Which is pretty true, tbh. I have no idea what house Uppercross and Kellynch might be based upon but visiting Bath last week was excellent and I’d heartily recommend a trip there to pretty much anyone. I’m not entirely sure why we never visited Bath before, since it’s only about two hours drive away.
I randomly managed to pick a hotel within 5 minutes drive of Bath and that turned out to be very comfortable with nice grounds and fantastic staff at a reasonable price (at least in comparison to what else was on offer in the area). Handily, it also turned out to be within 5 minutes (in the other direction) of the nearest Catholic church and that church turned out to have a decent-sized car park so we didn’t end up taking the 30 minute walk there on the Sunday were were there.
I don’t think I’ve eaten so many eggs for breakfast in a week at any other time in my life, but what are you going to do when the breakfast restaurant will do poached eggs (or in fact, eggs benedict) or soft boiled eggs and soldiers so well? Plus I’m sure it fortified me for a day’s sightseeing. Yes. That is exactly it.
As with most holidays that don’t have a pre-planned itinerary from a tour operator, we ended up sight-seeing at random. First up was the Royal Crescent.
It turns out that while house numbers 2 to 30 Royal Crescent have been turned into a swanky hotel, no. 1 Royal Crescent has been turned into a museum and decorated in much the same way as it would have been in the late 18th century. The rooms and history of the house was fascinating, but what really stood out was how the staff all seemed to be really interested in the house and sharing information about it and the Georgian period with visitors.
As for… probably the last 7 years, I remain largely not much of a blogger anymore. Every year that I’ve attended the London Film Festival, I mean to write about what I saw and…. never get round to it.
Well. Here goes – a few words about all the new films I saw last year. At least I got into the practice of keeping a list of all the new films I saw over on Letterboxd and every time I added to it, took a look to re-arrange everything in order of how much I liked the films.
In reverse order then, starting with the film I enjoyed the least.
Avengers: Age of Ultron – Ugggh. This film was mostly just disappointing. What was going on with the Natasha Romanov/Bruce Banner thing? It came from nowhere and the relationship seemed out of character for both Romanov and Banner. Probably more because there was no lead up for us to see how it could have developed. Maybe…Nick Fury and Maria Hill were consistent with the rest of what we’ve seen in MCU? Everyone else? Not so much. 🙁
I Am Belfast – A kind of wandering essay film about Belfast. It was nice to look at and the people in it were great to hear from. That’s all I’ve got.
Blood Of My Blood – Half the film is set in 17th Italy and the other half in the same village in the modern-day. Amusing but felt kind of like there were 2 different films that didn’t have quiet enough story on their own kind of smushed half and half together.
Exotica, Erotica, Etc. – So I saw this film and then a few days later I saw Jay Malinowski at the Lexington (ditching one of the films I had planned to see at LFF because live music will probably always trump a thing I can see on DVD later) AND it felt like both things kind of mixed together – Jay Malinowski’s set was largely stuff from Martel, an album with a sort of nautical journey theme woven through.
Elstree 1976 – A documentary about some of the actors who appeared in the original Star Wars trilogy and how the films has affected their lives. I
Office – I can’t say that I ever thought I would see a Chinese musical in 3D entirely set in the corporate world but there it was. I only wish I understood the language to better enjoy it because I am CERTAIN there was clever wordplay that could not be contained in the translation.
Truth – Even though I was about 20 in 2004 I had no idea that the events in this film were even happening so it was fascinating to watch.
Youth – All I remember is that while I enjoyed this film, it felt like nothing really happened for a really long time which may have been the point. Also, Rachel Weisz was awesome in it.
Suffragette – Enjoyable enough but the main character Maud was a bit empty and obviously it was implausible for a newly minted suffragette to be at all the big moments of the suffragette movement at the time BUT I guess they had to somehow have a self-insert character for the audience to move through the story with? Maybe. Perhaps a film that followed the story of a real woman who was fighting for the vote would have been better.
Twinsters – SO I heard about these two sisters who had been adopted as babies by parents in different countries and who had found each other on Facebook a while back BUT THEN I guess they made a film and people I follow on twitter mentioned watching it and THERE IT WAS on Mum’s Netflix so I watched it and it was delightful and moving and heart-warming and all the things.
Magic Mike XXL – A DELIGHT from start to finish. I don’t think I have ever watched a film where every single person in the cinema with me had such a good time.
A Perfect Day – I don’t think I expected to watch anything so funny when I bought the ticket for this film, thinking “Oh yes, a film about aid workers in a war zone will be interesting,” but it was and I recommend it to everyone.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – All I knew about the series that this film was based on was that it had Robert Vaughan and Ducky from NCIS. Lots of fun to watch and obviously features Henry Cavill eating a sandwich as a key point in the film.
High-Rise – The thing about the London Film Festival is that I buy all my tickets in one go based on what the BFI website says the film is about and then I forget ENTIRELY what I have signed myself up to see. And it’s not like I know much about JG Ballard or Ben Wheatley anyway. I knew that this was about a futuristic apparently utopian 70s tower block with its social hierarchy arranged on the various levels and everything then degenerating into a dystopic horror show and at some point Tom Hiddleston got his kit off. It turned out to be GREAT and a DELIGHT and HILARIOUS.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens – I feel like I have only just seen this film (and kind of yeah, that’s true) and that I want to see it again in the cinema really soon BUT it is still my sixth favourite film of the year. Finn and Rey are ENCHANTING and I wouldn’t mind just watching a film where they go on an space-road-trip and discover the galaxy and everything they’ve never imagined.
Mad Max: Fury Road – While it feels like I only saw The Force Awakens five minutes ago, it feels like I watched Fury Road at least a year ago – even though this was my birthday film and that was only in May. I liked that this was basically the story of Furiosa and the Wives rather than Max.
John Wick – The violence and killing and everything was great and my Mum and I both enjoy violent action films but the REAL HIGHLIGHT was Keanu Reeves hanging out with a puppy.
Spy – So I guess a lot of my top ten includes film that were pretty funny but Spy is probably the funniest film I saw all year.
The Martian – I don’t like watching bad things happening to astronauts SO the idea of an astronaut being stranded on Mars was a bit daunting but this film is great and heart-warming and well-paced.
Jupiter Ascending – OF COURSE Jupiter Ascending was going to be my favourite films this year. It was ridiculous and awesome and Jupiter is a great heroine. It totally filled 2015’s Pacific Rim shaped space in last years cinema-going.
And that’s it. Who would have thought that Jupiter Ascending would have been so much better than Avengers: Age of Ultron at the beginning of the year?
This morning I dreamt that I bought roast duck, flew with a jet pack over London, got on the Tube, spotted Captain America in a restaurant and got a bit lost but eventually turned towards Wembley Stadium because obvs that’s a good landmark to head towards.
Not quite sure how I could see Wembley from central London (which was…. on fire from an alien invasion?).
I’ve been having a lot of wacky vivid dreams.
Also this morning, my Mum tried on all the clothes that we cleared out of my wardrobe as “things that Rachel has grown out of”.
She’s now going to wear my old Phonogram shirt to her line dancing class and has a new range of spooky/creepy t-shirts for it too. 😀
During the course of the work that I’ve done as part of my Masters course, especially in peace-building, there has been an emphasis on the importance of relationships and providing opportunities and spaces for these to grow and flower in a positive and constructive way. I believe, and am very hopeful, that this Global Truce Coalition can very much help to further that process.
It is, in itself, a coming-together of a number of organisations with a similar goal: to improve the lives of all people, and especially the most vulnerable, by working to reduce and eliminate conflict of all kinds.
By working together, the whole can have a far greater reach and more effectively carry out the individual mission of each part where it is needed. Furthermore, the idea behind Peace One Day – that if we can all work together to achieve one day of non-violence, then we have taken the first steps towards a global community where conflict in all forms can be reduced or even eradicated – can only reach a wider audience and inspire the hope that is necessary for such an undertaking.
I wish the Global Truce 2012 NGO Coalition every success in achieving its goals.
Other points mentioned during the launch:
Conflict (along with disease and lack of food, which are connected to war) affect the vulnerable members of society most – the children. Peace Day is used very effectively to try to work against the spread of disease, especially among the young.
Peace work is often met with reluctance from governments – this is where NGOs can step in, with the benefit of them having a great passion for doing this.
Peace is justice, equality and freedom for all – conflict has to be managed.
Skepticism and cynicism are the biggest hindrance when it comes to the hope for peace – people can do it (reduce conflict) and we can help to foster that hope.
Peace has to be locally owned (something that’s also come up on my course) – the most effective peace happens when local communities take matters into their own hands and set up their own local government which they feel is legitimate and can be respected. The communities can take control of their own destiny and this makes the hope of peace a reality. There’s something in there about empowerment.
Transitional environments offer tremendous opportunities for change (heh actually wrote an essay vaguely related to this idea about the “necessity for conflict transformation”)
People living in situations of conflict are twice as likely to be malnourished and three times as likely to be uneducated
Securing a fragile peace, where there is violent conflict, means taking out the fuel for further conflict – the weapons and ammunition.
Coalitions and relationships are the way forward.
NGOs are among the most trusted organisations – governments and banks have become less trusted due to current economic and political issues, but NGOs are more trusted due to their primarily social concerns.
I can’t quite remember the question OR the responses to this one exactly (which is terribly frustrating, because at the time it was really interesting to me and is probably handy for the essay I’m working on now), but the issue of violence against women was brought up and the male-dominated nature of a lot of the organisations that deal with the various routes towards reducing conflict. I suspect I’ll have to corral my thoughts about that one and squeeze it into my essay for my course rather than blogging about it!
Emmanuel Jal mentioned that Jeremy Gilley had told him that his grandfather had been a Japanese POW during the Second World War and that part of his motivation to create Peace One Day had been that no one’s grandfather should have to go through that treatment. My own grandfather was interrogated and tortured by the Japanese soldiers in Malaysia, because they believed that he would know where his Communist brother-in-law was (he was probably hiding somewhere in the jungle, but no one knew where – including my Gua kong). It took some serious bribery from my grandmother’s mother to get him released – if he hadn’t been, then my mother wouldn’t have been born and I wouldn’t exist! The stories I’ve heard about what happened to my mother’s family while the Japanese occupied Malaysia really bring the reality of conflict close to home – while I live in the UK, war has directly touched people who I share close blood-ties with. The Second World War isn’t really something that justhappened 60 years ago to people who are elderly now for me – it’s something that happened to members of my family. And conflict still happens now, all around the world, and people suffer because of it.
But peace does not rest in the charters and covenants alone. It lies in the hearts and minds of all people. So let us not rest all our hopes on parchment and on paper, let us strive to build peace, a desire for peace, a willingness to work for peace in the hearts and minds of all of our people. I believe that we can. I believe the problems of human destiny are not beyond the reach of human beings.
I am of mixed ethnicity. Shock horror. I know. So really, I’m a bit like Spock here, only I’ve got just the one slightly pointy ear. Now, I’ve ranted a little elsewhere about my various issues with how I get treated, so I won’t really go into that here.
Suffice it to say, I’m Chinese and Caucasian. Or actually more specifically, Malaysian Chinese and White British (randomly, it’s kind of interesting how the word order goes in both of those phrases).
There are attitudes, habits and tastes that seem prevalent in the British/English world and there are others that are prevalent in the Malaysian Chinese world.
As a child of two worlds, I’ve pretty much grabbed a handful from each pile. One of these is that I don’t really get the real aversion to going back to live with your parents after university (or for that matter, the perceived eagerness of parents to watch their kids fly the nest as soon as they hit 18). In the Chinese side of my family, going home to live with Mum and Dad is totally expected and normal. In the English world I grew up in? Not so much.
There’s also other things like how the elderly are treated (they seem to be put out to die more in the English world), how extended family relates to each other (possibly just a personal thing, but as soon as my English grandparents died, we stopped really seeing the rest of that side of the family) and smaller silly things like taking your shoes off when you enter someone’s house (in Malaysia, you ALWAYS take your shoes off).
So while there’s a lot of sort of English things I don’t get, I don’t think I could ever live in Malaysia. Buying clothes there is a pain in the neck, possibly because I’m just looking in the wrong places but mostly because I’m twice the size of nearly all the women on that side of the family (I’m just built differently). The mosquitoes. I am allergic to the damn mosquitoes. It’s not a good thing. The bruises left over from the bites I got last December have just about faded. The weather! I am not a hot, humid weather person. Give me cloudy, overcast, cool days ANYTIME.
Tea. Oh God. As much as I enjoy Chinese tea and Teh Tarik in all its forms, making a decent cup of “English” tea has proved almost impossible unless I’m in a hotel. It might be the milk. It might be the water. It might be the teabags. Who knows?
The traditional Chinese family structure is also kind of out for me – with the father as the dictatorial head of the family, especially now that I’m an adult. I’m pretty easy-going, but there is only so much being told what to do that I’ll put up with. There’s also the expectation that I’ll get married and have children (but I suppose, that’s a universal thing) – as someone who has seriously considered entering the religious life (and it’s not something I’ve totally ruled out yet), I am content with the idea that I might never marry or have children.
Oh. There’s also the small issue of all the bands I like not visiting Malaysia. I don’t think I could live in a place where I’d never go to see live music. What little I’ve seen of popular culture in Malaysia…seems to be all the stuff I avoid at home in the UK.
There’s also attitudes to sexuality (and the issue of homosexuality being illegal in Malaysia), to women, to race, to censorship and the corruption seemingly rife within not just the political system there. There are complex issues there.
In the end, despite being a child of two worlds, I’m pretty much English/British with the occasional moment where I identify as Chinese.
Since it’s now about halfway through Tinnitus Awareness Week, I figure I should actually get around to saying something about it.
Some of you who know me in real life (and probably a few who only know me online) might be aware that I suffer from what I would call fairly mild tinnitus or that whenever I go to gigs or sing-a-long movies or anything potentially loud, I wear earplugs. My tinnitus is pretty much down to going to gigs and rocking out at the front and totally not looking after my hearing while I was at university. Looking back, I remember seeing Alec Empire at Reading when I was about 17 and being almost completely deaf for a little over an hour after leaving the tent he was performing in. Alec Empire was great and with all the excitement of seeing all the other bands I wanted to check out at the festival, I didn’t really give my hearing any real thought – other than it was a bit inconvenient that I couldn’t hear how much credit I had left on my mobile. I was young and invincible, right?
After that I went to other gigs. I remember marvelling that coming home after seeing Queens of the Stone age, my ears didn’t ring half so much as they did after I’d been to see Idlewild. Incidentally, that Idlewild gig left my ears ringing constantly for over a week. Again, I was young and invincible.
Until, after one gig I went to (and I don’t remember which one) the ringing didn’t go away. It just stuck about. Pretty quietly, but there.
Most of the time, I don’t notice it. I’m doing other things or listening to music and so long as my hearing hasn’t really been overstimulated during the day… I can go to bed and it’ll still be very quiet and I can just go to sleep like most people. Sometimes though, if I’ve been somewhere loud or right after doing the vacuuming, the ringing in my ears dials up to 11 and stops me from being able to get to sleep. Now, there are ways of dealing with it and I tend to turn the radio on very quietly and then my brain can latch on to that sound as something to pay attention to, instead of the riiiiiiing in my head (I find Ancient Faith radio or Classic FM to be pretty good for this).
The best thing is not to get to that stage in the first place and that’s why I now wear earplugs at gigs. Also, when I vacuum. It always feels like my hearing’s been pretty sharp anyway so I carry my earplugs everywhere and if I think something’s too loud, regardless of what it is? In they go. Best investment ever. I have custom earplugs which are moulded to fit my ears exactly and they are great. They live in a little purse in my handbag and I take them everywhere.
So. If you like going to gigs, wear earplugs. They don’t have to be the custom fancy pants expensive kind – for years I used to pop into Superdrug every so often and pick up a box of the foam kind. They don’t tone down the sound with the same kind of quality, but they still protect your ears and really, that’s the important part.
And finally, a word from Eddy Temple-Morris on Tinnitus, because he’s a boss and I got a discount on my earplugs thanks to him.
You’ll notice I don’t really talk about going away before I go away. That’s so no one comes round to burgle our house. Not that I’m paranoid.
Malaysia was great though. Got to see most of the family, ate out lots, watched my mum buy many many pairs of shoes, ate some more, carried a lot of shopping and generally had good times all round. I still don’t understand how anyone can just buy 8 pairs of shoes over the course of 10 days. The idea just boggles me.
I’m not much of a shoe buying person. I buy shoes when I need them, not just because they’re on sale and because of the exchange rate/cost of living…they also are really really cheap. I don’t get it.
One thing that’s annoying about Malaysia is the difficulty I have buying clothes there. I do understand that one though. It’s because I’m twice the size of most of my female relatives and they’re pretty much the average size of ladies in Malaysia. Meh.