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, 28 December 2014

Lost in Space By Holly Searle




I watched LA Confidential the other night. I was television festive season schedule restless, and needed something of a higher quality to entertain me. I opened the cupboard that contains all of the DVD's, and as I read though all of the titles, I kept thinking, no, that just won't do it, until I came across LA Confidential. It's been a while since I have seen this movie, and it is a movie rather than a film, and loaded it up, and I sat down and pressed play.

Now whist I recalled the dark and brooding sexuality that Russell Crowe's Bud White perspires during the course of this film, and the geeky spectacle wearing presence of the by the book cop played by Guy Pearce in the guise of Ed Exley. I had forgotten Kevin Spacey's cop turned prime time television advisor Jack Vincennes also featured in it's storyline.

How on earth was that even possible
?

I rolled my eyes mentally at my own remission of this fact, whilst at the same time being oh so glad that I had, as he is, without doubt, my favourite actor of all time.

Yes, yes, I know, there are so many to choose from. But what Spacey does on screen, is just pure and simple magic.

My Spacey epiphany started after seeing him in his portrayal of Verbal Kint in Bryan Singer's 1995 film The Usual Suspects.

To witness his ineffectual limp characterised embodiment of this persona that has fooled everyone (including the audience - although I have to admit I guessed prior to the fax sequence), subtle transformation before our very eyes into the audacious and feared mythical Keyser Söze, is just quite breathtaking.

And just like that, he was there.

Sometimes you watch an actor on screen, and there are no words.

I can recall quite clearly being affected in the same way after seeing Marlon Brando rip off his shirt whilst yelling Stella when he played Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.

And not unlike Brando, Spacey has been quite limited film wise. His catalogue of work has at times, appeared mismatched with his ability. This had seemed like a real waste of such a talented actor, that was until he decided to run for the White House as Frank Underwood in House of Cards.

This role is perfect for Spacey. A vehicle that is a gift from heaven that allows him to pull all of this acting tricks out of his hat.

His politically power hungry unremitting great white shark that is Frank Underwood, swims effortlessly from the first episode until the very last, taking absolute power, but no prisoners. And in doing so, is quite something to behold.

I would advise all of you to watch this show, simply to witness Spacey's acting. It is truly phenomenal.

In my book, if an actor can make you laugh and despise his character, whilst rooting for him all at the same time, he must be a genius.

Personally I cannot wait for more Frank Underwood to grace my screen.

Or Spacey to reveal more of his trickery.

And as I haven't see him for a while, you'll have to excuse me, as I have an overdue appointment with Verbal Kint.


Saturday, 20 December 2014

George Bailey I'll Love You Till The Day I Die By Holly Searle




Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas at ours without Child Two and myself finding a cinema in which to watch Franks Capra's 1946 cinematic diamond It's a Wonderful Life.

I have seen this movie countless times over the years, and I am always amazed that each time that I do, I always see or notice something new.

How wonderful is that?

This classic Christmas movie is about one man's struggle to continually keep it all together for the sake of others at the cost of what he believes are the loss of his own dreams. In doing so, it evokes so many emotions that become prevalent for so many over the festive period.

The film deals with the life of the inimitable George Bailey whom we follow as he grows up with his head full of dreams of wild and exciting adventures. His wish is to shake the dust of his roots clean off his boots, and venture out of his home town of Bedford Falls to travel the world and discover all of the riches that life has to offer, are constantly compounded by a series of domestic events that keep him firmly tied to home.

His desires are replaced by duty. And his anguish at having to forsake his dreams, forces him into many emotionally and visually uncomfortable situations.

As we watch George grow from a boy into a man, we see how he struggles to repress his wishes as he starts building a life for himself in Bedford Falls with Mary his wife, and their children in the old Granville house.

After his father passes away, George replaces him at the Building and Loans office, more so in order to keep the underhand antics of his father's nemesis the town's banker Mr Potter at bay.

At first George has to remain in Bedford Falls to support his family. But then, as he takes his father's place, he does so in order to protect the entire town's populace against Potter.

This is some ask for just one man.

Then an unfortunate episode unfolds, which in turns drives George over the edge.

His only redemption, he feels is too end his life, but before he can do so, an angel called Clarence is sent down to earth to from heaven to save him.

As George stands contemplating his demise on a bridge, he see someone fall into the water below and rather than take his own life, he chooses to save that of another.

It soon transpires that he has saved Clarence. And still in a dark and brooding mood, George tells Clarence that he wishes that he had never been born.

Clarence grants George's wish, and there then follows a dark and dystopian tour of the now Pottersville. The town that in this nightmare has replaced the all to familiar Bedford Falls that George had live and worked in.

There is one scene in this movie that no matter how many times I see it, always makes me cry.

George has a younger brother called Harry, whom he saved from drowning when they were children.

In the most emotionally taxing scene in the movie, Clarence takes George to Harry's grave stone and explains to George that because he never existed, he wasn't there to save him

George is horrified. And along with all of the other discoveries he makes, due to his lack of being, makes him plead for his life.

A wish that is duly granted.

When he finds that he is back in Bedford Falls, he has no fear of facing up to the awful situation that drove him to the brink of suicide. He returns to his home to look for Mary and his children, to be overwhelmed by the arrival of the people of the town, who come to offer their support with his crisis.

During the commotion of visitors to his home, George finds a copy of Tom Sawyer that had belonged to Clarence. In which Clarence has inscribed Dear George Remember no man is a failure who has friends.

And in that moment, George realises that in spite of himself, he has a wonderful life.

What this movie teaches us is that we shouldn't focus on what we don't have, but what we do. And yes while we all may found ourselves in difficult situations, we are all blessed because of the relationships and bonds that we have formed throughout our lives.

It's a fabulously timeless cautionary tale that we can all learn a lesson from.

So this Christmas, take a moment to consider all that you have. I can guarantee you that it will be the best present you'll receive this year.

And if you get round to it, find a cinema that is showing this film and treat yourself.

And to you and yours, from me and mine, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas.


Why Everyone Should Have a Mr. Darcy By Holly Searle




If life has taught me one very important lesson, it is that you should never go shopping for food when you're hungry. And I mean ravenous. Not just a bit peckish, but absolutely and unremittingly famished.

This is such a bad move especially if you haven't eaten for a while, as you manically race around the supermarket carelessly chucking everything that takes your fancy into the basket that is uncomfortably cradled in the nook of your arm.

That looks nice, your half starved self tells yourself, as the once light and easy to lift basket granularly becomes increasingly heavier and heavier until your sane mind and the lack of blood flow in your arm due to the weight of the basket (that is depleting all of your remaining strength by the second), begins to steers you towards the nearest checkout.

You plunk the basket down and start to unload the items on to the conveyor belt. After each beep of the scanner, you pack each item rapidly. You pay the bill, and stagger away with your food swag, happy in the knowledge that pretty soon, your demanding appetitive will soon be satisfied.

Of course, in reality the mind panic, due to the lack of food that you are yet to consumed, has lied to you as well as your stomach. As it is only so big, and it can't possibly digest all of this wide eyed, hunger fuelled supermarket dash booty.

But you didn't know that when you purchased it all did you?

In a word.

No.

Finding your Mr. Darcy is a bit like this.

Let me explain.

For the longest time, I raced around life's supermarkets looking for something to fill a void. And no matter how hard I looked, or how much I purchased, I could never find what I was looking for to satisfy the emotional hunger that I felt

In the end, I gave up, as no matter how hard I shopped, or how much I spent emotionally, that thing I was looking for, just wasn't in stock.

I couldn't ask for it, as it had no name.

It, I came to conclude had alluded me, and I grew bored of my relentless pursuit of whatever it was and decided that either I was out of sync with the universe, or it just didn't exist.

So I left it behind and decided to step outside to feel the sunshine on my face, and came to the realisation that those who look for something, rarely find it.

Enjoy your life I told myself. Fill your boots with what you know, rather than what you do not. And so I did.

It was like a Spring-clean diet for my soul.

I changed my outlook and started to concentrate on other matters that my life was craving. Soon I no longer lusted after whatever it was.

Then one day, a curious thing happened, I woke up one morning with all the characteristics of the pragmatically head strong Elizabeth Bennet.

I quite liked this new me. I had become a polished version of the girl I had always been, with all the added maturity and wisdom of the woman I had become.

It was like coming home. I had at last arrived at a destination where I felt completely and utterly at ease with myself.

I felt an immense sense of pride as I had achieved this by myself.

I realised that I had choices and that this had afforded me a greater sense of liberation that was empowering.

And then you appeared.

Just like Darcy you presented yourself in an unfathomable presence in my newly created daily routine. This threw me off balance, as I had no idea what to make of it, or indeed what to do about it.

There you were, this incomprehensible enigmatic incalculable indecipherable and baffling individual. At first I just filed you in the back of my mind palace, until I could employ some form of Sherlock ingenuity to enable me to put all of the jigsaw pieces together to form a more logical picture.

I procrastinated for the longest time until it became quite unbearable, as it constantly niggled away at me.

Sometimes it grew tiresome. At other times it just left me. But mostly it refused to be ignored until I had addressed it.

Eventually after placing myself in a similar situation to relinquish myself of it altogether, I began to realise that I was unable to rid myself of it and that I had to deal with it once and for all. And that, my friend, took ever ounce of bravery I had.

And I suppose just like the uneven footsteps I manage when I left leg is playing up, I decided to be courageous and asked you a question and you answered yes. And that, just like the uneven sway of my uncertainty was how we began.

All stories have a beginning, and ours began there with that one word. A careful placing of one step in front of another, followed by more.

It has completed a circle, one that is increasing rather than decreasing.

I still have my own personal insecurities, but just like Elizabeth Bennet, I am learning to deal with them.

And having a Darcy in my life has provided me with a name for what it was. And that it is you.

Friday, 3 October 2014

House of Wax By Holly Searle




Having suffered from depression myself, I felt that it would be of use for me to see how fellow sufferer Ruby Wax had moved on from the same situation, and had progressed into studying how our brains work. In doing so, she wrote a fascinating book called Sane New World, in which she explored the negative effects that stressed triggered hormones can have on our health in the 21st century. And more importantly, how we can turn these negatives into positives, to enable us all to lead much more productive and healthier lives.

To compliment her book, she has been touring with a live show, in the same way she did when she decided to take her experience of depression on the road.

Statistically, it is said that one in four people suffer from depression. Personally I think that figure is incorrect as we live and function in a global space that forces us to look at and see things that we have become desensitise too. How can people en mass, therefore fail to be unaffected by the constant everyday bombardment of the masturbatory media dystopian images and reports about the world in which we all live?

In a nutshell, they can't. Everyday at tea time we bare witness to stories on the news about dreadful events that are happening in the world. There is no currency in this, as a majority of these news reports do not affect us personally, yet we are manipulated into feeling emotionally impotent having been exposed to them.

Imagine the affect those stories are having on your children?

My advice to you would be to turn over as I do and watch The Simpsons instead. At least it will make you laugh and contains its own strain of truth in each episode.

Life is pretty tough as it is without all of this forced negativity.

Yes it is terrible that a volcano has erupted on an island somewhere, but what can you actually do about that whilst eating your tea?

Absolutely nothing, that's what.

So, in this life we all lead, it is far far better to learn how too deal with all of this unnecessary additional stress, than it is to witness it and feel bad.

Just let it go, you'll feel better and you'll be happier for it.

This is the basic principle of Sane New World and how to learn to practice Mindfulness, a simple relaxation technique that will calm you down, and productively reduce the release of all those harmful hormones into your body.

Buy the book, you'll love it and learn a lot in the process.

Your mind does its own thing. It is your hard drive that is constantly working overtime to process all conscious and unconscious thoughts and actions.

And, you have to learn how to manage that baby, rather than letting it manage you.

As a recovered depressive, I find the whole principles of this practice perfectly logical. But that is how my hard drive works. These days I try to steer myself away from situation and instances that may cause me to feel emotionally drained or unwittingly knock me off kilter that in the process start to make me feel bad.

However, as that walking through the airport terminal sequence in Airplane! comedically demonstrated, it isn't always easy to avoid situations that may present themselves, and catch us out.

I try to think of these instances as the onslaught of flu. So I ride it out and decide that tomorrow is another day and I will feel better.

My mum told me that someone once told her that everyday we paint a new picture. If at the end of that day we don't like the picture we have painted, we can simply rip it up and start a new one the following day.

I like that.

So just remember that when you are feeling sad. It will get better. Believe me I know.

So there I was with Child Two in the Dress Circle in the stunningly beautiful Richmond Theatre, when a voice said "Hello!" And there was my gorgeous friend Carol whom I went to college with many years ago.

After a long and loving bear hug, it transpired that she was sitting with her friend in the row in front of us. What are the chances I thought?

The years have a delightful way of concertinaing when you meet someone you have a fondness for, and we caught up on the now whereabouts of fellow students who had been on the same course as us way back when.

She then said "Did you hear about David?" And I froze, as even I can work out that when someone uses that statement, it isn't going to be followed with anything particularly nice.

"No." I responded with great trepidation.

"He committed suicide." She said. "Depression."

The show started and I sat there in a state of shock.

David was someone whom I had had a brief relationship with during that course. He was an incredibly handsome man, who was an immensely talented actor. Not a lot of people understood him, as he could appear a little arrogant.

He wasn't, he was just a bit lost.

He once made me a compilation tape of all these wondrous songs, which I played endlessly.

I seem to recall that prior to college, he had been through some awful personal experience. He was doing his best, I always felt to keep on keeping on. But it wasn't easy for him.

The last time I saw him was at university. Whilst I was studying film, he was on the same campus studying music.

A few years ago, he popped into my head as I wondered what had become of him. God bless Google, as I eventually found a story that revealed that he was an IT Manager on the South East coast, who kite surfed to work every day.

This story made the national press. Although it may never have been a review of the production I saw his single handed performance save all those years ago, it was a good review.

It took a few days for me to compute this information after seeing Ruby Wax. And it made me feel incredible sad for the loss of another human being to depression.

How odd life is that you attend a show that it centred around that very issue, only to discover, yet another victim of its vile illness, told to you by a friend who happens to be at the same show sitting in the row in front of you.

Life is full of funny shit like that.

And do you know what? There is a message there somewhere, and whatever that may be, I am glad that I am here to tell you that story.

Rest in peace David.

You were a brave and effervescent participant of this world, and I thank you for having been a part of mine.


Friday, 19 September 2014

You Are Entering Area 51 - By Holly Searle





Let's face it, life is what you make it. Isn't that after all what Talk Talk sang all about in 1985, which actually seems like yesterday to me.

So, I have waved farewell to the big five-O and have entered area 51. But as I do, I have to say that fifty was a gift, as life just gets better and better from this run of the ladder.

Time is an odd concept isn't it? Sometimes you could be mistaken for thinking that nothing much ever really changes, when in fact changes occur in the blink of an eye every day that we live through. Children grow, family additions are made, and positive progression within ourselves is imperative in order to keep moving forward. The latter is especially important, if we have ever experienced what I refer to as periods of being stuck in the quick sand of life. The drag of all that negativity on us, has at some point after all, held us all captive.

Well not any more.

The addition of another birthday is always a time for reflective thought. But it is also teaches us that we need to acknowledge the gift of time and to waste it wisely, and not to dwell on what we cannot access, but what we can, not unlike Area 51.

For those who are unaware, Area 51 is a restricted military base located in Nevada. There have been many theories attached to its history, and what actually takes place there.

Most famously it is associated with supposed alien experiments. Its mysterious goings-on are the stuff of a conspiracy theorists wet dream. Between you and me, we will probably never know the truth of what they do there. But may be the intrigue is more interesting, than the actual reality. Not unlike all that pondering we all did about what the writers of LOST were up to. Two words: Polar Bear.

Life can be a bit like that. Sometimes you can waste massive amounts of time wondering, instead of just doing or simply being.

In my area 51 there is no room for all that malarkey, as this is what I know. I know that I have gone from the girl that had waited like Amy Pond, to the woman who no longer has too. It is such a relief to have stumbled across you.

I also know that tiny steps achieve great journeys to as yet unknown destinations, and that the impending Nirvana of that is a state of calm and emotional security, that is an insightful and much needed gift.

I also know that I am not perfect and that perfection is just a word in the dictionary, and not a lifestyle.

It took me a long time to realise that, and I am so glad that I have.

Life can be messy, stressful, trying and tiresome. But it can also be managed, and with the mindset of an architect, can be rebuilt into something glorious, steadfast and reliable.

Support, love, communication and understanding are the bricks and mortar that build a stronger home for the heart.

And as Dorothy quite rightly observed “There is no place like home.”

I also know that I am so blessed and incredibly fortunate to know all of the people that I do, and to have shared time with them. I have been inundated today with love and affection, and I cannot express how humbled I am by that. So thank you all.

Those are gifts that you simply cannot buy.

My area 51 is now open and accessible for more.

And I am looking ahead, staring at the horizons with an open heart and an open mind.

And it doesn't better better than that.


Sunday, 31 August 2014

Mirror, Mirror on The Wall By Holly Searle




I love The Brothers Grimm. The initial tales that they wrote were an ironic reflection of their name, as they are far from elementally pleasant.

And just like life itself, the original stories contain dark aspects that are wince worthy and brutal. The Disney adaptations of these classic tales, whilst being quite emotionally manipulative, do not feature these horrific elements. If they did, all of the small children that ever watched them, would have nightmares.

No, those interpretations more often than not, concentrate on a protagonist who has been subjected to some social wrong doing, which is resolved in their favour before the credits roll.

In the tale of Snow White, a magic mirror that cannot lie creates an air of vanity and pride so tangible, that the request is given for a child to be removed and slaughtered.

But the child is spared.

The magic mirror is bound by the truth, and continues to reiterate the fact that the child is still alive.

In the end, driven mad by the answers to the questions asked of, and delivered by the mirror, its owner is forced to face the truth with dire consequences.

Mirrors play out all sorts of social scenarios in both myths and in reality.

In vampire stories, the mythical beings have no reflected image as they no longer have their souls. This infers that what we see when we glaze at our image, is the truth about who we are.

I have a friend who often uses the analogy that he can look in his mirror and know that he is happy with his reflection as it shows a man who is truthful and honest, and who has no hidden agenda.

In the classic British portmanteau 1945 horror film Dead of Night Peter and Joan Cortland acquire an antique mirror that houses an alternative world, with the main objective of luring them in. In the end the mirror is broken to avoid their absorbency into this dark reflected reality.

And even in popular culture the mirror has been used by Michael Jackson in his 1988 song Man in The Mirror to make the social comment that in order to initiate change, he must starts by taking an honest look at himself in his mirror.

I'm Starting With The Man In The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change
He sings.

On a daily basis we use mirrors to check that what we see reflected back at ourselves is an acceptable image of who we are.

That image changes over time unlike the picture that Dorian Gray kept stored away in his attic. We see these subtle changes occur as the years pass by at an alarming rate, and sometimes we are happy with what we see, and sometimes we aren't.

But what we see is the truth of who we truly are. Sometimes there are those that ask too much of their mirror and find its truth too raw. And not unlike the owner of the mirror in Snow White attempt to dispel what they are told by altering their image by taking drastic measures.

Or there are those that do not believe in themselves and cannot see their own humanity.

Or those that see what they choose to see.

Or those that need to take an honest look and change their attitude.

I see who I am when I look in the mirror, and just like my friend, I am happy with the image that is reflected back at me.


Friday, 22 August 2014

Waving, But Not Drowning with The Beatles By Holly Searle





When I was seventeen I fell in love for the very first time. However, this did not arrive without its own issues as I can quite clearly recall with heartbreaking clarity how the object of my affection was sent away by his parents for educational purposes pretty early on in the Paltrow coupling stages of our fledging relationship, leaving me devastated and alone.

Those were tough times.

I mooned away the endless stretches of this infinite time by listening to The Beatles album A Hard Day's Night. Its thick black vinyl must have rotated a hundred times on the turntable during those few weeks with John, Paul, George and Ringo lamenting the narrative of my emotional state of being until my love returned.

If I Fell, And I love Her, I'll Cry Instead and The Things We Said Today all underlined the pitiful predicament I found myself in.

I still have that album stored away in the loft at mine. And just like all of the other items that I have squirrelled away over the years like a magpie intent of feathering its nest with precious trinkets, I shall never part with it as it will always remind me of that summer, and my first love.

Safe to say, the actuality of the situation, the unfolding romance of my mind palace, in the end came to nothing with the resonating words of John and Paul's request rhetorically haunting me forever more.

Cause I couldn't stand the pain
And I
Would be sad
If our new love was in vain


I am away now, and find myself in the same situation, minus the album or a turntable on which to play it.

It is hard to leave the foundation of something that you have just set in motion behind, whilst you are on another personal journey and a much needed break from your day-to-day life at home.

This all puts me in mind of Tom Hardy in the wonderful film Locke in which he worries endlessly about the cement that is going to be poured into the foundations of a project without him being there to watch over it, because he has to attend to something else.

That's me, trying to manage it all, whilst trying to manage it all.

I am no longer seventeen. I am a grown woman who has been given a gift. I have been blessed with you, and all that will be. And I know, hand on heart that the cement that I have already poured will set to our satisfaction.

Of this, I have no doubt.

But women are different from men. Apparently in the arena of love, our emotions act like waves, building to a crescendo and then crashing as we feel insecure within its hands. Exposed by our own vulnerabilities of the heart.

I am aware of these peaks and troughs, and as such, and because I am away, I will keep riding the crest of the wave rather than drown in my own misgivings.

I never want to do that again.

You see I am more in tune with the woman I am now, rather than the girl I once was. I know me very well. I no longer moon, as I prefer to plan ahead, and to write the story of what we will be with my own mindfulness one step at a time.

And if I could choose an appropriate Beatles tune as our soundtrack to these unfolding events, it would have to The Long And Winding Road.


The long and winding road that leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before it always leads me here
Leads me to your door



Saturday, 16 August 2014

Path of Least Resistance By Holly Searle




When I decide to embark upon a journey, the paramount objective in doing so, is to achieve it via the smoothest route possible.

It isn't rocket science Mr White, it is just pure and simple practicality. What person in their right mind would conclude otherwise?

Life itself is the biggest adventure that we all embark upon. There is no map. No road signs. And no handbook. It is more akin to a voyage of discovery. You simply join up all of the dots in your daily activity log. Sometimes all of these dots when connected may resemble a Jackson Pollack painting crazily scattered all over the canvas of your life as it pans out. Hopefully the amazement of this configuration when viewed by you, will be accompanied by your humming Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien . I do hope so, as we are all individuals, who have different works of art to construct, warts and all. And you should celebrate this vision of your life as it hangs on the wall in front of you. After all, you painted it.

A particular work of art that resonates with me and my life, is Edwards Hopper's 1939 New York Movie. It's a real beauty, and typifies Hopper's stylistic use of light and dark to evoke an overall prevailing mood, with multiple possible narratives regarding its main subject matter, that of a lone usherette.

While the audience sit in the dark watching the movie, she stands alone to the right of the picture under a light pensively contemplating what? Her life? Her lover? How many times she has bore witness to this one feature? The fact that her shoes are hurting her feet and she is wondering if she can sit down in one of the vacant seats without her boss seeing? Or maybe she is wondering what she will have for dinner? Or about that novel she has yet to complete? Or maybe she is simply waiting.

The scenarios are endless.

As are the choices that we all make in life and the paths of least resistance that we decide to take.

I have often identified with her, as her pose and countenance has as many transferable and transient emotions as mine at varying moments in my life.

I have formed quite an affinity with her and have a great affection for her.

New relationships are journeys. The preamble before they start, consists of packing all of your contemplations of what may lie ahead into a relatively small case. You don't want to pack too much, as you may never find any of these items useful. Also, the bigger the case, the heavier the burden of having to carry it all, should it reveal itself to be nothing more that a farcical endeavour.

These small cases contain all of your insecurities and worries in addition to your hopes and positivity about what may be. It holds questions as well as self-doubts. You also pack some trust, that is as important as remembering to pack your passport.

These journeys relay upon trust more than anything else. It is the foundation of everything. Without it, you may as well abandon all hope and stay at home and eat all of that Kendal Mint Cake that you now have no use for.

Early on in the journey, you may realise that your case has acquired a small hole, and some of the least attractive items that you have left in the case from previous ventures, have fallen out. You may decide to bin them, as they may just remind you of all of the other journeys that you have embarked upon, and realise that this one may turn out to be like all of the others.

They make you feel vulnerable.

Maybe that is what the usherette is thinking about. Maybe she has waited so long in the dark, that she is pondering if she willing and brave enough to leave the theatre with her case.

For sometimes the path of least resistance is to avoid all journeys.

But if I could speak to her, I would tell her to not to take a case at all. I would advise her to just trust her own instinct as she takes each small step beyond the movie theatre as she begins her journey into the sunshine and just to enjoy every moment.


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Crush By Holly Searle


Have you ever had a crush?

If you have, believe me when I say I feel your pain.

Having a crush is a bit like having an elephant with you in every room that you enter where the object of your affection may also be. Its presence is so awkward (not that I mind elephants of course) that it becomes quite wearing, and reduces you to a jibbering fool, jester hat and all.

And not only does it always find you, regardless of your attempts to shake it off or however much you try to lose it by distracting it with buns or whatever else elephants are distracted by. At the most inappropriate moment, it will start waving its trunk about so rapidly, that you start to worry about all of the damage its wild and untamed nature may cause.

Of course crushes can be really quite lovely. Those little unexpected moments when the object of your affection appears quite suddenly, that cause your stomach to flip over and set your heart pumping. These are magical. And if nothing else these primitive responses remind you that you still have the capacity to feel and experience desire for another human being.

That is the positive.

The negative however, is that everything that you say in these alone with your crush moments of possible opportunity, when you try to say something of worth to your crush, just appear to be the disengaged mutterings of an idiot. Whilst your stomach and heart are doing their thing, your brain suddenly deactivates and every word that decides to leave your mouth, that is desperately trying to formulate an impressive and unforgettable sentence, just sounds like you are an arsehole.

You know this of course, because the elephant taps you on the shoulder with its trunk and whispers it in your ear.

That was a classic fail it says in a low Hannibal Lecter voice.

You verbally blush, and think you must after all be the biggest idiot to have walked the Earth, and leave under a cloud of shame filled impeding rain.

And for some stupid reason, probably due to all the extra blood flow that your heart is pumping around your body, you flee the scene of the verbally exchanged crime as quickly as you possibly can, elephant laughing in tow.

When you have a crush, there appears to be no clear plan of action. How can there be? It is after all just a crush. It can only become something else once you have managed to ascertain if your crush likes you as well.

Everyone else you encounter is easy to talk to. You can be yourself, the one that is likeable, reasonable and normal. You can exchanged interesting dialogue and ideas while the elephant is busy texting all of the other crush elephants and telling them all about your latest stumble.

LOL It types. This is the BEST fun I have had in years. Hope this one lasts a bit longer, LOL

Then there are you physical actions. These all seemed to became illuminated by the proximity of your crush. You lose all the control that you once had in a nano second, and turn into Leonardo DiCaprio in that post drug taking scene in The Wolf of Wall Street,

At that point even the elephant looks up from its mobile, stops texting, and is embarrassed.

You try and give yourself a good talking too. Some days you ignore it and get one with your day, and resume the role of a well functioning human being. You wash your mind of it all. But of course this doesn't last long as your crush will insist upon doing something to open up the whole can of worms once again.

At that point, you decide that you are just going to say something, as this cannot continue. Hello You would like to say. I need to tell you that I like you quite a lot. I have no idea what that may or may not mean, but I cannot feed this elephant and its perverse ridicule of me any longer.

This Walter Mitty fancy plays over and over again in your mind, until you surmise that your crush will in all probability either say What took you so long? Or, more likely run for the hills screaming.

But wouldn't it be nice if your crush was thinking exactly the same as you, and also had an elephant following them from room to room, whenever you were near, that they were also trying to lose.

And wouldn't it be even nicer if both of those elephants packed their trunks and said goodbye to the circus and left, leaving you and your crush alone at last.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Oh The Humanity By Holly Searle





Every day that you wake up, you are blessed with choices. Shall I wear this, or shall I wear that? Walk, bike, bus or drive? Radio or selected music? Shall I eat this or shall I eat that for lunch? These lists of what you allow yourself to be able to do, are endless. But alas become forgotten when we get bogged down by simple misunderstandings or actions that can turn and twist our perceptions of our personal habitation on this wondrous planet that we all share.

These misunderstandings can jar us from one moment to another. My advice to you? Let them go and take a moment to visit a place in your own personal mind palace, where you can mentally breath out all of that frustration. And then take another moment to realise how lucky you are that you have the choice to be able to do this, and cherish it. It is yours. you created that, and just imagine what else you could create with a more positive attitude towards everyday that you have the freedom of choice to do so.

I recently went to see Dawn of The Planet of The Apes. I rarely cry during my visits to the cinema. If fact the last two times I have cried openly was when I saw Charlotte's Web when I was a child, and as an adult when I saw Toy Story 3. I was mortified that the spider died and that Woody and chums were very nearly incinerated.

So, there I was watching Dawn of The Planet of The Apes, when I made several of those noises that Emma Thompson made in Sense and Sensibility, when Hugh Grant confesses that he isn't after all married.

These were tears of joy on her behalf as she had waited under a cloud of repressed hope for far too long to hear this proclamation.

But I was crying because the representation of what remained of humanity that featured in the film, had been given an opportunity after being brought to its knees, to once again appreciate all that it had lost sight of. The simple pleasures in life, community, the remembrance of those long gone, and the simplistic pleasure of being able to hear music, and the joy that all of these things can bring.

Of course, I left that viewing thinking that I would much rather live with the Apes as they, apart from that one frustrated and hate consumed member of their happy community, had pretty much got it all worked out.

Hail Caesar was my own personal mantra in the days that followed on.

But I am human, and as I am, I sometimes mentally throw my hands in air and shake my head at all of the stupidity that human beings are capable of. But I cannot abandon my race.

But my fellow humans, we could all learn a lot from those Apes. In recent weeks, we have been bombarded with images and news reports from Gaza. There is simple no collection of words that could express that conflict, except one, which is despair.

I once saw an interview with the actress Rachel Weisz where she was talking about a cause that she was supporting. I can't recall what it was now, but her explanation of how humanity can bring about changes, she likened to individual impute being just like tiny drops of water collectively coming together to form an ocean. She said that although the cause that she was supporting was vast, without all of those drops of water, we would never accomplish anything.

And she was and is right.

I like that idea. I like the notion that if we all pull together, we can change the way of the world. Of course not everybody is willing or able to have even that choice. But if you live in a war free zone, without the worry of if you or those you love will still be here when you wake up, you can make that choice.

How lucky are we.

And on this day, a day that marks the beginning of our participation in the First World War, I would urge you all to think long and hard about all of the dreadful waste of humanity in those intervening years. Think about all of those that do not have the choices that we all have and are able to make on a daily basis.

Then imagine that you are a tiny drop of water that is desperate to form an ocean of solidarity with all the other humans. And that one action will in turn benefit us all.

And tomorrow when you wake up, and you have those choices to make. Make sure that you do as many positives as you can.

Be kind.

Your choices are just that, the milk of human kindness, so choose your attitude, and apply and distribute as much happiness as you possibly can.

It is our only hope.


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Come Dine With Me By Holly Searle




If I could choose who to invite for dinner, living or dead, I would ask the following people; Albert Einstein, Stewart Lee, Charles Darwin, David Attenborough, Banksy, Amelia Earhart, Robert Shaw, J. D. Salinger, Maya Angelou, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Edward Hopper, Mark Rothko, Billie Holiday, Kathy Burke, Truman Capote, Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Bill Hicks, Dorothy Parker, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Hawking, Hillary Clinton, Harper Lee, James Stewart, Judi Dench, Stephen King, Dawn French, The Dalai Lama, Gene Kelly, Maggie Smith, Steve Martin, Russell T Davies, Nat King Cole and Mark Ruffalo.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're going to need a really big table Holly.

What I find interesting about this list, is it says more about me, than it does about them. All of these people share certain traits that I find both appealing and interesting. And they have all influenced my life thus far with their intellect, humour and because of their sense of adventure. And Some of them are connected by knowing each other, or would have known each other. And some would have shared, and still do, similar passions.

They are also people who have dared to follow their beliefs regardless of what others may have thought, and were and are all incredibly talented.

And above all else, they are a creative and a innovative bunch of individuals that I would certainly welcome with both an open heart and an open mind.

Imagine the conversation wouldn't it be great? The stories they would tell? The different perspective that they could share over a three course meal? The commonalities that they would have, and the unlikely friendships that would be forged across time and space all in that one evening.

The Friend Requests that would be sent out post dinner party via Facebook, and the increased followings on Twitter, I can see it all now. Although Darwin may be quite a reluctant Tweeter, or he may welcome it with an open key pad safe in the knowledge that he could conduct an online Natural Selection Tweetfest on The Contemporary Behaviour of the Human Race.

Picture the after dinner game of Charades. Or that game that my family and I always play during Christmas when you write the name of a well known person on a piece of paper, and then stick it on to the forehead of someone else without them seeing who it is. If you haven't played this game it is great, as each person asks the rest of the group one question that can only be answered with either a Yes or a No, until the person has asked enough questions to have worked out who they are.

Imagine the comments and the questions? And I wonder who would be the most competitive. The hilarity would be tenfold, and in all probability the flirting as well.

There would be copious amounts of laughter, entwined with smattering of serious conversation, and differing opinions and ideals. And at the end of the evening, I would pretty much come to conclude that some of my guests were more than I hoped they could ever be, whilst some were less.

But that is a risk that I would be willing to take to be able to spend an evening with all of these people.

My one worry would be Vincent, but I came to conclude that the other artists in residence that evening would be on hand to enlighten him to the joy that he brought to they own collective mindset when they first loaded up their own brushes with paint, and stood in front of the daunting plain canvas that was waiting in front of them.
And Russell could tell him that Richard Curtis had penned a beautiful episode of Doctor Who, that had made a whole new generation aware of him.

Bill, Albert, Stewart, J.D and Stephen King, would no doubt be the rebels of the evening, sharing tales of social dystopia, and the Kennedy assassination. Whilst Maggie, Judi, Katherine, Bette, Dorothy, Kathy, Dawn and I would pondered about Kevin, but not before all agreeing how charming he was and asking him to re-enact the line "And like that... he's gone."

The situations we would all find ourselves in that night would be both unimaginable and beyond my wildest dreams.

Looking at the stars with Albert and Stephen Hawking, whilst they both explained their theories, with Nat singing Stardust in the background, and Bette making a joke about only ever having asked for them.

I can't possibly imagine that it would be boring for one moment.

And being able to ask Amelia what did happen to her on her last flight? Or to be able to tell Billie that her voice contained all the emotion that every lonely women has every felt, when she sings Lover Man.

And being able to say “Sorry, who are you?” When I open the door to Banksy.

And being able to thanks J.D and Truman for their books, and to confessing to Robert Shaw that I fell in love with him after he played Quint, but not before telling Bill that I and the world will always miss him.

Maya would comfort Billie, and they would no doubt discuss Oprah. And I would tell Hilary that she must run, and Kevin could give her some Frank Underwood toptastictips of how to gain the upper hand in The White House.

And I would tell Gene that he blew me away when I was a kid when I saw him tap dance on roller skates. I would tell him about The Artist, and ask him what he thought.

And Harper, I have no doubt would have to see Truman home.

And at the end of the night, I would whisper in James Stewart's ear that I make a point of seeing It's a Wonderful Life every Christmas.

I have no idea what I would serve. But I am sure that the evening wouldn't depend upon the food, it would rely on the company.

And I am sure I have missed someone off, but I can't for the life of me think who.

And then there is the fictional dinner guests I would ask on another night.

But that's another story.

A girl can only dream.

RSVP.

Friday, 25 July 2014

This Woman's Work By Holly Searle


I used to find it quite difficult being a women. But now that I am well into my, what I like to call, wisdom years, I have been enlightened by the epiphanic realisation, that being a woman after all, is actually a fantastic state of being.

Yes, yes, I know, there are all these social embargoes that have impacted our final destination. But, the journey there has seen us become a powerhouse of ingenuity in the process.

Attributed to this onwards and upwards journey, the very apt idiom 'necessity is the mother of invention'. And you have pretty much captured the essence of that said journey. And you may well roll your eyes and shout Well of course she is, for all of her daughters and their daughters before them, have had to pave the way for a greater space of recognition.

And whilst this recognition may still be horrifically mutilated and abused by some cultures, we have witnessed an array of raised voices of those women who are no longer willing to stand by an allow this to go unnoticed and unheard. And I applaud those women who have stood their ground and have spoken out against such atrocities .

I used to dismiss my role in society as I felt the burden of its weight on my narrow shoulders. But now I realise how lucky and fortunate that I am to be the product of so many women who have fought for my rights in this crazy world that all of humanity inhabits.

My happiness derives from all of the confidence that I have gained from my life as a women, simply due to all of the other women that I a blessed to know.

All of them are and have been supportive, strong and intelligent. They are able, smart, funny, creative, and this makes them all beautiful creatures in my eyes.

All of my life I have pined for my place in society to be defined by a man. But now I realise that my seller social identity, has been determined by the relationships that I have established with other women.

And I am a stronger and better person because of these relationships, and on top of that it has been quite a revelation for me to have this realisation, and, I might add an absolute personal pleasure.

So thank you all. You all play an important role in my life, however big or small, and I wouldn't be who I am without each piece of the jigsaw that your combined impute brings, and creates when it constructs the picture of my life.

Let's all embrace each other and all of the other women we meet. As it is so important that we do just that, as so many women have had (and continue to do so) enough struggles in their lives.

I am a daughter, a sister, a cousin, a mother, an aunt, and a grandmother. I have welcomed and have been blessed in all of these roles.

But I have never been a very good wife. However, this is a not due to my lacking, it is more due to the fact that I have yet to meet a man who was able to match my characteristics. For along my way, I have become an independent force of mother nature.

I have raised two extraordinary children. I have kept them safe from harm, advised them, nurtured their ideals and expectation, gain a degree, risen like a phoenix on more than one occasion as the ashes cooled around my feet, never missed a mortgage payment, fixed my home, filled my world with information and experiences, welcomed change, and have spun plates and juggled balls like a boss.

Men sometimes find this a threat as I have left no space for them.

But, I am a woman, and that has been and is my woman's work. And throughout it all I have been part of a connected network of women who have shared their lives with me.

I couldn't stand still lamenting like Tammy Wynette singing Stand By Your Man waiting for one to arrive as there has been too much life to live in the meantime.

Besides, I replaced that tune with one by Helen Reddy instead, and never looked back.

And anyway it isn't hard too be a women. It is simply marvellous as you can have a good time doing things that he doesn't understand. And you'll enjoy the process.

Life moves pretty fast. Love yourself, speak up, and tell those women in your life how much they mean to you, even if they sometimes drive you crazy. That is also allowed and perfectly normal. But above all else, keep on keeping on.

And as a quite astute innocent once stated, that is all I have to say about that.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Hiding in Plain Sight By Holly Searle



When I was a wee nipper, everything, or so it appeared was much more simpler.

But looking back, it would seem that I was conned. For now most of those whom we were encouraged to have faith in, were in fact nothing more than a band of malevolent tricksters.

So maybe simpler isn't the right word. Maybe the correct word to use would in fact be naïve.

And of course, whilst my childhood may have had access to a much more sophisticated array popular culture outlets than that of my parents, or theirs before them for that matter. I now feel as though I have to discounts a large proportion of it as if it had never existed, or that I was even a willing participant in it.

And I wonder how many others of my generation felt a rush of envy at those boys and girls who were selected to appear on prime time shows and Christmas specials to meet their telly idols, or who got to tick off one of their wishes.

I know I did.

I can remember quite clearly writing a letter. Dear Jim it started. Of course, when the program that featured the heartthrob was screened on the box in the corner, I couldn't help feeling really quite disappointed that I hadn't been chosen.

Why not me I thought? I felt pretty rubbish and came to conclude that I just wasn't special enough, and sloped off to distract myself with something else to do in my bedroom.

Oh well, never mind. All it had really cost me was a minor upset and the price of a stamp, and a fast track in the educational stakes that idolatry didn't pay.

And whilst if I had been one of the chosen few, I would have remembered it for the rest of my life either with great fondness or immense embarrassment, depending of the age I was at the time of my point of view. In retrospect, having not been chosen probably saved me from something much much more sinister.

And whilst we spent a majority of our childhood playing outside. Today parents worry endlessly and quite rightly so about Stranger Danger and the like, and allow their children much less freedom. Whatever you do children, do not speak to an adult that you do not know. Never get into a car with someone however good their intentions may appear. For it is better to be safe than sorry.

So I am not sorry that I wasn't picked.

But there is an irony here, for whilst there have always been good and bad people in the world, a majority of those from my childhood were hiding in plain slight. There they all resided in the box that beamed their faux persona’s into the living rooms of our formative years.

Can you guess what it is yet? Do you want to be in my gang? Your letter was only the start of it. It's getting better and now you're a part of it.


How prolifically self mocking at all of our expenses those words now become.

It was as though they all knew exactly what they were doing and getting away with it without ever being questioned.

And even though this is not a remote historical occurrence, you can read either of Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon books to discover that the abuse of the innocent under the shadow of stardom is nothing new. It would appear to have bottled necked in this portion of my childhood. Or maybe it was always there and that the chosen few decided to collectively speak up as they were no longer willing to hide in the a remote hinterland as those in plain sight began to fade.


And I bet there is more to come. More vile unadulterated revelation from witnesses about those that you never would have suspected.

And hopefully our children having been spoon fed the media's own guilt will be wiser than we were.

The question that remains though folks, and one that we should all maybe ask ourselves, is who has replaced our malevolent tricksters?

Bet you'll be more shocked than your children.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Doctor Where? By Holly Searle





I can't ever imagine not knowing who The Doctor was, is and will be.

Ever since I was a little girl, he has been a part of my life. Literally part of my life as he first appeared on screen the very same year that I was born.

As I grew, so did he. From one incarnation to the next, be was always there time travelling in the Tardis, exploring new worlds, and meeting new creatures and beings.

Some were so frightful, that I can still recall just how terrified I was by them and the impact that they had on me. And then his popularity appeared to diminish as society changed.

Sad times.

However, in 2005, some bright spark at the BBC decided it was time to bring The Doctor back. I couldn't contain my excitement as the countdown began to this new series and this further incarnation of The Doctor in the guise of Christopher Eccleston, as he once again dusted down the Tardis and took to the small screen.

Saturday evenings were complete once again.

It was pure magic.

It was pure magic for me, but also for Child Two as he and I were able to bridge our generational divide with something I had enjoyed when I was little with something he now enjoyed whilst he was little as well.

It was tellytastic bliss.

And just as we got used to this new Doctor, he became someone else. At first, as no one ever likes change, we were indignant to this usurping of someone whom we had welcomed into our living room on a Saturday night was remoulded into someone else.

We wondered at what the BBC thought they were doing. How dare they whip the table cloth, and slight of hand us in such a way when we had bedded down and grown used to this dark and brooding ninth Doctor.

But then we pretty soon began to realise, that this tenth Doctor, well he was something special.

With his mismatched attire of tweed and converse baseball boots, he had us at Hello, and we were smitten.

And what a ride it was that we accompanied him on. And for the next five years we were happy as Larry, as each series entertained us with thrilling adventures, encounters, richly woven characters, story arches, drama, and that love story that panned out between this Doctor and Rose Tyler.

You couldn't ask for more.

We loved every single minute from the moment he appeared, until the moment he bid us adieu in his final episode. There were tears then, as this time travelling humanist was replaced by model number eleven.

And that was David Tennant. The Doctor who made wearing specs, even those of the 3D variety cool. He met Queen Victoria, Werewolves, Weeping Angels, River Song, Madame de Pompadour, Mickey Smith, Martha Jones, Donna Noble, made sense of Bad Wolf, dealt with the Daleks and the Cybermen, had a bromance with Capitan Jack Harkness, became the simple John Smith and then met his match when his old nemesis The Master returned.

He was quite phenomenal in that role, and with the writing talents and imagination of the wondrous Russell T Davies guiding each episode, these were definitely the glorious golden years of the new Doctor.

And then he was go

As Child Two had grown from five to ten during these years, imagine his delight when even though this Doctor had disappeared from our screens, he then started to appear to us in reality.

Our first encounter was after we had ended a charity walk/run. Who should arrive at the finish line moments after we had? David Tennant.

Then one Saturday afternoon in a local supermarket, my son blushed profusely as he incoherently pointed out that he had just seen him again in an aisle looking at washing powder.

At that time he was appearing in the excellent drama Broadchurch, and I was sorely tempted to accost him and ask him who the murderer was?

Then my son volunteered to help show the parents of perspective new students around his school one open evening. And who should turn up? Yes, that's correct, David Tennant.

Then finally today, I arrive at my son's sports day, and guess who was there to support his son?

So in the end, it is nice to know even though we thought we had lost him forever, he will a least be around for the next few formative years.

Why, anyone would think he was still a Time Lord.

And to us, he always will be.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Careful Now By Holly Searle



Remember the second world war? It was that global event that ended seventy years ago. The main protagonist was this delusional megalomaniac called Hitler.

He had this crazy notion, that he and his followers could develop this ethnically cleansed, homophobic new world order. Hitler rose to power in the wake of the great depression in Germany. In the shadow of the an economic downturn and mass unemployment. The German people needed a leader that they believed would restore Germany.

In that precarious moment, history changed forever.

Now, just hold that thought for a moment and review all that has happened politically in the last week.

Now whilst I do not agree with the masses, it does not surprise me why so many people have voted the way that they have.

But, careful now, for you reap what you sow, and this is all starting to look a little too much like history repeating itself.

Whilst Dave may think that he is doing his true blue best for Britain, all he has actually done has looked after his own. And in doing so, he has overlooked those that have suffered because of it. He has been seen to act with far too much hesitation when dealing with those who have been a little to lacks when it comes to their financial arrangements. Be those expenses or tax avoidance.

In the media savvy no safe hiding place world that we all live in, those that hold positions of power, that have been awarded their office by the votee or by their leader, and have been outed in the worst Frank Underwood manner. All appear to lack any form of immediate contrition for their actions. You have to wonder, but not too much, just what sort of mixed messages this is sending to those that would not be afforded the same, simply due to the fact that they are just ordinary everyday people like you and I.

If they do not pay their taxes, guess what, they don't get away with it. If they diddle the books, guess what, they get caught and have to face the consequence of their actions.

One rule for one, one for the other. That is the message, and that is not an equal, fair or right way to manage things.

Then there is Ed. Someone needs to tell him the truth, and the truth is that he isn't a strong enough alternate. He is an ineffectual leader that lacks the commend and one that does note instil any passion. If anything he is dull and boring.

And then there is Nick. A man who thought that if he took the job, it might, just might work in his favour. But guess what? In doing so he has lost sight of it all. And whenever I see Nick, I just hear Jessie Pinkman in my head shouting "Yo Bitch!".

The people are bored. Bored with your favourites and lies. Your plication of your own in favour of the reality that normal people live every day, has just made the masses gag.

We are an island that is managed by clowns it would seem. A circus that has been joined by a caricature from a 1970's sitcom. A man who unlike all of you looks like a clown. And in this moment, when the general population are feeling let down by your crimes and misdemeanors, he has arrived in his jesters hat, shaking his bells, and has attracted the attention of those who you have overlooked. And now you will have to face the fact that you have all made this possible.

He is the invention of your ignorance. A symptom, rather than the cure of all that is wrong with this island.

We live in a nasty sexist, homophobic and racist society. And now it would appear that all of those nasty sexists homophobic racists have a voice.

Where are all the women in those top jobs? Where is the voice of reality? And where are all of those that should be looking out for the welfare and future of the planet?

In a town called Nowhere obviously.

And to the celebrity that incited the notion that he had never voted as he didn't believe in it, and believed that a people's revolution was due. Is this the sort of revolution that you envisaged?

And to all of those who fought for humanity during the second world war, how you must be shaking your collective heads now and wondering how it came to this.

And now we will all have to pay the price.

So go careful now.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? By Holly Searle




A few years ago in my on-going pursuit to find a suitable chap, I joined an online dating website. In this day and age, this is a perfectly acceptable pass time, for those of you just like me, who are seeking a mate.

Normal enough you'd think? Yes for hundreds of us that use this method to find that all important A.N.Other, you would jolly well think so.

In this instant, I was contacted by a man younger than myself, who during a read through of his online profile declared that he shared two attributes with his grandfather. One he claimed was his nose, the other, he rather mysteriously alluded too.

I banked this shared information naïvely thinking that he was quite possibly alluding to his male appendage, but quickly jumped into that river in Egypt, deciding to err on the side of that old chestnut, and give him the benefit of the doubt.

After swapping a few emails, we exchange mobile numbers.Then one evening whilst I was rushing around in a mild fury of domestic fluster, trying to get my youngest bathed and ready for bed, my mobile rings, and it is him.

Talk about bad timing. Still I juggled it as best I could given the situation.

So this is it. This is the pre-deal, deal breaker. And what does this fella do? Well, move closer and I shall tell you. Within the first few minutes of that initial call, he starts talking about his Mister Johnson.

Now, I like to think that I am both an inquisitive and open minded type of gal. So I very quickly compute this, and the topic of conversation, and decide that I am quite intrigued as to where this is all going, whilst making sure my child is within an acceptable depth of non life threatening water.

I decide to strap myself in not unlike Quint did on the Orca, and see what surfaces next.

And whilst I am there with rod (mobile) in hand, I take the upper hand and try to divert this designated line of conversation to a more acceptable common ground.

But Willy Plonker will not let me. He tells me that his manhood is the bane of his life. That he cannot buy clothes that fit. That his footie chums have nicknamed him The Horse, and that when he sleeps he has to literally strap the offending object to his thigh with a piece of cloth so it doesn't flop about and get caught whilst he is asleep.

By now I am feeling quite sorry for him. But I am also desperately trying not to ask him the one question that I really insist that I must.

So I do. I ask him how long it is. He tells me that it is eleven inches at rest.

So now I am thinking, wow really? And I thought I had issues, but this poor soul REALLY has some serious stuff to deal with.

That is like his own personal light sabre. A source I am sure, that has been of constant delight.

The force is surely with this one.

And so it continues in this vain, until I realise that if I do not remove my child from the bath he will be pruned for life.

I end the call.

A few days later, he calls again. And within a few minutes, he returns to this very same subject. I yawn, as by now he has mentioned it so much, that he may as well be discussing what type of tiles he is considering as options for his bathroom redecoration project.

I try to introduce new themes, but it is no good, as he will not stop mentioning his friend.

He tells me that he finds it hard to meet a girl, as all they want to do when they eventually meet him, is to look at it. I think, well can you blame them, as it is all you ever talk about.

John Thomas this, John Thomas that.

Yawn.

In the end he calls me so much that I turn my phone off. I am growing a little jaded by all of his obsessive subjective phallic hogwash.

A few days later I am sitting at my desk at work. It is a late Friday afternoon. Most of my co-workers are women.

I have amused them with my tales of the man with the Hampton obsession thus far. So when to the right of my pc screen he pops-up on messenger, I mentally sigh, but leap at the opportunity to invite my co-workers to witness this man's agenda first hand. So I type something safe, but he instantly replies by typing something about his favourite subject.

As a small group of women in my office, whom are all blessed with a good sense of humour have gathered round, they all bare witness to this exchange as well.

I am now so bored with his blatant harping on about his joy stick, that I decide I want proof, so I ask him if he has a photograph.

And as Cilla Black starts to sing Surprise Surprise, the not unexpected hits you between the eyes in my head, an image starts to download in front of us all.

There are audible gasps as the complete image reveals a young man standing in front of a full length mirror. He is holding a phone to capture the self portrait. He is naked apart from the jersey boxers that he is wearing. They aren't fitted, as they are somewhat distorted by what appears to be a small ferret that looks as though it has been imprisoned in his crotch area.

It tells us all nothing, apart from the fact that there is something there, but what that something is, we cannot see.

So I type back.

I thank him for his photo, but I wonder, does he have something more natural that he would like to share?

He does and sends them over at breakneck speed.

The women behind me giggle and cover their mouths to suppress their squeals for what may come next.

And there they are.

What appears are two what I shall refer to cut-outs. One features an image of a wink that looks as though it belongs to someone. Whilst the other features just a phallus of indeterminable origin.

Oh my God, one of the women says. After that you would never be able to have children.

We are all crying with laughter, and it makes for a nice end to the week.

In my head, I close the book on this one.

I go home. He calls. He tells me that he really would like to meet up. I can't get him off the phone despite telling him after another round of exaggerated member infused chat, that he should maybe consider a career in the porn industry.

To get him off my back, I say yes (fingers crossed as I am lying) why not. So we arrange a time and date.

I don't go despite my mother telling me that I should.

Why would I? I ask her. He is either a freak or a nutter, and I don't really want to find out which.

I tell her she can go if she wants too.

And I never hear from Richard Lanky again.

Which when you think about it, is either a name that either confirms one of those notions, or is a pretty unfortunate one if the other were true.

And I think, like me, you probably know the answer to that one.



This is an extract from Holly Searle's book - Find Me - Ten Years in the life of an Internet Dater

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner By Holly Searle





When I was a little kid, my mum told me that I was born right in the spot from which they measure all the distances from.

Being small and impressionable (and slightly confused), I ponder what this actually meant for some time.

What she actually meant, was that I was born in the central point in London, which is located in Charing Cross in Westminster.

Now, being bit of a boffin and an information blood hound, I looked into the historical reason behind this and have discovered yet another marvellous fact about this incredible full of hidden gems of city.

In 1290, King Edward's wife Queen Eleanor became ill on her way to Scotland to join him whilst he attended an important meeting there.

Unfortunately she died in Lincoln before she could join him. The King decided that in honour of her memory, he would erect twelve crosses at each of the sites that her funeral procession passed through on its way back to London, until it reach its final destination at Westminster Abbey.

The latter of the twelve crosses was was sited at Charing Cross on the south side of Trafalgar Square where the statue of King Charles I now stands. Today a brass plaque can be seen behind the statue that states that mileage is still measured from this spot, and I was born just over the road from that spot at the old Charing Cross Hospital.

The reason I was born there was because my parents (the original hipsters), lived in Soho. This seems pretty damn cool to me now. Imagine that, living in such a vibrant part of the city. When asked, my mum says that it was just where they lived. Still.

They then proceeded to move around the capital, and we lived in a variety of locations (sixteen in total) that included Islington and Fulham, before finally settling in Chiswick when I was eight.

That is more crosses than Edward erected for Eleanor as she made her way home.

As I grew up, I began to realise that being born at the point from which all destinations are measured was quite apt.

Life is after all a journey and London is certainly a city that holds many secrets where wondrous discoveries can be made. And what a fantastic resource it is.

If you take the time to look and listen, you'll see and hear the most amazing things and find out something new about its history.

You may even catch yourself saying out loud “Well, I never knew that.”

I must admit, I have fallen in love with it more in recent years. Prior to that, it was just somewhere that I lived. But it is a really special place. And even though I tire of the hustle and bustle from time to time, I take a step back from it, take a deep mental breath, and realise all over again, it is just an incredible treasure trove.

There is nowhere else like it, from the silence of a crowd gathered at the foot of Big Ben in Parliament Square on Remembrance Sunday as the clock heralds the eleventh hour, to the twelve it rings in on New Year's Eve, that welcome in the new year.

From all of the hidden rivers that run under its busy roads, to the one diverted by way of an iron bridge structure that runs above the Circle and District line trains that carry unsuspecting tube passengers through Sloane Square train station.

From the instantly iconic London Transport sign, to Harry Beck's 1931 simplistic, but beautifully worked out underground map.

The walk over Westminster Bridge towards the statue of the white lion adopted as mine when I was a child ( “ Look there's Holly's lion.” ), and then along the South Bank, on toward the Tate, pausing momentarily to glance across the river Thames to see the majestic dome of Sir Christopher Wern's St. Paul’s Cathedral. The tallest structure in London for over two hundred and fifty years until 1962, when that young upstart The Post Office Tower arrived on the scene and claimed the mantel as its own.

Pass The Tate, go a little further, and you'll see The Globe Theatre. Feel like you're in a spy movie as you cross The Millennium Bridge as you enter what I like to think of a the proper historical heart of the city. Turn left at St' Paul's and you can walk through the judicial heart as you pass by The Royal Courts of Justice, carry on and you'll eventually find yourself back in Trafalgar Square. On through Whitehall, past Banqueting House (with its amazing ceiling murals). Outside of which Charles I was executed.

Further on towards the beginning of your journey to Parliament Square, there is always the option to pay a visit to the subterranean simplistically meagre Cabinet Office War Rooms that Churchill worked out of during WW2.

That is probably my favourite city walk.

But there are so many other delights. The house where Bram Stoker lived, in a hidden street in Chelsea, adorned with a blue plaque.

The series of Blue Plaques in and around the capital. A fabulous source of entertainment and trivia.

The red buses, letter and telephone boxes.

Or the site of the first Punch and Judy show in London caved in the stone of the actor's church in Covent Garden.

The sublime abundant array of art in all of its galleries. The museums, the parks, the statues and the scars of the Blitz that can be still be seen on the side of the V&A, and let's not forget all of those bridges.

The view of the city from the top of Canary Wharf, or the trip along the Thames by boat from Tower Bridge to Westminster Bridge.

The beauty of patchwork of the idiosyncratic styles of architecture, that somehow seems to work.

It is all here, warts and all, and I love it it.

I haven't seen it all yet, it's a work in progress.

But just like the river that runs through it, it runs through my blood. I was born in its heart, and it will always, eternally, have mine.

Thanks parents.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

The First Rule of Book Club - By Holly Searle



Can you believe that a whole month and a bit has passed since Christmas?

I can. Time just passes it the blink of an eye. Blink, and days, weeks, and months have flown by.

I don't know about you, but mine has been filled-in again with the usual weekly routine of the day-to-day winter morning wake-ups in the dark, followed by a succession of well rehearsed necessary tasks in a narrow window of time, whilst my son spends a rather self-indulgent twenty minutes in the bathroom.

There I stand in the cold kitchen, making his packed-lunch and breakfast, while brewing my morning wake-me-up cuppa, until he appears in his uniform to pack his school bag before leaving for the day.

As he sits down, I place his lunch, water bottle, breakfast, and accompanying drink on the table, and then we converse for a brief spell, whilst staring blankly and sleepy-eyed at the morning telly.

After I see him off. I take myself off to the bathroom, and prepare for my own day.

This repetitive process is inevitable, but it won't last forever, as children grow and move on. And where there once were pockets of time filled with necessity, they will soon be voids.

So, I thought, as we all probably do, that the new year should see a few much needed extensions of the self, body and my mind.

At first, not unlike Danny Wallace in his book Yes Man, I felt sure that I should try at least to say Yes to everything. Make an effort Holly, if you are invited somewhere, for heavens sake go girl. But alas, it is not always possible to be that woman as time, money and other commitments sometimes override my own desires, especially when you are a single parent.

However, I have made an effort to insist that I walk as much as I can. So everyday I walk to and from work. In my mind, this quite happily juxtapositions my frustration of being sat at a desk all day, as well as saving me a huge amount of money on travel fares as well as a rather costly gym membership. Plus I really quite like a walk. It clears my mind and gets the blood pumping, and it is free. So that is a win win right there.

Then the opportunity to join a book club. Now, this is something that I have always wanted to do. To talk about stories with like minded folk, and to maybe form some new friendships, what a great idea. So with great excited anticipation, a friend and I attended the first meeting wondering who we will meet and what books we will be talking about.

We located the room where Book Club was due to take place only to be greeted by the host. We introduced ourselves and made small talk for the first twenty minutes until another person arrived bringing the grand total of those in attendance to four.

Often when new people arrive in any given situation they bring something fresh and enlightening to it, but unfortunately in this instance, this wasn't the case. And just like the rules of Fight Club, it soon became clear that the first rule of Book Club, was that you don't talk about books.

On the contrary, we were treated to a brief snapshot of the life of someone we had never met before for the next thirty minutes. On and on it went, an unremitting selfish monologue of how wonderful and exclusive this persons life was and not one mention of a book at all.

I looked at my friend. She was wearing the look of someone who was politely trying to remain awake, or quite possibly that of someone who was planning their escape when a suitable pause presented itself.

I felt her pain as I had reached the same conclusion and turned back to the table and tired to butt in and reintroduce the topic of books once again.

Remember those?

So, I asked what books had they read?

But each book that was then mentioned had attached to it some pointless story that had to do with the late arrivals fabulous life.

My brain groaned and as I was about to make our excuses and leave, a third die hard member arrived. Would this new blood change the make-up of the endless monotony of self. This endless diatribe of incomprehensible vacant self appreciation?

In a word, no.

That was the straw that took the place of the straw that broke the camels back and we left.

I felt pretty bad and slightly duped by the whole sorry affair. I didn't feel it was my place to bring this up with my friend as I thought I had quite possibly imagined the whole thing, and hey, if someone wishes to use a Book Club as their own personal platform to showcase just how great their life is, then so be it.

But as we left, my friend turned to me and said "No wonder there are only three members."

And of course the floodgates opened and we talked about how bizarre the whole thing had been.

In the end we decided to form our own little splinter group where we will swap and actually talk about books rather than bare witness to a narrative that knew no bounds.

And besides, we had experienced the first rule of Fight Club, and no doubt a second visit would tick off rule two. But we certainly didn't want to go any further than that. And besides, some rules are meant to be broken.