"Mr Stink" has been sitting on my V+ box from Boxing Day 2012 and yesterday I finally decided to watch it. What prompted me was BBC was also showing "The Boy In The Dress" - another of David Walliam's children's stories adapted for television. I'd watched "Gangsta Granny" last Christmas and been impressed, only half realising it was Mr Walliam's creation, and all year I've been hearing lots of good things about his stories from the mum's coming into the post office. There have been comparisons with Roald Dahl and I love the fact he's working with the greatest illustrator Quentin Blake.
What I love and admire about great writers is that they take something very ordinary, find a way to bring it to life, tell a story with it and, most importantly, leave us with a message. They give their writing purpose.
Some people read a book to escape. Some people read for pleasure. Some, to better themselves. I read to find the hidden message - and yes, this is most probably because I'm a dreamer and want peace and love in the world. So, if I can find a little something to make the world a better place, I will search it out and use it.
"Gangsta Granny", "Mr Stink" and "The Boy In The Dress" are fantastic children's stories. I saw their appeal to children - but also I saw the bigger messages - reminders not to judge people by what you see on the surface, don't be scared to be different, make time for people in your life.
I remember reading everything of Roald Dahl's when I was younger and being moved, thrilled and delighted with the stories. I haven't read Walliam's books yet, but the TV adaptations left me with the same feelings of fulfillment.
Read more about "The Boy In The Dress" here.
I like to think I'm still working when I sit for hours watching the television. That's how I justify it to myself anyway. That magic word... Inspiration! I'm making up for all the years I barely watched the box at all.
How I react and feel about a show - and what decides whether I'll go back for more - is largely according to the following percentages: 75% based on the quality of the script, the characters, theme and ideals, 15% based on the acting and 10% based on who's playing the parts.
And I've got to admit, I'm in TV heaven at the moment. Current distractions include: Miranda (hilarious), Mrs Brown's Boys (downright stupidly stupid), ITV's Mr Selfridge (historical), Discovery's Jungle Gold (reality show), Prison Break box set (thrilling), Stella (wonderfully human comedy drama) and David Attenborough's Africa (natural history).
For me and me alone, this is a perfect platform for inspiration and a perfect balance for creativity to flow.
This is a must visit for all music lovers out there. I knew it was going to be good, but it surpassed all my expectations as soon as I entered the Intro booth. I had the Introduction to the BME to myself - it's like a mini cinema telling you what to expect and how to use your handy little Smarticket to capture bits and pieces of musical info. you might want to read up on when you get home. When I entered into the main event, I can only describe it as walking into Aladdin's cave of musical gems. A plethora of all things music awaited from costumes, props, instruments and memorabilia to famous concerts, important musical related dates and iconic singers, bands, movements and songs. On the face of it, that might sound a little dull, but let's add the funky lighting, the awe inspiring technology beaming out over 3,000 images, 600 video clips and 3,000 artist videos, and not forgetting The Core, the Edge Zones and the Gibson Interactive Studio. Everywhere you go music in all its forms bombards every one of your senses. This is the stand out feature making the exhibition so special and unique.
I was there to absorb the history of British music so spent most of my time in the Edge Zones. I used my Smarticket a lot because there's no way you can take in what each segment has to offer. My Smarticket now has the background to such things as the Mods & Rockers fighting it out in Margate, Band Aid, Britpop, and the birth of Rock n' Roll...
I could have easily spent several more hours wandering around but the O2 climb was calling, so I headed into The Finale booth and luckily enough, got to experience this all to myself. WOW WOW WOW. Described as "a complete sensory experience" it certainly lived up to the hype. I just stood there for 5 whole minutes completely lost in the thrilling visual and sonic montage of life-size scenes from the best concerts and acts in the last 60 years. The concert experience always gets me right there, and this was no exception. I almost blubbed in the sheer joy of it all. Well, when you love something that much...
I worked on the Prologue to Tainted last night *mini celebration*. I'm not quite feeling it yet, but at least I've set the scene and I've got something to play around with now. Sometimes it's more important to write something, then sit staring at a blank screen because there's nothing more depressing when the words don't flow. I force myself to type and I leave out technicalities to keep it simple. Other times, it's best to walk away. I admit defeat when I'm tired, I can't get my playlist right and my brain won't picture the scene. I can't make it work if I'm too detached from what I need to be feeling.
I promised a little piece on the wonderful MJ Forever tribute, so turn away now if you've got no soul because this is all about the amazing artists that performed and the build up to the gig. Firstly 2 things you need to know about me: 1) I always follow my heart, so if there's something I really want to see or do, I'm there and no amount of advice against or bad press and hype will deter me. 2) I always want to go with someone who's 110 percent into the event with me and totally matches my enthusiasm like for like. I knew my soul "music" mate Wendy was the perfect companion to head to Cardiff with. We love the same music and we could wax lyrical all day every day about our favourite artists. Wendy rocks! I don't think she'll mind me saying ;)
When we arrived in Cardiff the city was buzzing (Wales had just beat Ireland in the rugby that morning and 50,000 dressed up MJ fans had descended on the city for the concert), so being women with no sense of direction, we wandered down St Mary's street - I'd like to say soaking up the atmosphere, but we were also trying to locate our hotel...! It ended up being opposite the castle (handy landmark for later) and we checked into our room with an amazing view of the stadium. Lucked out there!
Once back out onto the sunny streets of the city, we headed for food. We'd both spotted (and smelt the wonderful aroma of) the same hot dog stand outside Cardiff Central train station. That's where we met the man we dubbed "Onion man". He wanted free onions and banged on and on about it, hence the name. We couldn't tell whether he was a real beggar or just plain loopy. I kept looking for the giveaway mobile phone. But come on, onions?! I wouldn't want to be sleeping rough next to him... It seemed he followed us around after that because we then bumped into him again on the way to our gate where Wendy, big hearted that she is, gave him a few coppers - which she had thought were silvers. I guess she couldn't ask for them back to then replenish him with 5 and 10 pence pieces. Could have been awkward.
The build up outside the stadium before they let us in was immense. Lots of media VIPs shot past us and the ones that remained on the streets were geeing up the crowds. I think our screams made it onto a few Welsh radio stations that evening! There were also plenty of MJ hat stands and concert glow-in-the-dark props for sale, plus an awesome impersonator in every sense of the word. Not only did he look like him (nose job an' all), but his persona, mannerisms and voice were spot on too. It was like Michael was right there with us. Freaky!
I love to take my seat early and watch the stadium fill up, and as soon as the light dims and the sound system kicks in and the crowd roars with anticipation, I'm totally and utterly mesmerised. Neyo's opening with Billie Jean blew me away. The beat to that tune is timeless, not to mention hypnotic. The music was so loud it crushed my skull, split my ear drums and pulsated through my body like adrenalin. That sounds really off putting but trust me, it was anything but. When your heart is pumping in rhythm with the beat, OMG!!! We were then treated to a host of artists - some of the greats sprinkled with up and coming UK talent - who showcased the 5 decades of MJ's music and work. For both of us, we would've paid just to see the Jackson's perform and also to hear the children speaking about their father. Love them or loathe them, there's no denying the Jackson's are a legendary music family, and always will be in my mind.
Surprises for me were Alien Ant Farm who totally tore up the stadium with their set, and at the other end of the musical spectrum, Yolanda Adams, the gospel star, belting out Earth Song. She really gave that song a whole new meaning with her awesome vocal.
Smokey and Gladys were incredible, but then, I knew they would be. I felt honoured watching them perform and it is something I won't ever forget. I just sat and listened to every word, and I felt every word. Magical.
Adding to the experience was a drunken Scottish bird who was unfortunately sitting right in front of me. I mean, come on, what were the odds?! She did my head in to begin with, but then I got to know her and we were cool by the end. I totally surprised myself because at one point I was considering knocking her out. I don't think it would've taken much. It was the falling about all over the place and constant arm waving with beer glass in hand that got my goat. On the other hand, the drunken rambles and shout outs were quite amusing. She won't remember any of it in the morning, but she thought my name was piranha and she almost stuck a straw up Wendy's nose. We also high fived a lot once the formalities were over.
I must be mellowing in my old age!
After the thrill of the concert, we bust a gut queuing for a program (only 1 stand in the whole stadium selling merchandise, yep, go figure...) and then it was back to our hotel for room service and a massive XFactor catch up. I almost wet myself when I saw the trailers from our window and thought maybe the stars would be mingling and we could spy, but they were only production trailers unfortunately. Damn shame that!
To seal an amazing day, we ordered everything on the menu for brekky (which would be arriving in approx 6 hours time) and hung our card on the door, then laughed and laughed ourselves to sleep. We chuckle about the tiniest things, Wendy and I.
I think my morning after tweet encapsulates the whole experience: "The Michael Forever tribute concert was EPIC last night. Still dazed and starstruck and in awe of the whole event. Simply amazing *hashtag*mjforever
I am so excited!!! Tonight is the controversial "Forever" tribute concert to Michael Jackson - and I'm going!!! With stars being kicked off and pulling out left, right and centre (Kiss, BEPs and Chris Brown so far...) and Facebook jumping ship, it's been predicted a disaster. But how can they (the media) say that when you have some of the Jacksons performing together for the first time in years and years, Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson, Ne-yo and soulful legends such as SMOKEY ROBINSON and GLADYS KNIGHT - I mean, come on people, LEGENDS!! I don't care what they predict, it's money well spent for me and it's gonna be awesome. Whatever happens, I'm sure they'll do the King of Pop proud :)
Wow, nearly as long as I've lived and the best British comedy sitcom of all time rocks on! Hardly a day goes by without a bit of Del Boy and Rodders in this household. I only ever watched the very last one of Only Fools & Horses as it was being broadcast - Christmas 2003, the rest I've watched as re-runs or from our beloved boxset (which I honestly couldn't live without!) Not only is John Sullivan's scriptwriting absolute genius, but there are heartwarming, touching moments too. I tried to narrow these down to my Top 5 - and couldn't - so here's my 7:
The wartime recollections by Grandad and Uncle Albert in "The Russians Are Coming" and "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Uncle"
When Rodney leaves Del for his honeymoon - Simply Red's "Holding Back The Years" plays out and Del takes the male figurine off the top of the wedding cake as if he's losing Rodney
When they become millionaires - the pub scene gets me every time when all their friends stand up and clap
When Del Boy is talking to his mum holding his son for the first time
Grandad's funeral - when Del is trying to deal with his loss and Rodney doesn't understand his coping mechanism
Now back to the comedy moments - my all time favourite scene has to be in "Modern Men" where Rodney applies for his own job and has to say "I love you" to Ivor Hardy! Cracks me up a treat.
Other favourite episodes are "The Miami Twice" movie where Del plays a Don as well as himself, and "The Jolly Boys' Outing" because I have family in Margate.
Cheers OFAH - you keep us laughing! And RIP to a legend writer John Sullivan who died earlier this year.
Now I shall enjoy the sunshine on the hottest Oct 1st in over 100 years apparently. 27 / 28 degrees today!
Blogging is an amazing concept so here I am giving it a whirl. You'll get words. You'll get pics. Sometimes a vid or two. You'll get tongue in cheek, the odd humble opinion and an honest insight into my travels and writing life. Maybe even a few gems along the way. I'll be musing on home turf as I see more and more of the UK and sharing my experiences further afield on holidays and adventurous trips across the globe.