Thursday, 20 November 2014

A tale of two sides

This is a tale of two sides.  This is two stories, side by side, unrelated yet somehow interconnected.  One is a story is about a great actor.  This great actor’s name is on everyone’s lips.  Even my parent’s know who he is.  But he is more than a talent, he also a man, a man with a social conscience who stands up for his human-centered beliefs.  The other story is about a pregnant woman.  A woman, who is not native to the UK but finds herself here, forced to sell the Big Issue to survive.  A woman, who is polite to everybody, even those who walk past her quickly, as if they haven’t seen her. 

Today was the usual rush and race of life for me.  A fast buggy-walk plus a bus ride to a playcentre, then a fast buggy-walk plus a bus ride back again, lunch on the move, a long walk to nursery, a small child handover, then a long solitary walk to town to resolve my mobile phone and broadband issues.  This was followed by a short break at my local library, then off again to re-embark upon that same long walk to nursery. 

Then, an interruption to my normal day – I saw the lady selling the Big Issue.  I've seen her before many times before.  When I see her, I buy the Big Issue.  When I can, I give her extra money.  More recently, I've chatted with her whilst buying the magazine.  Through doing so, I have discovered that she is pregnant.  She always wears baggy coats and hides her baby bump well so I was surprised at her pregnancy, yet she is almost full-term.  She recently told me that the father to her child has returned to his country so she is alone, young and pregnant with her first child.  Pregnancy is scary enough but alone, in a strange country, having to sell the Big Issue to exist?  That’s incredibly scary.  Yet she always smiles through the struggle.  She is always extremely gracious and polite.  Today she told me that she is sick, she told me what her illness is but I won’t share that here.  Sadly her illness may mean her baby is born early and she can’t receive treatment for her illness now because it places her unborn baby at risk.  I struggled to suitably demonstrate the empathy deserving of her position.  Not because I don’t feel it, I do, enormously but how can one offer words of empathy for such a difficult situation?  I can offer her money and some of my time but that is small comfort really. How can it be that this woman stands in the cold, selling the Big Issue, pregnant and ill?  How can this be allowed to happen?  Moreover, what can be done to ensure that people don’t have to suffer like this?  I told this lady that the person on the front of the magazine is my favourite actor.  She looked at the cover and noticed the man for the first time but I don’t think she knew who he was.  We spoke some more but then I had to rush to collect my daughter from nursery so we said goodbye and parted ways. 

A long walk, a small child handover part two, an even longer buggy-walk, one or two issues trying to locate a suitable café, a meet-up with my ex –husband, an evening meal then my ex-husband took my daughter to his house.  Before he left, he gestured to chocolate cake and ice-cream upon the café’s table.  He’d brought me some cake whilst I’d taken my daughter for toilet training and nappy change.  I thanked him, cuddled my daughter and reassured her of when I’d see her next.   They left. I sighed then sat down. 

My feet ached from all the walking but likely far less than the feet of the lady in the first story. I picked up my copy of the Big Issue and looked at the actor on the front, Benedict Cumberbatch, star of stage, screen and radio.  I turned to the interview with Benedict Cumberbatch written by Jane Graham.  It was clear from the interview that Benedict had had a long day.  He’d been interviewed for many hours, in spite of this, he, of course, spoke to Jane Graham with the charm, kindness and charisma that you’d expect from the man.  He spoke passionately of the plight of Alan Turing, the brilliant code breaker who should have been celebrated as a war hero, yet was subjected to chemical castration due to his sexual orientation. It was clear from the article that Benedict feels tremendous empathy towards Alan.  Indeed, Alan’s story is motivation enough to feel great compassion towards him but no doubt to embody a role, to become Alan Turing, would add greater depth to Benedict’s feelings of empathy. 

Benedict also spoke of life, of the human condition, of family and of giving himself to others.  As Jane said, Benedict’s words seemed to point to the idea of family and children.  Indeed, post-interview, he announced his engagement to Sophie Hunter in a discreet notice in The Times.  Benedict also spoke of a moment when he knew what he wanted to do with his life.  He described a moment where you want to drink in your feelings, to Polaroid the pivotal instant when you know where you want to go.  Today, I also had such a moment.  Today I decided I want to make a real difference.  I want to do what I can to ensure that pregnant ladies don’t have to sell the Big Issue to survive. 

So this is where the two stories intertwine.  This is where a young, pregnant, lady who is seeking asylum and a great, English, actor connect.  The lady sold me the Big Issue and Benedict was on the cover.  Coincidentally, or perhaps, by some strange design, I now know that I have to do more to help ladies like my Big Issue selling friend. 

xx 


xx 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Thoughts: The Imitation Game

I decided to watch The Imitation Game upon the day of it's UK cinema release. I decided to watched the film alone with nothing but sweets for company.  Waiting for films is not something I do often.  I reserve it for the special ones.  I waited for The Lord of the Rings, all three of the trilogy.  I waited for The Imitation Game.  In part, this was because Benedict Cumberbatch starred in it.  In fact this accounted for about 70% of my desire to watch.

Once I was seated in the cinema, pic 'n' mix in hand, fizzy pop close by and largely recovered from the new Sainsburys advert, I discovered that The Imitation Game was a million times more than the majesty that is Benedict Cumberbatch.  Of course, he was profoundly brilliant in role but so was Keira Knightley, Alex Lawther, Allan Leach, Matthew Goode, Matthew Beard, Rory Kinnear, Tom Goodman-Hill, Mark Strong and Charles Dance.

In the past I have avoided films that centre on war because I can't bare the thought of conflict and human loss.  The Imitation Game was, of course, about breaking Enigma so the geek in me felt I had to watch.

Through the film, I thought about my existence, and how, if not for the soldiers, the code-breakers, I might not exist.  I thought about the thousands upon thousands of people that died, on both sides of the conflict.  I thought about the central role that Joan Clarke played in breaking the code, at a time where women were not deemed as much more than home-makers.  I thought about the internal struggle Alan Turing faced everyday as a gay man, in a world where homosexuality was a criminal offence.  Twice I saw Benedict, as Alan, running, seemingly trying to out-run his sexuality.  The struggle was evident upon his face, as was the loss of his first love Christopher.  I thought about the terrible tragedy, that a man so pivotal in bringing the war to a close in favour of the allies, was physically and intellectually marginalised by undertaking treatment to curb his homosexuality.  In other words, he was subjected to chemical castration! And, on a dramatically lighter note, I thought about how terribly cute Matthew Goode is, and yet still nowhere near as devastatingly sexy as Benedict Cumberbatch.

As I walked from the cinema, to recommence my journey upon everyday life, I felt I should sit in the emotions created by watching the film.  It seemed an affront to reconvene my life, just as I had before.  How lucky we are to be here. How fortunate it is that Hitler was beaten.   How terrible that war happened, and continues to happen.  I also thought, how absolutely wonderful that "it is the people no one imagines anything of, who do the things that no one can imagine".

It you haven't watched do, and if you have, watch again.

xx

Monday, 10 November 2014

I heard Real Love today



Real Love by John Lennon


All my little plans and schemes
Lost like some forgotten dream
Seems like all I really was doing
Was waiting for you

Just like little girls and boys
Playing with their little toys
Seems like all they really were doing
Was waiting for you

Don't need to be alone
No need to be alone

It's real love
It's real, yes it's real love
It's real

From this moment on I know
Exactly where my life will go
Seems that all I really was doing
Was waiting for love

Don't need to be afraid
No need to be afraid

It's real love
It's real, yes it's real love
It's real

Thought I'd been in love before,
But in my heart I wanted more
Seems like all I really was doing
Was waiting for you

Don't need to be alone
No need to be alone

It's real love
Yes it's real, yes it's real love
It's real, yes it's real love...

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~ Give me lines on glass The dawn tides And walking past Bring me feathery flashes The midnight moments And backward glances ...

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