Starter for Seven

In the past few weeks, I’ve been nominated twice for the Stylish Blogger Award. Am I stylish, as a blogger? Is my blog stylish? Heck, I doubt it, but I’ll take what I get!

Thank you so much to Todd Pack over at Todd Pack’s Messy Desk for his generous nomination; Todd is one heck of a writer, whose commentary on popular culture and his beloved south is not only brilliantly written and insightful, but it’s also really funny. The second nomination came from workingtechmom over at her blog called Ouch, Fired! Workingtechmom writes about family life and work life, the balance required, as well as the challenges and the demands of working and not working. Thank you both for nominating me.

As with most blogging awards, there’s a task involved and that is to tell you seven things about myself that you might not know. Here goes:

  1. I am something of a global phenomenon. I am the current reigning world champion sleeper-in-front-of-the-television. I have slept through more movies and television programmes than anyone else I know, and my sleeping has absolutely nothing to do with how good the movie is, how much I’m enjoying it or how much I want to watch it. If I’m tired, I will sleep. And I hate that I do that. I once tried to watch Finding Forrester with my elder son, when he was a teenager. I fell asleep before the titles rolled, and my son kept calling me to wake me up:
    “Watch this cool part, Mom! It’s really funny!”
    Each time he rewound the movie to cue it to the part he wanted me to see, I would fall asleep. He tried about five times with one particular scene, without success, and then asked me if he could just pretend he was watching the movie alone. Oh dear.
  2. I hate washing up potato peelers.
  3. This one is a bit awkward: I keep checking my letter box and I have now come to the conclusion that *my Royal wedding invitation has got lost in the post*. Does anyone know the Royal protocol to pass on this kind of embarrassing piece of information? I know they’ll be waiting to get my RSVP. What to do, what to do?
  4. I have a ridiculous fear of heights. I have managed to do things like go up in the cable car to the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, travel in a small gondola up to the top of Mount Titlis in the Swiss Alps and go up in the London Eye. When I can look ahead and avoid looking down, I can do it. If I look down, my stomach churns, my palms drip with sweat and I have to back away. And tell everyone else I know and love to back away too.
  5. I have started writing my book. My friend, Renee, over at Life in the Boomer Lane – a hugely talented, published writer who never ceases to make me laugh – has recently very generously shared her experiences regarding the process of writing a book. Everything she said made sense, especially the bit about how you need “to find your sentence” and then the book will flow from there. You will be pleased to know, Renee, that I have found my sentence. It made me cry, but I’m writing.
  6. I once suffered a bruised hip, playing rugby. Picture this: Muizenberg beach, Cape Town, a slow Sunday afternoon a few years ago. Our family and my husband’s brother and his family were enjoying a walk along the beach. Given that there were seven boys and three girls in the family group, we did what any similar group would do: decided to play a game of touch rugby on the beach. It would be rude not to. We split up into two teams. My team was gaining ground; we were dominating in both territory and possession. We were playing, if I may say so myself, spectacularly. I needed to give my team my all, so when one of my team mates threw me something of a hospital pass, I grabbed the ball and tried to make the best of the situation. I ran down my opponents and headed speedily towards the try-line. My legs ran too fast for my body, unfortunately, and I threw myself down – somewhat involuntarily – a short distance ahead of the try-line. It would have been an outstanding try if the beach hadn’t come up to meet me so quickly and dramatically and so far shy of the try-line. But I landed on the ball and that is how I bruised my hip.
  7. I have a new job. I have been hired as the publications and communications manager for a charity in London, and I started there last week. I am thrilled at this appointment, it will be a challenging and busy job, full of variety and possibility, and I am thrilled to be working in a small and active charity that really makes a positive difference in its sector.

As with similar awards, there is an obligation to pass this award on to fellow bloggers. I can honestly say that all of the blogs that I read are stylish and wonderful; they all make me think or laugh or cry or reflect and all of them keep me inspired and keep me reading and wanting to write better. If any of you would like to take up the mantle, please be my guest and go ahead. Just be careful not to bruise your hip.

Sunshine signing off for today!

Advertisements

And The Winner Isn’t …

It’s awards season. Everywhere. The movie-loving eyes of the world have been on Hollywood and the Academy Awards over the past 24 hours and the news and entertainment channels are bursting with news of the winners.

My focus today is on those who didn’t win. Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled that Colin Firth walked away with the golden statuette for his title role in “The King’s Speech”, and I’ve no doubt that every other winner was worthy and deserving.

If you're not a winner (image via gabrielutasi.com)

Because of where I’m at right now, and where I have been, my heart goes out to those whose names were not written in Academy Award script and hidden away in golden envelopes. It’s hard to be magnanimous when your heart is bursting with disappointment, and when the cameras focus on the faces of the other four nominees at the moment they found out they were unsuccessful.

There cannot be a nominee who didn’t want to win. There cannot be a nominee who hadn’t planned an acceptance speech and imagined himself delivering it. And, watching the Oscar winner thanking the world and his pet for making this possible, there can’t be a nominee who’s not thinking, “that could have been me standing there”.

Spare a thought for sound re-recording mixer, Kevin O’Connell, who received 20 Oscar nominations between 1983 and 2007, and never won one. With his 18th nomination and non-win in 2006, he earned the unwanted moniker of “unluckiest nominee in the history of the Academy Awards”. He then went on to break his own record twice after that.

How many speeches did he write and rehearse in front of the mirror? How many years did he arrive on the red carpet and imagine himself walking away, statuette in hand? How much would he have longed for his status to change from Academy Award nominee to Academy Award winner?

I have grown to hate the word “unfortunately”. I can relate, in my own small way, to Kevin’s relentless seesawing of hope and disappointment. Until the one thing you’ve been waiting for comes along, it just doesn’t do it to be an also-ran.

Sunshine signing off for today!

Movies and other moving moments

Yesterday I took a tube into central London, and then took a walk into a small, dusty town in the north of South Africa. I witnessed a whole lot of life, South African and international, learnt a lesson about myself and ended my day with a dance and a funny movie.

My new blogging friend, Lisa at Notes from Africa, asked me the other day if I’d followed the London Film Festival, sent me a link to the website and mentioned the South African movie, “Life, Above All”. I checked out the website, wondered how we could have let the Festival go by unnoticed, and booked myself a ticket for the final screening of the South African offering. I also signed us up for a newsletter for next year’s Festival. Thanks, Lisa!

It was an amazing movie, telling the story of Chanda, a young South African girl living in small rural town in the north of the country. The central theme is her relationship with her ailing mother, following the death of her infant sister. It deals, poignantly and thoughtfully, with issues such as child-headed households, AIDS orphans, infant mortality and the stigma of AIDS. I can see that the movie would be an Oscar contender, it is beautifully made and the acting is outstanding. I had hoped South Africa had moved beyond the extreme stigma as portrayed in the movie, but I don’t know what life is like in rural South Africa. The movie made me feel sad, on so many levels, but I’m glad I saw it. And I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

On the way in to Leicester Square, I had to change tubes at Waterloo. Walking through the endless underground walkways, I heard the most amazing music in the distance. When I realised I was walking away from it, I turned back to see where the sounds were coming from. Upbeat, fabulous sounds of an electric guitar – it sounded like Eric Clapton on a caffeine buzz. I even considered throwing caution and inhibition to the wind and dancing like no-one was watching.

When I got close to the source of the music, I saw the guitarist was a really scruffy looking guy. I took one look at him and turned away. I felt so ashamed. I had been drawn to his music and then turned off by how he looked. I turned around again and stood and listened to him. His music was brilliant. I threw some money into his guitar box, and he flashed me a toothless grin and thanked me. I walked away, humbled and shamed.

When I got to Leicester Square, I walked to the Square to sit in the park and write in my notebook. The park was filled with carnival rides – oh, the disappointment! I wondered what Charlie Chaplin would think. I walked around for a while and then went to collect my ticket for the movie. As I stood in the queue, a creepy man came up to me and said, “Are you here for Essential Killing?” I said, “No,” and he said he had a spare ticket. I wished I’d said, “No, I’m here to watch a movie. I left my weapons at home,” but I was too slow.

After the movie, I walked back towards the tube station. The Square was filled with people and as I walked I saw face-face-face-face-face-face-face. So many faces blurred into each other and I felt overwhelmed by the crowds and the people and the faces. Soon as I could I headed down the stairs to the tube. There were more faces coming up the stairs and, in the midst of all of them, I spotted Francesca Annis. I don’t know how I spotted her among the millions, but there she was. If you don’t know her, she is a beautiful , accomplished English actress, whom I first saw playing the role of Lillie Langtry in a mini-series called Edward the Seventh.

And then back to my flat and off to a Zumba class. Our instructor’s been away for a few weeks but last night she was back, the music was cracking, she was smiling and we danced.

I do wish the worst dancers wouldn’t stand at the front. Then I wouldn’t notice them. And I wouldn’t blog about them. But they did. And I did. And now I just have to. I can’t help it. It’s not they weren’t coordinated or anything – their clothes were a perfect match with their shoes – it’s just that, well, they couldn’t dance. (Anyone know Allan Sherman’s I Can’t Dance? Cue the music.) Maybe that’s why our instructor was smiling so much.

One had attitude – her facial expression was all sneezes and whistling – and the other did exactly the opposite of everyone else. Every time. We went right, she went left. We lifted our hands and brought them down. She did the opposite. We went forwards, she went backwards. Bless her for trying, but I’m not sure she’ll do an Arnie and be back.

And then my day ended with watching a mindless and very funny DVD. My husband and I snuggled on the sofa to watch Date Night – what a funny movie! Steve Carell trying to out-badmouth a gangster was just hilarious. We laughed so much.

Tears, laughter, a little bit of dance, a whole lot of life and one blog. In the words of Will Ferrell in Anchorman, “It’s boring but it’s my life.”

Sunshine signing off for today.