‘Eagerly awaiting the next series of Sherlock’ by Rachel Shannon [Epigram]

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This article was previously published here – http://www.epigram.org.uk/film-tv/item/2090-eagerly-awaiting-the-next-series-of-sherlock  in January 2014, being reposted for further reading at RachelReallyRambles.wordpress.org

Moffat, Gatiss and co. are brave.  Whilst they have confirmed a fourth and fifth series of Sherlock is in the pipeline, they have left us aghast as no answer to the conundrum that swamped social media sites as #SherlockLives, has been given.  Fans hungry for more of the UK’s favourite detective were delighted by his return to our screens this holiday.  The Beeb were reassured that we had not forgotten the pair after two years with 11 million viewers avidly devouring the series.

But many were left feeling like the Christmas turkey from Holmes’ home was whisked past their eyes, smelling delicious and looking divine, but gone before anyone had a chance to digest a morsel.  Being given barely enough time to chew over references to the books, Holmes and Watson have yet again vanished from our screens for some time.  How long we have to wait for their return currently depends on the busy filming schedule of Cumberbatch and Freeman. The irony being that it was the Sherlock series that originally catapulted the pair into Hollywood’s clutches, which are now hindering a swift next installment.

How will people relate to Sherlock in his absence?  It appears that Joe Public is engaging with Sherlock once more in the realm of realism.  This time not sending letters to Baker Street as in Doyle’s day, or, as legend has it, wearing black armbands upon Sherlock’s ‘death’.  Instead, protecting his motives, identity and honour more than their physical neighbours on social media.  A possible muse as to our deep-rooted engagement with the onscreen duo may be with the ever-accused-social-media of Facebook.  As this particular community continues to isolate its members, with groups of friends morphing into eclectic stamp collections, we are drawn to the reality of John and Sherlock living out a close, ‘highs-and-lows’ friendship. We are pulled up sharply by the lapels as we are reminded of the deep bond that has stood the test of time and quite literally, life and death.

But, that may be too poetic and it is quite possibly, in part down to those piercing eyes and cheek bones that could grate cheese.  This modern Sherlock Holmes is a work of fiction, yet commands more respect than many celebrities.  However, it is as we are allowed to see something of Sherlock’s flaws that makes him more relatable, despite his cold and clinical character for which he is commonly known.  In this series he gets plastered and raises a questionably festering drug problem, making this genius seem more human than the media would probably allow if he were a real person.

Perhaps, though, it is not Sherlock’s potential addiction we should be concerned about after all; it is ours.  A nation unhealthily obsessed by a TV show.  If I may demonstrate with a personal experience – my thoughts were roused to this being a reality upon witnessing what turned into a near-bun-fight on a Facebook status surrounding a Sherlock, ‘spoiler-or-not’ discussion.  People I had not spoken to in years were passively aggressively stating opinions to strangers and ‘sleepy-hollow-morning-Facebook’ suddenly became a graveyard of back-and-to’s between annoyed fans and ‘comment hooligans’ over our subject matter: Sherlock.  I was, however, as guilty as the rest for having serious withdrawal symptoms, restless and struggling to concentrate on my revision.

If as a nation we really are addicted, maybe cold turkey is good for us after all, as we leave Gatiss and co. to stew over the next series. The hook is bated. We will be coming back for more, no matter how painful. Our hearts will most certainly be wrung and strewn around the floor. Yet, we will willingly guzzle down their cocktail laced with deduction, emotion and finely diced editing.  We have just got to sit tight and hope the next series swings around sooner than the last, and that Watson does not grow another moustache.

Until next time then. I sweepingly tip my imaginary deer-stalker in their direction.  This series experimented, enthralled, and called for high emotional investment. A triumph of camera angles, plot twists and acting extraordinaire. I await their next offering with great anticipation.

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A 999 call – StoriesSaturday

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Everyone witnesses a saga every now and again. A ‘situation’ that is usually a much talked over tale for a crowded pub table. A good prompter for an engaging story is always found in a good question. The question I am answering due to a recent run-in is, “Have you ever called 999?”

 

This particular call was for a poor lady having a seizure and it was one of those occasions I am thankful I was able to be there ‘at the right time’. A fellow passer-by had just knelt to the wet ground to try and focus the lady to breath deeply and I was ready with my phone. It is easy to fall into ‘playing the hero’ but as Brits, we tend to stand and gawk rather than move and do, as everyone around us meekly acted out.

 

Given the go ahead to call for an ambulance while squinting at the nearest road sign I remembered how much respect I have for those taking difficult-to-hear-details down while keeping people like me calm and useful. I was face to face with the fragility of life and it took longer than it should have done to dawn on me that the siren I could hear in the background was because of what was happening at my feet. It was all a bit surreal and when the paramedics were on the scene I bobbed my head to the chap who looked to be her bewildered boyfriend and I melted into the crowd and on to my coffee date feeling more than a little shell-shocked.

#MyNextBuy – Fam/Food/Friends/FreedomFriday

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Fam/Friends/Food/FREEDOM Friday.

With the Slavery Bill around and about parliament-wise, I would like to share my support of a creative way to make a personal stand against modern-day-slave-trade.

 

#MyNextBuy challenges you to live different.

 

I have been greatly challenged by my implicit support of something that I would abhor were it to happen in plain sight in my front room, but a classic case of ‘what I don’t see doesn’t matter to me’.

 

A personal note on how this affects me: 

Unlike a diet, I don’t intend to go back on the lifestyle I am trying to currently live, but gradually working towards better rhythms of ethical living. I am a long, long way off from my ideal but here are a few thoughts on how I am living differently in relation to #MyNextBuy.

 

Rarely buying clothes outside of a charity shop (for what I hope to be obvious reasons as a drastic but direct method of not buying into this slave trade) has had also led to what I believe to be the healthy cultivation of an attitude that upholds ‘new things’ once again with a sense of novelty and gratefulness instead of taking them for granted. I could also write an entire blog post on my support of charity shops, but pop back another time for that.

 

I also make a point to try and find out where my things have been made. One day I would like to be able to say I know exactly where and even exactly by who… and I hope on one occasion in the future that the answer might be me in my front room..! Ok. So that’s a long way off – by the time I plan on making myself some bunting it will have gone out of fasion, but one can always hope.

 

For now, though, I believe I can make small sustainable changes to keep these steps headed against the tide. I am nowhere near how I would like to be living but as I have heard from the brilliant Baroness Cox – “We cannot do everything but we must not do nothing”.

 

3 Things to follow this up:

http://rhythms.org/mynextbuy/

http://www.hart-uk.org/

Your local charity shop

My Top 10 Small-Smile-Bringers – ThoughtsThursday

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Here are my 10 things that are of complete triviality but that bring a grin to curve its way into my cheeks on even the cloudiest of days…

 

The list is deliberately shallow folks, I do only mean the tiny things in life. The point is to lend the spotlight to things so small they can often sneak past you without you realising that they have brought a little joy to your day and a smile to your face…

In no particular order, the Small-Smilers:

1. Dark Chocolate

2. Snowflakes

3. Hugs

4. Waking up to sunshine

5. Really colourful things

6. Bubbles

7. Seeing a friend unexpectedly

8. Hand written things

9. Rich quality sound

10. Ice-cream

Any obvious ones I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments if you’d like. 🙂

What happened when I went to Les Mis… [Whatsonstage.com]

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A good while back I was thrilled to win a competition with whatsonstage.com to return to see Les Misérables.

An excerpt of my original piece can be found here,

With my concluding paragraph on ‘Longrunners’ reading…

 “I believe that there is a definite sense of security of a good experience in going to see a long-runner. It is also virtually guaranteed there will be a top-notch cast. I love new musicals. But with prices so high and not necessarily the largest bank of friends who’ll have already seen it in the short space of time a show will have been open to recommend it to me, I don’t have the confidence required to shell out on tickets or persuade a friend it will be definitely worth it to come.”

But, this piece was written, not published and altogether forgotten about, left to gather cyber-dust on my computer until this afternoon.

I personally enjoyed the read of what my 2-years-younger-self wrote and though references to the ‘new film’, not having started the degree I’ve nearly finished and particular cast members who have long since moved on are laughable in this fast-paced-blogging-world, I have left it as is, should anyone wish to read it…

 

Thoughts on Les Mis, from summer 2012…

 

Having seen this ‘long runner’ before, I am well aware of the emotional roller-coaster I am about to embark on as ‘Toulon 1815’ appears out of the gloom and the enthralling music cascades out of the orchestra pit, filling the auditorium and tingling most every spine.  The creative adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel has, if not obviously, stood the test of time – with a full house and some 70 awards to sit next to those famous silver candle sticks in the Les Misérables hall of worldwide fame.  Some genius has even got his calculator out and has come to the conclusion that more than 60 million people around the globe have seen the wonder that is Les Misérables.  With the West End having a good few of those performances to date, the show was slick as apposed to synthetic or sloppy, despite most of the cast having performed this show nearly every night for the last 6 months.  It also allowed me to see Craig Mather grow further into his role of Marius – this being his West End debut.  He was fantastic when I first saw him at the beginning of his run, but he has stepped it up a level and I look forward to seeing where theatrical adventures take him.

After experiencing ‘One Day More’ sat in the stalls with the entire cast steadily approaching me, all singing their hearts out – I was taken aback by the staggering amount of energy and emotion headed straight for me as Act 1 concluded, with the iconic flag wave tugging heavily on the heartstrings.  I swiftly put the free ice-cream voucher I received on becoming a member of whatsonstage.com to good use.  With a flourish, paper turned into a tub of my favourite chocolate ice-cream before my very eyes.  Hurrying back to my seat eager not to miss a second of the magic, I awaited Act 2 with the greatest anticipation.

 

Being sat in the stalls and being in the eye line of the cast for the first time made this a remarkable experience.  It was truly amazing to be able to see the detail in the costumes, and appreciate more of the subtle humour that is dotted through the gritty storyline – I would have completely missed Thénardier’s hilarious use of his painted eyebrows had I been further back.

Returning to see the show also allowed me the pleasure of introducing a friend to what I know to be a cracker of a night out.  While they are being blown away by the spectacle, I can pay more attention to and better appreciate the set, gorgeous score and beautiful lighting design with a little more brain-space.

With strong intertwining themes of grace and mercy, the story does not tire and while Les Mis has proved itself to be a magnificent piece of theatre, I have high hopes for it to be a magnificent piece of film.  I will be on tenterhooks for the January 2013 release of Les Misérables the film, but wonder if the experience from behind a screen will still leave me with a crumpled tissue in one hand and fresh mascara smudges on the other…  Director Tom Hooper has said he ‘wanted to make a film that would touch everyone’ and he believes the story is so strong, 3D is not essential.

I would say whether or not the characters literally reach out to your face, they will certainly reach out to your heart.  If you have missed the trailer or want to have an emotional second look, check this.

With no more story to tell, the curtain came down and the audience stood up to give a full and rightly deserved standing ovation.  At the stage door the cast got into civvies in record time, with the years dropping wildly off Javert.  He stepped out many years younger as a friendly and photo-obliging Hadley Fraser.  We did experience the awkward, ‘they look like they are in a rush, should we ask for a photo’ moment, but the atmosphere at The Queen’s Theatre stage door was friendly all round.  Having thoroughly enjoyed David Shannon’s performance as a previous Phantom, he certainly did Jean Valjean justice, giving a moving and soulful interpretation to the role.  He was also most charming when we missed him coming out of the stage-door and ended up shame-facedly running after him to tell how much we enjoyed the show and if he wouldn’t mind signing my programme to ‘Rachel Shannon’.  How I wish I could claim the talent of this ‘Shannon’ as my real relation!

So, will I be back?  …Give me just a little while.  Being a gap year student I will be saving my pennies for one show or another before uni this September.  When I want to go and see something that guarantees solid all-round performances and to ‘hear the people sing’, my little face will appear at the box office window once again.  Besides, I haven’t got the T-shirt yet…

And writing as myself at my current age and stage again: Despite having hopefully improved my writing, seen a few more shows and (even more hopefully) got closer to that degree, I am unsurprisingly eager to see Les Mis once again.

Heading back to uni, I think it might have to be Christmas before I can hang over the railings in the cheap seats to drink in the spectacle for the umpteenth time.  I am also eager to catch Carrie Hope Fletcher’s performance as Eponine before she moves on, so I better get my skates on!

Life? – WorkWednesday

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Spending some of my summer working in an anatomy dissection lab, has prompted much conversation over the technicalities of the weird and un-satisfactorably-definable word:

 

‘LIFE’

 

I may not always be able to stand with my head above water even toward the shallower end of the pool (4’11¾”) but my questions and my thoughts have no trouble diving head first into the deep end…

 

What is it?

Why do we have it?

Where do I go when I die?

The question of ‘life’ ending stares me straight in the face every time I sit down to work on a courageous, generous and foresightful donation of a specimen in front of me. What really is the difference between us – dead compared to alive?

I would suggest a soul – and the fact the pacemaker cells of the sino-atrial node, which mysteriously and miraculously started the heart contracting has, as the phrase ironically goes ‘given up the ghost’.

When Love Takes Over – TuneTuesday

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When Love Takes Over’ – David Guetta featuring Kelly Rowland.

 

An old one now but having scooped a substantial swathe of awards and by my ears a classic of my teens. Though your gut might prompt you to exclaim Coldplay’s ‘Clocks’ upon hearing the intro might spring to mind, it is however, debatably this tune that put Ms Rowland in our spotlight.

 

To the lyrics:
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zudbz4hOcbc )

An interesting theme – to be ‘taken over’ by love. As the song suggests, enjoying the euphoria of falling ‘in love’ so much so to be controlled – even lost in it.

 

A strange idea but one easily identifiable in our own experience nonetheless – or at least in the movies – even if some of the scientists keep squawking about it being nothing more than a figment of our fizzing of neuronal imagination.

 

I could pause here and ask ‘cynical-Shannon’ what she thinks – allowing you to hear her point out that ‘love’ is actually – shockingly, she says – not the mushiness portrayed either in the music video or what the chick flicks feed us. Despite us, in our heads, knowing all this, ‘our heart’ leads us to keep eating of it until we are fit to burst. And when plump with the emptiness they offered us and moist at the eyes with the regret that we swallowed their empty offerings, we are turfed onto the roasting tin of rash decisions and toasty-emotions before we realised what just happened.

 

So where does this leave us? Confused is probably, albeit a little patronised, about right.

 

However, we know that love in practice is very different from lust, being ‘other’-centred and a conscious and deliberate – often-difficult – choice.

 

But what is love? And will ‘true love’, certainly headed in the direction of in Disney’s recent Frozen, be more accurately portrayed in our music and films in the near future?