Wednesday, 18 October 2017

On Daphne CG's Death

I was in Valletta when I heard the news. Even as it spread slowly to all the people in this country and even trickled abroad, I saw what I presumed to be lawyers standing about in clusters of suits around the city, already deep in discussion, aware not only of the repercussions of such news but of the significance of such an atrocious act in a civilised country of the EU.

On Monday the 16th October in the early afternoon, wife and mother Daphne Caruana Galizia published her latest blog entry and set out from her home in Bidnija. Only minutes would pass till the car she was driving blew up in an explosion so powerful that it was hurled ‘tens of metres’ away.

As a journalist she went out of line at times, she jeopardised jobs including my own on one occasion and she definitely could use a pen viciously when it suited her. Some loved and others hated her, unfortunately because of their bias towards one political party or another more often than not. However, she was a journalist at the end of it, and a good one too, not a criminal. The one that happened on Monday afternoon was no deserving murder, though certainly a vindictive one. Do not get me wrong. I am pro-life to the point that I do not believe in such permanent retribution even for the lowliest of people and any victim of such a heinous crime would deserve respect in life if lucky enough to escape the blast still alive, else in death should he/she succumb. But to purposely sabotage the life of a writer just to silence her else to pay her back for using her right to free speech, is to shock this nation that relies so heavily on sympathy and hospitality and a united front.


Whoever planned the attack sought to silence a voice, but succeeded instead in making thousands of others use their own.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Single Motherhood: On A Timer

http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/
timer-elements_724806.htm"
I managed to take my bath in peace this evening, without my son shouting "Muuuuummmmmm" from the other room. However there was a reason to that. He actually put me on a timer. I am not kidding. I coaxed him into letting me get away from his room to the bathroom for a quick bath and said I'd be done so quickly my bath would take five minutes. So he grabbed the old mobile phone with the dying battery that he's just inherited from me and decided to make a timer for... exactly five minutes! I complained, saying it would take ten for me to get to the bathroom, undress, take the bath, towel dry and get back into some clothes. So as you might have guessed, the timer started ticking from exactly ten minutes and rang just as I put my specs on after getting into my PJs. Ah, the speed with which you do things when you are a mum!

Pre-mummyhood I would have been shocked to hear anyone relate what I just said above. Pre-mummyhood I would also have said many other things that are now obsolete in my books. Such as that as long as you make it a point that your kids are to behave, they will, at least in public. Haha, say that one again?!

I was a very quiet obedient child who only ever complained on two occasions: bedtime or if we ever went as a family to Sliema. Don't ask about this last, I have no idea why the small me hated the sea-side tourist town with such a passion. But all in all, I would do as I was told and found it very hard to accept that my own little one was never going to be as pleasing as I'd been. So every day for the rest of the days till he realises it is actually embarrassing for him to do so, he will drag out any mealtime (even McDonalds) and drop his pencil multiple times ("Did you see that fall mum?") whilst doing his homework, it will take him approximately five minutes to hear me as I repeat, "Put on your shoes," in the morning and over an hour to settle down in bed in the evenings. So let's use the timer if it helps me get my well-needed five mins soak and soap.

http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/girl-taking-a-bath-with-her-toy_861678.htm

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Does Money = Love Then?

I was meant to write this post probably over a year ago but had totally forgotten about it till I came across a first draft. Although the introductory "A while ago" has now been changed to "Quite a while ago" it remains nonetheless a current post to write. I wrote it, though not in the heat of the moment, the same week that the episode in question happened, as far as I recall. I was pretty upset about the issue, although unnecessarily so I know, and to this day I would still like to give my take on the subject.

So, quite a while ago, I was in a supermarket when my son went up to an ageing man and excitedly showed him a new toy I had given him. The man's first words were, "See how much your mum loves you!" I know he meant it in a good way and was nice enough to listen to my child and talk to him, unlike some people who just brush him off. However, it is a pity that this person, and most of the rest of the Western World, tag love with gift-giving rather than what truly counts.

Would I have been a lesser mother had I not afforded to get my son something that was not really a need? I can understand that with love comes responsibility and I would never dream of, say, not getting my son something he needed for school or health reasons. Even a mother who can't afford those things will go out of her way to find the means to give them to her children anyway. But to suggest to my son that my love for him is proportional to the number of toys and knick knacks I've bought him over the years is a mentality that many unconsciously adhere to and one which is, I hope, incorrect.

I cannot figure out how and why people connote the two (gifts and love) together. That would be like saying that no Third World mother loves her children enough for providing them with no expensive toys and gadgets, or that a father is less of a father if he provides payments on an apartment rather than a villa for his family.

I really think we should be getting our priorities straight. Yes, a better standard of living is always welcome if achievable and it is a joy to watch a child open a much-desired present at Christmas. However let us not mistake gifts for love or love for gift-giving as they are really, truly, unrelated.

Hearts credit
<a href="http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/sketchy-pink-hearts-pack_827456.htm">Designed by Freepik</a>
Presents credit
<a href="http://www.freepik.com/free-vector/several-colored-christmas-gifts_967831.htm">Designed by Freepik</a>




Sunday, 1 October 2017

Laugh? I nearly went to Miami!

Registered voluntary organisation DLS Productions creates theatrical concepts and productions by the community and for the community, with auditions open to the general public, yet boasting members and committee members that are now big names in theatre.

Starting out as a Sixth Form initiative at De La Salle College, the theatre group eventually outgrew the limitations of a school setting, becoming an organisation in its own right. Over this summer its committee organised workshops called ‘Intensive Performance Workshops’, which were held at Palazzo La Salle in Valletta and from there, the idea for their current project was born.

Copyright DanielM Photography
For DLS Productions is now back with a new show. Following last year’s jukebox rock musical Belliegha Rockin’ The Underworld, it is time to turn to comedy as a group of seven actors take to the stage to present Laugh? I nearly went to Miami! for the first time in Malta. Penned by Miles Treadinnick and directed by Lucienne Camilleri, assisted by Maria Agius, it is a play that relies on comedic timing, banter and interesting visuals, that make it a treat for adults and kids alike.

The fast-paced comedy of errors is set in the eighties where we meet Tom (James Camilleri), who is an Elvis fanatic, and his fiancée Alice (Nicole Piscopo). Together they intend to fly to Miami for an Elvis Convention but the flight gets cancelled due to fog. Arriving back at Tom’s flat, they realise they have picked up the wrong suitcase back at the airport and are now in possession of  half a million dollars. Meanwhile they have walked in on Tom’s brother Barney (Neil Grech) who is trying to seduce his date Muriel (Nicola Mangion). Soon Auntie (Laura Cornelius) and Frankie (Thomas Grixti) both arrive with a bag containing $20,000 and it is Inspector Hendy (Kyle Mangani) who finally sorts everything out.

Sharp humour and miscommunication are the order of the day in this live performance in English, happening at Teatru Salesjani in Sliema on the 20th and 21st of October.


Tickets can be bought from www.ticketline.com.mt or through phoning 79848788 and cost EUR12 and EUR15.

Copyright DanielM Photography

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Lust - by Roald Dahl

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have bought a set of four books by Roald Dahl that 
explore human nature’s darker side.

It was difficult to decide which book to start reading first and finally settled for what I believe is the easiest of the titles to understand. So I found myself opening the one called Lust, still unsure of how the author would present that feeling in his ten short stories about the subject.

I do not have a clear idea of what it is I expected out of the tales. I assumed it would be about lovers, cheating, sudden attraction, the heat of the moment. Instead I read through the first story to find that Dahl was very much into presenting a more subdued and everyday version of how Lust can interfere in, or take over, our life.

His writing is detailed and vivid, making the reader want to turn the page every time, even when the characters are idly sitting around a table in the bar. There is something comic about the way the scenes are presented and the very dialogue of the characters big and small. In the first story it is as if the narrator, though not one of the characters, is nonetheless in their minds. He presents whatever is going on in a way that is in keeping with their characters. In fact, two out of the three main characters are always called by their nickname, as they would call each other in 'real' life.

In the second story, he presents the beautiful Natalia, the cheating wife, exactly as she would be. There is no cooing and luring of the narrator as despite his attraction to her, she cares nothing for him. She is dismissive instead and surprised when he takes up her offer to be a guest in her mansion, which she made out of politeness during small talk rather than with any intention that he would take it up. Later on, when she is caught (even literally!) in the wrong, her allure vanishes and her panicked self shows through.

Reading Dahl’s short stories reminded me of those by Graham Greene, only the latter is purposely depressive in his presentation of the stories. Dahl, on the other hand, plays with his imaginative narratives in a way that suggests he thinks his characters’ situations are absurd. It is almost as if he is laughing at the ridiculous situations that people are ready to get into for lust.



Saturday, 16 September 2017

When The Colour Changes...

I used to love the colour blue. I actually once wrote a blog post about the colour blue (read here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2014/04/colour-my-life-blue.html). I even had a guest article on ivillage.co.uk about coloured walls and distinctly mentioned blue walls (read here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2015/03/a-question-of-colour.html)

https://www.pinterest.com/crismartinez984/
violet-flowers/?lp=true
So it was a wonder even to myself when I first started to like also the colour of red wine and burgundy some years ago. Still, I insisted I loved blue primarily and would hesitate whenever someone asked me what colour I was buying something, unable to decide most of the time between the two types of colour.

Then my son was born and I was shopping around for a dress for his Baptism Ceremony. I looked around the clothes shops for a non-existent dream dress that would not only hide my post-baby tummy but also make me look like a princess, as is always my target when choosing formalwear (I guess I still have a bit of the little girl in me!). I browsed through endless selections and tried on multiple choices, all of them 'iffy' dresses that did not have me convinced. Then in one shop, when I was all ready to postpone what seemed like an impossible task to a future date, a salesgirl finally pulled out a stunning purple dress that I knew was 'It' even before I'd tried it on. The dress fit like a dream, the colour complimented my skin, hair colour and eyes and I left the shop as a very happy young mother who was wearing no boring suit to her son's Christening. And so my love affair with purple began.

I wore that dress so many times and it always made me feel confident. Partly it was the colour, that rich and deep hue that alternately reminds me of passion and young princesses, a contradictory colour that looks naive and experienced all at one go. Soon it was not just the dress that I owned in some shade of purple, but also makeup, an iPad cover, more clothing, jewellery, the storage containers in my wardrobe, my stationery, even my car! I eventually dyed my hair purple a couple of times and started buying the purple version of the 'She' deodorant range which curiously enough is that one spray smell I love and want to wear.

https://www.pinterest.com/explore/
the-color-purple/?lp=true
As I have probably mentioned before, colour is to me a very important part of life. Well, that is evident even in my blog's name! So for years I tried to understand how the love of blue that had accompanied me since early childhood could so suddenly disappear and give way to its darker cousin, which ironically is the very mixture of blue and the deep wine red that I mentioned earlier. It seems to me nowadays that the colour I so love, in all its different gradients and hues, is the colour that I would attribute to a person's soul. Blue is cold, unnervingly so, but purple has borrowed enough of the warm colours to lend its velvety look to unearthly deeds it seems.

As a result, it is only lately that I have perceived just why my colour changed. It is because I have changed. The blue was a primary colour, devoid of experience, untainted and unexplored. It was the colour that obeys and is unchanging, a colour to trust for its calming effect. Once I became a mother, it was like my very soul had changed, and later still the changes came, piling up, making me who I am, both in terms of family life as well as shaping my very being. In fact maybe that is why I only lately felt that my transition from a Blue-lover to Purple-lover became acceptable and complete a couple months ago. It has to do with finding oneself and oneself after all can always change again. I am the first to admit that I am ever-changing and suffer from itchy feet, crave constant change and am always up for a new challenge. Then again, maybe the colour purple is itself like that in character, and might accompany me as a wilful companion through my life.

https://www.pinterest.com/abbey3759/purple/?lp=true

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Happiness

From https://www.theodysseyonline.com/
happiness-is-your-right-claim-it
As I have mentioned of late, I am currently starting out my new life as a single woman. It has given me food for thought and I went through a whole process of finding myself all over again and with that, discovered all the things that make me who I am. One of the things I much enjoyed previous to settling down in a relationship and routine had been writing and speaking different languages. So lately, given a certain twist of fate, I found myself rediscovering the Italian language in all its beauty. Knowing we are learning and practicing something for our own well-being and personal fulfilment rather than just for exams makes it all the sweeter and usually helps us strive more towards that achievement. So I decided today to share with you a paragraph I wrote in Italian to practice my writing. Unfortunately the person who was meant to edit it never returned the text to me with any adjustments so forgive me for any errors of spelling or grammar. Meanwhile, for those who do not understand Italian, I have included a translation to English just below it.



La Felicità


Se qualcuno mi chiedesse, “Cos’è la felicità?”, io direi che non c’è modo di quantificarla o descriverla veramente. Però se ci devo propio, allora direi, essere felici è una passeggiata lungo il mare, o forse è il canto degli angeli nel celo; quel canto che si sente quando c’è l’amore nella vita, quando ci sono amici che sai non ti lasceranno mai, che ti terranno la mano quando ce n’è bisogno e asciugano le lacrime quando tutto va male. La felicità è nell’ essere genitore, vedere crescere i propri figli, dovunque siano, lontani o vicini. Si sente la felicità infatti nell’ essere parte di una famiglia, nell’ abbraccio della madre, anche quando siamo digà adulti. Ci sono tante versioni dell’essere felici, ed è diverso per tutti l’idea di che ci farebbe di più felice nel mondo. Pero credo che dopo tutto, qualunque risposta darei a questa domanda, quella più corretta sarebbe a dire, “È l’amore, in tutti i suoi veli diversi, che è la vera risposta per la felicità.”




From http://brucerosenstein.com/the-summer-of-happiness/


Happiness


If anyone were to ask me, "What is happiness?", I would say that there is no way in which if can be quantified or described properly. But if I really had to do that, I would say, being happy is a walk along the coast, or maybe the song of the angels in the sky; the song that one can hear when there is love in one's life, when there are friends that you know will be there for you always, who will hold your hand when you need it and dry your tears when everything seems to go wrong. Happiness is being a parent, seeing your children grow, wherever they are, be they far or near. In fact happiness is felt when one belongs to a family, in a mother's embrace, even after we grow into adulthood. There are many versions of happiness and each one of us has a different idea of what would make them the happiest person possible. However after all, whatever reply I give to this question, the correct one will always be to say, "It is love, in all its different forms, that is the true key to happiness."

Saturday, 9 September 2017

As it is the 9th of September... Happy Birthday Hugh Grant!

Yet another birthday for Hugh Grant, who turns 57 today. Long after the hype around his arrest on Sunset Boulevard in 1995 died down, Grant's star is still shining brightly as he appears in new films every year, in an assortment of new types of characters so unlike his Charlie from Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), the film that made him into an overnight star back in the nineties. So whilst wishing the dapper Englishman a warm Happy Birthday on his special day, here I am once again posting links to articles and reviews of mine about the boy who will forever remain famous even for his About a Boy (2002).

A short feature about Hugh:

A long article about Hugh:

The Hugh Grant label on my blog:

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Cruelty, Madness, Deception, Lust

This is not exactly the entry I had in mind but as that one still requires a bit of polishing, I thought I would share my latest purchase with my readers instead. To be honest, I never before knew that Roald Dahl wrote books for adults too. When I stumbled across this set at a Book Fair yesterday morning, I couldn't not stop and take a look. And once I'd had that look, it was impossible to walk out of the Fair without acquiring at least one of those tantalising books. Then it seemed a pity to buy just the one when they all looked so pretty together. Well, you know how this story goes. Here's the book (or books!!) I got at the end:

Apparently each of these instalments explores the theme of the title through short stories that depict the author's ideas and thoughts as he dissects the said title's possible meaning and repercussions. I have not yet had time to start reading through them but once I do, I plan on coming back with my thoughts about each of the topics.

Meanwhile I look forward to publishing the other entry I mentioned as soon as my friend is done doing some editing work on it. I do not usually ask anyone to check my work, for grammatical or any other reason, but this one required it due to the nature of the entry. I will not be divulging anything else for now but I am sure that once it is online, it will be an entry that will pleasantly surprise you and hopefully also intrigue you.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

We Work In Such An Atmosphere

Some of us love their job, others hate it. Some work throughout the daytime and others on a roster or shift basis. Some live to work and others work to live. What is invariable in any job or for any person is, however, the fact that unless you are self-employed with no employees helping out in your venture, you surely have stumbled across one or another of the types of people I have listed in this article of mine that recently appeared on eve.com.mt

http://www.eve.com.mt/2017/08/07/office-stereotype-alert/

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Back to Business - Pics and Snippets from England Trip

So I got back from my holiday over a week ago and have yet to share any of my photos or experiences on here. It seems like suddenly the number of hours in a day have shrunk or maybe I’m just trying to fit too much into them. But whichever of the two it is, I am here now with a selection of pics and memories to share.

First up is the story behind these two lovely books that you see here.



Baggage checked in and with over an hour left to departure, I started kicking myself for not taking a book along with me for the flight. So I peeped into Agenda looking for a Nick Hornby to buy, and instead found myself caressing the chunky paperback copy of World Without End, which is the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth. However the sequel by itself made no sense and there didn’t seem to be a copy of the first book. I was advised to check again after our Security Check at Departures but despite finding matching copies of both books at WHSmith, the queue to the cash till was so long I might have missed my flight for waiting so I regrettably put both books back on the shelf. Needless to say, I popped into the very first bookshop I found once settled in our England hotel and bought them both. I weighed them up and down in my hands, thinking of just how much luggage weight they would be using up, yet could not bring myself to put them back on the shelf yet again. So now I finally have them in my non-existent library at home, seeing as my whole life is still packed up in boxes.

The highlight of the holiday, which was a present from my mother to my son, was a visit to West Midland Safari Park, where we took a trip in the Safari van in stormy weather that frightened most of the animals and made the giraffes get turned in (apparently they can easily fall and break a leg when the ground is slippery). However we were still lucky enough to see one giraffe out of the enclosure, which also came to eat out of our hands.

However my favourite episode of all was the reenactment of the War of the Roses at Warwick Castle. Here you can see shots from the show.



Meanwhile I revisited also the area titled Royal Weekend Party, which leads the visitors through a series of rooms that would have made up the royal family’s leisure home, complete with library and multiple bedrooms, all with realistic waxwork figures of the people who would have lived within the rooms.

Our visit to the Castle included a hilarious truly-lost experience in the Horrible Histories Maze, which although set up as a children’s attraction was very much a real and confusing maze of hedges, inside of which one could stumble upon recreations of The Stocks, a First World War area enclosed by sand bags and even barrels of explosives.

Although our England trip was short and the idea was cultural more than a shopping expedition, we did manage to haul back quite a few new items of clothing and accessories and here I am pictured in two of the t-shirts I bought whilst on the trip.

Which concludes my entry for today, as I switch off for some much-deserved sleep. Good night.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

A Mini-Break

I made a resolution to update this blog less sporadically and yet here I am, leaving today on holiday and with no option to take the laptop with me due to luggage constraints. So rather than let yet another week pass without an update, I decided to pop over to at least write this short entry. I hope to be back with pictures to share, good times to relate, and a fresh mind to pick up my life where I'm leaving off as I do hope to totally disengage in these coming few days. So goodbye until next time.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Getting To Know Myself - Through Other People's Eyes

Hello again and welcome to another post about my lately very-interesting life. Well, I say very interesting because I have been learning a lot about myself in the past few weeks. It seems that being single gives you the breathing space to get to terms with yourself and even get to know yourself some more, sometimes especially through other people's eyes.

To explain what I mean I must confess that I felt more of an attaché than a person in my own right through the years of being in a serious relationship. It didn't help that I was first dating and then married to someone who was better-known and more influential than myself wherever we went and with whoever we met, as well as that I slowly found myself willingly retreating into a submissive post. Which makes me wonder why I anyway hate being single when I felt that way for so long.

But back to the original idea of getting to know myself better, it all started with that I have over the past months, in acquiring back my status as person rather than one-of-two, become much more sociable. I have made new friends as well as becoming more friendly with my colleagues, as if finally coming out of my shell really. So here are some things that I learnt about myself through other people's comments:

- I apparently care too much. About everyone, and everything. A friend correctly told me, more than once, that I should 'just do my thing' and well, if the other people fit into it, well and good, otherwise no prob!

- And I think too much too, about every little detail and every word. I put too much effort into analysing even a passing comment and generally upset myself or worry too much for nothing as a result.

- I am a dreamer (well, I used to know this before life got in the way but thanks to a new aquaintence who noticed it in the first week we met, I now know just to what extent I am so, hehe!)

- I am a planner. I was told this by two people who do not know each other, both in the first week that I got to know them. Now I never had thought about it before though I do plan each minute detail of my life wherever I can (and often get disappointed as a result).

- I am annoying. Yes, this last took some time to digest and I even got upset at the person who said it to me. But, in the end, I went through all our interactions in my head and he was right, I can be very annoying, hehe. Thanks for pointing it out dear!

That about sums up some character traits of my own that I have been mulling over. I would mention the people who suggested them by name but not everyone is like me and enjoys seeing their name written down (yet another character trait of mine). So I leave you tonight with hopefully a more clear picture of who I am, in a blog that somehow seems to be turning more personal. Good night to all, until next time.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

In Crisis Mode: How Minimalism Can Help

Facing yet another blank page, this time because I refuse to let more days pass in order to update this blog, regardless of the fact that I am still to think up the topic for today's entry. I did promise some weeks ago that I would be tackling Minimalism in my life next and I think I might just make it today's main theme.

I mentioned in my post about Zero Waste in relation to my current life situation (which you can read here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/05/zero-waste-when-lifes-in-crisis-mode.html) that I find it hard to be a diligent follower of the movement when I am in crisis mode. This to me indicates that the habit is not exactly a part of my life, or at least not enough that it remains crucial even in extreme situations. Minimalism, on the other hand, fits me like a glove and more so in my hours of need!

Whilst other people are put off moving house because it might be too daunting to face hauling all their life's possessions from one home to the next, I managed to pack up all of my fave home decorations in one box! Meanwhile, though I do admit to having more clothing items than a Minimalist usually would, I know and love each item and therefore it will be easy to move everything in an organised manner, rather than if I had a jumble of clothing that I do not know what to do with. Even all my earrings and pendants fit nicely in their ice cube trays, ready to change their drawer home at a moment's notice.

As a last example, can you imagine a non-Minimalist book-lover having to load box after heavy box of books onto the moving truck? I actually shudder to think how non-Minimalists ever move house without giving up halfway through the packing or trips! And when I do set up house again, it will be so much easier to feel complete with less furniture and storage space now that I own less things and want and need less stuff. So all in all, Minimalism has served me well in this new experience that I am going through.

But talk of physical space and practicality aside, another perk of Minimalism is needing less money over all. We can all survive with just food, clothing and shelter but we can't all live with just them. So in a sense, my less-is-more mindset has also freed me from over-worrying over how I will now manage to care for myself and my son on one smallish pay as opposed to living as a unit of three on two pays, my ex's being the better one.

I end today's post here as it is late and my sleep debt is running high (see my last entry about this here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/07/the-new-version-of-me.html) hoping to have at least today given a practical argument in favour of Minimalism as a way of life.

Sunday, 2 July 2017

The New Version of Me

Last night I had the first good long night's sleep in months. I was knocked out for over nine hours, which didn't stop me feeling sleepy again this afternoon and taking a siesta whilst my mother minded my little boy.

Why am I saying this? Not only because it explains my never-ending tiredness and therefore why I totally forgot all about the days passing by and when was my next article due as well as the next blog post, but also because there is a reason for my uneasy sleep of late.

I say time and again that I do not discuss my personal life on the blog and I stick by that rule. However when something becomes an official accepted fact, it becomes naturally something I feel allowed to share without really letting anyone in on any secret. So after some months, I think it is time to advise that I am currently single again, for the first time in eighteen years.

Whether this news comes as a shock or no depends on the person reading it, how well or no they know me, and their perception of relationships in general. I have no intention of going into any of the reasons why it happened or my background. Rather, I think it was high time to divulge the news as explanation to my erratic posts. Truly, it feels like my whole world has not ended exactly, but begun again in a different way, something which I was not exactly prepared for.

It is a status that came with consequences attached, which included said lack of sleep and a never-ending stream of new things to see to. Our previously one united unit has turned into two new ones that are still in their newborn year. So as I come to terms with coming up with edible meals and ensuring my budget helps my pay last through the month, as well as my new work timetable, I also find myself constantly questioning the reasons why. For a Romantic, the end of a marriage is hard to digest yet that very trait explains the why of a long-term relationship after all.

There are many things that single life has taught me in these short months and I think the best one of all is that it has made me less afraid of facing anything that comes my way. I can handle driving an unknown road (though I still don't especially like to) and I believe in myself in a way I never have since my teenage years. I have learnt that compliments can hide bad intentions and that people will lie if they can get away with it. Above all I have learnt the value of a good friendship, even coming from an unlikely source.

And so I end this shortish post with hope rather than pain, looking to the future rather than the past, and hoping to make of life the best that it can be.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Girl on the Train: A Book Review

I often review books that are about to be released as films, else review films that are based on books. When I picked out a copy of The Girl on the Train to review, however, I had no idea that the book I held in my hands would be soon on the big screen. I wrote it a while ago but never shared it here, so by now some of you might already know the story from the corresponding film. Nonetheless, a good book is always worth reading, even after watching a film based on it. If you need some more convincing to pick it up and read it through, here's my review:



Monday, 5 June 2017

About a book, and a film. My Cousin Rachel

My latest on EVE is about a book that years after reading, I would still pick as one of my favourites of all time. Luckily for me, it is soon being released as a film starring my hot fave actor Sam Claflin so it's a double treat for me. Read all about it here:


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

On Life's Blows and How The Writing Goes On

And ashamedly I have been away too long, yet again. I sound like a broken record any time I pull out the excuse that 'life got in the way' but truly that is what happened yet again. I mentioned in the last post that I am currently going through some personal stuff that's thrown me into Crisis Mode and it still stands.

Unfortunately the Crisis Mode extended to my writing schedule but as I struggle with myself to start my life over after a big painful stab killed my old one, I got some very basic, honest and even noteworthy advice from someone who I realised lately seems to know me better than I know myself. So I am taking that advice and pouring myself into my writing rather than shying away from it. Easier said than done when my mind's all over the place and I am barely functioning properly, still in shock from recent events. Yet I do know that if I want to heal, move on, start afresh, doing that which makes me not only happy but also makes me feel in control is what will make the biggest difference.

Maybe that is why my personal poetry book has empty pages where the past few years should have resided in it. Unless I am ecstatically happy else in the depths of despair (to put it in a dramatic novelesque way), I do not write poetry but only prose. It is from deep emotions that we extract our very soul and pour it into writing and needless to say, the poetry is right now coming back in full force. In fact it seems a struggle to subdue that soul into writing the commercial articles that are my 'job' as well as part of my passion. However, I am too happy with my readership, my Publishing House and too in love with my own work (I am proud of it, if I may say so myself) to not push myself to still write those more mainstream articles that I know will be read by hundreds, hopefully even thousands of people at times. Meanwhile my poetry book is personal and remains for the most part unshared with the world, so not exactly the outlet I need when I crave readership for what I write.


I knew it was about time to come back to my blog to update you readers, but until a few minutes ago I had absolutely no idea what this would be about. Then I did that one thing that always gives me the push I need to sit and get things done, I opened up my portfolio of articles and flipped through the ever-increasing number of typed pages with their all-too familiar titles and phrases. Not only does that action always induce sweet flashbacks to the time of writing each piece, but also gives me the will to fill up even more of the transparent folders that still remain empty in the book. So even as I struggle on with the lot life's thrown at me these past months, I promise to come up with the most amazing works yet as I look to fill up those empty pages with thrilling words and my favoured alliterative phrases that I make up as I go along.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Zero Waste when Life's in Crisis Mode

Life has a habit of throwing crisis our way that we would never expect, even though in some instances it is not the case and some situations just seem to brew at the back of our minds for ages and ages before coming to the fore. This counts also for people and things. One day that very treasured item that has seen you through each day might get lost or stolen or break down and people enter and leave our lives as we go through the journey of life, some bringing joy and others despair, whilst we hope to move on every day to a better place.

I am not trying to turn philosophical on my readers. I would rather write my usual humorous take on something or other than be about to tell you that I have no new vlog post or conclusions on my Zero-Waste experiments to share, nor new film reviews either. Life has, in fact, thrown me into crisis mode and whilst as always I am not open to discussing my personal life on this blog, it is unavoidable to confess to at least this fact whilst apologising for not having any material to share. However just as any crisis will help us find our instincts and survive, so has it shown me how the usual topics of my conversations fit (or not) into my most basic life.

I started out my Zero Waste experiment trying to reduce as much as possible on my family's trash. On one trip to Lidl just after I made up my mind to record my findings, I browsed through the isles selecting a net of tomatoes over the ones packed in a tray (they were probably cheaper too) and chose to buy the 500gr tubs of yogurt over a larger quantity of the smaller servings. My reasoning was to save some plastic, which in theory would make sense. However, my 500gr tub of yogurt lasted less than the 3 days over which I should have spread it and I ended up eating more than my fair portion, which used to be 150gr daily. Not only did it throw me off my diet but also didn't seem to make much sense in terms of daily plastic waste as a result. Thinking about it, it might even have turned out to be more costly in terms of my daily expense.



Meanwhile, in true hippie fashion, I was trying to reduce waste at home also by saving anything compostable to give my son for the school compost bin. So all my teabags (I'm a heavy tea drinker), egg shells, apple, banana and potato shavings, went into packs in the fridge to send on to the school. I was surprised that my son seemed to be the only one in the class to keep this up through the first two terms. Well, roll around the third term and my now crisis-mode home management system and even I forgot all about the daily ritual of storing rather than throwing away. To be honest, and I'm sure the Zero Waste community will hate me for this, I was relieved to have something less on my mind.



Ok so I do not have enough findings about the experiment to write a good long article highlighting the good and the bad, especially since I had to stop mid-way through my hands-on research. However I did get a fitting conclusion to how Zero Waste figures in my life:

I will forever try to help our planet by being more attentive to how what I buy and eat and throw away will affect it. However, I don't think I will ever be ready to put it at the top of my list of things that I care for in the way that Minimalism has so snuggly fit in. But that is the topic for my next post.


Sunday, 7 May 2017

A Plotted Death or Two

Are you the type of person who cannot get away from characters even after a good book finishes? Do you feel for characters, good guys or bad, and wonder why so many of them get killed off? Over the years I have suffered through too many character deaths to let it go on any more without at least trying to justify it, if only for my own sake not to feel such great pity any more. I am after all a creative writer and know well that character injuries, disappointments, sadness and death are all a part of the plot. So here it is, my article about character deaths. Oh Will Traynor, I still miss you!


Sunday, 30 April 2017

An Awfully Big Adventure to watch, as well as to read

I first watched the film for An Awfully Big Adventure back in 2014 when, in a crash course of research and film-watching I had taken it upon myself to go through practically the whole of Hugh Grant's filmography. At the time I had not yet read, nor ever even heard of, the book by the same title, on which the film is based. However, it being directed by Mike Newell, a hero in my eyes for pulling off Four Weddings and a Funeral on the miserable budget and just forty days of shooting (check my old post about that one here: (http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2014/03/a-winner-is-born.html) , I knew I wanted to see what could only have been a masterpiece, I thought at the time. Newell delivers, as does Hugh Grant in his sleazy villainous role, but unfortunately the film was not a masterpiece at all. Back then I reviewed it from the point of view of someone seeing it not only for a first time, but also unable to understand the Liverpudlian accent used practically throughout and not having a clue what to expect or what the story was all about. The result of those first musings can be read here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2014/09/an-awfully-big-adventure-1995.html

I have since then read through the book twice (fascinating book, artistic rather than mainstream and never boring) and rewatched the film in order to compare. The first thing that came to mind when I read Beryl Bainbridge's book was how closely the whole of the film followed the original. Yet film and book can never be alike in interpretation, because the two different media require different skills and can make use of different tricks as well as that the written word is about describing just enough for the reader to imagine the scenes as he will, whilst a film's job is to accurately bring to life those descriptions and to portray, even without being able to show us what's in a character's head as a book would, just what exactly is going on with the characters. In fact, visuals can convey things that words cannot. I found it charming yet disconcerting that this film did, a few times, tune into Stella's (the main character and a teenager) mind to tell us details that would otherwise have had to be left out.

But on to the real object of this post, which is the Book versus Film review I promised my readers a while ago. Please note that there are a few spoilers ahead but nothing that gives away the plot or ending in my opinion.

Bainbridge's novel is played out around Stella Bradshaw, a teenage girl in 1940s England, who is fascinated by and actually good at acting, if nothing else. She manages to take on an apprenticeship at a local theatre where she falls for the handsome but eccentric Meredith, the director, whilst settling in well with the rest of the cast and crew. As she slowly starts to find her place in the system and with the people around her, a newly arrived old-time actor returns to the theatre to play a main part vacated by another actor who has broken his legs. P.L.O'Hara, the most fondly mentioned actor who also appears to have been a womaniser with a lost love, notices Stella in a way she cannot yet understand and soon she finds herself in a relationship of sorts with the older man. Meanwhile, with Meredith still in the background, things are complicated in more ways than one.

The film relies totally on the book for plot but I have noted that a couple scenes have been slightly changed or that at times two facts have been intertwined into one clip. Also, the film leaves quite a bit out and yet tries to fit in other facts without giving them the attention they require in order to make sense. It starts with non-sequential clips that had me thinking how the film plays out best for those people who've read the book rather than as a stand-alone. One thing to its advantage is that it gets progressively better to the point where it becomes gripping towards its surprise end.

Meredith and P.L. O'Hara in the film, picture from https://multiglom.com/2015/02/22/seven-british-films-from-the-1990s-that-are-actually-worth-seeing/an-awfully-big-adventure-screencap-alan-rickman-11591093-1024-576/
In a line I enjoy with each watch of film and trailer, Hugh Grant's character tells his newly assembled cast before the start of the season that they're all the best people for the job, given the money. It truly seems to me that this film was put together in the same way, using the best resources and scripting that were possible when making what looks to me to be a low budget film. It also does have some good camera angles.

All in all I would prefer reading this book rather than watching the corresponding film for this story, yet even after two read-throughs of the book, one particular scene in the film made me understand a part of the book that's important to the ending much better than reading it had. In the one touching scene for Grant's character, Meredith gives his interpretation of a particular play to Stella. Her idea is that it is a film about unrequited love, his is that it is about death and the survivor. His imaginative description of what death is, after all, to the living, becomes pivotal to Stella's and the film's final scene. Twice I read the book and twice this had escaped me, as well as on the first viewing when my ears were not yet as tuned to the thick accents and the British accents in general. In all probability this was due to that a book is usually read in fits and starts and it is rarely the case that one could pick up a story and go through it at one time. With a film, in an average of two hours, the viewer is given the whole picture, and not enough time to forget details that might previously not have seemed important enough to remember, as would happen in a book.

The film is also to be praised for some minute details that make it more haunting, in keeping with the atmosphere of its final few scenes. It gives Stella a flashback, one that is used throughout, where the girl can still remember the last time she saw her mother when still a baby. I believe Stella did used to think back to her past in the book too, but not in the particular instance I am about to mention. When the flashback happens again right after a very particular end to her relationship with O'Hara, Stella and the audience can hear a very distinctive and finalistic click as the door closes behind her mother. I would not like to give away the ending so I will just say that it was a very aptly timed artistic touch in adding to the great loneliness Stella must have been feeling.

O'Hara with the girl Stella (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/500110733600766353/)
This has turned into a rather long post but I cannot end it before adding a very important piece of praise for all the main actors involved in this film. Despite the episodic and sometimes erratic nature of the script as well as a story that is quite difficult in my opinion to visualise and interpret, Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant in their respective roles as hero and antagonist pulled off the dark characters marvellously and Georgina Cates (not her real name but the one in the credits for this film) managed to capture Stella's innocent and odd nature in a way only a natural young innocent could.


Janet Maslin, who was a critic for The New York Times for twenty-two years up to 1999, wrote about this film back when it came out and her review is spot on so here it is for you all in case you'd like a read: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=990CE3DD1530F932A15754C0A963958260