Saturday 26th September 2015

Today is the 26th September, which this year marks three years since my operation. Sometimes it feels like an age, sometimes it feels like no time at all, but it is amazing to think that this time three years ago I was under anaesthetic and unsure how well everything was really going to go.

Some people did not expect me to be able to complete my AS Levels by the end of my first year at sixth form but I did, and they were all As apart from one C in French which was hindered by that month off college for the operation. Now I’m starting my second year at university and later on today I will be working as a Steward at Twickenham Stadium for the prestigious England vs. Wales match in the Rugby World Cup.

I wouldn’t change anything in my life right now and I continue to be extremely grateful to Mr Lucas and his team for all the care I received throughout the operation process. Bring on the next three years!


Into Film Project: 5 – The Gamechangers

Yesterday was Day 5 of my Into Film Project and the first time that I could not find the suggested film from my Into Film wallchart. For International Day of Peace the suggestion was Ghandi but in the absence of that film I watched The Gamechangers, the BBC Two factual drama about a Grand Theft Auto controversy in 2002. This is absolutely not about peace, but it demonstrates the harm that violence and violent influences can do.

Initially I thought the film was about the conception of the GTA series but in fact it focused on the legal proceedings surrounding a police shooting and an explicit sex scene that hackers reported existed in the Vice City release of the game. I actually chose to watch the film, as I’m sure many others were, because of Daniel Radcliffe’s part as the protagonist, and he was very good. It was a contrasting role to Harry Potter and The Woman In Black, and definitely more adult, but he carried the role off well.

The portrayal of Christianity in the film was very intense and quite negative. It almost goes without saying that a religion centred around love for each other and from God would frown upon a game like GTA that glorifies violence, robbery and other activities that are hateful to other people. A friend of mine puts across a Christian view in a less aggressive way than the film about GTA V and you can read it here: http://www.witchalls.co.uk/musings/grand-theft-auto-v.

A fantastic cast carries off this niche but interesting film that raises a lot more questions than it answers. Two stars.

You can watch it for the next few weeks here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06ccjn9/the-gamechangersContains violence, strong language and some sexual content. 



Today I went to church. Today I watched Doctor Who. These aren’t strictly linked but there was one thing that both made reference to: compassion. Spoilers for Doctor Who.

The sermon at church was the start of a series on compassion and took a different angle on the feeding of the five thousand. Yes, it is about Jesus feeding a massive crowd of people, but it is also a practical outpouring of his compassion for the people. This compassion is not limited to feeding the people but also nurturing them spiritually through his teaching.

Now, Doctor Who. Close to the end of last night’s series opener Davros engaged in a conversation with the Doctor over why he had been allowed to live. The answer: compassion. In fact it is described as the Doctor’s “greatest indulgence”, as if it is a bad thing. Requesting the Doctor to say “Compassion is wrong” is only emphasising that fact.

So, you can see the two conflicting views on compassion very clearly. Obviously Davros is the evil nemesis in this scenario and some would argue that his view is therefore invalid, but the inference from the end of the episode is that the Doctor, our hero, agrees with him.

But seriously, don’t agree with Davros. In light of the recent migrant crisis, can you really say that compassion is a bad thing? Caring for others and meeting their needs is one of the greatest things we can do. Some people call it a symbol of humanity, but it is more than that, it is something we can model from Jesus, and I feel privileged to be able to do that!


Into Film Project: 4 – Pride

Yesterday was International Day of Democracy and because I had no time yesterday I ended up watching the suggested film, Pride, today. There are spoilers as always, but the film is historically based so you should really get out and watch this or read up on it! 

When I first heard about the film, I expected it to be about gay rights rather than anything to do with democracy. With it opening with a gay pride parade I remained a little confused. It is not what I would necessarily define as specifically about democracy, but processes that exist in a democratic society, such as marches and strikes.

I didn’t know anything about this historical narrative at all and hadn’t even read anything about the film before I watched it and I found the whole thing extremely interesting. Although I knew homosexuality was taboo and frowned upon at the time, the brutality that they faced was not something I was aware of, not to mention the similarity with the brutality towards the miners. Gallup polls at the time consistently showed the supporters of the strikes as a minority, decreasing as the year went on. The unions couldn’t afford to support the minors with the same money they would have received if they were working and so fundraising was incredibly important. The majority of fundraising groups were wives of the miners, furthering the cause of feminism, and prominently Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM), which is the focus of this film.

A fundamental point put across early on in the film is the humble humanity of LGSM: they have been brutally treated for the sexuality and owe nothing to anyone, yet decide to raise money for others being treated brutally. The stigma over their sexuality is clear from the start what with the treatment during the Pride Parade and the lack of support from central miners’ groups over receiving donations from the gay community. For the determined group this was not going to stop them and choosing a specific mining community to support was the step that would help change gay rights for the better.

History mixes with comedy as Dai Donovan meets the group, not realising what LSGM stood for, but his acceptance does not prevent a frosty welcome for the group as they travel to Wales. It really emphasises the hostility towards gay people and the change of heart for the community is particularly special because of this. Sian James, who later went on to become an MP, is fantastic in turning the community around, as are most of the other women. The personalities of the small Welsh town of Onllywn are truly brought to life by a stellar cast featuring Imelda Staunton and Bill Nighy, all speaking in fantastic Welsh accents.

Timid Joe was a really great audience surrogate and seeing his reaction to the pride parade and relaxation that developed throughout the film was really heartwarming. I’m disappointed that his character does not actually exist though. His role is one of a young man exploring his sexuality and coming to terms with the fact that he is gay. He comes from Bromley and travels up to London, showing the viewer how much the cause means to him, especially as he uses the pretence of going to college to hide his activities from his parents. The parental reaction to finding out he is gay, via cuttings and photos found within a book of nursery rhymes is heartbreaking, and throws him into virtual house arrest, far away from his friends and support network.

Merging the gay community with ‘normal’ societies is a key theme, explored both with LGSM visiting Wales and the Welsh visiting them in London. The whole idea of the Welsh community experiencing gay culture for the first time is somewhat alien to us in the 21st century as sexualities are more free nowadays, but the realisation that they are normal people who happen to be part of a subculture is something odd for the 80s.

The ultimate scene in the film came close to its end with the 1985 London Pride Parade. Having stumbled into Brighton Pride this year, I have some recognition of how much goes into the event and the sheer volume of people involved. Of course, no one in 1985 expected quite so many Welsh miners to join in and therefore lead the march! It was so well crafted and almost made me cry to see such unity within a parade that can seem quite exclusive to those who are flamboyantly homosexual, especially when those watching are under the assumption that everyone involved is gay. Showing what happened to prominent figures in the film was fantastic and it clearly was a turning point for both miners and homosexuals, as the Miners Union influenced the inclusion of gay rights into Labour’s manifesto.

A funny, beautifully crafted and informatively historical masterpiece, Pride deserves to be shouted about proudly from the rooftops! This film is amazing, five stars!

The next film in my Into Film Project will be Ghandi for International Day of Peace on Monday (21st)


In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “These Horns Were Made for Tooting.”

Today, share something you love about yourself  — don’t be shy, be confident! — but that few other people know about you or get to see very often.

Something I love about myself? Something confident – that few other people get to see often? Well, right now I love the fact that I have a great figure. I’m so happy that I can dress up in dresses of all types, just as I am going to do tonight. I no longer have the irregular hips and bad posture that came with scoliosis and today that is what I love about myself. Also because it is cold I get to wear lovely jumpers!

Read more about clothes here: https://afterscoliosis.wordpress.com/clothes.


Into Film Project: 3 – Easy A

This is my second time watching Easy A and it was as good, if not better, than first time round. It was chosen for Sexual Health Week, which starts today and finishes on Sunday, and it is a fair choice because the film revolves around assumptions about the sexual promiscuity of the protagonist. As always there are spoilers.

Easy A follows Olive Penderghast as she navigates the rumour mill that is American High School. A key lesson in the film is honesty and one lie to feel superior to her best friend spirals into a rumour that gives Olive a whole new reputation. Embracing her new found status, Olive’s life is flung into chaos as she goes from outcast to popular to infamous, with drastic changes in her friendships and relationships.

For a start, the first ten minutes will be hilarious if you know anyone called George, and it is strangely a sequence that you forget about, allowing you to enjoy the hilarity again and again! Olive’s parents are also an amazing comedic addition to the film and epitomise the ideal of ‘cool parents’ that would never work in real life. It was also odd and great to see the appearance of Phoebe from Friends as the guidance counsellor that you slowly grow to hate.

As well as being incredibly funny, the film has a lot of messages and raises questions. One asked by Olive herself is what is worse out of lying or adultery and what if you are lying saying you are adulterous, is that just as bad? The idea of Christianity is explored as well, with the Christian group at the high school condemning Olive, despite one of their number being exposed as sleeping with the guidance counsellor. Although this is written with a comedic angle in mind, I would like to emphasise that this is not an appropriate Christian response and had they opened the Bible they would see encouragement of love not condemnation. I also could not get over the casting of Amanda Bynes as the ringleader – both perfect and absurd in equal measures!

The ending of the film was very well done. Olive fending off unwanted attention from one of her classmates only serves to emphasise that, whatever your reputation or sexual history, no means no whatever the other person wants from you. The intervention of the lovely Todd also shows that not all men are sex-crazed losers like most of the other men portrayed in the film. Actually let’s exclude Olive’s father and brother from that definition too and certainly Mr Griffith, who is the biggest loser out of the whole affair – I did end the film hoping he had a happy ending.

I loved the framing of the film as Olive’s video diary explanation of what really happened and the parallels with The Scarlet Letter was very clever – although I have not read the book, it has made me want to read it!

An insightful and funny film, perfect for a girls night in. Great cast and script and completely relevant. Five stars, because it was just too good for four.

The next installment of my Into Film Project is for International Day of Democracy tomorrow, but as I am busy I will watch Pride on Wednesday (16th) and blog it then. Comment if you are enjoying the project so far!


Into Film Project: 2 – Fantastic Mr. Fox

Today is Roald Dahl Day and so I have been informed by my Into Film wall calendar that I should watch Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I have just done. I must have read the book as a child, seeing as Roald Dahl was a popular author, but this is my first time watching the 2009 film adaptation. Be aware this contains spoilers for the film and therefore the book.

I wasn’t 100% sure what was going on at first: two foxes, one of them ill, going to steal a chicken and then getting caught. The abrupt pregnancy announcement definitely had its comedic effect and I was very glad that they revisited that at the end of the film. However, I was very confused over how they might have escaped such a dire situation (although as with the rest of the film, it was probably by digging!)

Dahl’s story perfectly mixes the fantasy world of the fox with real world themes of family relationships. I found his son insufferably annoying for most of the film but my opinion mellowed as I saw the struggle he had to connect to his dad and how he felt insufficient, especially in comparison with his cousin. This emphasises how much the book is written both to entertain but also reassure and educate the child reader about situations they might be facing.

I enjoyed the short length of the film, although it did require a lot of concentration to understand exactly what was happening. The villainous Bean (not at all like the one I actually know) was magnificently portrayed by Michael Gambon and he was a perfect fit for the character. The narrative is clearly framed to make the viewer root for the animals against the human foe, and another hilarious moment was the men running around extremely flustered whilst being chased by a rabid dog. Trust me, it makes sense in the film.

Mr. Fox himself was a character I actually found rather obnoxious. He was determined to get his own way, despite how it might affect his wife and family; he was cocky; he ignored his own son; he appointed himself as a leader; and put his entire community in danger and then magically justified himself and became the hero. Yes, he is quick-thinking and did a lot of good things, but they don’t quite make up for him getting everyone into the mess in the first place.

A funny, family film that is enjoyable for all ages, with a moral centre and a star-studded cast. Three stars.

The next day of my Into Film Project will be tomorrow (14th) when I will be reviewing Easy A for Sexual Health Week.