Archive for September, 2011

Living amongst nature. Tending to the animals on your farm and picking apples from the small orchard that calls your garden its home. Looking outside of your bedroom window and seeing a sea of green and a nice blue sky. You breathe a nice healthy breath and your senses are awakened by a cold and fresh air that is laced with nothing but the smells of nature and all the things God put on this green earth. 

Now your probably thinking, “Where is she going with this?” Or maybe, “Oh she’s speaking from experience – she must be from the country.” Or (god forbid) – “I wish this bitch would shut up.” Either way, I will make my point. The image I described is in no way related to how I live nor how I was brought up. I’m from Liverpool. I’m no country bumpkin. The closest I get to an orchard is when I go down the fruit and veg aisle at Tesco. That being said, when I made my ‘migration’ – as I’m so lovingly calling it – to the big bad capital city, London, I was culture shocked. Which is surprising.

I will let you in on a bit of a secret. That lovely image I described at the beginning (although not everyone’s cup of tea) is pretty close to how my partner Gethin grew up. He’s Welsh. He didn’t start learning English till he was seven. He sees the Aberystwyth Arts Centre as how New Yorker’s see Madison Square Gardens (I know…!). His idea of a good night out was a few drinks in some pubs and then on to Pier Pressure (Aberystwyth’s one and only night club that resides itself on –you guessed it! – The Pier). His weekends were spent playing golf, going to the one screen cinema or perhaps for a walk on the beach. Now it may sound like I’m shitting on that, or on him. I’m not. But when you grow up in England’s fourth largest city – Aberystwyth just seems dull. Its probably not. But city life is a whole other ball game than country life. There’s always something to do, there is always something happening, and there is always people to meet.

So after 21 years you’d think I would have taken London in one big stride. I didn’t. Walking down a street in London shouldn’t feel any different than walking down one in Liverpool. It does. Why? There is one big factor that we have to consider here – London isn’t home. Even if I live here for twenty years, I can’t see it feeling like home. I find that is a common conception in Scousers. There is something about Liverpool that makes you feel like your coming home even if you’ve been gone for decades. But its not just that. Everything in London is so god damn efficient. I have a couple of tests for you. If you live in London, every time you get the tube, check to see if you have to wait more than 5 minutes. I’m telling you – you could go months, actual months before you waited that long. And when you do I guarantee you will stand there, toe tapping the platform and grimacing your face in shear disgust and frustration that you’ve had to wait so long. Its ridiculous! I swear I’ve seen people run – as in actually, full on, sprinting – just to get on the train. And when they don’t make it they flip out like someone rear ended their Porsche. How long do they have to wait till the next train? 2 minutes. What could possibly be so urgent that a 2 minute wait would make you flip out?! I tell you – nothing (Unless you’re Neo and Agent Smith is chasing you – then feel free to freak the fuck out. Otherwise – zip it). Then there is the second test. Go outside for a walk, and count how long it takes for you to see another person. Even at 4 am, I guarantee you will be bumping into someone within 10 minutes. Whether you want to or not. Every city has tests like this – don’t get me wrong. Walk round Wavertree in Liverpool and see how long it takes for you to a) Spot a drug dealer b) Be offered drugs or c) Be offered sex. Thankfully a) is more common than the other two, but they happen. My point is – London is inescapable. They can build their big parks, and they do – there’s hundreds of them. But it doesn’t change the fact your living in a huge city. Its sort of like being a gold fish. Bear with me on this one. You can put miniature castles in the bowl, you can pile loads of other fishy friends in too. Hell you could even put some of those illuminous pink stones in the bottom if you like. But none of that changes the fact that your still a gold fish, and you’re still trapped in the bowl. That’s what living in London is like. There is loads to do. And there is people everywhere. But unlike in Liverpool, you feel so much more cut off from the world. Escaping from London for even a little while feels just as impossible as escaping the gold fish bowl.

I’m not saying I don’t like London. It has its charms. But I sometimes wish I could get into a car and go see some farmers fields. Bizarre, I know. I didn’t exactly have that in Liverpool. But it was there, on the outskirts, if I needed it. And now that its gone, I don’t feel like I’ve lived in Liverpool for 21 years. I feel like I was the person at the beginning of this post who lives on a farm, and breath’s in the fresh country air. I feel like the Welsh(woman) whose moved to the big bad city. And if I’m honest, I wanna get out of the fish bowl every once in a while because one way or another, it is way too crowded in here, and, quite frankly – I hate the colour illuminous pink.

The day has come – Sarah Michelle Gellar has made her small screen return in her new show – Ringer (The Ringer? Ringer? It just feels like it needs a ‘The’ on there somewhere… Just me? Okay…). Now as a diehard Buffy fan, there were few things that could keep me from watching this – plague, zombie apocalypse, my twin trying to murder me… So, what’s my verdict. Well I have to say, the end scene did put a smile on my face. Which is always a good sign. But I’m still a little unsure. Perhaps being a massive Buffy fan is a bad thing… Did I expect something of the same calibre? Maybe not. You only have to watch the grudge to get over the misconception. But I guess its still TV, and it is SMG – so maybe it was in my head that this would be out of this world good. It wasn’t. What we did have though is some potential, a few twists and some pretty good acting. Let’s break it down.

Twins. Identical twins played by the same actress. On paper it should be a bit of a challenge. And I think it will be. SMG needs to create these totally separate layered characters. And I don’t mean ‘good twin’, ‘bad twin’. That would be too easy. I want to believe in these two totally separate people. Siobhan, I’m guessing, has some sort of grudge (lol) against her sister Bridget. Why else would you send a masked man in to strangle her to death? I’m guessing it involves the reason Bridget is so remorseful to her sister, and the picture of Siobhan and a little boy that Bridget found in the jewellery box. But I don’t think its that simple. Bridget is getting this glimpse of Siobhan’s life – and its less than happy. An affair, a failing marriage, a pregnancy, a less than lovely step daughter and a basically a life she doesn’t want to live in any more. Then Bridget enters back into her life and she realises she may have a way out. Kill two birds with one stone – literally. Killing Bridget kills the person she so clearly still hates, and herself. Giving herself the perfect opportunity to start afresh with her new baby.

Here’s the confusing bit. Gemma rang Bridget in order to get her to come to the loft – were there was clearly a trap laid out for her. Why? She has no reason to help Siobhan, if we assume she does really know who her husband is sleeping with. And if she knows that ‘Siobhan’ is Bridget, well then she has no reason to harm her. *Breath* Yes its a confusing one.

So we are left with these questions. Why did Gemma set Bridget up? Why does Siobhan want the world to think she’s dead? Why didn’t Siobhan just let the gangsters kill Bridget (when she was being Siobhan) because it probably would have happened eventually? What is the reason Siobhan hates Bridget? Why does Siobhan suddenly seem like a psychopath?

Well I’m sure we’ll find out! One way or the other. Although SMG says there is a three season plan for the show. I’m hoping more happens because I can’t see my questions taking 3 seasons to work themselves out. And quite frankly I don’t think I’d keep watching that long if they did. My round up? It has potential. There’s definitely some interesting aspects. But personally, I think the show needs to speed up a little bit if it wants to keep me watching. As pilots go, its no Lost – but I’d still give it a solid 7/10.

The title – yeah you can decide who is who…

Picture this. It is Christmas 2010. There is a big chill. Snow covers the ground, the little town of Maghull, Liverpool, England, is covered in 2 ft of snow/sludge. The roads are undriveable. Yet the Christmas spirit oozes through the air as neighbours and strangers help dig car after car out of their icy prisons. And there is me, sitting in one of those cars, thinking about how this weather is making me feel so much more god damn anxious. Going the supermarket already made me feel like I was about to go over the top in world war II. Now we’ve added this dangerous weather to the equation (that plus the utter lack of gritting put in place by Sefton council, honestly it was dreadful. Britain needs to learn a few lessons from places like Alaska…). It was too much. My heart would palpitate in my chest. My nails were bitten down to the bone. And there was always this impending sense of doom like something bad was always going to happen, and there was nothing good in my life. Now I’m not one to complain about my own problems. I will complain the shit out of the pretty meaningless stuff – as you’ve probably seen. But when it came to this, I didn’t like to make people aware of it. At first I didn’t even know it was anxiety. All I knew is I felt like I was dying every time I went out of the house. I would feel sick – like genuinely sick as though I’m gonna hurt all over on of my friends cars. My whole body would shake and even if I was wrapped up warm in that winter chill, I still felt like I was naked in the snow. But then things started to get worse. People were noticing that I wasn’t okay. And when it came to Uni, my final year of uni I might add, I had this daunting and unthinkable task ahead of me – lab. The thought of doing something I despised so much to begin with, every day and in an environment that made me feel so inadequate, and so stupid all the time – well, I wasn’t thrilled at the idea to say the least. But I went. I didn’t have a choice. And a day would come, I’d have all these feelings, but I would make it through. Then another would come, and I would again battle on. Every day felt like that – a battle. One that I was losing. Then I did something stupid. I went for a coffee at lunch time. I didn’t realise how much of an effect caffeine has on your system – especially when you are in my state. The result? Well I really did lose the battle. I near on collapsed in lab, in front of strangers, doctors, students and my dissertation supervisor. It was horrible. Excruciatingly embarrassing. And it was the last thing I wanted to happen. But it did.

Those doctors I mentioned (who were in lab trying to do a year of pharmacology) took me away, told me to tell them all my symptoms. I did. Then they said that I should go the hospital and it was just down the road and we will run some tests and figure out what was wrong. Well, I didn’t want to go. But the prospect of figuring this out once and for all – well that was too good to pass up. So I went. Two hours later I’m in the hospital waiting area. The doctors who sent me have abandoned me. And the drunk man who is speaking in what I can only describe as aramaic, won’t leave me alone. The nurses have already tried to get me to go home. “Your not an emergency… leave.” Believe me, I wanted to. But when two doctors tell you to go to ED, you go. So for that reason I ignored Nurse McSnotty and stuck it. Nine hours I was in that hospital. Nine hours. I got home at 9 o’clock. And what had I achieved? Well nothing. The doctor who finally saw me took some blood, and gave me an ECG because I had an irregular heart beat. But after all of that, he basically said – “There is nothing wrong with you. Your fine.” Fine. I wasn’t fine. You only had to look at me to see that. People who are fine don’t collapse in lab. People who are fine don’t feel like tearing their hair out every time they go the supermarket. I knew I wasn’t fine.

So, I went back home to Maghull. Got an appointment with my doctors surgery. “Sorry, your doctor’s away at the moment, you will have to see the stand in doctor.” Great. He’s about 70 and doesn’t know me from adam. But I go. He immediately keeps saying how he thinks I’m pregnant. I actually laugh in his face. Then he says my family history is too relevant to ignore, so he sends me for another blood test (That by the way, was one of the worst experiences of my life. Picture two ‘nurses’ on both arms poking needle after needle into my arm because I have ‘bad vains’.) Blood test comes back. All clear. “Your fine.” I’M NOT FINE! And so I wait. Hopefully it was just a phase, I’ll be okay. It’s not long until I’m back into the same routine. Battling through every day. My mums getting worried. So she spends £300 sending me to learn transcedental meditation because she is sure the problem is anxiety. I’m starting to agree with her. So I go. It’s weird. I’d tell you how weird but I’ve signed a legally binding contract not to. Overlooking that though, it does work. At least for a while. My anxiety gets a little bit better the more I meditate. Finally I think this is over. It’s not.

Then the small little symptoms I had with the anxiety become the big problems. I feel sick all the time. My stomach feels like it’s a balloon with an elephant sitting on it all the time. My stomachs upset all the time. At first I thought it was a bug. But it didn’t go away. And then being so sick, made me anxious again. I was terrified of getting poorly every time I left the house. This can’t be happening to me. I can’t concentrate. My final exams are coming, and everything I try to learn goes through one year and out the other. My reptilian brain is in overdrive because of the anxiety and the shear panic that I’m gonna fail. Which in itself means I can’t take in any information. Then the pains kicked in. Excruciating stomach pains.  I can’t go on like this. Somewhere between exams and revision, I get the doctors – once again. This time it was different. He was genuinely puzzled. He called me a medical  mystery. I indicated that I thought it might be endometriosis as it runs in my family. He said he was going to run a wide ranged of tests to narrow things down. He sends me for another blood test. Then he sends me for a scan of my womb. That comes back fine. And then, finally, when the exams are over, Uni is done – I get a phone call.

“Hello is that Hannah?”
“Its your doctor here. Hannah I’ve realised what is wrong with you. You have Coeliac disease.”
“I have what…?”

I’d never even heard of it. Three years of pharmacology, fourteen years of ER (what a show…) and twenty one years on this earth. Blank. Well it turns out it affects 1 percent of the population. Which, given there are over 6 billion people on the planet that is about the same as the population of Britain suffering from it.  A wave of relief washes over me. It wasn’t in my head – is the first thing I think. The lecture my mum gave me just days before about how much I need to ‘get over this’ and ‘sort my life out’ then comes to mind (I made sure to tell her off for that one). And then I learn about it. I’m allergic to wheat, barley and rye. Hmm… how many foods can that be in really? Yeah – a lot. I realise I can’t eat pizza… Nooooo. KFC? Gone. Every day there’s a new food I realise I can’t eat. Bread. BREAD! I’m gutted. I’m also told not to eat lactose until  my intestine heals – apparently there’s big sores up and down it. My anxiety? Yeah turns out that is a massive symptom of Coeliac. It takes time for me to digest it all. Its July. 6 of the worst months of my life – and I finally know what’s wrong.

I immediately go on the gluten free diet. I feel better pretty much the next day. Its only then I realise how sick I was. So so sick. How I managed things the way they were – I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Its now September. Almost two months after my diagnosis. How do I feel? Well not great. I still get sick. Quite a lot. Sometimes gluten sneaks its way into my diet. You can imagine the result. And now I’ve been told they want to send me for an endoscopy. To check I’m healing and that there is nothing else going on. Because apparently I shouldn’t still be being poorly. Someone mentions IBS. I’m literally praying I don’t have IBS too. The anxiety? My biggest foe. Well it comes and goes. Honestly the meditation helps. But it could be years until I’ve tackled that properly. It’s just a big learning curve. All of it. What I can and can’t eat. Where I can eat (pretty much no where trust me, gluten free restaurants are in their minority). And just the general learning to live with it. Checking labels. How to tell people – because inevitably you have to – without them thinking your on a food fad or some sort of freak. I’ve had hiccups. I will definitely have more, but as far as I’m concerned it will get under control. And at the moment, I’m coping. Its not a battle, its not great but I’m getting through.

So if your a Coeliac, I salute you. Its tough. If you’ve just been diagnosed, well, like me your on a learning curve. But they tell me – it gets better. I’m just waiting for that day.

Some call me an optimist – or at least I like to think they do… But when it comes to TV, I’m unfortunately that grumpy old man who sits on the bus murmuring about you because you had the audacity to sit next to him. Alas, that may be soon to change.

So what made me this way? Well, I was an optimist, I really was. I grew up watching seven years of Buffy, eight years of Charmed. Never did the words, ‘Network’ or ‘Cancellation’ enter my little head. But then I got older. And I got wiser. And I got pissed. Why? Well because the greatest show I’d ever known, the show I related to on so many levels, the show like no other got cancelled. And that show was the masterpiece they call Veronica Mars. What is this, I hear you say… Well not many people watched it. But those that did loved it. It launched the career of the lovely Kristen Bell, and critics called it the sassiest and smartest show on TV. But here is were I got mad. Networks are businesses. Businesses are about making money. To make money, you need to make a huge hit that sells globally, or a pile of shit that costs no money to make. Which is exactly why we have the ‘Only way is Essex’ and the ‘Jersey Shores’ of the world. It costs about 10 grand an episode to have a man with a camera follow a bunch of bad acting chav’s around for the day. Whereas it costs hundreds of thousands an episode to hire good actors, good writers and basically good everything. And that was when I learned the important lesson of – money makes the world go round. It does – money and sex. That’s life. And so after Veronica Mars got cancelled, despite it being arguably the best written show on TV,  I lost faith in TV. I didn’t want to watch anything  new, especially anything the US was churning out, because I didn’t want to get so god damn disappointed again. But eventually, inevitably, I did. I picked up another show. I couldn’t resist once I realised it had my all time favourite Law and Order ADA, Angie Harmon as the the lead character. So I took the gamble. What happened? Well ever heard of Women’s Murder Club? The books? Yes. The series? No. Why? Because it was canned. And it was a nice little show. Funny, heart warming, exciting. But when the writers strike hit, the networks wanted to get rid of it, and fast. So they fired a few people. Hired a bunch of new people who basically could not give a shit, and then the last 3 episodes were made, and they were made badly, and that was that. All over.

By this point, I was worse then mad. I was upset. The renewal period of TV felt like waiting for exam results. Which is a ridiculous, but true, notion. But I decided that I owed it to myself to keep trying. I love TV. I’m a watcher – I always have been. Whether it be films or TV. So I kept going, and I stumbled upon Joss Whedon’s new creation known as Dollhouse. Original, innovative, well cast, exciting, thought provoking..! There was nothing this show didn’t have! And as soon as I saw the pilot, I was worried. Seems like a strange time to be worried, I know. But I knew that a show like this, that wasn’t mindless “You cheated on me!” or “Your through to the next round!” BULLSHIT, was going to go through some tough, tough times. Now I’m not trying to insult the whole of America. But the average Joe doesn’t watch shows like Dollhouse and Veronica Mars. They watch Deal or No Deal, American Idol, and Dancing with the Stars. I guess people work so hard through the week, they don’t wanna use their brains too much when they have time off. <——-That, right there, is not me. I wanna be challenged by a show. I wanna laugh at extremely well written dialect. And I want to cry because a character I cared about is hurt or dead, not because American Idol’s newest contestant once had a pet chameleon and it DIED. Honestly, who gives a shit? And so when the first season of Dollhouse ended, it struggled. As I knew it would. But like Veronica Mars did more than once, it held its ground and got renewed. Unfortunately, by the second season, the network felt it was just too ground breaking for america and it got cancelled. And once again, I was pissed/angry/annoyed/upset. 

Just in case your thinking I am pathetic right now, with no life and someone who lives in the box – I don’t. But when you invest time in something, that never gets a proper end, or watch something so well written that you care about these characters – it is heart wrenching when your loyalty to them is rewarded with no continuation. Its like networks are the worst storytellers ever to exist. One out of every hundred shows gets a proper ending, if were lucky. Where is the sense in that?

Don’t get me wrong, if something is bad – I am the first person to say cancel it. Because there is nothing worse then the good shows being blocked by the bad ones. But its when the quality shows go that I have a problem. And they do, incessantly.

So what’s my point? Well about a year ago, I once again stumbled upon a new show. Not again – I know. I myself was hesitant. So what got me watching? Well Angie Harmon, again. After the disappointing cancellation of Women’s Murder Club, I really wanted to see her do well. She’s a great actress, and a lovely person. And I just felt after how well she did in Law and Order, she needed a proper opportunity to prove herself once again.  Add on to that the lovely Sasha Alexander who was the hilarious Kate from NCIS – well it couldn’t really go wrong in my book. And well, Rizzoli & Isles was born. And I loved it. Every second of it. It was a crime show at its core yes, but it was funny, likeable, enthralling and well written. The two leads had more chemistry than a hydrogen bomb, and all the supporting cast were just as loveable. And so I waited. Would this one be successful? Would this survive the chop?

A year on, and it’s cables highest rated show. It’s being shown in several countries. It’s DVD is available for purchase. TNT are calling it there new main show after the Closer ends. And its just doing fantastically! Amazingly! Beyond expectations! Season 3 has already been given the go ahead. And it’s constantly trending on twitter. What more could I ask for?

Well there is this – Don’t mess it up TNT. It’s an amazing show. Please please stay true, and keep it on the air. Let it come to its natural end when its time. And not before. 

Not a big ask… is it?

Hello there friends, colleagues, randoms. It is me, Hannah, here again to complain to you all about the little things. Yes, I did not start my blog with the intention of doing this, but I am going to do it anyway.

I’m a little slow on the uptake of this one, but I thought I’d vent my frustrations anyway. So what is it this week? Well I like sport – I know, I’m a girl – what is wrong with me?! Right TalkSport? And so as usual, when the World Athletics Championship was getting closer, I was wee’ing in excitement at the thought of watching Bolt go up against Powell, of seeing Ennis giving the proverbial middle finger to Sports Personality of the Year once again by taking home the gold. And so, the days leading up to it arrived, when the god awful truth hit me. It’s on Channel 4. I know right? Call me old fashioned (Do it, I dare you!) but the athletics is one of those wonderfully sacred sports, that has its coverage, and I mean all it’s coverage, on BBC. This isn’t the Grand National people, it shouldn’t be relegated to the none sporting channel that is Channel 4!? It belongs in its rightful place, square in the timeslot, no adverts, and the wonderful sound that is Sue Barker laughing at another of Michaels terrible jabs at himself after Bolt’s broken another of his records. It’s just gospel. 

But no, the best of all the athletics – even better than that little even we call the Olympics – the world championships was being aired on FOUR?! So, I dispensed with my disbelief and realised, it’s just a channel – surely it can’t be that much worse can it? Ohhhhh past Hannah, how fucking wrong you are. And I’m not just referring to Ortis’ now nationally famous gaffe video (although he was painful to watch) but the whole thing was criminal. To begin with, no one even wanted to talk to channel 4.  The track side interviews were unbearable at times, Alison Felix in particular looked very uncomfortable when Channel 4’s correspondent practically had to restrain her to get her to talk. But that’s not all – there was… ADVERTS. I’m 21 years of age, I’ve never known a world where something wasn’t being advertised in my face 24/7. But when it comes to sport – no, just NO. It would be like ITV putting an advert right at the last 10 minutes in extra time in a FA Cup replay between Everton and Liverpool, right before a goal. Hmmm… oh wait… My point is, if it’s ongoing sport, you don’t have adverts until there is some sort of intermission in play. On BBC you had no adverts what so ever, so for Channel 4 to think it is okay to put adverts on every 5 minutes (and I’m not exaggerating here) is terrible! You’d have thought they would have been smart enough to tone it down a bit.

But alas, I grinned and bared the track side nonsense, I tried to keep myself busy when the adverts came on, again and the stupid ringtone-like noise sounded to mark that. But then there was the moment that it physically stopped my enjoyment of the Championships. And that was not on. Jess Ennis is a human being. She is not infallible. Bolts dejection from the 100 metre final proved no athlete is. But for her to very proudly, and positively speak about her joy (not her disappointment) and getting the silver at Daegu not the gold was very noble and brave of her. So, for fucking Rick Edwards to then, on the voice over say, “Ohhh she’s disappointed, and let down, us all…” etc was a disgrace! We as a nation, on that moment needed the positive. Jess needed that moment to be a positive. For the sake of her mentality and future training. How dare he say that! And it didn’t stop at a line or one turn of phrase. Every time she was mentioned, he slapped on the negative, nice and thick. I could deal with the unprofessionalism, I could deal with the sloppy programming, and I could even deal with watching a sport show be presented by someone who knows nothing about sport (although that in itself was insulting…) but I could not deal with him making her feel small. I just hope that Jess didn’t watch it back. And that she never knows what he said for fear that she thinks the whole nation see’s her as a ‘big disappointment’. Because I think I speak for the majority of us when I say – we don’t. And Jess Ennis is a fantastic athlete who had a slight hiccup, but who also achieved a massive thing when she got that silver. So Rick – when you win a gold fucking medal, or even become an athlete who trains incessantly for years,  you can call her what ever you want. But until that moment, keep your negative opinions to yourself! Oh and Channel 4, GIVE THE ATHLETICS BACK TO THE BBC, WHERE THEY BELONG! 

Check out some of Ortis’ presenting gaffes. PAINFUL!

**oh and fyi, I complained to Channel 4 about all of this. They basically said I was entitled to my opinion, but I was wrong lol. And kudos to Michael Johnson for holding the whole thing together!