About Me

My photo
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, 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.