Monday, 9 January 2012

Margaret Thatcher Returns to our Screens: My Review of The Iron Lady

An Uncanny Resemblance
Well it has possibly been the most hyped-up film of the past few years. The Iron Lady has given birth to further debate and discussion over the former Prime Minister. Love her or hate her, she still makes an impact on the very way we perceive the world and politics today.

As a harsh critic of Margaret Thatcher, I still do my best to remain fair if not impartial. Although I was born almost two years after Baroness Thatcher left office, every aspect of her premiership and even her personality have been told to me by the generations who lived through her tenure.
Two Political Giants: Margaret Thatcher & Neil Kinnock

Meryl Streep's performance was (as expected) phenomenal! Not only was the voice pitch perfect, aesthetically she looked scarily true to the 'Iron Lady's' distinctive appearance. Streep managed to highlight Thatcher's most unpleasant attributes, whilst also humanising an individual whose character has come to be disgraced and subjugated in recent years.

However, the greatest performance in The Iron Lady must go to Jim Broadbent as Dennis Thatcher. Broadbent portrayed Mrs Thatcher's spouse as a good humoured, supportive and kind individual. Not only did Broadbent's performance add to the film's emotional qualities, his role as Thatcher's 'Dennis' helped to highlight the importance of kindness and integrity in politics - qualities some would argue were disregarded by the former Prime Minister.

The Iron Lady: In Nut Cracker Form
I must say, certain moments of the film sat uncomfortably with me. The way Phyllida Lloyd's film portrayed the Falklands War came across somewhat biased and to an extent glorified the actions of Margaret Thatcher. Obviously this depends on your own perceptions of the conflict.

However, this I believe to be an attribute to the film's great success. The Iron Lady's ability to provoke debate and open discussion about 1980s British Politics, allows us to reconsider and once again experience an era of politics that has come to define our nation and the way we are perceived around the world.

My Rating:

4 * / 5*

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Free the Chickens: Battery Farming Comes to an End

Finally battery egg-farming has come to an end. Whether you are a meat-eater, vegetarian or vegan I think we can all see this as good news. I have been a vegetarian for 7 months now. 

Beforehand, I was quite renowned for my impressive meat consumption. However, half a year later and 1.5 stone lighter I'm glad a friend encouraged me to make this decision. 
Now, do not worry! I am not planning to preach to you about why you should be veggie or how it's cruel to eat meat, because frankly, I do not think I will change your mind. Yet, I think we can all rejoice in the fact this primitive and cruel farming practice has come to an end.

As someone who eats a lot of eggs, I'm glad to know when I buy a sandwich from a shop or a pudding from a restaurant the chances are it contain Free-Range eggs.

Although, I am still concerned. Although this practice applies to egg farming, I still fear that mistreatment and malicious farming practice may continue in meat production. 
Furthermore, will businesses such a Nandos and KFC choose to cook with meat that has been imported from one of the 13 EU nations that is yet to institute the animal welfare legislation our government has just ratified.
So glad I was graced with good artistic skills

I totally understand the financial implications this will have on farmers of caged-hens. Some farmers have claimed the change has cost them in excess of £2million. However, it is a simple truth that their farming practices are not just simply cruel and inhumane, but they are outdated. Yet, at the same time I hope the Coalition continues to support these farmers with the transformation to Free-Range farming.

So Hurrah! Long may British concerns for animal welfare continue and I truly hope to see greater standards of care in the future.


Sunday, 1 January 2012

Sunday Love Songs with Ollie Dunckley

I love Radio 2 on a Sunday. Shows such as Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young and then Sounds of the Seventees with Johnny Walker are always a fantastic culmination of intriguing and enjoyable listening.

However, one Sunday broadcast I particularly enjoy is Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs.

Music in all forms is enjoyable. Whether a song relates to work, fun or even love, it has the power to evoke a selection of emotions and feelings.

I love music. As I mentioned earlier this week, my taste is somewhat unorthodox. Yet, I would love to share with you a selection of my favourite love songs.

Now, where to start? Perhaps the beginnings of a love story is the right place.

Ray Charles' rendition of  'You Don't Know Me' is about as authentic as love songs come. The strain and longing in Ray's vocals paint an organic and believable picture of a person longing for an individual who is unaware of them. I first heard this song in one of my favourite films; Groundhog Day. You Don't Know Me is a beautiful portrayal of love and how some believe it occurs at first sight, take it away Ray..

I am a confessed fan of Rod Stewart. Yes, yes I know - his music is to many outdated and ancient, however, to me the distinctive sound of Rod's voice is timeless. Rod Stewart's Maggie May is a song I absolutely adore. It portrays love as positive, yet imperfect. This realistic depiction allows many to empathise with the sentiment of Maggie May.

Now, I think heartbreak touches most of us at some period in our lifetimes. The music industry has made an absolute fortune off the broken hearts and tears of people with broken hearts. Musicians such as Roy Orbison, Adelle and Paul Simon have made a career on empathising with the fractured emotions of people facing love loss.
Yet, I believe Supertramp's 'It's Raining Again' is perhaps the greatest representation of how people should face the upset of departing from the ones we love. The straining voice of  the saxophone and the poeticism of the line "It's only time that heals the pain and makes the sun come out again" emphasize the song's positive message of comfort and concilliation. Love it!

Thumbs Up - Simple Sentiment
I must admit, I am definitely a soppy kind of person. I love music, especially when I am able to relate to it and understand its sentiment. The truth is, many love songs talk of forever longing and never letting go of the one you love. However, if you truly love someone, you let them go.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and thanks so much for reading :)

Ollie x

I would also like to dedicate this post to my friends Alyson Rees and Mark Cole who just engaged! Llongyfarchiadau Guys!

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Three Things I'd Like to Share...

My friends and family have always teased me about my music taste. Comparisons to the musical inclinations of the elderly generation have been noted.
Stealing Dad's CDs!

However, I think I have at least a few songs in my repertoire that would be appreciated by today's audiences. Music is very powerful. It has a profound significance in my life.

The music I grew up with has had a very significant impact on my musical taste. My parents brought me up listening to artists such as Simon & Garfunkel, Pink Floyd and The Eagles.
However, perhaps my Dad's most played artist of all is Billy Joel. Piano Man and New York State of Mind were consistently played on my Dad's car radio.

Yet, the song which I believe to be Joel's best I only discovered recently.
'Tomorrow is Today' is a song inspired by Billy Joel's own suicide note - depressing I know!
However, the song has a somewhat inspiring and uplifting quality to it. Go on! Have a listen...

The second song I'd like to share with you is an absolute corker! It is my Grandmother's favourite song. Yet, this song is a challenging one for me. Percy Sledge's 'When a Man Loves a Woman' has a very controversial sentiment. It revolves around a man prepared to do anything and everything for love - to the extent that he subjugates himself. Personally, this is not what love is about. Love is mutual, as well as unconditional. Love means acknowledging ones faults in correlation with your partner's most lovable qualities. After all, when a relationship ends (as many do) you find yourself missing your loved ones faults as well as their positive attributes.
However, this song should be taken at face value - When a Man Loves a Woman is not about what someone should do for love, but it is about why they feel this way.

Take it away Percy!

Finally, the last song I would like to share with you is a bit of a fun one actually. I found myself listening to this for the first time in years as I drove from Milton Keynes, home to Cambridge. I mentioned Simon & Garfunkel earlier, and although at times they can be slightly over-melancholy, 'Baby Driver' is a fun and humorous tune.

Thank you for reading and I hope enjoyed my choices :)


Monday, 19 December 2011

Ollie's (Not so Royal!) Christmas Message...

Wow! Didn't that come around quickly?! It seems only weeks ago since last Christmas. I must say, I'm glad it has come around so fast!
I adore Christmas time (although I'm not a religious person). The cosy and warm evenings remind me of how lucky I am.

Every year we hear the stories of people who are experiencing true misery and despair at Christmas time. Unfortunately, I think we have all become a bit too accustomed and unaffected by this - I include myself in this analysis.

I recently spent an afternoon in Cardigan celebrating the life of Freddie Mercury with LD friends Mark Cole, Huw Dawson and Aubrey Williams. We sat down good spirited in hesitation and excitement for the famous Status Quo introduction to the Live Aid Concert of 1985. Instead, we were caught off guard by a video we were not expecting.

What we then saw was possibly the most emotionally, mentally and even physically strenuous footage I have ever seen. I witnessed what has become infamously known as 'Hell on Earth.'

This short introduction to the concert caught us all by surprise. None of us expected to see such shocking imagery. Michael Buerk's report of the small town of Korem in Northern Ethiopia has become a world renowned demonstration of the devastation of war, famine and global poverty.

There is no quick fix to these problems. There is a consistent truth of the famine and drought in the Third World - there will be no solution to this human manifestation of disaster and disgrace without a change in the attitudes of ourselves and our leaders.

I find it easy at times to be very selfish. This year, I bought my self an Ipad costing £400. This amount of money could provide 5 farmers with the capabilities and tools to prepare their farms for the upcoming seasons in the current Food Crisis in East Africa.

However, by no means am I saying that it is wrong to indulge oneself from time to time. However, when I considered how my money could be spent in improving someones very existence, I decided to grant greater consideration to the way I not only spend my money, but in my attitude towards those in need of my help.

Christmas 2011

Me Looking Like a Prat - Standard
So what to take from this Christmas? Well it is inevitable that people will be suffering at this time just as they do the rest of the year.

Enjoy yourself this Christmas - eat and drink well. After all, I'm sure you deserve it!
If you're alone this Christmas, keep smiling and look forward to the upcoming year.

But most important of all, think of others this Christmas. Do something to make someones day, whether it's a friend, loved one or even a stranger having a hard time.

Happy Christmas Everyone

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A Poem for the Futility of War

Armistice Day is fast approaching - I just came across this clip of Johnny Cash singing Bob Dylan's famous tune 'Blowin' in the Wind' but with an emotive and moving poem in the middle.

I hope you enjoy

Sunday, 30 October 2011

If I Can Dream: Rugby Union


First of all, I would like to apologise for my blog being so quiet recently. I've truly missed posting my weekly updates and I look forward to the upcoming days where I have quite a few recent experiences to share with you.

If I Can Dream: Rugby Union
As you can see, my blog has gone rather crazy about Rugby in the past few months. Once again, I've gone slightly OTT with my passion for the Sport. 
But what an amazing few weeks it has been for Rugby and the World - Wales reaching the semi-finals (for the first time since 1987), Tonga beating France and best of all, the Māori warriors ending the 24 years of lustful longing for the William Webb-Ellis Trophy, Ngā mihi boys!

My Personal Highlights of the Tournament

The return of Jonah Lomu, one of my top players of all time was a very emotional moment for me. His presence at the opening ceremony reiterates how he not only embodies but also shapes New Zealand and World Rugby.

But how I could I go on without mentioning the Tongan victory over (the eventual finalists) France. What an amazing show by the Islander team! I was also pleased to see the legendary Soane Tonga'uiha in action. He brings a phenomenal sense of character and passion to the Tongan squad and I look forward to seeing his continued career at the Saints.

Yet, Perhaps my favourite moment of the Rugby World Cup 2011, was the performance of the Welsh team.. All of you know that I am an English Rugby man. However, I must say I was appalled and disappointed by the performance of the England team on, and off the pitch. Not only was the team unity almost non-existent, they portrayed their nation and its people in an inappropriate and unacceptable manner. Thank God there was a Home Nations team representing the United Kingdom in a professional and passionate way. For a moment I believed that the 14 Welshman had beaten the 15 strong French team. Unfortunately, this was not the case. But a splendid try by Mike Phillips and a great performance throughout the tournament make the Welsh side my 'Team of the World Cup'.

If I Can Dream
My blog this evening was inspired by a video I found on Youtube. Its a fantastic compilation of great moments in Rugby History and set to the inspiring and beautiful vocals of Elvis. 

Rugby is more than a game. Its a belief in ones self, in ones companions. Inches become miles, pain becomes insignificant and the man standing next to you becomes the most important being you will will ever meet. 

Rugby is a belief.

I hope you enjoy the video much as I did