About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Holly Searle is a writer who was born in Westminster in the middle of London. She shares her birthday with Jarvis Cocker and David Seaman and like Jarvis Cocker she wears glasses but has nothing whatsoever in common with David Seaman. She is fascinated by words, people and their stories, and regularly spends hours fantasising about being offered a weekly column. She has a degree in Film and Television which she gained from Brunel University in 1997. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life. Long Walk to Forever by Kurt Vonnegut is her favourite short story. She is the author of the published children's tale The Story of Balan Singh, and is currently working on her first book.

Friday, 29 June 2012

You, Me and Sean Bean By Holly Searle








Don't ask me when the conversation started as its evolution is a mystery to me. But it did and as such, is an open ended work in progress even as we speak.

There is no construction to it, no solid mapped path or sense to its being and no serious point to it at all. But rather a delightful randomness that is centred around the main subject matter, that is, the one and only Sean Bean. There are a multitude of additional open ended add ons, which could be interpreted by any given stranger overhearing them, simply as the mutterings of a pair of delusional nutters who share an over active imagination in their idolisation of this actor from South Yorkshire.

That may well be, but it is funny and amuses us endlessly.

If I had to identify how and why it started, I would have to say that it was due to my friend's admiration of Sean's portrayal of Richard Sharpe, the eponymous hero from the television series Sharpe and of my own particular fondness for the character of Mellors, that he played in Lady Chatterley's Lover. It was these two specific protagonist that led him to become the object of our joint affection, and that created the firm foundation of our co-conspiratorial conversations that mutated into something more.

Voids of time are often filled either in person or via a social media internet connection of our shared harmless interest in Sean. There no intended malice, but rather an innocent inquisitorial interest in him and his antics, both on and off the screen.

He is a true patriarchal legend in both spheres, simply because there is a fine blurred line between the characters he plays and because of the man he appears to be in reality. And this, in our minds, presents an ongoing parody of who Sean Bean is and how we relate to him.

Initially, we bonded over the fact that he is probably the sort of bloke who would be a good laugh to go for a drink with as he possesses a rare rough and ready masculinity that has all but diminished in today's society. With the sort of personality traits that you could also attribute to Tom Jones or associate with the character of Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes or Life on Mars.

The sort of man who once wore Old Spice or Brut aftershave whilst a dolly bird draped herself all over him. The kind of bloke who drank and smoked and liked to call women 'Love' or 'Pet' rather than 'Babe' and who would have no hesitation in initiating a punch up in the event that some 'Little Git' should make the mistake of eyeing up his bird.

Men like that may be dinosaurs that have just been stored in the loft with a pile of dusty old Playboy magazines and rusty bicycle clips. But what have they been replaced with? Poor politically correct substitutes with confused dumbed-down personalities that Sean and his like couldn't even begin to understand and quite frankly would have no time for.

So we decided that was why we liked Sean. He is a man's man, a no nonsense say it like it is type of fellow, who would have a few stories to tell that would make you roar with laughter and who would make sure you got home safe at the end of the night.

Our investigations led us to the fact that Sean liked a drink in North London with his pals. We did consider our options having sourced this information (hike over there and see what transpired), but came to conclude that there were far too many unforeseen scenarios that might disrupt our quest so we left it.

AS time went on, we indulged ourselves by keeping our faith and interest in him alive, by posting status' which referred to Sean on Facebook. Then one day my phone rang and my friend's little voice said “Holly, you know that every time we mention him, it appears in a feed on his page and anyone and everyone can see it”. She laughed and I laughed as if it was nothing at all and yet something all at the same time. It wasn't serious and our friends all thought it was funny as well, or maybe they are just Goodfellowing us and just for a fleeting moment, I felt like Joe Pesci.

We have long periods of time when Sean even isn't even mentioned at all. He's not the centre of our universes after all, our own lives are. But somewhere up there in the ether he is never forgotten. We keep him suspended in a joint mental limbo until he happens to appear on a chat show, a late night movie or in a story in the press. And when he does, he is reborn in our joint consciousness once more.

During a recent trip, my friend and I found ourselves on a train diversion on our way home. We boarded the replacement bus service and during the hour it took us to get from station A to station B to reconnect with the correct train, we discussed Sean at great length.

These exchanges often follow the same pattern, that is to say I assume the role of Sean and adopt his Northern accent. I then act out what I consider his appropriate reaction would be to the main topic of the conversation that is taking place.

The phrase "You had to be there." Often enters my mind during these moments.

By the time we arrived at Station B, we had decided that Sean should in actuality employ us both. That way, we could live in his swanky villa in North London and take care of all of his needs as he is undoubtedly a busy man who is often away filming, that would be happy to know that we were there waiting for him when he returned.

After one of his many costume drama escapades on route to Mordor or Winterfell, that would last for at least a few months, we worked out that he would welcome a dinner party on his return that we would arrange. We then decided who we would invite to attend and what we would serve for supper. I thought that Chas and Dave could perhaps be persuaded to provide the entertainment as I am sure Sean would enjoy a sing along to Ain't No Pleasing You.

Of course, knowing we were all just trustworthy mates, Sean would furnish us with shed loads of cash with which to make these arrangements possible.

We also came to conclude that we would get all of this done and dusted early on prior to his return. That way, we could spend a week away before hand pampering ourselves, so that by the time he was due home and before the dinner party guests arrived, we would be well rested from the joint effort we had put in.

At that moment the train arrived and we continued on our journey and Sean was filed away.

This was the last time we discussed him at great depth or that I thought about him, until I ventured into a random bookmakers after The Grand National to collect my winnings and, I kid you not, as I approached the counter, the fellow who was standing there was his spitting image.

I smiled dumbfounded, and handed him the ticket saying that I was one of millions of people who he probably encountered at this time of the year due to the National.

He laughed and returned my banter in a Sheffield drawl. I was gob smacked.

I left with my meagre £2.50 winnings. But my mind was rich in wonder, as I thought for a brief moment that perhaps it had actually been him researching a role.

Next a text from my friend letting me to know that Sean was being interviewed by Jonathan Ross. I switched over immediately to watched him. He is not the easiest man in the world to interview and, as I watched him that became uncomfortably apparent.

Maybe he is shy or maybe he was worried that he hadn't banked that day's takings from the bookmakers.

Then a story appeared in the press about his latest role playing a transvestite and I think that was for us the beginning of the end. Not that either of us have an issue with cross-dressing men, but rather because it showed a side of Sean that debased his masculinity in our eyes.

He hasn't really been discussed and we have both in since switched our alliances to other men that we find more suitable.

My friend was been quite taken by the scamp that is Jeremy Renner probably because he looked good in that outfit he wore in The Hurtlocker and is quite fetching as Hawkeye in Avengers Assemble.

Me, well that is for me to know, but I will undoubtedly still remember Sean from time to time with great affection and fondness, especially when I see a tree.





Thursday, 28 June 2012

To Be Honest, I Would Rather You Just Made Me Laugh By Holly Searle






Earlier this year I spent the evening with the actor Jon Hamm who plays the character of Donald Draper in the show Mad Men

(Actually, that opening paragraph is a tad misleading and as I am not that sort of girl, I shall begin again).

Earlier this year in London I attended an evening hosted by BAFTA, where the actor Jon Hamm who plays the character of Donald Draper in the excellent series Mad Men was being 
interviewed to promote the up and coming fifth season of the show as it was about to air in America.

I was keen to attend this interview not because of Jon Hamm, but because I am a bit of a geek when it comes to the show in which he happens to be one of the key actors.

On arrival at the venue it soon became pretty clear that a majority of the tickets for this event had been purchased by ladies. 

Now, like me, they could have been Mad Men geeks, but after the lights dimmed in the auditorium and dear Jon made his suited and booted way onto the stage, the swooning murmurings from the masses of lasses, lead me to conclude quite the opposite.

That is fine I thought, if they want to objectify him, who am I to criticise their choice of fantasy and his role in it. Carry on girls I thought, fill your boots.

Once their beating hearts became still and a hush finally descended, I focused on the reasons why I was there and settled down and became jackanory engrossed in the interview. 

The choice of clips used to illustrate the points raised and the discussion between Mr H and his interviewer about the lives of the additional characters that also appear in the show, had me knicker-gripped to my seat.

So far, so good I thought.

It was an intelligent, entertaining and well put together interview, but I started to become aware as it proceeded (with immense irritation I have to add), that even the interviewer was taking it upon herself to use every opportunity to flirt with Mr Hamm. He in turn unashamed lapped this up and proceeded to reciprocate it when he noticed the response it was receiving from the women in the audience.

At that point Donald Draper appeared with his charming Mack The Knife smile in addition to the odd coy Bond like fiddle of his cuff links. He loved it, but alas had reverted to a type that I have no time for.
And although he had me at Hello , at that point he lost me.

The interviewer then asked the audience if there were any questions they would like to put to Jon.
Being the geek that I am, I had my hand raised before those words had left her mouth.

Of course, Mr Hamm turned to me all twinkle and expectation, but I meant business and royally rained on his parade by not asking him a question at all, but rather telling him something about Peggy Olson (another character from the show). I had no idea where I was going with my wittering observations or what the point was I was actually trying to make, but I wasn't going to lower my intellect by joining in with the general consensus of being all smarmy in order to cop a feel of his charm by flirting with him.
And at that moment, I swear I saw tumble-weed roll in the space between us.

He crumbled before me and as I didn't have him at Hello the mic was whipped out of my hand and passed too a much more acceptable sexy simpering saucy Sally example of contemporary femininity in order to reset the lust heat setting on the interview. Jon shone once more (phew), while I was left alone in the dark a little breathless and lonely (sigh).

Still, I had made my point and had had my say. And even if I hadn't played along, I was happy enough.
But, in retrospection it made me contemplate what all the fuss was about as to be honest, I don't fancy Jon Hamm or his alter ego Don at all.

He is a handsome fellow of that there is no doubt. But, I came to conclude that he just isn't my type as I would rather spend my time laughing with a man of character, rather than with one that lacks one.
Now, don't all shout at once, but he just isn't funny.

When I was a child I did a fair impression of Frankie Howard, if you twisted my arm and threatened me with court action, I would probably consider doing it for you sometime.

But let's face it, Jon Hamm is far too good-looking to be charmed by my impression of Frankie Howard and with all due respect, I am holding out for a man who might be (it isn't brilliant to be honest, so don't hold your breath).

I have a theory that we choose a type of counterpart that best compliments our own very early on and then base all future suitable mates unconsciously upon this selection. I thought about those I that I'd had crushes on and came up with the following candidates (and please bare in mind that, I could have chosen Donny Osmond or David Cassidy) Danny Partridge, Neil Reid and Harpo Marx.

For those of you who have no idea of whom I speak, Danny Partridge was Keith Partridge's younger ginger rotund brother in The Partridge Family. Neil Reid was a young Scottish lad in a kilt who won Opportunity Knocks several times singing a song called Mother of Mine. And Harpo Marx was the silent harp playing genius who appeared along side his brothers in The Marx Brothers movies.

Make of that what you will. But what I surmise from those choices, is that I was more draw to character than charisma. Danny Partridge was a bit of a cheeky scamp, while Neil Reid displayed an innocent venerable nature that played to my underdeveloped maternal heart-strings and Harpo, well, he just made me laugh.

So, in a pocket-book Freud nutshell sort of way, those characteristics appeal more to me than any others.

Like wise, all of those who idolised pretty boy pop stars, will probably be content to accept those as a trait above all others that they can relate to. But not me. I have always been more intrigued by what cannot be seen rather than what can.

As I developed so did my tastes. I will admit to once having a crush on Roy Castle and Mark Curry from Blue Peter, but then progressed onto a new phase that encompassed lookers like David Soul and Robert Redford.

However, these were short-lived phases as these types of men never fancied me (classically good-looking ones), so I left them behind in search of something else. Something more intrinsic, formidable and funny.

I had always enjoyed comedy and laughing from a very early age and this wasn't such an odd plimsoll line to reach considering that I had been raised on a diet that consisted of The Marx Brothers and Carry On films intertwined with a healthy dash of Eric and Ernie, Norman Wisdom,The Two Ronnies, Dick Emery and Dave Allen.

But as I grew I also began to appreciated the power of observational comedy and so when I encountered Bill Hicks' style, my character combined with intellect quota cup overflowed. Here was a man who was funny and smart with it. A man whose perception of the world matched mine completely. And Bill wasn't your typical looker either, but he was incredibly funny and intelligent and to me that was far more sexier than those who possess an over defined set of abdominal muscles any day of the week. I still miss you Bill,I always will.

In the wake of Bill Hicks, there were other comics, some that just didn't make me laugh or manage to cut the mustard. But that some did with their laugh till your stomach ache humour. Who can fail to laugh at David Baddiel and Robert Newman's History Today sketches, or Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehead as Ralph and Ted, or Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer doing anything and I adore the character of Angelos Epithemiou played by Renton Skinner. Frank Skinner, Paul Merton, Alan Carr and the irrepressible talent that is Stewart Lee just blows me away every time he opens his mouth and his timing is just spot on. Steve Martin, Eddie Izzard, Kathy Burke, Harry Enfield, Ben Elton, Ben Stiller, French and Saunders the list is endless.

Stand up isn't a new medium by any means, but there does appear to be a vast available wealth of comedic talent now than at any other time and that, my friend is a good thing as far as I am concerned. It is sexy, vital, accessible and real.

Laughing is so good for you and has the power to make you feel included with a majority rather than a minority, which is where I would place those who cannot see past the handsome man in the suit. Jon Hamm and his acolytes could learn a lesson or two here, but they probably never will and in a strange way, that is fine by me, for I know where I would rather be sitting.

Look at Narcissus, he fell in love with himself because that was all he could focus on. If only he had gone to a comedy night every once in a while, he might have laughed at himself instead of spending hour after hour gazing at his reflection and fiddling rather coyly with is cuff links.
So, my Frankie Howard impression then...





Friday, 8 June 2012

Why Being Perfect is the Enemy of all that is Good By Holly Searle


I couldn't say how many times I have looked at myself in one mirror or another over the years, but I can tell you that my perception of myself wasn't always defined by my own judgement of what I saw looking back at me, but rather of those who surrounded me.

Realising this actually makes it worse when you think about it. I am not going to harp on about societies adaptation of what is considered to be beautiful and what is not because quite frankly my dear, I don't give a Rhett Butler damn about it now as I no longer believe a word of it.

No Siree, all of that is just so old now or maybe I am just past caring about its effect on me and find it as annoying as an unwanted mosquito bite whilst holidaying in paradise.

So lets investigate a bit further Watson shall we?

A few weeks ago I was listening to a Rabbi on the radio. He was talking about how we all conduct ourselves in society and the effect that this can generate on the well being of others. He concluded his spot, by saying that perfection was the enemy of good and if we all just aimed for goodness rather than trying to be perfect all the time, then we would all be much more content with ourselves and our lives. At that moment the sun came out in my mind and then it dawned on me that this was the very thing that I had being trying to communicate to others who had at one time or another questioned themselves because they weren't perfect.

It was pretty awe inspiring moment to hear someone redress an imbalance in such a simple way.

For so many years I wanted to be perfect and I wanted to be perfect because my so called faults were highlighted by others and this made me conscious of what I didn't have as opposed to what I did have.

I wasted years worrying about being the girl I wasn't instead of being the girl I was and this started to manifest itself in a number of ways. I wasn't too worried about the way I looked so much, but I did start to worry about my weight and would spend ages alone in my room doing various exercises to improve myself. I also ate very little and developed an unhealthy relationship with the bathroom scales which I would stand on every morning and sigh when they failed to provide proof that I had lost weight.

And I wasn't the only one. I remember attending a party where other girls discussed the best colour to wear to make themselves look skinny. All the time my poor little brain was stock piling this peer provided information instead of thinking happy carefree thoughts about the world and its wife.

Then the culture of body dis-morphia began and it wasn't just other young women that I came in to contact with who professed a dislike of their self image as I was introduced to the calorific value of food by a boyfriend who was so knowledgeable on the topic that he could have sat an exam and passed without revising. The poor fellow, he was obsessed with his weight, but when I looked at him, I just saw him and he looked absolutely fine to me. After we broke up I was left knowing how many calories existed in which item of food and how much I could eat to loose or gain weight.

This enlightenment opened up an new chapter to me and I followed his lead and began to obsess about everything I ate in order to loose weight.

When simple dieting failed to make a difference, I am ashamed to say that I opted for a quick fix solution by downing handfuls of laxatives so that anything that I did eat, didn't stay in my system for very long. It was disgusting.

The crazy part of all of this was that in reality, I wasn't even fat or overweight. I was just normal but it would never matter how much weight I lost or how thin I became because I was never going to be satisfied with the way I looked because I simply wasn't perfect.

In order to disguise my imperfect body, I would wear clothes that were far too big for me to avoid drawing attention to my figure. I hid like that for years under layers of clothes being ashamed of myself.

When you are in that zone it creates a sort of tunnel vision perspective from which there is no deviation or distraction as it is all you think about. What you see in the mirror is never good enough as it isn't what you want to see, it just isn't perfect and sadly will never be, but quite frankly what is?

Perfection is describes it as being free from any flaws or defects and I wonder how many of us that can actually be attributed to? Dear God, even Mary Poppins was only “Practically perfect in every way”.

No my friends the reason why we try to be perfect rather than good is due, I believe to the level of love and wholesome nurturing that we all receive as individuals. Yes, yes it is that old nature versus nurture theory again, but it is so true. Nature made us who we are (warts and all) while an unwholesome nurture chose point these out instead of politely overlooking them and embracing us for the priceless works of art that we all actually are.

I cannot remember when I stop worrying about it all, it may well have been the day that I had to move the bathroom scales to make space for something else and I just couldn't find a suitable new location for them so in the end, I just throw them away.

Result, no more early morning negativity before I had engaged with the rest of humanity.

I still know of several friends of whom even today structure their lives around their unhealthy relationship with food and their bathroom scales and it makes me so incredibly sad.

Good is defined as being genuine and to be considered that, I believe you have to accept yourself for who you are and stop worrying about who you are not. Value what you have and not what you think you lack or feel that you are unable to achieve. Life is just too damn short.

I recently came into contact with a young women who had been through the most unimaginable experiences (drug addiction, alcoholism, rape and physical self harm) all due to her inherent lack of self worth. Through the support of a network of friends she began to clean up her act and regain her self and engage with life and all because she began to realise that she was a good person who had begun to value herself again.

I had met her before I heard her story and had thought she was one of the most beautiful young women I had ever met.

Being good is the way forward for all of us as it is more realistic goal, whereas perfection is not.

At one point Mary Poppins sings to Bert the chimney sweep “ Though you're just a diamond in the rough Bert, underneath your blood is blue”. Which is encouraging coming from her and a good note on which to end, rather than a perfect one.