Friday, 30 December 2016

Resolutions for a lifetime

We are bidding 2016 farewell very soon and I cannot help but feel relieved, given it has been one of the toughest years I've been through in my adult life (admittedly not the toughest but still one of). That said, it was not all bad and it could have been worse too so I will not dwell on it so much but instead look to the future and will it to be brighter.

Now I don't usually make resolutions as such, partly because I don't believe one should necessarily wait for a new year to fix any problem areas and also because I hate breaking promises I make to myself and truly, if something requires a resolution to get out of/break off from, then in all probability it is a promise doomed to fail from the first.

However this time I am going to make some resolutions that I have no intention of breaking and the only reason why I am making them now that the new year is coming is not due to any feelings of starting over but coincidentally due to that this has been a week of reflection for me totally unrelated to that we are ending the year.

One resolution I must make and keep is to lead a healthier life. Time and again I forget to take my vitamins, forego exercising my still recovering knee and neglect myself for lack of time, that four-lettered word that sounds so foul when it ruins your chances of ever catching up. I find my nails breaking from not putting on the nail thickener that's indispensable to my otherwise sharp and splitting nails and my face itching after being in the sun when I continually forget to put on moisturiser. The list is embarrassing and endless and I vow I will at least try to take better care of myself.

However, there is an even more important resolution I must make this year. Lately I have come to realise that as time goes by and I get older I am not only getting proverbially wiser but also coming face to face with situations I would never have thought of happening before. Unfortunately I am talking more about bad situations than good and each time something comes up my mind flashes back to a particular day in my first year at Sixth Form when a fellow student of English said his dad had warned him about something that would invariably happen in adult life. This something was that as an adult, this father had found himself looking around at negative situations that happened to those he'd once sat in class with as a teenager, causing him to reflect on how unfair and also unplanned our life as adults would become. That thought haunts me even sixteen years on.

It also makes me more determined to live the life I really would like and with the presence of those people I truly care about. I know I should find the time to sit and cuddle my son every day and hear him out, as every day that passes will never come back and on the morrow he is always a day older rather than the same age. I should also make time for my husband and the rest of my family, as well as dear friends.

That word 'friends' is to me charged with meaning. I was never the type to make a lot of friends and found it difficult to have any friends at all when I was young. Even as I got older, friendships that were born out of situations rather than an understanding of the soul never lasted through the years. I would think I found a special friend and then time and distance would separate us till in some instances there was nothing left but mere acquaintance as adults. This is why I mentioned 'dear friends' in the same line as my family. Life has taught me that the friends who never let you go, and who you never want to let go of, are the ones who are friends because they mean it. I know I can rely on those few people in the good times and the bad. I know they'll be the ones who share good news with me as soon as they can, and who show support by showing up when no one else will. They're the ones who feel confident enough in my presence to be themselves and let me be so too. I cannot make anyone have a friendly relationship with me unless they want to, but I know I can always be there for those of them who I feel are true.

So my most important resolution for the coming year is to make time and space, not for more things or plans or career or anything else, as much as for those splendid beings who deserve my love and care and support. So you see, for once I have a resolution I cannot give up on.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Happy Christmas

I am not one for traditions so I never tried making mince pies nor do I usually look forward to decorating the house. I also don't like Christmas films and don't go to any of the Christmas pantos that are available around the island. All in all, Christmas for me is more of a chance to be with family and look forward to an always hopefully better new year, which is sometimes the case and sometimes not. However, whatever I think that Christmas comes around for, other than the sacred reminder that we are celebrating the nativity of Jesus Chris (I am Catholic), I still somehow count down the days to the 25th of December. Now that it's here, I would like to wish all my readers a Joyful Christmas.


from http://www.animatedimages.org

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Life-Talk, Christmas Time and Refurbishing

It's time for another blog entry and whilst I am working on a review for Episode 3 of White Heat I do want to talk about other things too, especially for those readers who are not interested in the series. After all, I have to admit that whilst I'm in love with it, it is very clearly not a mainstream kind of show. So instead today I will turn to other things that are currently going on.

As always, I am sharing here the link to an article of mine that's just been published on EVE. As most of you know, I am a pro-lifer. In my years of campaigning in favour of life, I have found that most of the time pro-choicers give reasons as to why they would consider else condone abortion. So I don't only make my point of view known in this piece but have also used my chance of writing about the subject to provide answers to pro-choicers' ideas. It is not enough to say what side you are on, but to clearly point out that there is always a way out of having to make such a drastic choice. Why choose death when there can be life? Where there is a will, there is a way. http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/12/15/why-ill-never-be-pro-choice/

On to Christmas, as it is now only one week away. With its religious, cultural, traditional and plain commercial sides, I must say that this year I am both more into the spirit of things as well as further away from it than ever. For the first time in ages, we have not decorated our house for Christmas though we do have the odd snowman and other small details around the house that hint at the time of year. My son set up his Christmas tree, Baby Jesus and wreath in his room but with all the clutter that is all over his room there isn't much of a Christmas feel anyway. The reason I opted out of the usual sparkling Christmas feel for our home is mostly due to that we are still refurbishing and it doesn't seem worth my while to do up the house only to keep moving things away from wherever we are making a very dusty or sticky mess else have everything end up under a layer of very fine chalk and dust. Also, our Christmas tree is quite bulky for our small house and there doesn't seem to be any space to put it up without having to bump into it every time I pass by its side. Here's hoping that the Minimalist in me can figure out more sparse rooms by next year so it can regain its place in the entrance to the dining area. Anyways, the point I was going to make was that seeing shops as well as relatives' houses done up in pretty seasonal decor has quite made me wistful to achieve the same next year. Maybe my Grinch years are finally over and I'll start honestly loving the Christmas cheer at home. Who knows, maybe the fact that our house has truly started to feel like home since we started doing it up to our liking has had an effect on me.

Talking about refurbishing, I still currently have a lot of stuff packed up in boxes, frames leaning against the wall in the corridor as well as even stuff stored away in my wardrobe, all of it in the name of keeping it away from the work area. I can't say I am not missing some of the stored items and there are a few pieces of decor that I am in love with that I can't wait to put in their rightful place. That said, living without 'things' for a while has made me realise it's not that difficult to do and I'll probably do away with quite a bit in order to keep the home with the feel I want.

I could ramble on and on and move to other things that are currently happening but I have just been called off to mummy duties. So this is it for now but I'll be back with more in a few days. :-)

Friday, 9 December 2016

Reviewing: White Heat, Episode 2

Following my review of Episode 1, which you can find here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2016/12/review-white-heat-episode-1.html


White Heat has got me well and truly hooked and that is saying a lot coming from me. Rarely do I find a series engaging enough to see it through. For characters to be intriguing enough that I let them accompany me throughout my day in my head is a big feat but Claflin's Jack and the rest of the cast have me in their power, saddened by their situations, worrying about their fate, wanting them to see things through to a better time whenever they're in difficulty. Though this post deals with episode 2, I have up to now watched up to episode 5, which leaves me only with the ending episode still to see.

I think I can safely assume that if you are reading this you most probably have already read my review of the first instalment (http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2016/12/review-white-heat-episode-1.html) and hopefully watched the episode too. However if not, please note that this entry might contain spoilers for episode 1. I will try to keep info about what goes on in the second episode to a minimum in order to avoid giving away surprises.

image from http://www.english-subtitles.club
Starting off two years later, in 1967, episode 2 shows Charlotte campaigning to end female discrimination and degradation and the first flashback shows Lilly and Charlotte as friends. However as from the first episode, in 'present day' scenes, we see that eventually something must have gone wrong between the two roomies as Charlotte appears hostile towards Lilly, the latter submissive.

Charlotte is not the only one with a cause. Jack becomes more active in voicing his disgust at racism and war. Victor on his part also shows disgust, at Jack's treatment of others, especially Charlotte. She is still unable to resist her feelings towards a person who alternately pulls her close and then pushes her away, despite her beliefs against men who degrade females. I have to admit that in this episode Jack does seem to become more unlikeable. Jack’s is not teenage angst any more, but a deeper rebellious passion that is shaping who he is, or who he thinks he is.

The title of the second episode is very apt. 'Eve of Destruction' had me wondering at first was it a literal phrase or elusive to women’s ability to cause themselves harm. This came to mind as in the first episode Lilly and Charlotte discussed God’s punishment of Eve after she ate the apple.

In fact, the second episode does punish Charlotte’s mum as well as Lilly, presumably in both cases for being female in a not-so-far-off past still dominated by men. Both the women are a victim of circumstances up to a point.

On the other hand, the title could also be referring to the fact that this seems to be the first turning point in the story. With the scene set in episode 1, it is now time to turn to the actual destruction of the characters’ dreams and hopes and add to the drama.

When Lilly gets drunk, she is giving Jack the upper hand, letting him destroy her whole future, or so it seems to me now that I’ve seen further episodes. Charlotte’s mother cannot help being who she is and without her bit of crazy Charlotte would have no apparent responsibility always holding her back.

image of Victor from
http://tv-shows.prettyfamous.com/l/104516/White-Heat
Victor is undeservedly punished for his troubles in supporting Jack. However it seems to me that pride is his biggest downfall at the end of it. Jack, being Jack, can’t help himself from first abusing of his friendship and then trying to make up for it and Victor will have none of that.

Speaking of Jack, his relationship with his father is very much an important part of the story. This time round, it’s a meeting in a pub that goes less than well, with Jack verbalising what he thinks of his dad, Edward. Seeing this episode a second time around in order to refresh it in my mind before this review, I couldn’t help notice how Edward says, “I shan’t always be around”. Sounds like foreshadowing to me, though ironically for the time being he is very present and still bailing Victor out.

Alan and Orla as well as even Jay are only minor add-ons to the plot up to this point yet they too will eventually handle their roles well. In the meantime Orla serves to offset Charlotte in thought and action whilst Jay tags along wherever needed. His sexual orientation is known to the viewer but not yet his friends save for Orla. Alan’s story starts here with a minor incident. We get to know he likes Lilly when he admits how long he’s wanted to kiss her, but is Lilly’s reaction aimed at his kiss or was it just wrong timing? More circumstantial destruction in my opinion.

This second instalment ends with a revelation. Lilly explains something to Charlotte that could very well explain the latter’s hostility towards Lilly in the present day, but is it? Meanwhile, on the note of Lilly’s tragedy, Charlotte ends the final scene with an ironic twist that leads us to believe she might see the light about Jack after all. Then again, will she?


Jack and Charlotte
image from http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2012/03/white-heat-claire-foy.shtml


On to the review of the third episode: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/01/reviewing-white-heat-episode-3_6.html

Friday, 2 December 2016

Reviewing: White Heat, Episode 1

As promised, I will be reviewing each episode of White Heat, BBC's 2012 6-part series that starts off in the 1960s and extends its story into the present. However, rather than in chronological order, each episode takes us back and forth in time, from the present situation that leads all the characters back into one place minus the one of them who has been found dead after two weeks, to the past that leads to that uncomfortable situation.

Slowly, the story explores the friends', if they can be so called, journey and relationships, starting off at the British University they all attend whilst sharing a flat. From the very first episode, script-writer Paula Milne explores women's lesser role in society, sex, homosexuality, the contraceptive pill and drugs as well as youngsters' rebellion against the status quo.


Picture source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/tv/2012/03/white-heat-claire-foy.shtml


The tale revolves around seven youngsters from totally different backgrounds, ethnicities, gender, physical appeal and education paths. In fact, the whole thing starts out as Jack's (played by Sam Claflin) social experiment that tries to defy the nuclear family norm. Jack is the landlord, the rebel, the one who after all has gotten all the characters together at the start. I have only as yet seen two episodes myself but up to now everything points towards Jack being the leader of the pack, despite his unconventional and often rude treatment of others and outlook on life. It is my guess that he is in fact the dead man from the current day story that the series leads up to.

Maybe it is for that reason that he stands out from the other members of the group, seeming from the first as someone that is both aloof and passionate, a tough personality to contend with. Maybe he also could be regarded as charismatic, as evident in how after all the others' initial dislike towards their possible landowner, all of the lucky 'chosen ones' accept their place in his home.

The appearance of Jack's dad from the first episode helps place his general anger at the way politics and wars are carried out and against whom. It seems to me he is fighting his MP father as much as the system, or maybe it is the other way round. In fact he seems to have turned down a place at a better University just because he refused to go along with his father's plans and preferred to follow his own path. I am not sure whether this information was readily available in the first episode or the second but it is no spoiler really and comes as no surprise. Meanwhile, however, I believe it is from the first episode that, despite disagreeing wholeheartedly with his dad, Jack nonetheless accepts to be bailed out from his money troubles by him. Maybe it is Jack's dad's compliance that has helped turn Jack into who he is after all.

I applaud the filmmakers' choice in casting Sam Claflin as Jack for his interpretation is, in my opinion, as brilliant as that of his bigger roles in more mainstream and big-budgeted films. In this role, he shows us that he could play up a mean and obsessive streak even before auditioning for his more vile role as Alistair Ryle in The Riot Club. Furthermore, Claflin is, in my opinion, one of those actors who best knows how to rely on facial expressions in presenting character feelings in any given situation. The impish grin of his real-life photoshoots here helps the passionate Jack pick up girls and the defined jawline is often set into a tight lock any time he is presenting the spirited and disagreeing Jack.

The other six characters seem to have less of an imposing presence and yet each of them serves the function of fulfilling a type. Meanwhile Milne uses their backgrounds and general outlook to criticise the injustices of the time. It would be difficult to go into any of the characters' role in the episode without giving away spoilers but one situation I cannot get myself to ignore and leave out. And so I will mention just this one.

Charlotte, the pretty red-head that is herself a rebel against norms imposed on females of the time, appears in the first episode to catch out her father having an affair. The cheek of it is, that before she knows of this development in her family's life, her father has just begged her to leave her new home and go back to living with them for her mother's sake, all in order to divert his wife's attention from his own doings. When Charlotte, having been told that her mother is getting 'empty nest syndrome', suggests that either of her brothers could also do that instead of herself, is told that her brothers have enough on their plate and should focus on their careers. This appears to me as a more than subtle hint at women's treatment and the general idea that they were not held as equals in pursuing education and a career.

I could go on and on raving about this series that has me hooked. I love anthropology so this drama is right up my alley and I am glad to have bought the DVDs despite the mixed reviews that I read about it. Definitely one to rewatch in time.


On to the review of the second episode: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2016/12/review-white-heat-episode-2.html