Tuesday, 30 August 2011

I don't want to forget this post

The beautiful Tania Kindersley's writing and photographs mean a lot to me: they present me with laughter, thoughts profound and thoughts lightweight, intelligence, bravery and beauty - and some of the loveliest photographs (mostly of her superb Scottish surroundings, and the irresistible dog) I've ever seen.

This post - a quiet reflection on the nature of self-revelation to a group of strangers - sums up much that I love when I check in to her blog. Best of all, it contains one of my favourite photographs of The Pigeon (the wonderful hound).

Photo: Tania Kindersley, August 1911

Tania, I hope you don't mind me borrowing this photo: it's for the purely selfish reason that I don't want to lose track of it again.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Lighting a candle... needs a stand!

Can you help us?

Great Witchingham parish church (one of the six working churches in the Wensum Group of Churches that my husband is Rector of) is wanting to install something at/on which visitors may light candles and leave prayer requests. Before progressing this any further and investing in something new, we though we'd ask around - just in case anyone knows of such a thing going begging? We've asked the Redundant Furnishings Officer in Norwich Diocese and he can't help us.

If you can help, please visit the Contact page of the website above.

Thank you!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Merry Wives of Windsor

My next theatrical outing takes place at the Sewell Barn Theatre, beginning on 14th July. Click here for details and booking information.

As the information in the publicity says: "Falstaff, Shakespeare's 'fat knight', tries to court two married women at the same time. The resulting mayhem gives us one of Shakespeare's most enduring and well-loved comedies. This early demonstration of 'Girl Power', although set within the sixteenth century confines of Windsor, strikes a surprisingly modern note and reminds us that hunan nature does not change wherever or whenever it is portrayed."

I'm having a whale of a time playing one of the two Merry Wives (Mistress Page); with my fellow Wife, Chris Yorke as Mistress Forde, we have enormous fun stitching up Falstaff (Terry Dabbs), hiding him in baskets of laundry, dressing him as an old woman, and generally making the most of his enslavement to his... well... desires.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A warped view of beauty

Interesting to see how old stories do the rounds again - helped by new technology.

I reposted a superb photograph (the second of the two shown below) this morning. The caption was: "This was an ad made by bodyshop. But Barbie INC. found out about it and now it’s banned. Repost if you think this ad deserves to be seen."

I wondered whether this was for real. I found that some elements of the story were correct - not in 2011, but thirteen years ago.

When this story first hit the news 'way back in 1998, neither Facebook nor Twitter existed. It's been picked up again, and is presently doing the rounds as though it were happening today - helped by the fact that a posting can be round the globe in seconds in 2011.

However, it certainly doesn't change the valuable lesson to be learned. A quick Google of the phrase "bodyshop Barbie" brought me to the full story on various sites, most helpfully that of Anita Roddick, the founder of BodyShop (who passed away in 2007). Visiting her website and then searching for the term Barbie brings up several blog posts that mention the circumstances. As Anita's 2002 posting puts it:

"Thankfully, it seems Mattel has begun to lose in its never-ending campaign to silence those who would criticize their precious Barbie doll, that freakish, anorexic, highly sensitive plastic doll. The Danish pop band Aqua was the most recent target of Mattel's chilling legal assaults. The band's 1997 song "Barbie Girl" depicted the ubiquitous doll as a bimbo and a party girl. But a US court has found that Barbie can in fact be parodied publicly, even if it hurts her little PVC feelings. "

Here are the two images I've found that were used in this campaign.

Oh, and while I'm here: this reminded me of an excellent video that was used as a campaign by Dove in 2006.

The question is: will we ever truly learn the lessons we should have learned back in 1998? One hopes so. The person who alerted me to this image, this morning, was my friend Claire Bunton, who is an image consultant and who has created a six-part course called Fabulous You, designed to help us to understand body type, work with it instead of against it, and celebrate the beauty of real people rather than plastic dolls. With the help of people like Claire, let's hope we can reverse this trend - for the sake of us all.


One final comment. A friend on facebook has said that he finds it hard to believe that Mattel actually got the advertisement banned (especially as the advert doesn't mention Barbie's name at all), and that it's easier to understand that the song (which actually mentions the name) might have been banned. Either way, it's an interesting discussion. I suspect - reading Roddick's blog again - that the truth of the matter is that Mattel didn't actually get it banned, but attempted to ("They sent us a cease-and-desist order saying that our generously proportioned plastic doll was making Barbie look bad."). The only other evidence of a 'ban' appears to be when, again on Roddick's website:

"in Hong Kong, posters of Ruby were banned on the Mass Transit Railway because authorities said she would offend passengers. (Granted, Ruby often appeared without clothes on, but like Barbie, she had no nipples or pubic hair.) Of course, the much more seriously offensive images of silicone-enhanced blondes in other ads were permitted to stay on the trains."

It's also useful to note - 13 years on from the original - that stories fly round the internet at an incredible speed, and of course, are therefore rather prone to games of Chinese Whispers.

Of course, whatever the origins - it was a brilliant campaign with a very valid point behind it, and Mattel didn't like it!

Friday, 6 May 2011


For Tania: especially today.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

SOS! Village fete music required...

Our village (Weston Longville) is holding a Spring Frolic this coming Saturday as a fund-raiser for our large group of tiny local churches. (Click here for more details.) We've stalls, tombola, bouncy castle, face painting, cakes... all the ingredients of a good old-fashioned village get-together.

But no music.

At the last minute, our musicians have dropped out. Music really makes the afternoon - the band we had last year created a great atmosphere - and we're desperate for a replacement. It doesn't have to be a full scale band, just anyone who can perform some kind of amplified live music and is happy to be background for our visitors as they wander, chat, buy and eat? A couple of half-hour spots would be wonderful.

As it's a fundraiser, we're afraid there's no money involved: just kudos and our undying gratitude.

Can anybody help? If so, please email me urgently: cassie@tillett.org.uk. Thank you!

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The pain of loss

This is turning into a reflective day.

It was an uncharacteristically glorious and sunny bank holiday weekend (and the sky remains halcyon as I write this). The seemingly endless sequence of days off (not that they tend to mean much if one is self-employed, but we were at least on holiday at the time); a triumphant Royal PR exercise, with the British doing the pageantry as only they know how; locally to me, Norwich FC make their way into premier league.

Some might include the death of a murderer in this list of 'reasons to be cheerful'. I don't. I've already written about that this morning.

I am, however, brought up short by the death and illness that's been brought to my notice in the last couple of days. I know none of these people personally, but they are all dear to friends of mine.

I arrived home from our post-Easter holiday to be told, within the last 48 hours, of
  • ... the death, one year ago tomorrow, of the daughter of a family-history contact. It was her forty-fifth birthday; she died of Sudden Death in Epilepsy; she left two children, aged 8 and 10.
  • ... the death, just last week, of the daughter-in-law of a friend from my local drama group. She was 37; she had a sudden brain aneurism; she leaves three children, the oldest of whom is five years old.
  • ... the illness of a dear friend of an old school-friend of mine, who has phoned and asked for my prayers for him: he is seldom conscious now, and had effectively to be woken up to be told that he was dying.
These are the events that leave us all shaken and afraid, indignant and searching for reasons, dumb and desperate for words. Our prayers and thoughts and wishes seem insufficient, but in the end, they are all we have in the tool-kit. Beyond that, all we can do is to give even greater thanks for our own lives, and for those things that make us happy: for sunshine, for an English spring, for opportunity and inspiration and courage, for friends and happy times while we have them.

For these people, and all who care for them and their families, please direct your prayers - or your positive thoughts, if you prefer - to their comfort; and to our own rejoicing in the time we have and the facilities we can use to the best of our ability.

And for my favourite reflection on our time on earth, no matter how long or short, please have a look at a posting I made a few days ago.

One hoax that I can live with

My friends know that I get very hot under the collar about fakes and hoaxes on the internet. So it's with some embarrassment that I realise that the quote I published this morning turns out to be, in essence, a fake - at least, in its attribution to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I will mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.

(If it's a quote about peace, attribute it to MLK; if it's pithy and witty, make it Mark Twain.)

However, the rest of the quote that's doing the rounds (when not limited to 140 characters), in the wake of the 'celebrations' for the death of Osama bin Laden, does in fact come from MLK:

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

And you know what? For once, I really don't mind that I've forwarded something that's not quite as implied. The fact is that somebody said it, and it seems to be summing up the mood of a huge number of people. It doesn't matter whether or not it was said by a 'famous person'; it was said. That's all that matters.

There is nothing to celebrate about a death. There is plenty to celebrate about a life well lived - that's what the best funerals are there for - but the murder of a murderer? An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth? I don't think so. The wonderful Fr Paul Butler (@RedRector, a parish priest in Deptford, SE London) hit the nail on the head as we awoke to the news yesterday:

I awake to my 44th Birthday to discover that the USA has murdered a mass murderer whom they trained in killing. The spiral of violence. :(

And finally, a timely quote from my friend Sam:

'I can only think of one death that brought the world peace, and we celebrated that a week ago.' - from an American friend of mine.


Friday, 29 April 2011

Jekyll & Hyde

OK, so if you get tired of the Royal Wedding by the end of today, are living in or near Norwich, and want something a bit different to do... go visit my favourite theatre group at the Sewell Barn in Constitution Hill. This one's not for the children, though!

Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde opened last night to a hugely enthusiastic audience, and I've been hearing great things about it (I'm looking forward to seeing it next week). Here's a note from the director, Rob Morris, on Facebook this morning:

"I understand that our box office at Jarrold’s is closed today (Friday 29th April) for the Bank Holiday. If you know of anyone who is planning to see the Sewell Barn’s production of ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ tonight, and who hasn’t booked, we would be grateful if you would let them know that there are still seats available and tickets will be sold at the door. Do join us for an evening of chilling entertainment…"

Friday, 22 April 2011

How long is a man's life, finally?

I first found this wonderful poem through a friend, and as a result bought the book by the extraordinary Brian Patten. I am often nervous about sharing published poetry through the internet, but as the poet regularly publishes his own poems on his Poem of the Month blog I figured it was probably OK. [It can be found in his book Armada.]

Either way, it has been of help and solace at many times of bereavement among family, friends and colleagues. It's brought back to mind today by this post by the extraordinary Tania Kindersley in celebration of her father. RIP Gay Kindersley, 1930-2011.

Cuanto vive el hombre por fin? Vive mil dias o uno solo?
Una semana o varios siglos? Por cuanto tiempo muere el hombre?
Que quiere decir 'para siempre'?
Preocupado per este asunto me dedique a aclarar las cosas.

- Pablo Neruda

How long is a man's life, finally?
Is it a thousand days, or only one?
One week, or a few centuries?
How long does a man's death last?
And what do we mean when we say, "gone forever'?
Adrift in such preoccupations, we seek clarification.

We can go to the philosophers,
but they will grow tired of our questions.
We can go to the priests and the rabbis
but they might be too busy with administrations.

So, how long does a man live, finally?
And how much does he live while he lives?
We fret, and ask so many questions -
then when it comes to us
the answer is so simple.
A man lives for as long as we carry him inside us,
for as long as we carry the harvest of his dreams,
for as long as we ourselves live,
holding memories in common, a man lives.

His lover will carry his man's scent, his touch;
his children will carry the weight of his love.
One friend will carry his arguments.
another will hum his favourite tunes,
another will still share his terrors.
And the days will pass with baffled faces,
then the weeks, then the months,
then there will be a day when no question is asked,
and the knots of grief will loosen in the stomach.
and the puffed faces will calm.
And on that day he will not have ceased,
but will have ceased to be separated by death.
How long does a man live, finally?

A man lives so many different lengths of time.

[The photograph, by the way, is this time one of mine, taken one clear and breathless night in the Norfolk countryside last month.]

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

tall trees

A comment on my favourite blog today awoke a dim and distant memory. Tania said: "This feels like a metaphor. I could not think for what. For a moment, I was frustrated. Then I thought: sometimes weeding is just weeding. And that is quite all right."

I dug around in the files: here is my rather more longwinded way of saying the same thing, written in March 2003 after a walk across Beddington Park, which backed onto our home when we lived in South London.

late evening, early spring
through the local greenspace
stunned by the image

low-lying, golden sunset light
through tall tall trees
make glorious shadows
on the grass

write it down fast
make a poem
a quotable thought
capture the deeper meaning
of its loveliness

wait, though
it’s just the sun through trees

sun + trees
right place + right time
= beauty

no big deal
just here
right place, right time
as am I –

here to see
sunlight through tall trees

(I have no idea where I got the lovely photograph; it isn't one of mine. I assume I pinched it from somewhere on the internet back in 2003, and apologise for the lack of credit where credit was due.)