Sunday, 17 October 2010

Being Bookish

It was recommended to me by My Mate Rich as a research aid for my next job. Started it today and it's already got me gripped.
I've just finished
and it was really great, drew me right in and moved me to tears. It was a much appreciated birthday present from a lovely, highly valued mate who I call Spaghetti Arms.

"A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face.  It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy."
- Edward P. Morgan

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I was Wooly with Excitement!!

Don't forget to enter the competition for your chance to win a £25 voucher! Ends Saturday!

Last week HawkandFallow and I went to the 'Knit and Stitch Show' at Alexandra Palace and it was so good it made my head spin with happiness!
It was a birthday present from The Big One's parents, they bought me the entrance ticket and a workshop of my choice - I chose 'How to Make A Vintage Pinny' which was brilliant, the lady who ran it was lovely (read: very patient) and we got to use fancy computerised Pffaf sewing machines....oooh!

I was very lucky that HawkandFallow was able to come with me as we had the nicest day together, we both really needed a day to switch off and indulge in our crafty pursuits! We had planned a delicious picnic lunch between us and discussed the day as it arrived with much anticipation.

Something happens inside my stomach when I see beautiful yarn, something flips and aches and wants to touch it so I'm sure you can imagine I was literally a kid in a sweetshop and all with one of my best friends who was delighted in my delight.

The last couple of months have often seemed unbearably hard and I can't express how much I loved and appreciated just feeling happy and engaged for a whole day. No effort was needed I just tried to take it all in.

mountains of self striping sock yarn
hmmm bulging bags of alpaca...
colours galore
hunky hanks..

There were hundreds of yarn stalls, from Merino to Alpaca, Tweed and Sock Yarn. It seemed wonderfully never-ending! A lot of the yarn companies were selling pattern kits, all beautifully presented in boxes and baskets.

chinese takeaway box stylee
I indulged in some gorgeous Lang Taiga Yarn which I am already knitting up into a big slouchy Sunday Sofa blanket. I also got some stitch markers, a cable pattern cushion pattern, a beautiful sleeveless jumper pattern, a huge discounted pack of Jaeger yarn and some stunning Sublime Polar yarn. Quite a haul!

The show also featured a lot of work from new knitwear designers which was fascinating to see.

cabled flying geese
machine knitted novelty biscuit cushions

And lots of exhibitions featuring work by quiltmakers, embroiderers, paper-amazing-people, all sorts of wonderful crafts, talents and imaginations to gasp at and admire.

These (above) were just some of the many quilts being exhibited, I loved how contrasting the techniques used were.

It was a great day, we were absolutely shattered by the time we left but mentally invigorated and inspired. 'The Knit and Stitch Show' is an annual event and I'm already saving my pennies for next year...

P.S A major highlight of the day was learning that wooden and acrylic knitting needles are allowed on planes! You may need to tell the security guard to check their 'security bible' but it's in there and they have to acknowledge it.

"After all, the wool of a black sheep is just as warm."
-Ernest Lehman

Trying to Find My Way...

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tea for Two and Two for Tea

Firstly - don't forget to enter the competition for your chance to win a £25 voucher!

One of my closest friends, Bobski, got engaged earlier this year and despite seeing her very soon after and cooing over the ring with a celebratory drink I hadn't settled on what to get her to mark this very special event in her life.

Then I saw a top London hotel, The Montcalm, was launching an afternoon tea service so that was that! I invited her to attend afternoon tea with me where we could toast her engagement and gossip about potential wedding venues, themes, dresses etc.

Despite having been in a relationship with The Big One for over 10 years I do not have the white wedding/blushing bride gene however that does not detract in any way my enjoyment of listening and planning with friends when they are (increasingly) headed for that flower adorned aisle.

She has some lovely ideas of how to make their day special and I've been commissioned to make cup-cakes for the day along with another girl in place of a wedding cake. I'm hoping I can make some bunting for her too if it fits her theme.

We maintained extreme lady like behaviour for as long as we could and were having a great giggle but it could not be denied that by the end we were STUFFED! Full of finger sandwiches, cream scones and chocolates!

It doesn't look like much but we were both slumped on our little sofa in the foyer afterwards doing some deep breathing!
"One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives."

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Room for Thought

Last week I took part in a fascinating consultation evening for a new theatre company.  They had invited a group of 15-20 actresses of all different ages and races but all with a strong theatre background to discuss their ideas of how to address the gender inequality issues within our industry.

They wanted to hear and discuss with us the situations we continually came across where we felt there was gender inequality, whether that be a lack of decent parts for women  - generally speaking there are very few opportunities bar the mother/daughter/sister/cop show sidekick or the many rape victim parts used to inject instant drama into a piece, situations where actresses feel they must diminish their feminity (and/or parental status) in order to be considered equal....the list and experiences went on.

This particular theatre company have chosen to put a clause in their manifesto that all their productions whether community or professional are to have 50% of the creative team (writing, directing, acting) male and 50% female. Sounds so obvious doesn't it yet it hardly ever happens here in England unless it is under a political umbrella of feminism, which we all know has broadly become a dirty word.

It wasn't an evening of moaning and whining but it was an invaluable opportunity to share experiences that were all too often incredibly common. However the point of the evening was to start thinking of ways in which we can resolve and address it. The artistic directors themselves had plenty of ideas that they wanted to float by us for consideration and feedback.

I have been very lucky and have had a great career so far but last night I realised, mentally scanning through my CV, how few jobs I have had where I wasn't the only female in the room. That's not necessarily a bad thing but it does make a statement doesn't it about the level of gender inequality in terms of the material being produced.

I have been in 11 pieces of performed theatre in my career so far, in 7 of those I have been playing the only female part. 

Some people may argue that there just aren't enough good plays out there with 50% female parts, please don't misunderstand me, last night we all agreed that the play has to be great in order to go on, it can't be produced simply because there are loads of female parts in it. Their artistic directors would disagree that the problem is lack of decent material as they have recently read a library full of plays and have found over 60 pieces featuring an equal division of male and female parts so far. However even if that were the case, why is that?  Where are women's voices in mainstream theatre? A voice that isn't defined by being simply a mother/daughter etc.

One of the many ideas they raised was to increase the amount of female writers and they floated a suggestion to offer writing workshops to actresses who have an interest in writing - all of us put our hands up to having tried but due to lack of confidence or understanding of structure haven't pursued and developed our ideas. They explained that as we know theatre and good characters it makes perfect sense to see what we come up with.

They also explained they'd like to address general gender inequality issues by putting on plays in schools where, for example in a play about global warming, one scientist is played by a woman and the other scientist by a man. I think that is the smartest and most direct way. Re-educate and re-programme society's ingrained perceptions.

Nobody likes being preached to and certainly nobody, myself included, wants to see a play about women,  purposefully played, written and directed by women because that's not a balanced view of our world.

It's not a women's world, but it's not a man's world either.

I am really looking forward to watching their development as a new theatre company who happen to want to address this issue along with many other important topics. I know they were looking to have many more and varied discussion evenings. For my part, I really enjoyed being in a room with so many different actresses, as you saw from my theatre career maths it's been quite a rare experience!

“Without wonder and insight, acting is just a trade. With it, it becomes creation.”
-Bette Davis

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Lights, Camera, Portraiture

I took The Big One to see the Camille Silvy exhibition at The National portrait Gallery as one of his birthday presents today and we both really enjoyed it.

Camille Silvy was a pioneering French photographer who moved to London and set up a wildly successful portrait studio (1857-1867), photographing a huge array of society from Prince Albert to Operatic and Theatre performers to servants and stable hands. The portraits paid his bills allowing him to experiment with street photography where he produced a series of stunningly beautiful images using and developing a range of highly technical skills.

 The exhibition runs until October 24th and if you can see it, it's quite fascinating, particularly Camille Silvy's life story. Camille became maybe one of the first 'celebrity' photographers and after 10 years at the top of his industry retired due to mental illness (now believed to be manic depression) and lived the rest of his life in a psychiatric institution where he died almost forgotten.

"The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance."
~Ansel Adams

The Countdown is ON!

In 17 days The Big One is taking me to see Robyn live!!!

I have never seen her perform live although I have seen several televised concerts and I could not be more excited!  I am a huge fan of her voice and songs, such deeply powerful and earnest lyrics set to a variety of electro/house beats that you cannot resist getting up and dancing to. Pop music genius!

PLUS how could I not mention how FiErCe the lady looks - always championing new designers and styling it up something mad-good. It is a well posted fact on here that I am obsessed by her undercut circa 'Be Mine'.

I got Body Talk Part 2 the other day and have not stopped listening to it and imagining throwing my head back and dancing like I have no cares when we go to see her.

I came across this today and actually 'whooped' in anticipation!


"It's a cruel thing you'll never know all the ways I tried.
It's a hard thing faking a smile when I feel like I'm falling apart inside"
-Be Mine, Robyn

Please CH4 May I Have Some More?

'This is England '86' was superb. I enjoyed 'This is England' the feature film so much and when Channel 4 started advertising a 4 part follow up drama written by Shane Meadows and Jack Thorne I was EXCITED!

I felt the first 2 episodes were a bit slow to be honest and although well acted (and beautifully shot) it felt there was something missing, Shane Meadows directed the last 2 eps, maybe it was just a coincidence but his episodes turned the drama from enjoyable to mesmerising for me. Maybe they had to establish a lot for the portion of their audience who hadn't seen 'This is England'.

The acting and sense of ensemble was incredible, the real magic for me was in the mainly improvised scenes of which there seemed many in ep 3-4. It really came through how much the actors knew and trusted each other and knew their characters inside out.

For obvious reasons Vicky McClure and Johnny Harris' performances really stood out. The intensely disturbing scenes of violence, despair and sexual violence were so shocking and conveyed so realistically that I was left feeling shaken and physically sick which is exactly how we should feel witnessing such horrific acts.

I do have a problem with the amount of 'quality' drama that employs some of our most talented actresses to portray victims of violence, there are other stories out there for women to tell but that's possibly another post and does not in any detract from my appreciation of Danielle Watson and Vicky McClure's performances.

The final scenes of redemption for the previous film's protagonist Combo were incredibly powerful and stayed with me for days. All in all: I LOVED it and now that Big Brother is finally dead and buried I sincerely hope to see more from Channel 4, they have after all announced a new drama budget born from BB's demise suggesting I have reason to hope.

"The real object of the drama is the exhibition of the human character."
- Thomas Babington Macaulay

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Friday's Girl

Friday's outfit.
Boots Urban Outfitters, Tights and Grey Top H&M, Denim Shorts too old to remember, Waistcoat Topshop
Once I got home I discovered a big Asos box waiting for me.  I had splurged on some shoes in the sale and they had arrived! The best way to start the weekend!

I think they look better then the boots with my floral tights.

I wore them around the house for the rest of the night.

"I've always looked at shoes as being immensely beautiful things."
-Graham Coxon
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