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Calvary. Four stars

April 17, 2014

The title is probably a clue, but I hadn’t thought about it before we watched this new film which stars Brendan Gleeson. It also features Dylan Moran and Chris O’Dowd so it’s going to be a barrel of laughs. Wrong. It does have humour, but really there s much more sadness and  some suspense.

“I first tasted semen when I was seven years old” is the opening line from an unseen guy in confession who admits he is going to murder Brendan Gleeson the following Sunday. And the rest of the film is the run up to that as we watch the priest tend his flock and go through their own agonies and miseries. When I say tend, he seems relatively disconnected from them. He is not the all tender and comforting priest.. But he is there. And maybe that is enough. He came to the priesthood after his wife died, struggling with alcoholism and  leaving his daughter .He has troubles of his own and no one to share them with but God. But tellingly he believes forgiveness to be the most underrated virtue.  It is a gripping film with wonderful scenery, strong acting and a play-like quality. I want to see it again as it will bear re-telling and confess more to me second time around I’m sure. Four stars (and a few tears).

kill kill kill 006Top Ten Things I Didn’t Know Until I Was A Parent

  1. Despite incredibly busy hospital dotcoring jobs working over 100 hour weeks, I didn’t know what tired was until I’d had continuous months of broken nights with babies
  2. I didn’t know what responsibility was until I had to care for someone helpless 24/7
  3. I didn’t know the sheer force and volume that breast fed baby shit can be generated at until I was cleaning up the back of his head after a particularly explosive episode.
  4. I didn’t realise how little I knew about parenting and how easy it had been to criticise others until I had to do it for myself.
  5. I didn’t know how to appreciate a night out properly until I couldn’t have them
  6. I didn’t appreciate what I put my parents through until someone did the same to me
  7. I didn’t realise toddlers really would pick up dog shit and try to eat it
  8. I didn’t realise that when the milk ‘came in’ it would feel like someone had pushed hot boulders down my bra.
  9. I didn’t know what peer pressure was until I worried whether our toddler should be writing and drawing like everyone else’s three year olds seemed to be
  10. I didn’t know what sheer joy having children could be.

I went to Waitrose and was looking for a baseball cap for a toddler in their clothes section, but there were none to be had. Instead they had various bucket hats. Ah, I thought there’s a fun one with sharks on or even better one with skull and crossbones. Our eldest (male) and youngest (female) always enjoyed a bit of pirateering. Those long plastic swords from the 50p shop were some of the best buys we ever made.  The middle (female) preferred to play Wendy from Peter Pan, but was not averse to dressing up as a rather glamorous pirate when she was older. However John Lewis appears to have other ideas. I picked up the hats and saw the label. “Boys.”  Who the hell says so?  This is 2014. Labelling them “Boys” is unnecessary and sexist – making small girls think that adventuring on the High Seas is not appropriate for them. They should stick to the pink polka dots.  Tell that to Ellen Macarthur.

Surely in this day and age hats do not need to be labelled for boys specifically? Surely it is up to us and them to choose which hat they’d like to wear for their next outdoor adventure. Come on JL – don’t reinforce outdated stereotypes.

Yes folks, this really is 2014

Yes folks, this really is 2014

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I love the Soho Theatre. Steeply raked. Small. Intimate. Perfect for this play.

I hadn’t done any background research on The One. Hubby booked it and I turned up not really knowing what to expect. And bang. It opens with sex in front of the TV. And sex continues to be a driving theme throughout as we sit up all night with Harry  and Jo  (English lecturer and his former student) as they wait for news of her sister giving birth. They are clever, well spoken, and compete for control using any tactics (lying, taunting, goading, insulting, hurting). They have a toxic passion for  and against each other.

The arrival of Harry’s vulnerable ex Kerry momentarily displays their unity as they allow her to stand outside in the pouring rain before deciding to let her in. Harry appears to side with Kerry during Jo’s casual indifference and venom towards her and the startling discussions they have concerning when sex is rape between a couple. As my mother would have said, Jo is too clever by half and so sharp she’ll cut herself. And she does.She cuts anything that comes anywhere near her. And Harry is drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

The 65 minutes flew by. I was gripped. It made me laugh. It made me uncomfortable. It made me think..  That’s what I want from theatre. Four stars

Just a thought

March 7, 2014

accept2

Process process

March 4, 2014

I haven’t posted for a fortnight as have been so busy for the past few months that I’ve not had time to write. And I enjoy it so much I don’t want  it to become a chore. A necessity. So recent posts have often been ones I’ve drafted earlier and all I’ve had to do is press “Publish” and hey presto, a blog post.

However, this week I have been in a meeting which had been arranged with some difficulty to get everyone around the table. Time was precious as there was much to do and deadlines looming. This meeting was billed as a critical necessity. Everything else had stalled whilst we waited for the outputs of this meeting.

Did we maximise the use of our time? Did we buggery. The leader of the meeting was late. Then we spent the next 15 minutes deciding who would take on the various assigned roles – timekeeper, (self explanatory), snow patrol (stops people going off track), herder (brings them back from the toilet), observer (reports back at the end of the meeting how it went). In this particular company apparently this is the norm. And unlike school, there was no staring at feet when volunteers were asked for – people willingly assigned themselves roles.

So at last we are ready to start the meeting – only used up 25% of the allocated 2 hours so far – and then we get down to business. Or not. There is a discussion lasting a good ten minutes between two people about who is ‘accountable’ for this project. Versus who is ‘responsible’. The nuances are lost on me and frankly irrelevant to everyone else at the meeting apart from the two debating it. This is something that should be discussed ‘offline’ (*groan*). But surely the ‘snow patrol’ person will tell then to shut up and get on with the meeting? No, of course they don’t. They don’t want to interrupt the two most senior people there.

So of course I can’t hold myself in and suggest we focus on exactly what it is that we want to have decided within the next 80 minutes. I am looked at as if I have come from Mars. “Well we won’t know that until we’ve had the discussions.” I realise I am not going to get anywhere. I get it that you need to discuss stuff, but surely you have to ask yourself WHY? Why are we discussing this – what is the point of it? We don’t discuss which theatre show is best because we know it’s not relevant to our work. Surely, we only discuss things because they inform our decision making. There has to be a decision at the end of it. Even if that decision is “We can’t make a decision on this as we haven’t got enough information so XYZ will research this and report back so that we can make a decision.” It’s all about the decision making for me.

But it was all about the information sharing for them. And so we spent the next hour listening to presentations basically. On stuff I’d already read because it was all freely available. No valuable insights or reinterpretations, just the data. No actual discussion on what the data might mean. Or how it might be used. Just data. And when the meeting ‘wrapped up’ with 5 minutes still to go, the ‘observer’ fed back how useful it had been and how much ‘engagement’ and ‘energy about the project’ there was in the room. I nearly engaged some bicep energy and smacked him.

I thought that it had been a waste of time. Not completely because it was great to meet people who I have only seen on email, but in terms of outcomes. All that information could have been sent to us to read when it suited us (which would have meant we didn’t have to wait over a month to get everyone together), and then we could have met and discussed what we think it means and what we are going to do with it. Someone else I know who works in a different company warns everyone she is in ‘Driver’ mode at the beginning of meetings – I love it. She wants to get things done and in the nicest possible way she is alerting everyone this isn’t just information sharing – we have to actually get somewhere at the end of it. 

How to Pay More and Get Less

February 15, 2014

So today I am bumbling round our local supermarket (Waitrose – “Ooh get me being so  lah-di-da”, but no. They are our closest) looking for routine supplies and I stumble across shelves full of empty jars.

No frills. Just jars

No frills. Just jars

What? Why would a supermarket sell empty jars. Or more correctly why would anyone BUY empty jars? Then I remember. I am in Waitrose. Home of the middle classes (self included) who don’t have to worry about a few pounds here and there. It’s less of “You look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves” and more “You look after yourself dahling and the masses can fend for themselves”

Anyway, in the ‘home cookery’ section with numerous shaped biscuit cutters, muffin cases and the like.All in pretty polka dots and pastel shades.  And these empty jars will be for the jam-makers. But not the ordinary jam makers like my husband who has made jam year in year out from his home grown blackberries. No, presumably these are the “I want to be a retro housewife/goddess/but most of all a fabulous Mummy” jam makers and the ” I  don’t care how much money I throw at it as long as I can post a pretty pic on Pinterest of my gingham topped, hand labelled jars and impress everyone so much they want to punch me.” jam makers. These empty, unadorned, stand alone standard screw top jars (made by Tala the icing people who no doubt think they are on to a good thing) are £2 or £3 each. Each. Yes each.

I was so taken aback I actually plodded to jams to find the standard own label jam comes in at 95p.

Under a quid

Under a quid

Even organic with a fancy quasi french look to it comes in at less than £2 and you get the jam in it already!waitrose 003

And remember. This is Waitrose – Tesco do one for 29p.

Tesco own label - 29p

Tesco own label – 29p

Why wouldn’t you just buy the jam and give away the contents rather than pay a premium for an empty jar? Some people astound me.

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