Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Water Sports

There's something in the water .... quite literally!

For those of you in the UK, you may have noticed that quite a few celebrities have been getting wet recently. Ronan Keating and Pamela Stephenson (amongst others) swam the Irish Channel (dodging a fair few jellyfish along the way), and David Walliams is currently achieving heroic things, swimming the entire length of the Thames.

I am also getting into the water and doing my bit for charity. I am swimming the channel, and although I'm doing it in stages, I feel quite inspired! Plus, of course, this way I won't drown, swallow a load of industrial waste, or get hit by a tanker in the shipping lanes!

The channel is 22 miles, and the pool I'm doing this in is 25 meters. This means that a mile is equal to 64 lengths, and I need to do 1416 in total! So far, I've done 264 lengths.

As I mentioned, I am doing this for charity (Comic Relief and Molly's Library - set up by students of Somerville, which provides books and education to children and adults in Cape Coast, in Ghana), so if anyone would like to sponsor me, then please go here.

Wish me luck!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Poem of the week

There is an awful lot being written this week about the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the World Trade Centre. I'm doing my best to avoid most of it - there seems to be a lot of sensationalist articles, and the rest of it just stirs up memories.

I remember precisely what I was doing when I heard about it (walking into a classroom for a lesson, wondering what the class of juniors was still doing there, and why three teachers were crowded around a tv) and in fact I think I even saw the plane hit the second tower. I watched a lot of news coverage that evening, and many of the images stuck in my mind.

Needing an outlet, I wrote a poem. Then, over the following week, I wrote about 30 more. As my tribute to this anniversary, I'd like to share two of them with you.

The nightmare (13.09.01)

Who has a nightmare at nine in the morning?

Who has a nightmare when they are fully awake?

This is a nightmare that actually happened.

This is a nightmare that does not go away.

People jumping out of buildings,

Bodies falling on the ground.

Towers creaking, falling to the floor

Only these sounds, nothing more.

Nightmare people roam the street.

Deathly pale, unnaturally white.

This is a nightmare that starts with morning,

But does not finish with the night.

Searching (13.09.01)

Searching though the ruins

Can anyone be found?

Searching through the ruins,

The dead mobiles sound.

People wander in the streets,

Wander on and on

Searching for their loved ones -

Their loved ones long gone.

The searches come to nothing

Cries of woe are heard.

The dead are gone and buried

The searched for never found.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

The chicken or the egg

It's an age old question a book worm/film buff often finds themselves grappling with - which should come first: the book or the film?
It's a conundrum that has divided opinion since the first film adaptation was made (and it was probably a silent Shakespeare play or Jane Austen novel) and which shows no sign of being settled in the near future.

I am, for the most part, firmly in the camp of 'book comes first' (although I did need to see the films of The Lord of the Rings before the books made any sense), which is why I spent three evenings tearing my way through 'One Day' before the film came out.
It's a charming concept for a plot line - following Emma and Dexter through twenty years of friendship on the same day every year. They don't necessarily have to be in the same room, or indeed see each other at all, but it is clear that each feels the others' presence keenly.

I could have quite easily read the entire thing in one hit, but it's a bit too depressing to do so comfortably. Dexter is not the nicest of characters and seems intent on ruining his own life. As he spirals out of control into an alcoholic haze, the reader struggles to find any sympathy to give him at all. Indeed his only redeeming feature seems to be Emma, and even she appears determined to waste the talent she has at first. As one star falls the other begins to rise, and it's debatable whether they ever truly end up parallel.

The film sticks very closely to the book, which is inevitable, as there's not much point in any real deviation. If you've read the book, of course, you are aware of how the story will end, and I think that in this case - with such a focused plot line - it has a negative impact for the viewer. Of course, the same effect would be had if the film were viewed first.

Anne Hathaway, as Emma, has come under a lot of negative criticism for her portrayal, or rather her accent has ..... I didn't think it was that bad: yes - she is supposed to be Yorkshire, and that wasn't in much evidence, but there were some nice moments in the Scottish section, where she had a slight Scottish lilt.

Anyway - coming back to the point: I don't think in the case of 'One Day' it really matters whether you read the book or see the film first, because they are both so true to each other ..... There are many instances, though, that a book can greatly enhance the film. I recently discovered that one of my favourite Ingrid Bergman films 'Goodbye Again' was in fact based on a novel by Francoise Sagan - 'Aimez Vous Bhrams ...'. The way that young woman wrote about love and how the need for it causes those in its grip to act in the most foolish and destructive of ways is truly remarkable, and I greatly prefer the book.

There's never going to be a definitive answer to this question, because it shifts with every new adaptation.