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Wall of Expression ( The CreativeEm Blog)

Flashmob Learnings

Entertainment Posted on Mon, April 08, 2019 14:13:03

On Saturday I took part in my first ever Flashmob with the
choir I am a member of. For those who
don’t know what a Flashmob is it is a group of people who suddenly assemble in
public, perform a song or dance and then disperse quickly. This was my first
experience of being involved in one and I just wanted to say that it was
absolutely fantastic. I got a real buzz from it and the crowd reaction was
amazing. I really felt I was part of something meaningful that brought people
some happiness (plus we were raising awareness for Cancer Research). Below are
a few of my observations from my involvement as I thought people might be interested

1. If it’s a warm day and people aren’t taking
their coats off they’re probably in a Flashmob – Yep, I know you thought people
were just cold (and they might be) but chances are these people are not
removing their jackets because underneath they are wearing their choir
uniforms. We had a specific ‘reveal’ moment and were not allowed to take our
jackets off until that time. This is for maximum impact so the audience do not
suspect anything beforehand.

2. If people are clutching at their jacket zips
they could be in a Flashmob – See above. My friend and I noticed this before
one of our performances. Because no one wants to mess up the co-ordination or
the ‘big reveal’ moment of showing off the choir uniform people seem to
unwittingly fiddle with the fastenings on their outer clothes just before the
performance. Sub-consciously people are thinking ‘I need to take this off soon
and do it quickly, therefore I’ll keep hold of the zip so I don’t mess it up.’

3. The same colour trousers – We all had to wear
black trousers as part of our choir uniform and when you know this it’s hard
not to notice all the other people you suspect are involved by their wearing of
black trousers (particularly if they’re wearing coats as well, see above, and
are all mulling about in the same area). If the event was on a weekday I think
this would be less conspicuous but on a weekend when most people are wearing
jeans and joggers black trousers do tend to stand out. In saying that I don’t
think it’s usual to go round staring at the colour of people’s trousers…

4. We are rehearsed – Okay, not every Flashmob is
rehearsed but most of them are. We’d been learning the lyrics and dance moves
to the song for several weeks and had 2 brief rehearsals the week prior to the

5. It’s hard to keep it a secret – This is partly
because all involved are so excited about it but also because you recognise
other people from your choir mulling about before the performance. Ideally
you’re supposed to pretend not to know them so the Flashmob looks spontaneous.
There are knowing looks and clicks and winks. Other times I saw choir members
openly hug and chat to each other…as you normally would if you bump into a
friend in the street.

6. You get itchy feet – Like most performances
there gets a point where people just ‘want to get on with it.’ About ten
minutes before we knew we were due to start most people were rearing to go.
That’s also the time when the nerves and adrenaline kick in. People start
hopping from one foot to the other and getting twitchy at every little sound in
case that sound happens to be the cue to start.
In fact at one of the performances a large group of people started
early, they were too impatient to wait for the official start!

7. Whoever starts off is darn brave – I have the
most amazing choir leader who is a phenomenal singer. She started the music off
and began the Flashmob by singing solo and we all joined in gradually. Our
Flashmob was in a city centre station with hundreds of people there. I know she
has done many performances before but still, what a woman.

8. Stare all you want, we probably won’t notice – I
am well aware that there were lots of people watching, photographing and
filming us but to be honest the choir members were having such a great time
singing, dancing and watching instructions from the choir leader it barely
registered. We were all very much lost in the moment.

9. We’re grateful for any applause even if we dash
off – I was expecting a sort of stunned silence after the performance but we
were all delighted to receive a round of applause and many cheers and happy
whoops. However as explained earlier the idea afterwards is to disperse quickly
and merge back into the crowd as quickly as we appeared. We arrive and leave in
a ‘flash.’ So it’s not that we don’t
love the love you give us it’s that we ned to vanish to create effect. I was
very moved and proud of the audience reaction we received.

10. It’s addictive – I was meant to take part in 2 Flashmobs
but was enjoying it so much I actually gatecrashed a later one and I was not
the only one to do so! Several people were saying that they really wanted to
come back the following week and do it all again, others were saying they
wished it was a regular occurrence. I really hope I get to take part in
something like this again and if you get the opportunity I encourage you to do
so too!

Thanks for reading

Some TV from this year

Entertainment Posted on Wed, December 19, 2018 13:53:17

It’s been a while since I’ve spoken about entertainment
because a lot of my entertainment now comes from watching my dog do crazy
things or from my jigsaws and Lego. So I thought I would talk briefly about a
few TV series I have watched this year. No spoilers.

Dexter: My Dad is a massive fan and I have to say my partner
and I got hooked pretty quickly on this too. Hearing Dexter’s internal
monologue was always interesting for me and the aspects about morals,
principles, nature vs nurture. Training your ‘dark passenger’ (as they refer to
it) also rang some similarities with coping with anxiety and depression for me.
Not as gruesome and gory as you might think but if you think you’ve heard bad
language until you’ve met Debra Morgan in this series trust me you haven’t.

Breaking Bad: I never thought a series about a guy with
cancer making drugs would appeal to me and I’m pretty sure most people that
know me would be surprised to hear me say I am a fan as well. The main thing is
it is so well-written. I was surprised at just how many funny moments there are
(although not in the final series – things are going very wrong and dark
there!) and how empathetic you become to a lot of the characters. Many of the
protagonists are victims of circumstance and end up doing the wrong things for
the right reasons. Some of the characters are just down-right evil. I suggest
you watch this series with someone because having the debates about who’s good,
who’s bad, where do you draw the line etc. are part of the enjoyment. My
partner and I disagree on a lot of the characters motivations (he’s wrong obviously)
and I’ve had some great conversations with my work colleagues about some of the
plot lines and unexpected twists. The series is not very predictable – another
thing which I like as I’m really good at seeing where storylines go and it’s
nice to be surprised now and then.

Nashville: This is the series I am currently watching,
currently on series 4 out of 6. Quite different to the above series, this
revolves around the lives of country singers in, you guessed it, Nashville.
There’s some catchy music, strong characters covering a wide age range and
emotional pulls. When I describe this series to people I always feel I am doing
it an injustice because when I say there’s lots of love triangles, people
getting health problems and parenting issues it sounds like a soap opera – but
it is better than that. A couple of the plot lines have been a bit far-fetched but
seem realistic within the confines of the programme and it’s not a show you
have to deeply think about. My suggestion is give it a go.

WestWorld series 2: Brand new this year. Sorry, not a fan.
Far too complicated, far too many characters and time switches. I’m not the
smartest person in the world but I know many people smarter than me who couldn’t
get their heads round it. I immensely enjoyed the first series and I really
wish they’d just ended it there. It’s unpredictability and being a ‘thinking’
programme was what many people loved but I think now they are at risk of
alienating their own following.

Shows I’m looking forward to: Well, more Nashville obviously
as I have 2 series left to watch. I am curious to see the new BBC Les Miserables
– no singing in this one, new production. I enjoyed the first series of ‘Big
Little Lies’ so I am hoping series 2 will hit us soon and there are rumours of ‘True
Detective’ series 3. At the moment that’s all I can think of.

Thanks for reading, I hope I’ve inspired you to check out a
new TV series or maybe reminded you of some great ones


Kennel Club Dog Show Experience

Entertainment Posted on Fri, April 27, 2018 13:34:11

Those of you that know me will be aware that April 21st
was a very important and special day for me. It was my puppy’s 1st birthday
and our first time participating in an official Kennel Club show. Not only
that, it was a Championship show which is a big deal as you can achieve
certificates that signify your dog is worthy of becoming a champion which can
lead onto bigger things such as Crufts.

It was not my intention that this would be our first show.
In fact we were supposed to be attending a show in November and another in
March that would give us decent practise before this one. Unfortunately illness
and extreme weather conditions prevented our attendance on these and these were
smaller shows which would have been a lot less daunting to start off with.
However with the show fees and commitment made I wasn’t going to back out now.

I have attended quite a few dog shows over the years as a
spectator. I thought I’d relate some of my competitor experiences here in case
anyone was wondering what competing was like and what to expect. Admittedly
just because this show was a certain way doesn’t mean they are all done in the
same format. In fact from what I’ve read I’m sure they’re not. Anyway, here are
my observations:

1.Getting there early isn’t a bad thing – If
you’re there for the day it is a long day. We arrived about 9am and didn’t
leave until just after 4….and we didn’t stay for everything. However getting
there early was to our benefit as seating was limited and organisation was
scarce. Getting there early allowed us to get our bearings. It was very useful
to see what the judge was asking people to do in the ring so when I got in
there myself I was already pretty certain I’d be running round the ring and
then walking diagonally across it as those seemed to be his frequent
instructions. Not all judges want the same thing.

2.Expect organised chaos– I’ve noticed over the
last year that although dog people are lovely the majority are not the most
organised of people. I assumed there would be a front desk or somewhere to sign
in once we arrived at the show, to get information, our show number (which is
how they identify you in the ring) and perhaps a more formal schedule that
would give estimated timings of the day. Nope. There was a tiny old desk at the
back of the room where a lady was giving out catalogues. The schedule was
basically ‘we start judging at 10am, lunch will be just after 12 and then we
resume judging at 1.30pm’ which I would describe as vague. I was given my
number on entering the ring, which meant I had to attach it to myself very
quickly. There were a few stalls at the show but it wasn’t really clear what or
who they were. There was also a raffle which didn’t seem to be announced
properly. It seems the organisers very much rely on you wandering round and
asking questions or being in the right place at the right time…even if you’re
not quite sure where and when that is.

3.Don’t assume refreshments are provided for you
or your dog – I was advised to take my own lunch and I’m glad I did because I
didn’t see anyone selling food, just a kiosk selling tea and coffee. Of course
somewhere like the NEC that hosts Crufts usually has a food hall or restaurant
but remember that’s one of the biggest dog shows in the world, the majority are
much smaller. I had plenty of dog treats (you need these for bait in the ring
anyway) as I knew these wouldn’t be provided. What did surprise me though was
that there were no water bowls or troughs for the dogs. Luckily I had her bowl
with me and a couple of bottles, just needed to use the tap in the Ladies to
top it up a few times!

4. Be prepared to sit around a lot but pay
attention – There’s a lot of waiting around at a dog show but there’s a great
deal going on which means loads to watch if you’re not actually doing anything.
The time can go quite quickly so you need to keep eyes and ears peeled for when
it’s your time in the ring. For example, some of the classes may only have 2 or
3 dogs entered which won’t take long, whereas other classes may have around 20
which will obviously take the judge longer to analyse. In the 7 hours we were there I would estimate
we only spent 25-50 minutes in the ring. The rest of the time we were watching,
supporting, dog grooming and wandering about
– although not too far from the ring obviously!

5.Everyone gets nervous – Okay, so people should
be watching the dog and not you but there’s still that element of ‘Oh God, I
have to get up in front of loads of people now’ when you go into the ring. You
don’t want to let your dog’s performance down and you don’t want to make a fool
of yourself. Primarily I put my faith in my dog because I know she walks well
on a lead, responds well to treats and likes being looked at. Apart from a
brief moment where she decided to chew on her own lead (she was getting bored
and wanted to play) she was an absolute angel. We were sat with a couple who
own a Champion dog who have a great deal of experience in these shows. The
gentleman confessed he believed he was ten times nervous than I was. I never
would have known. And yes I was really nervous.

6.You always take the best dog home – There were
handsome, beautiful, large, small, stocky, slim, light and dark dogs at this
show. People seemed genuinely interested in other people’s dogs and
experiences. I know there are some really competitive people out there (and a
few snobs) but luckily for us we didn’t come across any. Everyone wanted
everyone else with their four legged friends to do well. I admired every dog
from the winners to the non-competitors. We had a couple of people congratulate
us on our performance in the ring which was very kind and a few people say that
our girl’s coat wasn’t quite right and of course we didn’t place 1st
in any classes…but I really didn’t care. There wasn’t another dog there that I
would have preferred to own or enter into that competition. There was no other
dog I would have rather taken home…and I know every dog owner there would have
said the same thing about their own.

Keep calm, it’s only a dog show….thanks for reading


A Musical & A Duty

Entertainment Posted on Fri, January 12, 2018 14:11:56

It’s been a while since I did an Entertainment post so I’m
going to talk about 2 things that have really engaged me recently.

The first is ‘The Greatest Showman’ a new musical film with
Hugh Jackman, Zac Effron and Michelle Williams. I have been encouraging everyone
to see this film. It’s happy, it’s colourful, it’s got catchy songs. It’s one
of those rare feel good films. I haven’t been able to get the songs out of my
head since I saw it (which was nearly 2 weeks ago now) and I hope it will be
one of the all-time greats that captures people’s hearts. Hugh Jackman seems
born to play this role with the correct amount of warmth, charisma and
showmanship. It’s entertaining, it’s joyful. Want fun? Go see this film.

The second is, very different, the ‘Line of Duty’ series
which my partner became obsessed with very quickly meaning we watched 4 series
in 4 days and now have a 2 year wait for the next one. Although some parts were
predictable it was well written enough to keep me occupied and there were some
unexpected twists and turns. I appreciated the way that most characters were not
strictly good or bad but realistically flawed, often backed into difficult
situations forcing a variety of outcomes. It was also nice (although fictional)
to see people standing up for what they believe in and bringing people to
justice. People get away with a lot in this world and it’s not always fair. I
also appreciated how the male and female pairing have a platonic relationship
that works well without any foolish nights or innuendos. Of course with another
2 series pencilled in this could all change…but for now let’s just enjoy

Thanks for reading,


Calming/SpringWatch 2017

Entertainment Posted on Thu, June 01, 2017 15:23:23

I find myself consumed with fear at the moment. Several
incidents have triggered this I know: the recent terrorist attacks, a fire that
was near my office building, family health scares and in attempting to achieve
one of my lifelong dreams I can only seem to think of the worst possible
outcomes. Needless to say this is not a good combination. Negative feeds
negative, the worry and uncertainty of the future build upon one another to get
constant whirring’s in my head. It does not silence. I find though sometimes I
can quieten it down.

Calming music and a hot chocolate often help. Unsurprisingly
nature and art are the other ones. I thoroughly recommend watching the webcams
on the nests and mammals burrows currently provided by BBCs Springwatch which
you can find here:
For the last few years I have watched
the cameras avidly when they are live for 2 weeks in the Spring. The Water Rail
was a particular favourite of mine a few years back whilst the Blue Tits have
been particularly lively today.

I don’t believe I can offer anything quite as calming or
wonderful as the Springwatch webcams but I would like to promote this
photograph of mine today, ‘Amazing Azalea’ which has caught the attention of 2
of the Redbubble groups:

I hope you like it and I wish you a stress-free and very calming evening


Friends, Beauties, Beasts & Singing

Entertainment Posted on Fri, March 24, 2017 15:10:31

I have to be honest creatively there’s very
little going on with me at present. That’s because I have been having a wonderful time
living my life.

I met up with 3 of my oldest friends last week
and as usual although we’ve had months apart it was like we had never been away
from each other. I thoroughly recommend a few cafes and shops with good
friends, it’s truly wonderful for the soul.

I also had chance to see the new live action ‘Beauty
and the Beast’ film. As an avid Disney fan it was important to me to see the
film as soon as possible and I was a truly dedicated fan walking 45 minutes
through the pouring rain to catch the first showing on Monday. If you like the
animated version I am sure you will like this one. There have been some changes
of course but understandable ones not the usual ‘oh we’ll change this for the
sake of it’ stuff. Beautifully acted, stylishly filmed and truly magical. Emma
Watson was the Belle I always knew she’d be. I genuinely would have chosen her
for this role. I went in singing the songs knowing them pretty well already but
I’m pretty sure most people will be singing them coming out.

And the subject of singing brings me on nicely
to my choir who (although I don’t know anyone there properly) I adore. There’s
nothing like joining together in song with nearly 100 other people to make you feel
that your tiny contribution might make something greater than the sum of its

Whatever joys are in your life I hope you are
enjoying them right now. It’s easy to lose track of these things some times. We
should focus on the beauties…not the beasts.

Thank you for reading


Au Revoir to Rene (Gorden Kaye)

Entertainment Posted on Thu, January 26, 2017 16:17:10

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Gorden
Kaye who since I was a child I have known as the kind, funny character of Rene
Artois in ‘Allo ‘Allo. The programme was one of my favourites as a child
although I now appreciate that I didn’t really understand it back then.

To me there was the need to ‘listen very
carefully’ as Michelle would say things ‘only once’, a ‘stupid woman’ in Edith,
a policeman who said ‘good moaning’ and a café owner who frequently hugged his
waitresses. I didn’t need to understand anything more. It made me laugh. It
made me laugh when I had the videos (yes, videos, remember those?) as a teen
and still makes me laugh today when I watch the repeats on ‘Gold’ or my set of
dvds. Of course now I’m laughing at different things for different reasons.
Sometimes I’m still giggling at the things that amused me when I was five – how
wonderful is that?

‘Allo ‘Allo is comfort viewing, something you
can return to again and again to make you smile – odd really when you think of
the subject matter. It’s not the sort of programme that would be made today and
if it was it would turn out very differently.

I feel a void because one of my childhood
friends is gone….yet we’re all fortunate that we can see Gorden Kaye on our
screens whenever we wish due to the wonders of media and technology. He
continues to live there. There was always something warm and soothing about
him, even when his character was in a bit of a flap. I had the audio cassette in
which Gordon read the diaries of Rene and his gentle voice put me at ease on
the nights I couldn’t sleep. He has been with me in some way for most of my
life….and I don’t intend to let his passing change that.

Sherlock: It Is What It Is & I Adore It

Entertainment Posted on Wed, January 18, 2017 15:10:07

Now that the latest series is over I have of
course got to write about ‘Sherlock’ which is, in my opinion, one of the best
series ever to have graced the BBC channels during my lifetime. Series 4 has
just finished airing in the UK and I loved it. Twists, turns, seemingly impossible
crimes solved with wonderful deductions, humour and a rollercoaster of
emotions. I’m not going to reveal any spoilers here but the tension in the
final episode had me on the edge of my seat, feeling physically sick and later
I was actually screaming at my TV set (which my partner thought was hilarious).
The quality of the acting in this show is of the highest standard, as are the
sets and costumes. The people who are fans of the original Conan Doyle stories
(such as myself) appreciate the little nods back to the Holmes canon. After all
they are nods to us as well saying ‘we hear you fans, here’s something for you’
and the writers have treated their source material with the utmost respect. I
was surprised then to learn that this latest series had not received such a
warm response as its predecessors. To be honest I was rather shocked and
dismayed. I’ve been trying to work out where people’s criticism comes from and
I have various theories.

My first theory is to do with– stay with me
here, I’m not trying to patronise – intelligence and attention span . I’m not
the smartest person in the world but I love a good crime drama. I’m actually
pretty good with predicting ‘whodunnit’ and why and how things are connected.
There is no doubt that Sherlock is for an intellectual audience, a lot goes on
and quickly so you have to pay
attention. Observation is all part of solving the puzzle and the game is most
certainly on. Blink and you’ve probably missed something relevant. You can’t
chat with your mate through these episodes and I certainly wouldn’t recommend
getting up to go to the loo or get a drink – plus if ‘Sherlock’ is on, why
would you want to? It’s clear from some of the critics comments that they
either weren’t watching the episodes with their undivided attention or they
simply didn’t understand what was happening. I remember some of them had the
same problem last series….

My second theory stems from this and it’s to do
with familiarity with the original stories. Not everyone has read Conan Doyle’s
books or seen previous Holmes portrayals. Recently the media was full of Mark
Gatiss responding to a critic who accused the show of turning Sherlock into
James Bond with the action sequences. Quite rightly so. Fans of original
stories will know that fight and chase sequences are fairly regular. The
character’s skills include boxing, sword-fighting and martial arts. Creators of
the series did not make this up, they didn’t need to, as it was already in
Conan Doyle’s words from the late 1800s.

My third theory is to do with change. I’ve
heard people say ‘Oh well it’s been different since the wife came into it’ and ‘there’s
a lot more character stuff now and not much crime solving.’ Well, yes, there
have been changes but the truth is it’s not only about the crimes, of course it
is about the characters. How do build up tension, excitement, fear or emotion
if you don’t care about the characters you’re watching? The fact is character
and relationship development adds to the realism of the piece. Are your
relationships the same as they were 5 years ago? No, because they change –
whether you like it or not. Usually these changes are not within your control. Additional

My final theory is a bit of an oddity as it’s
basically ‘there’s no guarantee of more.’ Until now the series have always
ended on a cliff-hanger. The ending to series 4 seemed to tie up all the loose
ends. Personally I think this is admirable. I hate it when series leave
audience members hanging for months or years to be finally told ‘oh we’re not
making any more’ and we’re all sat around desperately trying to figure it out
or make our own ending. It is clear from everyone involved in making the series
that they want to do more but there
are so many factors. Important factors: time, money, cast and writing. I would
rather wait years for a good series than a few weeks for a bad one. So for
people to say they didn’t like the ending because it seemed ‘final’ isn’t this
another way of saying ‘it’s so good we want more’? Isn’t this actually one of
the best compliments a show can have rather than a criticism? We’ve loved the
journey, it’s over, wefeel deprived and are sorry for it.

There’s a problem with being involved in an
award-winning critically-acclaimed series based on best-selling stories that has
acquired an international fan set…you can’t please everyone. Luckily Stephen
Moffatt and Mark Gatiss (the creators/writers) are smart enough to know this. I
would like to tell them my opinions and affections for this series have not changed.
I don’t think they ever will. My problem, my final problem, is missing the
programme when it’s gone; it’s wit, it’s drama, it’s complexities. I say to all
the critics out there that when it comes to ‘Sherlock’ – it is what it is…. and
I love it for that.

Thanks for reading


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