Saturday, 19 January 2013


It's a belief that the Italians love children. I have always thought that, written the fact, and witnessed many examples of how the Italians love children in restaurants and thus the children behave better than they would, say in a British restaurant where we are still arguably uptight about kids despite all the mummy blogs, books, experts saying the contrary.  It's become a science for goodness sake. How cold is that?

But this week I heard the Italians don't like children.  I heard it from a very informed Italian.    In fact they are up there with the Japanese on only wanting one child per family, and take their friend to the playground so they can have someone to chat to because they find talking to their own child, dull.     So you'll have six women and three children, as each woman will have a friend.  This of course could all be an urban myth but it got me thinking how perhaps it's the relaxed way of life in Italy, the warmth of the climate, the relaxed nature of the culture, food focused, sensuality focused that fits in very well with the psyche of parenting - not because they are forced on being good parents, or indeed even liking children, but because it's innate to their way of life.   To my knowledge I don't know of any mummy blog equivalent in Italy and when PLAYGROUND MAFIA came out in 2006, the Italian publishers loved the idea but said the name had to be changed.  "It means something completely different in this country Sarah."  

So perhaps the idea of the Italian mama doesn't exist after all.   She just likes her food and catering for everyone, no matter what their age, but it seems the older the better.  Perhaps that's why they look after their elderly so well.  

Sunday, 13 January 2013


I visited the Ice Sculpture Festival today held at Canary Wharf.   Devised and organised by Carol Cordrey, it's a wonderful idea.

I wouldn't have put it in Canary Wharf which despite having wonderful statuesque glass buildings twinkling as in many ways did the sculptures themselves, this place is completely devoid of soul.

Travelling to the Sculpture festival was like walking into a black hole and finding specs of stardust in the form of each glacial masterpiece; artists from all over the world there to show their talent which is eternal although their works of art are not.

Two winners (from the UK) were interviewed, one saying he had been a painter by profession, the other a gardener and that they had given up their day jobs to focus on the art form, but had returned to their roots and broke the ice as a hobby.   I don't think there's money in it.   But the art work was magical. If it hadn't been so cold I could have stared at each one for ages.  

There was other stuff to do there.   You could have a go yourself at masterclasses and the children oblivious of the cold were smiling - while their parents stocked up on the international market serving german sausage, pancakes, soups, as long as they were all piping hot. It was a very cold day and it hadn't even snowed.

There are similar festivals held all over the world. The first I visited was in Quebec held in December every year, part of the Bonhommie Carnavale, where there is an international competition, and it's held by the river.   The river is usually frozen over and yet they try to kayak down it, and there's a group of naval bods on hand to rescue anyone who capsizes (under the ice is not good).  Others are held in China, Belgium, Sweden, Russia, to name but a few and well worth visiting and supporting.  This is an almost spiritual art form.

I hope this festival continues in size and stature.   It is a testament to the incredible hard work of creative people who have soul and talent and don't do it for the money.   It is just very odd to have it in a place that is a testament to quite the reverse.

Friday, 11 January 2013


Just watched Les Mis and sobbed my heart out when Anne Hathaway sang "I dream a dream".  I think it's the first few breaths she takes before she starts singing. It's heart breaking.    The other actors are superb as well, ironically they outshine Helena BC and Sacha BC, with their acting and singing.  And the music and the lyrics are incredible. In truth, they are the real stars. For those who haven't watched the stage play, the film is mesmerising.  

Monday, 7 January 2013


I just watched the film The Impossible.   I remember writing about Thailand as a wonderful place to go for Christmas and New Year that year, especially if you wanted to escape the commercialisation - well western for eastern depending on which part of Thailand you ventured to.  It was in my top five of places to go.   I hope no one went as a result of reading the article.

The film is fascinating and harrowing. I'm told it took a year to film the first ten minutes and the young boy playing the eldest son Tom Holland is especially good.   Not cloying, but convincing and strong for his family because he needs to be.   Like most eldest sons are. They tend to be the strongest or the weakest.   There were moments I could relate to, where the woman was so grateful to the locals who were there to help, and the time when the father broke down and became a child himself.   They were real moments.  I could tell they would happen in real life. The only thing that jarred was the music which was unnecessary.   The film was most powerful when the music was at it's quietest or non existent.    Real life drama does not need backing music.   It reminded me of the Schlinder's List when it was only at the end when you realised how many lives had been saved by one man, that you became aware of the reality of a tsunami, what it does to lives and livelihoods.  The film barely skimmed the surface of what it did to the locals but it gave an idea and it was humbling to watch safe in my cinema seat a million miles away.