A Charmed Life


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this kiwi girl muses about… Easter

I went to Christian schools so I had it drummed into me from a young age that Easter was about Jesus sacrificing his life for my sins and then rising again from the dead on the third day so I would have eternal life. I remember being very confused about someone I never knew dying for me. It is a heady concept for a child to understand and I have to say as an adult it never felt much clearer; but then religion is all about the interpretation and interpretation is why I do not do religion.

Still I may not do religion but that has not stopped my brain working overtime all bank holiday contemplating on the meaning of Easter. It would have been more comfortable to muse over Easter eggs but I am not a chocolate eater so it holds no interest, or to talk about the Easter bunny but I am not American so have never taken part in any bunny activities; no instead my thinking has been all about Jesus and about these events that may or may not have occurred and this is kind of a big deal for me, for although I am happily content with my spiritual path, I remain vehemently anti religion. This means I choose not to veer towards religious dogma. I am the first to say ‘for one day would it not be nice to not have to read about some religious crap in the news.’ Before I come across all blasphemous, apathy aside, each to their own I just do not see why I have to know about it.

Anyway about Easter. In adulthood Easter has always been a welcome respite from hectic work life no further thought heeded, yet here I am fresh from this Easter break thinking what is the lesson of Easter.
And my takeaway is this – and I have to say I think it was a case of when the student is ready, the teacher will appear because I am surprised how easily it came to me, and it may be a little simplistic but here goes – you do not need to be Christian or religious to deduce that Easter is about love. I believe that the idea of someone giving their life for me is an act of kindness and the idea of that someone rising from the dead fills me with joy and gives me hope for the redemption for all of us. And I am rather happy to bask in that feeling for as long as I can.

 Sat Nam

And…  Issues, Movements. I am feeling an exuberance for justice I have never felt in my lifetime, a wave of change upon us. Whether it is Mental Health Awareness or the fight for Equality or Black Lives Matter, whatever the issue it will not be ignored. And nor should it. Pepsi managed to balls this current feeling up royally, first by hiring Kendall Jenner, the idea that anyone from that family gives a damn about anyone other than themselves is an obvious fallacy. Then the ad itself is a WTF! There is a bit in the beginning of the ad of Kendall blithely handing a blond wig to a bemused African-American woman – that says it all #I’mNotInThePepsiGeneration BUT for incite and context look no further than I’m Not Your Negro, a documentary film, based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript. James Baldwin was one of the most important voices to document the civil rights movement and to hear the words of this man who knew Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr is a thrill for anyone interested in history but why I believe this documentary is required viewing is because it speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force. I watched it thinking ‘when will we ever learn!’  I am somewhat confused who is whom in the Syrian conflict. There’s Assad. There’s IS. There’s Iran. There’s Russia. There’s Saudi Arabia. There’s the US and somewhere there in the mix are Britain, France, Turkey and Qatar. I don’t understand what motivates Assad anymore; his country is in ruins, it has been six bloody intractable years. Assad has to go and so do IS but I have concerns about other countries being involved, you don’t just fire missile strikes on another country but more importantly you don’t just fire missile strikes on another country without a game plan. The strikes just feel like that thing at the White House thought to do on a whim and because he could. It doesn’t demonstrate a move to resolve the conflict and it certainly was not out of concern for the Syrian people. And speaking of airstrikes on what possible realm does it make sense to threaten North Korea, launch a MOAB on Afghanistan, and then go off for a golfing holiday. Every day it is like watching a James Bond movie but from the psycho villian’s point of view. You never know what is going to happen next but you know it will not make sense and you know it will not be any good. 

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why I think HE will make a great president

2017Yeah right! No I have not had a lobotomy since I last wrote nor have I lost my liberal do-gooder instincts, I just thought the title would make for a laugh. Seriously though – can anyone think of even one reason! 

I love the idea of a new year, a time to start afresh with new hopes and dreams. A rebirth so to speak. It is at this time of year I like to get in some extra guidance of the mystic variety, so this past weekend I took myself off to have my numerology chart done and a tarot card reading. I won’t go into what was said as it is uninteresting to anyone but me except I will say from past experience they have been eerily bang on. It is what was said at the end of the session that was particularly appealing to me ‘whatever happens remember you are a spiritual being having a human experience.’

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Not for the first time have I heard this but it feels rather timely to have heard it now because who knows the trajectory 2017 will follow: Everywhere you turn, there is this feeling lunatics are running the asylum WHERE fake news is the order of the day WHERE we are days out from seeing a man-child take the office as leader of the free world WHERE (arguably) the world’s best healthcare system the NHS is increasingly in crisis to the point of collapse WHERE the tenet of democracy is being tested WHERE the next Great British Bake Off will air without Mary Berry WHERE previous cold war enemies are now in cahoots WHERE Katie Hopkins is still being employed to spread her unique brand of bigotry WHERE climate change is still being denied even when we see proof of decline everywhere. Who knows. But if we are spiritual beings having a human experience it really does not matter what reality looks like, all that matters is how we show up, what is in our souls – that part of us that observes quietly behind what we do, think, believe and feel, that part of us that existed before this human life and that will continue to exist after our present physical form transitions.

What gives me perspective everyday are four separate realities – the plight of the Chibok girls who were kidnapped in April 2014 by Boko Haram in Nigeria, the imprisonment and sentencing to death by beheading and crucifixion of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, the war in Yemen and the ever growing refugee crisis all over our the globe – the universe lead me to them and now I have made it my mission to be involved in these plights and as insurmountable as each situation seems, the people who I meet spiritual beings just like me whose only prerequisite is that we care, the acts of kindness I have witnessed make me hopeful for peaceful resolution, make me feel hopeful for our communal human experience, make me feel like maybe just maybe 2017 might be a bit of alright.

Happy New Year. May your 2017 be perfect and blissful in every way.

Sat Nam

And… Award season has began and I have but one word Moonlight. Moonlight is a raw, thought provoking, emotional, graceful, important experience. Moonlight reminded me that great cinema is about the storytelling. Moonlight deserves every award it has won and will win. Moonlight is not for everybody but everybody should see it. Moonlight ~ step into the light, witness the magic and be transformed  Every time I hear of oldies coming back I feel this nervous excitement. I want them back but I want them back good and preferably with the same original line up. I remember seeing Duran Duran live once with just Simon and Nick, it was just wrong without John, Roger and Andy. Then there was Bewitched the movie version, okay original line up was impossible but to leave out key characters and go completely off script was a dumb move. So it was with nervous excitement I awaited the Cold Feet and Gilmore Girls revivals (thankfully both were perfect in their warmth and nostalgia) and it is with nervous excitement I await Twin Peaks but if truth be told when you have been waiting 25 years for more like I have, nothing could actually stop me from returning to Twin Peaks because even when David Lynch is not good he is still kind of brilliant  I really really really did not want to write this year about the above mentioned man-child nor about loss, 2016 had far too much of both. I had every intention to go forward with that which makes my heart sing but as I have already spoken of the former I might as well go the whole hog as it would be remiss of me not to mention George Michael or my husband, as he was referred to in my circles growing up. Precious George, Its done then, god gave you the voice of an angel a generous heart and the most tormented soul. Ever since standard four you have been there with me through all the key moments in my life; when I needed to dance you had the moves when I was torn you helped put me back together. And even though I knew this day was coming here I am completely torn you are not in my orbit anymore and this time you can’t heal me, not right now anyway. Does it feel good to be free at last? I hope you can see how much love there is for you. Thank you macushla for the trail of magic you created, you sing with the angels now #HeavenSent #HeavenStole


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an open letter

Dear friends-who-have-children

I am not a mother.
I always assumed I would be.
But the universe didn’t see it that way.
And now, I have found peace with my reality.

I am not a mother.
But my life is not any less significant than yours just because you procreated.
And I write to you today, for the sake of our relationship, to ask for some consideration.

The same consideration I give you every time you call and then proceed to hang up two minutes into our conversation to attend to your crying child. The same consideration I give when you cancel our rare night out at the last night minute when your kid is poorly. The same consideration I give when we Face Time and you stick your little one on ‘to amuse’ me while you run around doing laundry.

Look, I get it. Your time is tight, you are sleep deprived and your priority, rightly so is your family; I understand this and I do not begrudge you your life. I don’t mind our short punctuated conversations that are mostly centered on the chaos (your word) that is your life, and I am fine having to be the one who schleps across town (or the world) to see you and it’s no problem picking up milk on my way. I don’t mind your offspring joining us as we catch up. I am happy to be the fun aunty. I will even babysit for you. I am not even bothered when your tot spills juice on my Gucci tote (well not that bothered).

But hello remember me? Please do not dismiss my life as less than. You are right I don’t know all that goes into raising a child, but please don’t say my life is easier or less complicated than yours. Understand when you had your child not only did your life change, so too did mine. I understand our relationship cannot function as it did but I need for you to spend an incey bit of that tight time considering me – we’re thinking of getting a dog, our search for a bigger house continues, I’m taking barre classes, I’m considering a career change, I heard the funniest story, I’m finally doing the business mentoring I’ve talked about for years, Orange may be in right now but it is still the most hideous colour, got tickets to see Hedda Gabler at the National remember when we had to act it out at school? I had to have a hs-CRP test to check my protein levels, what about Corrie seriously how clueless can Eileen be about yet another guy and what about that xenophobe campaigning for President in the US scary stuff  – this is my life, it all means something to me, it used to mean something to you. I need you to hear me every now and then or at least just tell me its gonna be alright. The last thing I want to do is put more pressure on you but just a little consideration please!

Love your friend-who-does-not-have-children

And Talking about scary stuff, less than two months! The most insane show on this planet comes to its climax in less than two months, then depending on the outcome we may have to endure a second show, I’ve given it a working title – The End of Everything Good. Seriously though, when you consider the candidacy for an elected official you are never going to like everything about the person. As long as we are able to think for ourselves we will always have own unique views, so voting is a process of who represents you best based on information you have. We know more about Hillary Rodham Clinton than any other candidate in any election in any country ever – FACT. I’m a fan, something I have never made a secret of but even I have been disappointed in her at times, like with her flip flopping over the years on the issue of same sex marriage (she got there in the end) so yes absolutely she is as flawed as you and I, but speaking of flaws consider the alternative. I’m not saying anything new here, however it is my duty as a concerned citizen of the world to speak up and keep speaking up for all that is pure, honest and good. Think about how Hitler rose to power and all the evil he unleashed and then consider all the similarities the GOP nominee has so far with him…  Americans, this election comes down to one question: What kind of human being are you? #I’mWithHer #YouShouldBeToo #ObamaOutHillaryIn  To know me is to know I covet Gwyneth Paltrow’s legs oops I mean wardrobe, so how excited am I she has released a clothing line and made it so accessible. Now if I can only grow longer legs! #VeryExcited #GOOPGeek  2016 the year of loss continues. Gene Wilder, oh what memories – the characters you gave us, the comedy you created especially with that other cool kid Richard Pryor pure magic. Charmian Carr – I still parade around in an imaginary gazebo, beloved Liesel forever sixteen going on seventeen. So long farewell Gene and Charmian thank you for the gems you leave us.


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this kiwi girl muses about… travelling

laters

I am currently sat amongst a pile of clothes preparing for my next trip wishing vehemently for a packing genie. Even though I have travelled a lot I have still not managed to learn the knack of packing and as such I find it the most laborious task. I do love to travel though, I risk sounding like a cliché but travelling – whether it be alone or with company, for work or pleasure – has bettered my experience of life and I have gained many valuable life skills while traipsing around the globe.

I am fortunate in that I have travelled practically from the moment I was born, that is par for the course when you are Indian with a South African mother and New Zealander for a father and a load of relatives and family friends scattered around the world. I learnt from an early age the need to be flexible and to adapt quickly when travelling; in my time I have endured an unplanned military enforced 48 hour layover (Addis Ababa), had snow cancelling flights (London to Toronto thrice), landed at the wrong airport due to an incorrect booking (Sandefjord instead of Oslo), been abandoned after missing the last train to my hotel after a Madonna concert and ended up spending the night in a railway station which locked its toilet doors through the night (Osaka), missed a flight due to the check in desk having the incorrect ESTA information (London to New York), ended up at the wrong wedding venue (Montreux) and in some very questionable situations (too many cities to mention). Its the nature of the beast with travel and all you can do is trust your gut and hopefully have a laugh about it.

One aspect I love about travelling is immersing myself in the local culture; from a young age my father instilled in me an interest in countries around the world. I could recite the states of America and all the English counties by age 6 as well as being able to state cities and their location on a map of New Zealand. Still today I can list the provinces of Canada, the five great lakes, every country and most of their capitals and political regimes around the world – all remnants from my younger years so I am inherently curious to see how other cultures exist. I have learnt a smile goes a long way as does communication – often there is a lot of hand gesturing, sometimes broken local tongue and sometimes like in the US – you be like ‘I can see your mouth moving, I think you’re speaking English but I have no clue what you are saying,’ but it is always appreciated.

Travelling with the right companion can be a lot of fun but sometimes good friends can turn out to be the worst travel partners as I learnt when I once travelled with a friend to Borneo. Although we did have some fab moments the trip was marred for me by her lack of an opinion – her general attitude was ‘whatever you want to do,’ lack of cultural sensitivity and at times lack of common sense, one time she left our hotel room while I was in the shower taking the room key – the key which only powered the room – leaving me to continue my shower in the dark with cold water. Then there was the first time I went to Bali with uni friends, a trip my girlfriends and I spent months planning each of us looking forward to a relaxing time after an exhausting uni year. Turns out their idea of relaxing was not quite the same as mine for they proceeded to spend our entire holiday pursuing men leaving me to beach, eat, sightsee pretty much on my own.

It wasn’t the girls’ trip we had planned but it turned out to be alright actually for I have realised as much as I love people, I do love my own company and as such travelling alone can be quite fun. I have the freedom to do exactly what I want especially as I tend to not love what everyone else does; take the Mona Lisa for example it was only on my fifth maybe sixth trip to Paris that I ventured to the Louvre. Seeing the da Vinci painting has never been of interest to me, not when there is so much else to do in the City of Light… rambling through Père Lachaise, sitting in cafes people watching, taking in exhibits at the Pompidou Centre, or the street art everywhere or… oh I could go on and on, I mean come on its Paris! I also quite enjoy the confronting situations travelling solo can present as it puts me in the way of new adventures and meeting new people. One of my most memorable nights came about on a work trip to Toronto when I found myself at a sports bar on the night of the Super Bowl (the year the Saints won), by the end of said night – which may or may not have been aided by a lot of beer – I had eaten my first chilli dog, hit a bullseye, danced a top the bar Coyote Ugly-style, learnt how to change a keg, and befriended many patrons and we still keep in touch today. That is the other plus with travelling the best moments happen when you least expect them.

Although… having fallen ill in Moscow, Zanzibar and Toronto, I can faithfully say being sick when travelling is the absolute worst.

Whatever the experience travelling is always an adventure and yet I think the most important lesson I have learnt from my travels is that it doesn’t matter where I travel to or where I call home, I come from a pretty cool corner of the world. This girl may be an abysmal packer but she is most definitely a very proud kiwi.

Sat Nam

Also…   still on the travel theme, one part of the world I have never been interested in exploring is the Middle Eastern region. As beautiful and rich in history it is, as a woman I have only held contempt for that oppressive part of the world but the refugee crisis has opened my mind and my heart to these people. You may have noticed through my previous blog posts that I have no respect for the Saudi Arabian regime. Their treatment of Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nim is abominable. For the life of me it does not compute why the powers that be continue to have so much freedom from western and neighbouring countries when freedom is so little afforded to their own people. Okay I’m not a complete eejit I know there is money, oil, arms deals, sales of other defence equipment, education and prison reform contracts and such like ilk that comes into play at least I am assuming that is why the world has turned a blind eye to the situation the Saudi-lead airstrikes has created in Yemen for the past year. But here’s the bit I do not understand, if you wouldn’t sell arms to Assad in Syria, why is it okay to sell arms to the Saudis? Is Yemen to suffer like Syria has? When does it end? #DutyOfCare #GlobalCitizen #TheyCouldBeUS #WeCouldBeThem ♥ So another Bridget Jones movie is about to be released. One question ‘WHY?’ The second one has the dubious distinction of being the first and so far only movie I have ever walked out of. So I’ll ask again ‘WHY?’ #WantonSexGoddess – pleeeaaassse, excuse me while I puck ♥ In the last few months I have been following The Anonymous Revolutionary a blog by remarkable sixteen year old Max Edwards. In his blog Max wrote on the themes of Marxism, communism, their significance and their relevance today and at times, all of the time actually it was hard to believe it was written by someone so young such was his incite. To think of all this gifted lad could have achieved is heartbreaking for Max died on 26 March of the cancer that had been eating away at him. Though he be gone, his words remain, and you can read them here #MaxEdwardsWasHere #FuckYouCancer ♥ When I heard of The People vs O.J. Simpson I thought ‘WTF!’ Everyone knows the story, we saw it play out for real back in the day. The evidence was clear – he absolutely did it. I even made a bet with a fellow uni friend that he would get convicted, that is how sure I was. Well as history tells us I was wrong. I hadn’t banked on factors like racism nor the manipulation of the law that the defence team were clearly masterful at. It was a sore bet to lose because it was so bittersweet. Two people were murdered. The killer walked free. Yet like a voyeur I did watch the serial and I particularly enjoyed all the wig action STILL it blows that there has been no justice for Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman and their loved ones. While I am talking about television I want to give a big up to Black Sails, having just binge-watched all three seasons over Easter. I have always been a bit partial to a pirate tale but this show with its strong plotlines, epic battles, steamy sex scenes and hot pirates (Toby Stephens still yummy after all these years) well it had me at Ahoy, there matey.


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this kiwi girl muses about… life, death, resolutions among other things

This past week – oh vey! Yucky does not begin to describe it.

There really ought to be pause button on life when you are visited by loss… but then again I suppose we need the confronting nature of life in all her perplexities and idiosyncrasies to remind us to get out of bed and live.

The death of David Bowie has had a profound effect on me, more than I could have imagined – not that I ever imagined this possible for David appeared to exist in an aura of timelessness that seemed to transcend death only it didn’t and he is gone and it is a loss that will be felt for the rest of my life I know this to be true; but his was not the only passing that darkened my door in the last week – many – not one, not two, not even three – many beautiful souls lost their brave battles with that bloody cancer beast.

I know to a certain extent from my own experience how debilitating cancer can be; so to know how in health these souls were so completely present and vital then to have to imagine them in their sick state, reduced to living a lesser life feels wrong and hurts more than their passing does. To that end, in amongst the sorrow I find solace in the knowledge that these souls – finally emancipated from their diseased bodies – are free. To those who have transitioned thank you and to those of us left behind always the love. 

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The following words were written before death darkened my door, when I had that gusto the promise of a new year brings; I don’t feel like that today but there you have it ladies and gentlemen – life in all her ebbs and flows – funk to funky. So without further ado… this week’s post:

Firstly can I start by wishing you a very Happy New Year. May each and every day of yours be draped in happiness, warmth, peace and love.

So a new year hey! New resolutions! Have you made any? Have you already given up? It is said that 25% of resolutions are broken in the first week alone. Then within six months, over half of resolvers will have given up. Not for me though, once I get an idea in my head I find it quite seamless to follow through – the right mix of stubborn and discipline with a dash of guilt I suppose. To that end in the past I have been able to successfully complete:

  • no alcohol for a year – thrice,
  • learn to ride a horse,
  • no ice cream for a year – it’s harder than you think when you are a kiwi girl brought up on loving all things dairy,
  • read minimum two books a month for a year – that one very nearly failed when I decided to read War and Peace, have you read it? It is quite possibly the longest book ever written (okay its not but it felt like it at the time). Thankfully just as Natasha entered into the story a bad bout of flu kept me bedridden allowing me the time to finish it in a timely manner,
  • learn how to fence (the epee kind)

Some resolutions like the above list I have made just because I enjoy a challenge. Others are made for the greater good like when I introduced lemon water to my morning routine to boost my immune system, a habit I continue with today. Exercise is always a good one when it comes to resolutions – to gym or not to gym being the common question. I am not a gym junkie so I wouldn’t dare go there but I like to stay fit so through resolutions I have established a regular fitness routine sans the gym that keeps me ticking over.

And it was the greater good I was pondering, when one night last September feeling disgustingly gluttonous – after chomping my way through a humongous bowl okay it was a bucket, a bucket of sweet and salty popcorn for dinner – I decided to wage war on refined sugar. Only, as I savoured the last morsel of popcorn I had no clue what refined sugar was so what I actually said was ‘fuck you sugar, I’m not going to eat you anymore.’

Turns out I didn’t know jack, for in sugar I have met my Waterloo. It’s not enough to cut out sweets and cake, sugar exists in this whole other stealth world. To understand the mammoth battle ahead I have had to study the history of sugar, the science and its health implications and it has been no Tuesdays with Morrie let me tell you BUT the more I know the more resolute I am to not eat it – this coming from a girl who once stated bubble gum as her favourite food. Oh la – it’s an interesting time to be me.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: My girl Hills campaign to the White House is going gangbusters, I hope this really is the year of a female president #Hillary16 ♥ Sean Penn – he makes me smile. I love him and not just for who he was married to but for his intelligent movies, his unwavering commitment to rebuilding Haiti and his fuck you’s to authority and the media – never before have we needed more people like him, people who question governments, media, industry and disrupt the status quo so Sean if you want to interview the most notorious drug dealer in the world kudos to you #Madonna+SeanPenn4eva ♥ I consider myself an activist, it is a title I wear with pride because it is my privilege to help my fellow brothers and sisters in their hour of need where I can. I don’t know how but the refugee crisis has affected me like no other tragedy ever has. It has become nestled deep within my heart and I feel strongly I must be part of the solution so in this coming year I will use whatever means I have to continue to shine a light. As I keep repeating; this – the worst humanitarian crisis we have known – is not going to just go away, it’s on track to get keep getting worse. I pray in 2016 we see an universal melting of hearts that leads to getting the job done – because it is in all our best interests, as Katniss says “Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!” #OneLove ♥ Another tragedy that has touched me is the plight of Saudi Arabian Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, I wrote of him a few months back. He is currently imprisoned awaiting execution for taking part in protests during the Arab Spring when he just 16 years old. Since I wrote I have been unable to obtain news on his status that is until New Year’s day when his uncle and 46 others were executed by beheading for so called terrorism. Mercifully al-Nimr was not on the list of the dead. I think of this young man everyday. He haunts me. Can you imagine being arrested for wanting democracy? How is this terrorism? Western and regional countries need to get their priorities sorted; Oil vs Human life – it’s really that simple #KarmasABitch ♥ If you haven’t already, listen/read Idris Elba’s keynote speech to Parliament on diversity and imagination – it’s really quite something. Bravo Luther! #let’sMASHtheBox ♥ And finally some lightish relief… over on Eastenders, I’ve waited ten years to say this, Grant Mitchell is coming back. Sadly it coincides with Peggy’s death but I just want the Mitchell brothers back together so I’ll take any storyline. Cue the doof doof.


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hot tramp, i love you so!

bowie

David Bowie!
Now there’s an idea.
I have always believed the gods must have been on some serious peyote the day they created him.

So he’s gone then, my Starman is no longer of this Earth. The man I thought would live forever went and died.

And now here I am about to attempt to express how special this man is to me… where does one even begin, so fucken hard if it’s not the tears getting in the way, it’s the doubt as to whether I have it in me to do him justice. In therapy I am continually told to write my feelings down, but to write this hurts, hurts real bad. Too raw I suppose, still I will endeavour with my tribute of sorts to a man who blew me away time and time again. A man who still feels very present in my life; why just on Saturday I was engaged in a discussion about the meaning of After All, this coming after Friday on which as a fan I celebrated another year of him along with downloading the new album. Blackstar was all I played all weekend so I woke on Monday in such a lovely Bowie state of mind and then came the news.

Since then, every morning just before I wake fully I have this moment where I am smiling thinking all’s right with the world then I remember and I ask ‘Is it real?’ It is real isn’t it. He is really gone. A world without David Bowie. We live in that world now. I keep being asked how I feel, how does one feel when a great love dies – sad, in shock, heartbroken, rocked to my core – there are three thoughts that keep circling around in my head in amongst the grief: ‘People die, get over it’ and I know this, it is not my first loss but I suspect I will never fully recover from this one. There is only one other out there in the ether who could make me feel like this and she would not be where she is today if there hadn’t been a David Bowie. I have heard people talk about where they were when Lennon was shot, the grief they felt when Elvis died – I finally understand it; that sharp piercing pain in the heart, the dry retches, the shock I have experienced it all in the last few days.

‘But you didn’t even know him,’ oh but I did, I so did. David Bowie came into my life during the Nile Rogers years, when I was still at an age where the only concerts I was interested in were of the puppet variety like the Sesame Street musical. Regardless when his Serious Moonlight tour came to New Zealand he was everywhere which in the era sans social media meant the newspapers, television and the radio. I would go from watching Rainbow one minute to dancing to Modern Love the next. I was discovering music and I loved to dance so the album Let’s Dance fed my impressionable soul BUT the moment I fell for him was when I saw Labyrinth. This film – I saw it recently after many many years – that moment when he makes his entrance gave me the same tingling feeling I got when I first saw it only back then I didn’t know it was him, in fact it has often been the way that I would discover someone and they would turn out to be David Bowie. It happened with Ziggy Stardust, The Thin White Duke, the Pierrot phase. As Jareth the goblin king with his mullet, in the makeup and codpiece, he terrified me and something else which I now know as being aroused. Yeap I was aroused by David Bowie and he would continue to do so over the years. The movie lent itself to the romance, because I identified with Sarah for I too lived in a fantasy world.

From then on David as Jareth would come visit me, we would lie in my bed discussing Delfinia the world I had created as well as my real life woes. My teen years were a confusing time for me (I know I know like every other teen right!) I was both popular and smart enough but deep down I felt like an outsider. Having this wild imagination didn’t help because at that age all you want is to be like everyone else. The only time I felt a freedom was during those conversations with David/Jareth. He did talk back bizarrely enough. He helped me name unicorns (Delfinia had a lot of unicorns), he named a flying pirate ship Mistral and he always encouraged my uniqueness. Those visits ended some time in the last few years of college but he came back one more time when I was 23, this time as Ziggy (by then I was more familiar with his body of work) – it was the night before I left New Zealand for good I was on an adrenaline rush happy to be leaving, but in an instant the enormity of leaving behind family and friends especially my grandma hit me and then just as sadness threatened to take over, there he was at my window waving me goodbye. I took it to mean I was on the right track and the sadness abated.

I have come to know his body of work intimately, I have theorised the different stages of his work, but never been able to decide if he was riding the zeitgeist over the years or if he was helping to create it over and over again. I have been to countless Bowie themed nights (I predict that there will more to come in the next few months) and he is always my specialised subject when I play Mastermind. I have admired David and Iman’s love story; it is very clear that each was the other’s great love and best friend. I still find myself attracted to him, he only got better with age and given half the chance I would so have gone there. I have even dated men because they had some semblance of him, but his attraction for me was not just aesthetic, his energy and intelligence were a complete turn on. To have translated the cacophony that was in his head so masterfully into the different personas, the music, videos and films he created is no small feat. What genius existed within him to do this. He is was such a man. I was happy to be lead by him. He always upped my game. A few years ago the Guardian published a top 100 reading list as recommended by him. I had only read eight books of said list and as a voracious reader I decided I was going to complete that list, I am still working my way through it. On last count I was at 16, only 84 to go, with titles like ‘On Having No Head: Zen and the Rediscovery of the Obvious’ and ‘Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir’ they aren’t exactly easy reading. So you see David Bowie has a role in the story of my life.

I watched the video for Lazarus last week and it left me feeling cold. Later after I had listened to the song a few times and considered the lyrics (as is always the case with his music, I always search for the meaning) that coldness gave way to what in hindsight I see as foreboding: ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven. I’ve got scars that can’t be seen. I’ve got drama, can’t be stolen. Everybody knows me now…’ David Bowie was saying goodbye. And in the most classiest way, through his work. Reminds me of the last two songs Queen released with Freddie. I love the idea of Freddie and David together again along with Lou, and Lennon and Jimi, oh yes the party just got better in heaven.

I always thought I would see him perform live, I always felt it was a matter of when not if and the dreamer in me believes in a parallel universe I will. If he ever graced me with another visit I would say to him ‘Thank you for being exactly you. You gave a girl who felt like an oddity permission to be exactly who she is and the confidence to make her own rules. You and you alone made her dare to be brave. You darling man, you remain forever my goblin king, my starman and my moonage daydream. Thank you. Thank You. Thank You.’

Generations from now will discover him; they will listen to the music, see the different incarnations, go to museum exhibits dedicated to him, watch the films and the television appearances but they will never capture the essence of him. I have tried to explain my feelings for him to people who don’t him well – yes these people actually exist – but the fact of the matter is if you don’t already feel it you will never understand. The era of David Bowie, they were the golden years – a one off experience, never can be repeated. I heard the term Generation Bowie today – that’s you and I – the lucky ones. Are you going to be okay? He may have transitioned taking a big piece of my heart with him but the point is he existed in the first place and there is something joyful in the knowledge of this. The sun will keep on rising and I will continue to be exactly me so yes I am going to be just fine… eventually. For now though I need to cry.

Sat Nam


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see – Paddington

paddingtonWhat is it they say, inspiration can hit you anytime anyplace, well that certainly rang true for me over the weekend while I was watching the film Paddington (for the umpteenth time). There I was thinking how Ben Whishaw’s dulcet tones are perfect for the voice of Paddington much better than Colin Firth’s would have been (he was originally cast) when I had an inspired thought into why my cinema tastes have changed in the last few years. 

Of late I had noticed that I don’t have the same stomach I used to have for much of the cinema ware that is on offer today but I never really considered how this came about until Paddington. As a child Paddington and the Wombles were my happy place. I have this very vague memory of a birthday party – maybe my third or fourth – that had a mixed Paddington/Womble theme. It was memorable mostly because I was gifted a Paddington Bear and a duffle coat of my own; the coat was worn to death, even when it no longer fit I would try to pour myself into it until one day it mysteriously disappeared and reappeared on my cousin (my mother swore it wasn’t my coat but I have never been convinced).

And while the coat might have gone walkies, Paddington always remained ever dear to me. In fact one of my first to-dos when I landed in London as an adult was to visit Paddington station and pay homage at the statue of him – I wasn’t overly impressed by it (far too small) but out of nostalgia it had to be done and nostalgia was what drove me to the cinema to see the film a year ago. I have seen it many times since, I can’t help it – Paddington has become my happy place again. Cinema has always been a means of escapism for me. The 90 or so minutes I watch something I want to be absorbed into a world different from the one I live in. I think because we live in these precarious times, I am choosing more and more not to expose myself to negativity where I can, like in the films I watch and this film with its loveable central character and rather twee story is the perfect anecdote.

And yet as lovely and family friendly it is, it is also entirely appropriate for today with its central theme of tolerance and acceptance the film strikes a palpable chord within all of us – for Paddington is a refugee. You know this of course if you grew up reading the Michael Bond books (do children today read Paddington?) if you did then like me, you are familiar with Paddington’s journey from deepest darkest Peru to London and you remember the note attached to his coat that read “Please look after this bear. Thank you” and how he eventually found a home with the Brown family at 32 Windsor Gardens. If you know this then also like me you have most likely embraced the talking ursine with an endless capacity for getting into trouble into your life. How could you not! It’s always the naughty ones we love best.

Paddington – a joyous and witty film about a bear called Paddington who has a penchant for mischief and marmalade, for kids of all ages especially really BIG kids who might need reminding that xenophobia has no place in our world. The perfect activity to while away a few hours during the Christmas hols. The added bonus is Nicole Kidman, who plays a kinky stiletto heeled taxidermist, the villain in the piece. She looks like she’s having the time of her life in the role.

Sat Nam

Also in the news: I would like to know whose smart idea it was to release Star Wars: The Force Awakens the week before Christmas! Boxing Day releases are bad enough but in Christmas week! Seriously! It is going to be a good ten days before I get to go by which time save for a social media blackout I’ll know too much #NotHappy #theForceAwakens #theForceisStrongwithThisOne ♥ Something I can get behind 100% is the climate change deal. See what can be achieved when we unite as a planet. The world has set itself a serious goal now that a deal has been agreed in Paris, its historic, its ambitious, its time – let us hope this momentum continues into the new year for this is not our planet to pillage and there is no time to lose #COP21 #ClimateChange #GlobalCitizen ♥ As loathed as I am to mention the thing that is Donald Trump, I have this theory about him: I am of the thinking that he has been recruited by the Clintons. Think about it; he is/was friends with them (they even went to his last wedding) and he was a Democrat once upon a time. Any thinking person knows the GOP has become a joke, that their hatred for the President has overshadowed their love for their country thus thwarting what could have been an inspirational residency for Obama. The rise of the Trump has potential to not only get my girl Hils into the Oval Office but to tip the balance of Congress in favour of the Democrats because heaven forbid he win the nomination who in their right mind would vote for the Republicans. Yes the more I think about it, the more brilliant it is, it’s like the Manchurian Candidate has leaped from the screen into real life. What else could possibly make sense of the vitriol that comes out of his mouth, the alternative is just too awful to contemplate #Hillary16 #ImWithHer ♥ And lastly I appeal to you dear Reader. I pray you never become a refugee. I pray you never have to flee your country with nothing more than the clothes on your back. I pray you never have to leave behind your home, your pets, your burgeoning career or business. I pray you never lose loved ones by torture, or missiles or drowning or malnutrition. I pray you never have to spend an European winter in a tent. I pray you never find yourself hopeless in a foreign land not knowing the language and scared because you don’t know what is to become of you. I pray all this for you but most of all I pray, that god forbid should you become a refugee, that you experience the very best humanity has to offer – kindness and compassion and love. This is my prayer for you and I appeal to you as you get busy buying Christmas presents for loved ones, PLEASE spare a thought for our fellow refugee brothers and sisters; who were once like you and I – doctors, lawyers, shop-keepers, bankers, business owners, drivers, architects, students, care free school children – who ARE human beings and PLEASE show you care what happens to them and donate what you can PLEASE #RefugeeCrisis #PleaseGiveHere #SpreadASmileOfJoy #WeAreAllRefugees

akiwigirlabroad wishes you peace and so much love Merry Christmas xxx


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my favourite ‘bit’

What would be the point in having my own blog if I didn’t indulge in my favourite things now and then AND because I want to spread some cheer today I’m sharing my all time favourite ‘bit’ of cinema with you. This ‘bit’ only lasts two minutes and twenty five seconds and is nearly fifty years old; and recently I was thinking wouldn’t it be fun to see it again which in the age of you tube means there is no reason why that couldn’t happen but for whatever reason I didn’t actively seek it out, instead the universe provided the opportunity when, late one night rendered unable to sleep I switched on the tele and there it was – the very scene from the film To Sir, with Love which I hold so dear.

When you think of warm and fuzzy childhood memories you never really know if the reality is as good as the memory you hold. The first time I saw this movie, I was home sick from school. I remember feeling very snug lying in my parent’s bed sipping milo, flicking channels until I found this film. The film itself is really pretty rubbish – acting is average, story so so and Lulu’s hair and voice grates on you after a while, it falls into the same bucket as Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, The Ron Clark Story; where a teacher begins new job teaching a tough class and through the course of the story inspires the students to turn their life around. For whatever reason I persevered through it and to my delight I discovered this gem of a dance scene towards the end of the story. Over and over I can watch this ‘bit’ and still get the same pleasure out of it as I did that first time. I know the scene so well now, that I can dance the scene as Mr Thackeray or as Pamela to the letter.

Why do I love it so? Well there is the distinctive music, dance, and fashion which encapsulate my vision of Britain in the 60s, an era I love. There is the Sidney Poitier element. This was the movie that introduced me to him and he is so fine in this scene. There is this innocence and hope; a teacher willing his pupils to believe in themselves like he believes in them and a student ready to bloom. AND best of all there is happiness. I think that is why I treasure it, it is a happy moment and it makes me tingle with happiness to watch it. Have a look and let me know if you think it is completely naff or if it made you want to put on your best mod outfit and get into the groove.

Sat Nam

Also this week: Continuing to keep the refugee crisis foremost in our minds because knowing about something doesn’t change it. After the compassion explosion a few weeks back, the situation remains the same for too many so sign petitions, attend peaceful protests, donate, pray… whatever you can – just DO #LetsgetTogetherandFeelallRight #OneLove • Meryl Streep I love you, when you talk, I listen. Not sure my heart bleeds for you only earning eight million compared to Robert Downey Jr.’s 80 million in the last year, talk about first world problems BUT I totally have your back in your battle towards achieving equal rights for women #GirlPower • Speaking of kick arse women – Amy Schumer, what a revelation, you slay me #ProperFunnyChick •  Another kick arse woman… the legend that was Jackie Collins (did I really just have to write that in the past tense) oh to have had access into your mind, thank you for introducing a thirteen year old me to smut #LuckyIsMyHomeGirl • And the Rugby World Cup has commenced, we all know who will win of course (she says with fingers and toes crossed) #goABs #WhateverHappensAlwaysaProudKiwi

 


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every day. is beautiful.

Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. Is beautiful.’ Every now and then you come across someone whose light shines so bright it touches your heart. These words are from Alice Herz-Sommer and to me, she is one such someone.

I was cooking when I heard these words, and they made me stop what I was doing and pay attention and so this is how I happened upon the documentary The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life and by extension the life of Alice Herz-Sommer. At the time of filming she, at 109 was the oldest known holocaust survivor. The short documentary documents her life; as an accomplished concert pianist who grew up in Czechoslovakia, her time in Theresienstadt concentration camp (she survived because she could play the piano and the Nazis used this prison to fool the Red Cross into believing they were benevolent towards Jews and that this was a camp where music and the arts thrived), it goes on to describe briefly her life in Israel and then lastly London where she lived independently in Belsize Park. Throughout her life, it is music that has been her spiritual sustenance and this documentary focuses on the music not on the particular events that happened during her long life.

‘Music saved my life and music saves me still… I am Jewish, but Beethoven is my religion.’

I watched her thinking how did I know of her before this moment, she should be discussed in schools so I set about writing this piece to share her with you. What captivated me was her spirit. This was a woman who experienced unthinkable horrors including the loss of her mother and husband, horrors that you and I will never know or even really understand and yet she lived with optimism and a complete lack of rancour. No pity, no tragedy in her demeanour. This is forgiveness in true practice. And even at this advanced age she was still able to recall memories from her mentally sharp mind, which made watching her on screen an invigorating experience. Alice Herz-Sommer died age 110 a week before this documentary won an Oscar in 2014. She continued to play the piano every single day right to the end of her life. There is an expression used in Kundalini yoga, which has come to be the measure by which I hold all my thoughts and actions accountable – the grace of god. Alice Herz-Sommer was the grace of god. As you go about your day my hope is that you take the essence of her words with you. ‘Every day in life is beautiful. Every day. Is beautiful.’

Sat Nam

ps speaking of la vita e bella, so happy for Ireland voting – by a huge majority – to legalise same-sex marriage, the revolution of love is in full force. #LoveWins #LoveisLove

pss please watch


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maybe that’s just too many maybes

Maybe I’ve got it wrong.
Maybe I should have started from the beginning.
Maybe it is representative of the social milieu of the time.
Maybe there is no right or wrong way.
Maybe I should have listened to my paramour at the time, who urged me to watch it thinking it might be some kind of sexual awakening for me.

Maybe that’s just too many maybes. One thing I know for sure I have definitely missed the boat on this one. Should have listened, instead it was the odd episode from final series, followed by the first movie and then what can only be described as a train crash of a second movie, and now more recently a few episodes from earlier seasons.

Conclusion: Sex And The City is awful and Carrie Bradshaw is truly awful.

And that is deeply depressing to me because so many women out there – including friends – love the show and identify with the characters and I am suppose to love it too…  all the elements are there; sex, the sisterhood, fashion, cocktails and iconic New York and yet… I simply can’t get past the characters especially ‘it always has to be about me’ Carrie. I find her needy, shallow and full of self-importance. And her outfits, okay the shoes are to die for (and I do owe Carrie a debt of gratitude, for on the back of Carrie’s obsession with Manolos I managed to get my first pair from my boyfriend at the time), but the clothes! One minute she could be quite classy then the next err… well one question, was she meant to be channelling a drag queen who likes a bit of vintage and Chanel and tulle?

‘Life gives you lots of chances to screw up which means you have just as many chances to get it right.’ ~ Carrie Bradshaw

Carrie is an antihero and here’s why: A dominant theme throughout is the sisterhood, four loyal friends there for each other no matter what, right? Well I say bollocks to that!! It is about Carrie, it is always about Carrie. Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha may be the besties but the most irksome aspect of Carrie is that she manages to turn every single conversation into being about her.

My first intro to SATC¹ was the episode where Carrie was talking about Aleksander Petrovsky while Samantha was getting high doses of chemo pumped into her veins. I remember having a WTF moment but I loved Samantha’s response, ‘I’m glad it’s going well! What’s new with me? Well, my white blood cell count is dangerously low.’ Or how about that time when Miranda got pregnant with Brady and was deciding whether to get an abortion or not and Carrie made it all about the abortion she had had thirteen years before, after doing it bareback with a waiter whilst drunk.

Another moment that springs to mind is when Carrie sent Aidan to go help a naked Miranda when her neck gave out, albeit she had a meeting with her editor but going around to Miranda’s the next morning, with apology bagels just to have an excuse to come over and bitch about Aidan is not okay.

‘As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going.’ ~ Carrie Bradshaw

For me, hands down most dickish Carrie moment has to be the one where she gets angry that Charlotte didn’t offer to lend her the money for her apartment down payment.  A situation that only occurred because she let Aidan buy her place and the one next door to merge them into one big love shack and then couldn’t buy it back from him after she dumped him because she’s a thirty two year old woman with a closet full of $400 shoes but no savings. The thought of selling the shoes of course didn’t occur to her instead she asked Big for money. Okay he’s a gazillionaire but he’s also the ex, the occasional fuck buddy and the unresolved love of her life. Thankfully she didn’t accept it and no her next move was not to set up an eBay account, it was far easier for her to make Charlotte out to be the bad guy for not offering to give the money, even though Charlotte had just gone through a divorce and was not working; the guilt trip worked because Charlotte went against her beliefs and gave her the money, well her engagement ring, which I assume Carrie hocked to use as her deposit.

‘I’ve spent $40,000 on shoes and I have no place to live? I will literally be the old woman who lived in her shoes!’ ~ Carrie Bradshaw

And there is Carrie’s treatment of Aidan: FIRST she cheats on him with Big THEN she gets annoyed that Big’s wife Natasha will not forgive her, after she has forced the poor woman into a confrontation in a restaurant AND then she gets annoyed again at Aidan, because he won’t get over it; so like a child who doesn’t get what they want, she repeats herself over and over ‘You have to forgive me. You have to forgive me, You have to forgive me …’ You’ll have to give forgive me reader, I think I might need to barf!

Speaking of Aidan – lovely, stable, in love with her, ready to commit Aidan; that episode where her computer crashes and she hadn’t backed anything up. I can relate a little, for I too can be inept when it comes to computers but even I know to back up my work. She is a writer in her thirties who’s ‘whole life is on that computer,’ and she didn’t know to back up her work and more importantly how is it Aidan’s fault? The guy buys her a new laptop and she proceeds to throw a tanty. Ungrateful dick!

And then there is that episode at Aidan’s country house, forget she has clearly never heard the word compromise and therefore wears her boredom as boldly as she wears those hideous outfits. How about for a touch of class letting Big – the guy she cheated with – visit her, eat with her and Aidan and then allow him to stay the night when he gets too drunk to drive. Not awkward at all Carrie and heels in the country, really? It made sense that she ended up with Big, who was proud, egocentric, the sugar daddy she needed and just as screwed up as her.

‘The most exciting, challenging and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.’ ~ Carrie Bradshaw

I could go on and on about my misgivings of Carrie, like who moves to Paris without first making a bit of effort to connect with people there; old friends, colleagues or even your magazine’s overseas branch. In hindsight I am happy to have not been a part of the SATC fervour but I can still remember it, when women everywhere identified with the characters: I remember hearing ‘Me, too!’ or ‘I’ll have a cosmo’ or ‘living a SATC life’ or ‘I’m a Carrie!’ Well I’m not like her and that’s abso-fucking-lutely fine by me.

Sat Nam

¹SATC = Sex and the City