Monthly Archives: January 2016

Charley’s 2016 New Years Resolutions

The lovely Melanie @ Melanie Noell Bernard asked me to participate in this New Years blog-a-thon. Now, I’m nothing special or famous. I rarely remember things and I’m a bit of a ‘floater’ because work takes over my life. Therefore, I feel so honoured. How lovely is it as well to have someone promote lots of blogs too! Thank you so much Melanie.

Make sure you follower her and check out my resolutions! 

Resolutions: 1. I always set myself a ‘challenge’ resolution to read 100 books a year. I always try to pick different genres and try to read new things I wouldn’t naturally pick instinctively. Last year I tried to read more historical fiction, something I’ve never read before. This year I’d like to try and read […]
https://mnbernardbooks.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/charleys-2016-new-years-resolutions/

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An Inspector Calls – J B Priestley 

  

Good evening all! 

Can you believe I’ve not written a book review since December? That’s shocking! So, I’m back to review one of my favourite plays, An Inspector Calls. I’m currently teaching this as well so I had to re-read this ready for that. The kids are hooked as well which is a bonus! 

It’s true to say that the more times you read this, the more you get from it, the deeper you feel you have to dig. It’s like you become an inspector too. I love the fact that it goes deeper than appearance to find true meanings. 

So, without further ado, here comes the review. 

The play opens in 1912 at a family celebration at the Birling household. Arthur Birling, a wealthy mill owner and local politician, and his family are celebrating the engagement of Shelia, their daughter, to Gerald Croft. Gerald is the son of Birling’s competitor, thus making this engagement one of need as well as want. Attending the party are Sybil, Arthur’s wife and their children, Shelia and Eric. Eric, the younger sibling, has a drinking problem that is ignored throughout the play. Once dinner is finished, Arthur decides to give a speech about the importance of self reliance. One of the things he discusses is his impending knighthood and the classes. 

“There’s a good deal of silly talk about these days—but—and I speak as a hard-headed business man, who has to take risks and know what he’s about—I say, you can ignore all this silly pessimistic talk. When you marry, you’ll be marrying at a very good time.” 

Inspector Goole arrives at their house and interrupts their celebration. He explains how a young woman, called Eva Smith, has killed herself by drinking strong disinfectant. He implies that she left a diary of names, including members of the Birling family. The Inspector produces a photograph and shows it only to Arthur Birling. At first, he doesn’t seem to recognise her. But, he soon openly acknowledges that she worked in one of his mills. It comes to light that he dismissed her from Birling & Co. 18 months ago for her involvement in an abortive workers’ strike. He firmly denies responsibility for her death. 

“It’s the way I like to go to work. One person and one line of inquiry at a time. Otherwise, there’s a muddle.”

It is at this point that Shelia walks in and is immediately drawn into the discussion. She too is then shown the photograph. (Was it the same? No one knows!) She admits to also knowing Eva Smith. She confesses to the Inspector that Eva served her in a department  store. Shelia did not have the best experiences and this resulted in her having Eva fired. Shelia admits that Eva’s behaviour had been blameless and she only wanted her fired because she was motivated by her jealousy and spite towards an attractive working class woman. 

“If we are all responsible for everything that happened to everybody we’d had anything to do with, it would be very awkward, wouldn’t it?”

Sybil then joins them whilst Goole continues his interrogation. He reveals that Eva was also known as Daisy Renton. Gerald’s reaction to this news causes suspicion. Gerald then admits he met a woman by that name in a theatre bar. He gave her money and arranged to meet with her again. Goole pursues this line further by revealing that Eva was Gerald’s mistress. He gave her money and promises of continued support before ending the relationship. Naturally, Arthur and Sybil are horrified. As Gerald leaves the room, Shelia acknowledges his nature and appreciates that he has spoken so truthfully. But, she also notes that their engagement is over. 

“I don’t dislike you as I did half an hour ago, Gerald. In fact, in some odd way, I rather respect you more than I’ve ever done before.”

Inspector Goole then identifies Sybil as the head of a women’s charity to which Eva turned for help. Eventually, Sybil admits that Eva came to her committee for financial aid. She was pregnant and destitute. Despite this, Sybil convinced the committee that the girl was a liar and that her application should thus be denied. Despite vigorous cross examination from Goole, Sybil refused to accept any wrongdoing. Shelia is horrified at her mother and begs her to not continue any further. Goole then plays his final card, making Sybil admit that drunken young man at the front of this should be made to give a public confession to admit the blame. 

“You’ve had children. You must have known what she was feeling. And you slammed the door in her face.”

It is at this point that Eric enters. After a brief amount f questioning from Goole, he breaks down and admits to drunkenly sleeping with Eva. He also et up with her several times later and then stole £50 from his father’s business to help her when she became pregnant. Quite obviously, Arthur and Sybil, who are driven by appearances and class, are horrified. The party and the family breaks down. 

“The fact remains that I did what I did. And Mother did what she did. And the rest of you did what you did to her. It’s still the same rotten story whether it’s been told to a police inspector or to somebody else.”

Goole’s questioning implies that each of the people there that evening contributed to Eva’s death. He reminds the Birlings of the aged old classic: actions have consequences and all people are intertwined in one society. He leaves. 

“There are millions and millions of Eva Smiths and John Smiths still left with us, with their lives, their hopes and fears, their suffering and chance of happiness, all intertwined with our lives, with what we think and do. We don’t live alone. We are members of one body. We are responsible for each other.”

Gerald returns telling the family that there may be no Inspector Goole on the police force. Arthur, enraged, makes a call to the Chief Constable, who confirmed this. This leads to Birling believing that if there is no inspector then there may be no girl. He makes a second call to the infirmary to find out that there had been no recent cases of suicide. They are off the hook it seems, so the elder Birlings and Gerald celebrate. Arthur dismisses the evenings events as nothing. 

“Everything we said had happened really had happened. If it didn’t end tragically, then that’s lucky for us. But it might have done.”

However, the younger Birlings realise the error of their ways and promise to change. Gerald is keen to resume his engagement to Shelia. Naturally she is reluctant because he did admit to having an affair. Hardly a desirable man! He does have status though…

“There’ll be plenty of time, when I’ve gone, for you all to adjust your family relationships.”

The play ends rather abruptly with a telephone call. Arthur answers and reports to the group that a young woman has died, a suspected suicide case by disinfectant, and that local police are on their way to question the Birlings. 

“This girl killed herself—and died a horrible death. But each of you helped to kill her. Remember that. Never forget it. But then I don’t think you ever will.”

The true identity of Inspector Goole is never explained. What is clear, quite possibly the only thing in the play, is that the family’s confessions are true. This will result in them being public ally disgraced when the narration of Eva’s demise is revealed. 

“We’re respectable citizens and not dangerous criminals. Sometimes there isn’t as much difference as you think.”

Didn’t I say that this play was totally gripping?! It leaves you feeling uncomfortable and on edge on o many levels. We all get distracted sometimes by appearances. This play is an example of don’t believe everything you see at every level. Nothing is to be trusted. 

You have to read this, or better, see it performed on stage. 

Big love xx

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The Disney Book Tag

  

Hey everyone! 

I’m still alive! Just very busy. I feel like I’ve been rushed off my feet recently. There’s definitely been lots of late nights and early mornings as well as a lot of coursework reading. Nevermind, it’s now the weekend and I’m back to check on the blogs of my lovely people here. Sorry I haven’t been around. I’m getting back on it now!! 

I’ve been tagged by the lovely Ashley @ Dreaming Through Literature to take part in the Disney Book Tag. Here goes! I’ll apologise now because some of the books here are what I’m teaching at the moment, so sorry if it seems a bit ‘high school’! 

The Little Mermaid: a character who is out of their element, a fish out of water. 
For me that has to be Jane Eyre. She’s completely out of her depth, poor darling. Mr Rochester isn’t so clean cut as he appears to be. Should she be the ‘other woman’? Drama, drama, drama. 

  
Cinderella: a character who goes through a major transformation. 

Juliet from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. She changes so much and all because she meets Romeo. “Deny thy father and refuse thy name?” Nail biting drama right there. *for a Shakespearean audience. 

  

Snow White: a book with an eclectic cast of characters. 
The characters in Willy Russell’s play, Blood Brothers, are so eclectic. We have rich and poor, old and young, posh and common. An excellent play which is still relevant today. 

  

Sleeping Beauty: a book that put you to sleep. 
Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler. I saw a review of this somewhere and thought it would be interesting, but it just made me feel a little annoyed. Slightly repetitive. 

  

The Lion King: a character who had something traumatic happen to them in childhood. 

Link from Stone Cold. It’s a novel all about homelessness. His dad left, his mum got a new boyfriend who isn’t that pleasant and eventually he decides to leave home not long after he finishes school. But, there’s also a killer on the loose. Oooer. 

  

Beauty and the Beast: a beast of a book (a big book) that you were intimidated by but found the story to be beautiful. 
Wuthering Heights. I really do need to read this again. The narration is complicated, but it’s a really fantastic novel. It reminds me of when I was studying for my A Levels. I never thought I’d understand what was going on. I also have very vivid memories of my teacher singing Kate Bush to me. But, I grew to love it. 

  

Aladdin: a character that gets their wish granted, for better or worse. 
Aww poor little Bruno. All he wants to do is explore over the other side of the fence. It has devastating consequences. However, it shows that friendship can be found in the darkest of times and places. This book makes me really emotional. 

  

Mulan: a character who pretends to be something or someone they’re not. 
This is quite tricky, but I think it has to be Hamlet. Hamlet is my favourite Shakespeare play. No one is quite who they seem to be, but Hamlet seems to take this to the next level. He becomes a multitude of characters and personas really. 

  

Toy Story: a book with characters you wish would come to life.
All characters from Peter Pan. What a lovely book. I’d love to hang out with them all and fly around. I’d like to sneak on Hook’s pirate ship and have a mooch about too. I’d obviously be a naughty fairy for a day in order to hang out with Tink. (See I was so good here – no Harry Potter answers in sight!) 

  

Disney descendants: your favourite villain or morally ambiguous character. 
Definitely Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes books. He’s so bad he’s bloody good. I obviously love Sherlock, but Moriarty tests him and keeps him on his toes. Excellent baddie right there. 

  

Now I nominate everyone because I’m so rubbish at remembering who has done what. Not been tagged? Consider it done!!! Do it. Let me know. I’d love to see more answers. I’m in a major reading slump so the more the merrier! 

Big love to you all x

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Alan Rickman: Childhood Hero

I’m deeply saddened to hear this news today. For me, growing up with Harry Potter meant that this was what I knew Alan Rickman for. 

I couldn’t have disliked Snape more in the first few novels. But, by Deathly Hallows, I felt so guilty. I never knew Snape could be like that. I know it is down to Rowling’s writing, but it took a talented actor to play that part, to transfer the words to the screen. 

So thank you Alan, for being a huge part of my childhood and many others in this world too. 

No one could have played Professor Snape  better than you. 

  

Big love x

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The Pixar Book Tag

  

Hey everyone! 

The first week back at work and already it feels like Christmas was months ago. This week has been so busy, so I haven’t read a whole book yet (shocking!) Therefore, it seems like a good opportunity to take part in another tag. Thanks to the lovely Umbreen @ Read By Umbreen for tagging me for The Pixar Book Tag. 

Here goes! (Images are from Google for this one.)


Toy Story: a book where you wanted characters to come to life. 

I adore The Snowman. From such a young age I’ve wished for this to be real. I remember when I was younger and we had a really snowy Christmas. I wrapped up and went outside, made a snowman, borrowed my grandads glasses and scarf and willed for him to come to life. I cried when he didn’t. This book is pure magic. I watch it every Christmas and I still want the same to happen: for a snowman to take me for a flight and to a party. 

  

A Bug’s Life: Big Beautiful Butterfly – name a character that goes through a wonderful transformation or development. 

Another book that reduced me to tears: Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Auggie Pullman has such a horrid time with judgemental people. But, by the end of the novel his life has completely changed; people stop judging him on how he looks and for the first time he is happy. 

  

Monsters INC: name a book where a strong or scary character develops a soft side for someone else. 

This is quite difficult but I’ve gone for a slightly different angle here. Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. Despite only featuring in one story, A Scandal in Bohemia, their relationship is commonly discussed. Holmes refers to her through the collected works as “the woman”. He admires her and as a reader we see a different side to his intelligent and shrewd character. 

  

Finding Nemo: P.Sherman, 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney – name a book that has an address or another quote within that’s been burned into your memory forever. 

I absolutely love this one by the way! Naturally, it has to be Harry Potter’s address in The Philosopher’s Stone. I’m very excited at the moment because I’m teaching this book to my Year 7s. Eek! 

  

The Incredibles: name the coolest book family. 

This was quite hard for me because I can think of so many. I don’t want to be ‘boring’ so I am going to pick the Clock Family from The Borrowers. I adore these little guys. They just seem so real. 

  

Cars: 1, 2 and now 3 – Name a book that keeps getting sequels that you feel are not needed.

Hmmmm. The sequels I have read I’ve really enjoyed so I can’t really answer this one! If I could be cheeky and change the question to my favourite sequel then it would be the Galbraith series. Can’t wait for book 4! 

  

Ratatouille: name a book whose main character is not human nor a humanoid figure.

The Wind in the Willows is one of my all time favourite animal centred novels. There’s not much more to add here. It’s just wonderful. 

  

Wall-e: name a book that made you lonely.

One Day is just so sad. I love the concept of the novel, focussing on one day over a number of years. But, by the end, I was utterly broken. I also rally enjoyed the film version of this with Anne Hathaway as well. That too made me feel incredibly lonely and broken. Moving swiftly on to happier times…

  

Up: name a book whose characters you became very quickly emotionally invested in. 

The Woman in White is one of my favourite novels. It’s so gripping and intense. I was really eager to find out exactly who this woman in white was. All of the characters are instrumental to this novel so it’s hard to isolate a few. I don’t want to spoil it so read this book. It’s Victorian Sensation Writing at it’s best. 

  

Brave: name a book with a strong mother/daughter relationship.

This is a play, so I hope it counts! This one gave me a sense of dejavu because for my Masters degree dissertation, I wrote about mother/daughter relationships at the fin de siecle. The strongest for me is that of Mrs Erlynne and Lady Windermere in Oscar Wilde’s Lady Windermere’s Fan. This relationship at first appears none existant, but as the play unravels it becomes painfully clear how strong the feeling and duty of motherhood is. 

  

Inside Out: name a book that you would say could be one of your core memories. 

This is so hard because there’s so many I could pick. I apologise in advance that this answer could arguably be seems as predictable. It has to be Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. I remember reading it at school and playing Scout in my speaking and listening assessment! 

  

Thanks so much Umbreen! I’ve had a great time doing this tag. I now nominate the following beautiful bloggers to take part:

Melanie @ Melanie Noell Bernard

Joey @ Thoughts and Afterthoughts

Matt @ Matt and his Cats

Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser

Liam @ Liam’s Library

As ever if you’re busy then please ignore. As well as that, if you’ve seen it and I’ve not tagged you, do it anyway! All are welcome. 

Big love xx

  

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The Friends Book Tag

 
Good evening everyone! 

Hope you’re all fine and dandy and 2016 is still treating you well. 

I was tagged by the lovely Ashley @ Dreaming Through Literature to take part in the Friends Book Tag. I love Friends and I love books so this seems perfect! It appealed to me on this cold, Thursday, January evening. So, thank you Ashley! 

On with the tag! 


The One Where Eddie Won’t Go:- a character I wish would just go away:

That would have to be Claudius from Hamlet. Kill his brother to bed his wife and become king? No thanks! Jog on. 

  



The One Where Ross and Rachel Take A Break:- favourite break up scene:

Daisy Buchanan and Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. It’s my favourite because I was so frustrated and I properly disliked Daisy after. Who would turn down Gatsby?! 

  



The One With All The Kissing:- a book with lots of kissing: 
It would have to be Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s harmless fun and there’s a lot of kissing with a lot of characters. I really love the films as well actually! 

  


The Last One:- favourite series finale:

Always and forever. I doubt this will ever be replaced. End of an era stuff really! 

  


The One With a Blackout:- a scene I’d like to forget:

A Clockwork Orange. What even is this?! This is party because I didn’t get it. I realise that it’s a really popular book and millions of people enjoyed it, but I didn’t understand the language, let alone what was happening. The cover is confusing too. (I’ll put this down to my intelligence though!)

  


The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry:- a book that did not make you as emotional as others:

Hmmm I think Revolutionary Road. Well I’m a massive softie and I get carried away with characters and the story so this was quite hard for me to pick. However, as much as I enjoyed it, it didn’t make me emotional. Maybe I used my emotion on the failure of the American Dream on Of Mice and Men instead?! 

  


The One Where Joey Doesn’t Share Food:- a book you won’t ever lend:

Any book that’s quite special to me is really difficult for me to lend out. I am really fussy as well because damaged books upset me. I went through a phase of replacing every damaged book I owned (how ridiculous?!) and giving away the others. Needless to say, that ended rather quickly. The first one that comes to mind is my Roald Dahl Tresury. It was a present off my Mum and Dad. 

  



The One With the Thumb:- a recent read that you would give two thumbs up to:

The Lady in the Van. Without a doubt. I wanted to read it before I saw the film. I love Maggie Smith so I can only imagine how amazing she is in it. But, it’s just a great little read. 

  


The One With the Ick Factor:- a book with a pet peeve:

This is a double edged sword really because I find unreliable narrators incredibly infuriating. BUT, I know they have a function as a narrative hook and building suspense within the novel. It’s obvious the novel wouldn’t be the same without it. For example: Rachel Watson in The Girl on the Train. 

  


The One With The Lesbian Wedding:- favourite LGBTQ book couple:

This was quite tricky for me because the books I love the most (Victorian) didn’t necessary have any within them. OR if they did, it was never explicitly stated. (Big no no for society at the time.) However, Basil Hallward from The Picture of Dorian Gray is definitely an interesting character. He admires the male form, in particular Dorian’s, rather a lot. There’s a reason, whether it’s right or not, why this book was used as evidence against Oscar Wilde within his trial.    

   

And that was also my 100th post! I can’t believe it! Thanks again to Ashley. I’ve really enjoyed taking part. 

I tag:

Amy @ Curiouser and Curiouser

Analee @ Book Snacks

Giselle @ Hardwork Boulevard

Calliope the Book Goddess

Laura @ Lala’s Book Reviews

& anyone else who is interested/loves books/loves Friends. Of course please ignore if you’re busy! 
Big love x

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Wendy and Peter Pan – RSC, Stratford upon Avon 

  

Happy new year everyone! 

Hope you’re all well and 2016 has started off in the best way for you. My new year started with a visit to the Royal Shakespeare Company theatre in Stratford upon Avon with my best friend to see Wendy and Peter Pan. There aren’t enough words to describe how amazing, clever, magical and funny this show is. Being the grand young age of 25 means that we got tickets for £5 too. Such a bargain! 

I should just state here that all photos used in this post are from the RSC website: https://www.rsc.org.uk/wendy-and-peter-pan/about-the-play

  


Plot:

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, the title of this production is an inversion of the original, placing emphasis on Wendy as well as Peter. Ella Hickson, writer and adapter of Wendy and Peter Pan, was really clear that in the original it was Peter having all of the fun, whereas Wendy was just playing mother. She wanted to tell her version from Wendy’s perspective. 

There are many aspects that are true to the original: Peter, the Lost Boys, Neverland, flying, Tink, Hook. They have just been tweaked and changed for a modern audience. It must be noted that a modern audience is both adults and children. There is humour for youngsters and intricate plot details for the adults. From start to finish the laughter echoed from the walls from young and old alike. A particular favourite part of mine, when Wendy was teaching the Lost Boys how to shake hands and say “How do you do” Curly says: 

“How do I do you?”

Also, to differ from the original plot, Hickson invents a third sibling, Tom, who suffers from an sickness. This is where the older, more metaphorical interpretations of the novel are explored through drama. 

  


Casting and characters:
Firstly, I need to say how brilliant this production cast were. There were a range of ages within the production team as well as experience, but all were equally amazing. 

Wendy, played by Mariah Gale, was exceptional. She portrays her devotion, rejection, hurt and happiness all explicitly and effectively. She was a fabulous Wendy. Her brother, Tom, is always at the front of her mind. She’s desperate to find him, for him to be with the Lost Boys. Thus, she can make herself happy again. 

Peter Pan, played by Rhys Rusbatch, was sublime. He played the part of Pan really well, focussing clearly on how he never wants to grow up. The cheeky chappy is portrayed not only through dialogue but also his gestures. His flying, and his shadow should be praised equally too. 

Hook and Smee, played by Darrell D’Silva and Paul Kemp respectively, were the epitome of the villain character. The banter between the two was hilarious and true to the original text. The relationship was portrayed really accurately. They made me smile, but I could see the children in the audience really boo-ing them. Always the sign of a good villain. 

Martin, played by Adam Gillen, was the pirate who couldn’t ARRR. I recognised his voice, he has naturally humorous tone to his voice. (I finally remembered he was from ITV’s Benidorm!) The audience naturally feels for him because he’s quite clearly not a pirate and he’s clearly not a Lost Boy, so he doesn’t really fit with anyone. 

Finally, and perhaps my favourite of all the characters in this production, Tinkerbell, played by Charlotte Mills. A cockney, naughty pixie. Who’d have thought it?! Her one liners, her reactions, her movements were just incredible. I laughed so hard at her. She’s just amazing. 

“Oh, a little blab, did you? Lack of oxygen up there on your high horse?” 

  

Setting:

Staying true to the original, the production was set in the children’s nursery or Neverland. The nursery, with swords, beds, teddies and a mobile was really picturesque. (Image by me) Then when it came to Peter’s home, the stage came alive from the ground upwards, with Tink hanging on from a bed, a bath tub and fairy lights. Hook’s ship was also an incredible piece of craftsmanship. A whole ship on stage. Just wow! 

  

  
All in all, it was pure magic. Glitter, flying, ships and laughter. I want to see it again! It was just the best way to start this year off. 

So I left feeling like I always do, incredibly lucky to have the RSC on my doorstep at home. 

  

Big love x

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Filed under RSC, Stratford upon Avon, Theatre Review