Happy New Year To You, Not I

Writing

I hope you’re having a pleasant start to the new year, if not then I hope revelling in my misfortunes will have you grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. 

 

Having just about set foot inside my grotty London flat on the 1st Jan after a rather heart-palpitation inducing flight from Northern Ireland to visit the fam over the holidays, I’m greeted by a bold red-fronted letter of pure threat. Who could it be? My stalker’s love letters normally arrive for me on a Friday, it’s several days too early I pondered. Ripping it open in a fashion much similar to the scenes in Alien vs Predator where the Predator thrusts its hand into the victims stomach and then rips his spine out through his……we’ll not go there. Simply put, I open the letter with a hard swallow and what meets my eyes is the unwelcome invitation of a £1,000 fine coming my way if I so choose to abstain from paying for a TV license. Do you think I could get away with saying I don’t watch TV or is that a bit weak? I double blink in the hope that I just had a moment of utter delusion, as if the more I blinked the more zeroes would disappear from the fine. Just to be clear this is a warning – I’m yet to be fined, and have infact bought a TV License to cover my back for my endless bingeing of Botched, Louis Theroux and Sugar Rush (wait this is Netflix)? Anyhow it was just a miscommunication, I’m not keeping tabs on what channels charge me my hard earned money to become transfixed on the latest terrestrially televised topic. Why should I be? I have better things to do, like spend my wads of cash on the important things in life, such as scratchcards and Cuban cigars. 

 

As if this wasn’t enough, I also had a letter grace me from a magistrates court summoning me to appear infront of a judge for……..

 

I shouldn’t be divulging this information, for you’ll probably think I’m some sort of conman, it’s not like I intentionally forget to pay these bills, I just DO forget sometimes. Anyhow it’s all paid up now, besides it’s not like I’m tax evading millions (give it time). 

 

I’m off to buy a shredder for my letters, Happy New Year to you! 

Amazon’s Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Writing

Well, there we have it, Christmas is over for yet another year. No one wanted the tangerine in the stocking, but I think we’d take it over these gift mis-haps, don’t you?

1. A Box Of ‘Nothing’


Quite literally a box of absolutely nothing. Why why why would you buy this?

Customer Review 4.1 out of 5 stars, what is going on here?

2. Man Arm Body Pillow

Because nothing screams your a sad singleton more than the sight of a mono-limbed cushion to keep you warm and slightly disturbed at night.

3.Sandals – From The Dawn Of Time

Like some mongrel form of a slipper with teeth, these sandals are uncomfortably akin to those gifted to my very own Mother this passed Christmas by my Dad. I guess a sentencing of 25 years to marriage does something to you.

4.Party Decoration Props

Nothing says par-tay like a pile of dismembered body parts sprawled across a washing line. Not the best Christmas gift but perhaps that’s Halloween sorted.

5. Humping Animals Adult Colouring Book

Yes, this is actually a thing.And actually a number 1 best seller. Should it be? I’ll let you be the judge of that. Let’s hope no children fancy a bit of colouring.

*Ranked in no particular order!!

My Mystery Dining Experience

Writing

Sherlock Holmes eat your heart out for I think you’ll find that I’m the true detective when it comes too all things ‘mysterious’.

Well, atleast when it comes to secret dining that is. Having recently signed up to a mystery dining program in the last couple of months, I’ve had the pleasure of casting my judgmental beady eye across all sorts, from bitching waiting staff to rather greasy grub and everything inbetween.

‘Mystery dining’, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the task of eating free food and whinging about the customer service of the waiters. Just kidding, it’s much much more than that. It involves adopting an analytical eye, if you’re a natural people watcher then this job will be right up your street. You basically go out for a meal, acting as you would normally do and then write up a short report at the end of it noting the obvious stuff like the quality of the food and friendliness of the staff. Although the scheme I’ve signed up to doesn’t pay you,it does reimburse you, it isn’t about the money! It’s about improving the standards for the hospitality industry, right?

It’s a good means of enjoying meals out while doing something good for the industry on the whole. Who hasn’t had a bad dining experience? Wouldn’t it be good if you were a part of making this a more rare occurrence than it may currently be?

With dining under the spotlight, let’s have a look at some of the internet’s most shocking alleged dining experiences:

Unsanitary napkin

Liam: That would be the time I pointed out my dirty fork to the waiter. He picked it up along with my own napkin, rubbed the fork, then plonked both items back down and asked if we wanted starters.

Read more: METRO

This diner was disgusted to find maggots in a meal he had ordered at a restaurant - and he was still forced to pay the bill

Read more: Dailymail

One former restaurant worker recalled that cockroaches and flies were commonplace - unbeknownst to the diners

Read more: Dailymail

HOT TO THE TOUCH

“A few years ago, I was at a Mexican restaurant with some friends.

The waiter brings our food, and warns everyone that the plates are very, very hot.

So, of course, the first thing I do is touch my plate.

I burn my thumb on the hot plate, and my automatic reaction is to stick it in my mouth so it will stop hurting.

Just then, the woman at the next table starts yelling at her five-year-old son.

‘Stop sucking your thumb, Bobby! You’re a big boy, and big boys don’t suck their thumbs.’

The five-year-old points at me and screams, ‘They do, too!

He sucks his thumb! Look! He sucks his thumb!’

Everyone in the restaurant turns to look at me, and I try to vanish behind my menu.

Read More: Oola

 

 

Have you ever had a bad dining experience like these? 

 

 

Dido In Concert 2019

Writing

Is it bad that I only know two of her songs? That’s right she’s a singer not a prehistoric bird (Dodo). Although at the age of 47 years old, I wonder is her voice as strong as it use to be? Not being ageist but if Sir Paul McCartney’s croaking at the London 2012 olympics was anything to go by then let’s just say pensioner care home choirs need not audition for the X Factor anytime soon. 

 

47 is certainly by no means old, and nor does it mean you should stop singing, I mean look at Cher! But forgive me for being somewhat skeptical ahead of the hitmaker’s concert last night at The Hammersmith Apollo. Will she deliver or will her support act outshine her?

If Eminem deemed her talented enough to be the chorus belter on ‘Stan’ then she must have talent, right?

*One Moment Later

So What’s The Verdict?:

Dido’s voice is flawless, still as ethereal and controlled as it was recorded in the 90’s. The strength of her voice in addition to it’s quality was sustained throughout the full 2 hour show, it didn’t waver once. I strain my voice shouting down a taxi nevermind belting out hit records for hours on end so she gets a massive thumbs up from me on that.

Her warmth onstage shined through also, with a good sense of humour in her anecdotes coupled with context on what encouraged her to create certain songs made for  engaging stage presence.

Dido proves that women in music don’t have to necessarily perform in their underwear to appeal to the masses, afterall she’s been on a hiatus from music for 15 years and still she can command a crowd across international cities.

The evening restored my faith in the music industry (apologies in advance for the terrible quality photos):

She’s not even in this one thanks to the man’s head in the middle! But I liked the flame effect.

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I told you the quality was bad!

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Odid? My sister et moi.

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Review: The Aeronaut

Writing

Not to be confused with ‘the astronaut’ this eccentric public house also doubles up as a theatrical extravaganza. From circus to stand up comedy and everything inbetween, why be on the moon when you could be poking somebody in the neck with a pickled frankfurter?

 

Atleast this is what I came to realise on my recent escapade to the Acton based watering house this Friday passed. Voted ‘best pub in west London’ by event ticketing website ‘design my night‘, I thought I’d pay it a visit to see if it really did stand up to this accolade.

 

Strolling up on that dark Friday evening with my lovely friend from university – Leo, we entered with great anticipation. Inside, it appeared to my eyes to be something similar to, if you know the scene, in Harry Potter when Professor Slughorn holds a glorious Christmas party in an outdoor tent. Well, this place, with arguably the same amount of magical enchantment donned a similar decor. With crimson and canary pinstripe material draped  throughout the walls of the main theatre area. And as if the outdoor beer garden wanted to adopt this lively pattern too, a continuation of the vividly coloured striping within each heated little cabin in the garden area took form also.

In the main bar section to the left of the theatre area was a spooktacular salute to all things Halloween. I could see clouds of cobwebs as thick as smog, so dense it put my own home’s to shame. I also spotted pumpkins carved into everything under the sun, from self-portraits to spinal cords. Stumbling further through the zany labyrinth I became aware of the volume of two mens’ voices, they were becoming distinctively louder, also equally alarming to the volume was the words they were saying with such conviction. Something like ‘shoot em’ again, shoot em’ again’ I almost froze in fear, if curiosity hadn’t got the better of me I probably would still be standing there now. With my beady eyes and increasing paranoia I turned the corner of the corridor of the pub expecting to see a crime scene infront of me, yet instead the real crime was done on my eyes as I seen before me the cumbersome movements of two grown men banging into the walls and eachother in such animated fashion. Turns out they were wearing VR (virtual reality) headsets playing what looked like some simulated version of Call of Duty.

With the investigation solved, Leo and I returned to the theatre. No sooner had we entered than were we greeted by a granny named Maggie, conversing with us in a thick brogue straight from the highlands of Scotland.. Little did I know soon Maggie would be taking to the stage to do her comedy act.

Before Maggie was to crack a few knock knock jokes, another lady came round to the table Leo and I claimed as our own for the 2 hour performance about to unfold. She asked us how exactly we were related to Maggie. At first her question bewildered me and then I realised oh it’s an interactive comedy, and that’s when the meatsweats started. Maggie the old bat, was part of the onstage comedy trio who would be performing a sketch inwhich the objective of the storyline was that some of the geriatrics would compete against eachother to be lead event organisers of their carehome, and it was our job their audience, soon to be mock family members , to take part in the ‘competition’ also on behalf of our elderly relative.

Leo naturally piped up saying with great conviction that we were to be Maggie’s grandmother, which is obviously a realistic family member to be to an 80 year old. So no sooner had we taken our seats than had the show began with the aim of the game being Maggie’s family would compete with Arthur’s family (the other old guy) in a range of interactive tasks in a bid to help their elderly relative win the coveted role of event planner.

The interactive activities included seeing who could wrap their partner up in a full roll of cellotape the fastest, guessing whether sausage or a finger poked you in the back of the neck (I had the pleasure of taking part in this one,  getting poked by some stranger’s sausage), putting tights on your partner without them using their hands the fastest and then consequently seeing how many objects you can stuff down those tights on your partner (someone got a chair leg in and suspended the chair in mid air, that must’ve hurt the crotch).

The winning team at the end got a bottle of Prosecco, and the fact that we went away empty handed is evidence that Arthur’s team won.

Would I go back again for a rematch? Definitely!

 

The only thing is, which is both good and bad about The Aeronaut is that their lineup of performance acts can vary so you may not see the same act twice. I guess what they give is a taster, an exhibition of quality talent, that if it impresses you enough you’ll go see them again wherever they perform.

I’ve booked my tickets for their upcoming comedy night, called ‘sketch n scratch’. Reminds of another saying involving scratching……

If you’re ever in Acton give them a chance to make a fool out of you, I’ve no doubt you’ll thank them for it!

 

My Michelin Star Experience

Writing

More accustomed to the taste of my mother’s burnt toast and beans combo, I was hoping and praying that a trip to a 1-Michelin starred and 4 AA Rosetted gourmet restaurant in the heart of one of  London’s most affluent hotspot’s – Green Park would be able to suppress those charcoal tasting memories of mother’s best dishes.

Team at Seven Park Place By William Drabble

Did it do the trick? Let’s find out, food critics eat your heart out at my review to follow:

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Here’s me with a piece of bread.

 

Initially when I walked into the restaurant I thought I’d actually entered the wrong place, for it looked more like the Louvre in Paris than a place you’d get stuck into some lamb’s neck at. Anyhow my state of confusion quickly dissipated as I followed the overly nice and handsome waiter to the table for two beneath the beautifully painted piece of art, it was done with much ease I can assure you of that.

The menus arrived, my brother and I went for the 3 course option (as you do) and decided to go halvsies on each dish, as there was a choice of two for each course.

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Can you guess what this was? Yes, liquid gold. A little teacup of deliciousness in the form of fish broth frothed so lightly the clouds above us were jealous. Sprinkled with crispy little croutons complimentary of the chef.

With our appetites well and truly wetted from the soup + bread pairing I was ready for the starters!

Starters

Which appeals to your more from the below choices:

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Seared fillet of mackerel with spiced apple chutney, spiced apple and fennel remoulade

This had to be my favourite dish of the experience to be honest. The saltiness of the mackerel worked so well with the sweetness of the apple, and the crispy onion rings topped it all off with a little ‘crunch’. Delightful, however being carby me, I couldn’t help but think ‘where are the chips at?’

 

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Open ravioli of pumpkin and aged parmesan with sage, pine nuts with nut brown butter

A tasty little parcel of pumpkin and Parmesan, the pine nuts gave it a crunch so that it wasn’t to reminiscent of baby food. But being a fan of umami flavouring, the mackerel stole my heart. But overall even though I’m not a huge pasta lover, the ravioli damn near converted me.

Mains

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Roasted fillet of cod, cep mash, roasted celeriac emulsion

Cod is quite a bland fish to me, like alot of white fish but I have to say, somehow they injected some taste into this one. It wasn’t dry which is another reason I tend to give white fist a wide berth. Nice chunky piece with mash and a fishy gravy, what’s not to like?

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Assiette of lamb with rosemary jus

Look at the shine of that sauce! You can almost see me taking the picture in it! I loved the fillet and the neck, not too fussed on the meat pie, all I could hear the waiter say was heart and liver which almost turned my stomach. Other than that, a tasty dish.

Desserts

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Chocolate and Hazlenut

As a fan of chocolatey desserts, I can’t lie when I say I was looking forward to this the most when I seen it on the menu. It looks great doesn’t it, apart form that chocolate smear on the bottom, can a chocolate smear ever look appetizing?

The chocolate droppings were suped up with hazlenut, the little chocolate platform was composed of smooth chocolate paneling, which encased a hybrid like texture of cake and mousse. If that even makes sense, I don’t know what it was exactly, I just know it tasted good! Finished off was the sugar work which  I accidentally snapped off and swooshed onto the floor in one fell swoop as I reached for a spoon seconds after this photo was taken (better after than before).

 

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Lemon Meringue with a sable crumble and yuzu lemon sorbet

Thank goodness we didn’t have sensitive teeth, for the sorbet was as cold as the arctic, the chilled temperature mixed with the tartness made for a zesty explosion of refreshment. The only negative thing I would say was – where was the meringue?! It was so flat to the plate 😦 But anyhow I loved the flavours. Great dessert to end on, for it really cleansed the palate after the several courses of rich, intensely flavoured plates of food.

So what did we think of the food, should you give William  Drabble a go when you’re in London?

We’ll let this image be the deciding factor for you:

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Day Trip – Woburn Safari park

Writing

Zoos are pretty dichotomous places. Good for their conservation of an endangered breed yet bad  by preventing an animal from living in its natural habitat. Many more pros and cons come into play when determining whether there is a need for a zoo or not.

But I’ll keep that discussion in the pipeline, for today let me share with you the positives of the safari park situated just north of the capital in the quaint little English village of Woburn which means ‘crooked or twisted stream’ according to wikipedia, fun fact of the day:

So here we go,

Not soon into the safari park driveway and I capture the moment a Dwarf Forest Buffalo charges at one of the touring Cars! It’s always the cute ones you have to look out for!

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Which was a surprise as I expected this hench guy  to have a go instead:

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Things seemed to settle down as we passed the grazing herbivores, which seem more adept to roaming the great plains of the African Savannah than the cud of England’s countryside but anyhow.

Here’s a giraffe licking a fence behind the blur of my Dad’s cheek:

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Elephants make an appearance ofcourse on the safari (is the front one male ;p):

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And a few Zebra minding their own business make themselves familiar too:

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Once the boring animals, I mean grazing animals were out of the way it was times for the moment we all go to Safari’s for, the predators! Behind this cage awaits some of the world’s most deadliest species!

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First up the wolves and the Black Bears, both in the same enclosure I may add:

 

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Then it was the tiger, sorry I’ve no photos of it, it was lying down at the furthest point from the road! I don’t blame it!

The Lions weren’t as shy though:

 

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My heart was pounding out of my chest thinking of the following happening:

(credits – Joshua Sutherland)

And with that I think we’ll end this predatory chapter and open one with our friendly cousins the monkeys and Lemurs:

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Look at the little baby on her back! Aw happy families, how adorable!

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Such a poignant moment caught on camera, in some way it symbolises the intrusive behaviour us humans have had towards the planet’s wildlife.

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They were protecting their baby.

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Black and white ruffed lemurs and ring tailed lemurs were next:

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Next a horny goat:

 

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Leave her alone! She’s too young for kids!

This one was cute though:

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Now for the mini dinosaurs aka the birds:

First we have a tiny owl I forgot which breed sorry, look how small it is:

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Next we have two cocks having a stand off, nothing new here:

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Now a rather nimble little creature, quite prehistoric in it’s movements I must say:

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And finally I captured an owl within it’s enclosure, it makes me feel a bit of a mixture of emotions to be honest, not sure they’re all good:

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Overall I feel the park deserves a visit, I think zoos and safari parks are important for conservation and education, do I think we need as many? That’s a different question and ultimately, no.

To check out Woburn Safari Park click here.

 

(cc) Photos taken by Natasha Moore & Claudia Rose Moore

Why Are We So Ungrateful?

Writing

If you can read this right now then you have the ability to see. Sight is one of the most valuable senses us humans can posses yet paradoxically it is one we take most for granted. Too busy complaining about our bosses thinking they’re better than us or stressing that we aren’t earning as much as our partners, we lose focus. Instead of moaning about somebody else to make yourself feel better can you not spend a second seeing the good you already possess? For your ability to speak, for your ability to cook, the list goes on. I write this post to share my thoughts on this point, this focus on ungratefulness has crept up on me several times. One example of which was just several days ago when I was walking to work in the morning, on route I passed a beautifully dressed young lady, she was wearing a maroon headband made of silk, a ruffled lemon blouse and bottle green cigarette trousers and she was using a white cane because she was blind.

 

As I passed her my negative thoughts of how bored I am living in the same flat to how annoying a colleague is at work suddenly meant nothing Instead I was stunned with the realisation that I had no reason to complain, because what I was complaining about was so petty. I had more important things to be thankful for thank things I had to complain about. I was going to work to use my skills, I had the ability to walk where other people may not be able to do this , I had the ability to see where others may not have the ability to do this. I must stress that this post is not me trying to compare myself to someone else and state that because they don’t have something and I do that I should feel good about that or better about myself. But instead I aim to highlight that we all have qualities in our lives which we overlook all too frequently, for example while we’re too busy chasing the next pay cheque we forget that we’re fortunate enough to have our health. Or whilst we complain that strangers are rude to us on our commutes we forget that we have a loving family at home. While we judge something critically in the shop window we forget that we have the ability to see the expressions of joy on others around us. To stop for a moment and be thankful of the most underrated elements of your life will surely enrich it?

 

I truly believe that the real answer to being happy is being grateful. To further support this opinion of mine, I need to look just at last week. As much as I enjoyed the Isle of Wight Festival , I must say camping was tough. Let’s be honest lying in a damp cloth cocoon in a bumpy field is a fast track way to insomnia I’ve no doubt about it.  But in some ways, anytime I go camping I’m thankful afterwards. And this time was no different, for on my return to London I couldn’t have had a bigger smile on my face as I jumped into my bed after a shower with actual hot water! A week prior to the festival and I treated a warm bed and a hot shower as expected, fast forward a week and I saw it as a luxury. My point being to feel good about things and about yourself perhaps it takes a moment to realise. Perhaps it takes a week camping for you to appreciate home comforts, atleast it did for me.

 

A tip I do sometimes actually, especially if I’ve had a bad day is list 5 things I’m grateful for that night before going to bed. It may not solve all of your problems but it certainly helps remove the storm cloud from above your head so you can sleep And who knows, maybe if you do it frequently enough you may be a happier person in the long run. I think so.

The Most Anticipated Movies Of 2019

Writing

We’ve already had Aladdin, X-Men and Rocketman set the bar high for this years siverscreen scenes, but wait, the year is by no means over, just check out the movie heavyweights to come:

 

Joker  (October 2019)

I just caught a glimpse of the upcoming Joker movie and it definitely gave me something to smile about. Noone could replace Heath Ledger, yet I’m pretty sure Joaquin Phoenix will give us his own equally engaging take on this superhero supervillain.

 

The Lion King (July 2019)

Truly nostalgic, I personally can’t wait to experience this one on the big screen. Something tells me I won’t be critiquing the CGI too harshly, although the cartoon original version will always hold a special place in my heart. WIth an allstar line-up including Beyonce, Donald Glover and Seth Rogan, you’ll be playing the game of guess the voice actor instead of admiring how cute baby Simba looks in the opening scenes!

 

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (August 2019)

Margot Robbie, Leonardo Dicaprio, Brad Pitt……Is this a move or model casting? Whether the film is good or not is secondary, all I want to do is stare at their perfectly formed faces. I know Tarantino is a bit of a marmite director,  I personally find him rather interesting and I’m a fan of his work so really looking forward to seeing his latest piece.

 

Frozen 2 (November 2019)

We just can’t seem to let go of this winter wonderland fantasy by Disney. I wonder how many more infectious songs will come from this sequel?

 

The Irishman (month tbc, year 2019)

Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci. Did someone say mob ties? Directed by Scorsese. Did someone say Oscar? Rumoured to have cost $125million and containing 300 scenes, this epic gangster film will definitely be a highlight in Netflix’s catalogue this year.

 

 

Poems: My Self-Written Seasonals

Writing

What better way to welcome in the season of Summer than to give a recap of the ones that come before and after it through poetry:

autumn autumn colours brown countryside

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Fall of Autumn

Death never looked so beautiful,

Leaf litter burnt orange in the fading Autumn sun,

Crunches beneath my feet as the day carries on.

 

The air is colder,

Green is no longer seen.

The days are shorter,

A Midsummer Night is merely but a dream.

 

Ochre, pumpkin,  chestnut and crimson.

All show their true colours to this decaying season.

Autumn – like a Pageant Queen Killer,

Gushes with guilt,

As she plants the kiss of death.

On her Mother Nature.

 

bonfire

Photo by Mitchell Henderson on Pexels.com

Winter

Crimson embers of fire crackle,

Beneath the pale moon light.

The stars they twinkle like tiny freckles,

Upon the face of the night.

 

The sun awakens, from its slumbers,

Naked vegetation shivers with delight.

For they are scarce, they’re few in number,

Desperate for the new day’s light.

 

The season sets a spell of slumber,

Upon the many lives,

Of plants and animals growing fonder,

To sleeping day and night.

 

This too shall pass,

It just takes might,

Time will change,

The clock will strike.

 

A day will come,

Where we can surrender the fight,

Of surviving these testing hardships,

But until then. Goodnight.

road landscape nature forest

Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

Sensation

Smell the rain,

Smell the rain, don’t see it

The dampened tarmac aroma intensifies as cars go flying by like drive bys at midnight

Feel the heat of the rays on your skin,

Hairs on your neck rise like budding blossoms in spring

Hear the drops of tears hit the leaves, leaves crushed by commuters, the buyers and thieves

Don’t see……….feel

 

When your eyes sleep, other senses awaken

Do not be mistaken, the alternative senses must not be forsaken

When I ask you what do you see, please don’t just say trees

Say the rustles of leaves in the breeze or the sticky sap on your knees

Tell me that you will see more than you thought you were meant to see.

Too many people let life pass them by, avoid eye contact with strangers, avoid our environment’s hidden surprises.

To only stop for a moment and take in the world around us

would be a pleasant realisation that life has finally found us.

birdseye photography of city buildings near trees and mountains

Photo by O1234567890 on Pexels.com

A December Day

The air is crisp, cold and clean.

My breath sparkles in its grasp like fairydust.

I feel like a fairytale’s dragon.

 

The darkness cloaks the clouds,

Choking out any lasting glimmers of light,

As the sun sets low in the Winter sky.

 

The trees look fragile.

Their vulnerability exposed,

By the nakedness of their form.

 

Time slows.

Patience is a virtue,

As you wait for the freeze to thaw.

 

Spring is almost upon us,

Fingers crossed,

The wait won’t be too long. .

 

 

**Each piece is copyright protected.

Music To Your Ears

Writing

Although I can’t sing a note in key to save myself, the bottom line is – I.LOVE.MUSIC

From dancing to writing about it in magazines, I just can’t seem to get enough of it!

 

My favourite genres are Hip-Hop and Reggaeton but I do dabble in the odd bit of trance and classics every once in a blue moon. Here are some of the tracks I just can’t stop singing in my head. Hopefully you’ll like them too:

 

Freya Ridings – Unconditional

 

The looks of an angel and the voice to match, Freya Ridings first blew me away when I saw her perform at a music publishing company I use to work at here in London. So hauntingly beautiful was her performance then that I thought she must’ve been miming! But no way, her gorgeous tone and aura shone through then just as much live as it does in this scenic video shot in St Pancras Old Church. Definitely check out her songs, I also really like ‘Lost Without You’.

 

Cardi B – Press

 

This song makes me wanna see a text and leave it on read. Definitely a song for the gym or the club. It’s too short though, she needs a longer version of this song, it’s so good I don’t want it to end! Does Cardi B need more press? Loving the cover art, I want her body (on my body)!

 

Anuel AA – Na’Nuevo

 

I wish I knew what he was saying, but then again the beat is so hard I don’t need to! Anuel makes me love Reggaeton and Reggaeton makes me love the Spanish language evenmore. I’ve listened to this track specifically easily 10 times already today. I think I need help. Are you a fan? Do you need to know what the artist is saying to enjoy a song, what’s more important the lyrics or the beat?

 

Murlo – Ferment

 

This song makes me think of the word ‘cute’ for some reason. Not sure if Murlo was going for this adjective exactly but that’s what it evokes in me. Like if I were chasing Bambi through a little pine forest this would be our backing track. Great song to have on in the background if you’re trying to study or drown out the noisy neighbours.

 

Music says alot about your personality I believe.What type of music are you into? Are any of the above your cup of tea?

 

 

 

Disclaimer – I don not own any of the video content or music shown in this post. Full copyright belongs to the copyright owners.

City Life: The Love/Hate Relationship

Writing

Originally from a town of  several thousand you can see why I may feel like a fish out of water here in London. Living in the UK’s capital for 2 years now has taught me alot about other people and alot about myself.

But I’ll save that for another time, here are some reasons why I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with the ‘most vegetarian friendly city in the world’ I’ll have you know!

 

Cons:

  1. The Tube Journeys – if you want to develop claustrophobia and a strong affinity for your own personal space then I suggest you take the oh so hectic trip from Kennington to Angel. According to the Londonist, the Northern line was the busiest line in 2016/17 with customers making an eye-watering 294 million journeys that year on this underground line alone. But don’t start thinking you can cartwheel up and down the carriages of any other lines anytime soon, a close second was snatched up by the central line, where any cursed commuter of this line will know the need for an oxygen tank and full-faced mask is real.
  2. Shackled By The Chains – I don’t have anything particularly against our well-known high street chainstores, but there are a specific handful who lurk on literally every corner of this damn city! Is it so wrong to want to see a family-run business with some fresh produce in the city centre instead of yet another mass-producing brand?
  3. The Fresh Smell of Exhaust Fumes – if you didn’t have asthma before getting here, then hold on to those precious memories of gasping without coughing and sighing without wheezing. For that’s all they’ll be, little flashback’s in your mind’s eye as you drag another breathe from your new best friend – the inhaler. If I’m not out of breath in 5 seconds of brisk walking then I’m blowing clumps of soot from my nose. Mum and Dad – London life is great!

 

Pros:

  1. Events Galore – the most excitement I’d get back home is from winning the bingo in the local care home down the road, now it’s gigs, festivals, club nights and freebies every night of the week (I wish)! London offers some of the best events in the world and don’t we know it! Whether it’s soaking up the atmosphere at Ronnie Scott’s or celebrating Chinese New Year with thousands of others, you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
  2. A Melting Pot of People – London naturally draws people from all over the world, it’s fascinating to meet people from such a range of cultures and backgrounds. From food to music, language to fashion, you have the luxury of experiencing this richness right on your front doorstep.
  3. Endless Opportunities – If you want to make something of yourself, London is the place to be I feel. With so many companies flocking here, you have as a result an abundance of skilful minds which can collaborate to make great things. Ofcourse you can make anything happen wherever you are if you push hard enough but there’s that added advantage of being able to physically walk in to the office of your dream agency or mentor which may not be accessible in your village in the high hills of the Isle of Arran (I love this place, so scenic).

 

Have you ever been to the London, what do you love or loathe about it?

6 Holiday Movies You Need To Watch

Writing

Yes, Christmas is over for yet another year, but there’s no better way to keep the spirit alive than being glued to the TV for 8 hours straight. Below are some festive films I’d highly recommend:

1. Deck The Halls

Image result for deck the halls movie

Contrary to popular belief, I’m quite a fan of the pure foolery and outrageousness of this festive film. Each of us have that neighbour who tries to outdo the whole community with their eye-wateringly expensive electricity bill lighting extravaganza. Therefore, the relatability of the comedy makes it highly engaging.  Sure. It’s no Inception, you don’t have to think hard while watching, and why should you want to?

 

2. The Polar Express

Related image

Not to be confused with Agatha Christie’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, which is definitely worth the watch also, but maybe not with the kids. This 2004 frostbitten animation sees the embarking of a young boy on a journey to the North Pole. You’ll never look at train rides the same way again as an air of magic, mystery and festive spirit fill the storyline from start to finish. In addition to wonderful visuals, with voiceplay from the likes of Tom Hanks, you know you’re in for a real festive treat.

 

3. The Duchess

Related image

Christmas is a magical time of year, matching this magic is the majestic feeling evoked when watching Keira Knightly curtsy in a rather ‘to tight to trot in’ corset.   The 2008 British drama offers a biographical re-telling of the life of Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. Affairs, pregnancies and everything in between are set against the beautiful backdrop of the British countryside, what’s no to love?

 

4. How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

Jim Carrey is sensational as Dr Seuss’ green-eyed egotistical Whoville resident. Comedic, heart-warming and oh so Christmassy, this film is guaranteed to get you knocking back the mulled wine and singing jingle bells in no time (even though is it indeed Boxing Day today)..

Image result for How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

 

5. Home Alone 1 (&2 but not the rest)

Macaulay Culkin was the cutest kid ever starring as the protagonist in two of the entitled 90’s Christmas comedies. Who would have ever thought that getting left behind by your family and begin burgled would put such a smile on millions of viewers faces? Upon release, Home Alone 1 became the highest grossing live action comedy film of all time in the U.S., taken over by The Hangover Pt ll in 2011.  In my opinion Home Alone with Culkin is priceless anyway, FU Bradley Cooper and your beautiful eyes!

Image result for Home Alone cute

 

6. A Christmas Carol

Disney’s 2009 adaptation of the Dickens’ classic brought with it mixed reviews, but to me the dark undertone of the storyline juxtaposes perfectly with the full-action animations.  Despite their being several remakes of the historical author’s story, this has to be one my favourites. Jim Carrey proves not only can he act in person but also can do it solely through voice also, as exemplified perfectly in this marvellous production. Forget Santa, Carrey is the man of Christmas for me!

Image result for a christmas carol disney

 

 

Sorry if you’re offended that Die Hard never made the cut!

beauty judge attractiveness

Can you really judge a book by its cover?

Writing

When your mother use to tell you to put on your ‘Sunday best’, was that really for God or for the fellow church dwellers?

Time and time again I have been proven wrong, I look at someone thinking ‘oh they’ll be friendly’ and instead I’m met with a look as if they’ve been sucking lemons all morning. Whereas you run a mile from the local hooligan and perhaps they may be the ones to call an ambulance as you trip over the pavement on your escape from them. My point being, whether we like it or not we all judge a book by its cover. Biology has meant we don’t read between the lines, atleast not initially, and here’s why:

Biology study

Blame our ancestors for all the sudden judgment and stereotyping. Putting it this way – with neurons devoted to visual processing taking up 30% of the cortex as oppose to 3% for hearing and 8% for touch. We really get a ‘feel’ for someone through our ‘eyes’.

But maybe don’t blame your judgmental self too quickly, for as ‘bad’ as it is to stereotype, it actually is a ‘good’ thing. Humans have to be quick in sussing out other humans out with immediacy – are they a threat or non-threat?

Some pre-conceived judgments we make

  • A trustworthy face – Studies have shown that humans make a judgement on the level of trust they would have in another person just based on their face alone.

 

  • The halo effect – We view ‘more physically attractive’ people as being ‘higher achievers’ across the board than people deemed ‘less physically attractive’. So if you’re hot then the world pretty much thinks you’re the next Einstein.

 

  • The voice effect on leadership – higher pitched, slower speaking voices deemed to lack leadership qualities that a person of a lower-pitched and faster pace of speech would have. (When voices were the only thing to base judgement off of.)

 

  •  The uglier the criminal the harsher the prison sentence – the judgment bias on attractiveness when sentencing.

 

I love posts which make me feel all self-conscious about myself. I guess the moral of the story is blame science for our judgmental stereotyping selves! And know that beauty and ability are really internal qualities of ourselves.

Why You & I Both Hate Shopping

Writing

Nothing sinks my heart further into the pit of my stomach than the sight of two mums fighting over the same cable-knit jumper in the ‘Winter’ aisle, or better yet, one of them fighting with yours truly. Not that I would ever buy a cable-knit jumper or anything remotely resembling it but the point still holds, going clothes shopping is like going off to war. Left, right and centre you have the fear of God struck into you by the bullish and brutish ways of the everyday shopper.

I’m not saying every passerby has their heart set on making my shopping experience a living misery, but I am saying that there are a modest few that do, and don’t they do their damndest! Here are 5 of my favourite worse case scenarios when it comes to getting the groceries in:

  1. The Fitting Rooms

You think trying on clothes in a fitting room would be a very ‘individual’ sport (unless ofcourse  you’re one of these people who takes baths with their dogs and showers with their neighbours). Atleast it’s meant to be a solo activity until you are at your most vulnerable, as naked as the day you were born and the changing room curtain suddenly wafts open thanks to the ever-so-speedy shop assistant who keeps racing up and down the changing room corridors collecting coat hangers. The curtains billow as if a tornado has just graced us with its presence all in while your modesty as a result goes out the window. Cheers coat hanger girl, your wind gush running really made my day!

  1. Have A Good Look

Picture reading the tiniest of fonts on a label the size of a postage stamp, you focus with great intent, eyes squinting, beads of sweat drip from your forehead. You need these details! Success! You’ve read that the item isn’t machine washable so you turn to head away from the product only you find yourself cornered from all sides by blank, expressionless, unfamiliar faces. That’s right just as you decided to read the label so too did 5 other people who had nothing better to do with their lives in that moment than to make you feel small and trapped in your little local mall.

  1. The Awkward Shuffle

Shopping aisles are no place for claustrophobe’s or anyone who isn’t the width of a shoestring by all accounts. We’ve all been there, heading down the aisle, opposite traffic is on the move towards us fast and steady, we panic, which side to choose? Too late, you and the geriatric have both went left when you quite clearly should’ve went right. You almost clash heads, it could’ve been worse, it could’ve been the lips. This happens to me all the time, I always awkwardly do the same shaky shuffle as I desperately try and dodge another body only to find myself grazing mine against theirs in the most inconvenient of manners. I’m sure you can share this embarrassment atleast once in your life, that is ofcourse if you dare to venture beyond your welcome doormat once in a blue moon. 

  1. Walk The Line

I know that good things come to those who wait but when you’re waiting in line and have an unruly kid upfront and 2 gossiping grannies behind you really do have to weigh up the need to even buy food or clothing at all sometimes. It’s times like this I wish I could just abort the mission of trying to live in a civilised society and run off to the Amazon.

  1. The Cashier

I don’t care if I’m the 250th person you’ve asked ‘would you like a bag?’ to, is it too much to ask that you don’t look like you’ve sucked all the lemons down the fruit and veg aisle? What is with some people that they can’t just fake a smile once in a while even if they’re dying inside? Why does the curse of lethargy and snark strike just as I step up to pay for my camel toe inducing leggings and bottle green V-neck? Check yourself out check out girl! Or I wanna see your damn manager!

 

So tell me, am I being overdramatic or does shopping turn out to be full scale warfare in your eyes also? Let’s just say, I totally get why Amazon has become a multi-billion dollar company.

 

 

The Best Worst Halloween Costumes

Writing

Halloween is arguably one of the more ‘fun’ holidays of the year, when else do you have an excuse to dress up as giant genitalia or………

A Venus Fly Trap

Venus Fly Trap Costume - best worst Halloween costumes

Escapade certainly haven’t left any out any costume of the imagination as it proudly displays the purchasable plant + pot duo online. (Image courtesy of Escapade)

Roadkill

Roadkill fancy dress costume sold by Rasta Imposta. Best worst Halloween costumes 2018

Going to the complete other end of the spectrum now for all you animal lovers out there. Yes, ‘roadkill’ can be sported by those bordering on insanity this Halloween courtesy of Rasta Imposta The fact that there’s a kid in there makes it all the more disturbing! Don’t you think? (Image courtesy of Amazon).

The Addicts Combo

Worst Halloween Costumes 2018

So wrong but so right at the same time, I don’t know who owns this picture but I want to thank you and shake my head in shame at the same time for releasing this to the world.

Baby Pot Leaf

baby pot leaf worst halloween costumes 2018

There’s a bit of a foliage trend going on here, first the fly trap now this, thank you for this cute yet disturbing image Daily Beast.

I Can’t

Worst Halloween Costumes 2018

Ebay why! 😦 I had to keep the best, I mean worst till last, right?!

 

Excel London Discover Dogs 2018

Psychology Test – Are You A Dog Or Cat Person?

Writing

Walking into the ExCel London yesterday afternoon I couldn’t help but think to myself – this place is a  canine lover’s paradise and feline lover’s Hell! The event I was attending at the East London event was  the annual ‘Discover Dogs’ extravaganza. It certainly got tails wagging all weekend with agility shows, best in show and let’s not forget every dog on the face of the Earth on show, quite literally!

As I made my way through all the drooling, barking and fluff, which took quite some time to be honest (I had to stop and stroke almost every dog breed, except Chihuahua’s ew, sorry)! I noticed an uncanny resemblance between owner and pooch. Turns out not only does this happen in dogs but cats also as I later found out:

Psychology #1 – Matchy Matchy

Keeping it short and sweet, it turns out that there is infact a correlation between physical resemblance of owner and pet. Pinpointing in particular – the eyes! A study conducted by Sadahiko Nakajima, a psychologist from Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan concluded that it’s not about hairstyles (which I personally find surprising), gender or weight but instead it’s the windows to the soul! A similarity between peepers seems to be the underlying reasoning behind the similarity in physical attributes between man and dog.

But what is it about the eyes? It’s been proven that colour doesn’t have an impact so is it their shape? Their twinkling cuteness? This is yet to be determined. Atleast it’s been narrowed down to some part of their being!

And turns out, similarities in owner and animal it doesn’t stop with dogs. Although we may not all be blessed with those stunning cat eyes, studies have shown that cats can actually take on personality traits of their owners.  Why? Because they’re users! I mean…. reasons could be that the owner brings out a certain side of their cat – more playtime = a more boisterous cat, who will most likely want to play more often. More cuddling  =  a  more affectionate cat.  SO the cat seems similar to the owner because the owner’s personality brings out more of that personality type in the cat. It’s like that one outgoing friend we all have, none of want to go out clubbing and the next minute we’re gyrating our hips on the dancefloor at 2am all because they batted their eyelashes at us. You are ‘that’ friend to your feline.  Cats can also adopt sleeping and eating schedules of their owners too! How bizarre and cute!

 

But enough about cats back onto canines! Below are some of pups of the day:

Excel London Discover Dogs 2018

Excel London Discover Dogs 2018

Psychology #2 – Is there really a ‘cat’ person or a ‘dog’ person?

Perhaps your preference for pooch over puss in boots or vice versa has more to say about you as a person than you first thought out.

Business Insider seems to think so, according to their report:

  • Dogs Owners earn a higher salary than cat owners
  • Cat owners are 4 x more likely to work in a creative field than dog owners.
  • Dog owners are bigger fans of horror and action films than cat owners.
  • Cat owners tend to enjoy reading, writing, dogs owners – sports and travel.

Whether you favour a feline or prefer a pup. You can’t deny the appeal of these! Unless ofcourse you’re a cold hearted robot. I’d encourage any animal fan to head to a convention near you. It boosts your mood for sure.

Excel London Discover Dogs 2018

The Twelfth Night adapted by Kwame Kwei-Armah starring Gabrielle Brooks performed by The Young Vic Theatre

Shakespeare’s The Twelfth Night – The Young Vic

Writing

“Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” 
― 
William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

To say the adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedic theatrical tale was ‘great’ would be an absolute understatement. I must say, when I first realised that the play was completely dialogued in Shakespearean language I felt like I might pull a sicky and give it a miss. But thankfully my ignorance subsided and I opened my eyes and ears to what was a truly a totally triumphant re-telling of the famous playwright’s piece.

The Title’s Significance

Anyone (myself included) who may not be 100% familiar with this play would feel enlightened by knowing that it gets its title –  ‘The Twelfth Night’ by bearing reference to the ‘twelfth night’ after Christmas day, which in some stems of Christianity marks the day of the ‘Epiphany’. The ‘Epiphany’ being a day to celebrate the visit of the three wise men to baby Jesus and Jesus’ baptism.

It is celebrated with feasting and festivities, parallels of which were seen in the opening scenes of the play performed by the energetic cast last night. Where they interacted  with audience members while dressed up as if attending a carnival street party.

 The Backstory

Perhaps a lesser known story than the likes of Romeo and Juliet or Macbeth, but with no less of an impact in my opinion after watching the brilliant performance at The Young Vic theatre in London. Shakespeare’s comedic take on a rather peculiar love triangle or shall I say love pentagon, or octagon for the number of lovers involved is injected with diversity and vitality on the Southwark stage. And I highly recommend you see it or watch it online.

The Twelfth Night adapted by Kwame Kwei-Armah starring Gabrielle Brooks performed by The Young Vic Theatre

In simple terms the plot focuses around 3 people (sorry all other cast members, you were great but these 3 were the main characters I feel) Olivia, Orsino and Cesario(Viola).

1) Orsino fancies Olivia.

2)Olivia wants to shack up with Cesario (Orsino’s servant, who Olivia thinks is a man but is actually a woman – Viola).

3)Cesario eventually reveals her true identity and in doing so has Orsino panging after her, who no longer fancies Olivia.

What a romantic rollercoaster, which sounds more like teenage texting than Shakespeare scripting, but believe me the plot is more rich than I’m leading you to believe. And with Kwame Kwei-Armah heading up the director’s front of this stunning adaptation you know you’re in for a real treat.

The story unfolds in such an engaging and dynamic manner. No sooner is one part of the cast breaking into song and dance, than are the rugs being pulled from under our feet as we’re floored by the contrasting poignant emotional moments of the main characters soliloquy’s. I loved all actors of the play but to me Cesario, played by Gabrielle Brooks was an absolute show-stealer of a performer. Her vocals are incredible, so good is she live that I thought ‘you must be miming’, but oh no, certainly not. And as if her singing wasn’t stunning enough, her acting was as equally spellbinding.

So what exactly was my purpose for this post

1) To share an ‘epiphany’ of my own – don’t be too quick to assume! I assumed I wouldn’t be able t understand a word of the show but in actual fact it made me want to incorporate some Shakespeare lingo into thine own prose.

2) To give The Young Vic Theatre a massive shout out, don’t for a second believe the plays are half-assed productions performed by some angsty hormonal teens. The talent seen on stage last night would make any of their mothers shed a tear of pride if sat in the audience. For I almost did! The cast was exceptional and so too were the sound engineers and backstage teams to coordinate such an effortlessly stunning production, Shakespeare would be proud I’m sure!

3) Musical Theatre as a whole should be praised, it’s one thing to act, sing or dance in front of a camera where you can do re-takes but to act, sing AND dance on a live stage with no retake deserves a massive amount of praise.

Thank you Young Vic Theatre for this show, it actually made me want to watch another theatre performance more so than the West End has done!

Book Review - Man's Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Book Review – Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Writing

Book Review – Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Having read this book, I now understand why it has sold over 9 million copies. This tribute to hope against adversity should be testament to the human mind’s astonishing capabilities.

Unlike alot of wishy washy self-help books, Frankl’s psychological account provides reason in the most brutal and honest of ways. Re-telling his own harrowing experiences of live as a concentration camp prisoner, and the mechanisms he personally put into practice with his mind which ultimately spared him his mental freedom.

This book has left me stunned and in a state of reflection. If Frankl could remain hopeful in such dire circumstances then really what circumstances can any of us say we can’t survive through?

A truly exceptional read.

A selection of some of the most powerful quotes from the book:

pg 74 – “Is that theory true which would have us believe that man is no more than a product of many conditional and environmental factors – be they of a biological, psychological or sociological nature?”

“…..that man cannot escape the influences of his surroundings?”

“Does man have no choice of action in the face of such circumstances?”

In this section, Frankl questions whether man has a choice of action in any given situation. With specific reference to other prisoners, he questions whether man is, put simply,  a product of his own environment or if he can rise above the situation his environment has put him in – the concentration camp. With uncertainty over his freedom,  over his life, will the prisoner give in and ultimately give up? Or will he mentally make the choice of seeing the positive on even the bleakest of days. Will he use past memories and future hopes to will away his temptation to fade into a type non-existence in an attempt to escape the torturous reality of camp life?

Frankl answers his own question with the eloquent statement below:

Pg 75 – “And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers which threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.”

 Pg 84 – “Nietzche’s words “He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how.”.”

Pg 51 – “Standing outside we saw sinister clouds glowing in the west and the whole sky alive with clouds of ever-changing shapes and colors, from steel blue to blood red. The desolate grey mud huts provided a sharp contrast, while the puddles on the muddy ground reflected the glowing sky. Then, after minutes of moving silence, one prisoner said to another, “How beautiful the world could be!”.”

When your environment comes to be what is only contained within the four fences of a concentration camp, positivity must be sought after in the most simplest of forms. Frankl remarks on how a newfound appreciation for nature would act as a crutch to the dying man. How the beauty of the sunrise and sunset would offer a temporary moment of escape to the prisoners of war.

Pg 85 – “We had to learn ourselves and, furthermore, we had to teach the despairing men, that it did not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.”

Viktor Frankl discusses openly of the frequent suicide attempts by fellow prisoners, he exclaims how camp rules made it strictly forbidden to help save a man attempting to end his own life, you could not for example cut him down. He states how those men who felt suicidal felt like they had nothing more to expect from life. Frankl’s response is that life is still expecting something from them. Perhaps not today but someday in future. Perhaps they will be a father or a husband. A future child or wife will need them.

 

Man’s search for meaning is by no means an easy read, as much as it made me think about methodologies and attitudes, it made me honestly feel deeply emotional at points, as I was so immersed in the experiences Frankl unfolded. Lessons learned from his work can be taken into many areas of our lives, this book, although focusing on the most brutal and evil parts of human history has managed in the process to give liberation to both Frankl and the reader. We have been given a chance to learn from Frankl’s horrific experiences, and so the question is, as one of the book’s main highlights – will we make that choice?