• 'EVERYTHING IS MATERIAL.' The late Nora Ephron. www.clarecatford.co.uk twitter: @catfordc

KEEP CALM CORBYN'S WAY....

NO RUSH THEN..
image: viralontv.com

...NO sweat on his top lip through the whole of PMQ'S. Could have been worse AND he kept asking other people's questions. Must've used a deoderant max. 'The beauty secrets of Her Majesty's opposition spokesperson revealed in the nexcult beauty, out now, online. 

 Sweat a plenty, just now, due to a deadline to meet, official financial wizadry to sign, and a run in the rain. Couldn't see pavement pizza mess due to the weather. Vacation well over. Horse is called 'Duendie'; jumps just out of shot. See pic below. Horse Mijas is worth a visit, if you feel the need to scratch a saddle.  Christine (experienced, knows a beginner when she sees one) and Allan run the place, allanrafell@btinternet.com. No, I am not being paid for the mention. They owe me. For the frozen peas. A pack on each inner thigh the day after, when I'd flown home. 

CORBYN'S TABLOID/BROADSHEET REAX...

What'll Jezza's headlines be? 

Soaraway Sun: COMATOSE CORBYN! 

Guardian: CAUTIOUS (perhaps 'Compassionate) CORBYN....

Mail: COMES FROM ANOTHER CONTINENT! (14th century ancestors FOREIGN) CORBYN!

Morning Star: 

Still Ed Balls didn't have it easy, when you think about it. He was a headline writer's easy handout. So, JC...... (talking of which, Bishop Rachel made a splash as Woman's Hour's guest editor. Brilliant on chocolate and transformation),  bite the bullet, or skew that pack of frozen peas. Whatever works, I say. 

September 2015 

'YEAH RIGHT. SHE'S AN AN 'EXPERIENCED RIDER'. NEEEIIIIGGGGHHHHH

CLOONEY: 'NO BOTOX ON ME, MATE'.....

'You've got to make the most of what you have'. Clooney's words of wisdom, on Radio 4's Woman's Hour, a minute ago . A clearly smitten Jenni Murray asked him about whether it's more acceptable for men to 'age', than women. He would not be drawn into the 'women and wrinkles' debate, but sidestepped the question, and banged on about self acceptance.

EVEN 'FAT KNIGHTS' AREN'T AT EASE WITH AGEING....

 On the other hand, being told 'I know thee not, old man', by your best mate, is not going to boost your self esteem. Actor, Antony Sher's Falstaff; the 'old man' snubbed by Prince Hal at the end Shakespeare's Henry IV part two, is cast out from court. The ageing 'predetor', passed over by the younger virile man, with a future. Sher's own Falstaff diaries reveal his struggle to play this hugely demanding part, as well as personal fears prompted by his own advancing years. 'Year of the Fat Knight'; one of this year's best radio reads in a long while.

 PARKING TICKET? I'LL MISS MY PLATELET RICH PLASMA THERAPY...

Getting 'long in the tooth', (this particularly unattractive expression originates from horses. Look at their teeth; tell their age): is a liminal place; betwixt and between; applicable to both menopause and andropause (male version). It's to be fought against and those pesky peptides put in their place. See the Anti Ageing Olympia Health and Beauty Show flyer for 2016. I live a few beauty blocks away, and could smell this year's serums and snake oils just by opening my flat's front door. My favourite 'local' laugh a minute pastime? 'Guess the exhibition', when people watching, as I walk up the offy. Abundant high heeled ladees with unlined foreheads, even when given a parking ticket, gave this game away. Easy to overlook the NCP if you're focussing on getting to your pre-booked Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy  appointment. Miss it, and the free radicals will run riot. The Guardian's Rhik Samadder was left frazzled after he bravely bit the beauty show bullet; and felt 'like Indiana Jones at the Temple of Bullshit'. 

ARE YOU INVISIBLE OVER 50?

'Over 50 you're invisible'. That's what my mother used to say, as she struggled to get served in a supermarket. I don't feel quite the same, but I do wonder why some commentators (sadly, often women), would have us thrown in jail for allowing our dimpled thighs out for a breath of fresh air and a beach trip. Taken further, if you are a liminal (my favourite state and word - betwixt and between) person, and don't fit the mould (you may not be partnered or have kids of your own, though lots in your life), then, on bad days, it seems that even breathing in public is offensive; an affront to others' sensibilities. 

FLATS AT CANNES? C'MON BUNIONS ARE A KILLER....

Of course it's not. Any 'issues' I or others have with age or status, is prompted by our own internal fears. But sometimes I could do without the punitive projections. 'Deal with it', I say; to both myself and 'them'.  Women, men; all of us, come in different shapes, colours, preferences, income levels and mental states. Feeling secure enough to be at ease with that, at fifty, sixty or one hundred and twenty, is an ambition achieved. And yes, I'd be wearing flats at Cannes (women turned away because they did; c'mon, bunions are a killer), due to an ambulance call out following a slip on the stairs wearing high strappy sandles. 

BIRD POOP FACIAL, OR CAT SHOW TICKET? 

That said, I love my lippy, concealer and mineral make up, because it's FUN. And yes, I use Argos weights in my front room in an attempt to beat the bingo wings. However, I'll leave the 'can cause bruising' firecupping and bird poop facials to the beauty obsessionals and white coated professionals. Must book for the Olympia cat show. Now there's a stereotype to dwell on.  

May 22 2015 

ETERNAL YOUTH? GEORGE CLOONEY'S NOT BOTHERED, ARE YOU?

'I SWEAR SNAKE OIL'S GIVEN ME THE EDGE..'
image: webmedboots.com

Fancy a carousel ride on speed? Therapy? A turn around the treacherous Elizabethan court? It's all yours. The Poor School four day acting course is open to anyone and everyone. You  get an authentic and up front acting experience; and in my case, a black eye on the first day. 

FRILLS, FLIRTS AND FOES

I sang for my clam supper; 'slit 'em down the back and cover 'em with pepperrrrrr......' (from the musical, Carousel), played a desperate world class violinist with a debilitating illness, (the therapy), in Duet For One, and relished a  taste of 16th century treachery courtesy of a courtly dance. Possibly more garotte than Gavotte; I didn't care. I was THERE in amidst the frills, flirts and foes. 

BLACK EYED KNEES

That black eye in the first day's movement class was a bit of a downer; (said eye hit bloke's head during a game of 'knee tag'); but I picked up in voice class and even managed a convincing fake punch in the stage fighting session. 

TICK YES/NO IN THE AUDITION BOX

Some had ticked the 'audition me' box on the form; others were shaking off their public and private sector pressures and realising a long held dream. Or, like me; re-booting past lives, including a stint as a stand up, a drama student and an actor/writer in a touring schools' theatre company. This time around, though, I was not plagued by a curly perm, body shyness and an almost obligatory eating disorder that still seems to be THE distressing accessory for too many 20 something women. As common, sadly, as the designer handbag. 

6 LINES OF SHAKY SHYLOCK

Sure, my Shakespeare mini monologue was shocking, (6 lines of shaky Shylock), but it's progress not perfection, and I worked my arse off rehearsing the 'violinist in therapy, 'Duet For One', scene. Juliet Stevenson still has the edge, though.

MISSED A CUE? HADN'T A CLUE? 

Fellow Poor Schoolers were lovely; all pushing out their own show boat.  Tutors passed on their expertise; with the patience of saints.When we missed a cue, hadn't a clue or had just gone to the loo, they kept their cool. Poor school founder, Paul Caister, says he is committed to all students. Despite a 'grumpy Gandalf' demeanour, he's clearly opened up this craft to everyone who wants to scratch the acting itch. This inclusivity is rare; particularly in London's increasingly segragated food bank/fine wine tribal society.  

 IT'S A 'YES' FROM ME

At the end of day 4, those who had ticked the 'audition me', box, were on edge; wanting  to find out whether it was a 'yes', or 'no'. This 'X Factor' selection system, made me nervous. It seemed too brutal. But then, an actor's life is just that. You're in, you're out, and all the while, you're spilling out your emotional guts in public as well as  trusting the others in your ensemble.

HADN'T TICKED? COULD YOU STILL BE PICKED? 

If I am honest; and I hadn't ticked the YES box, I STILL wanted to have my name called. I told my truth in the pub afterwards. Everyone else grinned sheepishly, and said that athough they hadn't ticked, they still WANTED to be picked. 

This course gets a 'YES' from me, though. The Play will ALWAYS be the thing, and I will NEVER be too cool for acting school. 

27/4/2015 

BREATHE, LOVE, PLAY. UNCOVER YOUR INNER ACTOR.....

image: www.cartoonstock.com

They're all at it. Sewing, knitting and a slither of cake decorating on the side. Russell Crowe and Laurence Fishburne, (Apocalypse Now/CSI/Othello), are regularly in stitches. Knitters both. Crafts calm us down. That's the claim by those in the know, who are convinced. 'Since turning my life over to yarn, I’ve talked to thousands of knitters who claim it’s cured everything from gout to their weight problems. I can’t speak about all cures, but it can certainly improve one’s mental health. I know it helps mine.” That from Clara Parkes author of 'The Yarn Whisperer....Reflections of a Life In Knitting'. 

PIPE CLEANER POLITICIANS

My craft attempts though, prompt cruel school memories. There was the pipe cleaner Prime Minister (honest), that Holly (aged 7) stamped on; the 'woven' purple and pink beret that had the other kids hysterical in the street, and the home made 'interview' wrap around skirt, which refused to. Wrap around. I stood up after the grilling, but the skirt stayed put. Weirdly, I got accepted to do the drama course. Perhaps they could see my comic potential? 

DELICATE NEEDLEWORK V MUSIC DOWNLOADS

 Woman's Hour (with the brilliant Jane Garvey), has been celebrating craft skills and making the hard headed case for building a business with our creative talents. Craft council figures, show that a crochet needle (and some), can nail us some pretty powerful profits. In 2010, estimated income for UK craft businesses was £457 million, comparable to income of £512 million for London’s West End theatres and £316 million for music downloads. 

CEO...IN SEWING

So, it IS possible to be a successful CEO in sewing. Always good to have options. As I hang my home made spray paint pics in my front room, I realise that this could be a beginning of a beautiful new career. So, you've only got halfway through the scarf you started whilst giving up the fags? Do NOT give up. You could be a TALENT. Unless you try, you will never know. If it all ends in a woollen ball of disaster? Give it to the neighbour's dog who will then come out in hives. 

April 6th 2015. 

WORK OVERLOAD? THE CRAFTY WAY TO COPE.....

Image: www.curiositiesbydickens.com

........ Spring means weddings are on the way. 'Tis soon the season of guests congregating on pavements, gardens and parks. Fresh from the beauty counter and wearing ice cream pastel outfits; they juggle champers, childcare and ribboned wrapped toasters. West London's Olympia's just  been swamped by soon to be brides, their mums, and balshy bridesmaids, who just want a smoke and a small white wine.  I play 'guess the exhibition' on the tube home from Earls Court. When there's a big bash on; the Olympia line gets a spruce up for its 'show' enthusiasts. 

 FETISH FEATHER DUSTERS. THE 'EROTICA'S' ON AT OLYMPIA. 

Health and fitness?  Everyone's in high tech leggings and scraped back ponytails.  Embroidery fair? Sensible shoes, sensible macs and knitting needles poking out of their wheeled shopper. Erotica? Rubber, fishnets and fetish feather dusters with leather trim. 

 BRIDES TO BE BODY LANGUAGE

The Bride show body language is a good watch. Some mums and daughters fold their arms and get snappy. Others hug and touch; beaming and brimming with love n' laughter. Everyone fiddles with their hair and handbag, just stopping for a second to take a selfie.  

 BLINDED BY FASCINATORS

'Mum was miffed', one second time around bride to be moaned into her phone, 'I told her she couldn't invite any of her friends this time'. Her dress was 'so much better', for the second wedding, 'as it will double up as a posh party frock'. Sensible thrifty woman. Department stores have suddenly sprouted 'fascinators' for wedding guests, on every floor. I was nearly blinded by a lace covered sequin when I tried to 'work the look'. A scrunchie's as far as I'll push it next time. 

VOW REVAMP

Second, third time around is big business. You've got to freshen up your vows; no-one wants a repeat from the past, and re-write any  renewals so they're credible rather than cringeworthy.  There are 'simple satin wedding gowns, for your second go' and why not blow the budget on a 'glimmering golden bridal hair piece?' 

All the best if it's YOU saying 'I do', in the next few months. If  you're remarrying,  you will, of course, do it your way. Which of course, IS the right way.

(March 13th 2015) 

'I DO!' Take one, two . (Or three or four......)

image: cartoonslock.com

Bewitchingly smart, (one critic), and/or deeply disturbing and thought provoking, (me). 

Ava's made up. Literally. Pieced together by fictional 'Blue Book' search engine boss and almost villain, Nathan. Enter big boy lost, Caleb, a Blue Book employee, a coder, convinced that as the in house lottery winner, he's got the very long super straw. 

A three way power play follows, as Caleb 'tests' Ava's Artificial Intelligence. No plot spoiler me, let's just say that I hardly noticed the popcorn rustling in the seat next to mine; the mechanic manipulation by both man and machine, was mesmerising. The creator drinks to anaesthetise his unease and alienation. Caleb is outwitted by everyone, and Ava, simply did what she was programmed to do, and some. Nathan and Ava, mirroring each other in misery. Except she's the brighter spark. 

PICK AND MIX HUMANITY HELL HOLE

There is a horror to this story. And it's in the commodification of the 'other'. Earlier Ava prototypes lie in bits and pieces on a stainless steel slab. Arms, empty lost eyes and brains. It's all so LOGICAL. This pick and mix humanity hell hole, is not in the future, though. It's happening now. The rages and riots that see the other as 'less than human', the surgical knife that moves skin from shin to chin, in cosmetic procedures. 

CAN'T EARN? CAN'T CONTRIBUTE? MAY YOU ROT IN LIFE'S LOSER WHEELIE BIN

The value given to those who 'earn', the disdain expressed towards those who don't; the elderly the 'skiving' umployed; the depressed or ugly.  Make it, buy it sell it, throw it away. And if you don't like it, change it. Can't afford to? That's YOUR fault, and may you rot in the loser wheelie bin of life. Oh for goodness sake, 'get some autonomy over your own life', urge the self help gurus. Hone your body in the gym, get your grey matter to be more MINDFUL Step UP and impROVE yourself. 

A really good film, that left me with a really bad feeling.

COULD THE STRONG LOOK AFTER THE WEAK?  JEAN VANIER

The contrast of the Ex Machina message with the BBC Radio 4 Today interview with campaigner, priest and sage, Jean Vanier, was not lost on me. Heard the latter in the morning, and saw the film later the same day.  'It benefits the strong to look after the weak', he said. 'People are frightened, they close up; and then demonise the other', to ease our ever present gnawing insecuirty perhaps? 

 Oh for the humananity and spirituality of Jean Vanier. Ava may have used and abused him to get her freedoms, she knew nothing else. But perhaps he would have loved her into a different kind of living.  

 26/1/2015

Ex Machina's Ava: a monster, or mirror?

Who, what, where am I? Ava from the film 'Ex-Machina'. Out now.
image: exmachinamovie.co.uk

Bewitchingly smart, (one critic), and/or deeply disturbing and thought provoking, (me). 

Ava's made up. Literally. Pieced together by fictional 'Blue Book' search engine boss and almost villain, Nathan. Enter big boy lost, Caleb, a Blue Book employee, a coder, convinced that as the in house lottery winner, he's got the very long super straw. 

A three way power play follows, as Caleb 'tests' Ava's Artificial Intelligence. No plot spoiler me, let's just say that I hardly noticed the popcorn rustling in the seat next to mine; the mechanic manipulation by both man and machine, was mesmerising. The creator drinks to anaesthetise his unease and alienation. Caleb is outwitted by everyone, and Ava, simply did what she was programmed to do, and some. Nathan and Ava, mirroring each other in misery. Except she's the brighter spark. 

PICK AND MIX HUMANITY HELL HOLE

There is a horror to this story. And it's in the commodification of the 'other'. Earlier Ava prototypes lie in bits and pieces on a stainless steel slab. Arms, empty lost eyes and brains. It's all so LOGICAL. This pick and mix humanity hell hole, is not in the future, though. It's happening now. The rages and riots that see the other as 'less than human', the surgical knife that moves skin from shin to chin, in cosmetic procedures. 

CAN'T EARN? CAN'T CONTRIBUTE? MAY YOU ROT IN LIFE'S LOSER WHEELIE BIN

The value given to those who 'earn', the disdain expressed towards those who don't; the elderly the 'skiving' umployed; the depressed or ugly.  Make it, buy it sell it, throw it away. And if you don't like it, change it. Can't afford to? That's YOUR fault, and may you rot in the loser wheelie bin of life. Oh for goodness sake, 'get some autonomy over your own life', urge the self help gurus. Hone your body in the gym, get your grey matter to be more MINDFUL Step UP and impROVE yourself. 

A really good film, that left me with a really bad feeling.

COULD THE STRONG LOOK AFTER THE WEAK?  JEAN VANIER

The contrast of the Ex Machina message with the BBC Radio 4 Today interview with campaigner, priest and sage, Jean Vanier, was not lost on me. Heard the latter in the morning, and saw the film later the same day.  'It benefits the strong to look after the weak', he said. 'People are frightened, they close up; and then demonise the other', to ease our ever present gnawing insecuirty perhaps? 

 Oh for the humananity and spirituality of Jean Vanier. Ava may have used and abused him to get her freedoms, she knew nothing else. But perhaps he would have loved her into a different kind of living.  

 26/1/2015