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.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Case for Colombo By Holly Searle



A good friend of mine recently told me a story. She wasn't very happy and asked me what I thought the truth was. I said that in my opinion I didn't know what the actual truth was, but that it all sounded a little bit fishy to me. That's what I thought she replied.

I said that given all of the facts, the one thing that none of us where able to do, was to read the minds of those who create these disruptive episodes in our lives.

Yes she said, I know all of that. But what do you think the truth was?

I said I really didn't know and it all sounded like a case that only Colombo could solve.

She laughed and said if only I had his number.

I said look, you don't, but I could write a piece about it and to coin a well-known phrase, ask the audience?

You won't use my name or anything will you she asked?

No, I assured her. I shall just write it as she had explained it to me, and see what others thought the truth was.

Okay she said. Do your worst, or best, and see what the feedback is.

Will do I said.

So here it is.

My friend recently encountered a chap. He asked for her number so that he could take her out for a drink.

She froze and for a moment thought is this a good idea as he produced a piece of paper and pen from his pocket.

Then she thought, it is just a mobile number, what harm can it do?

He explained that he was off for two weeks on holiday and would call her on his return. Yes, okay she said and thought nothing more about it.

She wasn't particularly interested in having a boyfriend, but it was nice, and the asking had made her feel good about herself.

Later, prior to going on his trip, he sends her a text message, this is followed up with a call from him before he leaves.

They chat about all sorts of things. Life, work, insecurities about dating. After the call ended, my friend thinks it was promising and could be something, could be nothing.

She didn't think about it again, until a week or so later when he sends her a text telling her that he had been away whilst away. It was a long story he said.

They exchanged numerous texts, none of which are smutty. My friend thinks that this is a good sign.

He tells her that he'll be back soon.

She thinks that it will be nice to see him when he is.

On the day he is due to return, she goes to work. When she arrives home her phone rings and it is him letting her know that he is home from his trip and did she want to go for a drink that night?

She says she will call him in a while and let him know.

She doesn't usually like to go out on a school night as she isn't at her best.

But she is intrigued and thinks yes why not. So she arranges to meet him for a drink.

He is charming. And appears to have as many arms as an octopus as he seems intent on touching her as much as possible as well as kissing her.

My friend thinks, this is all very well and good, but it is a little too much for a first date.

Still in-between all of the touching and kissing, he seems like a nice man.

He drives her home and waits while she gets to her door safely.

That my friend tells me is a big tick in her book.

They have made an arrangement to meet again in a few days time. But something very X-File seems to occur as he seem seems to be unable to answer his phone or reply to the odd text message. He eventually gets in touch and claims that he has developed man flu and has taken to his bed.

My friend says oh dear, sorry to hear that. Hope you feel better blah, blah, blah.

Then he starts to send her random texts messages late in the evening of the night that they were due to meet up, saying that he is feeling much better and feels like going for a drink.

My friend is shattered. She says What now?

No reply. A few hours pass, and he then replies that he had fallen asleep again.

Okay she thinks, starting to wonder what is going on. She told me at this point, she was torn between believing that he was actually poorly and the fact that he was hiding something else. Either way, she said that the seeds of doubt were sown.

However, the following day, the day of their second date, she sends him a text asking him if they are meeting up later?

He doesn't reply.

After she leaves work, he calls her and says that could they make it the following day instead? He says tell you what, let me know when you are home and I will call you.

She does. There is no response. A few hours pass and she calls him. There is no answer.

Later that night she decides his is up to something so she sends him a text saying I can't make it tomorrow night.

He replies straight away saying he is heartbroken but will survive. He says well you didn't call me? She says I did. He says I have no missed calls from you. She wonders what the hell is going on. She is holding her phone when a text arrives from him saying I am calling you but it is just dead.

Really she replies, but I am holding my phone.

Then he calls her.

They chat. She thinks he sounds logical. And because of this decides to give him one more chance......

They meet up on the following evening. She is shattered. They go for a drink. God you are beautiful he keeps telling her whilst holding her hand and gazing into her tired eyes.

Then he says will you come home with me?

She said at this point she felt like she did the first day he asked for her number. She said that she replied let me have a think about it.

So she thinks, I am an adult. I haven't shared an intimate moment with another human being for a while. He seems like the sort of man who might not be lying, but how do I judge this? What do I do?

She concludes that she'll take the opportunity and says yes.

They go back to his place. For a man of his age and pay range, it seems a little odd as he lives in what she says can only be described as a hall of residence.

He says that he share the entire building with one other man. His bit contains very little amounts of homely stuff.

They talk, and then after the deed has been done. Which she tells me was okay. He says that he'll drive her home. Which he does.

She says that when they arrive back at hers he asks her what she is doing over the weekend. She has plans for the following day, but she asks him, does he want to have dinner on Sunday. He says that he is meant to be meeting a friend who is leaving the country, but yes that sounds good.

Again he waits until she is safely indoors and then leaves. When he gets home he sends her a text. She smiles and thinks that she has made the right decision.

The following day. She wakes up and thinks oh dear did I really do that?

She sends him a texts saying good morning and hears nothing. She has plans so she carries on. Later that day, she calls him to say hello. There is no answer. She frowns and wonders why that is.

She has plans for the evening a gets on with those.

The following day, she hears nothing. She tells me that she was quite annoyed as it then appeared that he had just used her. She says that she wouldn't have minded if that was what it was all about. But she is cross, so she sends him a message saying that. There is no reply.

The following day she sends him a message via an app that she had helped him install on his phone. She can see that he has read it, but again there is no response from him.

The following day she is as mad as hell. She tells me, you know what really pissed me off was the fact that he didn't give me the choice. If it had just been about the sex thing, I am an adult and I could have based my decision on that. But the deception was unacceptable.

By late Tuesday afternoon she sees that he is trying to call her. She is at work and cannot answer. He leaves her a message saying that he has been to a funeral and is annoyed by her messages and asks her not to call him again.

Now she says, she wonders if this is lie?

Holly why would someone leave you on a Friday evening, and between then and the following Tuesday, after you had tried to contact them, not contact you and explain this had happened?

I say I have no idea.

She says that she felt a little guilty and tries to call him as she doesn't want any bad feeling, if that is in fact the truth.

But, she tells me, he won't answer his phone.

I say, maybe he was cross?

She says, yes but, if you had been to a funeral, and you thought that you may have inadvertently upset someone, wouldn't you try to explain that?

I say yes, well I would, but people are odd.

So she says, I still do not know what the truth is.

I say I think that you never will, and to me it sounds, based upon all of the evidence, that he probably has another life, and just wanted to get his leg over.

I say who knows, maybe he has many pieces of paper in his pocket with an assortment of pens ready for any opportunity to ask women for their phone numbers?

Yes she says maybe.

I tell her not to worry about is all and to just get on with her life as she did before.

She says I am, but wouldn't it be great if Colombo was real and I knew the truth.

Yes I say, it would. But truth is often stranger than fiction and no amounts of cigars or raincoats will ever change that.


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Tick Tock By Holly Searle



It seems only fitting that as we gain an hour this weekend, to write a piece about time, or more notably, time travel.

I am fascinated by the concept of time travel and all that it allows. In all probability this was well and truly lodged in my mind after seeing Rod Taylor's character H. George Wells as he navigated his way through the past and the future, in the 1960 version of The Time Machine.

There he sat in his funny little sleigh like contraption in the conservatory of his house, defying the beliefs of his Victorian contemporaries, baring witness to the undeniable changing future nicely demonstrated by the clothes on the mannequin in the shop window opposite his home.

I was captivated and enthralled by his adventures, and became intrigued thereafter by both fictional and filmatic narratives that dealt with the subject of time travel, and the characters who undertook these time ticking treats of exploration.

And it's a tricky one, as the author has to take into considerations so many variables that the alteration of time in the context of the narrative may cause. This is known as The Butterfly Effect. If one sequence of events, however small is changed by the time traveller, then there is a danger that this may cause an irrecoverable ripple of events to occur elsewhere.

When these take place, the main protagonist has to retrace his or her steps to the moment that this chain of events began in order to reset and or prevent an alternative outcome.

In Back to the Future Marty unwittingly creates his own possible lack of existence when he discovers his father George McFly spying on his mother Lorraine in the tree outside her house.

George falls out of the tree and runs away. Marty chases after him and gets hit by the Lorraine's father's car that was intended for George.

Marty then replaces George in the fixed timeline, and becomes the focus of his mother's affections.

He then spends the rest of the narrative reversing his error to its original default timeline settings to ensure his own future existence.

In Back to the Future II Marty and the Doc find themselves in a dystopian noir future with a wealthy megalomaniacal Biff in control and now married to Lorraine. They are confronted with the mystery of how this has occurred and soon discover that it was again down to Marty. When Marty purchases the sports almanac in the fixed future timeline, he takes it back to the future where the fixed timeline older Biff, discovers it and uses the information it contains to make his millions and create an alternative future.

It's these simple errors of judgement, that can cause these ripples to develop, which in turn create major alterations in the fixed timeline.

Sometimes the characters of these time travelling treats are granted the gift of being able to see the future for their own gain.

In It's a Wonderful Life after reaching his own tipping point, George Bailey declares that he wishes that he had never been born. The response to this wish is revealed to him by an angle called Clarence, who shows him the alternative timeline had he never existed.

These revelations reverse George's wish, and makes him realise the importance of his life and the effect it has had upon others.

By the same token, the dissatisfied Dorothy Gale is transported to a fantasy world in The Wizard of Oz where she has to complete a set number of tasks to enable her safe passage home. When she finally returns to her own reality, she realises that there is no place like home and that she should never take that for granted ever again

In Woody Allen's charming Midnight in Paris, the romantic, but disillusioned screenwriter Gil Pender, wanders the post midnight streets of the city when he is suddenly transported back in time to the Paris of the 1920's. It is here that he meets all of his creative heroes who assist his future decision about himself and his work.

However, some time travellers like Henry DeTamble the protagonist from Audrey Niffenegger superb novel The Time Traveler's Wife, have little or no control over where they go or what they do.

Henry's ability to be able to time travel is the consequence of a genetic disorder called Chrono-Impairment, bouts of which are brought on by immense stress. He spends his entire life travelling backwards and forward in his own timeline, whilst trying to maintain his relationship with his wife Clare, both before and after they meet at a fixed point in time.

In Stephen King's 22.11.63, the protagonist Jake Epping a mild-mannered English teacher is given the opportunity to travel back in time via a vortex in the store-room of a local diner to prevent the assassination of JFK. The cancer ridden diner owner Al is unable to finish the mission himself, and tells Jake that he must do it as the consequence of his actions could change history and prevent other events that followed.

Jake discovers to his own personal detriment, again due to that old chestnut The Butterfly Effect, that this isn't the case.

Of course what all of these narratives demonstrate, is that there are both positive and negative aspects to being able to time travel. But, I have to admit, if I could choose one superpower, or ability, it would be that I could travel through time.

And I would have to say that I wouldn't use it to change any one historical event, as I would be far too concerned with the alternative outcome as Jake Epping discovered.

And yes whilst just like Edith Piaf Non, je ne regrette rien, I would certainly use it to reschedule a few events in my life so that the outcome was more positive in my favour.

With any power, comes great responsibility, so I wouldn't abuse it. But I would certainly enjoy knowing that the prevention, was far far better than the cure.

So remember when you gain an hour tonight, use it well and watch out for Morlocks.



Sunday, 13 October 2013

Words and Actions By Holly Searle




Human Rights piece for Blog Action Day, October 16, 2013.


There have been many moments in my life when I had wished I had spoken-up. Or for that matter drawn attention to a certain situation, and as to why it all appeared to me, to be a little out of sync, and not quite right.

Of course I didn't. And when we do not take the opportunity to voice our opinion about something we feel uncomfortable with, we become frustrated and that isn't right.

Frustration festers. It causes anger, and anger is a negative emotion from which nothing positive ever grew.

Many years later, something happened to me and I became fearless with regards to having my say.

In a funny sort of way, becoming fearless was quite a liberating experience for me as it enabled me to find my voice.

It freed me from all of my past woes and worries about how my opinions would be met. And I gained strength and the confidence to tap someone on the metaphorical shoulder and tell them that things just weren't right and that they should take note.

I soon gain some notoriety for my vocal displeasures, and was seen as someone who made complaints. But I didn't see it like that at all. I saw these little vocal soap-boxing moments as constructive criticism of a situation or of an occurrence, that needed to be addressed.

In a way, I guess I saw myself as a sort of pioneer. If I was wrong, then so be it.

But what if I was right? What if speaking-up and making those who had the power to make changes, who would listen to my voice and who would actually hear my words, did make positive changes?

What if they took then seriously? Surely then change may take place, and with that change, the knowledge that I had prevented another person from having to endure a similar situation to the one that I had?

And that change had all been made possible because one person had used their voice to make it happen.

Me.

Words are a powerful medium.

People will listen to them, or read them, or even hear them depending on the context through which they are delivered.

In print, set to music, or simply from the mouths of the disenfranchised.

Sometimes it is their simple appropriation in a given situation that carries their gravitas the most effectively.

Every day, ordinary people use their words and actions to enable extraordinary changes to take place.

Without these words and actions, we would never be able progress. We would regress, and humanity would fail itself.

These people are heroes. They have reached their own personal tipping-points, and enough is simply enough.

Think about Rose Parks. One day in 1955, she just decided that she wasn't willing to give up her seat on the bus because of the colour of her skin. She was tired of giving in. So she used her voice and point blankly refused to let someone else sit where she was sitting, because she wasn't white.

Rosa Parks was arrested for civil disobedience and for violating the Alabama segregation laws. She lost her job because she said no. But she went on to champion the Civil Rights Movement and eventually changes began to take place.

And all because she used her voice.

See, it's amazing what we can do, if we speak-up.

I cannot write about it here, as some things should be confined to the bookshelf in your our personal library.

But, there was a time in my own history when I went through what was simply the worst period of my life.

First of all I thought it was inconceivable that I had been placed in a situation through no fault of my own.

I was lost. I had never known anything like it before or since.

I had no idea what to do.

It was an immense struggle that lasted for over two years. It consumed every moment of my life, for what looked like an unmarked eventual destination.

But I didn't suffer in silence. I spoke to people. I raised my concerns.

Throughout the whole process, many doors were literally closed in my face. No one was interested in my plight, and I began to question my own sanity.

Then one day, someone heard me. They listen to what I had to say.

Then all the dots began to join-up and something turned and changes began to take place.

At times I felt as though I was having to shout above the white noise that kept sticking its fingers in the ears of those that had the power to help me..

At times I felt as though I no longer had the strength the carry on.

But I did, and it got better, and eventually it was resolved in my favour.

But it wasn't an easy ride.

At the best of times it was bumpy, and at the worst of times is was a living nightmare.

But I never gave-up.

I never gave-up, because I knew that I was right and that it was my right to be heard.

That situation taught me a valuable life lesson.

And that lesson was that words and actions equal change.

If you have a voice, you must use it, as it it your human right to do so.

If you ever find yourself at a crossroad in your life, and you cannot work out which way to go. Never forget that you always have a voice, and that your words and your actions will help you to figure out the right direction in which to travel.

You have the strength.

Ask yourself this question: What is the worst thing that can happen?

Answer: The very thing that you you are concerned about.

I believe in you.

You will find the strength to overcome it.

You have the strength.

You have the words.

That is your human right.

Just keep thinking Rosa Parks.


Sunday, 6 October 2013

The Perfect Day By Holly Searle



For Red, because she has beautiful hair, and because l made her walk too fast on the way to the party.


It is incredibly rare to achieve what I consider to be a perfect day.

Sometimes all of the ingredients just aren't there. And the actual day that you have planned, becomes tainted by unforeseen and unavoidable elements that you just didn't bargain for.

This all put me in mind of one of my favourite sequences in Goodfellas which tracks Henry Hill's last day as a Wise Guy.

Throughout this entire sequence, from its start and until its finish, Henry's day is packed solid with activity.

Not only does he undertake a variety of mob related criminal chores, but he also manages to collect his brother from the hospital, as well as making that pasta sauce. And all the time, he is vexed by a continual paranoia that the FBI are watching his every move (they are).

And just when he thinks that the hellish day is over, the Feds appear and arrest him.

Game over Henry.

Not a perfect day, but one that was a long time coming.

You're going to reap just what you sow.

In an oppositional Sliding Doors universe to the one that Henry Hill occupied, I recently achieved a day that was the polar opposite, that was a true to form, cherry on the top, perfect day.

At the beginning of the year it was a given that I would turn fifty. So I thought, okay, I can either stay in or I can follow the advice that is contained in the lyrics of the song Cabaret, that Sally Bowels belts outs. You know the one that I am talking about? Yes you do. It starts off with asking the question What good is sitting alone in your room?
Come hear the music play. Life is a Cabaret, old chum. Come to the Cabaret.


Well life is a cabaret, and my table would only be waiting if I booked it.

And so I did.

I reserved the space and invited old and new friends, and of course my family.

This was quite early in the year.

And then I left it there in my mind space, until September arrived quicker that a slight of hand card trick.

And then I began to panic.

What if no one came? What it if life wasn't a cabaret after all?


Then I remembered Field of Dreams and started to repeat on a daily basis the mind mantra If you build it they will come, as the date of the do approached.

And do you know what, they did. Not because of the mantra, but because I am blessed and fortune to have so many friends and family whom I adore.

The day was perfect, and the first to arrive, and the last to leave, was my dear friend Red. We don't see each other all the time, but time can concertina pretty quickly when you stay in touch.

When we arrived at the venue, we were five in total. But has the minutes passed, people began to arrive with their wishes and gifts.

And soon the room was full.

And so was my heart.

And there was an eclectic mix of personalities that all seemed to blend well together.

I was so happy, and touched and overwhelmed by it all, that I can honestly say that it was the best birthday I have ever had.

So to all of you that came, and to all of you that couldn't make it, I just wanted to say thank you for making it so special and for being part of my life.

I can honestly say that each and everyone of you has enriched my life, and that I am a better person for having you all in it.

So thank you for making my day perfect, and apologise to Henry Hill.

You're going to reap just what you sow.