The Brilliant Book of Mormon

It was finally time for me to evaluate this much-talked-about West End Show.

Tongue-in-cheek, yet irresistible. That is the way to sum up this masterpiece play by the makers of South Park. Although, those of you with delicate sensibilities may want to stop reading right now as sometimes it borderlines on total ridicule of the Mormon faith.

It has taken a while for me to get round to seeing exactly what this was all about and all I went in with was a knowledge that some people might find it offensive. Luckily for me I do not get easily put off and I went to a Saturday night showing, immediately pleased by the opening song, which takes the mickey out of the door-to-door selling of religion by depicting a Mormon training academy.

The music was great and the lyrics were really quirky (and outright rude at times… be prepared for the C word and some jokes about maggot infested scrotums). One ditty was about switching off any feeling you might have in order to be a positive person. A guy referred to fancying his buddy and having to switch off the gay part of hisself. Another talked about his sister dying and him not being there when she passed away because he was queueing for the latest iPhone. Generally it was pointing to the fact that some of the stories and ideas within this religion were hard to follow or explain but the preachers had to simply forget about those aspects that didn’t quite make sense.

Without giving away the plot, the two missionaries went to Uganda where they tried to convert locals to the Mormon way of life and get them baptised. Suffice to say, this was not an easy task. A local army general was treating the locals badly and creating a barrier to any progress they were making.

This hilarious play was punctuated with spectacular song and dance numbers and its stars really shone with incredible vocals, clever dance routines and great comic acting.

I gave this performance five stars. You really must go and see it for yourselves!

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American Horror Story

Intriguing Yet Abnormal

I have just started watching American Horror Story from series one and have to say it was rather strange but very enticing.

From the start I found the flashbacks and unusual events were hard to follow, but soon everything started to fit together into a catchy storyline which was peculiar and different to anything I had seen previously.

I am looking forward to seeing how everything unfolds as I have found some unanswered questions that really are niggling me.

For instance, why does the maid look twenty years younger when the psychologist sees her? Why are the twins so important? How is Jessica Lange involved in the story and why does her daughter tell everyone that they are going to die?

Hoping to find time to watch lots more and see where it all leads. It seems Glee creator Ryan Murphy is onto something good and I am late to the party.

What are your thoughts on this drama?

Great! Ocean’s Eight!

I went to see the intriguing new Hollywood Movie, Ocean’s Eight last night and it blew my mind!

I have always been a massive fan of Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham-Carter so was always destined to try and watch this heist movie. I was thrilled to watch it on opening night, as a great excuse to avoid the England football match.

Having not seen the Ocean’s Eleven to Thirteen films, I went in with no preconceived thoughts. From the word go, it totally entertained me and kept me intrigued till the finish. Sandra’s character, Debbie Ocean, was meant to be George Clooney’s Danny’s sister and she begins the movie by being released from a five year jail sentence.

Even pop singer Rhianna stars as an internet geek who is able to hack into the security of a top New York Museum. Guesting alongside the 8 ladies is James Corden as an insurance investigator who makes it his job to get to the bottom of what has gone on. His morales are not that clear though and he presents as a humorous man who may or may not be straight laced.

Sandra and Cate are slick as ever and their characters are clever and mischievous. The heist is intricately planned and totally believable. The story progresses rapidly and the women deal with all sorts of problems as they surge forward with their plan. The plan is suitably cunning, convoluted, cleverly conceived and well executed.

I give this film five stars as a fun, inventive story with a clever, witty script.

What Inspires Me

Part One – Written Texts

When I was young, I learned to read easily. Entering school at age 4 I could pretty much recognise all of the phonemes and read steadily. I loved stories and my mum read them to me every night, after a while enabling me to take over and read back. Teachers were pleased at my love of stories and I soon began to enjoy finding out about things too with children’s encyclopaedias and instructional books. I didn’t really need to practise my spellings and was soon able to spell quite challenging words. When I think about my own learning process I remember enthusiasm being a big part of it. Largely, though, the learning to read and write was independent after that initial introduction to the mechanisms behind sounding and blending.

Recalling a teacher reading the BFG with brilliant regional accents and another reading George’s Marvellous Medicine, I was soon hooked on Roald’s stories. Dahl was a regular feature in my education and a year five teacher really brought to life the Grand High Witch with a super German accent. Roald Dahl remains a huge influence and I am pleased to see his work being changed into theatre productions and movies.

But at secondary school English was taught in a more boring way and often became a bit devalued. I lost my love for books as some of the choices forced upon us just did not sit well at all. Some of the texts were dragged out over weeks and months. For example, we spent a whole year looking in minute detail at, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ but it was not worth such careful scrutiny. Not to say it wasn’t good. But it was my year eleven English teacher who reawakened my love of books. She liked and recognised my short, concise approach and I ended up choosing to do an A-Level in English with her and really pick apart the language of humour, narrative and the media. I owe a lot to her – Mrs Senior.

She introduced me to Shakespeare with MacBeth and made me see that Jane Austin was clever and insightful. Mrs S told me I would make a good journalist and could probably write a damn good book. Thanks to her I have now taken writing into my life and now who knows where that may bring me.

Roald Dahl started me reading. Who inspired you?

Date Wait

A snippet from one of my ‘SHORT DATES’ stories.

I was particularly nervous. My hands were sweating profusely. It felt as though my heart were about to burst out from my body. I took another quick glance into the mirror and it crossed my mind that my hair might well be showing signs of receding. Moments like this were probably the main cause. After all, I was always putting myself in these situations again and again; setting myself up for a fall every time. Something quietly assured me that this time could be different. I sprayed a last desperate drop of hair spray gel onto my short brown hair and rammed my wallet into my pocket. The night had started in a timely manner but I had no idea what twists would lay in wait for me this time.

Thinking about my last few dates, one was with a married woman who wanted to play the role of cougar and the other was with a girl who was so obsessed with her ex that she spent the majority of the evening talking about and showing me pictures of this ‘probably very pleased with himself’ guy. He was well rid of her. She was an absolute nightmare. Of course they all had their downfalls and I just seemed to keep on attracting this type. I took a deep breath as I got into the taxi. Texting her to let her know I was on my way, I also spotted a text from my ex. Deleted. I had forgotten to delete and block her until now.

My painful love life did have moments of happiness though. It was just unfortunate that while I was having a great time with each girl, she was coming up with a way to either control me or humiliate me. One of them even made a pass at my big brother. Another girl became a jealous stalker. She was crazy about the fact that I had friends who were women. One day she was discovered lurking in the toilets at work, where she even began a row with a colleague who she was convinced I had been having an affair with. Oh well. Tonight needed to be different. It was going to be my last attempt.

If you want to read more, have a look at my short stories collection, ‘SHORT DATES.’

Education Does Matter

A reflection on learning. Learning involves climbing a gentle hill so start that climb and you will love reaching the pinnacle.

I wanted a blog post that was reflective and uplifting so I decided to write about something I care a lot about. To me, education is the most important thing in the world. After all…they used to say, ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’

I have studied some psychology and a little biology and reflected upon my experiences in education, including tutoring adults. To me, it seems that education is not just about grades and outcomes, it is about opportunities to absorb information. Sometimes learning happens through experience, yes. But there is a big place for formal education and I feel passionately about this.

  1. I think about when I was at school and I would do anything to avoid having to play rugby, as it bored me and I feared getting hurt. I recognise that some people, young and not-so-young, may feel that way about English, Maths or Science. But, I soon realised that I had to try everything and give all subjects a good go, not just sit by and let education pass. I now know that attitude to learning is super important. I feel we should not be telling young people it is alright to not take part in things or encouraging them to always take the easy way out. This can lead to them opting for a way out every time and distinctly affect their independent skills later on.
  2. Education happens through trying, failing, recognising shortfalls and remedying these. It relies on things going wrong and using thinking strategies to solve certain problems. I know lots of people think that teaching people to be competitive is bad but if they don’t learn how to take a knock back, how will they survive in later life?
  3. It is never to late to learn. I have relatives that did not go to Uni and later regretted it. So what? Start afresh. Education can be picked up at any age. Learning is not limited to teenagers.

I guess what I am trying to say is… education matters. Even if you realise it late in life, it is never too late to access learning.

What are your thoughts? Do comment.