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Book Review: A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax

By Amazon, Books & Authors, ReviewsNo Comments
frazzled-ruby-wax-book-cover I was fortunate to go and see Wax perform her mental health show Sane New World. I found Wax to be inspirational, funny and informative. So I bought her book with the same title, which I found to be easily the best book I’ve ever read on the topic of mental health. Then I read Wax’s autobiography How Do You Want Me?

When I heard that Wax was releasing a new book entitled Frazzled, I immediately pre-ordered it.

A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled is split into sections, which include: an introduction to Mindfulness, Neuroscience and How Our Brains Work, a six-week Mindfulness Course, Mindfulness for Parents, Babies & Children, Mindfulness for Older Kids & Teenagers and Mindfulness & Wax.

Wax’s story sections spattered throughout Frazzled were fascinating to read. Wax’s occasional drawings and photos throughout the book were also enjoyable.

It was interesting to see the two MRI brain scans on Wax in Frazzled. One was taken before a weeklong silence mindfulness meditative retreat and one afterwards.

The format and structure of Frazzled is pleasing, although Wax could have added a section on Mindfulness for OAPs (Old Aged Pensioners). The six-week Mindfulness Course pages are grey-edged, which makes it easy for the reader to find the course. The exercises in the course did feel repetitive to read and it felt like whole sections from Week 1 had been copy/pasted into the other weeks of the course.

Frazzled shouldn’t be compared with Sane New World, but it’s difficult not to compare the two books. Frazzled is just as informative as Sane New World but not as funny. Frazzled reads like a self-help instructional book on Mindfulness.

Overall Sane New World is a good book, just not as good as Sane New World. Frazzled failed to captivate this reader throughout and failed to inspire this reader to practice mindfulness.

The only section that was not read in this book was Mindfulness for Parents, Babies and Children.

Review soon,



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Film Review: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011)

By Amazon, Reviews, TV, Online Streaming & Films2 Comments

(Click on image for full size Theatrical Poster.)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) is about a group of pensioners who travel to India to retire in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. The Best of British cast are introduced to the audience; We have Evelyn (Dame Judi Dench) who must sell her home to pay her husbands debts after he recently passed away. Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is a High Court Judge who lived in India as a boy, one day at work he says “it’s time,” and decides to return.

Jean (Penelope Wilton) & Doug (Bill Nighy) are a unhappily married couple who have put their life savings into their daughters Internet start-up company which hasn’t yet paid, so are moving to India for a retirement they can afford. Muriel (played brilliantly by Maggie Smith) is a racist, retired housekeeper who needs a hip replacement. The NHS tell her she will have to wait months for the operation, or as an alternative they will pay for her to go to India where she can have it done straight away.

Madge (Celia Imrie) is introduced leaving her life of babysitting the grandchildren to go in search of a new husband in India. Norman (Ronald Pickup) is going to India in search of one night of lust and love after being lonely for a long time. I thought that having seven main characters might be too much to follow, but because the characters were distinctive and the film was well paced it was easy to follow the storyline as it developed.

On their arrival in India they find the hotel is a work-in-progress (the photos on the website had been photoshoped) and are met by the manager Sonny (the Slumdog Millionaire, played by Dev Patel). Sonny has this wonderful saying:
“Everything will be OK in the end, and if it’s not OK, it’s probably not the end.”

The group begin to adapt to this vibrant culture and spicy food as each of them start their new lives in India. Evelyn sees a job advert for a call centre, she takes a taxi only to discover that they want the younger generation – still she speaks to the manager and gets a job as a “sort of cultural advisor.”

Graham disappears early every morning discovering that India has changed a lot since he was young. Graham reveals to Evelyn that when he lived in India as a boy he had this Indian friend, and that one day it became more than friendship. He fell in love with this boy but they were discovered. Graham’s Indian friend was dishonoured and Graham left him, going to University in England. Graham tells Evelyn that he’s never been back to India since and that he feels incredibly guilty for leaving.

Jean makes a point of staying in the hotel and voicing her distase of everything about India at every opportunity. Doug goes exploring, seeing the beautiful temples that Graham recommends.

Muriel has her hip operation and wants to go home, the doctors tell her that she can as soon as she can walk on the plane. We see Muriel’s racist attitudes change as she befriends the cleaner at the hotel. The cleaner invites Muriel to meet her family, which Muriel does. Muriel makes a fool of herself by shouting at some of the children who are playing with her wheelchair, she thought they are vandalising it. During Muriel’s apology it’s revealed that for years she used to be a housekeeper for a family, raising the children, doing the house work and book keeping before the family replaced her with someone younger.

While all this is going on, Sonny is trying to convince his bank manager to invest in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Sonny also has a love storyline, he’s in love with Sunaina (Tena Desae), but won’t tell her as he feels he’s not good enough for her. Still they are in a relationship and she works for her brother – in the call centre where Evelyn is the Cultural Advisor. Sonny’s mother arrives at the Hotel to try and get his life on track including marriage a suitable women. Sonny’s mother feels that Sunaina is too modern and there is an hilarious scene where Sunaina gets in bed with Madge (not realising that Madge took Sonny’s room as hers didn’t have a door), Sunaina screaming realising it isn’t Sonny. Sonny’s mother comes in, tells Madge she “expected better” thinking that Sunaina is a prostitue. The scene made me laugh out loud, but it quickly returned to drama as Sonny introduces naked Sunaina to his mother as his girlfriend.

From the beginning Jean has noticed Graham the High Court Judge, being attracted to his social status. One day Jean tempts Muriel into telling her where he’s going by telling her that she knows of a website where she can get Hobnobs delivered to the hotel. Muriel tells her that he’s going to the public records office and Jean follows him there. Jean is about to disclose how she feels to Graham, but he beats her too it disclosing that he’s gay. Jean runs off embarrassed and returns to the hotel complaining to Doug again of her hatred for India. Muriel asks to use the hotel’s computer, sees the hotels finances and can’t help but organise them.

Graham gets an address for his former lover and with the support of Evelyn and Doug goes to visit him. Graham knocks on the door to be greeted by the wife of his former lover. She shouts over to a man sat at a table with other men. The man turns to see Graham and smiles, walks up to him and gives him the biggest hug ever. Graham stays to catch up, Evelyn and Doug head back to the hotel and you sense there’s at least a really good friendship developing between them based on honesty.

Meanwhile Norman goes out to a exclusive club to try to meet someone and sees Madge. Norman points out a women at the bar to Madge, she decides to help him along by going over to speak to the woman at the bar and telling him to join them in a minute. Norman goes over and we quickly realise he can’t be sophisticated and flirt well. Just as the woman’s about to leave, Norman’s honest and exposes his loneliness. The woman appreciates this and he ends up going back to hers, finally getting that night of lust and love he so desperately wanted.

The next day Graham comes back to the hotel and tells Norman of his amazing night. Graham tells Norman that his friend married a woman, but that she knew that he’d been in love with a man and would never love another. Graham tells Norman that he’s been trapped all these years by guilt and that his Indian friend has had a good life. Norman goes to his room and Evelyn sees Graham and goes to ask him about his night. But Evelyn discovered he’s died of a heart attack. Graham’s Indian friend conducts the touching funeral ceremony and all but Muriel attend. Evelyn emotionally affected by the funeral, talks to Doug about her husband being dishonest about the finances and of how she trusted him. Evelyn breaks down in tears, Doug comforts her before Jean appears asking for her husband back. Doug follows her back into their room before finally loosing his temper at Jean for the lack of respect she shows him.

Muriel goes to visit Sonny’s bank manager. Sonny’s mother tells him that his brothers who own part of the hotel want it sold for the real estate value. Sonny’s mother wants him to move back to Delhi for an arranged mariage. Sonny knows that they will knock down the architecturally beautiful hotel destroying his dream, and that he will loose the love of his life in the process.

Meanwhile Jean & Doug’s daughter has got in touch to say that her Internet business has taken off and she can pay them back. Jean & Doug pack to return to England, with Jean obsessed by “turning to the left” by which she means travelling first class. Before the taxi departs the hotel Doug pretends he’s forgot his wallet hoping to say goodbye to Evelyn. Evelyn’s just got back from work, but she doesn’t want to see him. So Muriel lies for her, telling him she’s not back yet and asks if he wants to leave a message. Doug asks Muriel to tell Evelyn he said goodbye.

In the taxi Jean & Doug are suck in rush hour traffic which is being delayed by a festival. Jean sees a a pedicab and offers the driver all her money to take them to the airport. The pedicab driver says he can only take one person plus luggage and Jean is finally honest with Doug saying that they haven’t been happy for a long time and that they’ve stayed together out of loyalty. Jean asks Doug not to come after her.

At the Hotel the other residents have been told that the hotel is closing by Sonny’s mother and are preparing to leave. Sonny rushes into the call centre where Sunaina works and tells her that he loves her. Sonny explains that he can cope with loosing the hotel but not her.

Sonny takes Sunaina on his bike back to the hotel to tell his mother that Sunaina is the ‘one’ and that he wants to marry her. Sonny tells his mother and she is reminded by a friend of the family that her husband said the same about her to his mother. Sonny’s mother concedes but explains to Sonny that she has a mothers right to worry. Muriel explains that the hotel doesn’t have to close, that Sonny’s orignal figures had been right – but that the hotel needs paying guests. Muriel discloses that she’s seen Sonny’s bank manager and that he has agreed to fund the hotel if Sonny takes on Muriel as the Assistant Manager.

Muriel asks the remaining residents if they will stay on at the hotel, asking Evelyn first. Evelyn isn’t sure, Muriel for the first time in the film stands up out of her wheel chair and walks a few steps. Muriel says if she can stand on her own two feet, so can Evelyn and reminds her she has work tomorrow. Muriel convinces Evelyn as well as the others: Madge, Norman and Norman’s new girlfriend to stay on at the hotel.

Doug walks the streets of the city overnight and in the morning returns to the hotel as Evelyn is setting out for work. They greet one another, Doug makes clear that it’s over between Jean and himself and asks if Evelyn is up for meeting up after work. Evelyn agrees and Doug asks how she likes her tea. The film ends with a montage showing Sonny and Sunaina on Sonny’s bike, Doug and Evelyn on a bike, Muriel greeting new guests at the hotel, Madge having dinner with a wealthy Indian and Norman and his girlfriend settling into life together.

The film is definitely a feel good film and one of the best films I’ve seen in years. I’ve watched it again and again. It has a captivating storyline with a good mix of comedy and drama – including some really funny one-liners. It is fantastically directed and shot meaning it shows the stories of the characters well. The characters are well developed, feel real and are excellently represented by the cast.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011) is available to buy on Amazon and I highly recommend it.

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An evening seeing John Barrowman LIVE

By Gigs & Shows2 Comments

I have wanted to see John Barrowman for years. For a few years I couldn’t manage to get tickets (as he plays in more intimate venues); then I got tickets last year and was too ill to go; so this year I bought tickets again and am so glad I did.

I went with my good friend Simon. Here’s some photos (click on any for full size):

(Above: Me getting ready to meet my husband to be…John Barrowman)
(Above: Simon and me posing.)
(Above: Simon and me – I looked up instead of looking forward after I’d pressed the camera button.)
(Above: Simon and me possing.)

We decided to make a night out of it and headed in to Manchester City Centre for food, here we are well fed:

Then we headed down to The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester for the gig. On our arrival immediately we saw that we where in the right place. We saw a guy wearing a Torchwood trench coat (ironically wearing jeans and a t-shirt underneath with trainers as footwear) and several people proudly showing-off their 2011 tour t-shirts. The crowd were mostly OAP’s, grannies with curled white hair and granddads with either no hair or comb-overs. In the crowd were also stocky balled men taking their relatively tiny mothers and the occasional middle age short tubby gay couples (often with one hair so neat that it must have been a wig). The rest of the crowd were made up of stereotypical-looking housewives. It did wonders for my self-esteem as I think I was the youngest one there.

As we took our seats in the auditorium (which had a good acoustics) we saw a young cool-looking gay couple in the row in front of us. It was nice to see a happy looking gay couple among the crowd and they made me laugh we they bopped their heads trying to look cool when John sang. The show started with a bang:

(Above: John behind the curtain, before the curtain dropped.)
(Above: John singing.)

Then the J4’s (John’s four dancers and backing singers) got to do a song :

(Above: J4’s doing their stuff.)

Then it was time for Jody Prenger to sing. After her first song she had a chat with the audience. I couldn’t believe that someone which such broad northern accent could produce such fantastic vocals.

(Above: Jody Prenger singing.)

Throughout the show John told stories about himself, his family and his partner (Scott) inbetween tracks. John also used the opportunity to shamelessly promote other buisness ventures including his skin care range HIM, his music (The Very Best of John Barrowman (CD), Music Music Music, Another Side), his books (Anything Goes & I am What I am) and his DVD’s (John Barrowman Collectors Edition [DVD], John Barrowman Live At The Royal Albert Hall [DVD], An Evening With John Barrowman [DVD]). But we (the audience) didn’t mind as he’d won us over as soon as he’d come stage being his camp and lovely self. Plus he wiggled his arse rather expertly at the audience pretty early on!

Simon and I agreed that John’s vocals had vastly improved from previous years. My opinion came from his previous DVD’s I had seen and Simon’s opinion came from his experience watching him last year. Well done John! I did notice at points that he appeared out of breath with the dancing and singing, but as an all round entertainer he delivered an excellent performance. I didn’t realise that he’s forty-five years old this year, he looks really good for his age.

(Above: John performing.)

It was time for the interval and after a quick leg stretch Simon and I returned to our seats. The screen at the back of the stage was showing photos and I caught this one while playing with my iPhone 4 camera:

(Above: John on a beach in small swimwear definitely a must click for full size photo.)

The second part of the show began with John doing a few tracks before introducing his parents. His father dressed as a construction worker and his mother dressed as a police woman to which they did YMCA! Photo’s below:

(Above: John singing.)
(Above: John and his parents.)
(Above: John and his parents.)
(Above: John and his parents.)
(Above: John and his parents.)

Then John and Jody did a duet entitled So Close:

(Above: John and Jody singing.)
(Above: John and Jody singing.)

Then John did a holiday songs remix with the J4’s. The two scrumptious male dancers ended up wearing practically nothing apart from some blue swimwear which was fantastic. After the song the male J4’s bent down to pick up some props from the back of the stage showing their perk arses to the audience. John jokingly told them off for “milking” it but we (the audience) didn’t mind:

Then John performed a few slow songs before changing into a fab sparkly suit for his finale I am what I am:

Throughout the show John made good eye contact with the auidence and pointed at certain people in the auidence to make them feel special – an old entertainer trick that works. At one point in the first half John asked if there were any gay people in the audience and Simon and I whooped! John made eye contact, smiled and waved. Alas he didn’t see me, fall in love, take me on stage and get down on one knee – but hey you can’t have everything.

I throughly enjoyed the show, so thank you John Barrowman.

Write soon,


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Pink News on Manchester Pride

By Gay, Political, RantsNo Comments

I regulary check for the latest news in the gay world. Last week this article appeared: follows an article the week before, where some young people had protested that Manchester Pride had become a money making venture.

In this article the Villiage Buisness Association (VBA) states that we have a ‘Marketing Manchester Pride’, which to me basically means a business. Having given it considerable thought – I would tend to agree. It has become about making money in some senses.

I have a few reasons for saying this. Firstly, for the last few years I have taken young people who identify as gay, lesibian, bisexual or questioning. The tickets are bought by the organisation in advanced, but even in advanced they are £12.50. How many vunerable young people, with little free cash could afford this? In addition to this, some of them are under 16 years of age. Where’s the consession for young people, OAP’s (Old Aged Pensioners), etc.

A friend of mine bought a weekend ticket on the Saturday after the main parade. He had to pay £18. To me that’s the cost of a gig and is outrageous for a so called ‘celebration of gay culture and the diversity of Manchester’. And my final point to make is that I have massively seen an increase in the money Manchester Pride spends on advertising, this year I have seen more adverts for Manchester Pride than ever before. Why do they need to advertise? All gay magazines list the dates of the different pride festivals around the country. And most gay people who have the internet check the Manchester Pride website.

I do recognise the good work that is completed with the funds raised. Support for gay men around HIV and in supporting the work the LGF do. But my question is: Why is it so expensive, therefore excluding the isolated and vunerable LGB people in society?

Answers on a post card…


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