New York Broadway news from a little country lass.

As the familiar tune of ‘Dancing Queen’ began, I grabbed my mother and sister’s hands and pulled them from the depths of the sofa. Laughing, we span around and around; we sang at the top of our lungs; and as Meryl Streep and the fantastic islanders jumped off the dock and into the sea, we kicked our feet high in the air as we leapt from the sofa and onto the carpet.

Yes. We looked this cool too.

Yes. We looked this cool too.

Our stomachs ached, our cheeks pinched, from the smiles and giggles that night.

I share this with you because moments like these are so rare and yet so common. Moments are what you make them – and this particular one is a highly polished, gleaming gem of a moment nestled in my brain forever.

I share this with you because sometimes we forget that family can be our best friends. They can know what you’re thinking when you look at them and mouth along with lyrics of songs from forever.

I share this with you because this evening, we moved our living room enactment of that Abba classic one step closer to reality, by purchasing TICKETS TO WATCH MAMA MIA IN BROADWAY on our visit to New York at the end of the summer!!!!!!

*Pause for dramatic, heart-raising effect*

I am super excited! I am out of this world, dancing in my underwear, never-brushing-my-hair-again excited!!

It is because of this minor detour into wild happiness that tonight’s post is a short one.

I’m reliving my shiny moment. 

(Oh, and I should mention we are also watching the LION KING while we’re there!!! That should shed a bit more light on my inability to communicate effectively tonight.)

HAPPY DANCING EVERYONE!

mama

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LONDON BOUND! The Adventures of Sam ‘n’ Ella (Pt. 3)

We are nearing the end of our whistle stop city tour of London. If you’ve missed any of the previous installments (of which there are a grand total of two), then you need not worry! You will find Part 1 and Part 2 my simply clicking on those thoughtful reminders.

On our final day in the capital we started the day with determined grit. Our jaws were set and our elbows were sharpened: today, we would make it to the Natural History Museum. Even if it meant sacrificing the goodness of our gentle souls to the shoving of strangers and overtaking of excited children.

I wouldn't let those innocent smiles fool you.

Don’t let those innocent smiles fool you. We meant business.

The museum is an impressive building. For those of you who have never been there, the facade is unexpected in the middle of a busy street. It almost looks like something out of Harry Potter, or a building made for private boarding schools.

hp

When step inside, you come literally face to face with skeletons of dinosaurs, ichthyosaurs, displays of fossils, glossy exhibitions of insects, and suspended walkways that take you through the eco system.

One of my favourite photos of the trip: Sam having a face-off with a Giant Sloth.

One of my favourite photos of the trip: Sam having a face-off with a Giant Sloth!

There is a fantastic section that takes you through the geological timeline of Earth (which Geology student Sam particularly enjoyed as he was able to show off all his science-y knowledge about rocks. A thing I love about him. Truly.) There are astronauts, and escalators that take you through the center of the our planet, and rooms full of mammals. There are whales EVERYWHERE.

astro earth

 

whale

And, when things get a bit too educational and start to exhaust your brain, there are cafes, and benches, and random areas of empty floor that you collapse on from lack of any other option.

yawn

The day passed all too quickly, which I suppose isn’t surprising. When you’re absorbing information from the beginning of time to the present day, it can distract you from trivial things such as Time.

ammsSam didn’t let go of my hand once. He walked me through Time and pointed out key periods and animals, pressing his nose against the glass to peer more closely at the ammonoids. His excitement was contagious. My favourite part of that day was watching him, as strange as it sounds. His face lit up as he pulled me from one room to the next, and his proud chest puffed out as he picked up on minor flaws on the labels in display cases.

He was both a boy and a man, excited and thirsty for more knowledge, torn between science and an exhausted girlfriend – compromising by half carrying the one whilst making intellectual love to the other. I hadn’t seen him like that in a long time.

It was late in the afternoon by the time we left. We enjoyed a leisurely tea at the train station, stuffing ourselves with a not-so-wise amount of food, and stepped on to the platform.

tower 2It’s strange, the places adventure can grab you. I’ve been going to London all my life but I’ve never been to THIS London: the one with marble hotels and towering architecture.  The London that holds a day with endless possibilities, luring you down paths you never thought you’d follow. The one with crowds that melt into the background when that one person holds you close and whispers in your ear.

All of the fantastic travel blogs I read on WordPress tell stories of what I thought of as ‘REAL’ adventure: worldwide travel, exploration of remote regions, self discovery on a mountain-top.

But it turns out you can have some of the greatest adventures by simply venturing out of your front door and tottering down the garden path.

With a forlorn glance back, Sam waved a comic goodbye to the city before, laughing, I shoved him onto the train.

bye 2

bye

To Will & Grace, from My Womb

I’ve got to be quick as I’m sneakily writing this whilst my man goes out to buy some wine before we settle in for a movie night together. The second he shut that front door, I was here on wordpress, because I just HAD to say something.

I hate endings.

This evening I watched the finale of Will and Grace, after months of watching the entire collection. It was beautifully written, it was typical W&G comedy, it tied the loose strings, it brought smiles to my face…it broke my heart as the end credits rolled across the screen.

imagesThe conclusion of a stranger would be that dear god, she is that person: the one who gets overly attached to something to the point of obsession, when the steely glint of madness begins to shine in their eyes. And well, yes I suppose I am that person.

But I’m also the person who relishes a smile while it lasts. I revel in life and all it’s roller coaster moments. I can’t get enough of a thing that makes me happy, and I don’t think that’s a thing that could ever be criticised.

Sitting here, staring at a blank screen, knowing there is not another season of my W&G to keep me going in those dull twenty minutes over breakfast tomorrow, makes me glum. When a thing is that good, I hate to see that it can just be cut off, ended, that someone out there can simply decide that we’ve had enough of a good thing.

(Getting the subtle tone of over-attachment?)

No, but in all seriousness, it was an excellent show. It was the kind of show that stays with you. It leaves you with that lingering feeling that I wish to reproduce one day in my writing.

So now I shall leave you. With my overly attached, mildly obsessive, incredibly hormonal reflection on a tv show forever immortalised for my not-quite-as-oestrogen-filled-body to read over next week and regret.

And a clip from the Finale.

(Gotta go. The man is back with alcohol and a Russel Crowe movie.)

Meryl Streep and I

I am almost reluctant to write about this incredibly talented woman. She was once quoted to have said ‘Enough people write about  me every day without even interviewing me’ so in some ways I feel I’m not quite qualified for the job. However, I feel an incredible amount of respect for this woman, so I will plough on regardless.

The first time I saw Meryl Streep in a film was in a late night showing of Bridges of Madison County. She was captivating. The film meandered innocently along, weaving a tale so intricate, so real that I felt my heart breaking alongside her. It was the first film I ever cried at…although, when I say ‘cried,’ I really mean something more like ‘howled like a baby at for hours on end after it was finished, walking around the house clutching a box of Kleenex for moral support.’ Her performance was inspirational and absolutely stunning.

Over the years following this, I watched, equally blown away as she performed in other well known films such as Kramer Vs. Kramer, The Devil Wears Prada, Mamma Mia! and It’s Complicated. What struck me every time was that, despite knowing that it was the same woman playing these roles, she was completely different every time.

To some, this may seem a ridiculous thing to say-after all, what is the point of acting other than to become different than yourself? But in my eyes, it is a frustratingly difficult thing to achieve. Some of the most acclaimed actors today cannot satisfactorily achieve it. And yet, Meryl Streep dives time and time again into different eras, relationships, countries…and creates a character with such depth and soul that the film comes to life.

It is because of all of this that I feel a large amount of respect for her. It is evident that she deserves the reputation of ‘greatest living film actress.’ She works hard at every challenge she accepts, taking numerous classes in accents for each film; she is known to be fiercely loyal and dedicated to her children and her family (as quoted in an interview): ‘Every single decision I make about what material I do, what I’m putting out in the world, is because of my children’; and to me she appears to be a powerful woman who follows her heart and not the publicity-Mamma Mia, for example, was initially a low budget film created by two women who had never done anything like it before and yet look at it now!

At the end of the day however, Meryl Streep is still human. Where other celebrities dazzle in the spotlight and eagerly search out the cameras, she keeps her life private. She’s not showing us how to be famous; she simply shows us what we can do with a little talent and a lot of work when we are driven by our hearts.

…So what are you waiting for?

The Last Silence

I have just finished reading a book called ‘Grievous Angel’ by Jane Hill. It follows the life and love of a woman betrayed by the one man she ever fell for, who, years later, goes in search for him, learning the hard way that every story has two sides to it.

It wasn’t, in my eyes particularly well written; it wasn’t at all unpredictable and yet I powered through all 391 pages in half a day. (It’s one for the poolside this holiday if you’re in need of some literary suggestions.) I for one devoured the book, oblivious to the real world waiting outside my room.

And I find myself now at a loss for what to do.

There are books out there that, despite their lack of subtlety, leave you reeling afterwards. The conclusion was by no means a shock to me and yet I sat in a still silence for almost an hour afterwards, not sure what to think or say, unwilling to break the web that I had spun around myself. There can be a delicacy to the atmosphere that a book leaves behind when it is closed for the final turning of a page. It’s as if the author is trying to tell you something, a deeper truth that goes beyond the facade of the plot he/she just dragged you through. And as I listened to the silence, one word formed on the edges of my brain:

PASSION

It was, I think, the main drive throughout the book. Passion can lead us to the very extremes of what makes us who we are. It can be the spark of love that ignites in our soul and stays with us for all eternity or it can be the motive behind a brutal crime. It drives us to crave human company for alone we are reminded that we are just a shell in an empty house. It was certainly the incentive for the protagonist to fly around the world in search of the man she had loved for twenty years.

Is it passion, then, that lurks in our hearts and aids us in every action, every choice we make? Do we delude ourselves into thinking we are in love before we really feel it? Are the first tendrils of love simply a rollercoaster ride of joy that tricks us into thinking that this is ‘The One’?

I don’t know the answer for everyone. But for me, passion is essential to survival. It is the will to live and sometimes the desire to die. It may be the spark that reignites a lost love but it is also the flame that keeps it alive. It is what drives me to do the things I love in life and take pride in what I accomplish. I am who I am because I embrace passion.

Passion whispers to me in the last silence of a closed book.

 

A tale as old as time…

It is the question asked on first dates; the debate between friends; and (occasionally) the source of mockery for those who disagree:

What is your favourite film?

And who can blame us? With so many genres, an abundance of special effects and intriguing plot lines that leave us on the edge of our seats, cinematography has become one of the main fields of entertainment.

I am no expert by any means, but there are iconic movies in the life of every person, ones that burn into our memories and stay with us as we grow old. For me, there is no film that brings a smile to my face quite like that of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.

As no doubt you know, it tells the tale of a Prince, cursed due to his foolishness and arrogance, who must find love and be loved in return before his twenty first birthday. Just when all hope seems lost, he meets his Beauty and, over time, he learns the error of his ways and they fall in love. (A happy ending is, after all, one of the defining characteristics of a Disney film.)

I fully accept the ridicule thrown my way when I announce this preference. It is, after all, a children’s film. But at the same time, it speaks of truths that are eternal and essential.

On the one hand, Belle teaches girls not to settle for a life that bores them, or to succumb to the wishes of a man who desires you only for your beauty and not for love. She values her family over everything else, sacrificing her freedom for her fathers’ sake. And, above all, she falls in love with the personality of a man, and not his outer shell.

And standing opposite her is the Beast. He’s a living reminder of the consequences of greed and disregard for others: a lonely life full of disdain and anger. He may have the form of something ugly and terrifying, but as his soul brightens with the love of another, he becomes gentler and vulnerable. He teaches us that it is not what is on the outside, but what reigns within, that defines who we are. It is our personality that makes us beautiful.

Not only does the film whisper truths at you from a young age, it is also wonderfully drawn (although my attempt above is nothing in comparison). The characters seem larger than life and yet as human as you or I. The balance between magic and heartbreak is tentative but successful and brings a smile to even the most miserable of faces.

Because the tale of love conquering all odds…well, it’s a tale as old as time.

The Hunger Games: A Review

Now, I know I have previously declared a glaringly obvious love for Harry Potter and I also know that that is a rather predictable love. But usually, I am not one to follow the latest hype. I like to believe that I think outside the box, choose the less popular option and find something much more private and beautiful and mine. There’s an intimacy, I believe, when you find an unknown literary treasure that you don’t get with any other art form.

But then there were the Hunger Games.

Cue the hundreds of statuses on facebook; cue the familiar book cover obscuring the face of every teen on the local bus service; cue your every friend condemning you for not reading them because they are just ‘sooooooooooooooooo amazing.’

Quite frankly, I found the pressure crippling. So I caved and tentatively crept on to the ever expanding band wagon.

And found myself an overnight addict.

They may not be eloquently written, they may not be as intricate as more mature novels, but at the end of the day, the story is gripping. I surged through all three books in a matter of days and found myself pondering them for hours afterwards.

To me, a good book calls to something deeper within you than those surface feelings of rage or happiness, romance or war. Like a sponge, we absorb the secrets of the characters, the dilemmas of the plot. And at the finish line, we discover that along the way, we gave up a bit of ourselves to it.

Surprisingly, the Hunger Games joined the collection of the few tales that affect me in a way I don’t entirely understand. I felt inspired and scared and exhausted all at once. It was wonderful.

So give them a read. For those of us too proud or timid to try, pretend you’re reading it as a favour to your child or sibling. For I promise that if you do…

‘THE ODDS WILL BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOUR.’