Saturday, 9 January 2016

Mockingbird v Mockingjay

I've tried and failed to persuade my daughter to read 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.  She did start but it was a bit slow for her.  I suppose that bit at the beginning about the history of the Finch family is off-putting for some.  She likes more action and particularly enjoyed the 'Divergent' series by Veronica Roth.  It, like The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, is set in a dystopian future society and features a strong female character who takes on evil tyrants and corrupt leaders.  There's always a love interest but this doesn't distract the heroine too much from her quest to conquer evil. Both books have spawned a series of films, hugely popular with teenage girls.

Last night, as a reward for surviving a week of back-to-back mock examinations, I took Kate to see the latest of these films based on The Hunger Games, Mockingjay; Part 2.  Usually I avoid these films and she goes with friends but no one was around so I went along, expecting to fall asleep as I am prone to do on a Friday evening.  I dozed a bit at first but then woke up mainly because it was an incredibly violent and frightening film.  I had to cover my eyes in the part where Katniss Everdene (the 'mockingjay', a teenage girl who, like James Bond, seems to have an uncanny ability to survive every attempt to kill her) and her companions are attacked by zombie-like creatures in an underground tunnel. And this is certified 12A?  I certainly wouldn't be happy taking a 12 year old to this.  Sometimes I think they get these certificates wrong - the, Guardian review of the film also makes this point.  I'm worried about showing Zefferelli's 'Romeo and Juliet' to my Year 10 group because it has a 15 certificate, presumably because at one point we see Romeo's bare bottom.  This is hardly going to upset 14-15 year olds, but I bet some of the younger teenagers who watched Mockingjay Part 2 were traumatised by it: I certainly was!

There has been much discussion in the press about whether Katniss is a good role model for young women.  In general, I think she is: she is independent, strong and has a clear sense of justice.  She doubts herself but goes ahead with what she has to do anyway. But I felt the final scene of the film with Katniss cradling a baby while Peeta, the more sensitive of her two suitors,  plays with a toddler in a sunlit meadow was a bit disappointing and ultimately unconvincing. Why wasn't she leading the new regime instead of the army commander who was chosen instead? And what happened to Gale, her other love interest?

Despite the violence, these are good books for teenage girls.  Certainly better than the Virginia Andrews 'Flowers in the Attic' books they used to read when I started to teach.  But I'd still be happier if they were reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Look to the future's only just begun

These words from Slade's 1973 Christmas song, which is played endlessly every year, always catch my attention. So I'm going to take Noddy Holder's advice and will 'look to the future'.  This doesn't mean that I'll totally stop writing nostalgic posts about memories like my last one; I'm just going to live for now and leave behind things that hold me back or haven't worked for me. This is what is going:

1. Attempting to live a minimalist/waste free lifestyle
Inspired by Claire from Just a little Less, I have tried in the last two years to change my lifestyle and buy only what I need.  This has not worked and causes stress at home because I haven't been able to convince the rest of the household to do the same.  I tried: bought my husband a copy of Stuffocation: Living more with Less for his birthday.  He hasn't read it: I have.  And he continues to buy endless gadgets, cycling gear, musical instruments..  I am now learning to accept this rather than getting annoyed.  And I enjoy shopping for clothes with my daughter (for the first couple of hours anyway) so I'm not going to feel guilty about treating myself to the occasional frivolous purchase.

2. Extreme decluttering
Bought the Marie Kondo book 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up' and tried her method (Do you need/love this item?  If not bin it!)   I gave a really warm comfy, good quality Celtic Collection grey wool cardigan to the charity shop.  More fool me, as I want it now.  Our house is still relatively untidy.  This doesn't matter much.

3. Excessive Worry about Work
I've been working a lot more this year and have surprised myself as I've coped well, not getting as stressed as I have done in the past. It's getting older I reckon: I don't worry so much about what others think about me.

And looking to the future...  

Well I'm going to do the conventional New Year thing and improve my fitness.  I've been inspired by another self-help book, a Christmas present from my sister who has recently discovered yoga and has an inspirational teacher, Nicola Jane Hobbs.  She has just published this book - it features my sister's friend Carol, who is my age, as one of the success stories. (Regular readers of this blog may note that I've said before I'm giving up self-help books.  This one is different - I didn't buy it myself..)

 I've let my exercise habit slip since the summer when I was hitting my activity goal every day according to my Polar Loop monitor.  Davina Fit in 15 minutes hasn't been working for me recently as my knees aren't up to the jumping involved. The Yoga Gym is a good alternative and combined with regular dog-walking should help me feel better and maintain flexibility.  I'll track my progress on here.

Happy New Year to you all!