Lessons from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

The sign of a good man is not his status, wealth or estate – it is his humanity. The Dark Knight Rises is not the best Batman movie ever made but it is the best representation of not only the character but also of what denotes a good human being.

When the going gets tough, Bruce Wayne can choose to run away and turn his back on the citizens of Gotham, including his friends, yet he doesn’t hesitate to don the cape and bring out ‘Batman’.

Ready to fight to the bitter end to put right old wrongs, protect the innocent and atone for past sins, it’s worth remembering that ‘The Dark Knight’ is still just a man: Bruce Wayne – a scared, scarred, lonely man with little faith in himself or much of mankind.

We have all felt like Bruce Wayne at some point. We have all had to retreat into our own shell at least once, whether it was because we felt too weary to face the world or just needed some time to lick raw wounds inflicted by others.

Wayne is a man without special powers, devoid of extraordinary gifts enjoyed by other superheroes such as ‘Superman’ or ‘Spiderman’. Yet when Gotham comes under attack, he never shirks from his responsibility because he knows that it’s the right thing to do.

You see, when the going gets tough and reality comes to bite you on the rear with the ferocity of a Great White shark, there are only two options: fight or flight. When all around you the world seems to crumble – and betrayal, fear and evil suddenly invade and threaten to conquer – it’s the ultimate test for all your bonds: family, friendship, love.

A decent person with a good heart, whose friendship or love is genuine, would never abandon you to save their own skin. They would stand with you and for you, no matter how shaky the ground upon which you stand may be.

In times of trouble, those who turn their backs on you are those who lack that inner core of courage that is the true mark of our humanity. Even the villain in the movie, the mask-clad Bane, stands until the bitter end in support of his friend – going to battle for them, with them and alongside them.

Whatever your view of this “mercenary”, his loyalty is noble and admirable. At his core lies a compassionate man, turned into a vengeful brute after abandonment and cruelty. Ultimately, we are faced with a being who needs to belong and will do anything for those he loves and a cause he believes in. This is a trait shared with Batman – hero and villain are only separated by a hair’s breadth of difference. For both men, fighting to preserve their inner humanity is not a choice, it’s a way of life.

Thus, when I reflect upon a life-changing betrayal by a supposed ‘best friend’ earlier this year, I feel more sorry for them than myself. I was willing to stand by them, even after all they did, yet they ran away to bury their head in the sand. Were it out of shame, I might understand their behaviour. However, their motivation seems to be convenience: brush things under the carpet and then they don’t exist.

I, however, follow the Bruce Wayne / Batman school of thought: stand up for what’s right, fight for all that is good and never run away from your responsibility to others, no matter how small. When we abandon those principles and forget to tap in to our inner Dark Knight, we risk becoming as misguided as Bane: fighting for the wrong side and losing sight of our own humanity – a very sorry state indeed.

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New British Film Director Showcases First Movie

This one is for all the movie fans out there…

Check out my Q&A with up-and-coming film director Tyrone Samuels on http://www.projectskylinemovie.com

It’s great to see homegrown talent chasing their dreams, making movies and helping other rising stars, like actors, get some exposure.

Wedding Favours – Homemade Macarons

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As much as I love vintage and antique wedding features, I do like the idea of making homemade Macarons to give out in pretty bags as wedding favours.

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They’re really simple to make, taste great and, depending on the filling, can be made in advance without requiring refrigeration. They also bake really quickly and are a doddle to assemble. Lovely!

Who Am I?

In the greater scheme of things, I am a nobody. I’m not powerful, popular, famous, celebrated, accomplished, successful, gifted, a role model, icon, spokesperson, mother, teacher, life saver or the holder of any other status that holds mass market appeal or admiration. I am, by comparison to most definitions, an insignificant nobody. I exist on the fringes of acceptability. I matter only to those that selflessly love me despite my lack of recognisable achievement. That, I feel, is an achievement in itself. It’s a testament to the kindness of others in a world where the ‘ordinary’ are often ignored, the ‘average’ are treated as examples of what not to be and the ‘different’ are regarded with suspicion – until they become YouTube hits. After that, they’re either described as ‘amazing’ or ‘freaks’ depending on media and celebrity judgements. It’s a weird world.

I like being me. My invisibility is actually a superpower; there is nothing I cannot do because there is no-one looking long enough to judge or condemn me. I get love from family, which I return in spades. I get encouragement from friends, who accept me as I am… ordinary. I offer these people nothing incredible or coveted. I give them, instead, something unique. I give them me – all 100% insignificant, un-inspiring, un-employed, un-attractive me. And yet they love and like me.

Next time you say you don’t believe in miracles, just look in the mirror. Then ask yourself, is there someone that loves and likes you just for being who you are? I think this may be the biggest miracle of all. There is always someone there to accept us. Even if we don’t always understand why.

Are you a Builder?

Life is a wonder to destroy or build;
Its beauty and shape for all to admire.
In this endeavour we don’t have to be skilled;
All we need is will and a burning desire.
Ignore the urge to cower and bow;
Our job is to build, that is our calling.
There’s no need to train or try to learn how;
The skills are ingrained so we need to stop stalling.
Procrastination, self-doubt and pity,
Tear down walls of our own clumsy making,
Emotions are wrecking balls in a world aready gritty;
A devastating ruin so vast and deflating.
Tools lay discarded, paralysed by rust,
Yet Utopia’s a paradise so easily erected;
When we look into our soul and find self-trust;
Faith and belief are the gateways selected;
Brave the path, it’s your world your shaping;
Temples, roads and neighbourhoods in a personal map;
The world at your feet is now so engaging;
Because life is our own – the world rests in our lap.

Beautiful Grief

I had to attend a funeral today, held in a very old Orthodox church. As the mourners piled in, I found my grief numbed slightly by the beauty of the church. It made me more conscious of the beauty of life. All life. Especially mine. I wondered what I would hope for if I lived long enough to see death coming. Would I make it to old age, where the whisper of the wind becomes a faint calling from the other side; every passing Winter is a warning, every Summer a blessing, every Fall an omen and every Spring a re-birth of the will to live longer to see it all again.

The 94 year old great grandma being buried today was a lucky woman… She made it far longer than most and leaves behind a joyous legacy. Even in me for, as I sat there in the beauty of the church, grieving her passing, I found a will to live my life not for the better but for the moment – the here and now. My life, my present, my here and now, is blessed and beautiful. I just never saw it before. Thank you great Grandma and God bless you for eternity.

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Channel Your Inner Kid

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Since entering my 30s, I’ve found my desire to paint and draw increase with a passion. Sick of looking at a computer all day, I can’t tell you how good it feels to stop thinking and start doing. Working with my hands has given me a freedom that feels euphoric.

I’ve even started modelling with play-dough, using clay, braiding friendship bracelets and finger painting. I’m loving every second and have even started looking at Arts & Craft courses at local colleges. I dream of gaining a qualification in something like Pottery, Ceramics or Glass Blowing. Quite how I would pursue my skills at home, I don’t know. But I refuse to be put off. It’s not in my nature. At least, it never used to be. I was always admired for my tenacity but then, responsibilities and the weight of life took over and I lost some of my gumption. No more. I want to channel my inner kid and do all the things I enjoy doing.

If someone says ‘No, you can’t do that!’ I’m going to stamp my foot, pout and respond: ‘Why not?’ and then do it anyway. Yes, I have responsibilities. Yes, I shouldn’t be spending any money on my hobbies during the current economic climate. Yes, I should act like a grown up and stick to a corporate career. But… No, I’m not going to do any of that. I’m going to do as I please. I’ve got one life to live and I want it to be in gloriously full colour, as illustrated with paints, chalk, crayons, stained glass and anything else that takes my fancy!

Trim That Bush!

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You have to admire the artistic vision of the graffiti artist responsible for the above design, found on a wall in an upmarket residential area of North London. Who’d have imagined that a few hanging leaves would inspire such an X-rated result! It’s hilarious … though I doubt all the local residents will agree! I wonder if this will inspire them to trim the offending bush 😉 I can’t wait for the news headline: “RARE URBAN BEAVER KILLED BY LOCALS”