Sunday, 17 July 2011

All was well

The Harry Potter era has ended. Truly ended. All that is and all that has been and will be is over. No more books, or films. It feels weird. Future generations will be told by my generation - the 'Harry Potter' generation - of how great it was. We'll tell them about how we reserved the books months and months in advance, waited eagerly for the post man on release day, or cycled down to the nearest book shop for the moment it opened to get the book we'd all anticipated, theorised and dreamt over. In my life time I doubt that there will be another such phenomenon.

I didn't start reading Harry Potter until quite late in the cycle. The first book was published in 1997, it was when I started school at the age of 4. My primary school was a Church of England school and so banned the books and unlike other schools who read them as class texts we were highly discouraged not to read them at home either. My headteacher was very strong with the point that the books taught nothing my witchcraft and therefore were not suitable for a Christian upbringing. Subsequently she was featured on the BBC news and I am lead to believe that there is a deatheater called 'Rookwood' - apparently not a completely fictitious name. Yet, looking back on these strong opinions, I cannot think that Harry Potter is about witchcraft at all. Instead it is about love, friendship and overpowering evil rather than capturing dark magic and the supernatural.

Despite the banning of books I remember that in year 2 a lot of my friends reading 'The Chamber of Secrets'. Of course many copies got confiscated from my friends, but Harry Potter lived on. I was never a massive reader when I was younger, sure I read some Enid Blyton books, and Jacqueline Wilson books as every other 8 year old girl, but Harry Potter never featured heavily due to the banning in primary school. I'd seen the films, but I was a wimp and found them scary beyond belief. I remember watching the second film and having to sit on my mother's lap because I was so jumpy.

It was when book 4 came out that I really started to show an interest. I read it. I enjoyed it. And so my love began. I started from the beginning and became enthralled in the world that JK Rowling had created. I discussed with my mum what we thought would happen next and how Voldemort would affect the wizarding world this time.

In secondary school I found other people who shared my love for the books and I would go and see the films with them and have massive detailed discussions with them about our theories for the next books. I started to ask for Harry Potter cakes and wands for my birthday and even went to the premier for the Half Blood Prince despite the torrential rain. We made new friends and had an amazing time. I have so many memories of making up songs to do with Harry Potter and having Harry Potter birthday parties, making Weasely jumpers, Luna Lovegood earrings, writing to Warner Brothers to become and extra and surviving a whole spoiler free day of school after Deathly Hallows came out and not having read the ending due to untimely family outings!

The first book was published in 1997 and the last film is out in 2011. The Harry Potter phenomenon has spanned my whole childhood. In some ways it marks the end, in some ways it will never end. It will always be loved and the stories will always be read, but no one aside from a small selection of people born at exactly the right time can say that they have lived with Harry Potter for the whole of their childhoods.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Musicians unite

First of all. I got my IB results. Freaking FORTY-TWO! I'm very very happy though I didn't have much time to dwell over them because this all happened around one hour afterwards:

I go to a music centre on a Saturday morning with loads of my friends and we were invited to go and play with the Royal Engineer's Military band in one of their summer concerts. It was all very exciting. So we got on the coach up to Twickenham to their music school headquarters where they have an outside concert venue. Now for anyone in England, you'll know that last week the weather was a bit temperamental, so we were crossing our fingers for no rain. No rain came, instead gusts of wind were in the air, which makes an outside concert that little bit more exciting. We played first to load applause and then the RE band followed. It was a truly amazing concert complete with fireworks and flags and horn players. Beautiful.

The next day life got even more musical. Every year Kent Music take over Benenden school, which is an independent boarding school in the middle of no where with no signal. It's so much fun! You walk in and you feel inspired to go that extra mile with your playing. In KYWO I'm constantly surrounded by amazing players and we work hard in our sections and as a whole band to create an amazing concert on the final day. This year we had an African theme but then we also branched out to other countries like America and Spain, but which had an overall effect of journeying. Our conductor had composed the finale piece himself, which much to our surprise became everyone's favourite piece and included singing and swaying - which is not as easy as it sounds.

To be with all my music friends again was so lovely and to make more new friends every year is the best. They are all genuinely lovely people who have the same passions as you and won't laugh or judge in anyway (other than being awesome) for listening to classical or instrumental music for fun. I think after our concert I hugged just about everyone, everyone was on such a high from the whole week and the music which was a blast to play.

Life has been so good recently. I'm kind of at a loss to what to do today, though I'm going back to Benenden later today to watch Charlotte's concert. Really, I have exciting stuff to do all summer and I haven't been truly bored once in these epic two months. Life is good. I am happy and I'm sure that the annual Benenden Blues will soon be taken over with more exciting adventures.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The dilemma whilst watching Wimbledon

So Wimbledon is over for another year. It was the first time I felt that I had time to really engage with the championships, which I know sounds weird and you're probably wondering how you can get engaged and attached to sport, especially when you don't play it. But the thing with Wimbledon is that it's not just about the sport and who can win. It's about their journeys and experiences, placing them altogether, adding thousand of spectators each day and seeing what goes on, who comes out on top. This year especially players were under estimated. The favourites to win the women's singles title didn't even get into the quarter-finals. One player, named the best ever tennis player got knocked out in the quater-finals against a 12th seeded player. The final outcome was talked about, but the champion was not predicted by the majority. They're all good. There is no question about that, but I think it's the mentality of the players that puts them one step above the rest. Having no doubt in your mind that you can win against someone else is something that brings determination, agression and strength to the game. You can see that being in control creates winners.

So I'm happy about the result, all bar the 'best player' who went out in the quarter-finals, but whilst watching the matches I don't know who to support. See when you watch tennis, your favourite may be knocked out (as in my case) in the earlier rounds. Who does that leave you with? It's not like a team sport, where you watch only when the team you support is playing, you watch Wimbledon regardless of that. This is my dilemma whilst watching Wimbledon. One of the matches had a British player in it, but he was against my 'second favourite' player. What to do? Stay true to my country, be patriotic, or go with my favourite? I was in constant moral dilemma throughout the match and in the end I took to support the Brit, just because he was loosing. He lost in the end. But this became a thing.

The final. World number 1 against world number 2 - soon to be reversed. My second favourite (who had won Wimbledon before) against someone who I hadn't really thought about (this was his first Wimbledon final). Now simply with these two facts in the brackets, my dilemma began. 'Should I support my favourite? or should I support the other because it is his first time and he has played well this whole time'. Dilemma. I changed my mind throughout the game and in the end I cheered for the one who was losing.

I feel pity and I empathise. My mum, who is Danish, says that this is a typically British thing to do. Though I do have to add I was pleased with the result, even though my 'second favourite' player didn't win. Well deserved Djokovic.

Friday, 1 July 2011

On leaving school

When I finished year 11 I cried. I was coming back to the same school, with largely the same friends, the same teachers, everything the same. I was going to study the subjects I wanted, have my own 6th form block, my own locker and be allowed to carry round my bag for the whole day without leaving it in my locker. It was a sad day, there is no doubt about it.

But two years on I'm in almost the same position again. This time though, I've left forever. Most people I won't ever see again, or talk to. Some I may even forget I ever knew. It's an awful thought, but it's true. Some people just haven't impacted my life in such an immediate way, and they will be the people I will regrettably forget. There's no denying it. It sounds sad, heart breaking. But it's weird, I don't feel that way. I don't feel like a winner getting away from people who I haven't found interesting or inspiring, yet all these people have been a part of my 7 years at school. Yet I don't feel a twinge of guilt or sadness for letting some people go. I didn't cry today on my leaver's day. I didn't hug anyone goodbye. I waved bye to some people and wished them a good holiday and said I'd see them soon. They're the people I probably will see soon. The others just left, passing me like passing businessmen ghosts in London. Part of the crowd.

This time I think I feel ready to go. I've moved on from that part of my life, and to prolong it anymore wouldn't help. It's the end of an era, sure. But it's the start of an even better one. There are so many wonderful people who I love and I will cherish their company in my life forever I hope. I know the people I will talk to again because I want to. I don't want to lose contact and they always have a space in my mind.

I love my friends so much and I really don't want to ever forget them. I'm sure when the real goodbye comes and I won't see them each week I will feel like I've lost half of my livelihood.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

What have I been doing?

Well. It's been a while, and though I mostly write these blogs for myself, I do feel that I have let my blogging slip a bit in the past few months. Truth is I've been busy. I don't just mean a little busy. I mean my calendar gives me about 2 free days a week, if that. So right now I'm going to give you a breakdown of my life, things I've been doing and a little about each one. Onwards!

I had my end of IB, end of school, end of mainstream education, end of an era, potentially the end of everything exams last month. May was hectic and hellish on some accounts. Sometimes I felt less stressed that I had during the 2 years of IB because I had to concentrate on exams only. There was so coursework or homework, only revision. There are 6 days left 'til our results come out, and frankly I don't know where I stand. I came out of each exam thinking that it hadn't gone badly at all, but what does that really mean? Who knows. Time will tell.

Post exam week
So right after my final German exam I was ready to welcome summer in with wide arms and lots of muscles for a pre-summer-holiday-shop. It was good, I bought some clothes and a bikini and had a nice time. Of course exams and school were still with me and I thought I had to speed shop because I had to get home to revise. Which of course I didn't have to do at all. Bliss. Monday I went out with all my 'IB buddies' to celebrate the end of everything resulting in a sleepover and thus getting up early for an 8.10 clarinet lesson which I had to cycle to. Highly amusing when still slightly drunk from the night before, especially for my clarinet teacher. I also went to the gym that day, but I'm pretty sure I ate the weight that I lost in picnic snacks and the BBQ my friend had the day after. It was glorious weather and it was lovely just to relax and eat and talk and do nothing else.

Next day. Italy. My oh my, I don't think I've had such a lovely holiday in a long while. Roman culture from 4 days in Roma. Walking round, sunny days, good food, beautiful people and exciting sights. Then a week in rural Tuscany in a mansion farmhouse with a brick yard, resident cats and rustic furnishing. It was just beautiful. We ventured out to some hill towns during the week, tasting a lot of wine and sampling the best hot chocolate I have ever had. The weather was quite an event in itself. With days so hot that you could barely be bothered to do anything other than lie in it and read dozens of books. Rain showers so hard that standing outside for 5 seconds would no doubt result in you become very very wet and hailstones so big that when driving to the airport on the motorway people had to put on hazard lights and stop under bridges for fear of their metal cars being dented. Standard Italian weather.

A week at home to rest
To see friends and to catch up with British life as a whole

Before heading to Spain
Ah, my first trip to Spain, and my first trip away without parents or a plan. We had rented an apartment which was so ideal it makes me squeal with joy every time I think about it. White walls, marble floors, a large balcony, a pool and the beach literally a leap away. No joke. We ran down into the sea in our bikinis with our towels and popped back home to get drinks and food during the day. No money, no keys, nothing else needed. Such a beautiful area with the mountains as your back drop whilst you swim and Africa onwards ahead of you. Nothing less than a beautiful relaxing, exciting place to be. Especially when the party doesn't start 'til 3am in Puerto Banus!

The Lion King
So our flight home was delayed by 5 hours... and I didn't get into bed until 6.30am the next day. This was also the day of Charlotte and I's trip to see the Lion King which we had got tickets for from our friends for our birthday. It was a good job it was amazing otherwise I would have been sleeping in the comfortable theatre seats. So good. So much colour and exuberance and wonderful singing. It made me want to be on stage singing those words pretending to be a lion everyday as my job. If only.

Other things since...
Include having my first driving lesson - bit late on that one. Music concert and various picnics with various friends. Garden parties, TV days, reading days, rainy days and very very hot days.

I get a bit obsessed and glued to the screen this time of year, because of Wimbledon. I cannot play tennis at all, though I have tried and failed many many times, but that doesn't make me less interested in the sport when for two weeks the BBC broadcast live tennis from the Wimbledon championships. This year I wanted to take my obsession one step further, to actually attend the event in the flesh. So I did a bit of research on how to get tickets if you didn't get any through the ballot they have every year. Camping is the answer. So on Sunday I packed my tent, sleeping bag, food, clothes and Pimm's and off I went with some friends to camp in The Queue for the 2011 Championships. Little did we know that arriving at 5pm on Sunday for 'Manic Monday' was a bit too late to arrive. People had been queuing since Saturday morning. No joke. Despite this, we got our place in the queue. Number 1564. Not good enough for a show court ticket. We decided to stick with a ground pass. 9.30 on Monday we were in. A beautiful sight to behold. We watched the Murray match on 'Henman Hill' with strawberries and cream and Pimm's (no Wimbledon trip is complete without these, even an amateur knows that!). Went to see some doubles matches and junior matches on the other free courts and then decided to queue for resales for the Federer vs Youzhny match. Such a good decision. Within 20 minutes we had our tickets and were running at full pelt to court no. 1. We managed to catch the whole match bar 25 minutes, and what a good match it was. We left running on a high, but ready for bed.

Now I'm home and normal life has begun, though next week it's all off again with Benenden music school, theatre trips, exam results and more music concerts. I think this has been my best, if not busiest summer so far. I have had so much fun and I'm barely 2 months into this 4 and a half month extravaganza!

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The Theatre

I am truly in love with the theatre. Just the occasion, the formality and the way it makes you feel. For a brief 2 or 3 hours you get to know a character so well - their insecurities, fears and vulnerability, but also what makes them tick, their thought processes and reasonings.

Being able to escape your own world is something which I think marks a great play, something which captivates you by the beauty of the scenery, the words or the acting and for a few hours you forget to check your watch and your life outside the auditorium. All that matters are the characters. What they say should involve you. It should make you feel like you should help them, run up give them a hug, celebrate with them, just be there to point something out.

Then I think of all the dedication these players have bought with them to the scene. I find this especially in Shakespeare. It’s not easy to understand and it’s easier to mis-interpret than to do so correctly, I just think of the sheer amount of work involved in understanding the language, actually making it mean something and letting it sound so natural, that I could easily find myself naturally wanting to adopt the Shakespearian language in the interval and after the performance.

I think that’s why I want to work in theatre, not to get up on stage and perform it myself necessarily, but just to be involved in the process. My dad always used to say, why be the spectator when you could be the performer, the producer or the director.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Warwick and Exeter now. So indecisive.