Saturday, 24 May 2014

Prince Charles & Putin

 This whole 'controversy' over Prince Charles comparing Putin to Hitler really is ridiculous.
I would expect the Russians or Putin himself to take offence (hey, the truth hurts) but British politicians sticking their two cents in and saying Charles should abdicate?

The man was having a private conversation. The person he was having the conversation with agreed with him. She told the Daily Mail (misguided, but still). They reported on this conversation. Now the whole world knows and Charles is getting it in the neck - UKIP's leader Nigel Farage (don't bloody get me started) even had the nerve to say the prince was wrong to get involved.

Wrong to get involved? He wasn't involved - not until a newspaper reported it! He expressed a private opinion, to a Jewish survivor of Nazi tyranny who had fled to Canada in the war. It was a genuine comment, made off the cuff, in a private conversation. Charles didn't choose to be involved - it became a problem when the Mail reported it.

'But the royals are meant to be politically neutral!' I hear people cry. Yeah? Well guess what, they're not - they're human, they have opinions, even if they aren't allowed to publicly express them. It's their job to be politically neutral, so that our democracy isn't undermined by them.
But you mean to tell me that if it was you - if you were forced into a position where you had to be completely impartial on all matters political, but you thought something that was going on in the world was really that unjust, you wouldn't end up talking to anyone about it? Even in a private discussion?

How many people do you think Prince Charles - or any of the Royal Family, come to that - are able to express their true opinions to? Of course, they're probably allowed to discuss it with each other, but who's to say Charles hasn't discussed it and the older generation of his family just told him to be quiet because of political neutrality? For all we know he might not even feel able to talk about it to anyone else.

Charles wasn't trying to lead a revolution. He wasn't saying 'Let's all go to war and stop Putin behaving like Hitler', he was just expressing an opinion in a private conversation, which actually was none of our business. That does not mean to say he wouldn't be able to be neutral when it comes to being King. Frankly, I don't know how the Queen manages to stay silent on all of these issues, Prince Charles seems rather more human for letting an opinion slip.

Of course, the main issue with the prince making those comments is not that it's controversial over here (cos let's face it, how many people completely disagree with him?) but the trouble it will cause Charles and Britain given that, as one Russian paper put it, UK-Russian relations are 'clouded' as it is.
Prince Charles' comment therefore, could risk 'triggering an international scandal'.

But who's fault is that? The one who said the remark, off-the-cuff, in a conversation with someone which he thought would not be repeated, or whoever it was who was who published the story?

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Let's keep going bonkers!

 "This might be the last time I stand on this stage,
I'm 18 years chronological age..."

On the 27th February 2014, I performed at Ashcroft for my second (and almost certainly last) talent show there. I performed a medley of Intro (Tinie Tempah), Jump Around (House Of Pain) and Thrift Shop (Macklemore) - with a little bit of 'I've Got The Power' (Snap) thrown in for good measure ;). I did so, in a TARDIS onesie.

It was absolute madness. I had hoped that, this time around, with Michael and Angel not competing, I might have a chance of winning it. As it turns, out, I didn't actually place this time around, but that actually didn't bother me one bit, because of the amazing company I was in. I knew Jade was fantastic already, but I had no idea of the full extent of the talent on show at that school now. And not just that - how many of them are just natural born performers. Those that are clearly comfortable on that stage, and can have a bit of banter with the audience. I used to think that us Drama types in our year group were the only people that really did that!

Not any more.

With Michael doing a fab job of presenting, I watched performers like Jade, Newaj, Matthew, Elizabeth, Tomson and so many others do their thing.

"I'm an extra-terrestrial...
I came up out the freakin' dirt like a vegetable..."

A line originally written by Mr. Tempah himself, but one which provided the inspiration for me to dress up and make such a gimmick of the night's performance. I knew that last time, when I got to the final of 'Show Me What You Got', one of the reasons I went down so well was the meshing together of two of my loves - theatrical performance, and rapping/music performance.

This time around, there was an element of theatricality to it, but I was mainly bringing another of my loves into it - Doctor Who.

I suppose, what dressing up like that to do my performance shows (apart from me being extremely mad) is that I feel even more comfortable in my own skin now than I used to. Obviously, I love rap music, I love both the songs I performed in last time's medley (Example's Changed The Way You Kiss Me and Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers), but there was an element of just simply doing what I liked that was also popular.

This time around, while there was obviously a bit of that in the shape of Thrift Shop, which kept the audience happy, I allowed my more geeky side to show while doing this thing that I'd originally used to prove I wasn't just a geeky kid. Tonight probably proved that as much, but it showed that the two could co-exist together side-by-side on stage :)

"I didn't choose the fandom life....
The fandom life chose me, grabbed my hand, and whispered...
Ooh, what did it whisper....? 
It whispered RUN".

Ooohooo, I felt pleased with this one. It wasn't even planned - nice to have a little spontaneity, though. Well, having said that, Elizabeth had opened her performance with the classic "I didn't choose the thug life..." line, so I thought, why not? I said this little line, and then threw the leather overcoat off to reveal...the TARDIS onesie ;)

Then I had the little issue of what Mr Hetherington had unfortunately said at the beginning of the night.

No jumping on the seating area.

It was a health and safety thing, and to be fair, given what happened with the last show, with everyone leaping about all over the place, I suppose it was a legitimate concern - though not one I'd planned for. As I explained to the audience as I came up onstage, I'd been at a UCAS day for Kent the previous day, so I never got to run through my performance in the hall with everyone else! (Thankfully it pretty much went off without a hitch). It did mean, however, that I would have to improvise a little when it came to Jump Around...

"Jump Around!....But stay in your seats! Jump Around!...But stay in your seats!" - probably funnier if you're actually there, but nonetheless it went down well.

 "I wear your granddad's clothes,
I look incredible..."

Found it hard to resist this one too. Granddad's clothes? Come on, the bow tie and braces was too difficult to resist in terms of making a little joke out of it. (Unfortunately I think you can't really see the braces in any of the photos, but still). My last two talent show performances have used the element of surprise in different ways, and this time was no different. Needless to say, looked like the audience enjoyed it.

But oh, the end of the night....

While the judges went off to deliberate over who should take what place in the ranking of the competition, Michael, reigning champion of the last talent show, did his contact juggling to Pharell's Happy, to a rapturous reception. Particularly given that I think Michael said he was out of practice, he'd sprained his ankle earlier in the week, AND he doesn't know the ins and outs of Happy that well, I think once again, he put in a truly stunning performance. All together now, how the hell did he do that?

Trouble was, Michael finished his performance, and the judges were still deliberating. So, what to do? Well, what does a seasoned actor and performer like Michael always do in a situation like this? Improvise.

 By popular demand, Michael welcomed Newaj ('The Man That Speaks Music') back to the stage, so while Newaj did some more of his beatboxing, Michael would dance along, much to the amusement of the crowd...

Then something else happened - people began calling my name. They wanted me back onstage - Michael invited me up and I ran up to meet the pair of them. Slight issue - didn't really have anything prepared. Ergo, I asked the audience, "What do you want me to do?". Newaj then came over and suggested that we do something all together - he would provide the beat. Then I remembered that I had at least one verse in my back pocket that hadn't yet seen the light of day...not in front of this many people, certainly...

As Michael invited Tomson back up to add further accompaniment with his drumming, we readied ourselves. Michael reintroduced us all, and off we went...

I got to the end of my first verse, realised that they were still going, and weren't showing signs of showing down, so I had to think on my feet. Trouble is, as I said in the verse, "I can't really go off the top...". Luckily another verse came to me - not my own, but one that I knew fairly well. It was from Ed Sheeran's You Need Me, I Don't Need You (I won't pretend it was mine, it really wasn't). If I'd had slightly more time, I could have brought another of my own verses to mind, but it was the first verse that came to my head, and given the pace with which we'd been going already, I didn't want to slow it down, so launched straight into it!

We finished up, and at that moment, the judges re-entered.

As I said before, I didn't win, but given the strong competition I had, and the significant improvement on an already strong collection of talent from last time, it was hardly surprising. Plus, we'd got a little encore, so me and Newaj felt pretty great as it was!

The winners were as follows:
1st Place: Jade Harding - An amazing singer.
2nd Place: Jade Potter - An astonishing dancer.
3rd Place: Tomson Sey - A beast on the drums...
4th Place: Ansar Mirza - The banterous magician :P

All of the contestants were so strong, and it was an honour to perform as part of the same bill as them.

It was also pretty cool when me and Newaj got to run up and singer Katy Shotter, and Youngers actress Shavani Seth, the two guest judges, their flowers, and got a hug off of them each...I hear that I now have a couple of slightly envious peers because of that last part... ;)