Number 47 | Try a new programme …

Yes. I finally tried ‘Stranger Things’. Here’s my minute-by-minute account of episode one, ‘The Vanishing of Will Byers’.

  1. Shit, that’s a man who’s running away from something sinister. This looks good.
  2. Oh jeez, ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. Whoever said I would like this programme is very wrong.
  3. How much does the curly haired kid remind me of my own boyfriend?
  4. Four kids on bikes. If they start flying I will not be at all surprised.
  5. NEVER RIDE THROUGH WOODS AT NIGHT BY YOURSELF. This is always a rookie mistake.
  6. The kid has a shed out the back … like ‘ET’.
  7. WHY HAS THE KID GOT ACCESS TO A GUN AND WHY DOES HE KNOW HOW TO LOAD IT?
  8. Flickering lights. The quintessential signal of something evil.
  9. Ooh, Winona Ryder’s changed since that ‘Friends’ episode where she kissed Rachel.
  10. Creepy looking older brother.
  11. Ah, school bullies. This wouldn’t be a high-school TV show without them.
  12. Making out in a school bathroom. How has nobody seen them? Man has fantastic hair, though.
  13. Angry police chief. Standard.
  14. My goodness, everybody smoked in the eighties! You’re at work? Have a cigarette. You’re the police chief? Have a cigarette. Your son’s gone missing? Have a cigarette. What’s the British equivalent? Tea?
  15. Scientists suiting up in a lab. It’s almost guaranteed that they are up to no good.
  16. Who is that actor? Oh, ‘Full Metal Jacket’s Matthew Modine.
  17. Okaaaaaaaaay … Small shaven-headed girl wandering into a fast food place. They’re totally gonna catch her stealing food … Yep.
  18. The kids are being questioned about their missing friend. School teachers know absolutely nothing about young boys and ‘Lord of the Rings’ as it turns out.
  19. Winona, why the heck are you taking your little kid to see ‘Poltergeist’? BAD PARENTING.
  20. Fast Food Man has phoned social services. Bad move, dude.
  21. Girl has mental powers and an ability to control (I assume) all electrical things. Nice.
  22. Winona has a layabout ex-husband. Standard.
  23. Nancy wants to go and study at Barb’s house. I assume that means she really wants to have sex with Steve (man with fantastic hair).
  24. The police chief has a dark and twisty past; his daughter died a few years ago. He will now be driven by that to find missing Will. I also anticipate a run-in between him and the weird girl who can control the electric fan.
  25. Haha, two of the kids are talking via walkie-talkies. I love it.
  26. Social services woman has turned up at the diner and shot Fast Food Man in the head! I *knew* it was a bad move calling them! THEY’RE NOT REAL SOCIAL SERVICES! RUN, SHAVED-HEAD GIRL!
  27. Nancy and Steve are “studying”. He wants her to take off an item of clothing for every question she gets wrong. This is romance, people. Mind you, his hair is fantastic.
  28. I was all for Winona getting herself a stiff drink but now she’s been electrocuted by a weird phone call, I think she might need a bit more.
  29. The boys are searching in the woods at night (clearly ignoring my previous warning about this being NOT A GOOD IDEA). There is rustling in the bushes and … SHAVED-HEAD GIRL IS THERE!

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Number 46 | Try a photography walk …

I have never in my life tried a photography walk so, armed with only my iPhone (and the pitch blackness of the countryside) I went for a walk up Burrough Hill with my boyfriend.

Now my photography skills are not bad but in the darkness nothing was going to come out very well. I took photos of what I thought were “interesting” things – snow on trees, fence posts, that kind of thing.

Not many came out very well but here’s a couple … And it was fun!

Number 43 | The midnight snowman …

On one of the snow-days that Leicester had this month, me and the boyfriend decided it would be a great idea to make a snowman. In his parent’s garden. At midnight.

Notes to self – Converse trainers are not the best for this kind of thing, as they soak in water like nobody’s business. Also, snow is very, very cold. Do not attempt this unless you are wearing gloves (and not just ‘ET’ pyjamas with a coat).

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Number 42 | The death of my counsellor …

A few weeks ago I found out that my counsellor passed away.

This might not seem like anything particularly noteworthy. After all, counsellors are like doctors, you don’t see one for ever and you don’t generally get attached. However, this woman was amazing. I saw her every week for around two years so I got to know her pretty well. Kind, compassionate, a good listener (one of the basic qualities of being a counsellor), she helped me back from the edge of complete insanity last year and I can’t thank her enough. Sadly, now, I won’t ever be able to.

After a couple of months of not hearing from her and getting no reply to my calls or emails, today I got an email from her daughter letting me know that she died peacefully in her sleep. I was invited to her funeral – not the most fun morning I’ve ever had in a church – and the place was packed out. So many people came they had to put out extra seats. Being at the very back, I was right next to the coffin as it was brought in and that started me off sobbing instantly. There were small speeches from her son and one of her daughters and a wake that everyone was invited to – I didn’t go; I didn’t know anyone else there and I didn’t have a clue how to introduce myself to anyone.

Since then, her daughter was kind enough to send me one of the pictures that my counsellor had had on her office walls. I haven’t got a picture of it here but it says ‘never give up’ with the same sentiment in German (my counsellor was German). It’s something I’ll keep forever.

RIP Waltraud. You were an absolute legend. There’s so much we talked about and you helped me through. You weren’t just a counsellor, you were also a good and wise friend. I miss you.

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Number 41 | Live a childhood dream …

As a kid I was obsessed with ballet stories. In fact, a couple of years ago I went on Amazon and bought a copy of three ballet stories I had when I was a child and re-read them. They were about a girl who goes to a fancy dance school in London and spends most of her time dreaming and trying to see and do all these famous ballets. I had never seen any of them as a child and my first opportunity came a couple of weeks ago when Ballet Theatre UK performed ‘The Nutcracker’. Here’s the plot (taken straight from the internet):

The Colonel and his wife are giving a party on Christmas Eve for their two children, Clara and Fritz. Friends and family arrive at the house including the children’s uncle and their eccentric old aunts, Angelina and Caterina. Soon the room is filled with delighted faces as the Christmas tree is revealed and the children receive their presents.

However, the mood is suddenly transformed with the arrival of a mysterious magician, Drosselmeyer. With him are three entertainers that have come to the party to perform for the children. Drosselmeyer has brought Clara a very special Christmas present: a strange nutcracker in the shape of a handsome Prince, which Clara immediately adores. Excitedly, the children dance round the room with their new toys, but Fritz breaks Clara’s nutcracker. An uncle quickly mends it and Clara wipes away her tears.

After the party, the servants dim the lights and put out the candles on the Christmas tree, plunging the room into an eerie darkness.

Unable to sleep, Clara creeps back into the darkened room to find her nutcracker. She falls asleep on the floor, clutching the nutcracker in her arms. As the clock chimes midnight, Clara wakes with a start to find giant mice running around her. Drosselmeyer mysteriously reappears and transforms Clara’s nutcracker into a real live handsome prince, who leads the toy soldiers into battle with the mice and their leader, the evil King Rat.

Clara strikes a fatal blow to King Rat and the battle is won. As a reward, Drosselmeyer sends Clara and the Prince on a wonderful journey. They travel to an enchanting land of ice and snow, where they meet the beautiful Snow Queen and the Snowflake Fairies. The Prince dances with the Snow Queen and Clara is surrounded by the dancing Snowflake Fairies. The Snow Queen gives Clara her sleigh and the everybody waves goodbye as her journey with the Prince continues

Clara and her Prince are welcomed to the colourful Land of Sweets by the Sugar Plum Fairy who commands entertainment for her special guests. A non-stop banquet of dances begins, representing sweets from far-off lands: Spain, Arabia, China, Russia, France and England. The entertainment comes to a close with the delightful Waltz of the Flowers, followed by a spectacular grand ‘pas de deux’ danced by the Nutcracker Prince and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Finally, all the entertainers bid Clara farewell as she slowly drifts to sleep.

The Land of Sweets miraculously transforms back to the familiar drawing room where Clara’s parents find her asleep on the floor, still clutching her nutcracker doll. The Colonel lifts her in his arms and carries her back to her to bed when, out of the blue Drosselmeyer appears. Was this all a dream, did it really happen, or was it simply another of Drosselmeyer’s conjuring tricks?

IT WAS BLOODY BRILLIANT. I’ve now finally seen something I only read about as a kid! I got to see the actual Sugar Plum Fairy dance (everyone knows the bit of music she dances to, written by Tchaikovsky). There were men in tights and not much else! Okay, so without a plot to hand, I couldn’t work out some of it – some of the dances were representing sweets and coffee from different countries but I didn’t realise that until afterwards – but it WAS SO GOOD. I need to see more childhood things now.

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