Category Archives: Film

Eternal Sunshine

If you haven’t seen this film and want to, look away now. It’s not really about the film as such so much as the concept. But what I’m going to say in this post will almost certainly tell you everything you really didn’t want to go in to watching the film for the first time knowing.

Right, you’ve had your warning. Basically it’s about memory, and about a service which removes peoples’ memories of a certain person or event. So of course it is primarily used by distressed ex-lovers trying to get their beloved ex-girlfriend or -boyfriend out of their head in order to move on with their lives. And as you know, I hope, two characters erase one another and then one way or another discover that they have erased one another, discover where all their old memories are, and fall in love again. I can’t remember whether they actually regain their old memories of each other, or merely discover that they had them – it wasn’t made clear, and I wasn’t concentrating. Anyway, there you go. I was watching this recently whilst doing some boring room-sorty thing, and it made me think a bit. One obvious question: if there’s a reason why you broke up, surely if you can’t remember anything about your entire previous relationship history is basically doomed to repeat itself and you’ll end up going through the same break-up and then probably discovering this memory-wiping service again… and so it goes on.

But the other thing that really troubled me was this: every time I’ve really fallen for someone, they’ve usually had a big influence on my life, as a friend or a partner, whatever. I’ve learnt a lot from those people and experiences about myself, and I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and changed a lot as a result of those relationships. Anyone you’re close to like that, be they a best friend or a boyfriend, will change you in some way, not necessarily in a bad way, just in that everyone we meet affects the course of our lives and the way we think about stuff in one way or another. We learn valuable lessons from the people we encounter all the time. So if you wipe the memories of that person, who or what do you become? If, as a result of your relationship with a person, you’ve become more confident and trusting, say, do you carry on being more confident and trusting – or, with no known reason to have those characteristics, do you lose them because they no longer tie in with your personal narrative, do you forget those lessons because you no longer have the memories of having learnt them and therefore to all intents and purposes never did learn those things? To be honest, I think the latter is more likely, though I couldn’t say why.

I wouldn’t change a second of my life, really. I’ve made some stupid choices and I’ve met people who have hurt me a lot and whom I have allowed to hurt me. I’ve had bad days and good days, bad years and good years, I have regrets, we all do – but in a world where all of those things hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t be who I am today. So, given the choice, I’d keep those memories. What do you think?

P.S. I’m getting confirmed today. So that’s the subject of my next post, when I get the time… .

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I'm Going To Be Away All Weekend Again So…

…have some of the Notes I found on my phone.

Nine:

Rob says: “PESSAMIST: DIFFICULT IN EVERY OPPORTUNITY.

OPTOMIST: OPPORTUNITY IN EVERY DIFFICULTY”

(I love him but he can’t spell).

Six:

I wonder what of the music being made now will stand the test of time:? I have a theory that by and large the music that hits the charts now from less popular genres has broken through that particular barrier so maybe they will last?

(As you might have guessed the time stamp on this one is definitively the wee hours).

Eight:

I have actually developed a minor crush on that last guy becuase he takes photos of his pets and flowers :S !

Renegade Brass Band.

(talking to H at photosoc one night. Well, writing her a note, anyway).

Four:

Some kind of emotional dive bar I crank out the same feelings like cheap spirits or piss-weak beer in seedy profligacy. Discounts and doubling up so you get twice as much cliche for your cash and could drown your wretched face in the brine spilling from my eyes.

I imagine my heart skittering across a tiled marble floor – black and white, Italian, leaving a trail of shining scarlet blood, gappy, clotted, lumps and gouts and thin translucent trails between, and the toe of your shoe as you walk away, red on brown leather, pointed, shining.

(Jenny goes all emo ‘n’ ting).

Three:

‘Course you’re not, you’re not scared of anything. Box falls out of the sky, man falls out of box, man eats fish custard!’

(The first episode of the latest series of Doctor Who. As if you didn’t know).

Ten:

“…and every time we did it, it was destroying me inside…”. X’s testimony. Sex. Guilt. Oh, help.

Five:

Stressed is Desserts spelled backwards.

Seven:

Random Man At Bus Stop: What he’s looking at is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen, yet he can’t quite believe it and however much he loves it it hurts his eyes as it – she? – and now (if I ever wasn’t) I am extrapolating wildly, from my mute seat here in this bus in the slowly waking springtime heart of the city – walks towards him. The end. The beginning. Chapter One.

(Please tell me I’m not the only one that makes up stories about the people I see waiting for buses/on trains/on other journeys?)

Two:

You are the person that I love most that I’ve ever met. Shofolk sandals, £125.

(No, I don’t know either. I think one’s a quote from what is quite unreasonably one of my favourite books, and one is, well, shoes).

The rest of my notes are excruciatingly dull, the end.

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The Princess Bride

When I was in Year Seven, so, about eleven years old (in fact, definitely eleven years old, being as how I’m an August baby ‘n’all), one day our teacher was away for a lesson and so our form tutor took the period, but because he couldn’t be bothered or something, he let us watch the first part of a video (remember those?), The Princess Bride. I remember it being big and epic and scary and adventurous, with a love plot of some kind, but mainly about the adventure. And the big cliffs were really scary and there were these massive eels and a deep dark forest and an evil prince.

But I never got to see past the first forty minutes or so because people kept talking, our form tutor kept hitting pause to punish people into silence, and then the bell went for the next period anyway. I knew I wasn’t meant to like such a deeply uncool thing as a clearly very nineties fairytale, when all the kids in my class by that point were constantly quoting Forrest Gump and that awful film with cheerleaders and Kirsten Dunst, so I never breathed a word about it, but I always, always wanted to see the end.

So a few months ago I was in what H and her friends and I call ‘the sex shop’ (by which I mean Central Entertainment Exchange, or CEX, duh, we’re so funny, and I saw it on the shelf for £2.50, and so, now I’m a grown-up and don’t need to worry so much about things like ‘cool’, and only marginally about things like £2.50, I bought it.

I’ve been so busy these past few months, out of the house four evenings a week as well as every day, usually out with friends on Friday evenings anyway, and away for a number of weekends (leaving out for a moment that I was doing some seriously uncool things like IVFDF, the Church Weekend Away, and visiting my grandmother), so this term I’ve hardly watched any TV (and that would be on iPlayer whilst getting on with other things like packing/tidying/etc anyway) let alone found the time to sit down and watch a whole film (seriously this term my main source of narrative entertainment has been a couple of pages of a book sometimes before I go to sleep, and The Archers (oh I’m such a catch)), and anyway, I reach the end of term and I’m at my aunt’s house and having finally made sense of packing and not started cooking supper yet I decided to sit down and watch The Princess Bride.

I wish I had got to see it when I was eleven; I would have loved it. Heck, I enjoyed it now. It’s definitely a kids’ film, but it’s great fun. The love plot is soupy when relevant – swelling violins and chaste sunset-lit kisses and big declarations of undying love – but completely unobtrusive the vast majority of the time, since due to the complex twists and turns of the plot the lovers actually share the screen for probably about ten minutes total and spend eight minutes of that time with him fighting giant rats and swooping her out of the way of flames and killing things with his sword, and her twittering about looking scared and swishing her hair about (as heroines go she could definitely be more gutsy, but then, with a name like Buttercup, what can you do?). So basically that’s pretty much ideal for a pre-teen audience, keep the girls happy with a bit of kissing, but don’t do it enough that they get disgusted/bored. The script is pleasingly witty but obvious – I don’t think I would have found it so obvious at the age of eleven, but of course the villains are a bit pantomime and the hero always has a brilliant and biting comeback to more or less everything. There’s a swordfight, a distinctly unscary torture device, an albino, a tree with a secret door, lots of great costumery, Billy Crystal (I’m sorry but as far as I’m concerned he can do no wrong), Andre the Giant (oh yes that’s right), adventure, comedy, suspense, and a friendly grandfather to remind you all that it’s all just a story, just when you get most scared.

Funny, though – I don’t think it would get made now. I think kids of the right age to enjoy it are just a bit too knowing, aren’t they. They watch films ostensibly aimed at teenagers and adults, I think. I mean, ten years ago I felt embarrassed about enjoying this film just when I was bang in the demographic to which it is aimed; who knows how it would go down now. Can you imagine Jumanji being made now? Or Flubber, or The Secret Garden, or  any of the films we grew up on (she says, running out of ideas because she spent seemingly most of her childhood reading books instead)?

Anyway, that’s not the point. The main point is, The Princess Bride. And also, someone please remind me how every time I hear the words ‘pride’ or ‘prejudice’ I make yet another mental note to buy the BBC DVD of Pride And Prejudice since we only have it on VHS, and I haven’t got round to replacing it yet, and would that same kind someone forcibly drag me onto the Amazon site or something so that I actually do so? Thanks.

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The Golden Compass

Possibly the most annoying title ever thought of for a film when the book was called Northern Lights, at least in the UK. How very annoying.

Anyway. Actually I want to talk about moral compasses. Hello. I’ve just recieved some news about a friend who has done something so completely off my moral chart that my mind is just boggling; it feels like my brain is a waterbed upon which a really fat person has just landed really heavily and my brain is just rebounding, heavily, in that waterbeddy way.

Erhm, yes. What this friend has done is not in the usual early-twenties love triangle/cheating lying shit/selfishness line of things – that, well, I don’t know. It is about selfishness and about emotions we can’t control and although I don’t approve of cheating, lying and all the rest of it in terms of relationships, I do understand why it happens, how you end up in those kinds of situations.

I’m not here to talk about what this friend has done. What I am here to say is, morally, there are some things which are just completely off the map, utterly wrong. I don’t believe in moral absolutes – or rather, yes, I do, I believe in notions of Good, Bad, Right and Wrong, but I don’t believe that everyone exactly shares my views and I suppose in that sense I believe in the platonic forms of those things – that there is an objective morality and we aim wildly at it. Obviously as a Christian I also believe that those things are inspired by and ordained completely by God – but as a reasonably liberal Christian I don’t necessarily agree that it’s all in the Bible exactly as written, otherwise I’d believe in stoning adulterers to death and so on.

Objective morality or no, I believe that as a culture, day to day, we all believe roughly the same things. That although plenty of us sit on a spectrum, morally – just how ‘sacred’ should sex be, how much should the State provide for the needy, and so on – we would all agree that the state should provide some assistance and that sex is in some way a Big Deal. Broadly, we all share similar values, most of the time – and sometimes someone crosses a line and does something which is truly shocking because it doesn’t fit anywhere within a moral spectrum of which we can concieve – something which displays none of the values that we tend to assume that everyone shares to some extent, something which seems utterly wrong because we have no way of explaining it or justifying it to ourselves and therefore cannot imagine ever doing such a thing ourselves.

And then you start to wonder if there really is any kind of shared moral compass. Whether everyone in a given society, say, broadly, Western culture, really has that much in common when they make moral decisions from day to day. Whether we do all share the same motivations and desires and whether they influence our behaviour in the same way. Really, can we assume anything at all about why people do the things they do?

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I am a Girl so I Like Chocolate, Shopping, Shoes and Teddybears

And holding hands and drinking cocktails and counting calories and stealing your chips but claiming to only want a salad and watching The Notebook.

I’m sorry but I am absolutely fed up to the back teeth of these fan pages that seem to have sprung up on Facebook with names like ’50 things guys ought to learn about girls’. Or, sorry, ’50 Things Guy’s Ought Too Learn About Girl’s’.

Perhaps people with poor grammar are a separate class of individual of which all the females do like nothing but shoes and chocolate while the guys talk about football and drink Carlsberg and don’t understand PMS. Otherwise I can’t really understand the phenomenon.

Why is it that these groups claim to have some kind of semi-serious insight into the female psyche as a lesson for men, when the mistake they’re making by generalising so completely about 51% of the population actually means you come away knowing less about girls than you did when you were just bumbling along and not realising that what I want, when you want to say sorry, more than anything in the world, the best possible way of expressing your heartfelt apology, is to give me a teddybear the size of a small fridge.

No, wait, that’s exactly what I’d like. Sorry if I sounded so sarcastic there. How did men ever cope before some lovely blonde twenty-something girl in New Look heels that look a bit like Manolos in the semi-darkness sat down and wrote them a list, in 50 points, that tells you everything you could wish to know about every single girl, because obviously we’re all the same.

Oh, and I really don’t like The Notebook. Or Rachel McAdams (though she was good in Sherlock Holmes). And I really didn’t like her in The Time Traveller’s Wife, which if you ask me was even worse than The Notebook.

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Franklyn

Another film that I have recently watched. Sadly I wasn’t completely awake or compos mentis at the time of watching due to mild inebriation and the fact that I was gradually acquiring one absolute bugger of a headache. Anyway, I enjoyed it, and it was interesting. One of those films that is slightly confusing when you start to watch it and then you feel terribly clever when you piece it all together and then rather stupid when you realise that everyone else got it when you got it too and you have no real reason to feel that clever.

Lots of depression, mental illness, and a possible parallel world, as well as various delusions and things. Those are the themes. It had the feel of a comic-book remake – I have no idea whether or not this is the case – due to the visual imagery and costumery used – some very strong visual tropes and metaphors and some very steampunk styling. Captivating characters, although none of them seemed terribly happy but then I rather feel that that was the point. And a it was nice to see an appearance from Jeff from Coupling (no idea what the actor’s name is, but there you go. Incidentally, on the subject of Coupling, it’s a great show, and furthermore the last series is definitely just as worth watching as the first three despite the absence of Jeff (though it would be nice to have more of a conclusive ending to Jeff’s story – or to see him again properly), very funny, although it makes me worry about my thirties already…!) although also odd to see him being serious and a grown-up.

I can’t really say much more without giving away lots of the plot, but you should definitely watch it. It feels a bit Neil Gaiman or Cory Doctorow somehow, and like I say, dystopic, dark, and comic-book-y, in an entirely good way. I very much enjoyed it. The DVD case compares it to Donnie Darko and other films and I can kind of see why but I’m not sure that that does it justice. Anyway, very enjoyable. Also, Eva Green – beautiful, as ever.

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The Road

This is another film I watched recently. Obviously being The Road I didn’t enjoy it as much as I liked Avatar, because, let’s be honest, it’s about a man and his son slowly dying all alone in a post-apocalyptic, dead-Earth hell, where seemingly everyone is out to steal their stuff and also probably eat them.

It’s not wholly faithful to the book and there is, surprisingly (but also not that surprisingly) too much schmaltz – all this flashbacking to scenes before the wife/mother to man and boy dies, played by Charlize Theron and utterly, hopelessly, pathetically adored by Viggo Mortensen. One wonders what she ever saw in him. The cat is currently standing on my shoulder so I’m sorry if he takes it upon himself to contribute to this entry. A couple of we-are-going-to-make-you-cry scenes with a piano. And an ending that was ambiguous but in almost entirely the wrong way – not, Can I Trust You, but Can You Even Be Real? Now I can’t see the screen. Thanks, cat.

However, for a film adaptation of a book it was better than I expected by a long way and definitely worth seeing. Beautifully shot, and it threw up a lot of questions about morality, death, suicide, grief, love, and so on. Good acting, and maybe they missed a trick on some of the screenplay but the film is probably worth watching for one scene alone where they meet on their travels an old blind man and see the slowly changing morality of the boy and his father, separately, and also, just who is really in charge.

I have to say, though, if everything was dead, if all that was left was me and a few thousand other human beings, with nothing to eat but each other, the odd dead insect, and a dwindling supply of stores to loot for tins and the like, if I had the guts I would seriously consider suicide; I would certainly not make much effort to stay alive, just because, well, what for? The film managed to present suicide as actually the most sane and rational choice; Viggo Mortensen’s optimism was blind, naive, visionary, and utterly mad.

Anyway, if you’ve read the book, I would definitely at least consider watching the film. If you haven’t read the book, you should read it; and I don’t know whether or not it would be your type of thing. The cat is nudging my face now and definitely wants some attention, or more food, or something, so I’d better be off.

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Avatar

If you go and see it, you must, must, must see it in 3D.

It’s a visual spectacular – brilliant CGI, so well done that sometimes I could hardly tell what was and what wasn’t computer generated except for the fact that some of the things I was seeing just don’t exist on this planet, and couldn’t, either.

Arguably the plot is derivative and a little cliched, the point it makes hamfistedly obvious – don’t destroy the planet we have because it is what sustains us, literally – and some of the actual script is a little clunky or obvious.

But the thing is, the plot almost comes secondary to the absolute sheer beauty and spectacular nature of the whole thing. This whole different world that the writers have imagined up, with creatures that work in a whole different ecosystem and whose evolution you can, up to a point, actually guess at – it’s incredibly cohesive and some of the things they imagine are truly original.

I really enjoyed it – it was long, perhaps more than three hours, but it really didn’t feel like it, I was completely captivated. And so yes, if you get the chance, go – watch it. In 3D. And to be honest think of it like going to a show rather than like going to the cinema – forgive it its weaknesses of plot or dialogue and see it as, well, a spectacle. It’s amazing what they can do with 3D, and how they do it.

Actually, how *do* they do it? How do they make sure that the image, which without the correct goggles looks like you’re seeing in double vision onscreen, with things that are nearer to you more split than things which are further away – how on earth do they make sure that your left eye recieves one half of that image and your right eye the other half to give you the illusion of depth perception? I know each lens is differently polarised, so how does that mean that it only picks up the left or the right eye’s given view? Anyone? Callan, Dickie, Martin? (why do boys always know these things?). Alright, girls, do your worst, beat the boys to it… *sigh*.

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Dreams No.2

This is actually about dreams of things I would like to do with my life and not stuff I’ve thought whilst asleep and not accountable for what happens in my head. So here is a list, ranging from the mundane to the definitely-never-going-to-happen-but-wouldn’t-it-be-nice, of things I’d like to do some day, outside of the whole career-marriage-kids-die-happy thing. I’ve probably done a post like this before but it’s probably changed a bit, and I felt like writing this list, so here it is:

  1. Learn to knit well enough that I can knit exciting clothes for myself and (sorry, kids) my maybe-some-day children (they’re going to hate me).
  2. See a rocket being launched (albeit from a certain distance).
  3. Travel round the world without going on a single plane (this is not particularly likely)
  4. Be able to draw people that look not only like actual human beings, but also like the people they were originally meant to look at (to this end, I’ve joined the Life Drawing class at my university).
  5. Know about wine – what’s good, what’s bad, what’s better, what those strange words mean, what goes with what, and most importantly, what I do and do not like (in slightly less vague terms than ‘this is nice’ or ‘this tastes cheap’).
  6. Know one end of a camera from the other (ditto joining PhotoSoc). To be fair to myself I am my mother’s and grandfathers’ (yes, both of them) daughter/granddaughter insofar as they are all (or were) good and interested amateur photographers (my grandda does the photos for the Peoples’ Theatre in Newcastle and still develops the films himself in his darkroom behind the kitchen); and I’ve taken some not completely terrible shots in the past, but I would like to know more about the technical side of things rather than just be baffled as I am at the moment by all the strange numbers and symbols and moving parts on my grandfather’s old manual or the various DSLRs I’ve managed to get my hands on in the past.
  7. Pretty-much-always be part of a half decent orchestra/choir.
  8. Learn to sew and make my own patterns (because I like very few of the patterns you can buy in the shops because they don’t appear to be designed by anyone who really knows what’s going on in fashion right now – so I don’t know where Lucy gets her patterns!
  9. Some day get a solo in the university chamber choir.
  10. Learn to ski (seriously it looks fun and also I’m kind of embarassed that I can’t – it seems that everyone has been at least once and I don’t want to end up doing a Bridget Jones (although I’d be far better dressed, all sleek in all-black minimalist awesome skiing…stuff. Whatever people wear when they’re skiing) and making a fool of myself; it just seems like one of those things I ought to be minimally competent at).
  11. Make a creme brulee – I don’t know why, I’ve just always wanted to try.
  12. Have singing lessons and get vaguely good at this whole singing thing.
  13. Go and buy lots of clothes in London next time I have money (Camden, Portobello Market, Oxford Street, and the rest. Perhaps I should go on a minibreak for one).
  14. Climb all the Munros (mountains higher than 3000ft in Scotland)
  15. Learn the first Cello Concerto by Schostakovich.
  16. Go back to That Hamlet Near Morfa Nefyn (I can’t remember what it was called) on the Lleyn Peninsula, Wales – unbelievably stunning even in the rain.
  17. Have my entire wardrobe consist either of things I have owned since forever or of things which I bought second-hand or sourced ethically (and be able to afford things like this)
  18. Be able to paint/draw and be pleased enough with my efforts that I can stick ’em up on my walls in frames and such. I would love to know how to handle oils well but I’ve lost the confidence I had as a child/young teen so I’ll work my way up from pencil and charcoal slowly, thanks!
  19. Have a book published (why not? you know this blog is beautiful :P)
  20. Habitually sometimes cook from a recipe – and an interesting recipe at that. Yes, I can make up delicious food from scratch using only lentils and cabbage and taters, but I would like to have to arse around for days finding a deli that stocks asafoetida or something, and then do finicky little things with this or that ingredient, and then unveil a dish of something so unbelievably perfect that it makes you almost cry, matched with the perfect bottle of wine (see no.5), and followed by a melt-in-the-mouth have-more-than-three-spoonfuls-and-your-heart-will-stop dessert. Preferably served with candles and Mr Right and not much else.
  21. Live in London for a while.
  22. Go to the Proms once in a while.
  23. Go to bed every day feeling that I have accomplished something (I like that feeling in my life at the moment. I may be incredibly stressed but I like that I am getting things done)….

…which means I should get off the laptop now and go and do some more work. Is there anything I’ve forgotten?

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A Good Day

B and I had a lovely afternoon – walked into town, got lunch – very nice jacket potatoes for very little money – and picked up cinema snacks, all the while talking and talking and talking about his relationships and mine and everything else under the sun and how to be happy and settled and how friendship groups change and evolve and how to feel settled and content and our expectations and wishes out of life and everything else basically. And then we went to see Up and it was beautiful, really, it was. We first of all see a fairly fast rush through a man’s life from him watching a black and white film about the explorer he idolises, to then meeting his tomboy wife-to-be, when they’re both children, and then a sequence of scenes from their marriage (possibly the sweetest thing Disney Pixar have ever produced – it brought a tear to probably most eyes in the house except the children, to whom it was probably mainly just funny), and then him as an old man, alone, and the reasons that lead him to tie a bunch of balloons to his house and take off for Paradise Falls, only to find an eight-year-old boy scout on board, desperate for his Assisting The Elderly badge. Then their adventures with a rare bird and a large number of dogs whose collars mean they can talk, and their eventual journey home. All about love and family and parts of it were just too lovely for words; but then parts of it were laugh out loud funny, and we had ice-cream and brownies and licorice allsorts and it was in 3d (amazing) and we had chocolate cornflake cakes and bread and a really, really good time, and walked home, still talking, and I felt a lot better.

And then I did an orchestra concert with my mother’s orchestra in a school in the town where I used to go to college way back when, playing the bass parts on my sister’s boyfriend’s cello which I never convinced to stay in tune, or never got into tune in the first place, so was constantly adjusting. That and the fact that bass parts are written one octave up from the register in which they’d come out on a bass, so if you’re playing them on the cello you’re constantly trying to transpose down an octave but there’s only so low a cello can go, so you hop around the octaves, and then sometimes being a cellist pretending to be a bassist is simply no bloody use so you have to switch over to the cello parts instead mid-piece, mid-phrase, mid-bar sometimes, and all in all you think you’re making a bit of a mess of things but apparently it actually all sounds pretty good by the end. And I’d not been to a rehearsal for this one either so it was, well, all good fun, as they say.

And meanwhile I got chatting to another cellist, T, who I admire and adore so much. In her seventies, she and her husband have travelled with his job a lot (he was in the Forces, a pilot) and they have lived everywhere. Tales and anecdotes from every continent, millions of snippets of sage advice and comforting philosophies and the sense, all the time, that you should sieze every opportunity you’re given and just really, really live. If what you’re doing isn’t right for you, then change it, do something else. And it’s never too late, and if you really want something then you just have to do your bloody best to get it. And at the end of the day ‘you just get through, somehow, don’t you?’ because even for the most carpe-diem of us it’s not always sunshine and cider. But make the best of everything, and live, and always know that if you died tomorrow you’d not feel like there was anything you hugely missed out upon.

I was also glad to hear from her that she’s been having lessons with my beloved former cello teacher, and that they get on like a house on fire. And tomorrow (eek!) I’m having my hair cut. We’ll see how that one goes, but I think it might be time for a change. Not that many of you even have a clue how my hair looks.

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