About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer and an artist who was made in Soho and thereafter born in the heart of London. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children and grandchildren whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life, has a degree in Film and Television, and has exhibited her artwork in several exhibition.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Please Forgive Me, I just couldn't Help Myself By Holly Searle

My mum is always telling me that I am far too honest. She is probably right as I can't tell lies. I may on occasion have exaggerated the truth a little, but who hasn't? No, not me, I have never been able to tell a bare-faced lie, until today.

So how did this happen, how did I bring myself to blatantly lie in such an outrageous fashion to another person?

Well sit back, and I shall tell you.

So I've booked two tickets to an afternoon showing of Billy Wilder's film The Apartment. A film which funnily enough deals with the theme of accommodating the whims of others at the short-term cost of a run of mill office worker to ensure him future professional success. The narrative, just like life, features several healthy portions of deception and truth, as well as a misinterpretations of the facts, in order to protect the reputation of a sweet-natured elevator operator.

All you need to know, is it all ends well for them both.

So, I have two tickets booked. My son and I leave for the cinema with plenty of time to spare. I hate being late, especially for a movie. The bus arrives. We find seats, we sit down. But, the traffic we encountered on the way, may prove detrimental and render us late.

Late is a word I hate. Late is a situation I do not like to find myself in the presence of. My stress levels, like the abundance of cars on the road I am looking at through the window of the bus we are on, start to rise.

When we do eventually arrive at bus stops after spending an age (ice or stone, you choose) in traffic there are unfathomable amounts of queues of all aspects of humanity waiting to get on the bus. People who do not have Oystercards and ask the driver how much the fare is, and then spend another age (iron probably) rooting around for change in their pockets and purses, whilst making a mental note that London public transport fares really are a joke.

Then there are the people who start asking the driver for directions.

I keep checking my watch as I am growing more and more concerned as each precious minute passes, that we shall miss the beginning of the movie. Tick tock, tick tock, tick stress tock.

And then, there are the older people who also join us. One of whom my son immediately gives up his seat for without question, and two whom I ask if they would like to sit down in the seat that I am sitting in, but who refuse my offer.

And that is when it began, the faceless voice from the seat behind mine. First the whining unmistakable Lady Grantham Daily Mail reader whinnying about the world and its wife. It is far too sunny, there are far too many people out for a Sunday, blah, blah blah. And then the sentence that made my blood boil as I sat there quite without reproach looking out of the window and minding my own business.

I do wish younger people would give up their seat for older people. It is disgraceful the way older people are made to stand on the bus, whilst other people remain seated.”

My immediate thought was, I do hope that isn't being projected in my direction as I am the least insensitive person when it comes to that situation. The amount of seats I have given up over the years on all of my bus journeys could easily fill a Green Shield Stamp book.

So I sit and I think, and I stew, and I prepare. And then I wait.

I check my watch. Hopefully if the adverts and trailers are still filling up the pre-film screen time, fingers crossed, we will just make it as the opening credits of the movie roll.

Tick tock, tick tock, tick exhale stress tock.

And then, just as I am thinking about that and happily lost on an island of quiet contemplation, a boney finger starts stabbing me on the shoulder. Just like Blofeld, I want to turn and deliver the apt line “Ahhh, Mr. Bond, I have been expecting you.” But I don't say that, I turn and I am met with the wizen old face of Boe, my bus Nemesis that this time demands that I understand that it was me its once faceless voice was addressing previously. She says “Next time you are on the bus you should give up your seat for someone else.”

So, and here is it, here is the lie I told, I look her right in the eye and say “I would but I have a prosthetic leg and today it is causing me some pain, and unfortunately I cannot stand.

Really? At you age?” she retorts without so much as a pause in her best Maggie Smith.

I turn away. I have just told a lie. I have just told this lie to prove a point. And that point is, that no one young or old should ever make an assumption about anyone else's actions, as there could be a perfectly good explanation.

Or, in my case, I was as mad as hell with that old lady's vocalized critical condemnation of my apparent lack of actions that she hadn't been privilege too. How very dare she.

I don't regret that lie, I used it like Harry Houdini would have used a carefully contrived illusion to trick an audience into having to reconsider every aspects of what it had just bore witness too, and to review it from a new perspective.

What I do regret, was the misconstrued kindness of the other passengers who made sure my exit from the bus was trouble-free.

Thank you for your concern and please accept my apology. Especially for the theatrical limping I shamelessly adopted until the bus had passed me.

Although, it was a shame that I had to stoop so low to extract such empathy to prove a point.

Next time, I am sitting on the upper deck far from the maddening Downton Abbey crowd.

And by the way, the film was sublime.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

The Walking Daft By Holly Searle

After attending a productive out of the office meeting towards the end of last week, I walked to the nearest train station to catch a train back to my office.

And there a train sat waiting on the platform, so I boarded it. I was cold as I had been walking for sometime prior to reaching the station. I sat down on the train and as I did so, my ears tuned in to a conversation that was talking place between to of my fellow passengers.

They were two men in their late twenties sitting opposite each other. The first man pipes up and says to the second man I have been thinking of having a baby.

My initially reaction on hearing this was how endearing it was to hear a young man make such a statement.

But then he said to the second man Yeah I am sick of using condoms. They are too tight and I don't like them

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

How very dare you.

Pop! Went that huge balloon of endearment that had been floating above my head.

My next thought was, did I actually hear what I thought I heard? Yes, unfortunately I had. The exchanged carried on in a similar vain culminating with man one crossing over to sit next to man two, so that he could show him a text he had received from one of the lucky girls he had been sticking it too.

And I thought romance was dead.

Thinking that man two had obviously failed basic reading at school, man one then proceeded to read out loud the text from the girl, the context of which (expletives and all), would have made Jerry Springer winced.

At this point, I thought to myself, just move. Move away from these idiots now. Do not allow their stupidity to infect your sound and rational mindset, or your every decreasing belief in humanity.

So I did. I got up and moved as far away from them as I possibly could.

I'll be honest with you, I found this encounter quite upsetting. Not because of the language that they were using, but because of their lack of shame and propriety in which they were conducting themselves.

As if, I thought, we weren't all emotionally tested on a daily basis in these modern times that we all inhabit, without having to encounter morons like those two.

For me, they really were the straw that broke the camel's back.

Later that night, on the safety of my own sofa, I was watching the latest episode of The Walking Dead. And it suddenly occurred to me, as I watched Rick et al battle their bloody way through more zombies. That if I ever wake-up in a hospital bed alone and discovered that a majority of what once was human, has now become Zombified, I pray to God, that those that haven't, aren't like those two embarrassments I had the misfortune to encounter that day on the train.

Although, knowing my luck.

But then I thought, that these two, and their multiples of sorry social counterparts (of which there are many), are already living amongst us. And whilst they may not be The Walking Dead, they most certainly are The Walking Daft.

And yes, the more you think about this comparisons, you more you can see it can't you? Those self-gratifying masses that continue to try to invade the space of those of us that are just trying to survive in their own quiet way. Continually antagonising us with their relentless stupidity, comments, and actions, without a fully functioning brain cell between them.

I find it so scary, that I may start placing ads in shop windows to see if I can source a man who while he may not have much to say, is quite handy with medieval military technology.

Hells bells!

And I wonder how long it will be before I place a sheriff's hat on my son's head and start yelling Stay in the house Carl at him to prevent him from becoming infected by their idiosyncratic behaviour.

In The Walking Dead, the protagonist Rick and his ever increasing then decreasing, then increasing troupe, are constantly moving to avoid the very beings that threaten their liberty.

Until a cure can be found, I intend to do the same.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Case for Colombo By Holly Searle

A good friend of mine recently told me a story. She wasn't very happy and asked me what I thought the truth was. I said that in my opinion I didn't know what the actual truth was, but that it all sounded a little bit fishy to me. That's what I thought she replied.

I said that given all of the facts, the one thing that none of us where able to do, was to read the minds of those who create these disruptive episodes in our lives.

Yes she said, I know all of that. But what do you think the truth was?

I said I really didn't know and it all sounded like a case that only Colombo could solve.

She laughed and said if only I had his number.

I said look, you don't, but I could write a piece about it and to coin a well-known phrase, ask the audience?

You won't use my name or anything will you she asked?

No, I assured her. I shall just write it as she had explained it to me, and see what others thought the truth was.

Okay she said. Do your worst, or best, and see what the feedback is.

Will do I said.

So here it is.

My friend recently encountered a chap. He asked for her number so that he could take her out for a drink.

She froze and for a moment thought is this a good idea as he produced a piece of paper and pen from his pocket.

Then she thought, it is just a mobile number, what harm can it do?

He explained that he was off for two weeks on holiday and would call her on his return. Yes, okay she said and thought nothing more about it.

She wasn't particularly interested in having a boyfriend, but it was nice, and the asking had made her feel good about herself.

Later, prior to going on his trip, he sends her a text message, this is followed up with a call from him before he leaves.

They chat about all sorts of things. Life, work, insecurities about dating. After the call ended, my friend thinks it was promising and could be something, could be nothing.

She didn't think about it again, until a week or so later when he sends her a text telling her that he had been away whilst away. It was a long story he said.

They exchanged numerous texts, none of which are smutty. My friend thinks that this is a good sign.

He tells her that he'll be back soon.

She thinks that it will be nice to see him when he is.

On the day he is due to return, she goes to work. When she arrives home her phone rings and it is him letting her know that he is home from his trip and did she want to go for a drink that night?

She says she will call him in a while and let him know.

She doesn't usually like to go out on a school night as she isn't at her best.

But she is intrigued and thinks yes why not. So she arranges to meet him for a drink.

He is charming. And appears to have as many arms as an octopus as he seems intent on touching her as much as possible as well as kissing her.

My friend thinks, this is all very well and good, but it is a little too much for a first date.

Still in-between all of the touching and kissing, he seems like a nice man.

He drives her home and waits while she gets to her door safely.

That my friend tells me is a big tick in her book.

They have made an arrangement to meet again in a few days time. But something very X-File seems to occur as he seem seems to be unable to answer his phone or reply to the odd text message. He eventually gets in touch and claims that he has developed man flu and has taken to his bed.

My friend says oh dear, sorry to hear that. Hope you feel better blah, blah, blah.

Then he starts to send her random texts messages late in the evening of the night that they were due to meet up, saying that he is feeling much better and feels like going for a drink.

My friend is shattered. She says What now?

No reply. A few hours pass, and he then replies that he had fallen asleep again.

Okay she thinks, starting to wonder what is going on. She told me at this point, she was torn between believing that he was actually poorly and the fact that he was hiding something else. Either way, she said that the seeds of doubt were sown.

However, the following day, the day of their second date, she sends him a text asking him if they are meeting up later?

He doesn't reply.

After she leaves work, he calls her and says that could they make it the following day instead? He says tell you what, let me know when you are home and I will call you.

She does. There is no response. A few hours pass and she calls him. There is no answer.

Later that night she decides his is up to something so she sends him a text saying I can't make it tomorrow night.

He replies straight away saying he is heartbroken but will survive. He says well you didn't call me? She says I did. He says I have no missed calls from you. She wonders what the hell is going on. She is holding her phone when a text arrives from him saying I am calling you but it is just dead.

Really she replies, but I am holding my phone.

Then he calls her.

They chat. She thinks he sounds logical. And because of this decides to give him one more chance......

They meet up on the following evening. She is shattered. They go for a drink. God you are beautiful he keeps telling her whilst holding her hand and gazing into her tired eyes.

Then he says will you come home with me?

She said at this point she felt like she did the first day he asked for her number. She said that she replied let me have a think about it.

So she thinks, I am an adult. I haven't shared an intimate moment with another human being for a while. He seems like the sort of man who might not be lying, but how do I judge this? What do I do?

She concludes that she'll take the opportunity and says yes.

They go back to his place. For a man of his age and pay range, it seems a little odd as he lives in what she says can only be described as a hall of residence.

He says that he share the entire building with one other man. His bit contains very little amounts of homely stuff.

They talk, and then after the deed has been done. Which she tells me was okay. He says that he'll drive her home. Which he does.

She says that when they arrive back at hers he asks her what she is doing over the weekend. She has plans for the following day, but she asks him, does he want to have dinner on Sunday. He says that he is meant to be meeting a friend who is leaving the country, but yes that sounds good.

Again he waits until she is safely indoors and then leaves. When he gets home he sends her a text. She smiles and thinks that she has made the right decision.

The following day. She wakes up and thinks oh dear did I really do that?

She sends him a texts saying good morning and hears nothing. She has plans so she carries on. Later that day, she calls him to say hello. There is no answer. She frowns and wonders why that is.

She has plans for the evening a gets on with those.

The following day, she hears nothing. She tells me that she was quite annoyed as it then appeared that he had just used her. She says that she wouldn't have minded if that was what it was all about. But she is cross, so she sends him a message saying that. There is no reply.

The following day she sends him a message via an app that she had helped him install on his phone. She can see that he has read it, but again there is no response from him.

The following day she is as mad as hell. She tells me, you know what really pissed me off was the fact that he didn't give me the choice. If it had just been about the sex thing, I am an adult and I could have based my decision on that. But the deception was unacceptable.

By late Tuesday afternoon she sees that he is trying to call her. She is at work and cannot answer. He leaves her a message saying that he has been to a funeral and is annoyed by her messages and asks her not to call him again.

Now she says, she wonders if this is lie?

Holly why would someone leave you on a Friday evening, and between then and the following Tuesday, after you had tried to contact them, not contact you and explain this had happened?

I say I have no idea.

She says that she felt a little guilty and tries to call him as she doesn't want any bad feeling, if that is in fact the truth.

But, she tells me, he won't answer his phone.

I say, maybe he was cross?

She says, yes but, if you had been to a funeral, and you thought that you may have inadvertently upset someone, wouldn't you try to explain that?

I say yes, well I would, but people are odd.

So she says, I still do not know what the truth is.

I say I think that you never will, and to me it sounds, based upon all of the evidence, that he probably has another life, and just wanted to get his leg over.

I say who knows, maybe he has many pieces of paper in his pocket with an assortment of pens ready for any opportunity to ask women for their phone numbers?

Yes she says maybe.

I tell her not to worry about is all and to just get on with her life as she did before.

She says I am, but wouldn't it be great if Colombo was real and I knew the truth.

Yes I say, it would. But truth is often stranger than fiction and no amounts of cigars or raincoats will ever change that.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Tick Tock By Holly Searle

It seems only fitting that as we gain an hour this weekend, to write a piece about time, or more notably, time travel.

I am fascinated by the concept of time travel and all that it allows. In all probability this was well and truly lodged in my mind after seeing Rod Taylor's character H. George Wells as he navigated his way through the past and the future, in the 1960 version of The Time Machine.

There he sat in his funny little sleigh like contraption in the conservatory of his house, defying the beliefs of his Victorian contemporaries, baring witness to the undeniable changing future nicely demonstrated by the clothes on the mannequin in the shop window opposite his home.

I was captivated and enthralled by his adventures, and became intrigued thereafter by both fictional and filmatic narratives that dealt with the subject of time travel, and the characters who undertook these time ticking treats of exploration.

And it's a tricky one, as the author has to take into considerations so many variables that the alteration of time in the context of the narrative may cause. This is known as The Butterfly Effect. If one sequence of events, however small is changed by the time traveller, then there is a danger that this may cause an irrecoverable ripple of events to occur elsewhere.

When these take place, the main protagonist has to retrace his or her steps to the moment that this chain of events began in order to reset and or prevent an alternative outcome.

In Back to the Future Marty unwittingly creates his own possible lack of existence when he discovers his father George McFly spying on his mother Lorraine in the tree outside her house.

George falls out of the tree and runs away. Marty chases after him and gets hit by the Lorraine's father's car that was intended for George.

Marty then replaces George in the fixed timeline, and becomes the focus of his mother's affections.

He then spends the rest of the narrative reversing his error to its original default timeline settings to ensure his own future existence.

In Back to the Future II Marty and the Doc find themselves in a dystopian noir future with a wealthy megalomaniacal Biff in control and now married to Lorraine. They are confronted with the mystery of how this has occurred and soon discover that it was again down to Marty. When Marty purchases the sports almanac in the fixed future timeline, he takes it back to the future where the fixed timeline older Biff, discovers it and uses the information it contains to make his millions and create an alternative future.

It's these simple errors of judgement, that can cause these ripples to develop, which in turn create major alterations in the fixed timeline.

Sometimes the characters of these time travelling treats are granted the gift of being able to see the future for their own gain.

In It's a Wonderful Life after reaching his own tipping point, George Bailey declares that he wishes that he had never been born. The response to this wish is revealed to him by an angle called Clarence, who shows him the alternative timeline had he never existed.

These revelations reverse George's wish, and makes him realise the importance of his life and the effect it has had upon others.

By the same token, the dissatisfied Dorothy Gale is transported to a fantasy world in The Wizard of Oz where she has to complete a set number of tasks to enable her safe passage home. When she finally returns to her own reality, she realises that there is no place like home and that she should never take that for granted ever again

In Woody Allen's charming Midnight in Paris, the romantic, but disillusioned screenwriter Gil Pender, wanders the post midnight streets of the city when he is suddenly transported back in time to the Paris of the 1920's. It is here that he meets all of his creative heroes who assist his future decision about himself and his work.

However, some time travellers like Henry DeTamble the protagonist from Audrey Niffenegger superb novel The Time Traveler's Wife, have little or no control over where they go or what they do.

Henry's ability to be able to time travel is the consequence of a genetic disorder called Chrono-Impairment, bouts of which are brought on by immense stress. He spends his entire life travelling backwards and forward in his own timeline, whilst trying to maintain his relationship with his wife Clare, both before and after they meet at a fixed point in time.

In Stephen King's 22.11.63, the protagonist Jake Epping a mild-mannered English teacher is given the opportunity to travel back in time via a vortex in the store-room of a local diner to prevent the assassination of JFK. The cancer ridden diner owner Al is unable to finish the mission himself, and tells Jake that he must do it as the consequence of his actions could change history and prevent other events that followed.

Jake discovers to his own personal detriment, again due to that old chestnut The Butterfly Effect, that this isn't the case.

Of course what all of these narratives demonstrate, is that there are both positive and negative aspects to being able to time travel. But, I have to admit, if I could choose one superpower, or ability, it would be that I could travel through time.

And I would have to say that I wouldn't use it to change any one historical event, as I would be far too concerned with the alternative outcome as Jake Epping discovered.

And yes whilst just like Edith Piaf Non, je ne regrette rien, I would certainly use it to reschedule a few events in my life so that the outcome was more positive in my favour.

With any power, comes great responsibility, so I wouldn't abuse it. But I would certainly enjoy knowing that the prevention, was far far better than the cure.

So remember when you gain an hour tonight, use it well and watch out for Morlocks.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Words and Actions By Holly Searle

Human Rights piece for Blog Action Day, October 16, 2013.

There have been many moments in my life when I had wished I had spoken-up. Or for that matter drawn attention to a certain situation, and as to why it all appeared to me, to be a little out of sync, and not quite right.

Of course I didn't. And when we do not take the opportunity to voice our opinion about something we feel uncomfortable with, we become frustrated and that isn't right.

Frustration festers. It causes anger, and anger is a negative emotion from which nothing positive ever grew.

Many years later, something happened to me and I became fearless with regards to having my say.

In a funny sort of way, becoming fearless was quite a liberating experience for me as it enabled me to find my voice.

It freed me from all of my past woes and worries about how my opinions would be met. And I gained strength and the confidence to tap someone on the metaphorical shoulder and tell them that things just weren't right and that they should take note.

I soon gain some notoriety for my vocal displeasures, and was seen as someone who made complaints. But I didn't see it like that at all. I saw these little vocal soap-boxing moments as constructive criticism of a situation or of an occurrence, that needed to be addressed.

In a way, I guess I saw myself as a sort of pioneer. If I was wrong, then so be it.

But what if I was right? What if speaking-up and making those who had the power to make changes, who would listen to my voice and who would actually hear my words, did make positive changes?

What if they took then seriously? Surely then change may take place, and with that change, the knowledge that I had prevented another person from having to endure a similar situation to the one that I had?

And that change had all been made possible because one person had used their voice to make it happen.


Words are a powerful medium.

People will listen to them, or read them, or even hear them depending on the context through which they are delivered.

In print, set to music, or simply from the mouths of the disenfranchised.

Sometimes it is their simple appropriation in a given situation that carries their gravitas the most effectively.

Every day, ordinary people use their words and actions to enable extraordinary changes to take place.

Without these words and actions, we would never be able progress. We would regress, and humanity would fail itself.

These people are heroes. They have reached their own personal tipping-points, and enough is simply enough.

Think about Rose Parks. One day in 1955, she just decided that she wasn't willing to give up her seat on the bus because of the colour of her skin. She was tired of giving in. So she used her voice and point blankly refused to let someone else sit where she was sitting, because she wasn't white.

Rosa Parks was arrested for civil disobedience and for violating the Alabama segregation laws. She lost her job because she said no. But she went on to champion the Civil Rights Movement and eventually changes began to take place.

And all because she used her voice.

See, it's amazing what we can do, if we speak-up.

I cannot write about it here, as some things should be confined to the bookshelf in your our personal library.

But, there was a time in my own history when I went through what was simply the worst period of my life.

First of all I thought it was inconceivable that I had been placed in a situation through no fault of my own.

I was lost. I had never known anything like it before or since.

I had no idea what to do.

It was an immense struggle that lasted for over two years. It consumed every moment of my life, for what looked like an unmarked eventual destination.

But I didn't suffer in silence. I spoke to people. I raised my concerns.

Throughout the whole process, many doors were literally closed in my face. No one was interested in my plight, and I began to question my own sanity.

Then one day, someone heard me. They listen to what I had to say.

Then all the dots began to join-up and something turned and changes began to take place.

At times I felt as though I was having to shout above the white noise that kept sticking its fingers in the ears of those that had the power to help me..

At times I felt as though I no longer had the strength the carry on.

But I did, and it got better, and eventually it was resolved in my favour.

But it wasn't an easy ride.

At the best of times it was bumpy, and at the worst of times is was a living nightmare.

But I never gave-up.

I never gave-up, because I knew that I was right and that it was my right to be heard.

That situation taught me a valuable life lesson.

And that lesson was that words and actions equal change.

If you have a voice, you must use it, as it it your human right to do so.

If you ever find yourself at a crossroad in your life, and you cannot work out which way to go. Never forget that you always have a voice, and that your words and your actions will help you to figure out the right direction in which to travel.

You have the strength.

Ask yourself this question: What is the worst thing that can happen?

Answer: The very thing that you you are concerned about.

I believe in you.

You will find the strength to overcome it.

You have the strength.

You have the words.

That is your human right.

Just keep thinking Rosa Parks.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Perfect Day By Holly Searle

For Red, because she has beautiful hair, and because l made her walk too fast on the way to the party.

It is incredibly rare to achieve what I consider to be a perfect day.

Sometimes all of the ingredients just aren't there. And the actual day that you have planned, becomes tainted by unforeseen and unavoidable elements that you just didn't bargain for.

This all put me in mind of one of my favourite sequences in Goodfellas which tracks Henry Hill's last day as a Wise Guy.

Throughout this entire sequence, from its start and until its finish, Henry's day is packed solid with activity.

Not only does he undertake a variety of mob related criminal chores, but he also manages to collect his brother from the hospital, as well as making that pasta sauce. And all the time, he is vexed by a continual paranoia that the FBI are watching his every move (they are).

And just when he thinks that the hellish day is over, the Feds appear and arrest him.

Game over Henry.

Not a perfect day, but one that was a long time coming.

You're going to reap just what you sow.

In an oppositional Sliding Doors universe to the one that Henry Hill occupied, I recently achieved a day that was the polar opposite, that was a true to form, cherry on the top, perfect day.

At the beginning of the year it was a given that I would turn fifty. So I thought, okay, I can either stay in or I can follow the advice that is contained in the lyrics of the song Cabaret, that Sally Bowels belts outs. You know the one that I am talking about? Yes you do. It starts off with asking the question What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play. Life is a Cabaret, old chum. Come to the Cabaret.

Well life is a cabaret, and my table would only be waiting if I booked it.

And so I did.

I reserved the space and invited old and new friends, and of course my family.

This was quite early in the year.

And then I left it there in my mind space, until September arrived quicker that a slight of hand card trick.

And then I began to panic.

What if no one came? What it if life wasn't a cabaret after all?

Then I remembered Field of Dreams and started to repeat on a daily basis the mind mantra If you build it they will come, as the date of the do approached.

And do you know what, they did. Not because of the mantra, but because I am blessed and fortune to have so many friends and family whom I adore.

The day was perfect, and the first to arrive, and the last to leave, was my dear friend Red. We don't see each other all the time, but time can concertina pretty quickly when you stay in touch.

When we arrived at the venue, we were five in total. But has the minutes passed, people began to arrive with their wishes and gifts.

And soon the room was full.

And so was my heart.

And there was an eclectic mix of personalities that all seemed to blend well together.

I was so happy, and touched and overwhelmed by it all, that I can honestly say that it was the best birthday I have ever had.

So to all of you that came, and to all of you that couldn't make it, I just wanted to say thank you for making it so special and for being part of my life.

I can honestly say that each and everyone of you has enriched my life, and that I am a better person for having you all in it.

So thank you for making my day perfect, and apologise to Henry Hill.

You're going to reap just what you sow.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Hawaii Five 0 By Holly Searle

When I was in year six of primary school (that's the fourth year in old money), I was in a play called You Can't Stop Progress.

From what I can remember, this was a play that dealt with the impending and unavoidable changes that were being brought about by the industrial revolution.

There on the horizon, changes were coming, the progression of which, could not be avoided by those that would feel the eventual benefits of their implementation.

Well here I am, standing on a hill, squinting at the horizon. I can see it heading my way.

In the near distance as it heads towards me just like the giant wave crashing title sequence of Hawaii Five 0.

It is nearly here.

I can't halt its arrival now.

I shall soon be fifty.

And, just like the themes that were covered in that play all those years ago, I cannot prevent it, I can only accept it, and welcome it with open arms. And just between you and me, I have a sneaking suspicion, that it is going to open up a new an exciting chapter in my life.

How bloody wonderful is that?

Pretty damn marvellous I'd say.

There is that idiom that stipulates that it isn't all about the quantity, but rather the quality.

Well, if life has taught me anything, I would say that it has been that very thing.

Quality, quality, quality.

We landmark our lives with numbers (13, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, and so on), but really what we should all do, is to colour in time with our experiences.

I can recall reaching forty and having a conversation with an acquaintance who told me that they had cried when they turned forty. I thought about that, and decided that it was a bit of a negative, as some people aren't even lucky enough to reach forty.

Dry your tears, I thought, and start living. Get the brightest colours you can find and start colouring it all in as quickly as you can. As, believe me, it all starts to tick away so much faster than the wings of a hummingbird on speed, when you feel as though time is conspiring against you. It isn't, but you are, so stop right now and take a mental deep breath and fill it all up with a more positive outlook, and with people who are important to you.

Turning fifty isn't a big deal to me. I am happy it is here as it has made me more aware of all of my options, and how I wish to spend the remaining currency of my life span.

That isn't meant to sound all doom and gloom, it is just my own pragmatic relationship with my own mortality.

When I think about my life, I feel blessed to have been able to have achieved as much as I have, but it isn't over yet, and I have plans and a list of places, experiences and adventures that I want to fulfil.

And I intend to do just that.

Being fifty is insightful in that respect. And just like the on-going and forever altering prescription of my eye wear, the my clarity of my life, and my future vision of it, is subject to changed. And I accept that.

Just like Johnny Nash sang, being fifty will enable me to see clearly now the rain has gone, for over the last few years I have been able to get rid of all of the life crap that I once placed so much emphasis on.

I have had a good clear out, and I have let go of a lot of things that had bothered me for years. At last, I have grown-up and it feels like total happiness.

The quantity of your life isn't measured by unnecessary mass produced stuff and nonsense that you don't really need, but by the quality of your character and the way in which you relate to others you encounter along your life path.

And it's very liberating to be like that and to afford yourself so much freedom of choice.

It really is.

I can't stop the progression of time, and why would I want too, when it's going to be a bright, bright sunshiny day.

So when you're ready, you can Book'em Danno.

It's all good.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Ever Increasing Circles By Holly Searle

I can remember the day Child One was born as if it were yesterday. Well, to be absolutely correct, it was a night actually. And there she was, this perfect baby. The most beautiful little thing I had ever set my eyes upon.

But it wasn't yesterday, it was twenty-five years ago.

I was exhausted after a long and arduous labour. The midwife gave me some toast and a cup of tea and then a sleeping tablet to help me sleep.

She took my little baby away, and said that just for tonight, they would look after her while I slept.

So I ate the toast, drank the tea, and then took the tablet.

Sleep beckoned.

But then the midwife returned with my daughter and informed me that she wouldn't settle and so here she was and handed her back to me.

So there we were, one new baby that just wanted to be with her mum, and her mum, who was delighted to see her again so soon, but who was rapidly nodding off.

So we snuggled-up together, this perfect child and I, and pretty soon we were both asleep.

The next thing I remember was the midwife waking me up and telling me that I should put my baby in her cot.

I did.

And then the next twenty-five years past, just like that in the blink of an eye.

Then one day my daughter called me.

She said that she wanted to tell me something.

I knew what it was before she had even told me. She has this tone to her voice you see, that she probably doesn't even know she uses. That tone told me even before she had, that she had just found out that she was pregnant.

I was delighted and amazed at the wonder of it all.

And then time slowed down while we all waited. Waited for the scans, waited to find out what it was (a boy), and then finally for his arrival.

And during all of that waiting, a funny thing happened to me.

I felt old.

In a few weeks, I will turn fifty. What? How did that happen? Time passed, that is how that happened.

So when my daughter told me I was also going to be a Nana, I started to wondered if I was going to start to resembling the lady that looks after Tweety Pie in those Merrie Melodies cartoons.

Every day I checked in the mirror.

No, no sign of her.

Then an even stranger thing started to happen. When I met new people and I talked about my becoming a grandma, they all said "Really? You don't look old enough to be a grandma?"

I then started to really worry that they thought my daughter was some teenage unmarried wanton Jezebel. So I had to then explain to them that she was twenty-five, and married. Their furrowed responding brows then signified that they then looked at me, really studied me, and I could see the cogs of theirs brains turning as they started to wonder if I was in fact the teenage unmarried wanton Jezebel. I simply couldn't win.

In the end, I just decided to let people think what they wanted to think, as the alternative seconded guessing and offering explanation game, was getting a little too much for me to maintain.

But, what it did tell me, I am delighted to say, was that I didn't look one bit like Tweety Pie's owner Granny.


And now, here is the lovely part.

My baby, my first-born, my beautiful darling girl, finally went into labour. It felt like the start of a very long marathon.

I felt that it wasn't my place to arrive at the hospital and wait, so I left them to it.

But all the time I was in a fit of despair. Was she alright? Would she manage? Should I be there? DID SHE NEED ME?


And Yes of course she would manage!

She is built of stern stuff that daughter of mine. And after thirty-six hours of labour (twice as long as I was in with her), her son, Grandchild One, eventually arrived.

At that point, I called a cab and hot-footed it to the hospital as fast as I could. On arrival her overtired husband, looking like a young dashing doctor in a set of blue scrubs informed me that until she was moved I couldn't see her or my grandson.

I just wanted to see them with every pore of my being.

After a while, which seemed like an age, they were moved and I was allowed in to see them.

I was literally squealing inside as I made my way in the lift up to the ward to see them.

I called to my daughter as I walked into her ward, and she called back from behind a curtain. I nipped in, and there they both were, my baby with her baby.

They both looked like they had been involved in a long battle.

I asked her if I could hold him, and she passed him to me and looked at this little lamb, this little tiny being, and from that moment, I was smitten.

And do you know what? I am in love. I am in love with him and I can't wait to be his Nana and be a part of his life.

Life is beautiful and my circles just increased and all of my Christmas' and birthdays have arrived at once.

That's all folks!

And it is just wondrous.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Try Something New Today? By Holly Searle

Having just placed an online shopping order for the first time in many years this evening, has reminded me of a hilarious incident that once occurred many moons ago, when I used to use this service on a regular basis.

During the latter part of his life, our then elderly cat Jones, was no longer able to make it to the cat tray in time, and would therefore leave small piles of his personal waste around the house.

It was just one of those things. He usually left these little gifts whilst I was at work, which would be waiting for me on my return. Or during the night, while we were all sleeping. The smell of which, would be the first thing I noticed on waking.

Poor old puss.

When these unfortunate little accidents took place, I would clean them up as quickly as possible with some tissue, and then place the whole smelly pile in a plastic carrier bag, which I would then place outside the front door with the intention of disposing of in one of the communal bins the next time I ventured out.

On one such occasion, I arrived home from work, opened the front door, and was met with that all too familiar fragrant smell. I immediately sourced a carrier bag from the cupboard. It was an orange one from the supermarket that regularly delivered my weekly shop. Having grabbed the bag, I quickly clean-up his mess, and placed the bag outside the front door as I usually did.

Life carried on.

And the lone cat poo in the orange carrier bag, sat by the doormat, outside the door, and waited.

Now, it just so happened that I was due a delivery from the supermarket that had provided this carrier bag that very same evening.

When the delivery man arrived at my front door laden with orange bags full of shopping, he handed them to me and I took them into the kitchen, as I usually did, and started to unpack them.

However, something wasn't quite right, and I realised that he had given me the wrong order.

This isn't my order I thought, as I gazed at items that I had no recall of ever having ordered.

So, I started putting all the items back in the bags, and when he returned from his van with the remaining part of the order, I explained my discovery.

He about turned with what he had, and went off to his van to locate my order.

While he was doing that, I had started to place all of the other repacked orange bags on the doormat, ready for him to collect on his third shopping bag relay trip.

Eventually he arrived with the correct order, and we were all smiles, as the mystery had been solved.

It was all Cool and The Gang punctuated with nervous good job we discovered that laughter as he took the bags that were waiting and I signed the receipt. I bid him a cheery farewell, closed the front door, shock my head, smiled to myself and sighed.

It was only when I was unpacking my items that it suddenly dawned on me that he had taken all of the orange bags that had been sitting on the doormat outside the front door, including the one containing Jones' latest mishap.

Oh dear.

Oh deary, deary me.

This had no doubt been huddle together with all of the other orange carrier bags and was on its way to being delivered to the correct recipient of the shopping that I had mistakenly been given.

I do believe in fate, and that a chain of events invariable happens for a reason. But, for the life of me, I cannot, and will probably never be able to reason why, later that evening, someone in the West London area, received as part of their shopping, an orange carrier bag, that contained a free gift from my cat.

As a wise person once said, shit, it just happens.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Vertigo By Holly Searle

I have no idea why I am scared of heights, but I am. The very thought of being in a high-rise building seems an unnatural state of being to me. I get a knot in my stomach just thinking about it.

It freezes my blood, my legs turn to jelly and if you could see inside my head, it would no doubt resemble Edward Munch's painting The Scream.

It is that bad.

I kid you not, last year when I was in New York, we were staying, my daughter and I, in a hotel on the twenty-fourth floor. I couldn't even comprehend the effect that this would have one me, and on the last night, as I lay in bed, I felt as though I was falling. The room literally felt as if it was moving.

During the course of the same trip, we ventured out one day to the Empire State Building. Standing in the plush lobby, I turned to my daughter and informed her that I didn't think that I would be able to leave terraferma, and take the lift to the eighty something floor to visit the famous viewing platform. I actually cried as I felt I was letting her down. But the fear of something unnatural, is a fear that cannot be reasoned with.

She was pretty good about it and said not to worry, but that she wanted to go, so off she did, on her own.

So I waited in the lobby.

I then experienced a dreadful pang of guilt as I had sent my first-born child off on her own without her life long protector, to stand on a viewing platform located far too high above street level for my liking.

Major panic and stress engulfed me for the entire time that she was away from me, until she returned.

When she did, I asked what it was like. A bit high, came her response.

I have come to conclude that there must be two types of people; those that have no response to heights, and those, just like me, that do.

The funny thing is, I have no issue with travelling on a plane. The only issue I have with flying, is the time that it takes, the noise, and other people.

If I had my way, and money was no option, I would quite happily charter my own personal jet, with no other passengers on board, who insist on chattering on their mobiles moments prior to take off, or having to put up with their unruly screaming children.

So, plane height flights don't worry me. Odd, but true.

Apart from New York, I can think of several other occasions when I froze or felt sick, due to the height of my location.

Once in Paris, many, many years ago, I stood looking up at the Montparnasse Tower. I was on a short trip to the city with my mother. She wanted us to visit the bar in the tower which was situated somewhere near the top.

I looked up at the tower, mentally placed my hands on my hips, took a sharp intake of breath, exhaled, and confessed to her that I doubted I would be able to make the trip with her.

My mother's response, was to match my anxiety, by telling me that I could either stay where I was, or go with her.

It was a Mexican stand-off. She had me, so I gave it and agreed to go.

I can remember standing in the lift, with my back up against the wall, and my legs shaking. I think she thought I was being a mare, but I wasn't, I was simply trying to ready myself to face my fear.

As comic book beads of sweat formed on my forehead, the lift doors opened on to the floor of the bar. On jelly legs I walked out. Shall we sit by the window, my mother enquired. You're just talking the piss now I thought. From what I can recall, we sat near to the window. Oh well, I surmised, at least I hadn't been abandoned on the streets of Paris.

But this was by no means my worst ever experience with a tall building.

I shall have to fast forward several years to tell you about that.

My good friend Chris (who ironically now lives in New York, but not in a high-rise building), was living in a flat just off Baker Street in central London.

I can't recall as to why we were paying him a visit, there must have been an occasion, but it escapes me now. His flat was located quite high up I remember, and as my little daughter and I arrived at his front door, he greeted us, and introduced us to another mother and her child. Chris made the introductions, and we all exchange a friendly hello.

Now, Chris' flat had a balcony. It had an enclosed waist-high barrier, but, there was also a handrail, that ran along the length of the balcony.

My daughter and I stole a glance, and that was enough. I told my daughter to come in, where I could keep an eye on her.

The other visitor's child, a boy, however, was strangely drawn to the balcony. And while the adults were chatting away inside, I noticed that he was still out there.

My daughter curiously drawn to him, as children invariably are to one another, went to see what he was doing. When I looked to see what she was looking at, I nearly threw-up.

He had positioned himself with his feet against the enclosed wall, with his hands on the rail, and was rolling himself in an upward motion, not unlike a circus performer, who is about to perform an acrobatic feat.

My mind made the very quick calculation, that if he repeated this motion, he was risking propelling himself over the rail, and heading for the pavement far far below.

I remember making a noise not that dissimilar to the one that Emma Thompson makes when Hugh Grant explains the misunderstanding of their situation in the final moments of Sense and Sensibility, which in turn, drew Chris' attention to what I was witnessing. He very quickly called to the child, and made him come in, and the drama was averted.

I can still feel the fear in the pit of my stomach as I recall this incident. For many weeks after that day, I had waking nightmares about that child going over the edge of that balcony and crashing out of this mortal coil forever.

That fear was no doubt instilled in every parent, in retrospect of the horrific accident involving Eric Clapton's son.

It was pretty damn scary, and I doubt that the boy has any recollection of this event at all, but I know Chris does, and so do I.

Tall buildings, you can keep them for people who like a view.

Me, I'll always kiss the ground, and thank feck that I have my two feet firmly planted on its surface any day of the week.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Devil's In The Detail By Holly Searle

In 1975 I was the same age as my son is now.

During that year, a film was released which would probably affect me, more than any other I had ever seen before, or since.

And that film was Jaws.

It is hard to imagine that this was nearly forty years ago. I find that a shocking thought.

But what I find even more shocking is the quality of some of the films that have been produced and released in those intervening years.

Now, hold on a minute, don't all start waving pieces of paper, like the politicians do during a heated debate at the PM's question time. Just listen to what I have to say.

During those years there have been some incredible films written produced, and directed, that have pushed the boundaries of cinema. Some that introduced revolutionary and ground breaking subject matters, and some that have changed or challenged our opinion and heighten our views regarding major social issues. In turn, they have created a positive social vibe.

But a majority of them have been guilty of that old adage that more is less, and have insulted audiences with their unremitting deliverance of their cinematic fast food.

Now, if I ever encounter this type of film, it always reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright's chewing gum for the mind television quote. This seems like a very apt quote for describing these mass-produced, and less than thought-provoking costly minutes of utter tosh.

Recently, I took my son to the pictures to see Man of Steel. There we both sat in the dark, while the movie played. At the end of the film, my son turned to me and said "Well that was rubbish."

I agreed, and started to ask myself why it was such a dreadful film.

I thought about what we had just seen, and why it was so unacceptable, and the conclusion I came to was this.

A great film has a heart. The writer's work represents that heart. They have conceived an idea, and have spent a substantial amount of time, mixing the characters and the plot together, to produce a narrative, that will ultimately have the potential to deliver a great movie.

However, not all writer's are lucky enough to ever see their stories on the big screen, because major studios don't always pick them up.

On the contrary, there seems to be an obsession with remarking films that were perfectly good on their first outing. I was informed the other day that they are remaking Carrie. Well, if you recall the last scene of that film, Carrie White, is still with us, and I doubt she'll like this one little bit.

To some of these remakes it would appear, there is an almost unhealthy amount of special effects added, to pep it up a bit, but that just blind us all with science.

And if you want to know what I think, I reckon that this technology is the Ebenezer Scrooge of modern cinema. Which is odd, as it has given us so much, whilst managing to perform the mother and father of all autopsy on these already perfectly good films, and in doing so, has managed to remove the heart of ingenuity from them.

Just stop and have a think for a moment. Think of all of those movies you have enjoyed over the last four decades. I bet all the ones that you loved, still have all their internal organs.

I bet they do.

And I bet that there are countless others that you can only recall because you wished you had spent that 90 or so minutes, doing something a lot more interesting.

Sound familiar?

So, where was I?

Ahhh, yes, Jaws.

On an evening in 1975 I went to the cinema to see Jaws. I can remember it as if it were yesterday. I sat on the left, about four rows from the front. The film began, as it does, with the under water shot that opens it, accompanied by the first few bars of the now unmistakable John Williams theme.

I was knicker-gripped from that point on.

I had never seen a film like it.

I sat transfixed, and terrified in that darken cinema, feasting on this sumptuous cinematic three course meal from its beginning until its end. All the best quality ingredients were of equal proportion. The plot, the protagonists, and the monster, a mechanical shark, affectionately known as Bruce, by the cast and crew.

"You'll never go in the water again!" Claimed one of the pre-publicity campaigns.

And guess what? I never did. I even found it hard to take a dip in a swimming pool after seeing Jaws.

I watched it again recently with my son, and he loved it as much as I still do.

People often ask me what my favourite films is. I can't answer that question. But Jaws is absolutely one hundred percent, without a doubt, one of them.

And why? Well because it managed to produce a narrative, with a its cause and effect on track from the start until its finish. The characters are wonderfully well recognised and stunningly fleshed out by the actors who portrayed them. It is thrilling, charming and timeless, and most of all, now more than ever, I have great affection for it because of Bruce.

He was about as special effected as it got in 1975.

And he was perfect, because he represents the ingenuity of the team behind that movie.

After I had seen Man of Steel, I thought about why I had hated it so much. After very little thought, I came to conclude that it was due to the saturation of the special effects and for what purpose they had been used within the context of the narrative.

It was all very wham bam thank you Mam, and used to display the needless destruction of humanity, buildings, oh and highly expensive satellites that were tracking Superman's whereabouts.

How very dare it.

It was dull and boring, and went on for far too long. In a word, there was no ingenuity and no heart to that movie. It simply had no soul.

Often films unwittingly reflect the society which has produced them.

I thought about that too.

Jaws was made in a post Nixon age, when the enemy was domestic and literary lurking in the water.

Man of Steel
is loud and brash. An American cock-sure and cock blocking warning and masturbatory visual display to all aliens that threaten it's security, that they will not win, if decide to mount an attack.


That's all well and good and all, but with regards to watching a good movie, it is just utter nonsense.

But alas, I predict that we will see many more of these films in our cinemas very soon.

More is less, more is less, more is less

And me and mine?

Well, we prefer the whimsy and ever lasting charm of a robotic shark called Bruce, and always will.

Dim the light, cue that John Williams music, and enjoy.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Drink! By Holly Searle

I am not a good drinker. So, I don't drink.

Okay, I may have lied a bit, as I don't mind the odd glass or two of something. Usually, to toast an event with my family on a special occasion, or, on a night out with friends. But as a rule, I hardly touch the stuff.


I am not a good drunk. And I am not good at being drunk.

Not because I am prone to aggressive behaviour or outburst. I am not that sort of a drunk. I am the sort that just gets all silly and will tell you how great I think you are, and how much I love you.

I am an emotional sort of drunk.

In that state, when I am a bit worst for wear, I find it makes me feel a little bit vulnerable. And, to be honest with you, I just don't like feeling like that.

No, I quite like to be in charge of all of my faculties, especially when I have to rely on the power of my own steam to see me home safely in one unstaggering piece.

Now, if you don't drink that often, when you do, it only takes a small amount of whatever it is you might fancy on any of these given occasions, to make you more than a little merry.

I am not only an emotional drunk it would seem, but I am also an economical one as well.

I once had a group of friends who couldn't quite understand why I didn't drink too excess as they did.

They would drink, as if they had heard that as of the following day, prohibition was being reinstated.

I had no problem with their drinking. But, boy, did they have an issue with me not following in their unsteady footsteps.

They felt very uncomfortable being in the company of someone who wasn't necking the sauce like they were.

On one such occasion, they were in full swing, and filling their boots with whatever they could lay their hands on. I stood there and watched them all larking about, and acting like fools, when one of them approached me and said "You know what your problem is Holly? You need to loosen up a bit and drink more."

I was more than a little offended by this. But then I soon realised, that when you chose not to drink too excess socially, your sobriety can make others feel uncomfortable.


I had been to several dos with this particular bunch of people. One I attended, I arrived to find a majority of them slurring their words, while a minority were passed out cold where they sat, with their heads resting on the tables in front of them.

It wasn't a pretty sight and I felt embarrassed by their behaviour.

I didn't mention it, as I felt that it wasn't my place too draw their attention to my discomfort.

I felt it was rude to mention it.

I may have needed to loosen up a bit more, but I had started to find their drunken lifestyle choices dull and more than a little boring.

So, I decided not to see those people any more.

Like my desire not to drink too excess, I felt I made this choice, based upon the fact that it suited my personality better than it suited theirs.

And, do you know what? That suited me just fine.

And then there was the last time that I was drunk....

It was my birthday and I had made arrangements to meet up with a group friends (no not those ones).

I arrived all bright and shiny as a new pin. I had even left my specs at home that night and had popped my contact lenses in for good measure.

When I arrived my friends were insistent that as it was my birthday, they should buy me as many drinks as possible. And they did, and they were doubles.

I was unaware of their generosity for about half an hour, or so, until the room started to spin a bit. So I decided to slow down and sit down.

I found a quiet spot, and sat very still.

But the room's insistence at mimicking a wurlitzer ride at a funfair, refused to abate. And its efforts to spin me right round, baby right round, like a record baby, until I was well and truly dizzy, was beyond repair.

At this point, my daughter (who was an adult, I might add) approached the lonely slumped figure that was her once responsible parent, and suggested it might be a good idea if we got a cab home.

I was in full agreement, and so we left.

Much to her amusement, I was trying to do that thing that you do when you are drunk. I was trying to conduct myself in the manner of a person who wasn't drunk at all, by giving the taxi driver clear and concise directions to our home, and failing with a capital F.

Of course she saw through this straight away, and found it hilarious.

And then there were those involuntary little squeaks that kept vocally emanating from me, every time we drove over a speed bump.

She found those funny too.

Once indoors, I just wanted to lay down in a darkened room and go to sleep, just as I did on every other night of the week. I also needed my nightly glass of water next to my bed, and must have repeated this request more than once to my daughter. For she soon delivered a glass to my bedside table, instructing me that she had done so in the manner of a parent who was growing impatient with the behaviour of their naughty child.

I mumbled my shameful thanks, and bid her goodnight and turned off the light, and laid my sorry head down on the pillow,

For a while, the room span.

It was reckless.

I prayed for sleep and looked forward to the following morning when normality would return.

After a fashion, it arrived and I slept.

The following morning after I woke and had opened my eyes, two thoughts occurred to me in very quick succession; one, my sight had been restored (a miracle!), and two, I realised that in my drunken state, I had left my contact lenses in.

I went to the bathroom in a mild panic, and peeled them off of my eyes.

My eyes felt like they had been rubbed with sandpaper, and my cursed myopia returned.

I sighed, and went back to bed.

And so I learnt from this experience, and from many others just like it, that I had missed the actual point of the evening, simply because I was too drunk to enjoy it.

And so, if you are ever out drinking with me, please, carry on at your own pace.

I am happy enough, taking it slowly and just enjoying the evening.

You needn't worry about me.

I am just fine.



Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Swoonage By Holly Searle

Have you ever fainted?

If you have, you'll know just how horrible it is.

One minute you're fine, and then the next, you start seeing purple flashes in front of your eyes, then your ears start to ring, and then the next thing you know, you are waking up surrounded by people staring at you.

It is one of the most frighteningly and vulnerable things you can experience.

When I was a child, I used to faint on a regular basis. I have no idea why this occurred, but it was just awful, as it prevented me from taking part in activities and events that I was looking forward to immensely.

On one occasion, I was being taken to see Father Christmas at Selfridges in Oxford Street as a pre Christmas treat.

I remember quite clearly having to queue up as prior to seeing himself, we were entertained by Uncle Holly. Well I saw him alright, and then the next thing I remember is being carried by my Dad to the Selfridge's sick room were I stayed until I was considered fit enough to go home.

I never got to see Father Christmas, but I still have my Uncle Holly badge, so at least that is something.

The next clear memory of this ever happening transpired during a family holiday to Cornwall or Devon.

I was queuing up (again) with my family, waiting to be seated in a restaurant, when I began to see those purple flashes.

My Mum turned to my Dad and said "Terry, take her outside, she is going to faint."

To which I responded, in a melodramatic manner "It's too late." before crashing to the floor of the restaurant, in a unceremonious heap.

This undoubtedly became an hilarious incident that my elder brother would mimic relentlessly throughout our formative years.

From then on, I guess being the subject of ridicule, pretty much kicked me into touch, as I began to recognise the early signs, and would take ever opportunity to prevent it from happening in public again.

Personal pride, it would seem for a short period at least, had cured me from these episodes.

However, then came The Bun Factory incident.

As a young adult, I found myself working for a company that decided that some of its employees should visit the bun factory that made and supplied its buns.

How exciting !

So off we all went.

As you can probably imagine, this was an incredibly dull and boring trip, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms, that if this opportunity should ever come your way, pull a sickie and stay at home and do something else instead. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was the fantasy kids, the bun factory, on the other hand, was the reality.

There were no Oompa Loompas, but rather a dullard corporation bod explaining how buns were made.

At one point we were all standing there nodding our heads like dogs on the parcel shelf of a car, trying to look interested, when an old familiar feeling started to consume me.

I thought "Oh please, not here." I mentioned to the guy standing next to me that I wasn't feeling too good and asked him if he wouldn't mind if I lent on him for support.

I shifted my feet, and started to panic, and then passed out on the concrete of the factory floor hitting my head in the process.


The next thing I knew, someone was trying to revive me with some foul smelling substance, that I was later told was industrial ammonia.


Safe to say, I was let off the visit to the next factory that was part of our agenda for the remainder of the afternoon.

My head was pretty sore and I am sure I lost a few valuable brain cells that day.

Jump ahead to a photographer's studio on a hot summer's day a few years later.

I am an extra on a shoot that features a small crowd of people. It is some advert for the winter, so we are all wearing thick jumpers.

The photographer has us all in a tableau that he appears to think will work. He decides to take a polaroid to see if we look right on celluloid, before he starts shooting us with real film.

He takes the shot at the same moment that I fell to the floor.

Click. Thud.

My comic timing on that occasion, was perfect.

I was not in the advert, and I didn't get paid.

And if my foray into the world of extra work couldn't get any worse, I later took part in yet another photographic shoot on a roof top in Covent Garden with yet another small crowd of people.

This time it was a job for The Daily Star for a competition they were wanting to promote called Stargazing.

We were all instructed to Stargaze and look up.

I did this along with everyone else for quite a long period of time while the photographer was faffing about.

I held that position for as long as I could and then hit the deck as fast as a comet.


Again, I lucked out and wasn't paid and ended up feeling like an idiot.

After that I went to see a doctor whose only advice to me was to carry a Mars bar (I kid you not) in my handbag, and to eat it at the first signs of a fainting episode.

I didn't do this, as the thought of choking on confectionery whilst in the process of loosing consciousness , seemed a little horrific to me.

I am happy to report, that since the Stargazing incident, I haven't passed out again.

I pretty much worked out that most of these fainting episodes are either down to excessive heat, low blood sugar, and the latter, to trapping a nerve in my neck.

Apparently if you look up for an extensive period of time, you can trap a nerve in your neck that causes you to faint.

So, armed with all of this knowledge, I now avoid standing for extended lengths of time in the heat whilst wearing an Aran sweater, make sure I eat something, and I do all my stargazing laying down.

And for now, I am happy to say, it appears to have worked.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Oom Pah Pah By Holly Searle

There's a little ditty
They're singing in the city.............

I have noticed of late, a rather alarming stream of repetitive responses that I am hearing from men, whilst I am engaged in a simple and innocent exchange with them.

And it goes like this.

I will just be being friendly, having a plain and simple conversation with them, and nothing more, I promise you. And all of a sudden, out of the blue, they will say something along the lines of "Yes, I know, my wife/girlfriend/partner likes that too."

I didn't really think anything about it at first, but then, when it happened again, and again, and again, I mentioned it in passing to a female colleague that I work with, (as these exchanges invariably appeared to be happening at there), and she laughed and said she knew just what I was referring to.

But then it happened to me one evening while I was out with some friends. I was just being chatty with a chap who was part of the group, but someone whom I had never met before. I wasn't flirting, I was just being friendly.

When he suddenly did it as well.

So, I began to think, why do all of these men feel the need to verbally signifying their relationship status?

Whilst I may be single, I don't own a badge or a t-shirt that clarifys this. Neither do I have a tattoo on my forehead that blatantly points this out, believe me, I know, as I have checked. I don't carry a butterfly net either, one in which I intend to capture any unwittingly off guard males.

It's a funny one.

I want to say to them, "Look, I realise that you have a wife/girlfriend/partner, as you are far too clean and well kept, to lead me to think otherwise."

I want to explain to them that they are not displaying that Havishamesque air of someone who has not bothered to look after themselves, since they were jilted at the alter.

I want to say, "Look, I was just being friendly, I have not other ulterior motive, other than that."

I think that that, might make them think on. But now, because I have made a mental note of these exchanges, as soon as one crops up, it kills the conversation entirely. And the whole purpose of the innocent friendly non-sexual exchange between two human beings, simply becomes redundant.

However, I have started to think on, and have come to the conclusion that what is actually going on here is the following.

Maybe the man in question, is just a happy well kept chap, who has found his mate. In his brain he has long since lost the thread of the banter that would have once been a necessary part of his primitive discourse, and one that he would have had to relied upon, in order to find a one.

Fair play. I understand that.

Maybe, what these men are really saying is "Look, I have covered this already, and I am finding the fact that I am having a conversation with a rather pleasant woman, that I have no intention of whisking away, a little uncomfortable. It is confusing me, so I am going to have to put a stop to it right now, before my brain overheats, by telling you that I am taken."

I think that is probably it.

I really do.

It is the way, I think, that they find of distraction themselves from what they think is going on, as opposed to what they then translate in their brains, to be the on the spot actuality of what the situation is.

And as I can quite clearly see what they are doing, it all just puts me in mind of that rather lovely sequence in the musical version of Oliver where Nancy sings that rather wonderful song Oom Pah Pah.

She starts this tantalising tavern sing-along in order to create a diversion, so that she can get Oliver out of the place, to prevent Bill from involving him in a preplanned nefarious activity.

But, despite all of her table boarding, skirt shaking, cartwheel spinning attempts, Bill sees exactly what she is up to.

Well, I guess I am Bill.

Men, I appreciate your good fortune, I really do. But please, I implore you, just go with the flow with what is really happening, and not what you feel your repressed primitive nature is telling you it thinks is happening.

For if you do not, innocent friendly women everywhere, might just start shouting an unpreventable tourettic "Bullseye!" in an Oliver Reed Voice, every time you mention you have a wife/girlfriend/or partner.

They all suppose what they want to suppose
When they hear...oom-pah-pah!!

Men, you have been warned.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Pretty Vacant By Holly Searle

In 1977, I became a teenager.

I was a pretty shy and retiring one at that. I was painfully self-conscious about all the changes that were taking place to my body and the transition between being a child and those years crossing the bridge, on my way to becoming an adult, were scary with no clear signposting to assist me on my journey.

This year, my son will hit the same marker in his life.

This got me to thinking about how different the culture he abides in is, and how much more demanding and unrelenting it appears to be in relation to the one that my rite of passage into adulthood evolved within.

It almost seems as if the culture we all live in now, combines an unapologetic helping of trash with a dollop of sophisticated technology, but, that it is devoid of the milk of human kindness. One that might offer a much needed cuddle every now and then, to those whom may find it all a little stressful to deal with and adhere too.

I feel both impressed with his good fortune to be a child of modernity, whilst incredibly sadden, that there appears to be something missing, something lost. An innocence and a creativity, that would be more suited to his personality, but one that he will somehow never know ever existed in the same way it did for me.

When I was a child, I was very much one. I spent my days, riding my bike, hanging out with my friends, still playing with my dolls (and was quite ashamed of doing so), listening and taping the top twenty off of the radio on a Sunday evening, and watching one of only three television channels.

I invented things and used my initiative to occupy my mind. It wasn't a necessity, it was a pleasure.

Times were simple, but then again, they were far more advanced than they had been for my parent's generation, or for my grandparent's before them.

Seems odd to think about that now, in these racy modern times that we live in.

We didn't have labels that made us who we were, we crafted who we were out of what we had. We created ourselves, and we weren't invented by the shallow ideals of ad men, whose didactic boardroom concepts, would soon start to dominate our identity of who they thought we should be, and of whom they thought we should be like.

I had grown up on a diet of a weekly subscription to The Bunty, Marvel and Whizzer and Chips comics. A cocktail of girly garb, mixed with a healthy dash of fantasy, combined with a smidgen of cheeky comic humour.

Pop stars were older than they are now. It was a rarity to see some singing poppet reach the top of the charts and claim an army of followers the way they do today. If they did, they were usually the product of Opportunity Knocks or New Faces, that soon faded into obscurity, rather than checking in to The Priory or The Betty Ford Clinic to purge themselves of some addiction that was brought about by their life in the spotlight.

My only sin of idolatry for these pop stars, were the one or two posters that I may have discovered within the pages of the odd copy of Jackie that I bought.

I soon discovered that I was not a magazine type of girl, and ditch them as an option for things that I felt worthy of spending my pocket money on.

Then in the summer of 1977, The Sex Pistols delivered punk into our lives and we all boarded a bus to an alternative destination that shook the very foundation of society.

They weren't the by product of a Hughie Green hosted show, but rather a backlash against the prime time produced popularity and the safe choices of his viewers.

I was terrified of their anger, but refreshed by it, as they heralded a new wave of music, bands and performers that were real, by the same token that Bob Dylan must have been for my parents.

Out of that culture of new wave music came the affirmation of individualism, and that was so good and inspirational. And freed us from mediocrity and underlined our lone creativity of ourselves, by ourselves.

But something has happened to all that, and this is one of the issues I worry about for all of those that will turn 13 this year.

Mediocrity it appears is king.

And I frown and scratch my head in wonder and dismay of how this could possibly have happened given the popular cultural gems that we have produced, but that have sadly been drown in a shallow puddle of the celebrity and reality culture that has taken over our society today.

And it is everywhere, like a mind altering virus without a cure.

The shallow unashamed and marketed to the hilt, label wearing, surgically enhanced, entourage accompanied soulless pack of beings, that have replaced the necessity of the mother of inventiveness that my generation proudly produced.

Kids today are identified by what they have, and sadly, not because of who they choose to be.

They are consumed by and idolise those that live in an unattainable reality to theirs. They are encouraged to objectify these idols of trash via weekly reality television shows, and then given the option to ridicule them via the covers of magazines.

It is truly horrible and ironically pretty vacant on so many levels of comprehension that it makes me want to weep.

I don't believe illusions
'cos too much is real
So stop your cheap comment
'cos we know what we feel

I'll definitely be giving my son a Clash album and an introduction to The Sex Pistols this year, as well as explaining that the only Kardashians he need ever know about, are the ones that feature in episodes of Star Trek.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Evil That Men Do By Holly Searle

Let's face it, it's a given isn't it, that we live, and probably always will do, in a society, and sadly a world, that is, and always will be, dominated by a patriarchal ideology.

Whilst I do not accept this, I have at times, had no choice in the matter, other than to admit, that it is probably true, and despite the attempted changes, the accepted norm that we all adhere too.

And whilst, I would not consider myself to be a feminist, as I dislike monikers that group individuals and mark them, with all due respect, as belonging to a single minded collective consciousness. I would have to admit, that I find that I am one by default, simply due to the fact that I was born a woman.

And as such, there is no escaping the fact, that as a woman, I am one, that lives and functions in this ideology as best I can, regardless of the man made walls and attitudes that I have encountered and have come in to contact with all throughout my life.

Having said that, I used to feel a bit sorry for all the men that grew up in a post feminist ideology, as I felt that it had messed with what their concept of what their generic social role model was, and who they were meant to be and how they were meant to behaviour. Especially as I will admit that I quite like a man who will adopt an air of masculine social etiquette and as such, will still open a door for you, or give up his seat.

However, I am of the opinion that now more than ever, that as these generic lines have became so blurred, that they are now lost forever in a torrid sea of Hemingway angst. And I realise that all of factors that have contributed to and have influenced modern man's social behaviour, the one that is most to blame is in all probability derived from, and due to his bringing.

Of course it is, I hear you all scream.

It's that old nature versus nurture chestnut, isn't it?

But is it?

And one of the aspects about man's behaviour that intrigues me more than any other, is his capacity to be evil, and to be able to consistency carry out such horrific crimes that demonstrate the heart of this very nature, or nurture. Whilst women on the other hand, do not seem to be that way inclined, or as affected. And regardless of her social limitations, she appears to have held fast and remained steadfast in her role, without exhibiting the same nasty traits.

It is an unacceptable pattern of behaviour that I find most unforgiving.

Everyday it seems, we had bombarded with stories, news reports, footage and images of pure unremitting acts of evil by men.

Why is that I wonder?

Why are men capable of being evil, when women are not?

Personally I think this all may have started with the oldest tale that was ever told, the story of creation.

In the Bible (which I hold no allegiance with, or belief in), it is Adam who is created first in his maker's image. Then old Eve is fashioned as a by product out of one of his ribs, as an afterthought, to keep him company.


So there they both were naked with no conscious thoughts between them in the Garden of Eden, when a snake arrives and happens to mention that there is a tree with quite nice fruit on it.

Eve tells the snake that they aren't allowed to eat from this tree, but the snake plants the notion in her mind that he thought that they were allowed to eat whatever they wanted, Adam then duly helps himself.

Before you know it, they realise they are naked, cover themselves up, and are in big trouble with their creator.

This is what is more commonly know as Original Sin and man's rebellion against his maker's house rules, which in turn lead to all of humanity being cursed thereafter because of his actions.

One apple from the Tree of Life, and they were banished to the wilderness forever, where they produced two sons; Cain and then Abel. Cain kills his brother and became the first human ever born to commit murder and the very first act of evil.

Although this is an apocryphal story, it is one that has established an inherent genealogy of an immoral code of practice and wicked deeds attributed to men and not women.

And I wonder if this creationist take on mankind’s evolution, was responsible for some sort of inbred social stain, as throughout history, and well on into modernity, we have witnessed many evil acts, a majority of which have been propagated by men.

Then again, if that doesn't answer the question as to why men are more capable of committing evil acts, maybe the new train of thought with regards to trying to determine the existence of an evil gene is.

Is that possible?

Some geneticists believe that it is, and that there may be a mutation or abnormality in some men, that may explain why they are more predisposed to aggressive behaviour than others.

And if there was a test that could determine it's existence what next? Will we all be tested pre birth and tattooed with a barcode to prevent further evil acts being committed?

Of course, not all men are evil, but it is a given that the most heinous acts are or have been monopolised by men who are evil.

Ask yourself this question. How many women have been responsible for acts of pure unremitting evil?

A handful, that is how many.

Now ask yourself how many men there have been?

Makes you think doesn't it?

All I know is this.

The difference between men and women, is that although women have the capacity to be spiteful, it appears, and is accepted, that men are the gender most capable and predisposed to commit acts of evil.

And I doubt that this will ever change. And I have no idea why that is or how or if that will ever change.

And although as a woman, I may have been affected in my life due to my gender, I am glad that I am not a man.

For the evil that men do, makes women weep with both deep sadness, and joy.

And probably always will.

Bring your sons up well, and teach them all to be better men.