Tuesday, 26 January 2010

'The Power of Yes' by David Hare

Simon Williams and Anthony Calf in 'The Power of Yes'

On 25th January 2010 I went to see the play 'The Power of Yes' by David Hare, with our friends Les Levidov and Anne Gray (at their suggestion) at the National Theatre, London. This is a political play about the current financial crisis.
The script by David Hare was astoundingly clever and it was also a very witty play. The play looks back over what has happened over the last few years, which has led to this current banking and financial crisis. The setting on the stage was plain and black, in order to convey the necessary overall impression of bleakness.

The play has been given a lot of praise. The 'Guardian' gave it a 4-star rating, for example, saying that it was:

"Engrossing...Asks questions to which we all want to know the answers."

However, I particularly liked this quote from the 'Independent on Sunday':

"If you want to understand the financial crisis you should go to the theatre."

Indeed - the theatre nowadays will probably inform one better than the government can and does! (LOL!)

I decided to buy a programme, and guess what - it contained an incredible quote from Karl Marx where he predicted what we have currently been going through in regard to the crisis. His foresight and brilliance never ceases to astound me. Here is the quote:

"Owners of capital will stimulate the working class to buy more and more expensive goods, houses and mechanical products, pushing them...until their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to the bankruptcy of the banks, which will have to be nationalised, and the State will have to take the road which will lead eventually to communism."

However, there is a danger that the overall happening can be taken out of context - which is one of the limitations of the theatre, I think. Whilst all very clever, one can perhaps lose sight a little of the fact that it is all very much a part of the bigger picture, and that it is inevitable that such scenarios will happen in capitalism. Also, that real people are actually suffering!

Still, nevertheless, it is definitely a play worth seeing and is one that I would recommend.

P.S. When Glenn came home I talked to him about this supposed Karl Marx quote. He knows Marx's work very well, and he was immediately sceptical and was very doubtful about whether in fact it was a genuine quote! So, he did a google search, and guess what - it is a hoax! Heavens, this raises a lot of questions. Why would anyone want to make up such a hoax; why on earth are the National Theatre including it in their programme; is it really this easy to hawk false quotes around etc? I have to 'take my hat off' to Glenn though, for being on to this straightaway. Glenn found one particularly interesting article on a google search posted by Michael Rainey entitled 'Wall Street's Marxist moment'; Rainey suggests that perhaps it was made up and circulated by the right-wing in order to discredit any effort to nationalize banks in the U.S. That seems like quite a plausible idea to me. And finally, I have to confess to being a bit daft myself, don't I, for falling for the bait. I mean, the concept of nationalisation wasn't around at the time, was it? But then again, I'm one amongst many. Anyway, all makes you think, does it not? And also, once again, why on earth was it in a National Theatre official programme?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Avator 3-D

Glenn and I went to see the film 'Avatar' in 3-D on 23rd January. Glenn and Alex had already been to see it and thought it was amazing and very moving and that I would also probably enjoy it. Glenn was even moved to tears, he said, as the film symbolised the power and domination of greed and money. Alex said that quite a lot of people came out of the cinema depressed because of the stark message in the film. Glenn related the film to the ways in which things of beauty and hope are being destroyed today, partly as a result of the current crisis of capital, but also, sadly, because these things are no longer valued sufficiently. As Glenn said "The Institute of Contemporary Arts and Senate House Library are under threat, some universities may have to close according to press reports and aspects of our way of life and culture will increasingly be sacrificed at the alter of capital or spurious arguments regarding the need to 'modernise'".

'Avatar 3-D' is a science fiction film that is written and directed by James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang.

So, I went along to see the film full of hope, but it has to be said, that I was somewhat disappointed. The 3-D experience was incredible - it was the first time that we'd seen a 3-D film, and there were many very beautiful shots of the Na'vi, a race of indigenous humanoids, flying through the air, riding on horses etc. It was all very colourful and rather wonderful. In fact, the film is seen to be a breakthrough in terms of film making technology. It was certainly very expensive to make apparently as well.

However, overall I found that there was just too much action in it. James Cameron is repeating his style of directorship here, leading on from 'The Titanic', which he also directed. I did enjoy watching 'The Titanic' actually, but I thought it was very much full of emotional overload. I felt very drained when I had finished watching it, and would not be in a hurry to repeat the experience! I also thought there was too much violence in 'Avator' , not enough dialogue, and that not enough time had been spent on developing the characters (which I found really rather confusing). Also, on a basic level, I find that my capacity to deal with the many horrors that are taking place today are really now quite limited - I find that, just for my own sanity and survival I have to block much out and/or at least deal with it in a different way. People today seem just so intent and determined today to destroy just so much that is worthwhile, beautiful and of value.
So be it.

In terms of the plot, the film is set in the year 2154, on Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centauri star system. Humans are mining Pandora's reserves of a precious mineral called unobtanium, which threatens the Na'vi and the Pandoran ecosystem. The Na'vis live in harmony with nature. Wanting to improve relations with the natives, humans grow Na'vi bodies modified with human DNA. These are called avators and are controlled by genetically matched, mentally linked human operators - the avators only work when the humans are in the machine.

In the film, we witness the attempt to destroy this beautiful civilisation and its way of life for material gain.

N.B. The next day, though, we experienced another problem - our eyes. Glenn found he couldn't read for a short period (which was very scary) and my eyes felt very sore. We did a google search and found that 3-Dimensional films can cause various health problems - including sickness and migraines. The eyes have to work very hard when watching a 3-D film apparently. I also discovered to my surprise that 3-Ds have been around for years, but obviously today they are far more sophisticated. And now more films are being made in 3-D and computer games are starting to be made in 3-D. Our health just can't stand all this technology, the fast pace of it all, I am sure. I think that in the future, as the pressure grows for humans to be more and more closely connected with computers, that some humans will become very ill and some will die - only the fittest will survive (Darwin's 'survival of the fittest'). Then, and only then, will society wake up to the fact that this all needs to be looked at and researched into in a lot more depth. This is, kind of, the 'natural' process of evolution, one could argue. But it would be nice to think that we were more advanced than that today; that we could find a way to avoid such a dramatic situation, but the signs are not looking good!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

'The Last to Know' by Melissa Hill

I said in my last but one blog that I intended to read some more novels by Melissa Hill. Well, I have just finished 'The Last to Know: can you keep a secret?' by her (published by Hodder and Stoughton, London, 2008, ISBN 10 0340953314; 13 978 0340953310 (pbk) and it was a truly incredible book. The plot went to places that I never, ever imagined it would go. It was also all extremely cleverly and powerfully written. Full details of the book on amazon can be found at:


The book starts off as seeming to be quite a straightforward novel. We have Anna and Ronan and Eve and Liam who are all good friends, and have been so since childhood. Then, we have Sam who is Eve's sister, who lives in London, is a very successful novelist and a columnist and is going out with Derek. Well, immediately of course, I am connected!

Eve has 2 children by Liam - she is very maternal, and loves Liam but Liam is not keen on committing himself in marriage. He also works away a lot. We are quickly informed about the difference in the characters between the two sisters. At this point I am reminded of one of my favourite novels - 'Alexa' by Andrea Newman, which revolves around two friends, one who is an earth mother (and puts her all into her husband and children) whilst the other is a successful writer. Anyway, whilst Eve is desperately keen to marry Liam, Sam keeps fighting off her man Derek. This is because he is making her choose between a normal, conventional married life with him and her writing. Sam reflects thus:

"He [Derek] didn't just want the ring on Sam's finger, he also wanted the house in the Cotswolds, the kids, the Labradors, the budgies, etc. And even worse, she knew he'd want her to forget all about the writing career she adored and had spent years trying to build." (p. 26)

As children, Sam and Eve had always been very different in this way.

"As a child, Eve had always been the one dressing up dolls and pushing them around in her toy pram, while Sam had sat in a corner, poring over the latest Mallory Towers book. But she and Eve had always been very different in that respect." (p. 28)

And then later we have Eve reflecting thus:

"When Eve called last night her sister wasn't planning on going to sleep but was instead reading a book - a rare event in Eve's house, reading having never been particularly high on her own list of priorities. In fairness, most days she was lucky if she found the time to peruse the outside of a milk carton never mind a couple of hundred pages! But Sam had always been the same, and when the two girls were kids her sister's nose was forever stuck in some boring book while Eve much preferred playing with her dolls. So it was no great surprise really that their adult lives had pretty much followed suit, Sam becoming a writer and Eve a housewife and mum." (p. 133)

Well, of course, I immediately connected with the Sam character. I have 3 sons but even when they were small I still read loads. So, the idea that there is no time to read seems very strange to me; very strange indeed. Rather, without my books I would not have kept my sanity, and would not have brought the 3 of them up at all well! And I think (and hope) that the way that I was, has helped them to find themselves, and to become what they want to become. Anyway, of course, we are all different.

To return to the book: Sam thinks it would be good for Eve to have a break and it would be beneficial for her to find out more about domestic life; so they do a swop (another similiarity here with the book 'Alexa'). Eve goes and stays in Sam's flat in London for a weekend, and explores the London sights, and Sam goes to Ireland to look after Eve's children. Eve enjoys herself but soon realises that she wants to go back to her family. Sam resumes her life in London, but then realises that she needed to finish with Derek. Later she moves back to Ireland herself, whilst continuing with her successful career as a novelist.

Then, suddenly we are introduced to a new character in the book - one Brooke Reynolds in Australia, who is a publisher and is reading this manuscript - she finds all the characters, Sam, Eve etc and the plot very interesting. Hey, this is strange - so it is a novel within a novel, it seems, and is about a novelist! Perfect book for me, eh! Brooke is gripped by the manuscript; she thinks it is definitely publishable. She found it on the top of a pile on her desk, with a note that she should read it, give it priority etc. Yet, she can find no author details, no contact details. Strange again. Anyway, she reads on, and we are, once again, returned to the novel and the characters.

We discover that the first time Sam sees Ronan she thinks that he is the man that she is destined to be with; there is a chemistry there, he lights her up, despite herself, and there is little she can do about it. He belongs to Anna, but that doesn't have any bearing on her feelings, which basically seem to be beyond her control. At the same time, she has this instinctual feeling that for all their talk and appearance, that Anna actually has a 'thing about', perhaps is really and deeply in love with Liam rather than Ronan. Is this just wishful thinking on Sam's part, one wonders? Things are getting complicated!

Then, we discover that Anna is pregnant. Now, is this Ronan or Liam's, one wonders? Anna and Ronan do not seem at all keen to tie the knot. Why is that, one wonders? Also, why is Anna so reluctant to tell Ronan that she is pregnant? (which she doesn't do until she is 7 months pregnant).

Meanwhile, suddenly Eve (with the help of her children) persuades Liam to marry her - even though he still does not want to take much part in the actual preparations. Then, there is the most tragic of tragedies. Liam and the 2 children (with Liam driving) are killed in a car crash.

Now, the novel returns to Brooke who, of course, is highly confused. Why kill off one of the main characters in this way? This did not seem to make any sense to her at all. She is getting puzzled. We also see her having to deal with a successful novelist that is late with the delivery of her latest manuscript, demonstrating the pressure that successful authors are under in this regard (p. 115)

Once more, we are returned to the novel. Eve cannot take it in; can't believe it or come to terms with the accident and the death of Liam (the man that she loved so passionately) and her 2 children at all. Those around her are worried about her. But then she seems to cheer up a bit. She offers to babysit for Anna and Ronan's by now 8 week old baby. Whilst babysitting she finds a teddy that Liam has given to the baby; she becomes convinced that the baby is Liam's, not Ronan's. She runs off with the child; Anna and Ronan return, realise that both Eve and the baby have vanished and are besides themselves.

Meanwhile, Eve is on an aeroplane to the other side of the world - Australia. She brings the child up (who we now discover was called Brooke); she has no regrets. In her eyes, Anna had everything, whilst she had lost everything. Then, Eve becomes ill. She doesn't want to die, leaving Brooke thinking that she has no family. So she makes contact with Sam. Still, it is some while before Sam lets Anna know - she was worried that things could go wrong. Sam still wasn't able to contact Eve directly at first; but she cracked that one through the newsletter that she sent out now and then to her readers, which she then posted on her site. Wow - I do that as well of course - another coincidence!

We return to Brooke who is now, obviously, beside herself. Is this no novel at all, but someone trying to tell her about her family history and to fill the gaps in about her own life? Or is she going mad or what? She can't stand it, she has to find out. She flies to Ireland and meets up with Sam directly. And yes, Samantha Reynolds, the famous best-selling novelist is her aunt, and it is Sam who wrote this manuscript and got it sent to Brooke to read (via Eve's best friend, Bev). Oh wow! We then discover that Liam never was Brooke's father; it was Ronan all along. We also discover that after Eve ran off with Brooke things went badly wrong with Anna and Ronan and in the end they separated; and Sam and Ronan did, indeed, get together! We see Anna at the end who is sad but so glad to be reconciled with her daughter. Brooke goes back to Australia and of course, the manuscript is never published!

The book also included some discussion as to why Sam and Anna decided to inform Brooke about her family history through a novel rather than directly through a letter or some other means (such as a phone call or email). They thought that any other method of communication would be too much of a shock for Brooke and/or that she might not take it all in fully. So, once again, this demonstrates one of the many ways in which the novel can be so powerful, I think. In discussion with Glenn about the book (I just had to tell him a little about the book - the plot was just so amazing), an idea hit me - that at some point I could, perhaps, write a novel based around the success (or otherwise) of our non-fiction works. Perhaps, such a method would be a more effective marketing strategy, than the more typical ones used! It is all food-for-thought anyway.

A truly amazing book, with an ingenious plot.

Meanwhile, as ever, happy reading to one and all.

And yes, the book has another lovely book cover and here it is!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Jude Law and Robert Downey as Dr John Watson and Sherlock Holmes

Well, following on from the success of me going on my own to the cinema to see 'It's complicated' with Meryl Streep I decided to 'give it another go'. But the repeat performance wasn't quite so good, so I realised clearly then, that it was the film, not the company (or lack of!).

So, anyway, I went to see the new film 'Sherlock Holmes' which is directed by Guy Ritchie and stars Mark Strong, Robert Downey, Jude Law and Rachel Adams. The screenplay was written by Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham and Simon Kinberg, and was developed from an original story by Lionel Wigram and Michael Robert Johnson. And of course it was based on the characters from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. I really like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories - indeed, at one point in my life, a read the whole compendium of them. So, I was quite hopeful about the film - although it has to be said that these type of things don't always work.

Anyway, the film was OK. The plot was interesting - about a serial killer, called Lord Blackwood (played by Mark Strong) who claims that he is killing people by black magic. Having then been found guilty of murder and hung, he mysteriously rises from the dead! He was then all set to blow up the Houses of Parliament - to get rid of the MPs and the powerhouse in this way, so that he could 'take over'. But of course, Sherlock Holmes comes to the rescue and stops it all. Sherlock Holmes uses his power of logic and deduction to work out that the murders were being done by tricks and not by black magic - this includes tying a clever knot in the noose so that Lord Blackwood did not die when he was hung!

The atmosphere in the film was powerful and quite convincing and the plot was good, but I think where the film fell down was in terms of action - there was too much of it. Also, there was the impossibility of easily explaining in a film just how all those magical tricks were performed - the message can be conveyed much more powerfully and effectively in a book, I think.

Having said all this, it is a film that is quite worth seeing, if one has a free afternoon or evening!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

'It's Complicated'

I love Meryl Streep - she is one of my all-time favourite actresses. I particularly loved her in 'Kramer vs. Kramer' and 'The Hours'. So, when I saw her latest film being advertised, 'It's Complicated' written and directed by Nancy Meyers - well, I really wanted to try to make sure that I went to see it! Having said that, I don't always achieve these aims of mine. But when I saw it advertised in my local cinema - well, that was it. I was determined to go.

Then, I suddenly thought to myself - why don't I just go on my own? Now, this is probably hard to believe, but I have never, ever, been to the cinema on my own before!

And guess what - I had a ball! I bought myself a bag of popcorn, and I laughed and cried my way through the whole film. It is incredibly funny. The plot is basically about Jane Adler (played by Meryl Streep), a 60 year old mother of 3, who gets back with Jake (her ex) (played by Alec Baldwin) for a while. Jane is a baker and caterer with a successful business in Santa Barbara. Jake has remarried, so here is Jane, having an affair with her divorced husband. Jake wants them to get back together for good, but Jane thinks better of it, but the experience helps her to decide once and for all that it really is time to move on. She also dates someone else in the film. But I will say no more, other than to highly recommend it.

Also, here is a good review of the film by Philip French in the Sunday Observer of 10th January 2010.


Thursday, 14 January 2010

'Before I Forget' by Melissa Hill

I have just finished reading another good fiction book; another book that I was drawn to by the cover and the general look and feel of the book. This is 'Before I Forget' by Melissa Hill, Hodder & Stoughton, 2009 (pbk). http://www.amazon.co.uk/Before-I-Forget-Melissa-Hill/dp/0340952997/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263506988&sr=8-1

Here is the book cover:

This is about a lady called Abby that has an accident and loses her memory. Meanwhile, the person that Abby thought she was in love with, Kieran, goes off and marries someone else. Then, Abby meets Finn. Abby likes him a lot, and he really likes her. But then when she meets up with Finn again, she can't remember anything about their previous encounter; she thinks they are strangers.

The tragedy of having to live a life with memory loss is portrayed very powerfully by Melissa Hill. Abby makes lists to help her to remember and she records her encounters with Finn on her computer. There are many twists and turns to the plot. Hannah, Abby's doctor, tries to guide her through it all as best she can. She aims to give her good advice, and to stop her from getting too low.

Then, Abby discovers that she had more than one accident, and that somehow she has lost a year of her life. She is devastated. She feels that she can no longer marry Finn; that she would be too much of a burden to him, even though he has made it very clear to her many times that he loves her no matter what; and that her memory loss does not make any difference to his love for at all. Anyway, she pretends to Finn that she was still in love with Kieran; Finn is heart-broken and deletes all the records on the computer of their encounters and the time they spent together. But Abby's sister Caroline, cannot bear to see the pain that Finn is in; she tells him the truth. They are reunited.

"But Abby didn't need memories to tell her that she was deeply in love with this man and would trust him with her life." (pp. 340-341)

As someone from Milton Keyes who reviewed the book on amazon said:

"This is the first Melissa Hill book I have read, and it didn't disappoint. I could hardly put it down. I was gripped by Abby's story."

All in all, the book is a real page-turner and is certainly a book that I would recommend. I do not think I have read a modern book that dealt with this topic quite like this before either. It is an important and difficult subject that Melissa Hill handles very well, I think. The subtleties of memory loss come across powerfully; how one can remember some things, but not others.

I now intend to read some more Melissa Hill books!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

'That's Another Story' by Julie Walters

I have just finished reading 'That's another story: the autobiography' by Julie Walters (published by Orion, London, 2008)


This is Julie Walters autobiography - an actress that I have always admired. It was given to me by a friend of mine, Shirley Copps, when she came to our summer party, in 2009. I met Shirley at my elderly friend, John Bond's funeral a couple of years ago - she was one of John's carers for the last couple of years of his life, in fact. Shirley and I immediately got on; she also teaches.

So, anyway, it was very nice of Shirley to give me this book.

I went to hear a talk at Ilford Library about someone locally who had self-published their autobiography, in autumn 2009 (this was part of London Borough of Redbridge 'Book and Media Festival' - http://cms.redbridge.gov.uk/leisure__culture/arts_development_and_events/book__media_festival.aspx). By strange coincidence, at this event I heard two people talking about this Julie Walters book - they both said that they were disappointed with it, and became really rather bored with it half way through. They were somewhat surprised about this. They said they thought there was too much detail in the book. Now, as I have always liked Julie Walters this rather surprised me; but then again, just because one can act well it doesn't necessarily follow that one can write well as well, of course! Quite a few famous people have published autobiographies which they haven't actually written much of themselves, I understand - you know, they dictate a lot of it to someone else instead. Indeed, Tony Benn is somewhat like that himself, and he would surely be lost without his editor, Ruth Winstone. For his diaries, he spoke into a tape recorder,(from what he said at CILIP - Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals -Members' Day), rather than writing it all down - he was also a very busy man of course.

Anyway, these comments discouraged me somewhat from reading the book. But when my cousin Helen came to stay with us in late November 2009 she said that she really enjoyed the book; so I decided to 'have a go' at reading it.

I also thought I should try reading it, because as I say, I really like and admire Julie Walters as an actress and I thought it would be interesting to find out more about her life. In regard to her acting, it was really 'Educating Rita' that did it for me. I thought she was wonderful as Rita. And I could identify with the whole film so much as well - a girl from the working class wanting to get herself an education, and how it changed her, the difficulties she went through, the wonder and excitement she experienced etc. I remember feeling these various ups and downs just so keenly when I first went to university. I also enjoy Julia Walters in the Victoria Wood comedy sketches. And she plays the part of Jane Austen's mother, in the film 'Becoming Jane'. Well, anyone that involves themselves in Jane Austen stuff is a winner as far as I am concerned. I also enjoyed 'Billy Elliot' (so that names a few).

So, anyway, the book. There are some nice photos in it, and some parts of it are interesting. But overall, to be quite honest, I found myself rather agreeing more with the 2 ladies at the book talk. Although it was nice to find out more about Julie Walters life, I did not find that it was written in a very engaging way; instead, there was just too much detail in it, and not enough to really make one sit up and pay attention. She did not seem to really know how to make the interesting facts stand out. I found myself having to re-read the book, to obtain a few essential facts, that had escaped me on my first reading. Perhaps, a little more humour in it would not have gone amiss either!

Having said this though, it is quite incredible what she has achieved in her life of course, particularly coming from the background that she did. And reading the book helped to bring all this out more. I think she had some lucky breaks, mind, and found herself in the right place, at the right time. Julie Walters studied drama at Manchester Polytechnic, for example, and from there she applied to Granada Television and was awarded a bursary for a one-year postgraduate course in acting and stage production at the Stables Theatre. Then, she auditioned for an actors position at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool and was successful. After that, she was in lots of different productions and it all really took off for her - and she has more or less never looked back. Given that 90% of actors and actresses are unemployed at any one time, she was clearly very fortunate in being able to break through in this way, and to become so very famous and successful. That is not to undermine her talent as an actress; she is, indeed, very gifted. But obvioulsy, there are many talented actors and actresses that never really break through.

I did learn a few other things that were of particular interest to me though. Firstly, I learnt more about the ordinary/working class background that she came from and the fact that her mother did more of the practical side of bringing her and her 2 brothers up and that her father was more distant. Secondly, that she passed her 11+ (although only just ) - she was a border line case, as I was. Thirdly, that later on, she started studying for A' levels, but did not complete them as she decided to go in for nursing (nursing was something that I also considered going into in my teens). But she didn't take to it, so at that point, she decided to quit and to become an actress and study drama - and went to Manchester Poly. Also, that she went out with the actor Pete Postlethwaite for 5 years. Now, Glenn loves the film 'The Usual Suspects' which Pete Postlethwaite is in; so that was very interesting.

I also thought it was fascinating, what she said specifically in regard to 'Educating Rita':

"There was not a scene in the play that I didn't identify with..." (p.237)

As I have said, I also certainly identified with it.

Having played Rita on both stage and film, she also says:

"...I am often asked which of the two media I prefer and have to say that the live theatre wins hands down. Nothing to compare with the adrenalin-fuelled excitement of theatre, where the actor tells the story and pulls the focus, and each performance is unique, as is the relationship with each audience." (p.261)

I also very much prefer live theatre to film; one feels so much more a part of the whole experience.

Furthemore, Julie Walters compared herself with Meryl Streep. Now, I really think Meryl Streep is something and was just saying to Glenn (before I read this bit of the book) that although I really like Julie Walters I don't think she is in the same class as Meryl Streep at all. And then I read what Julie Walters says herself:

"Although we were more or less the same age, I felt like I had grown up being mesmerised by her [Meryl Streep] on screen and that she belonged to some other rarefied and glittering stratosphere that bore no relationship to the prosaic, let's-have-a-cup-of-tea world that I inhabited." (p.268)

And this was when Julie Walters went on to win the Oscar for 'Educating Rita' - where Meryl Streep was also in the line-up.

I also discovered that Julie Walters has written a novel entitled Maggie's Tree and in this, she touches on the topic of mental illness. In regard to novel writing in general she says:

"Here in the novel-writing process I was the creator of all things. I decided where the characters came from, both physically and emotionally. I built them from scratch. It felt very akin to acting, but, of course, much lonelier and I do love the social, team-spirit nature of being part of a company or being surrounded by a film crew." (p. 287-288)

I thought that was fascinating. I like the whole process of being on my own when I write; but I also really enjoy mixing socially with others and with working as part of a team. Indeed, there is a part of me that would love to have acted and/or danced and/or been a singer. Still...Then, in the closing pages we find out about her having a lovely little baby girl.

It is clear that Julie Walters has had, and continues to have, a happy, successful and fulfilled life. Long may it continue for her!