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I discovered a new British artist today that I really loved. Rachel from the blog Peacock Feathers & Diamond Rings had written about one of Kurt Jackson’s exhibitions and I clicked through and spent the next little while clicking through his beautiful paintings. These are some of my favourite, all lifted from his website, so hopefully he doesn’t mind the free advertising! His paintings are so evocative and beautiful, I’d love to have one hanging in our apartment…

It is a widely agreed fact that “the film of the book” is never as good as the book. (At least, I can’t think of any exceptions off the top of my head).

However, I am not one of those people who hate seeing their favourite book turned into a film, because of all they leave out, the characters who just don’t look like they did in your head, the altered ending. I get that a film is a very different story-telling medium to a book. I am a die-hard bookworm, but I also love a good film, so I can generally enjoy any “film of the book” for what it is, without comparing it too much to the book.

Still, I was bound to be just a wee bit nervous this week when Rasmus and I went to see the film of probably my favourite book of the year, thus far.

I read The Help in the spring time, I can’t quite remember when and apparently I didn’t write about it here, coz I can’t find it in the archives. But really and truly, I LOVED it. It is clever and wonderful and moving and so very special.

And yes, the film left out a lot, changed some of it. But I think it also really managed to capture both the fear and mistrust between white and black people at that time, and also the precious relationships that formed across the divide. It was a lovely film, I sobbed through a couple of scenes – most especially every time Aibileen tells Mae Mobley “You is kind, you is smart, you is important”.

I also loved the scenes between Minny and Celia. In the book, they had been my least favourite scenes, I preferred those with Skeeter and Aibileen. But the film showed this amazing relationship between them, the difficulty of being different and experiencing rejection, not matter whether you’re white or black. Theirs was a beautiful storyline.

I also adored every scene with Cicely Tyson in because I am entirely in love with her. She made me cry when she recited the famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” of Sojourner Truth, the 19th century abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. If you haven’t watched that speech, you should.

I read an article not long ago by Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help. She received 60 rejection letters for the manuscript of The Help before someone finally saw its potential and decided to publish it. SIXTY. She writes,

“The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed. But I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript—or painting, song, voice, dance moves, [insert passion here]—in the coffin that is your bedside drawer and close it for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere. Or you could do what this writer did: Give in to your obsession instead.”

That’s a powerful thought for the day, I think…

last weekend Rasmus and I made the popcorn, opened the bottle of wine and sat down to watch Oceans 11.

partly because neither of us had watched it in a while.

mostly because I am so excited about our “honeymoon” to the USA in May and the two nights we’ll be staying on the strip in Vegas…

Yey for singing and dancing fountains!

Yesterday, 11th November, was a public holiday here in Belgium.

Am I the only one who gets all the names of these holidays mixed up? I mean, I knew that yesterday was about remembering those who died in war. But all the public holidays seem to have long names beginning with “A” and I kept getting it mixed up yesterday…

I was especall grateful for the day off yesterday because I will be working this weekend. So the day began in style when I didn’t get out of bed until about 11am.

Then this happened:

Which was fun.

And then we spent a few hours re-organising our kitchen cupboards. Which was actually also fun.

Then we joined a gym.

Then I got my haircut.

Here is a very fuzzy photo of what I look like now. The fuzziness is due to my not being able to hold my hand still while taking a picture of myself in a somewhat damaged old mirror.

But you get the general idea.

Then my husband discovered we had missed the chance to cook duck last night (for Mortensaften – the story I was told about a humble monk not wanting to be bishop and hiding with the geese and then being found coz they honked loudly and then being forced to be bishop so making everyone eat goose in revenge once a year was hilarious)

So instead he cooked turkey and brown potatoes and gravy and beans tonight. Because no where in the city was selling duck yesterday apparently. Except the Chinese supermarket which was selling whole frozen peking duck which wasn’t quite what he was looking for. Anyway, the Danish-style meal was very yummy and I stuffed myself.

Then we watched Men in Black. What a classic film.

Then we went to bed.

Oh I’m sorry. Are you still in shock from that “joined a gym” moment? Yes, me too. Not quite sure how it happened. But it did. I am a fully paid gym member. Which made me feel better about eating that huge dinner last night despite the fact I haven’t actually used the gym yet.

One step at a time.

I am in love with this short film… making me feel all happy and in love :)

I know it’s a whole 12 minutes out of your day but it is so totally heart-warming…

About a year ago I was reduced to a blubbering mess by this man. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it just happened again, but watch this and try and tell me it doesn’t at least warm the cockles of your heart just a wee bit…

Britain’s Got Talent 2009 – Susan Boyle

I’ll be going home at the weekend and looking forward to a week of wonderful family Christmassy goodness, which for sure will include much baking and cooking, and probably will also include a couple of good movies.

Ok, I tried to think of my top ten, but honestly I cannot htink of 10 good Christmas movies. Which is a little sad. So if you can think of any I should add to my list, let me know. But I can tell you right now, Elf will not make the list…

1. Muppets Christmas Carol. Oh the genius!! One of my favourite uni memories is that annual late night showing of this film at the cinema on the last Wednesday of term. The queues reached faaaaar down the street hours in advance and students were willing to sit in the aisles to watch it and sing along.

2. White Christmas. A Thornton family must-see classic. I don’t think there is a single line or lyric that Jen and I do not know the words too…

3. While you were sleeping. This film is a hot tip to be my all-time favourite movie. The romance, the humour, the snow… so perfect!

4. Miracle on 34th Street. The 1947 version. Don’t you dare even consider watching the remake. Will you make you feel all warm and snuggly inside.

5. A Charlie Brown Christmas. So maybe not technically a film, but who could not fall for this movie? (also, Charlie Brown really reminds me of my dad). “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!”

6. Love Actually. I saw this three times in the cinema. The best of British cinema…

7. Bernard and the Genie. Never heard of this one? It has Rowan Atkinson and Lenny Henry in it. What more could you want? The “hero” gets fired and dumped within the first five minutes. It can only get better right?

8. The Holiday. If I ever do anything in my life worth talking about, I want Kate Winslet to play me in the film of my life. Just so you know. And also, how sexy is Jude Law in this movie?! “I have a cow, and I sew”. Hot.

Any suggestions to bring it up to 10?

Sisters, sisters, never were there such devoted sisters...

"Sisters, sisters, never were there such devoted sisters..."

…because she’s sick and sick people need eye candy to help them get better.

Do you ever have those moment where you are watching a film and have a REVELATION when you realise where you have seen that actor before???

Ta da! Enter Tobias Menzies – as Mr Elliot in Persuasion, and as Villiers (M’s assistant) in Casino Royale.

I also love that I feel like I am the first person to ever make this connection. Perhaps even Tobias himself was not aware of it…

p.s. Just to be clear, I think he looks much better without the sideburns. Although he’s a little less wimpy in Persuasion, so maybe it’s the effect of having sideburns.

Jane Austen has ruined me forever. Never will any man’s romantic addresses be enough. Not now that they have to measure up to Captain Wentworth…

I have just finished re-reading Persuasion, my favourite Jane Austen novel. I LOVE the book and also thoroughly enjoy the most recent film version, not least because of the beautiful presence of Rupert Penry-Jones of Spooks fame. Jen’s frequent advice to me on bad days is to “go and watch Rupert look smouldering in a cravat”. Good advice, sure to brighten the darkest of days.

But ohmygoodness, does a man like Captain Wentworth exist? Because the man who wrote me this letter would surly not have to do another worthy thing in his whole life, so amazing is it. Exaggerate? Me? Well, only just…

I can no longer listen in silence… You pierce my soul. I am half in agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you… For you alone I think and plan – have you not seen this?

Oh bliss.

My all-time favourite Shakespeare play. Which is saying something because I am a huge fan of the Bard and could happly go see another one each day wihout getting bored. But this play has it all – banter, romance, a wedding, a death (almost), intrigue, suspense, a fool, lots of laughter…

My parents are friends of Creation, an open-air threatre company based in Oxford and try and see as many of their performances as possible, most of which are Shakespeare plays.

Jen and I tagged along with them to see Much Ado a few weeks ago. As we sat in the front row waiting for the start, mum flicked through the program to read the synopsis to which our reponse was (as we grabbed it out her hands), “Forget the story, mum, skip to the photos, are there any cute actors?!” Love that we have such good priorities :)

It was good. The guy playing Benedick was HILARIOUS. Almost better than Kenneth Branagh in the film version. And the guy playing Claudio was suitably gorgeous. The girls were fine, Hero a bit wimpy maybe. And Leonato was a bit stilted. But I LOVED the depiction of Dogberry who had Jen and I crying with laughter.

Oh I wish there were more English plays in Brussels…