Now, we can search for anything, compare our thoughts and feelings and find the people, all over the world, who think like us about subjects we feel passionate about.  Now, the nerds and the geeks from every high-school in the world can unite, and show that they are many, and then the closet geeks and nerds who wished they were them feel brave enough to come out, dressed as a Klingon.

When I was in University I house-shared with a girl who was in the Medieval Society, she met her boyfriend/fiance in said society; we lost touch but I always wonder when I see reports of ‘themed’ weddings whether they did that, all those years ago before it was fashionable?

fandom 2

It’s no longer ‘a bit odd’ to come out and announce your affiliation to whichever-genre-you-choose or the fact that you have Hogwarts robes in your wardrobe.

Mind you, the quality is so good these days, because *they* {Manufacturers, marketers, licensing people I suppose…} know that big fans will spend the money on them, I might even have purchased a ‘proper’ robe myself while I was at Universal, even as a not-so-huge HP fan {Loved the books…because I love books anyway…kind of went off the whole franchise with the movies etc…} but was put off by the price.  Which is kind of a sticking point I’ve noticed.  Across the internet, there are online-quizzes and games asking “Are you ***** biggest fan?”; articles and blogs about ‘Blah-Blah-Blah’s biggest fan”.  I found this video on Youtube (there are many, for all different ‘fandoms’) of a girl in America who “believes she’s the wizard’s biggest fan thanks to her vast collection of memorabilia worth a staggering £40,000.” and the comments range from basic “wow” to “I’m a big fan too” to “Does the fact she’s rich and can afford to buy the expensive memorabilia make her the biggest fan?”.  To be fair, not everyone has the money to spend, but she does address that in the video saying she’s worked hard for it all.

As with Victoria Maclean, who I had the pleasure of meeting last year and working on set with; co-incidentally after I’d read her autobiography online…completely by chance after coming across it from a different source (Mutual friends on Facebook I think).  Now Victoria’s similar…she has a vast collection of merchandise.  But again, she bought it all with her own money; she was gifted some and sent some (…and similarly is careful that it doesn’t completely take over the house in a hoarder fashion!).  But reading her book brought to mind my point.  Years ago, someone might have thought twice about building their life-story around their fandom.  In an autobiography, it might have been one chapter, or a sideline, if it was mentioned at all…incase it made the story ‘uncool’ or put people off reading it.

Nowadays, the fandom is a selling-point, a marketing tool.  Harry Potter fans, of which there are millions of all levels (myself included to a small extent) would flock to read the story purely because it references Harry Potter and the effect it had on Victoria’s life.  One event that occurs in one of J.K.Rowling’s  Harry Potter stories is the Yule Ball.  Thanks to her using that term in the book for the annual festive celebration at Hogwarts, to anyone familiar with Potter-dom, it no longer conjours up visions of some Victorian Christmas Party; it’s now intrinsically linked forever to the world of Harry Potter.  And that’s why Victoria is throwing her own.  Far from just collecting memorabilia and hanging her robes in her closet until the next Comic-Con, she’s made it her life.  She’s organised book nights and quizzes and runs online groups and Twitter accounts for other Harry Potter fans.  And, like two of my best friends are throwbacks to my Due South days…beause we will always have that in common; Victoria’s closest circle are also dedicated Potter fans.  And that circle is probably going to grow at Christmas time as other fans flock from all over to her *almost-sold-out event.

At the end of the day, no matter what you’re a fan of or how you celebrate it, it’s probably more about community.  30 years ago, if you were the loner in school, who never had the hot boy/girlfriend, because you wanted to read comic books about Thor and that’s just not what the other kids did, you just kept it to yourself and went to find a quiet place to enjoy it.  Nowadays, you don’t have to be sidelined…you go On-line; and find your best friends.

fandom3

The internet can be, and is, blamed for a heck of a lot of bad things these days.  But this is one to be celebrated.

That, and 24-hour shopping for just about anything you want, of course 😉 **

*at the time of writing, there were 3 tickets left
** that’s a joke.  The Internet is actually Good for you

x

Posted in Family, History, Home, Life

27 Addresses

I was in the supermarket the other night on my way home, picking up some last minute stuff.  It was quiet.  Almost closing time.  Two men behind me at the only open check-out knew each other, and began chatting as acquaintances do who haven’t seen each other for a little while. One told the other they’d just moved house and bemoaned some of the things that go along with it.  The other responded with “I moved house, once. Never again”

Once???? I’ve recently moved for the 27th time.

Just for clarity, I’m counting any address where I lived, made my own beds, bought my own food, (unless too young and my mum was doing said things for me) received mail – so that it doesn’t count as a ‘holiday’ (or vacation if you want to be mutli-national about it).

There’s no one set reason. I wasn’t an ‘army brat’ whose parent or parents were in the military and so we moved bases regularly.  I wasn’t born into a tribe of Romany travellers or some nomadic tribe in Timbuctu.  There were (are?) all sorts of reasons.

The first was that my mum & dad grew up in different parts of the country.  They bought their first married home in *his* region; but when his job took him away a lot and mum found herself alone for long periods with a baby, it made more sense for the family home to be near to *her* family; so when I was 2 we moved house back to her home town.

I count being at sea as being “somewhere I lived”, so that’s one of the 27 places.  Even though we went back and forth a LOT of times, and on different ships; I can’t really separate the memories of different voyages, but they all lasted for months.  Besides, any mail we received (and this is why I’ve counted it…I remember a helicopter landing on board out at sea once, near Christmas, and “Santa” getting off and handing a sack to the crew member who’d gone out to meet him) would have been addressed to the same shipping office address and then forwarded on.

We moved house again, after my little sister was born, so I would have been 7; and as a family of 5, with a nanny, we were outgrowing our 3-bed terrace; besides, Dad had ‘made Captain’ so I’m assuming the income was better.

After that…well, it’s difficult to track the amount of time spent in each place.  My parents divorced and we left the bigger house.  We moved in with mum’s boyfriend.  Then we moved in with her next boyfriend….and so it went for a while.  Rentals, with or without boyfriends. Then after a few years she remarried and I thought, finally…a bit of stability…

Alas, that was not to be. They decided to go into business as a pub-management couple and so we lived above various pubs, moving around a few as the tenancies ended or whatever other reasons we were moved. Then it was convenience stores…we lived above/behind two of those.

Then I went to university; and so I moved…this time into a house share with 3 other students.  And eventually my dog – but dog-tales is probably another post…

My next ‘move’ was Camp America.  My first time abroad on my own and first visit to the USA. OK so it wasn’t *technically* a move, since I was on a student/temp work visa to work in the USA for the summer; but I did receive mail there during the few months I spent in Iowa. (Mum, and a friend, both sent ‘care packages’ – a collection of sweets/foods from home!  remember, these were days before everything was global; there were far more brands that remained local and hadn’t yet breached human borders. Although one bag of jelly sweets mum sent had congealed – the package must have been left in a warm place, maybe out in the sun at the cargo depot in between flights, but they’d then gelled back together into one big lump of multicoloured jelly sweet.  it was quite amusing.  And difficult to eat!!).  and if it counts, I then traveled down to Brazil to stay with Dad for a few weeks, although I’ve included that in this whole summer experience as 1 move.

After that, mum left husband#2 and we moved to a small rented terrace; which was quite sweet, really.  And a nice location.  It was close to where I ended up working for the next 10+ years and I cycled to work regularly.  Also accessible to nightlife and shopping and public transport. And my grandparents – they were in walking/cycling distance so I could pop round when I felt like it.   Mum eventually moved back with husband#2 and I took over the rental of the little terrace.  And I was so happy to finally have a place of my own, I was there for a good few years.  I hadn’t learned to drive up until that point and didn’t see the need to living there either.  I was dispatching airplanes for a living, and completing loadsheets, and even had a couple of flying lessons but couldn’t drive a car!

Then I met my husband-to-be.  Once it seemed we were to ‘settle down’ together he brought up the idea of buying our own place.  We searched around and even though my preference was to stay in my home town, we found a new build (His preference…I’ve always prefered older houses), up in the valleys, that was still to be built but the plot looked amazing and the showhome was a similar style…we bought it off plan the same day and it transpired that I would need to drive in order to get to work, so the driving lessons began in earnest.

And I kept saying, over and over, I was only moving again because this would be the last time I moved.  We would put our stamp on this new home and stay there. It was sizeable, bigger than we would have been able to afford down in my home town (houses in the valleys invariably are at the lower end of the house-price range), and there was a playpark, and a school nearby…we figured, not that we had set plans, but if children of our own came along, we would grow into the house and the area.

And then…one strange evening, he got a phone call in the middle of the night from a company in New Zealand asking if he’d like to come and work for them…

It wasn’t a decision we took lightly.  I mean, who gets a call like that out of  the blue from a country you’ve never been let alone ever considered living in?  It took us a while, but we thought, hey why not?  And once again…I promised my self: last-time

Of course, then there were a few address changes when we first got there. He went out first as he had to start work; I followed after I had worked my notice and packed up the house to be shipped over (since the new company had given him a relocation allowance…otherwise it’s a very expensive undertaking!  Even then, it pretty much ate up anything we had – which wasn’t much.).  They had put him up in a city waterfront apartment to begin with for his first 4 weeks, to get a foothold while he started work and had a chance to look around.  Then he found a small bedsit in the city for when I arrived.  To be honest, it was a nice little place.  Very basic, and all our own stuff was in storage.  But it was nice, kind of freeing, to be living with very few belongings for a while. But we had a container of stuff arriving, so we needed to think about renting an actual house.  So we found one.  And moved in.  And the stuff arrived. And then he heard from someone in work about other ex-pats on the same visa as us (work-to-residency) who had managed to get mortgages.  So, we found a nice place and bought again.  So we moved.  Luckily before having unpacked the boxes of stuff!

And we got a dog.  And I found out I was pregnant. And I looked out at the view from our balcony regularly and told myself, again, that this was the last time, that I would stay here and settle down…

After I had the second child, Other half was getting itchy feet again and was browsing jobs…and was really taken by an ad he’d seen for his role…but in The Bahamas.  I rolled my eyes.  Thinking it was a long shot I just nodded and said ‘go for it’ when he asked if he should apply. Not such a long shot as it turned out; he was offered the job…and after that there was very little chance of him being persuaded to turn it down. It was a 2-year contract ‘with a view to extend’.

wp_20170404_10_03_39_pro-e1491300006946.jpg

There had been a suggestion discussed that I would stay in NZ with the children and he could send money back, at least to begin with.  But I didn’t really have that much fight left in me by this point, and couldn’t see myself being here alone with children. And I asked for reassurance that there was little chance of this actually only being a 2-year contract and a high possibility that it WOULD be extended? Yes, of course!  Why would they let him go after spending all that on relocation and so on and so forth…

So, just short of 5 years after arriving in New Zealand, we all went.  We packed up…again….with another relocation allowance.  We flew to LA.  Stayed there a couple of nights to wait for the dog (She wasn’t allowed to fly Air NZ so we had to collect her off a Qantas flight at LAX). Then we used a little of the relocation allowance to take a 2-week road trip across the States from LA to Huston, from where we could get a short hopper-flight to The Bahamas with the dog in the cabin.  I’d investigated different routes and options and this seemed the best option to lessen the stress of shipping and flight-changes and different cargo handlers the dog would have to endure in order to get straight to Nassau.  Plus it gave us a bit of a holiday. And it was pretty long and involved a lot of sleeping.  And we did normal regular life things like visiting vets (The dog had 2 separate import events – NZ to USA then exported US to Bahamas as there was no direct route; so we had to get vet checks and certificates from a US vet to OK her travel to the Bahamas for them to issue an import certificate and registration…)

And then…Again, the company had secured us accommodation to begin with so we could settle in while we looked around.  Then Hubby got talking to a guy…who struck me as dodgy immediately, but he assured hubby all was above board, and we rented a rather stylish penthouse apartment from him.  At about 30% the price he’d originally been advertising it for…

…a few months later after we’d moved to an actual house in a gated community, hubby got talking to someone who had been a neighbour in the swish apartment block…turned out the building was stolen and the guy had no business renting out apartments to anyone!!

Taught me to trust my gut instincts again…

I became pregnant again.  Now, considering we’d gone 5-6 years of, well, not necessarily ‘trying’ but then, not really taking any preventative measures, before moving to NZ, and nothing happened, (well, there was that one miscarriage but let’s not get into that), before no1 came along we’d kind of resigned to the fact that they never were.  And now, here was the third… Maybe it was the environments we were living in? The local foods?  And so, no3 was born in The Bahamas.

And then…his contract wasn’t extended.  There had been a general election while we were there.  The opposition got in, and immediately started making changes, as new governments are wont to do.  One of their policies was to strengthen the ‘jobs for Bahamians’ policies.  So, although it was nigh-on impossible for a foreigner to get a work-permit for Bahamas (I was allowed to live there as a spouse of a worker but only on a non-working resident visa), in cases where technical specialists, or highly skilled workers were required, then exceptions were made.  Now, it was even harder for those exceptions to get passed.  The company CEO was a Canadian.  His 2-year visa was up 6 months before hubby’s.  The company were having so much trouble trying to get a visa for their C.E.O that they took one look at hubby and thought they couldn’t even be bothered trying to apply for his…and so, we were off again.  Except, not sure where to…

Hubby had been chatting to an engineer on the other end of his cable network…in Miami, Florida.  He was invited to interview, and was given reason to believe a job was being offered to him.  He was emailed advice on which US visa to apply for and so on and so forth (they were very careful about the wordings of their emails and contacts…) and we started looking for homes and schools and details on living in Florida… and two weeks before we were due to go over; the company in Miami turned around and said, in basic terms: ‘actually, we’re not offering you a job…’.

So, we ditched the US visa application.  (We were going to get it anyway having already paid the non-refundable application fee; y’know, just in case it came in handy coz one of us was going to need a job before long and it couldn’t hurt to have it; but when we went in for our appointment, the snooty, self-important embassy staff were so rude and condescending – our photos were the wrong colour or the wording of something was wrong – I just took one look at hubby, and having had far too much stress and experiences of international visa applications and jumping through other people’s hoops over the years, I said, “let’s go, I can’t be bothered with this, we don’t need it.” and walked out, leaving a stunned desk clerk.  As though she’d not witnessed anyone turning down a US visa before?! Come to think of it, she probably hadn’t…coz everyone’s desperate to be American, right?)

We couldn’t go back the NZ because we’d left just shy of being able to convert our ‘returning resident’ visas into ‘permanent resident’ visas.  (The children were born as UK citizens as we weren’t ‘returning or permanent residents’ when they were born so didn’t qualify to be Kiwi…more money we didn’t have being poured away trying to get NZ birth certificates to get UK passports to get NZ visas put in them…Oh, and they charge you more for a UK passport if you’re not in the UK applying for them.)

There was nothing for it than to return to the UK.  Although with nowhere to live (having sold up and emigrated…remember?!) we were at the mercy of family and friends.  Hubby cashed in some pension fund he had to see us through for the first few weeks.  We lived in his mum’s 1 bedroom flat with her for a short while. We moved in with my mum for a short while but needed to get out.  By this time no1 was nearing 5 years of age and I’d already searched info and found that legally in the UK children must be enrolled in full-time education at age 5 (even though they *can* start younger in a lot of areas, it’s not compulsory until age 5.  just thought I’d clarify because a friend was adamant that because her daughter had started school age 3 that it was compulsory.  It’s not.)

So, we rented a house from a friend of a friend, and I found the nearest Welsh-medium primary school and no1 & no2 started there.  Mainly because, despite moving school countless times myself, growing up, I went through school in Welsh and this is what I know.  So I was more comfortable with them having that education, knowing I could help as much as I could.  (Plus it’s giving me a LOT of practice speaking Welsh!).  In fact, had we stayed in NZ and they’re grown up there, that would have been my one regret, that they couldn’t have a Welsh educational background.

Speaking of moving schools; now that they’re there (no3 started there in January too) I am ADAMANT that they will not change schools.  Of all the memories of my childhood, good and bad, one of the experiences I hate the most is being made to change schools. Multiple times.  I refuse to subject my own children to that.  So for now, at least, while they’re in school, we will stay in the same area. Having said that….we’re now on our 3rd rented property in the same area since we were moved on from mum’s.

Although we’d eventually like to buy this one, and stay for ever (so much so that I’ve started tending the garden with a vigour for gardening I’ve not had since that first new-build we bought over in the other valley…purely because I haven’t felt like investing the time and hard work in the other places thinking I wouldn’t be around long enough to reap the benefits) … we (as in hubby & I) have said that before…and for various reasons we’ve had to move on.  And I’m losing more of my resolve to put up a fight each and every time.

What would be REALLY nice, though, is if the universe & its powers-that-be, can agree with me, and realise that 27 really is a good number to finish on.  So, Stop now.  Let me be settled.

x

Posted in Creative, Family, Home, Life

Seeking The Good Life

 (…or, how would we continue to live after a zombie apocalypse?)

In accordance with the parenthood-induced-paranoia of my last post, and constantly worrying about what goes into our food, I’m increasingly interested in all things related to natural, sustainable living.  My guiding principle in this endeavour being, what if the unthinkable happened (Zombie apocalypse, world-order collapse etc.) and there were NO MORE SHOPS??? (Or cars, or farms…well..ok, there might be some quite healthy farmers laughing at the rest of us but they might live too far away from home to be able to pop over – without a car – for an egg and a side of beef…and how would we pay them?)

There was a TV show on when I was little.  Well, it was being repeated when I was little – it was produced originally before I was born.  It was called “The Good Life“.  Many readers will remember it.  For those that don’t, modern couple in Surbiton ditch their city-jobs and ‘modern life’ and decide to become self-sufficent, living off their garden and things they can make and grow and produce themselves. (My sister lives there, in Surbiton, now…can’t see her living like that though…)

Today, I planted a cherry tree and an apple tree in my front garden.  I also did a bit more weeding and planting in the flower bed just outside the back door.  It’s tough going – it’s been left wild for seemingly years to what used to be a flower bed was solid grass and dandelions before I began.

I planted some strawberries in tubs.  Time will tell but last time I tried strawberries they were rescued from B&Q for 50p per plant at the end of the season before being dumped by them.  By the following year I had a bumper crop.  It may have had something to do with the copious amounts of Miracle-Gro I was using.  Still, it gave me the confidence that I could actually produce something.  Then we moved.  And moved again…and again… (Again, another post…) and so the effort I had put in to that garden has never really come back to me.  Until recently when we moved again and this house, well, this one seems right…

I’d prefer to be doing this chemical free.  Of course.  I do not use weed-killers. of any kind.  I believe the safest and most effective way of removing weeds is..well..to remove them.  Dig up the roots and all and get rid of the whole thing completely,  And no poisons left behind to seep to your other plants.  I’m not much of a scientific gardeer; following rules and testing soil samples and paying attention to acidity levels and all that.  So far I’ve just been a fair-weather plant-it-and-see kind of gardener.  learning by trial and error and giving a bit of care and attention. Because I haven’t had to rely on the results…

Where did it start?:
It’s not a new interest of mine.  I grew up, as I’m sure many of us millennials did, with a grampy & great-grampy whose gardens were mostly given over to cultivating their own foodstuffs for the family.  Vines of beans and peas, greenhouses full of weird and wonderful scents and sights; and the weekly bribe of “ah, but they’re from grampy’s garden” over Sunday lunch to guilt us in to eating our veg.  (It always worked and I’ve been a keep veg&fruit eater since). It’s always been obvious to me that it’s perfectly natural that part of your garden is used for growing food.  In fact, I watch some of the more recent crop of ‘reality’ shows on TV, teaching people how to save money on their groceries, or eat a healthier diet, or a combination of the two, healthier cheaper supermarket shopping, and am at a loss to understand the pre-made roast potatoes and Yorkshire  puddings and the pre-grated cheese; the sauces-from-jars-or-packets and every other over-processed convenience food; the throwing away of the ridiculous over-stocks of fresh foods when it was clear they’d bought too much for them to consume within the time-frame of freshness…and I wonder whether these people are real…was there no hint during their childhood of what was in their food?  Did their mothers and grandmothers not involve them in the cooking & baking (and the washing up)?  Didn’t they pick their own peas from great-grampy’s garden and eat them fresh straight from the pod before even going inside?  Did they honestly think the only way to get lasagne was to buy it ready-prepared in the freezer section?

To me, having the space, even a small patch, in a garden, at your home, to grow at least something edible, is a normal part of life.

The Duck Collection:
We have a duck collection. (Rubber ducks, I might add). I think it would take a whole other post to explain the background to it; but suffice to say, it’s now the theme of our bathroom.

1209344_10151869944234813_1966175857_n
( just *some* of the duck collection & theme, in our old bathroom)

Since that began, it’s always been at the back of my mind that I’d like to own ducks. Real ones, I mean.  As pets/domestic animals, partly, and partly to provide a fresh supply of eggs (and general amusement).  Actually, I say since then, I actually mean, since there was a 4-legged duck born in the UK, randomly, who became famous and made the news.  I looked him up on the internet (in it’s early days back then I suppose) and discovered that the farm where he was born also supplied ducks.  And they weren’t overly expensive either. And the seed was sewn…if they were that easy to get hold of, how difficult is it to look after them…? So I’ve been researching and procrastinating ever since.  About 10-12 years now.  I’m pretty sure it might happen one day.  I have an aunt who has chickens.  And I’ve learned that ducks not only produce nicer/more nutritious eggs than chickens but they’re also calmer and quieter in general.  I’m sure the neighbours would prefer ducks.   Various moves and living situations and so on have thus far prevented the very thought; but in keeping with the spirit of this post, Ducks for eggs (and eventually meat, maybe?) would be another addition to my Good Life garden.

stumpy bby
Stumpy the 4 legged duck as a chick…
grownstumpy
Stumpy grown up, with 3 legs after an amputation.

And another thing…
It’s always bugged me…well, since I’ve been trying to research stuff on the internet, it’s bugged me…that when you look up an instructional for something; say, how to make a home-made hair-conditioning or face-mask from scratch using household ingredients; invariably, it involves getting some exotic essential oil from your nearest branch of *insert name of US niche chain store here*.  Another example – I recently began working as a costumed medieval tour guide and so researching history has become more than a hobby, and actually sort of work-related.  So looking up ways to make certain things the old-fashioned way came in to play – cheese, butter (I play a dairy maid 😉 ); bread, wine, herbal medicines and so on. We have an apothecary nun who grows all kinds of things so learning what certain native British plants used to be used for is interesting. It annoyed me that everything online, suggesting how to ‘make this yourself at home without buying shop-bought stuff with preservatives and additives in’ STILL included having to ‘go and get something from the bakery aisle of your local supermarket ‘ …
Take Yeast for example. I looked up how to make simple, basic, home made bread.  Invariably “get some dried yeast from the supermarket” was always one of the steps.  With a little more digging I found that with a little starter yeast it’s easy to produce more; a bit like when I make home-made yoghurt with my Easiyo yoghurt maker, without the use of their pre-packed sachets, using UHT or pre-heated milk and some starter yoghurt.

But in a bit like ‘the chicken and the egg’ – where did the FIRST sample of starter yeast and starter yoghurt come from?  What happens if you run out inadvertantly?  Does the medieval village baker close down and wait for the next trader from the holy-lands to wander through the village and hope he’s carrying a sample of yeast?  How do you explain that to his Lordship and hope his lack of Pain-de-Main doesn’t cause him to close down your oven and chop your hands off? How do I get some starter yoghurt if I’ve run out (alright I had an unplanned house party, made a mint-yoghurt dip and a lamb curry with my yoghurt and forgot to save some for the next batch…). Now, the fermentation of milk into yoghurt & cheese was discovered by accident in the middle-east thousands of years before (or holy-lands I suppose as they were better known at the time). Fresh milk for drinking would be stored in a drinks container made from a sheep or camel stomach or intestines, for example, and after a few days riding across the hot desert, they’d find the milk, well, not quite as it should be.  It wasn’t just soured and gone off; but had been preserved in some kind of slightly solid and quite tasty substance.  Rennet has been used in cheese & yoghurt making ever since. There are alternatives such as certain vegetables that produce a coagulating substance

Now, with a little more digging I’ve discovered that it’s possible to recreate the yoghurting (is that a word or did I just invent it?) process without a starter, or the rennet, believe it or not.  There’s a few web posts dedicated to it.  I haven’t tried it yet but am anxious to try…y’know, so I know I can make yoghurt & cheese after the apocalypse…

Apart from some sources I’ve found mentioning that a bread starter can be made using just water and flour, I have discovered that yeast is a natural substance that grows on the outside of various fruits.  Raisins are good apparently.  It (basically – look up more in depth instructions if you want to try this...) involves soaking the fruit (I used raisins and orange peel) in water and leaving it to ferment.  Eventually, a film of solid…well…mush, separates from the fruit and sinks to the bottom. After a few days, remove the fruit and save the yeast and the water it’s contained in.   Now, I *have* tried this….I think it was successful (it certainly *smelled* a bit yeasty…well, like a brewery so I think that was close enough 😉 ) but I’ve yet to test it in the making of bread.  Well, I tried, but it was after moving house meaning the jar had not been refrigerated constantly (it was kept at room temp during the move while the fridge was unplugged, moved, settled and then plugged back in) and also, I think I may have stored it too long…and I dind’t exactly follow instructions to the letter, so it didn’t seem to have much of a reaction to warmth and the ‘bread’ was a bit, well, like a brick!  I am determined to try again, properly. Y’know, so I know I can still  make bread (if I figure out how to grow a good yield of grains in my garden) after the apocalypse.

So, once I’ve got the gardens cultivated and growing (also, without relying on buying Miracle-Gro from the shops that may not exist after the mentioned apocalypse!) settled the ducks in (and maybe a pygmy goat or two) and have figured out the yoghurt and yeast thing, we might be pretty well off!Oh, and I’ve even looked into which plants make a good soap-like substance 😉

Anything else I’ve forgotten?

*Disclaimer* Nothing in this post is meant as an instructional of any kind.  If you decide to have a go at the things I’ve described, please look elsewhere for full instructions and don’t hold me responsible 😉 !!
Posted in Family, History, Life, Social Media

Understanding

I’ve been averse to posting anything remotely political for a while.  Who wouldn’t? Unless they want an e-argument.  Which is invariably what they get.

On both sides of the Atlantic, landmark, unprecendented decisions have been made by the voting public (and in all cases one ponders on how much of a difference the non-voting public might have made to the very close outcomes…).

I’m pretty sure of my choice in both votes – one I could vote in and one I couldn’t.  My stance has never waivered, and even when trying to educate myself more to try and understand, what I’ve seen, learned, read, understood, has only strengthened my original instinct.

However, to even think of bringing up the subject, to give my opinion or to ask for others, is an idea that borders on insanity…I face getting derided, called names (many of which I had to look up the meaning of and I’d definitely disagree with their application to me) or have ‘facts’ and ‘links’ thrown in my face and when the same is used to respond they are ignored.

What never seems to happen is a conversation where someone on, say, Side ‘Apple’, asks simple questions in an effort to understand, and someone on Side ‘Orange’ responds, politely, clearly, consisely, and explains in simple terms *their* understanding of their side and their beliefs and why they voted for Oranges; followed by a simple question as to why the other person voted for Apples, before being given the same response.

helpme

What invariably happens, is BIG numbers and BIG claims are practically thrown in the faces of the oponents; along with derisive comments and petty, childish name-calling.  Links to websites supporting their view (because, of course, it’s written by someone who holds the same view, and pretty much anyone can write anything they want on a website that they can make look as official as they like these days…) .

Invariably (I know, because I do this too…), people of opposing views automatically raise their defenses when a post/comment is clear to be a political statement supporting ‘the other side’ and so people attack. What I’m trying to learn to do is a) ignore, walk away completely. Sometimes I fail at that and what I’m doing more often, instead of diving in straight away with a rude, obnoxious, defensive response, is b)not responding straight away, but rereading the ‘offending’ post in an effort to understand before politely formulating a reasoned reply.  Although, it rarely, if ever, has the effect I hope it will. But then, the original post I’m responding to was posted probably in the hope of persuading the opposition, but doesn’t end up having that effect either.

alberteinstein1

So it’s almost impossible to ask simple question like “Please help me understand” and get straight, kind, helpful answers. Even when you do indicate some article or site or research to support your view, there is an argument ‘they’ can thrown back at you.

And so…here is where I jump from the neutral fence above…

Case in point… I’ve lived all over the world.  Going into a general store or supermarket is a very different experience in different countries. It’s very very obvious, to anyone, even if you’ve only ever been abroad to go on holiday to the Med and tried to buy a bag of crisps and a drink in Spain, that different brands take pride of place on shelves, different emphasis is put on the freshness of fruit, veg, bread (equally, how much ‘fresh’ produce is available compared to packaged, processed stuff on shelves; differs globally).

I emigrated from the UK to New Zealand – plentiful fresh produce, fruit, veg, seafood, outdoorsy life, abounded. After a few years, regretably, we moved from there to The Bahamas (via an extended USA roadtrip).  The Bahamas main source of income is offshore financial services (ironically, dealing with banks there as a regular customer who’s not investing billions in them is a nightmare…but that’s another post), and Tourism.  They don’t produce much.  Not like the old days of cotton and sugar plantations. There’s fresh seafood, available from the quayside daily if you know where to go. Apart from that, everything’s imported from the USA. Very little is fresh; and what is fresh, seems too large and shiny and unblemished to be ‘real’ (i.e. grown using every genetic modification and chemical pesticide and ‘plant food’ available, in order to make them bigger, more attractive, last longer?).  We almost moved to the USA after the Bahamas.  My main worry was, being a parent by this time, to children born in New Zealand and therefore began with clean, helthy lifestyle and organic, natural diets; what choices would I have, if buying from regular USA outlets…conglomorate supermarkets force-feeding all that pre-packaged marketing to the children?  They’d be starting school…they’d be fed goodness-knows what ingredients in school lunches or be asking for peer-pressure frankenfoods in bright, character-endorsed individual wrappers for their lunchboxes? I began to research organic farmers markets available in the region we could possibly live in; and mass-produced “foods” in general consumed in the USA.  I came across research regarding ‘foods’ that were approved by the FDA but that were banned elsewhere.  (FDA, Food & Drug Administration, is US equivalent to Food Standards Agency) I was suddenly scared of the US food chain and feared that no matter what I did to avoid introducing certin things to our family diet, we’d end up being exposed to it anyway. (I say ‘suddenly’, although I’d already suspected from years and years of watching America and having traveled there and elsewhere extensively, that their idea of ‘food’ was a little less stringent than the rest of us.  In 1999 I was a Summer Camp Counselor and discovered…squirty cheese in can!!!!).  If it was just me, I would be more adventurous, but since having my own children, I worry more.  I worry on all sides. I worry I am inadvertantly causing them harm, risking losing them to some form of cancer from carcinogens; or in and even longer term, risking causing infertility, low sperm counts, killing off my family line in generations to come from tiny, undetecable changes we have inadvertantly ingested generations before. I could go on but then we’d be delving into the realm of crazy conspiracy-theorists predicting population control by genetics…but such is the crazy and worrysome nature of a caring parent…

OK so we already risked that given that most of what we were eating in the Bahamas was brought in from the USA anyway, but it certainly made moving to the USA the least enticing option – quite scary in fact.  I was very glad to end up coming back to the UK, given that all I’d read against the FDA’s choices had shown me that EU regulators and scientists seemed to be on the right track.  However, to put that link to articles about the FDA approved banned foods into an argument with anyone about how I wouldn’t really want to be trading foodstuffs with the USA because I wouldn’t want anything they’re selling; the opposing side could now argue that one of the most recognisable articles on that list is from ABC news … now deemed by the US President to be a pruveyor of Fake News‘.

And now look where we are…There’s still things I don’t understand, but to bring them up with someone who voted opposite me simply results in derision and dissmissiveness.

I still don’t understand how trade deals with ‘other countries’ outside the EU are any better than trading in the EU…the USA, for example – there’s nothing they could sell us that I can see myself wanting to buy/be available over here…lower food-standards in food production so less desirable, less healthy produce?  More McDonalds & Starbucks?  More branding and marketing?  (I already know people who aren’t aware that many many fairytales and myths and ledgends were actually written centuries ago and existed in a far purer form before Disney got his hands on them…); I don’t understand how a trade-deal with the US can be anything like as beneficial for us as it would be for them.

I don’t understand how trading with countries further away than the European nations right next to us can be beneficial, if we want to purchase foods & goods that can’t be produced here (and lets face it, most of what we actally need, can be…otherwise how did we survive before imports?), why would we choose ones with a higher carbon footprint…import them from further away and increase the need for shipping, cargo flights.  But, in answering my own question, that argument can’t be used in a trade-deal with Trump, right?  Because a carbon-footprint would be a non-entity in that particular deal

I don’t understand how ‘sovereignty’ is an argument – The British Empire wasn’t built by the Britain we are now, in the world in which we now live in.  The British Empire, like Empires before it thoughout history, was built by being a stronger nation with a bigger army and more money and resources and being better educated, taking over by persuasion or else by force, empty lands or smaller, less advanced nations who put up little fight. As soon as those nations (now known as the Commonwealth) could fend for themselves and stand on their own feet, they more often than not chose self-rule and/or fought back against being ruled by Britain.

And I don’t understand the arguments I’ve heard about immigrants – not being part of the EU won’t stop Illegal Immigrants…they are, by their definitiaion, ILLEGAL.  Most of the arguments I’ve heard against immigrants come from regions where the only immigrants encountered are running the corner shop, or the takeaway, or the cleaning company (running useful services that are kept in business by a greatful community?)   I briefly compared a map of diversity in the UK and a map of how areas voted in the EU referendum and it seemed to me to indicate that regions who *don’t* feel threatened by immigrants are the most multi-cultural (case in point…London with all her diversity, supports immigration…countrified regions where there is little diversity in ethnicity, would prefer more restrictions on immigration?).

I don’t understand how EVERYONE who disagrees with either Brexit or Trump are ‘Left’ ‘Liberal’ ‘Snowflakes’ … I can’t see how I’d be ‘on the left’ of anything, when I’ve always been quite open-minded and not really political anyway, but might be branded as such for voting leave or disliking Trump. However, as a ‘lefty’, would I not be then opposed to all things monarchy?  Including however many k per day they cost or how much ‘we’ are giving them to fix ‘their house’… it seems fairly obvious to me that yes, they bring in a lot of tourism and are a unique symbol of Britishness; and while on the subject of the monarchy…and I’d much prefer to people-watch the members of the Royal family who actually have some claim to it, than the likes of the Kardashians and others…

I don’t understand how people moan about how much money is ‘given’ to the monarchy for maintenance of Buckingham Palace, for example…that money doesn’t suddenly ‘disappear’…  It will be PAID to workers and tradesmen and suppliers, who will then in turn go home and use it to feed and clothe and house and maybe even treat their families and therefore pump the wages they’ve earned back in to the same economy, paying the wages of Supermarket checkout people, farmers, clothing suppliers, house builders, paying their council taxes and for trips to seaside resorts like Margate and Blackpool, or to holiday firms paying pilots and cabin crew and airport workers to take them to a holiday destination.

There are quite a few other things I don’t understand, even after experiencing so much of life and traveling so far; but I think I’ve gone on long enough!

kind1

I didn’t write this to get responses.  I didn’t write this to get into arguments over points.  The votes have been cast and acted upon so there’s little point really; I just don’t understand why Discussion doesn’t exist anymore, nor does helping someone to understand, and that everything has to end up in forceful debate and downright arguments, and rude name calling.

Now, it’s pouring with rain today.  I love the rain. I can hear a bird singing in the garden. I might just end up outside raking my garden ready for my new veggie patch…

Enjoy the world, everyone; and be kind to each other xxx

kind2

 

Posted in Acting, Filmmaking, TV, writing

It’s My Shout

Last summer I was fortunate to be involved in the “It’s My Shout” short-film training scheme.

It’s South-Wales based (although I think participants travel from elsewhere too). Industry profiessionals (crews who work on local productions for BBC and others, such as Casualty & Welsh-language soap opera Pobl Y Cwm ) take on trainee crews and even cast, to produce short films, derived from a short-film writing competition ealier in the year.

The first I’d heard of it was seeing a friend on Facebook congratulating a friend of his for making the script shortlist; followed by another friend & fellow actor asking if I’d like to go along with her to the introduction and registration evening being held locally.  After attending that and registering, we went along to a casting session. I read for two parts.  They were talking abotu a third I quite fancied but they didn’t seem to be casting for.  Of the two I read for, I preferred one.  After a few weeks, I got a call back….for the other one I hadn’t preferred! I went down to BBC Roath Lock Studios in Cardiff and met again with the director of the second audition. In the meantime, I’d had a call from the production office asking if I’d take on a completely different role I hadn’t read for!

As it turned out I didn’t get the other role I was called back for, nor the other role I read for.  Chatting to a fellow cast member, someone lined up for the role I’d been cast in, had been asked to play the other role (lost track yet?!)…the one I had been interested in at the open casting but they weren’t getting people to read for that role…

Anyway…fast-forward a few months and the award ceremony (a rather grand affair at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff Bay); I was nominated for Best Supporting Actress!  Considering I hadn’t even gone for the part initially I was chuffed to pieces (after getting over the shock!).  I scribbled a few notes in my head – just in case of winning, you know; but…this was a comedy role.  We all know that comedies never win the awards, right?  It’s the hard-hitting dramatic roles that win gongs…

It was a tough category…where every other category had been whittled down to 5 nominees (one even had 4…I think they had been struggling to find nominees for that one?); there were 8 nominees in my category. From a series of 9 films. If I didn’t stand a chance before, that was just the nail in the coffin now.  I almost stayed in my seat and didn’t bother to go to the nominees seating area closer to the stage; I was that convinced it would go to someone else.

Have you ever experienced something so shocking that everything seems to come to a standstill? And yet…when they called out my name, I wasn’t frozen to the spot…but my reactions felt mechanical…going through the motions. My mind was pretty numb, I guess my face was kind of stuck in a shocked expression, I managed to go through the motions of getting up, glancing around to acknowledge any faces I recognised, find my way to the side of the stage in the dark, and graciously thank (I hope!) the presenters of my award.  I think I even managed to say something legible that didn’t sound like a) a jumbled pile of garbage or b) a complete shocked silent stare; and then pose for a relatively nice picture with the presenters backstage.

ims1

It’s my Shout scheme 2017 is open for 10-minute screenplay submissions until April 14th 2017, and potential Cast & Crew trainees can register interest now via the “Get Involved” section of the It’s My Shout Website, and follow their Facebook page for updates on registration sessions across South Wales and later on, open casting calls.

 

Posted in Art, Creative, Social Media, writing

Breaking Blogging rules

I don’t know where I got these from but for some reason I recall blogging rules like:

  • Always include graphics/pictures
  • Insert hyperlinks, at least 3 of them
  • people love lists and bullet points (see what I did here?!)
  • Blog about a specific subject or theme…

I tried to look up a definitive guide just now.  Guess what?  There isn’t one.  There are, however, plenty of other bloggers blogging about how to blog. I searched ‘Simple rules of bogging’ and the first search page came up with various random blog posts entitled things like:

…I could go on… but there’s nothing stopping you searching for yourself.  And there’s obviously nothing stopping anyone from trying to offer advice to others how to write their online diary.  Which is pretty much what I use this one for.  In a slightly more anonymous way than I’d be writing in a single copy handwritten paper journal hidden in a locked-box under my bed (which I don’t, by the way, if you’re ever in my bedroom.  I move house too often to merit carrying dusty old notebooks around. Actually, I do carry dusty old notebooks around…the world…but I’m trying to limit them.  Which is why this is my version of an online diary.  Anonymously. Sort of.)

Anyhow, despite trying to stick to using pictures and hyperlinks and (trying but failing to) writing almost regularly, I’ve completely and totally failed at the one that comes up more often than not…”Pick a theme.  Don’t fire in all directions. Follow a niche…”.  Huh. Yeh.  So far I’ve done family stuff, musing, acting, history, poetry, personal history, movies, TV shows, nail art… So I’m totally failing on picking a direction and sticking with it.

WP_20170315_001
Welsh Cakes & ANZAC cookies I made

But I’m ok with that.  I don’t expect anyone to follow me.  I’m not looking to sell advertising or become a household name from writing a blog about how fab my chocolate brownies, Welsh cakes and ANZAC biscuits are; nor am I expert enough to carry on telling people how to go camping.   I have won an award for my acting (have I mentioned that before?) but even so I wouldn’t purport to tell people how to act (If they ask for help I will, that’s different…) because I’m not the presumptuous to try to pass myself off as more of an expert than anyone else who might end up reading this blog…which, let’s face it, could be just about anyone – some Hollywood star or director even? Maybe? (in which case, cast me in your next movie, eh? thanks…) no?  Okay…

So I dug a little further and found this post on breaking blogging rules.  And I think I’ll stick with this viewpoint for now.  To be honest, I prefer blogs that keep me guessing and wondering what the blogger will say next…kind of keeps life interesting, don’t you think?

Posted in Art, Creative, Life, Social Media, writing

Ctrl-ALT-Delete…NOT!

When I began this blog I promised myself it was going to be my gateway. My gateway into writing every day. After the whole discovery of the ‘Morning pages‘ idea, I figured that if I could use this blog to shake off the shackles of everything else, then some days, maybe even most days, I might carry on writing and get something done.  Maybe (probably) not every day, but writing a blog entry every day would at least keep the juices flowing.

And, of course, ‘real life’ got in the way…as it has done with everything else, all the time. But thanks to a new follower on this blog, and the fact that someone else I recently worked with read and watched a monolgoue I wrote & recorded as part of a class I was doing and told me she’d love to see that extended and turned in to a play, I have started doing just that; editing the monologue and converting it into a play; and promising myself to blog -and generally write- more.

millennials_1

Now, in the past, I might have…well, no, I WOULD have…deleted this blog and started all over again; maybe saving and reposting some of the entries under edited titles and updated.  I was contemplating how some people can blog on one single subject their whole blogging career – there’s those who blog on technology, business, fashion, makeup, movies, gaming…But having begun this blog mainly for my own posterity, I love the freedom of writing about…writing.

While showering this evening (why not…it’s Mothers’ Day, after all 😉 ) I realised that maybe that’s a problem with us “Millennials” (And before you ask, I can *only just* count myself in that particular age-group under *some* of the many definitions).  Basically, the last generation who will remember a life pre-internet and smartphones and the first generation to become truly integrated with said technology, learning it in school, applying it to everyday life and teaching it to our elders, whilst at the same time bemoaning our children don’t appreciate ‘the old days’.

636018194384422244-709906410_mmmmmmmmmm

Not only are we are SO glad that those misdemeanours and mistakes and foolishness of our youth are not recorded for all eternity on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook (unless ones’ mother learns to scan and upload photos of you as a child…but that’s another post…;) ), we can control what others see about us ; we can delete anything we want to, that we’ve written, created, no longer agree with, no longer see as relevant, at the touch of a button.  And really, for me to do that with this blog, goes against the very sentiment I wrote about in my first post. It would be like someone keeping a real, pen-and-paper journal for 60-odd years and then tossing them on the fire with no-one ever having read them.

Posted in Art, Creative, Family, writing

500 Words

BBC Radio 2 is running their short-story writing competition for children again.  “500 Words” is open for children aged between 5 & 13 to write a short story, about anything they like, up to 500 words long.  Simples.

child-writer

Why wasn’t this around when I was little?  Then again, why wasn’t the whole internet around when I was little? It seemed…no, it was…so much harder to find information back then.  There are so many opportunities these days for anyone; without having to go searching or subscribing to magazines or waiting for the school to subscribe to something and submit you. internet

I remember subscribing to “Writer’s News” and searching avidly through the pages for any hint of writing competitions/  I can remember sitting for hours in a dark corner of the library having discovered Spotlight (the directory of professional actors) and dreaming of one day being listed in there.  (It’s now online and a lot of aspiring actors don’t even know that it was once a thick reference catalogue).

There is a lot of dross out there on the internet, of course, but there are so many opportunities and yes, ease of access to all of these opportunities does mean heightened competition; so if winning were down to chance alone, the odds are further against you.  However, with luck, talent will shine through just enough to make it past each judging stage and may just get some recognition.

So, point in favour of T’internet.  Just don’t read the comments…

comments

I’ve just submitted #2’s story, written last year after last year’s competition had ended; and they’ve issued a certificate of participation already. I’m pleasantly surprised to say that it doesn’t seem petty or condescending at all.  It’s not overly sentimental.  It simply certifies that #2 named on the downloadable PDF certificate is “an official storywriter for 500 words 2017”.

snoopy

I’m quite proud of #2 to be honest.  No help required in foremulating the story; bar from me asking “so, what happened next?” at certain points to prompt the continuation of the story.  Then we sat together and typed it out and read it back to each other so it made some kind of sense.

However, point #2 in favour of the internet (supported by the amount of homework they are sent home with which requires ‘logging on to xxx app we’ve been using in class and completing the tasks/games/assignments); even if it were not so easy to create a story from scratch, there are plentiful online resources, for child and adult writers alike; with prompts and advice; like this one for example.

I’ve taken the tribe to the library a couple of times.  And they love books and stories and so on.  But I’m suddenly feeling a nostalgia for dusty old reference libraries; but more importantly, the effort it took to actually find a piece of information.  Sometimes, it seems to easy just to have it at your fingertips, like we’re somehow cheating.

Enough of my musing for now – good luck to any and all participants in this year’s 500 words. I’m still slightly miffed that I don’t remember it being this easy when I was younger!