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

Friday, 21 April 2017

Reviewing: White Heat, Episode 6

Following my review of Episodes 4 and 5, which you can find here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/01/1974-white-heat-episode-4-bbc-two.html

A while back I was doing an episode by episode review of White Heat but then never had the time to sit down and write the review for the final episode. I apologise for keeping you all hanging on this one but it really has been crazy around here, as it always seems to be. However I did rewatch the episode some time ago in order to do this and so here it is, finally, my take on the ending of the BBC series about a bunch of average teens and who they turn out to be in the end:

The whole group of friends from White Heat, pic from http://enthrallingentertainment.blogspot.com.mt/2012/04/white-heat-s1-ep6-sea-of-trees.html
The whole of the series centred around the question of whose death it was that led all the others back to the 'scene of the crime' where they'd been through so much together, good and bad. At the start of this last episode we still do not know which character it is that the others are cleaning up after. I should have mentioned before but think I didn't, that in clearing up the deceased's house the former roommates found a safe which they could not open. This last chapter reveals who in fact is the first to go from this world from the seven friends once the sixth person turns up at the flat, whilst the safe holds the key to the resolution to the story, excuse the pun!

The episode starts in the present day then flashes back to 1990 and some pivotal scenes to the plot. The hostility in this particular instalment is very heavy and obvious and there seem to be multiple friendship splits happening. Jay is resentful of the rest of the group when after Jack and Orla tell the others of his condition, they all insist he do the right thing about it, even if it will ruin the career he loves so much. Meanwhile Lilly and Charlotte seem at odds ever since Charlotte revealed her secret, of which Lilly should be jealous but appears not to be, at least in front of her best friend. This is in fact the episode during which we find out what happened to sever the two friends so totally from each other. After all, certain emotions can't be kept in check forever and Lilly was bound to explode at some point. With Lilly's choice to spill on Charlotte came other complications, causing a rift in Victor and Charlotte's relationship as well as making Jack once again appear the fool of the party. Orla unfairly thinks that this time too, Jack is leaving the house simply to get away from the mess he's unknowingly created, rather than because, as he says, he needs to go check on his old father who is in bad shape. Even in all the turmoil surrounding relationships that comes with the scenes from 1990, I am still unsure of where exactly do Alan and Lilly stand in their own relationship. At one point after Lilly's cruel outburst in a crushing scene for Jack, Victor and Charlotte, it seems as though Charlotte is about to tell Alan Lilly's secret, in retaliation to having her own spat out. However she decides against it and it seems to me that Lilly's secret is kept safe to date, even as she and Alan, now both much older, help clear the house of their dead friend's belongings, amassed from years of friendship and really belonging to all of them after all.

Back to the safe, it is finally opened to reveal much more about the missing friend than the others ever knew about him/her. In it are clear indications as to why the particular person was who he/she was and why that person strove till the end to keep the 'family' of friends all together. Among other prized possessions is a DVD that the friends pop into the laptop to check out, and in it they find the reason behind their friend's very being and mission in life. In the end, this person had succeeded in his/her intent and left behind a group of people who were all better for having been involved in this family of sorts with the deceased. As happens with the loss of one, it brings the rest together in a way they would never have thought to dream, soothing over hurts of old and bringing hope and a renewed sense of belonging.

That's it from me about this rather difficult and rather distinctive series that is probably not everyone's cup of tea and yet, if it is yours, it will leave an imprint on your mind where all the good characters live on long after the end of any tale.



And for those who are interested, here's a good interview with Sam Claflin (Jack) and Claire Foy (Charlotte) about their characters and love story in the series: http://www.digitalspy.com/tv/interviews/a367745/white-heat-claire-foy-sam-claflin-qa-its-an-emotional-journey/

Monday, 10 April 2017

The 'I love' Series - essence Beauty Products

I might be a Minimalist but there are some things few women are ready to go without and so I have to admit that I love my beauty products. Granted I usually buy fewer items than other girls but I always ensure to have on hand the colours and items that I love and which suit me so that I can always touch up my face just a tiny bit to appear smarter (and prettier) in order to feel more confident.

I have tried expensive brands and cheaper brands, different types of makeup and different styles of makeup, till I came up with my absolute faves which I like to keep on hand. Among my very fave beauty items to go to are the following, which all happen to be from well-known yet inexpensive brand essence.

Eyeshadow in different shades of purple and browns and gold. Not liquid (so not too runny) yet not too powdery either (powder makes my eyelids itch), I find the texture of essence eyeshadows just right for me and their colour range is gorgeous.

Mascara is just the thing when you want a natural look that still attracts attention to your eyes. After several frustrated attempts at putting on mascara and then my spectacles, I gave up trying to make my lashes darker without having black smudges all over my glasses. essence waterproof mascara solved this problem for me and now I can use it daily without it affecting my sight.


Lipstick, the ultimate in looking dressed up in my opinion. Having just tried a new shade today, I can confirm that it lasted me a few hours even after I'd had my sandwiches and tea on the go.






Nail thickener for my nails, which are razor-sharp even though short and natural. So it was a relief when I finally stumbled upon essence nail thickener which solves my problem of scratching everything and everyone too easily.







Perfume to give me a confidence boost when I need to be meeting people all day. essence is the only brand I have found which have a perfume that will not make hay-fever sufferers sneeze else give me breathing problems or both, which is a wonder even before factoring in its very affordable price.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Bridget Jones is back, as are Mr Darcy and Mr Cleaver

I mentioned in two previous posts that I would soon be linking a book review on here, kindly sponsored by Agenda Bookshop and published on eve.com.mt

I'd said it would be about a character we all know and love and some of you might have been wondering about who and how it therefore had to be a sequel or else a new book based on an existing film. So here it is, a surprise sequel from Helen Fielding, the diary version of what happens when Bridget Jones gets pregnant. Not a total replica of the film by the same name but much more interesting in my opinion, here it is, the review for Bridget Jones's Baby: The Diaries.



Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Musical To Remember - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at St Monica School, Birkirkara

I don't often go out in the weekends, unless you count errands, but last Sunday was an exception. Every year, in March or April, St Monica School in Birkirkara, Malta, put up a spectacular show for three nights and for many years I've had the pleasure of attending. This year a musical was chosen and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was not only re-enacted in its wonderful colourful entirety but also brought to life, literally, as the star of the show - the car itself - was lovingly handcrafted and built to move and 'fly', thanks to the mechanism and hydraulic system that were added to it. Speaking of which the car was not the only amazing prop, though definitely the show-stealer, as Caractacus Potts' toot-sweet maker and the children's bunk-beds were also sturdy functioning props, as was the turning windmill and beautiful toy-maker's house. Meanwhile the scenery was just as awesome in its detail.

As always, I was intrigued by the technical details that made up the background to the scenes being acted out. However I should really be mentioning all the actors' brilliant singing voices, amazing memories at learning all those lines and their dancing skills too. As I said, I've been attending the show for so long I have lost track of just how many performances I have seen and whilst I am sure that time dims memories, I think I am not incorrect in saying this year's probably beats the rest in its marvellous interpretation of a well-loved classic. Suffice to say, the actress playing the inventor Potts, the children's father, had me hanging onto her every word, even though I usually can't help my mind drifting to clips from the films being acted out if I am familiar with said film's actor. Meanwhile Grandpa Potts too was played by a teenage girl of immeasurable talent, making us laugh our way through the scenes in which the character appears.

If the original Grandpa Potts was given a run for his money, so was Sally Ann Howes' Truly Scrumptious and the children Jemima and Jeremy's alter egos, who were played by two little girls that were impressive for their young age. I could go on and on till I mentioned all the cast, as everyone from the Childcatcher to the spies, the old captive inventors to the dancers, were undisputedly of a professional level, certainly also thanks to their director Rita Vassallo, the drama teacher of the school. So as I close this year's chapter of my experience with a photo of myself with the gorgeous car itself, I look forward already to whatever next year's production will promise as it can only promise something worth watching for children and adults alike.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang made by Manuel Gauci

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

New Films Worth Watching

The start of this year promised me yet many more new films worth watching and I reviewed three upcoming films in the link below, which will lead you to one of my articles published on eve.com.mt

Here it is, mentioning a remake, a sequel and a totally new film that are well worth watching:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

In Sickness... My Relationship with The Environment

As of a little while ago I've been following some Zero Waste groups, originally because I know I would love to do my part in saving the environment so any ideas I can easily translate into my life I am willing to take on. I said 'originally' because I then found a second purpose to the idea of following and trying out Zero Waste (or rather Reduced Waste in my case), which is to blog about the results.

I am not enough into the project to have any material results to disclose but up to now I have noted that when it comes to Zero Waste, oh boy these people do mean zero, literally. I saw one pic of a member's triumphant garbage bag for a month... yes just the one bag and actually the total volume of the garbage must have been less than a hundred cubic centimetres! So unlike with Minimalism where I am well on board with it and it suits my character perfectly, this is one way of life I am so not ready to embrace entirely.

But enough about that and on to the real reason behind this post. I've been ill. Very ill. I am not used to getting a fever even when I do get a throat infection or anything else at all, but this past Winter has taught me otherwise. And as I lay in bed this morning finally coherent enough to register anything other than that the pills on my bedside table were bound to make me feel a little less miserable than I was, I noted their packaging. And that is where it hit me. I've been so attuned to looking at all packaging and how to reduce it through the Zero Waste research I've been doing that as I handled the blister pack and popped out the first pill I thought, what would a Zero Waste embracer do? Given they sacrifice toilet paper rolls in favour of reusable wipes and refuse to eat meat because of the waste it apparently creates, I would not be surprised that some of them would rather keep the fever than throw a blister pack into recycling. You read that right. Recycling takes resources, energy, time to happen. So even recycling is the very very last option for a ZW lifestyle.

Lesson of the day: We must choose our battles and in this case, that foil and plastic wrapping meant the world to me since it contained the medicine that was making me lucid enough to notice it was even there. ZW, I'll be there for you when I can, but extremity is never good and the repercussions in this case pretty hot (excuse this feverish pun).

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Azure Window: A Day To Take Stock

I've lost track of the number of storms and gale-force winds that hit our islands since last September and 'inevitably', as the newspapers would say, our islands suffer the consequences. I would argue on most days that it is the inevitability of our infrastructure to cater for storms that leads to the chaos immediately following it practically every time. However a number of natural disasters also happen which we could never stop, and whilst many a time it was the flooding of the valley area of my hometown and uprooted trees and fallen rubble walls that would grab our attention, this time it is a much more serious consequence that this country is facing.

The Azure Window in Gozo, which was the personality of many a postcard and numerous tourist photos as well as a backdrop to wedding and honeymoon pictures of locals and visitors alike, has this morning collapsed in its entirety, something which has left me in awe as, despite the constant reminder from the media that this photogenic attraction would soon be gone, I never imagined that its stack would also disappear.

Photo courtesy of Muriel Photography at https://www.facebook.com/MurielCaruanaPhotography/?fref=nf

It was the winds and waves that ultimately claimed this Gozitan gem, yet I cannot help but point out one thing. Repeatedly, newspapers warned against its rapid decay whilst sign posts were erected asking people not to step on it in order not to aggravate the situation. And yet just this week I saw new photos that showed that people were still trampling around on this much-coveted treasure like heritage was only second to today's enjoyment. So truly, I think we brought this on ourselves? When will we learn that playing with fire can only lead to getting burnt, and when will humans realise they are a part of a whole, one that we should be caring for rather than destroying in a million different ways? Today it was the Azure Window, which many would say would have anyway collapsed at one point or another. However tomorrow, it might be the air we breathe, the land we live on, the fields we live off, that we destroy. So take this not only as a day to mourn a loss, but also as the chance to care for what remains.

Friday, 3 March 2017

My 'Behind-The-Scenes'

So as I sit here past my imposed bedtime feeling guilty about it being March and my not yet having reviewed that last episode of White Heat which I promised would come in February, I think of what it would make most sense to talk about today. I have one cool review in the pipeline, sponsored by Agenda Bookshop and which will appear on www.eve.com.mt this month that I can promise to link here, as well as the brainwave for a second vlog post. Now the problem with vlog posts is that they take a lot of time to make and to be honest time is the thing I never have enough of and wish I could stretch! So whilst determined that I will eventually film and put it together and show it off here, it too must wait for another day.

So for today I would like instead to update you with what's happening in my behind-the-scenes so to speak. I mentioned more than once the works that are currently being carried out in our home and I must say, it was a practical example of how a smaller home can be a nuisance when you do need some space. Picture hauling furniture/old fittings out of a room in order to refurbish it, only to have to leave them in a narrow corridor and all over the living area that you still need to use. Multiple times I found myself unable to get something out of a drawer or cupboard simply because there was other stuff 'temporarily' dumped in front of it.

On the other hand I thank Minimalism wholeheartedly as it did help with the refurbishment in more ways than one. To start off, I had less things to pack up from the rooms we were doing up than if I'd not already stopped the impulse buys (ok so I still do impulse buy on a lesser scale, only to later feel deep regret most of the time). Same goes for keeping only what you love - it resulted in needing to box up less books than I would have previously. That said, it was a wonder just how many small boxes I filled up with my husband's books and my own. As most of the books are not mine, I don't get much of a say in purging yet more of them. A second positive side to being a Minimalist whilst carrying out a refurbishment is that, having already filtered your personal items and family items down to the well-loved minimum, it is easier to keep on top of things whilst surrounded by the unavoidable chaos that becomes your life when you are doing up your home whilst living in it.

Meanwhile, the general upheaval did nothing to dampen my spirits about trying out Zero-Waste ideas that are, in fact, the topic of my next vlog post. I say Zero-Waste but truly it would be better called 'Waste Reduction' as that is, in fact, what I am really doing. I have joined Facebook pages and groups that deal with this subject but have found most of the posts and comments within them quite extreme. I'll keep using disposable toilet paper thank you very much.

I could go on and on, mentioning the books I am currently reading/have just finished or the film that I watched recently that was a real disappointment. However each of the things I would mention could more easily have a post dedicated to it and so that's it for today. Enjoy the weekend and keep safe.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Stationery Decluttering Session and a Vlog Post

So I can finally say that my first vlog post is up. I recently decluttered my family's stationery stash and used the event as a guinea pig for my first video in years. I say the first in years because over ten years ago I did upload two other videos onto YouTube that I did myself but they were of a totally different nature to the series I am currently planning and didn't feature me or my personal life at all. I promise to link them some other day but for now, Ladies and Gentlemen, my first vlog post revealed:


Friday, 17 February 2017

When Plans Get Unplanned and a Trailer To Watch.

It's embarrassing really. (I'm sure I heard this phrase in some film so it's even more embarrassing that I can't remember in which one). I promised a vlog post and a book versus film review and they both ended up not happening. So I decided to make today's post about laughing it off (seriously, stress does that to me!)

I'm a newbie vlogger and yet I tried my best to still get my first video ready in time to put it up today as part of my blog post. And complete it I did, tonight, filming and pasting and editing till I had what might not be an outstanding first try but a good one nonetheless and one worth sharing. So I happily pressed on the 'upload to YouTube' button thinking it would probably take some minutes. Only, on clicking the 'loading' icon it revealed that it would be some four hours loading, four hours I don't have as I am already past my guideline bedtime (remember that blog post about requiring more sleep? Well, still applies and I'm still not doing it often enough). So I promise that I will, somehow, manage to upload and link the video to this blog without a hitch. However, it seems like it was not meant to be in time for today's post.

Which leads me to another video that's been giving me a hard time. Remember I mentioned wanting to do another book versus film review, this time about An Awfully Big Adventure? Well, I tried to brush up my memory of the two before giving my two cents' worth but when I finished rereading the book and turned to the DVD, I found that our Blu-Ray player won't load the disc at all. I wondered at first what had happened to the DVD then remembered I must probably have seen it the last time on the Playstation and that it might be one of many DVDs that refuse to work on our Blu-Ray player. So whilst I will get round to it, I have neither watched the film again yet nor am I certain just when I'll be able to view it. All I can promise is that I will eventually, in some form, present you readers with my take on the story and the differences between the book and film.

So I once again must admit that I have no long absorbing post nor any video clips of my own to add today. Therefore I will at least link this trailer for the film directed by Mike Newell, for those that would like to at least have an idea what An Awfully Big Adventure (1995) is all about. Starring Alan Rickman and Hugh Grant, here it is, the black comedy about coming of age:


Friday, 10 February 2017

In the Pipeline...

I have lost count of how many times I got to the day I schedule for a blog post with no post in mind and this week is just the same. It's been another hectic one and I'm running behind schedule on so many things that just thinking about it has me in panic mode. However I made a tiny bit of headway in practicing on iMovie, learning to record my voice and how to add it to my filmed/photographed items as well as even decluttering because my first vlog post is going to actually be about that.

I figured that as I don't have time to learn through tutorials or make clips just for the sake of experimenting and still keep up with updating this blog and my column on eve.com.mt, I would rather start off with a vlog post that I will actually use on here at the end of it. So though I can't make promises due to my very erratic current life situation - we are refurbishing our home whilst living in it (bad idea might I add) as well as some other things that have come up - I do intend to get my first video post published soon. I'm sure it will look and sound amateur (just like the amateur I am in the field) but at least it should fit in well with my intentions of focusing all the vlog posts on Minimalism and Waste Reduction, at least for now.

I wish I had something more to say for today but all I can say is I am working on a book review about a heroine we all know (can't divulge more than that yet so keep tuned) and reading through An Awfully Big Adventure which is the book I was referring to last time when I said I will be doing another book versus film feature on here soon. Add to that, I have an artist feature lined up for whenever I manage to find time for the interview and also a products review type of post in the pipeline. I must be off now but I hope the things I have lined up are interesting enough to have you coming back to read (and view) them. Good weekend to you all.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Update: I Will Review, I Will Vlog

It's another Friday night and whilst I would have liked to find more time for writing and trying out new ideas, I did manage to keep up with research and planning this week. However I have not yet had the time to write it all down or (drum roll for my latest surprise to followers) to vlog about the interesting and informative topics I've been getting to know about for the very purpose of sharing with you all.
I must admit I had not touched a film-making program since around 2005 so I'm feeling like a newbie about this whole project. Also, whilst one of my childhood dreams was to become an actress, I am pretty camera-shy and the only film clips I ever did before were music clips which never featured me at all except for a photo taken by a very talented photographer. This time round, I'm hoping to actually appear in my clips though I am very nervous about it.
On to another film-related topic, I am planning another book versus film review about a little-known but fantastically written and acted British story set in England. This is a case where the film and book are almost identical, a fascinating feat and yet one that might have hindered the film's potential in my opinion. But more of that when I publish the post about it. I leave you now to a good weekend. Keep tuned, for my next post.


Friday, 27 January 2017

Reviewing: White Heat, Episodes 4 - 5

Following my review of Episode 3, which you can find here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/01/reviewing-white-heat-episode-3_6.html

I'm covering two episodes together this time. Partly this is because it's been a while so anyone that has been following the series upon my recommendation will probably have gone ahead and watched on, sans review for episode 4, as it does get you hooked. It is also due to that as the years roll on and the characters go through their intended (or sometimes not intended) paths, they are now clearly well into the story so that episodes serve more as guides, to cap viewing time as well as to separate big clearer themes rather than for us to stop and ponder after each one. When characters are built well, they will do that, follow their own hearts regardless of where one scene ends and the other starts. However episodes four and five can still be clearly separated by the outcome of the scenes that they are made up of. So I will still be covering each one in its own right. I hate to give away spoilers so I try to minimise them as much as I can so I hope you will bear with me if in some cases my details are a little obscure.


Episode 4 - The Personal Is Political

As time rolls on, the seven friends (if they so can be called) are brought together more by events than lifestyle, as they all seem to have taken their own paths in life. It is 1979 and a reformed Jack is about to join the political scene whilst Victor keeps making passes at Charlotte whilst despising Jack's guts. There seems to be a hatred in Victor towards Jack that is quite deep-seethed at this point and Jack's next faux pas in this episode will ensure that their relationship will remain strained forever. I do believe, after seeing Episode 5 as well, that it is all Victor's fault that later on Charlotte will keep such a big secret from him that is to do with Jack. Meanwhile, as the love-triangle continues for the red-head, the rebel and the immigrant, Alan and Lilly tie the knot, though it remains ever unclear in the present day scenes whether they are in fact still together or not. Hindu Jay is having to face demons just like the rest of them, with religion in his case being the main perpetrator. Which leaves jolly round Orla in the tricky position of always trying to do the best for everyone and getting mixed up in it. Over and over she is the one who does the mothering and rounds up the gang as well as giving her help and advise. In this episode she even goes further and gives a homeless man shelter in Jack's house, which causes him concern because he is now a public scrutinised figure.

The last fifteen minutes build up on the Charlotte and Jack relationship, strained though it is, and it seems like the end to this episode is what ultimately splits them irrevocably apart. Ever a stickler for what is right, Charlotte tells Jack "you hesitated" when he shows up to clear Victor's name from a mixup that involved him. An episode guide suggests that it was Jack's idea to send Victor out for the cake in order to get him away from Charlotte and the dance floor. My own notes as I examined this outcome actually put Jack in a worse light. What if, rather than just get him away from his ex and the dancefloor, what he wanted was to get him framed?

                  

Episode 5 - The Eye of the Needle

A very apt title for the very difficult task that all the original roommates must face in this episode. In 1982, whilst Jay and Orla are the only two remaining tenants of Jack's, they are still in touch with the rest, though sparingly so. They are, as always, the two that seem to be outcast and have between them set up a routine that allows them to live on, in their own ways and with their own beliefs, as Jack spirals out of control on account of losing his chance at politics due to the incident from Episode 4. Who else to call on when times get tough but an ex-girlfriend and her now partner or husband to help with Jack's addiction which is by now totally out of control? Sounds ominous, and it is. Add a couple who are having problems in the mix, in the form of Alan and Lilly, and the household is complete once again. Only, they have a new houseguest in the form of Charlotte's now totally crazy mother, for whom Charlotte has responsibility.

I always tend to believe that a villain is the product of his history and try to understand rather than condemn him/her. So it came as no surprise to find that this episode reveals much about Jack's childhood and relationship with his father, the father who turned out to be a supporter even when Jack tried for a seat in parliament on the opposing benches. Jack's parents are together still, so why does the mother never show up, most especially when her son needs help? Could boarding school have harmed Jack? This is a topic that is touched on in many a story yet it remains unclear to me whether it did affect Jack as badly as his father thinks. What affects him for sure are all the somewhat cruel reminders from his past, which seem to flash in front of Jack's eyes as he battles his demons whilst going through a detox. This seems to me to be the pivotal scene for his character, as well as the one that will define Charlotte's future. As always for the female characters in this plot, Charlotte's fate is determined by circumstances. Jack's downfall, her part in his detox as well as her mother's condition together with her father's lack of interest in helping out at all push in from all sides, moulding her future so that she has no way out.

There is much to talk about regarding the episode and my review could very well turn into an appreciation of the kind required for an exam in English Literature rather than a heady BBC series. So whilst I'll try to cap my enthusiasm and curb the want to explore this from a writer's point of view, I'll skim quickly over the observations.

As evident from my previous posts, I am not such a big fan of Victor, despite that he is made over and over to look like the good guy and "the injured party", as he himself says in a previous episode clip from 'Present Day'. The truth, however, as it seems to me, is that his spite towards Jack went beyond their differences and was more of an instinct. From the beginning, Jack got the girl, and he might well do so again in Victor's eyes it seems. Is he right or is he wrong? Even Charlotte knows that it is dangerous to broach any subject to do with her ex-partner when in Victor's presence. Call me biased but I noted that Charlotte's apparent 'life-partner' is quick to want to send Jack to rehab unlike the rest of the team. He remains seated when Jack loses consciousness too, a pretty low figurative punch towards his arch enemy in my opinion. And when all's said and done, exemplary man or no, Victor loses his cool just like anyone else would when given bad news (ok I must admit: truly cruel news). So no wonder Charlotte feels unable to be totally truthful about her predicament at the end of this episode. Meanwhile things start falling into place, with Lilly's past and Jack's involvment in it clearly linked to the present day hostility on Charlotte's side. Such close friends up to the events of Episode 5, the two girls share a secret (or twin secrets) that has them at opposing ends in a dilemma. But that's all I'm going to share.


I leave you to watch these two episodes if you haven't already, and to comment on here if you have. Meanwhile, keep tuned for the last part of this series of reviews, coming up in February.

Friday, 20 January 2017

A Book About Being High Up, Literally

My latest book review on EVE is about a futuristic fictional story that, whilst not being an out-of-this-world novel still managed not only to have me curious to read it through but also deals with the kind of characters that seem to come to life, never to be forgotten, nor the ending. Thanks to Agenda Bookshop who sponsored my book, here's my take on Katharine McGee's The Thousandth Floor. Enjoy!


Friday, 13 January 2017

Another Tiring Week

I'm sitting here with blurry eyes, tired limbs and a head that's about to explode for the long list of things it is still to remember to do. In fact I have to confess, I'm here out of duty today rather than my own will. Don't get me wrong, I love writing and get really excited about writing reviews, carrying out interviews, even posting pictures. My one problem right now with that, though, is that I am too exhausted to give it the time it needs.

So instead I decided to post a question today, for myself as well as my readers: What, really, is the meaning of our life? If I were to compare my life today to the one I had only a couple of years ago, I'd say I should be having more free time and time to focus on what I believe truly matters, rather than less. Isn't that one reason why I finally bought a car? After long years of sacrifice and bus rides, a car brought me a certain freedom I craved. Meanwhile, my son is growing up and should require less constant help and supervision at home (erm... well I did say 'should'!). On the other hand, we used to wake up after 6am on weekdays. Now, with my son being at the new school (and I could never grumble about this change as we wanted it since always) my morning routine starts at 5am through the week. I also ride my own car to and from work and guess what, although I've been working far from home for twelve years, I would previously sit back and relax whilst someone else (namely my husband or the bus driver) did the hard work of driving in this crazy country. Between these two changes my life has become like a marathon of trying to catch up... catch up with the laundry (does anyone ever?), make sure we're always stocked for groceries and toiletries lest we run out, try to catch up with writing deadlines (I missed one a little while ago for the first time ever and as you can see, I still can't forget about it!)

My noodles are getting cold so I'm off to my tv dinner of sorts whilst I leave you to answer one question for me: Does it ever get easier?

Friday, 6 January 2017

Reviewing: White Heat, Episode 3

Following my review of Episode 2, which you can find here: http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2016/12/review-white-heat-episode-2.html


It’s time to review the third episode of White Heat and believe me, this series seems to get better as more is revealed. Although I am sure that once I’ve watched it all I won’t be as curious to rewatch it for knowing how it all ends, it is also that type of script that has you enjoying all those little hints when you watch it for a second time. Many quotes that seem random enough on a first viewing are much more charged with meaning when you know what comes next. The most accurate ones in foreshadowing are usually Victor’s words and they are also the most spot on in defining characters and what is going on in relationships.

Just as in Episode Two he harps on the fact that Jack should treat Charlotte better, in this one he has much to say to Charlotte about Jack. His idea is that Jack’s allure is in his dangerous streak and that women are psychologically made to respond to it positively. It’s genetics, he tells her, Jack is the type of guy to make the best breeder, despite his flaws. Well, we already knew that Charlotte seems unable to get herself to move on from him. I must credit Victor for still trying so hard to get her interested in him even when he admits, “We don’t choose who we love, we only choose who we don’t.” It’s so clear he feels that he’s the injured party that I can’t for the life of me see why he struggles on to get the two apart. If anything, Charlotte has much more in common with Jack in my opinion than with Victor. That said, I have to give it to him that he is rather insightful and if I understood Charlotte’s character right then that makes him appealing. Bravo to him for noticing that, “He’s your fatal flaw.” yet being brave enough to still make a move on Charlotte despite this ominous observation. However the most accurate of his observations is clearly that “You sacrifice the best part of yourself for Jack.”

                     

Jack too utters a very memorable quote in this episode, one that will come back to haunt Charlotte in a later episode and later on in her life. “You are the only thing that makes life bearable.” Jack admits, causing her lapse of judgement in Episode Five. It is also the truth, most especially after his first serious blow since the start of the story. His delusional dad’s rejection - that dad who believed that money could always solve Jack’s ‘problems’ and mentioned the word “cheque” more than any other word in the dictionary - is more than he can bear. It is clear Jack truly cares about him and hungers for a connection even though they never see eye to eye and this episode is key in showing this with Jack going out of his way and also against his principals to support his father at a difficult time.

I could go on and on about Jack’s side of the story and the other characters’ view of him, yet he remains my favourite despite his addiction and treatment of women. As Victor says, there’s a danger to him that makes him all the more appealing and the fact that Sam Claflin plays this long-haired barely-together man only serves to gain him more points from where I stand. However so much happens in this episode that finally it seems like this is a story about all seven youngsters and all of their problems carry equal weight. For who in real life is unscathed by their own individual reality?

It is the 1970s and a background of exploding bombs, IRA shootings and political unrest serve to undermine yet move along the characters. Alan and Lilly find a temporary peace whilst Orla wrestles with the result of an unfair choice she has to make. Jay’s true personality is a secret no more among the friends and elicits opposite reactions from Jack (rude yet loyal) and Alan (disgusted and repelled). The dinner that all seven sit down to together for the first time in a very long while is brought about by Orla - the mother figure - whilst Alan and Victor seem to have moved on from the roomie phase and are out on their own. The phrase I would look for to describe this episode is ‘Seeking Stability’ as they all seem to me to go out of their way to do that.


With the end of this episode the series reaches the half-way mark and not only so, it seems to me also to be the ending to the characters’ life as youngsters before they make their way to more serious stuff. Now adults in search of their “Holy Grail” as Jack put it, they are facing the remainder of their life. The script-writer is a tease, leaving so much still for us to find out even when we’ve already gotten to the end with the help of ‘present day’ scenes.

On to the review for the fourth and fifth episodes:
http://vintagehew.blogspot.com.mt/2017/01/1974-white-heat-episode-4-bbc-two.html