Pain

 

We have all felt pain at some point in our lives, whether it be physical or emotional or psychological.

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Last night, we had to go to A & E with a family member as she had such bad pains in her chest, she thought it was how a heart attack felt (she is 19 years old) – she is fine by the way; nothing found, heart is healthy; unexplained.

She was asked by various medical practitioners throughout the evening, “On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most painful, where would you say your pain is?” She said 7 – which surprised me.
Why did it surprise me?

It got me thinking about how we measure pain, who is to say my pain is worse than yours? On a scale of 1 to 10, to me 7 is really high.

The word pain, comes from 11th century French peine “difficulty, woe, suffering, punishment, which in turn came from Latin poena “punishment, penalty, retribution. The earliest sense in English survives in phrase on pain of death.

We can also be a pain to another person by being annoying and/or irritating. Take pains to do something means taking great care. Plato and Aristotle, considered pain to not be a sensory experience, but an emotional one. So if the heart experienced pain, it was from an external source – anyone who has had their heart ‘broken’ in love might relate with this idea.

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I have never broken a bone (touch wood -we’ll do superstitions another time!), but I have dislocated a toe – kicking someone – no, I am not a hooligan, I was training in Tae Kwon Do and didn’t pull my toes back! I have cut myself on numerous occasions, I have stubbed my toe many times, I have stabbed myself with a chisel – I studied sculpture at Art college – I have torn ligaments, damaged both Achilles tendons, twisted a joint, fallen down stairs,suffer from migraines, have osteoarthritis and have given birth -once – once is enough!!

So, you see I am no stranger to pain – physical pain. I have been dumped by a boyfriend and had depression in late teen to early twenties, but what’s the worst pain I have ever felt? Besides giving birth, (definitely a 10!) it was a pain that Aristotle would say came from outside my body:

On a family and friends holiday in Cornwall 15 years ago, on a beach. Me and my friend ‘K’ and our girls; one each, were building a sandcastle. K’s daughter was 5 years old, mine 3. In the blink of an eye, my daughter was suddenly not there. We called and searched the immediate vicinity – a crowded beach filled with bathers, children, pod-tents, beach toys, surfers, rock-pools, caves, you get the picture. My husband and male friend ‘P’ had gone for a walk along the beach to investigate caves. K’s daughter stayed at ‘base camp’, keeping a lookout, I ran along the shoreline, K searched the rock-pools! The ensuing panic was horrendous, my chest was tight, I was crying in gulps and almost choking – I understood the phrase ‘heart in her mouth’ and grasped my chest in pain, it felt like my heart was literally in my throat and I was going to die from emotional pain. I ran along the beach yelling at the top of my lungs for my husband and P; they joined the hunt. This went on for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably closer to twenty minutes.

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Eventually we found her, less than fifteen feet from the sandcastle, crouched behind someone’s pod-tent digging away, oblivious to the activity and the search and our calls. You can imagine the relief; my body shook with it.

So on a scale of 1 to 10, how much pain was I in? Well, it cannot really be compared to the pain I experienced giving birth to same child, but I would still say a 10 – maybe 11 – because I’m dramatic. I cry when I see starving, dying or abused children on TV, I actually feel a pain in my chest – btw, it gets worse when you become a mother!!

People feel pains at different levels, we have thresholds, and some have a higher threshold than others – it does not mean that their pain is not real, or painful. Your pain is yours, and no-one can tell how much it hurts. Is a broken leg more or less painful than a broken heart? Who knows, but one things certain, you know you’re alive when you feel it!

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http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=pain

http://www.internationalreporting.org/pain/history-of-pain/

 

Desert Island Flicks

Desert Island Discs is a British radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It was first broadcast in 1942. The concept is, that each week a guest; someone famous or is a person of note, called a ‘castaway’ during the programme, is asked to choose eight recordings (usually, but not always, music), a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, whilst discussing their lives and the reasons for their choices.

I decided to run my own ‘Desert Island’, but with movies.

As an avid film viewer, I have found this quite a challenge. I have seen plenty of movies that I really liked, but would I want to be stranded on a Desert Island to watch them over and over again? Which films bear repeated viewing? Which films have enough content, appeal or personal resonance that one could stand to watch over and over again?

I am sure that should I return to this in, say a year, I would alter my selection somewhat, but for today, these are my eight ‘recordings’:-

  1. The Good The Bad and The Ugly
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Hey Blondie!

Stars: Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach.

Director: Sergio Leone.

Genre: Spaghetti Western (so called because this genre of Westerns was produced by Italians).

Released: 1966.

Why watch it: Fantastic film shots of landscapes and close ups; especially in the final showdown. Terrific action and storyline – 3 gunslingers are after buried gold. Fortune swings back and forth between the characters, when one has the upper hand, he makes sure he gets the most out of the other one. The soundtrack is brilliant too, I always ‘sing’ along!!

Favourite line: “Who the hell is that? One bastard goes in, and another comes out.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09-GbpOd9T4

 

  1. Amelie (aka; The Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain)
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Amelie’s discovery is a life-changing moment

Stars: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz,

Director: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Released: 2001

Why watch it: Romance without the ‘yuck!’ factor. Whimsical, delightful, extremely touching in parts. The way Amelie takes ‘revenge’ on unpleasant people. And the music; it still stirs my emotions. Keep an eye on the garden gnome!

Favourite line: “Narrator: Amélie still seeks solitude. She amuses herself with silly questions about the world below, such as “How many people are having an orgasm right now?”[scenes of various orgasms taking place] Amélie: Fifteen.”

 

  1. The Fearless Vampire Killers (Dance of The Vampires)

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Stars: Roman Polanski, Jack MacGowran, Alfie Bass,

Director: Roman Polanski

Genre: Comedy Horror

Released: 1967

Why watch it: Definitely not your usual vampire film. A truly successful blend of horror and comedy, with beautifully shot scenes. Professor Abronsius and his young assistant, Alfred, are on the hunt for vampires, across snowy landscapes ‘deep in the heart of Transylvania’ to a remote castle. The physical moments with no dialogue are beautifully choreographed.

Favourite line: “…like a little birdy alighting on a branch…then, let an angel pass. Shall we allow an angel to pass?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=you86-CKNtI

 

  1. Radio Days
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Joe’s new teacher is a delight!

Stars: Danny Aiello, Mia Farrow, Seth Green

Director: Woody Allen

Genre: Comedy

Released: 1987

Why watch it: Jewish screen family life at its best; a view of the world through a young boys eyes and the medium of radio; stories within stories and the effects on the listeners. The scene with the two burglars is brilliant.

Favourite line: “No. Have it your way. The Pacific is greater.”

 

  1. Pirates
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Head or tail? Of the rat dinner…

Stars: Walter Matthau, Cris Campion

Director: Roman Polanski

Genre: Adventure Comedy

Released: 1986

Why watch it: Polanski actually had the ship built for the movie! Matthau, I think, is at his very best in this little known/shown film. Captain Reds lust for gold knows no bounds, and the whole film is a series of ploys to get particular pieces of gold – in particular, a Spanish throne. All the characters are wonderfully portrayed, pirates, naval officers, priests – the game of ‘Dead Man’s Nag’ is both hilarious and brutal.

Favourite line: “Well Padre. I once had a mind to eat the Frog.”

 

  1. Wild at Heart

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Stars: Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe

Director: David Lynch

Genre: Thriller/Romance/Indie

Released: 1990

Why watch it: For its bizarre mixture of raging violence, dream scenes, illusions to Elvis Presley and The Wizard of Oz – true Lynchian oddness wrapped in what initially appears a ‘regular’ thriller. There are some truly disturbing characters in this film – be warned!

Favourite line: “This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nf0rKQkvh2c

 

  1. Leon
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Just keep walking, don’t look back…

Stars: Jean Reno, Natalie Portman, Gary Oldman

Director: Luc Besson

Genre: Thriller

Released: 1994

Why watch it: For one of the most beautiful relationships shown on screen. The 12 year old Mathilda finds herself in the ‘care’ of Leon, a hitman; but who is the child? This is at times, an extremely touching film, how does a man who kills for a living take care of a child? Scenes with his little potted plant reveal that Leon is not heartless, or a cold-blooded killer, there is something else in this taciturn man. Portman is absolutely excellent as Mathilda, the orphaned girl who grows up fast.

Favourite line: “The rifle is the first weapon you learn how to use, because it lets you keep your distance from the client. The closer you get to being a pro, the closer you can get to the client. The knife, for example, is the last thing you learn.”

 

  1. Spirited Away

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Stars: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

Genre: Anime fantasy

Released: 2001

Why watch it: Miyazakis’s first anime is arguably his finest. A feast for the eyes, with a beautiful plot reminiscent of a good old style fairy tale. Follow Chihiro into the magical town where spirits take baths and give gold to the greedy.

Favourite line: “There must be some mistake! None of these pigs are my parents!”

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These are all films I own on DVD, I have watched many times and will watch again. I could have chosen pretty much any Allen or Polanski film; I have been a huge fan since early teens. Same with David Lynch although I don’t fancy being stuck for too long on a desert island with some of his characters or scenes in my head!

What would you take if you could only choose 8 movies? Have you seen any of the one’s on my list?

8 Things to do in London – when you have little cash!

I’m in London, staying in the home of my sister-in-law; so free accommodation. Like many people from ‘up North’, ‘His Nibs’ and I have less money than the average Londoner; or tourist even, and so it can get rather expensive. We have done well this time, apart from one ‘extravagance’ (see #7) we have only spent money on transport and food! (Oh, and alcohol!!)

So, how can you see stuff for little or no cost? Take a look at the list of 8 attractions I recommend:

 

1.Tate Modern

Located in what was once Bankside Power Station on the south bank of the Thames, the Tate Modern is one of the city’s most loved attractions. You can enjoy the permanent collection for free – it includes works by Pollock, Warhol and Matisse.

2.National Gallery

Housing masterpieces by painters including van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci and Michelangelo, the National Gallery holds one of the world’s most important art collections. Miss the hordes by visiting on weekday mornings or Friday evenings. The permanent collections are always free.

3.Kensington Gardens

The delightful  Gardens are home to a trove of treasures, including the Albert Memorial, the Peter Pan Statue, the Serpentine Gallery, the Round Pond and the Diana Memorial Playground. All are free to admire or visit, and when you’re done with the sights, you can wander along the tree-lined paths which crisscross the whole park.

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4.Portobello Road Market

Located in the heart of charming Notting Hill, this atmospheric market sells everything from vintage clothes and sumptuous street food to antiques. It’s busiest on Saturdays, but there’s always something going on, whatever day you visit. It costs nothing to look and experience, but you might want to take some spends in case you see something interesting!

5.Buddhapadipa Temple

Surrounded by trees in over 1.5 hectares of tranquil Wimbledon land, this delightful Thai Buddhist temple actively welcomes everyone. The wat (temple) boasts a bot (consecrated chapel) decorated with traditional scenes by two leading Thai artists (take your shoes off before entering). Take bus 93 from Wimbledon tube, train or tram station. Free.

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6.Sir Richard Francis Burton Tomb

The most interesting tomb in St. Mary Magdalen’s churchyard is the mausoleum in the shape of an Arab tent where the coffins of Sir Richard Burton and his wife Isabel Arundell can be seen through a window at the back. It is to be found in the unassuming churchyard in Mortlake, South West London. Free.

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  1. Dennis Severs’ House

More than a museum, an art work, an experience, it is an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. As you follow their fortunes through the generations, the sights, smells and sounds of the house take you into their lives. This does cost £15 pp, but is well worth it.18 Folgate Street, Spitalfields is more than just a time capsule.

  1. Speaker’s Corner

Every Sunday since 1866 a range of different speakers gather at Speaker’s Corner to air their views and the tradition continues today. Speaker’s Corner is situated in the top right hand corner of Hyde Park opposite Marble Arch. Many famous figures have spoken at Speaker’s Corner including Karl Marx, Lenin, William Morris, George Orwell and Lord Soper. Free.

 

 

 

 

Writing On The Move –

Writing on the move – or NOT as the case may be!

Begun at 10:00 am Monday.

So I am writing as I go, on my phone, as I have had to read the road atlas for a bit as we took a ‘detour’; I was desperate for the loo, and then we took a wrong turn, so what should have taken an hour to get to the position we are currently at, has taken almost 4 hours. Sometimes we have reached London from Wirral in the same time!

I should have written my post this morning, but due to circumstances – travelling in car, using phone (which incidentally is rubbish , Windows, don’t buy one), I have resorted to making a word doc en route.

The occupants of the field I used were extremely curious.

Hey! we’re moving at 40 mph! Woo!

Why oh why do ‘they’ do roadwork’s when people are trying to enjoy the summer? Not only the motorway; M6, but the surrounding A roads, so can’t win either way.

Getting peckish now, its 13:50. Both of us fed up. Oh, another queue.

More delays, now junctions 15 and 16. Aarrgghh!!

I do not think I have seen so many traffic cones in all my life. That regular rolling thrumming you get in a car, a combination of engine, air blowing through the vents and tires on tarmac, becomes like an itch you can’t scratch, my ears are feeling ‘bunged up’ from air pressure and the temperature in the car is way too warm for me, but if I open the window too wide there’s lorries and wheels and noise…

To misquote Apocalypse Now, “ Stoke, shit, we’re still in Stoke.”

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After 3 hours we are nowhere near London, in fact we are further away!!

Why are there so many effing lorries on the road?! Why can’t they do deliveries at night, to releave congestion?

Where are all the service stations?! 14:05, really hungry now.

Typing on the phone is like making a humongous text, and the worst thing is, I don’t even know if I’m going to be able to post it when I arrive – internet connection and all that.

I’m reminded of when I was a little kid, my mum used to dread the holiday drive. I think I was about 3 or 4 years old and when we had been driving for what seemed like forever, I asked that question parents hate, “Are we there yet?” My mum tells me in recollections, she could have cried, we had a days drive ahead and we were at the bottom of our road!

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How most of the English countryside looked today…

Welcome Break, it is indeed. I have taken the wheel for the past 2 hours and my clunky hips and knees are burning and screaming for relief. Ahhh…

Quite a pretty spot, with a water feature, bull-rushes and a lily pond.

Most of these service places look alike, don’t know where I am.

Im riding shotgun again; His Nibs has offered to do the last leg. Hence the writing again. Don’t get me wrong, I love driving, I especially enjoy motorways; I get to pretend I’m a racing driver.

OMG! The rain! Visibility reduced on M40; on the bright side, the temperature is cooler. At this rate, we are going to hit the London rush hour, oh joy.

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The road only looks empty at this point because we were all travelling way away from each other…

Wow, it just went dark, as if someone turned the lights off, dark; quite weird. So it seems like the only way to get a clear run on the motorway, is for it to lash down, but then speed is reduced for obvious reasons.

You know when you are writing, you often have a ‘soundtrack’, or when you drive you put on some tunes? We’ll what has been todays accompaniment? Test Match Special; yes, a full day of cricket. It’s been the fourth day and England have just beaten South Africa; I also know the names if some cricketers now! Cook, Broad, Anderson, Ali, Root are who I remember off the top of my head, as we crawl along the end of the M25; yes we are back to that…ho hum.

A question: What the f*** is a ‘Smart Motorway’? That apparently is what is being constructed, hence the hold ups and queues and irate drivers and sore knees and backsides. I keep seeing notifications that they are building a ‘Smart Motorway’! (Sorry I didn’t get any pictures of the signs, but they were really boring, not very smart at all)

Will this Smart Motorway be able to take us painlessly and quickly to our destination with ease? Will it be able to recognise when a driver is tired and usher him/her to a quiet lay-by and provide a soothing cool flannel for the forehead? Will it even remove Incident signals when the aforesaid incident is long gone?! Will it do your kids homework? Or write my blog for me?!

Until the Smart Motorway can do any of this, the journey from North to South will remain a pain in the proverbial.

So….how did this get posted?

I am in London, I made a successful connection to the internet and had to e-mail everything from my phone to my laptop.

It is now 20:40.

We arrived in London at 19:00 – that is an 8 hour journey, twice as long as it should have taken.

Thanks Road Maintenance of England (or whoever you are; I DON’T CARE! JUST BUCK YOUR IDEAS UP!)

Thanks for reading guys. I’m off for a couple of glasses of red wine, Shiraz if you must know.

X

 

 

Who Wants To Save The World?

 

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NASA is hiring a Planetary Protection Officer to protect Earth from alien harm!!

Apparently, NASA is currently looking for a Planetary Protection Officer to defend planet Earth from the threat of invading alien life!! True.

This is actually real government job! But before you get all excited, here’s what it’s really about – NASA needs a scientist to help fight alien life —but it is microscopic! The Planetary Protection Officer will be in charge of keeping our space exploration equipment free of contamination; from  earth microbes and also microscopic organisms from outer space that may be attached to returning equipment.

Oh, so a ‘cleaner’ then?

It got me thinking about what use I would be in a world that REALLY needed a Planetary Protection Officer. I have been a fan of science fiction stories for as long as I can remember.

I had comics and annuals of The Fantastic Four when I was a little kid. I grew up on a diet of Star Trek and Doctor Who. I love films like Contact (Jodie Foster) and Netflix series like The Expanse. And I suppose like many of us do, I place myself in the role of one of the characters; not always the MC, main character, when watching – it’s what makes us root for them.

I never wanted to be Captain Kirk, or Lieutenant Spock, strangely, I most aligned myself with Khan Noonien Singh.  Khan was a genetically engineered human from the late 20th century. He only wanted a place of his own – he was a major player in the Eugenics Wars, tried to take over The Enterprise – but was left, stranded on a planet that was toxic, his true love died and Khan blamed Kirk for the rest of his life. I know, I know, not entirely a nice chap, but I couldn’t help feel sorry for him.

“Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish best served cold? Well…it is very cold in space!”

~ Khan to Captain Kirk


Later we had the redoubtable Captain Jean-Luc Picard and then Captain Kathryn Janeway. It took me a while to like Janeway, but when I did, I committed fully – but I never wanted to be her. I don’t think I am Captain material; even in my wildest fantasies. But was he, Khan, born bad or made that way?!

I think most of us fantasise the ‘if I could be…’ scenario when we watch films or read books. Super hero films being the most obvious. How many times have you had or overheard the ‘nerd’ conversation – “So, if you could have any superpower, what would it be?”

I haven’t got a clue – or didn’t have until I watched Heroes. Remember that one?

It was about ordinary people around the world discovering that they have super powers. Their lives intertwine as they work together to prevent a catastrophic future; who can forget ‘Save the Cheerleader, Save the World’? All the characters had a single superpower – except the evil guy whose ability was stealing everyone else’s – Sylar, played by Zachary Quinto, who late went on to be Spock! There was another character, Peter Petrelli who was a Paramedic, he was able to absorb other people’s abilities after touching them, albeit for a short while. So my chosen power is the ability to absorb powers from others (by Peter or Sylar’s methods! See! It’s Khan all over again!)

Among the Superhero canon, my all-time favourite was Batman. Who actually has no super powers, but was a billionaire highly trained physically and with ‘all the best toys’. Recently, my decades old devotion to the batty one has shifted – I still love him, still want to be him, but there’s a ‘new kid’ on the block for me – Deadpool. He is witty, tough, unpredictable, indestructible! Who wouldn’t want this? Oh, his face is a mess, like scary Halloween night in an abattoir mess, so he has to wear the mask. Would he ever work for NASA? I don’t think so. Would he ever fight to save the world from aliens, sure, if there was something in it for him I suppose. That something is his girlfriend, Deadpool after all, is a romantic; a scary, loopy, kick-ass romantic, but a romantic none the less. I think that’s what would drive him to save mankind.

But what about the ordinary folk, I hear you say, what about those who have no ‘special abilities’ and want to help save planet Earth from those pesky space invaders? I.E: YOU and ME? What sort of people will we need? Thinkers?  Muscle?  Builders? Carers? I know we need them all, but for the sake of my stupid argument, and in keeping with stories; there is only ever 1 hero, who will it be?

Some ideas for ‘ordinary’ people  – (other defenders of Earth are available)

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

Sherlock Holmes – Sherlock

Lyra Belacqua – His Dark Materials

Lara Croft – Tomb Raider

James Bond – James Bond

Buffy Summers – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Rupert Giles – Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Frodo Baggins – The Lord of the Rings

Peter Quill – Guardians of the Galaxy

Rincewind the Wizaard [sic] – Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

Evelyn  ‘Evie’ Carnahan – The Mummy

I am surprised to see not one but 2 librarians in there, plus a librarians assistant (Rincewind, he never mastered wizardry and so helps out The Librarian – an orangutan)

 

‘I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am… I am a librarian.’

~Evie Carnahan, The Mummy

 

Forget the words of Bonnie Tyler – “I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night” or Tina Turner – “We don’t need another hero,”

Let the ‘little people’ be the hero’s (Good grief, I sound like something from Team America!)

Ever fancied yourself as a bit of a hero? How about the protector of mankind? If you had to choose a non superhero to be our Planetary Protection Officer  who or what would you be?! And why?

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No pressure!

 

Writing is like…keeping an allotment

 

I have had a plot on the local allotment site for approximately 12 years.

I find it to be good for the body and soul – exercise, fresh air and fresh food. I get off my backside and potter about in the greenhouse; mostly I am clearing weeds and overgrowth. You just can’t beat the pleasure of taking home produce that you grew yourself, without pesticides, with your own fair hands.

I have grown and eaten all the usual fayre; potatoes, onions, peas, cabbage, carrot (though these are never very successful for me), lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, swedes, plus many varieties of beans, pumpkins, courgettes, beetroot, rocket, mint, parsley and so forth. Until you have tried, you cannot imagine the complete joy when you dig up your first potato crop – like buried treasure, they tumble across the fork tines, you brush away the soil and grin as you fill your bag.

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Writing is similar in that…

First, you need a plot, in both cases! An allotment plot is usually about 10 poles; or 250 square . A story plot is, well, immeasurable; short story, flash fiction, novella or novel, all require a plot of sorts. You will have had an idea for what you want to produce, let the idea settle and grow in your mind first, let it get a foothold – but not a foothold like the weeds, no, you don’t want that. Water it, with note taking; plants do not grow without watering, so how do you ‘water’ your story idea? Get on a bus, sit in a café, wander about with a small notebook and ‘collect people’. I always carry a notebook to jot down things I have seen or heard, could one of the people around you be a character in your story? Make sketches, take pictures on your phone (ask permission if photographing people though!) be on the lookout for even the tiniest things that will add sustenance and ‘reality’ to your plot.

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Prepare the ground for sowing – research – for your story. Often you can use preparatory products to aid in soil richness. Soil is not the same wherever you go, you’d be surprised; loamy, clay, heavy, sandy, silt or chalky. And this will determine, to a degree, what you can grow in it. Similarly, you as a reader and writer, have preferences – genres, and this will be the ground in which you work for the coming days/weeks/months/years! Make sure you have a good idea of your overall plot, some writers know exactly what they will write from the get-go, and others work it out as they go along.

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As you write, you will need to weed out sections that do not work. And you may go and do more research on a particular topic as you go: *But don’t do like I do and get lost in the world of the internet – you were specifically looking for 17th century carpentry tools, and ended up following some loosely connected route through 17th c clothing, housing (through history!), food, Jewish recipes, famous Jewish comedians, the Jewish diaspora, and then you’re too depressed to continue writing. But occasionally, the allotment of life will throw up a beauty, a single item can grab you and you just have to have it, even though others may consider it a weed, to you it will be a beautiful flower.

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Editing can be a bitch. Pruning is the editing of the horticulture world, and sometimes you will have to be ruthless. When a fruit bush has completed production, or even rose bushes, you need to cut them back. This can result in a sad, stubby, almost unrecognisable plant, but the following year, it will come back stronger and more productive. Similarly you have to chop back the dross in your writing; be firm with yourself, read your work out loud, does it sound right? No? Then cut it out. I once wrote a story and had reached 80,000 words; when I edited it, I cut it by 30,000. Of course I had to re-write, but it was better. I hate editing, I make no bones about this, in the same way I hate weeding – but it has to be done people!  I hate that it has taken me ages to write the damn story, and now I have to read it all again and weed out the dross, if I could afford it, I would have an editor do it for me, simply because I want to move onto the next idea. There is no getting away from editing, so, bite the bullet and go for it.

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The compost  heap can grow to enormous proportions. Continuous weeding, editing, cropping back will result in a metaphorical heap of words at your feet; like the cutting-room floor of a film editor. Or the allotment pile. But panic not, this is all grist for the mill, it may look like you ‘lost’ chunks of writing, but what you gained was skills; editing skills, recognising what works and what doesn’t. and you never know, you might riffle through that heap of discards and be able to reclaim a line or two for another story; that sentence that seemed out of time in your historical romance, might be perfect for something more contemporary, or even futuristic.

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Stop and smell the roses. I spend a lot of time, perhaps too much, simply doing nothing; just enjoying the environment on my allotment plot. I watch bees – a lot! – and the visiting blackbird (he was the inspiration for a poem), bugs and flies and the flowers and worms and the resident fox – but mostly bees. Take time to enjoy your writing. Isn’t it wonderful that you have this ability? Creativity doesn’t come to everyone, so be thankful you are. Read books and enjoy someone else’s world. Don’t worry about what others think – it’s your work! Take a break – don’t lose your mind.

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Film Review: Baby Driver

Written, Directed and Produced by Edgar Wright

**Spoilers**

I like to think I’m fairly familiar with the work of Edgar Wright, I first watched his work in the TV series Spaced which he directed in 2001, and just fell for his quirky, cross-cutting style. The opening scene of Spaced is excellent; the two sets of dialogue between Tim and Daisy I think has yet to be beat.

EW Spaced 2001

Other films include, (as writer, director or producer), Attack the Block, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim versus The World and The Worlds End.

Anyway, to Baby Driver.

This is essentially a romance story – boy meets girl, boy tries to get out of debt with criminals, boy does one last job…

Does he get the girl? Watch the film!

There is good balance of action, dialogue and drama; often directors today get so excited by new toys/technology, that they fill the screen with eye-watering action top to bottom, left to right, continuously; to the detriment of any plot there may have been. Wright tells us a story, which is how it should be, after all, movies are just another form of storytelling, and he tells it well, through the driving, through the lines;

Buddy: Is she a good girl? You love her?

Baby: Yes, I do.

Buddy: That’s too bad.

 

Wright has excellent timing, not only with his trademark cuts of visuals and hyper sound effects, but just when you begin to wonder if the whole film will consist of Baby dancing down the street for his coffee, he, Wright, cuts to a new rhythm, and that’s what the film has running through it – rhythm. It is excellently choreographed from start to finish; people walking, dancing, talking, counting money, placing items down on tables, cars whizzing past trucks, every last element is perfect.

Ansel Elgort (The Divergent series) is the titular Baby; he appears at turns vulnerable, cool and collected, and incredibly sweet; especially in his scenes with Debora, played by Lily James (Downton Abbey)

EW baby and debora

Kevin Spacey (House of Cards) plays Doc, the brains and organiser behind each job.  Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained) is Bats, and he is; he claims the monopoly on the one with ‘mental problems’.  Jon Hamm and Eiza González are deliciously deadly as Buddy and Darling, a couple with ‘His’ and ‘Hers’ tattoos on their necks, they stand side-by-side like Mexican anti-heroes in a Robert Rodriguez movie.

EW Baby Driver 2

Cranked up to the max; the car chases combined with the playlist that is always playing in Baby’s ear-buds, are as balletic as any performance of Swan Lake. I imagine Wright designed and planned the furiously fast and dizzying manoeuvres as ‘car-dance’ deliberately.

Baby’s playlist –

1. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion—“Bellbottoms”
2. Bob & Earl—“Harlem Shuffle”
3. Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers—“Egyptian Reggae”
4. Googie Rene—“Smokey Joe’s La La”
5. The Beach Boys—“Let’s Go Away For Awhile”
6. Carla Thomas—“B-A-B-Y”
7. Kashmere Stage Band—“Kashmere”
8. Dave Brubeck—“Unsquare Dance”
9. The Damned—“Neat Neat Neat”
10. The Commodores—“Easy (Single Version)“
11. T. Rex—“Debora”
12. Beck—“Debra”
13. Incredible Bongo Band—“Bongolia”
14. The Detroit Emeralds—“Baby Let Me Take You (in My Arms)“
15. Alexis Korner—“Early In The Morning”
16. David McCallum—“The Edge”
17. Martha and the Vandellas—“Nowhere To Run”
18. The Button Down Brass—“Tequila”
19. Sam & Dave—“When Something Is Wrong With My Baby”
20. Brenda Holloway—“Every Little Bit Hurts”
21. Blur—“Intermission”
22. Focus—“Hocus Pocus (Original Single Version)“
23. Golden Earring—“Radar Love (1973 Single Edit)“
24. Barry White—“Never, Never Gone Give Ya Up”
25. Young MC—“Know How”
26. Queen—“Brighton Rock”
27. Sky Ferreira—“Easy”
28. Simon & Garfunkel—“Baby Driver”
29. Kid Koala—“Was He Slow (Credit Roll Version)”
30. Danger Mouse (featuring Run The Jewels and Big Boi)—“Chase Me”

 

Baby even halts a job – mid getaway – until he’s found Golden Earring’s Radar Love, before flooring a ’86 purple Chevy Caprice. Baby remains cool at all times; given his age compared to his ‘colleagues’, it’s a pretty impressive performance he puts on for them; whilst his ‘crew’ shout and panic around him to get driving, Baby won’t be pushed till he finds the right tunes.

Is Baby scared? Hell yeah, he’s got his old foster dad, Joseph, back home (CJ Jones), from whom Baby has learnt sign-language and lip reading, and he wants to keep him safe. There is an incredibly touching moment near the end when Baby is taking Joseph to safety, I admit I nearly cried – Baby’s not a bad guy really, he just got in with the wrong crowd. And inevitably, his new love Debora becomes a target in the bid to squeeze more out of Baby, whether a job or simply pain.

I take my hat off to the stunt drivers; way too many to name, but what a fantastic job!!

NB: Don’t sit too close to the screen – like we did – it’ll make your head spin as fast as the cars – my eyes were seriously challenged.