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Well actually you don't, but I'm about to tell you. Not a lot. Ok, that's not strictly true. Once I'd got over the shock of being confined to barracks for an uncertain period of time, I rather enjoyed the four months off.

There was much merriment to be had watching comedy on BBC IPlayer. Specifically, "The Thick of It," starring Peter Capaldi. I laughed my head off. Some of the one - liners, actually, ALL of the one - liners were hysterically funny. My particular favourite was Peter Capaldi, (aka Iago with a Blackberry) about to answer his mobile phone, says, "Incoming body parts."

Anyhow, if you have never watched "The Thick of It," I thoroughly recommend it to you. The acting is outstanding, the plots riveting and the dialogue so cleverly put together, it really is the complete comedy package.

Reading took up some of my time. I re-read, "One Fifth Avenue" by Candace Bushnell, author of "Sex and the City." Like the latter, the former is also set in the New York borough of Manhattan and focuses on a group of individuals who inhabit an apartment building in Fifth Avenue and whose lives become entwined in a sparkling adventure of drama, romance and social climbing.

"One Fifth Avenue," really is a wonderful book and Bushnell's characters are very believable and diverse in nature. Her description of the Manhattan area of Washington Square where they reside is very vivid. I say this with confidence because I know that particular area of New York City very well. If reading intelligent fiction is your thing, "One Fifth Avenue," won't disappoint you.

Sunbathing was on my agenda for a while although it is not generally something I subscribe to. My friend and I hit the beach as lockdown was raised and we partook of sea swimming and sunbathing. It was lovely I must admit and I have a nice tan now. The first one for a few years.

So there you have it. I was determined to enjoy myself during the four month break from work...and I did. I learned something too...that freedom of movement is not something to be taken for granted. It is precious and I hope never to lose it again. A bit like yourself, I suppose. And on that note, perhaps you'll join me in saying "aye," to that sentiment.

GEMMA - 31st July 2020


pkI've been watching, of late, a couple of dramas on the BBC which prompted me to question the nature of humility - that is - how we view ourselves. And when we do look within ourselves,  I wondered - how satisfied are we with what we see? 

'Heroes' is currently streaming on BBCIplayer and examines a group of individuals with super - human powers. It is a sci-fi drama and is fascinating to the extent that none of the characters appear to be overly happy with these new - found talents. Which brings me on to 'Harlots,' a BBC drama set in 18th century London and focused on two rival brothels operating in an unforgiving world.

What struck me when I made the comparison between the characters of these fictions is that that those characters who knew who they were and where they had come from seemed vastly more content than those who didn't. For me, the 'Harlots, came out on top. No pun intended. But you will have to watch them both to make your mind up.

The point I am trying to make to make is this: That I really think we have to be happy with what we have and not seek to diminish ourselves if we don't match up to the perceptions of others.

We live in a world where the pursuit of perfection seems to be an obsession. I confess, I wish my legs were a little longer - but they are not. My idea of what constitutes beauty and perfection is probably different to yours.

But since you are asking, I will give you three women whom I consider beautiful and in addition, I will provide you with a quote about what they say about themselves. Here goes:

Helen Baxendale (Actress in 'Friends' and 'Cuckoo.') ' I've got a sharp nose, sticky - out cheekbones and little beedy eyes.'

Penelope Keith (Actress in 'The Good Life' and 'To The Manor Born.') 'I was very tall and very plain - I wasn't going to get very far on looks.'

And finally: 

The actress Kate Winslett: ' I look like people that walk down the street. I don't have perfect boobs..I don't have zero cellulite..of course I don't - I'm curvy.'

So there you have it. I have to say that as I've got older, I have learned to accept my imperfections and the imperfections of men and women alike. I find beauty in them. I hope you can too.

Kate Winslett really does it for me. I saw her episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?' When she was transported back to her childhood, famly home, a rented property in Berkshire, she stood outside the property, clad in jeans and sweater, completely devoid of make-up and uttered the following words to the presenter, 'I ain't posh mate.' I've never forgotten that. My kind of gal.

GEMMA - 18th September 2020.


I'm not sure why it passed me by. It's baffling really, because the whole world, it seemed, was consumed by Harry Potter fever. I'm talking, of course, about the mass excitement surrounding J.K.Rowling's books and movies on said subject.

Now, I'm going to let you in on a secret. My first degree is in English Literature. So naturally, I love books. Real ones. Not Kindle. I love the feel of them, the smell, the sound of the pages turning as I read them.

So why couldn't I get to grips with Harry Potter? I discovered this problem from the earliest stages of opening up one of J.K Rowling's books based on her super, sophisticated, adolescent wizard.

The reason was this. The characters names were so weird sounding to me, I couldn't remember them. And because I couldn't remember them, I couldn't follow the narrative - that is, the story. I have since described my inability to follow this narrative as, "The Harry Potter Effect." I think it is personal to me.

Fast forward to 2020 and J.K.Rowling's magnificent series for grown ups, "Strike," based on her novels under the pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Awesome, totally enthralling. Starring Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger, this detective series focuses on two broken individuals, drawn together, working to solve crimes whilst endeavouring to work out issues in their private domains.

This is the story of the physical and emotional torment of our two main characters, Strike and Ellacott and how their issues intertwine with the cases they deal with.

Underlying these cases is the simmering will they won't they subplot. As an avid reader, the closest I ever got to Harry Potter was this: I walked past Dan Radcliffe on Broadway in Manhattan one day and said hi to him. He said hi back.

I used to be a one strike and you're out kind of girl. But then I found Rowling caters for grown - ups. So now I'm one ,"Strike," and I'm in.


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