Archives For Culture

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December 30, 2020

Black British Members of Parliament in the House of Commons

22 mini biographies of serving Black MP’s, including well-known names and many groundbreakers. Be inspired by their dedication and achievement, succeeding against the odds. They are all different and represent the Conservative and Labour parties. Some have been around for many years and others only entered parliament in 2019.

Black British Members of Parliament
Black Members of Parliament in the House of Commons

Meet your representatives and read what they are trying to do with the opportunities they now have. You will be inspired by some and may be annoyed by others. Find out more by ordering your copy today

Love, Sax and all that Jazz, Chapter 2, De Mans Dem

Love, Sax and all that Jazz poster

Love, Sax and all that Jazz poster

Having interviewed the writer, director and local producer behind Love Sax and all that Jazz chapter 2 I was really looking forward to the performance.  I expected it to be very funny and have Christian values but it was much more than that.

Alan Charles created a great cast of characters who were similar enough to be believable as friends and yet different enough to have their own distinct traits and foibles.  The story is centred on Alfred and located in his bar.  He shares his difficulty in choosing between his first-love Louise and his current love and business partner, Kylie.  He shows his confusion as he tries his best to respond to both women and how they feel about him.  This love triangle keeps the audience guessing until the end.

There is much humour amongst the men and women who visit the bar and share their trials and tribulations in love.  Each scene is relevant, informative, and funny and helps you to get to know and care about the characters.  Lisa and Brian have been married for four years and Brian is complaining to all his friends that he is not happy with the amount of intimacy they have.  This gives an opportunity to explore some gender biases from both men and women.  When they finally take some action and meet the online marriage guidance couple – the effervescent Betty and Leroy – the audience is entertained and informed. Not everything is as it first appears.  We all know that relationships are built on communication and this is demonstrated when the couple speak and realise that they have no idea how the other one was feels and how they can work towards meeting the needs in their relationship.

As well as the married, unmarried, waiting to be married and divorced characters there is also Phil, the player of the piece. The only parts of the Bible Phil seems to know are Old Testament stories when people had many wives!  Despite his lifestyle choices the character is likeable and very entertaining. The female equivalent for Phil is the feisty Jennifer who is introduced as having an affair with a married man.

Having not seen other work by Alan Charles I really want to congratulate him for a great script.  Each scene felt natural and relevant to developing the story and characters yet the scenes stand-alone too.  You are kept emotionally engaged and there were a few times when the audience went “aaw” and “noo” in unison as we were carried along.  With a love poem for the ladies there is something for every one.  There is a pivotal bit of performance poetry, which came at exactly the right time and worked really well.  There is a very funny bit near the start when the men have a good laugh at how often women have “headaches”.  Other metaphors, such as the grass being greener elsewhere, are used to good effect.

If you get a chance to see this comedy play then go for it.  It will entertain you whilst keeping your head and heart engaged. The show was put on in a local church and it was lovely to see the pastor and many from the congregation belly laughing throughout.  It has something to say to everyone and we’re all in relationships with others, whatever our status.

The next performance of Love, Sax and all that Jazz chapter 2 is on Sunday 28th April at Broadway Theatre, London.

I believe there are plans to bring Love, Sax and all that Jazz, chapter 1 to Reading and I shall be booking that when it comes around.  Whilst chapter 2 is from Da Mans Dem, chapter 1 is from the ladies’ viewpoint.


Orbit and Olympic stadium

I remember being excited as the LONDON 2012 games approached but I wasn’t exactly sure why that was.  Could I sense the impending flow of competitiveness, national pride, personal stories of triumph and family sacrifices?  Or was I simply fed up with the negativity of naysayers and wanted to support the hardworking people trying to organise a global event?

Whether you were supporting a sport, a national team, or none in particular, you could not help but be moved by the Olympians and Paralympians.  We have seen so many people demonstrate what hard work, good coaching, focus and commitment can do.  We have become so cynical that it took a while to engage our attention.

There is so much to admire.    They encourage us to take time to explore our talents, work to get better at what we’re good at, see competition as a way to bring out the best in us, collaborate with others when we can for a team performance, set goals and work towards these, share the struggle, accept our individuality, try to overcome adversity and keep an eye on the rest of the world to give us perspective.  A wonderful reminder of what our fellow human beings are capable of.  This could help to motivate us to keep going through our own challenges and disappointments.  Many participants vowed to perform better in London than they did in Beijing and others are planning to improve for Rio; we have our own performance timelines to work towards.   We don’t need to do their best, just ours.

At the Paralympics wheelchair basketball final

I was lucky enough to get tickets for both Olympic and Paralympic events and able to absorb the atmosphere first hand. It is simply incredible to see people performing at their best and being part of the elite group in their field.  When else do we get the best in the world and have them compete to find the best of the best?

And it’s been great experiencing that community feel with people talking and laughing with strangers, smiling staff offering high 5’’s and people offering to take pictures for others.  And I even saw someone offering free hugs at a few events.

I am really pleased that Team GB performed brilliantly and Team Grenada won its first gold medal! I am left with a good feeling and a plan to get fitter and focus my energies better.  How did you feel before the games came, once they started, and now that they are over?

If you are anything like me you may not have followed Damien Hirst’s career but you might feel you know all about him.  I decided to see his exhibition at Tate Modern and really experience his work of more than 20 years.

Beautiful,amore,gasp,eyes going into the top of the head and fluttering

Yes there are dead fish in display cabinets and the notorious dead shark.  Being able to see a dead shark so close is quite an incredible feeling and it did bring me into contact with my own fears.  At the same time it feels strangely empowering because the shark is powerless to cause harm despite looking so deadly.

Seeing the inside of a dead sheep is not something I have ever done but it did connect me to my own bodily awareness.  Our bodies communicate with us all the time but we are not always listening, seeing a baby sheep cut in half made me stop.

There is a lot on the medicalisation of life in the exhibition and I’d be intrigued to find out how that connects to his autobiography.  The surgical equipment sent a chill through me as it was meant to.  What seems like a vat of cigarette butts presented me with two immediate responses.  As a non-smoker it seemed that there were enough cigarettes there to make someone very ill and that was sad.  But then I wondered what my addiction would be.  I may start collecting my foil wrappers from my fair trade dark chocolate!

There are several cabinets of pills but they are presented as incredibly desirable luxuries, at one point the use of lighting made them look like diamonds.  He refers to the lullaby effect of sleeping pills on adults.  It’s that moment when art holds up a mirror to society.  I know through my counselling work, contacts and official figures that many people are struggling with insomnia.

But it’s not all about pills and death.  Flies are very much alive as they gorge on a cow’s head in enclosed glass.   Life is also present as butterflies are being born during the exhibition and plants are growing. This is in a strange and intriguing room –almost like a greenhouse – after the straight, clear and clinical looking glass cases.

The Anatomy of an Angel

But my favourite room is the final one when it feels like we’ve been through earth and hell and now we’re in heaven.  Beautiful butterflies and religious motifs are everywhere.  I am not sure of the theology of seeing the human organs of an angel but it is very gripping to see. There’s also a dove suspended in mid flight.

I appreciate the creativity that takes me on a journey inside myself and out again.  It’s about how I connect to it.  My favourite image is the one above, done in 1997.  The name says it all “Beautiful, amore, gasp, eyes going into the top of the head and fluttering.”


I would love to hear from you if you’ve been moved by anything creative recently? Did it connect you to life, death or anything else?




I recently enjoyed the film “A Man’s Story’, a documentary covering 12 years in the life of fashion designer Ozwald Boateng.  It covers highs and lows in his personal and professional life during that period.  His life is depicted as being full of continuous motion where he seems to have several projects on at any given time.  At one point he appears to be working in Paris and Los Angeles whilst living in London!  He certainly knows his passion and fashion seems to fuel him physically, emotionally and spiritually.  The problem is passion is not enough to encourage a balanced healthy life.

There are poignant moments in the film when he clearly desires an opportunity to stop and reflect but he is pulled, pushed, driven along by the commitments he’s made and something else deep inside.  It takes getting to the end of filming and watching himself on screen for him to reflect a little on his life during the 12 years of filming.  Hindsight often makes things clearer.

We may not have our own autobiographical projects but we also need to find ways to spend time reflecting and just being.  Constant activity is always about the next thing and does not allow for time to appreciate where we are now.

By stopping for breath we might also notice a conflict in what we say we value and how we actually spend our time.  I discuss this in my book An A-Z for your life; discovering and revealing who you are today.  Our values need to reflect the time we give to them.

 Weekends and holidays can be useful times to punctuate activity although these have become more action packed in recent years.  The counselling space is another place to stop, reflect and just be.  Sometimes painful experiences such as bereavement, illness or relationship breakdown force us to stop and see things differently.

How do you punctuate your life?  When do you take time out to reflect and just be?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.