How to help small independent businesses during the lockdown

It’s been a strange few weeks that’s for sure, and it really is like nothing we have ever seen before.

Corona virus

The realities of the Corona virus means what we would consider as ‘normal life’ has dramatically changed for everyone in one form or another. Parent’s of school aged children are finding themselves in a teacher’s role. People are now working from home if they can, and our elderly family relatives are being told to stay at home and are now separated from their families. Key workers are working incredibly long hours to help in this crisis. Some people have lost their jobs and small businesses are struggling due to closure or adapting to stay either relevant or afloat.

We all know why we are having to adapt our lives. Everyone now realises the seriousness of the situation. Sadly, we now understand the extent of the numbers that will undoubtedly be involved, and that it will definitely get worse before it starts to get better. People, quite rightly are scared and anxious for themselves, their family and all their relatives at the moment. The unknown in these type of circumstances can be incredibly scary.

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Netflix and Chill at Drayton Arms Theatre – Review

 

Have you ever wondered what goes through people’s head in certain situations? What do you think about during a date? Or the random thoughts that go through your head during sex? What about when someone’s mental health is deteriorating?

The story follows Ben , a working class chef, who’s life spirals out of control after trying to rekindle a relationship with his mum. His work, friendships and love life are all tested as his week goes from bad to worse.

 Netflix and Chill at The Drayton Arms Theatre

Netflix and Chill is essentially an in depth look at male mental health and how our inner dialogue can have such a massive impact on how we see and react to everyday situations. It follows the story of Ben, played by Tom Stocks who also wrote the play, who works as a chef in a pub and has been estranged from his mum for over 11 years. It opens with him meeting his mum for the first time since she left her abusive partner and is now trying to rekindle their relationship, something that is only touched on at the start of the play. Immediately the inner dialogue becomes apparent and we get the feel of how the story is going to be told.

Netflix amd Chill at The Drayton Arms Theatre

It seems like nothing is working out for Ben at the moment, from the relationship with his mum to his lack of progress on Tinder with most dates cancelling on him at the last minute. Only Ryan, his good friend at work, appears to be a constant. Ryan is over the top, loud, upbeat and appears to be living life to the fullest at the weekends. He’s crude, outspoken and tells it like it is, however inappropriate at the time. The connection between the two characters highlights the pressures men face in modern life, with the toxic world of ‘lad culture’ and the difficulties they face in all situations when it comes to talking about their feelings.

Netflix and Chill at the Drayton Arms Theatre

The inner dialogue that runs throughout will be familiar to most people. We all have those ‘what if’ moments, those constant nagging doubts and the replaying of conversations over and over in our minds. Then add in the bravado of the early twenties age group, modern dating, online and off, and the pressure to be living life to the fullest and you will have an idea of the types of subjects covered in this play. The name ‘Netflix and Chill’ is an indicator itself due to the modern meaning attached to it.

It certainly doesn’t shy away from awkward topics, scenes or conversations throughout. It uses crude and raw language as would be used by that age group and is an unapologetic look at how tough navigating a new relationship can be with all the modern pressures pushing heavily from the edges. This is harshly highlighted with Ben becoming overwhelmed on a night out, having had too much to drink and seeing his friend Ryan head home with his schoolgirl crush, it culminates in a monumental breakdown of sorts at the club. This whole scene and the lead up is an incredible piece of acting by Tom Stocks and it certainly feels like it comes from the heart.

Tom Stocks Netflix and Chill

However dark the play becomes, it is portrayed with great humour and the bravado of lads banter lifts the dark moments into something completely relatable and real. Using the deflection of comedy there are stories of tragic sexual conquests, prostitute encounters in Magaluf and dare I even mention the bus tray ejaculation! Throw in the bedroom scene with Ben and Sophie, which leaves no holds barred in its hilarious internal narrative, and you will be laughing out loud. The play is entertaining throughout regardless of its subject.

Netflix and Chill at the Drayton Arms Theatre

At different points in the play both Sophie and Jill give Ben the opportunity to talk about what is going on, however, this only encapsulates the fact that men are the ones that still need to breakdown the stigma of mental health amongst each other. The play is a stark reminder that with male mental health there is no one mask that fits all, it can present itself in different ways and can be very hard to detect. It’s a story written from personal experiences and aims to be a pathway to approach and open conversations around mental health and male suicide.

Netflix and Chill is at The Drayton Arms Theatre until Feb 29th 2020

Tickets £16 / £14 (concessions)

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Cast

Ben – Tom Stocks

Mum – Julia Binysh

Jill – Charlotte Price

Ryan – Joseph Lindoe

Sophie – Emily Ellis

Creative Team

Writer – Tom Stocks

Director – Luke Adamson

Producer – JLA Productions & Actor Awareness

Sound Design – Luke Adamson

Set and Lighting – JLA Productions

Photography – Cam Harle Photography

50 things before I’m 50

50 things before I'm 50

This is a 50 before I’m 50 list with a difference. Not a fantastical bucket list of amazing things to do, but rather a ‘make time for the smaller things’ that will make your day or weekend special list. I’ve also added a few extra special events thrown in that I wont need to win the lottery in order to fulfil them.

I’m due to turn the big 5-0 in July this year. Most of the lists I see for people hitting milestone birthdays are pretty epic and in fairness they give themselves a year or more to do them.

I, on the other hand, only really thought about it recently when it dawned on me that my 50th birthday is in fact this bloody year……………I still can’t quite believe it.

For me though, I feel I have a lot of things I could easily do at any time and yet I don’t actually set the time aside to do them. I’m not really talking about big holidays or jumping from a plane, my body could no longer cope with that. In any case, I have wing walked twice ( on the original Crunchie plane, one of which was at an International Air Display) and I’ve been dangled out of Sea King rescue helicopters too many times to count,so I think I’ve done my daredevil bit when I was much younger.

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Top tips to keep warm in the winter with chronic illness and chronic pain

Tips to keep warm in winter

If you’re new to my blog ( where have you been?) when I talk of chronic illness and chronic pain it’s because I am diagnosed with M/E/CFS, Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility.  Which in very simple terms means I am constantly exhausted and I’m in pain ALL OF THE TIME! Yes that is possible. We may say we are ‘fine’ but internally our bodies are screaming. So you can also find out what we say and what we actually mean here in a post a wrote a while ago. However, I’m now 10 years into living with these conditions and I have become a dab hand at being resourceful at keeping warm in the winter without actually having to blare my heating 24 hours a day.

If you are newly diagnosed with any of these illnesses these tips will not only be helpful but will also hopefully save you a fortune in heating bills!

Our house has been extended and our bedroom is in a Dorma loft so that would mean me having to heat a 3 storey house with only me in it when my husband and son are at work. That just doesn’t make any financial sense to me to do that. I refuse to have the heating on full time when it’s not necessary. Just call me Scrooge!

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M.E, Fibromyalgia and Joint Hypermobility

Around 10 years ago I was diagnosed with M.E and Fibromyalgia and I was also recently diagnosed with Joint Hypermobility .

These illnesses have changed my life dramatically and I have learned to adapt the hard way.

I had to give up working as a Driving Instructor and my OH then became the main breadwinner.

M.E and Fibromyalgia affects my life daily, without fail it is ALWAYS there. The only way to describe it to others is RELENTLESS! Walking normally feels like walking in a swimming pool, and every morning I wake up feeling like I have just gone 10 rounds in the ring with Mike Tyson. In short just think ‘proper’ flu without the head cold and you are on the right lines. That’s before we even get started on the pain levels throughout my body and more recently in my hands and ankles (due to the Hypermobility). Everything hurts……………..all of the time, with no respite!

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The Canterville Ghost at the Unicorn Theatre – Review

The Canterville Ghost has always been one of my favourite stories from when I was younger, along with the play The Rivals which I studied when doing my A Level In English Literature and both have stayed firm favourites as I have grown older, and so I was really curious to see this adaptation at the Unicorn Theatre near London Bridge. This was my first time visiting this particular theatre and I was impressed with the actual working theatre space inside. The Unicorn is the UK’s leading theatre for young audiences and has an extremely wide programme for children up to 18 yrs old.

So for anyone who isn’t familiar with the Oscar Wilde piece,The Canterville Ghost is a story about an American family who move to a castle that is haunted by the ghost of a deceased ancester, Sir Simon Canterville, who killed his wife and was then starved to death by her brothers! What makes it different from other ghost stories is the fact that it’s funny rather than scary and the characters are not frightened by the ghost at all.

Although the story itself is set in a time gone by era, the humour is most certainly modern and directed at the younger audience of today (and us that are young at heart) which definitely captures their interest right from the start.

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4 Stages – Fringe Theatre Review

The play 4 Stages ( by BC Allen) at the Bread and Roses Theatre is directed by Natasha Kathi-Chandra and centres around 3 characters, Alex (Andre Skeete), Ben (Brett Allen) and Cat ( Natasha Redhead) on their monthly games night. It’s presented in four parts which represent four separate nights spread throughout one particular calendar year. Ben and Alex interview each other over the four nights about how and where they grew up and as the nights go on there are some startling revelations which lead to some very frank discussions along the way.

‘ Two best friends Ben and Alex, who grew up together, now in their 40’s, meet every last Sunday of the month for ‘Games Night’. They are from different backrounds but are as close and tight as brothers. Ben has recently had a child with his partner Cat.’

This theatre is extremely intimate and is set with seats on opposite sides with the ‘set’ in the middle dressed as a room in Ben and Cat’s home which works perfectly as they use the exit door as their door to the rest of the ‘house’. With the space being small it enhances the feeling of being a ‘fly on the wall’ overlooking events unfolding in these characters lives. Each night is cleverly separated in a way that you know the story is moving on and yet works perfectly in the small space they have with regarding the set.

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Gutted – Fringe Theatre review

Gutted is a black comedy that is set in a fish factory in 1980’s Dublin written by Sharon Byrne and directed by Chris White. It explores the lives of three strong women who are friends through working in the same dead end job, and yet all have dreams of something bigger and better than what their lives are at the moment.

The stage is sparsely set with nothing but a plain white backdrop with strip lighting, standing lamps and ceiling lights, however, the lights are cleverly linked and used as extra characters throughout and this is incredibly well presented. The story is told in interlinking comic monologue from the three women Deidre ( Niamh Finlay), Delores ( Sarah Hosford) and Breda (Eleanor Byrne) covering just one particular night of their lives.

It is Irish storytelling at its best with comedy concealing a powerful undertone of hurt and heartache that is hinted at throughout. It’s raw and relatable and immediately transported me back to my teenage years with the girls singing excerpts of some songs of the time – notably Tainted Love (oh the memories!) and yet tainted love can totally sum up the underlying theme of the play.

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Life is changing – what happens when your ‘children’ become grown ups.

 

This is the card I got for my youngest son this week at he turned 19!

We bought the card as joke which he loved, but as I keep looking at it the reality has actually hit home.

My eldest son is 21 and is still away at uni. My youngest decided against uni and is taking a year (while he works a part time job) to do as much solo travel as possible before actually deciding what route he wants to go down.

I’m extremely proud of how both my boys have grown and support them fully in choosing their own paths to walk down.

However, for me as a mum it’s bittersweet. I literally have ‘grown ups’ now instead of children, and with that comes a level of enforced ‘mum redundancy’ as they branch out and need us less. I have much more time for ME and whatever that entails and this year I have really struggled with that if I’m honest.

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At Last at Lion and Unicorn Theatre – Fringe Theatre Review

I’ve had a lot of firsts for me this year on the blog and now I can add Fringe Theatre to that list.

When someone says Fringe Theatre what do you think?

I literally had no clue what to expect when I was invited along with another theatre lover to the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in the Kentish Town area of London to see the production of At Last by Proforca Theatre Company, written by James Lewis and Alexander Knott and directed by David Brady.

 

The pub itself looks as though it has been quite newly refurbished and was inviting and welcoming inside. The theatre is upstairs and reminded me of my son’s blacked out school drama theatre, so think small and intimate and as a guesstimate there was about 45 of us there last night (give or take a few). So it was a sold out performance.

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