Someone recently lent me Band of Brothers. Makes you realise what a total screw up war is.

Nothing more to say.


Self Harming Black Swan

I don’t watch films with a purpose of getting myself freaked but Black Swan made a pretty fair effort.  Who would have thought a film about ballet dancers could be so dark?!  I think that shows how little I appreciate ballet.

I was uncomfortable but it was a brilliant film.  I really respect that it deals with self-harm so vividly and disturbingly.  Self-harm is so often glorified in teen culture but in a film full of confusing hallucinations and psychotic episodes the only thing you know is real is the pain and self-mutilation.  The message is clear, self-harm is destructive.

As adults in the 21st century we need to understand that self-harm is endemic.  It is impossible to know how many children and young people try to hurt themselves.  However, according to a quick survey of mental health websites it is likely that well over 10% of teenagers will self-harm at some point in their adolescence.  And it is not just teenage girls.  Increasing numbers of boys are deliberately harming themselves and the issues linger on into adulthood for many, it is just that adults are more tactful when it comes to hiding their actions.

I feel that as responsible adults we need to keep our eyes open for the signs of self-harm, especially among the teenagers we have any contact with.  At the YMCA we have provided self-harm and suicide training for many of our Supported Lodgings Hosts and they have found it useful in there personal lives as well as when providing support through the YMCA.  There are loads of organisations out there with information and good advice.  A few good places to start for resources are Childline,  Young Minds or the National Self Harm Network.

Benjamin Button on friendship

I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button last night.  I found it a really sad and poignant film.  Particularly the way it explores building attachments, sharing experiences and loving people and then losing them.  Naturally, due to his reverse ageing, Benjamin is forced to deal with this even more head-on but it seems his peace is found in his acceptance that this is the way life is.

People come into your life, you love them, you lose them.

Yesterday some friends came to visit and asked if we’d stay in touch after we leave Solihull.  Of course we’d love to stay in touch with everybody everywhere but it just isn’t practical.  We’ve only been married 8 years and we have dozens of friends from Sheffield, Solihull, Montenegro and other places as well as many other friends we have known before we met.  All of these friends are precious to us but I think the best way to cherish a friendship is to recognise that it is a friendship for a season.

Maybe the friendship is for a particular job or course.  Or to help overcome a particular difficulty or stage in life.  Some friendships span a decade or two and maybe a few can last a lifetime.  But just because people drift or don’t have the practical means to keep in touch does not mean the friendship has been any less significant.

Facebook is great for keeping in touch with old friends but is there a danger that we end up prolonging friendships beyond their natural course and therefore diluting the impact of that person on our lives?  I’m not saying it is like this, it’s just a thought.

But anyway…my point is this;  let’s cherish the friendships we have and have had and be thankful for the different seasons that people come into our lives and the roles they play there.  To all my friends out there, thanks for being there.  I am very grateful for your support and all the great memories – I look forward to any times together in the future and will be sad if that is not meant to be…….

The Promise

I thoroughly recommend that you see The Promise.  The first episode is available on 4 On Demand for the next few weeks.

Mum recommended it to me.  It is a moving look at life in Israel and Palestine and Britain’s role in the establishment of the Israeli state post World War II.  All this through the eyes of a naive yet open minded British 18 year old as she lives with a middle class Israeli family whilst reading through her grandfather’s war diary – he liberated Belsen and then was posted in Palestine to manage the entry of Jewish immigrants.

If you don’t understand the politics of ‘The Holy Land’ then this drama will stimulate you and provoke you and enlighten you.  And who can say they truly understand?

Here’s a glimpse to tempt you:

SPOILER – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Review – SPOILER


So I was disappointed again.  I really should not have been surprised.  It is Disney making the film after all and they are not making it to please lovers of the Chronicles of Narnia, they are mainly producing a film to make money in Hollywood.

To be honest I’m just writing this to get some pain off my chest – I think what bothers me most is that the makers chopped some of the classic scenes and descriptions – so here are some of the things I didn’t like:

  • The change in plot was weird and weak.  What was all that about green mist swallowing things up and an island of evil that needed to be defeated?  Yes, they captured the ‘battles within’ that are core to The Voyage but to have some glowing green island as the focus of the ‘evil within’ was Disney at its worst.  And the quest for the seven swords was utterly unnecessary and rushed.
  • The visit to the Lone Islands was far too brief and simple – they almost developed a great sense of fear amongst the culture of the islands but resolved the slave problem far to easily.  Lord Berne’s character was wrecked and the wonderful character of Governor Gumpus omitted.
  • The Duffelpuds and Coriakin were a let down – again totally rushed through.  And the spellbook in Coriakin’s house – Lewis creates some great spells that Lucy reads – why do they need to do away with them all and make up a new one about snow?  Oh, yes, so the film can look all Christmassy on the trailers – duh!!
  • Eustace as a dragon was good but they missed out the scene in the treasure cave where it dawns on Eustace that he has become a dragon.  It is a classic part of the book and I missed it.
  • Ramandu’s island was a let down with Ramandu and the birds from Aslan’s country not making an appearance and Ramandu’s daughter falsely depicted as a star that can polymorph – in the book Caspian marries her but there is no hint of that here.
  • And the climax of the film is WEAK WEAK WEAK.  Suddenly everybody is ok and then a second later Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Reepicheep are at the edge of the world.  It’s like you fell asleep and missed a few scenes.  And they missed Aslan changing from a lamb to a lion – powerful imagery – probably too explicit.

My favourite aspect of the film were the character’s of Eustace and Reepicheep.  They were clearly the best developed and a lot of time was given to their growing companionship.  It was heart warming.  And there are some great one-liners – some true to C.S. Lewis and some newly created.  I love Reepicheep’s classic defense of his faith in Aslan’s country, “We have nothing, if not belief”.

OK, if you enjoy a children’s fantasy, and are not hoping to see a beloved book come to life on the screen then you will really enjoy The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  Reviewers have generally been much kinder then me.  I was just hoping for something different.  I just wish Lewis was around today.  He was such a master of culture he would have known exactly how to depict his creation on screen.  And despite it all, I’m looking forward to seeing how they do The Silver Chair!

However, my final damning verdict is that the dated plastic BBC version is preferable to Disney’s.

The evil within the Dawn Treader

On Monday night we went on a trip to the cinema in the capital city, Podgorica.  They have a fairly new mall  there – Delta City – it’s pretty smart and impressive with a cinema complex but just doesn’t feel like Montenegro to me.  Ah well, the times they are a changing.

Original Narnia Illustration

We went to watch the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I am a massive Narnia fan but, as with the other Narnian films, I was disappointed.  That is mainly because I am grumpy and difficult to please.  You can read my critique of the film next week, which gives you a bit longer to watch it before I spoil it for you – it is worth watching, honestly.

So there were 14 of us in the cinema, all from church or English conversation club friends.  It was nice to have it to ourselves.  Anya provided some entertainment when her tooth fell out and landed in her coca-cola bottle!  Less than two hours in coke and the tooth went brown!

The main theme of the film was inspiring – there is evil out there, it will tempt you from within, are you strong enough to overcome the evil within?  The main characters all had personal struggles, they are heroes but they struggle.  I do not believe that any of us are strong enough to overcome the evil within.  We are all broken and bad people and we need the love of God in us to overcome the evil within us.    I say the only way to stop the evil inside creeping out and hurting ourselves and other people is to surrender to God.  He knows what is best and when we invite him to guide us and help us then we can defeat the evil in our hearts and begin to shine.

Growing a beard

Last week, while I was ill, I couldn’t be bothered to shave.  I grew a beard.

It looked magnificent.  I looked magnificent!

I was like Aragorn.  If I hadn’t felt a bit poorly surely I would have saved the Midlands from the evil hoardes of Ork-Bankers.

I was like Olaf Melberg, I was like Obi Wan Kenobi, I was like Che Guevara, I was like a Spartan warrior, I was like Sebastien Chabal.  Just look what you can achieve with a beard:

I could have done anything – maybe even saved the world from everything.  But I shaved it off while I was sat in the bath.