Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Ballet Will Never Die

"Classical ballet will never die" (Ninette de Valois)

I went to see the Ballet last night. I feel quite cultured now. My mum and gran are really into dance and we've all done a bit of ballet at some point in our lives. I wasn't that into it and really wasn't a fan of my teacher - who was a proper old fashioned hardcore ballerina. You might be surprised to know I have a certain amount of natural grace and wasn't appalling at it but I am, at heart, lazy and my personal favourite hobbies include things such as writing, which is done while sitting on my arse.

We went to see Swan Lake, performed by the Vienna Festival Ballet, and it was really rather beautiful. I'm pretty sure most of you know the story and maybe the music, which is lovely. If you get a chance to see Swan Lake, I would recommend it, unless you have a short attention span, in which case maybe you shouldn't go to see Ballet of any sort. Swan Lake has some very sad and poignant dances in it and it was done really well. The costumes were vivid and extra good. I've seen other ballets which were probably technically better but this was more enjoyable as there was a lot of energy and I was probably rather more into the pretty colours than the more cultured of the audience.

I can't help thinking about the poor dancers' feet though. My aunt used to be a very good ballerina and got a scholarship to go to a school of ballet but she ended up stopping as it did her feet such damage. At the end of shows apparently ballerinas regularly peel off their shoes to find bleeding toes from going up on point so much. I did not stick it out long enough to find out if this were true.

This trip was a chance for me to wear out my nice high heels though. I usually feel underdressed at the theatre as a lot of people seem to take the chance to wear their posher frocks for some reason. I conformed and even blobbed on a bit of eye make-up. This was fine, until I was afraid I would be late for the second half and tried to run up the stairs. My ankle gave way and I staggered a bit, swearing loudly and sort of spoiling the respectable image I'd be cultivating. I ended up with pretty sore feet at the end of the evening, though I imagine not as badly as the dancers did. It was very enjoyable overall.  

Saturday, 21 April 2012

I Think You Need a Doctor

"I'm the Doctor. I'm a Time Lord. I'm from the planet Gallifrey in the Constellation of Kasterborous. I'm 903 years old and I'm the man who is gonna save your lives and all 6 billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that? (Voyage of the Damned)

A friend of mine is having a 'nerd' gathering this week, where she intends us to watch some old sci-fi series and play some computer games. This inspired me to nerd-out a little and confess my greatest addiction. I am a dedicated Whovian and have been since I was in Primary School. It was as an evening like any other when my father found some repeats of Doctor Who on TV and told me I would love it. At first I was a little dubious (my dad is the sort of guy who thought Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was good bedtime reading for me when I was a kid) but that evening marked a turning point in my development. The episode was The Face of Evil and my first Doctor was to be the scarf-wearing, jelly-baby-eating, wild-eyed Tom Baker, who remained my favourite until the arrival of the indescribable David Tennant. I know this is rather stereotypical of me. So bite me? Those men are popular for a reason.

I have been obsessed with Doctor Who since that moment. I practically fainted when I heard it was being brought back for the new series. I sat in front of the TV about an hour before I needed to, just so I definitely would not miss the show. When I am into things, I do not do it by halves. For a long time, myself and my younger sister would get up at a ridiculous time on a Sunday morning, while our parents were asleep, and sneak down to watch old Doctor Who on UKTV Gold. I am a fount of useless trivia and proud owner of a mountain of DWA magazines. I have a TARDIS mug, TARDIS money box, homemade cardboard TARDIS and a sonic screwdriver that doubles as a water pistol.

I spent the majority of my childhood make-believing I was a companion. My favourite DW companion has to be Sarah Jane Smith. I cried my eyes out when she came back in School Reunion as it was so beautifully done. Elisabeth Sladen was a beautiful person too and no one managed to match her for natural perfectness in the role. 

Billie Piper's Rose did a pretty good job as companion but the women who followed her got on my nerves. Amy Pond should have remained as the 7-year-old girl as she got very boring very fast when she was her older self. I have a fondness for Leela because she was so kick-ass and (as you can see by the photo below) made Doctor Who sexy way before Amy Pond came along. 

I also thought I should mention Ace, as she once beat a Dalek to death with a baseball bat. I don't think many companions can top that. 

As I said, David Tennant and Tom Baker battle for position as my favourite ever Doctor. Peter Davison comes close behind because, apart from Tennant's truly heartbreaking death, he had the most touching regeneration scene (marred only by Peri's breasts taking up most of the shot). I think Sylvester McCoy deserves a recommendation too as he's often forgotten but I think he did a great job as a quirky Doctor and has some of the best quotes.

"There are worlds out there where the sky is burning, where the sea is asleep and the rivers dream; people made of smoke and cities made of song. Somewhere there's danger, somewhere there's injustice, and somewhere else the tea is getting cold. Come on, Ace, we've got work to do." (Survival)

I am also rather into Star Trek - I will not pretend to be an expert but you only really need to watch one episode of Spock and Kirk goodness before you fall in love with the concept. The Original Series is my favourite. If I was actually wandering the universe encountering alien problems, I would much rather have Captain Picard's calm brain to save the day, but Kirk is much more fun to watch. If you like Star Trek and haven't seen Galaxy Quest - the affectionate movie parody - you most definitely should go out and get it. It is hysterical as well as a good story in itself and full of pathos.

Shaky special effects and rather over the top acting do not in any way detract from these shows in my opinion. Seeing the string that drags K9 across the screen, or realising the bad guy is in fact made of painted bubble wrap, is all part of the magic. I do not think these franchises will ever get old - especially Doctor Who, which can be regenerated to suit each new generation. I take my hat off to the people who imagined them, wrote them, designed them, created them and acted them. I wish I had an ounce of that kind of genius. 

Friday, 20 April 2012

One Man's Theology

One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." (Heinlein)

I apologise because this post may be a bit of a controversial point but I was thinking today and wanted to state that I am a Christian. I am a Methodist but that is more an accident of birth than a firm belief. I have a deep fondness for the Methodist Church though, as they are not judgmental like the Catholics or scary like happy-clappy sects can be. They just sort of get on with it.

I am not a particularly good Christian. I tend to swear, drink, fornicate and generally not do what you would consider to be that Christian. I don't really think that's the point of Christianity though. Someone told me I can't be a Christian if I pick and choose what I believe but I don't agree. The whole point of belief is that you believe what you believe. Despite what some people say there is no firm rules you have to follow to be Christian. It's more about the belief in trying to do the right thing. That doesn't mean you can do that stupid steal a bike and pray for forgiveness thing though. That wouldn't fool anyone.

I dislike established religion quite a lot. Historically the whole thing became freakishly corrupt and by now the point of religion has been twisted from its original form into all sorts of weird shapes. Gandhi said "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." That man knows what he's talking about. The patriarchal slant on religion really gets up my nose too. Why does God have to be a He? And I am pretty sure the Earth would not drop out of orbit if there was to be a female Pope.   

Sometimes I do not know if I believe in God any more. A fundamentally good person that I knew died last year before she had even left college and it made me think that if there is a God he's not really that great. But then again, when I was in High School, my mum had Stage 3 Breast Cancer, was given a 50% chance of survival, and is still very much alive all these years later. When she was ill and had to go to the hospital for regular treatments, my church made a rota of people to drive her (as she was in no condition to drive herself) and I really don't think my family could have coped without that kind of support.

I do think Christian values are a good way to live your life. I don't believe in Creationism, or the Mysteries, or that you need some sort of priest fellow to act as an intermediary with a deity. It really annoys me when people tell me what I believe. It's meant to be so much more personal than that. Obviously, as you can see, I do not quite know what to think. I am only 18 years old though - you can't expect me to have it all figured out. I'm working on it.

And although I have a lot of problems with the Bible, I think people need to read some more of it before they knock it too much.. 

That's from Corinthians. I kind of like it. I have it on a bookmark now.   

Monday, 16 April 2012

Reality is a Thing of the Past

"Reality is a thing of the past" (The Matrix)

The cinema is one of my favourite places. I don't go there as often as I would like as it is pretty pricey but there is nothing quite like a cinema experience. Despite the way your feet stick to the floor in my local cinema, courtesy of spilled popcorn, fizzy drinks and God knows what else, the atmosphere is special. I love movies and prefer to see them write large and as loud as possible.

My pet hate is people who ruin your viewing experience. I sometimes have a quiet comment or a giggle with my friends in the cinema, as we all have a bit of a passion for films and like to make regular trips there together (one of my best friends would like to director movies - you can read her blog here if you like:, but that is somewhat different to a constant rustling of packets of snacks, or loudly laughing during inappropriate parts of a film, or getting up to go to the toilet during a poignant death scene! I am not a violent person but I practically punched that person in the back of the head as they stood up in front of me. Seriously, can't you hold it at least until the kid has died? Why can't people not pee for a couple of hours? Do they have a bladder problem?  

On the subject of 3D films, I think it is entirely overrated. I actually feel it detracts from the film I'm watching as it is slightly distracting and, especially with real people, it doesn't look quite right - it doesn't look real. I understand how impressive it can be and believe it can be used to good effect but more in animated or CGI type films. It has become a money making and advertising feature as all the new blockbusters come out in 3D too, even if they don't need to in the slightest. They even bring out old films in it and I can't help feel they are just looking to make more money. It's an excuse to hike up the prices and charge you for glasses too. Those glasses are uncomfortable. I have a small head and actually have to hold them on my face at times as they slip off. Until they successfully work out how to do holograms to create real 3D films, I'll stick to regular 2D.

I am an avid reader and dread and adore in equal measures the thought of a book I like being made into a movie. Sometimes a book can be destroyed by the movie - for example Northern Lights, which became the Golden Compass. What had been a deep and thought provoking book was made into a children's adventure, where they made the loss of a daemon seem like misplacing a pet rather than being separated from your soul. More positively, I will admit that The Lord of the Rings was a mind-blowing adaptation and Harry Potter mainly didn't disappoint (apart from The Half-Blood Prince). Recently they made a movie of The Hunger Games and it was one of very few times where things they added actually improved my enjoyment of the film rather than lessened it. I admit I can be quite hard to please at times.

My favourite films are a slightly random bunch. My greatest favourite is Pirates of the Caribbean - not so much the sequels - the first film I adore and feel was just perfect on its own. My childhood favourites are Mulan and The Road to Eldorado. Despite my tender age when Mulan came out, I wanted to see it so much that my mother was forced to drive to Brighton (it wasn't on where I lived at that point) so I could see it. Some random movies you might not know but that I would highly recommend are Galaxy Quest, The Princess Bride and Willow.

The next film on my must see list is Tim Burton's Dark Shadows. I shamelessly admit, when it comes to anything featuring Johnny Depp, I become a bit of a fangirl...  

Monday, 9 April 2012

Don't Think Too Much

"Don't think too much - you'll create a problem that wasn't even there in the first place.."

I worry too much. This is why you will often find me in tears on the eve of exams or stressing out over the more mundane aspects of my life. I find it hard to make decisions at times as I don't want to make a mistake. My most recent life choice was picking my university. I wonder if I picked the right one. I think how if I had gone to a different university, I would have met a whole different group of people and what if I'm just missing out on what could be a future close friend, or a boyfriend, because I picked the wrong university? The littlest thing can make a massive difference to your life. I am not good at just going with the flow.

I also think my expectations of everything (and everyone) are too high. I read too many fantasy books in my childhood for normal life to ever quite please me. Sometimes I wonder if it's my expectations that are wrong though, or if I just haven't found the right people to meet them. Often I expect too much from myself as well. I agonise over things I've done a long time after the other person has probably forgotten about it. I over-analyse and overcomplicate. These are, I would say, my greatest faults. If I just chilled out a bit, I think I'd be happier. This is easier said than done.

My greatest hobby is writing fiction and I think it is from this that stems my ridiculous urge to order my life. I wish everything could be as clear cut as a novel, where every symbol has meaning and you can stick in a little pathetic fallacy to make sure every element is in concurrence with what's going on. Unfortunately, life isn't like that.  

Nobody and nothing is perfect and I need to remember this more often. I sometimes overlook positive things, when stressing on the negative. Generally, I have a disgustingly easy and happy life. Although at times this lead me to stress that I will squander the good things I have. I have a close family, good friends, a boyfriend, a job, a decent house, I am healthy, not unattractive, not stupid, and am looking forward to an almost certain entry to university to study something I love. I would have to work hard to not get in, I think. Nothing is ever quite certain though and this again stresses me out. In some ways, life's capriciousness is exciting, but I defend my right to dislike it if I want.

I do not believe in fate or destiny. I do believe that the universe is not out to get me though, so I hope if I work at it and have a little bit of luck, I can get through life without messing it up too much. Although I worry so much, I never feel that a situation is irredeemable so I hope I haven't depressed anyone with this entry. I know I am very silly. We should all try to take things less seriously. It's never as bad as you think.  

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Go Away

"How can I miss you if you won't go away?"

Last week, for the first time in what feels like forever, I was on a foreign holiday. I had to get on a plane and everything! Venice was magnificent and exactly what I hoped for. It was so different from what I'm used to. 

Historically it was all really interesting and the architecture was beautiful. There's water literally at the end of every street and over 400 bridges. You don't get on buses as public transport, you get on boats. There's also water taxis, and the emergency services are by boat. Even more interestingly, I discovered there is Italian Deal or No Deal on TV. Also Italians eat raw ham that is worryingly easy to mistake for proper ham.  

Marred only by the fact I was frequently trampled by tour groups, I had an amazing time. I lamented the separation from my laptop and had to pay 11p per text so was cut off from civilisation for the most part. My boyfriend texted me to say he was sorry that he couldn't get any texts through to me in Italy - which obviously confused me - then he texted me to say he'd done that "to see how stupid you were." As you can see, I was missed by many. This was especially depressing as I was in one of the more romantic cities of the world, where I was subjected to a constant stream of couples taking giggling holiday snaps of themselves together.

When I returned, my luggage was about double as heavy as it had been when I went. I acquired on my travels rather a lot of stuff. Venice and Murano are famous for their glasswork and glass jewellery and I wanted to buy everything I saw, which I very nearly did. I used the excuse of buying presents for other people as I don't want to feel greedy. Unfortunately my budget stopped me being too adventurous. I regret not buying a sweet heart-shaped glass fish bowl with two glass goldfish inside but did return with more glass jewellery than any one person needs.

I am not a particularly frequent traveller, mainly for reasons of cash, but also because I am generally a slightly boring stay at home type, who misses her own bed when she's away. I would like to become more intrepid though. There are many places I would love to visit and firmly believe in expanding your horizons. Egypt is top of my list, followed by China - all that remains is for me to summon up the gumption and raise some funds. If anyone's planning a trip away anytime soon, I would love to accompany you.