About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Impractically Perfect in Every Way By Holly Searle


Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can't put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.

That little poem always makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It plants within me an uncertain seed of expectation that something unanticipated and unwelcome is about to arrive.

Maybe that's actually excitement.


This thing, whatever it may be, will kick up some dust and cause a storm, and present an altogether disquieting ambience.

Actually, maybe it isn't excitement.

The ground will feel uneven, and in order to navigate it successfully, I will have to find something steadfast and reliable to hold onto, as I precariously journey through it.

Okay, maybe I am over playing the effect that poem has on me. In actual fact it just reminds me of Bert the over optimistic, over talented, and obviously sixth sense gifted chimney sweep from Disney's 1964 film Mary Poppins. When I think about Bert, and any Disney film, I feel quite sad.

For me watching a Disney film has never been a happy experience. For they all seem to contained some horrific incident that makes me cry almost as much as I did at the end of Terms of Endearment. Either that, or the main focus of their plot sees some socially unacceptable character that has been alienated by the rest of society having to learn how to shut up and catch up, or fail to make the grade. In the end, when they inevitably do, they are welcomed back and forgiven for all of their crimes and misdemeanours.

To illustrate my point, imagine having a physical disfigurement that others mock you for. You aren't really upset by this as your mother is there to love and protect you, so you feel safe and secure. That is of course until she is locked-up in jail and labelled mad and dangerous, because one person too many mocked you and she defended you. And now you are devastated because she is incarcerated and there is no one to protect you, plus everyone is still laughing at you. You're vulnerable and alone, with only a mouse for company.

What are your options? Give up or use your most obvious apparent failure to create your biggest success? Bingo everyone is amazed by your ingenuity. You're a star and now everyone wants to be your friend.

And no one mocks you any more.

Isn't that taking the idea of tough love to the extreme? It seems more like a plot line from a House of Cards episode that Francis Underwood would be the main protagonist in, rather than a film intended for children.

I hated Dumbo. I still can't watch the scene where his mother cradles him in the nook of her trunk through the bars of her bolted trailer and gently rocks him, while he cries big wet tears. This scene is made worse by the fact that it depicts all of the other mothers cuddling their offspring. It's just heartbreaking.

So what was Disney doing? At the end of all of his movies, the wronged live what we are lead to perceive of as a happy life with a happy ever after ending. But it's a rough ride for those characters to enable them to achieve it.

And there is always one character who features in the story lines of these films who is so tiny and insignificant to everyone else, apart from small children. These characters are there so that they have someone they can relate to on screen. These characters always advise the main character of what to do. Tinkerbell, Jiminy Cricket and Timothy Mouse all act as on screen guides for those little ones captured by the hideous plot.

The manipulation of the audience's emotions is unforgivable. The pay off is always a formulaic unspoken contract between the viewed and the viewer that in the end it will all be okay. Is this acceptable? For what Disney did was to create spaces where we witness cruelty against those who can't defend themselves with the additional implied notion, that in fairy tales it always end well, so long as you are handsome, beautiful or wealthy.

And I have always wondered why people flock to Disney's lands and worlds to meet all of the characters that feature in all of his movies. For me spending time in a Disney resort would be like spending time in a nightmare that I couldn't wake up from.

Disney's ideology represents for me, everything that is wrong with the world. So when I saw that Banksy had opened up Dismaland, I smiled. If there is one person who can turn the Disney glitter that blinds so many, back into sawdust, and remould it into something more meaningful, it's Banksy.

Disney may have been a genius. But the necessity for his lands and worlds now more than ever, may just act as smokescreens for all of the horrific realities of the world. Maybe they do have a reason for existing after all. For as long as there are people who wish to forget about all of the evils in the world, there will always be a place for them at a Disney resort.

Isn't that the point of Disney? Or didn't he activity create unobtainable illusions and needless bouts of sadness, that in turn have created generations of unhappy clappers?

Banksy has certainly excelled this time by cleverly taking the idea of the theme park, and has reconstructed it as a polemic against all that Disney did and stood for, by blatantly focusing on the horrifying and the macabre, with no happy ending.

Because in the end life is more like that, than it is in a Disney film.

It's pure genius. And I hope I get to see it, as it will help me find closure for Dumbo.

Now I feel excited.

Cue the poem.

Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can't put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.


Saturday, 1 August 2015

Sweet Charity By Holly Searle




One of my favourite past times is pottering about in charity shops. I adore it. The treasures I have acquired over the years make-up the Heath Robinson décor of my home.

This is a love I have had since I first felt the rattle of loose change in my pocket. I spent much of my youth in Oxfam shops looking for clothes that I couldn't find on the then less than accommodating high street. Kensington market and Flip in Covent Garden were both regular haunts of mine. There I could find original vintage clothing from the 1950's that I lusted after. The styles, prints, and availability were stunning. To find something that no one else had was heaven on earth for me.

Then Kensington market and Flip both closed. It was the end of an era. The high street was taken over by mass produced preppy styled clothing, and to counter balance my disdain for this, I remained a true advocate of jumble sales and charity shops. It was the only way to feed my wonderlust for originality. And whilst there were other less mainstream stores where items could be found, for me, the pleasure was always in the pursuit of finding something different.

The same can be said for all of the items that furnish my home. Apart from a few items, everything else is second hand. I find these items much more interesting than buying something new. To me they are simply beautiful things that give me great pleasure.

On a trip to Ireland many years ago, I went along to a local barn sale. Most of the items they had for sale I had no use for. I wandered about aimlessly until I found myself in an old disused cow shed. There sitting all alone was the most wonderful odd looking chair I had ever seen. I asked the seller how much he wanted for it. four punts he replied. I mentally squealed. That was only two pounds. I paid him quickly and carried the chair away. I was delighted. There followed much discussion about the chair, and the conclusion was drawn that it was probably made by an apprentice from some sort of fruit tree wood. A friend kindly transported it back to London for me, and it now sits in my living room, and always will.

A few years ago, I volunteered in a charity shop. The items that people disguard are truly amazing. Unwanted gifts, designer clothing, it's endless. Charity shops are the salvation of modern society as they house all of the items that people no longer need, and then re-home them with people like me who are not able to purchase them at the beginning of their life cycle.

In my local area there are three charity shops. One specialises in furniture and clothing, and one has books and general household items, and the last one is less friendly.

My passion and solidarity lies with the first two. They are run by Kathy and Chris. Over the years from Kathy's shop I have sourced clothes for Child Two, especially jeans for four pounds a pair, that would retail for over thirty. Picture frames, a gorgeous bespoke kitchen dresser, a stunningly pretty chair, and most recently a chair that left me breathless it is so beautiful.

But I like spending time in the shop that Chris oversees most of all because Chris runs it. And she, not unlike all of the items that I have found in shops like hers over the years, is priceless and original. But most of all, beacuse she is my friend.

I can't remember how our friendship began, but it did. I must have sensed she was like me, and it just developed from there. She is witty, wise and like me enjoys a chat. We have a catch up most weeks about life, love and all other pursuits.

Last week we discussed the merits of Jon Ronson's writing. I informed her that I had received a tweet from the man himself, to which Chris responded "Get out of town!!!" She said "You mean I actually know someone who has been tweeted by Jon Ronson!"

We laughed.

I get all of my books from her shop. Less than a pound for current titles that have been read by locals in the South Ealing area, and then kindly donated to this emporium of wonder.

I visited both Kathy and Chris today. I spent less than twenty pounds and walked away with two shirts, a pair of jeans, a Richard Dawkins' book, a glass heart shaped wasp catcher, a rather nice mug, and a DVD of The Clockwork Orange.

Bargains.

The pleasure for me will always be in the possible discovery of such wonderful treasures and because in charity shops, you can form friendships with remarkable women like Chris. That for me, is the cherry on the cake, and a rather priceless and rare find.