Victoria Wood ~ A Tribute

Just heard the sad news about Victoria Wood. Someone posted about it in a group on Facebook. Of course, death is a horrible, gut-wrenching kick in the teeth always but to be taken by surprise and hear of the loss of one of Britain’s true treasures of tv, comedy and a constant fixture of our lives growing up, it almost feels like losing a family member. 62 is no age at all.

Victoria Wood ~ actress, writer, comedian

I feel like I want to rewind time and have a bit of forewarning so we could all tell her just what an impact she has made, and say thanks for the laughs. Not that I knew her personally of course, but you did feel like you really knew her. And she wasn’t showy and flashy, just down to earth and absolutely hilarious!

Victoria was Northern, and proud of it. Born in 1953, she would have been roughly the same age as my Mum, who I sadly lost 5 years ago. She reminded me a lot of my Mum actually. Probably less because of their same warm grins, blue eyes and blonde hair, and more because of the years we spent singing her songs together, or doing our own parodies of her genius writing.

“What are you cooking? Food?” – a line from her hit show Dinnerladies.

victoria wood

I can quote most episodes nearly word for word, such was her talent. Always delivered laugh after laugh, no matter how many times you’d watched them.

And of course that was long after the likes of Acorn Antiques, and As Seen On TV, and her Sold Out stage show, again, lots of which I can I ad lib because I had seen them so many times.

Pat and Margaret was another of her classics. Her working partnership with Julie Walters was something that always shone and they both spoke very highly of each other, in all interviews that were aired. And there was real magic when they appeared on screen together. The two of them serve as fabulous examples of funny, talented women with amazing careers who made friendship, respect and collaboration their cornerstones.

Later on, I enjoyed watching her in things like The Borrowers and Housewife 49.
It was basically a case of “Oh it’s got Victoria Wood in it? I’m in!”

And I loved all her songs! <3 Pam:

One of my favourites was Reincarnation ~ again the words inscribed on my brain since I first heard it in the 90’s:

And bear in mind, we didn’t have hundreds of channels and new stuff popping up regularly. We’d video our favourites and have them on repeat on VHS. Well, once you’d re-wound them.

Fatitude:

I could ramble on all day here, singing her praises and remembering an almost purer day of comedy but I think the web will be flooded with social commentary as I reckon she meant a lot to most of the nation, so I’ll wrap it up.

She was just really funny and warm and to think that she is now gone, as well as a being a stark reminder of our own mortality, is truly saddening.

I won’t write a poem, but instead, to paraphrase W H Auden ” Pour away the ocean as we say goodbye to Victoria Wood, for nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Thanks for the laughs. Sleep tight.

2016

Princess Charlotte Pictures

I’ve been waiting for our next peek at Princess Charlotte, and here she is! Photographed with her brother, Prince George, the photo was taken by her Mum, the Duchess of Cambridge.
Isn’t she just adorable. They both are.

I can attest that every parent believes they have given birth to a little Prince or Princess but I can only imagine just how proud Kate must be of her two little Royal babies.

Perfect little family!

Zoella, Girl Online

Zoella is a girl online. Five years ago, Zoe Sugg signed up to a niche platform named Youtube and started making little videos about things that interested her, from her bedroom.

Fast forward five years and both Zoella and Youtube are BIG business.

zoella girl online

Zoe just released a book, published by Penguin, called Girl Online. It is the fast selling debut novel of all time and sold around 78 thousand copies in the first week, which will have also included all the pre-orders made before it was officially published.

This all sounds fantastic however, things seem to have gone a little awry. It has been said to have been written by a ghostwriter and the world seems to have gone crazy about it. It’s been on all the major news sites, blogs and vlogs, in the news sidebar of facebook, all over twitter – in short, everywhere!

The main issue seems to be that some people think that Zoe has misled the buyers of her book by claiming to have written it. Traditional book publishing is a relatively closed world. The number of people who would tell you they wish to be a published author versus the amount of people who actually go on to achieve that is quite telling. You’ve either got to get an agent or approach a publisher yourself and neither of those things is as easy as it sounds. Of course you can self publish, but that’s not what we are talking about here.

In Zoe’s case, she didn’t have to do any of the above. Penguin approached her! Now imagine you are approached by one of the most well known publishing companies that has been around for 70 years, and they offer you [a reported] £100k and the chance to be involved in creating not one, but two books that will bear your name and tell the story of your choice, would you honestly turn it down? And given their reputation, you’d trust they knew what they were doing.

I have always wanted to write a novel, like millions of other people, but life gets in the way and so it remains unwritten, despite having oodles of ideas and having started many times over. The task just defeats me. I am not cut out to write that length of text. Not everyone is. And with the advent of things like twitter, it can be a real battle to even think in greater lengths than 140 character bursts. That’s why I prefer writing poetry because it doesn’t require 50, 60, 70 or 80 thousand words but I digress….

So, if Penguin or A.N.Other Publishers were to come along and say to me, “we can make a book happen for you!” I would jump at the chance. Anyway, these big companies don’t just fly on a wing and a prayer. They decide who they want to take on and support, they edit and design, they physically create the books, they put marketing plans in place and they bank roll the whole thing. I would imagine, since the whole self publishing scene came along, traditional publishers have had to work a bit more creatively to keep themselves in business. This would involve looking at new channels and new ways of working perhaps. The Youtube monetary phenomena is also a new way of working. By fusing the massive power of both, and adding super vlogger Zoella plus a ghostwriter, they found a new channel.

Ghostwriting is not a new concept. The definition of the term ‘ghost’ writer means they are supposed to be invisible – they write things that are credited to someone else. It happens all over the spot, but you don’t find out about it, because of course, you’re not supposed to. People pay other people to write blog posts. They pay for people to write their tweets or manage their facebook page. I could technically call myself a poem ghostwriter – people pay me to write poems that appear to have been written by them, for birthdays and anniversaries etc.

So, ghostwriting is a thing. Confidentiality clauses are also a thing.  Since it has never been explicitly stated what the terms of Zoe’s contract with Penguin was, we don’t know what she was allowed to disclose or how she was encouraged to describe this collaboration. But we have to remember, this is business, despite the romanticism of ‘book writing’. Having watched a lot of youtubers over the last couple of years having important meetings that they reference but say they can’t talk about implies to me that once you start dealing with the big boys in the world of ‘media – tv, press, products & merchandise etc’ then they make the rules and so you would be wise to stay within contracted terms if you want to continue to be paid by them.

Of course this is only speculation and as I have already said, we don’t know if any such conversations took place. But we do know that Penguin released a statement that said “To be factually correct, Zoe did not write Girl Online on her own.”

The trouble is, no-one had the foresight to think ahead and see that ambiguous statement would only rile those who were already speculating how much input Zoe had to the novel. The main argument seems to be that because Youtubers put snippets of their lives online, it is the ultimate in laying bare. It could be said that visual relateability has become the new barometer for trust and open-ness. However, just because the format is video, transparency is not guaranteed. Youtubers share the bits of their lives they want to share and most of them are very open that it is edited highlights and not everything. Youtube themselves do not allow the people who monetise their content to share details of their earnings from the platform. Up until the last couple of weeks, brands have been throwing money at the top youtubers for mentions in their videos and product placement without it being explicitly mentioned anywhere that they were being paid to talk about them. Some youtubers have been very upfront and stated that content was sponsored but now anything with paid-for advertorial content needs to be marked as an AD in the title, up front and center!

This is only being brought to light now as the monetisation side of Youtube creators outside of the youtube platform is still relatively new and largely unregulated. The whole thing is being scrutinised as what was once solely an underground internet thing is now crossing over into the land of real tv, with massive in-your-face advertising campaigns out and about in the real world, and you can’t open any magazine or newspaper these days without spotting at least one vlogger! Not forgetting to mention the millions of impressionable teenagers and equally as many, not-so-wet-behind-the-ears, more mature youtube viewers *ahem who early tune in and become invested in these characters on a viewing level and now a monetised level.

And back to Zoe. Not only being held up as the poster girl of Youtube over here in the UK, she now also appears to riding a wave of backlash for being in the position of earning large amounts of money by putting her name on various products and as such is having a break for a few days. I can’t say I blame her. Having her every move talked about and dissected all around the world must be rather daunting. Even if you are loaded, criticism hurts. Lots of her fans/viewers are defending her but even one negative point in a sea of good has the power to upset someone who has put something out with their name on it. There is considerably more than one person talking her down over this whole ‘who wrote what’ situation.

Ultimately what matters most is that the people who bought the book enjoyed it. To all intents and purposes, it has Zoe’s name on it, so it is her book, whether the ghostwriter wrote 800 words or 80 thousand. Is it up to a 24 year old to be the one to stand up against a practice that went on before her book was created and will continue to happen long into the future? I’m not sure it is.

But one thing is for sure, the landscape for boys and girls online has never had so much potential. What was once just a hobby for some has led to monetisation deals that they could never have imagined in their wildest dreams and we surely haven’t seen the full extent yet. We’re living in a time where it is names and brands, not stories, that sell – look at newspapers – stories only make it to the top of the pile if they have a celebrity fronting them. People like reading about people and like it or not with the blurred lines, having six million subscribers and a presence in the press and on tv plus products in the shop makes you famous. It will be interesting to see how it all unfurls going forward and what happens when Zoella’s second book comes out next year.  Maybe Penguin might want to rethink the wording of the credits and disclosure about ghostwriting but other than that, I predict nothing less than another resounding success.

Things might feel a bit uncomfortable for Zoe right now, but they say no publicity is bad publicity and her profile has gone through the roof this year and particularly since this news broke. Who knows what effect that will have had on the second week sales and beyond for Girl Online and brand Zoella both!

 

 

Scotland Votes No To Independence | United We Stand

So, Scotland voted NO to independence. It would seem that the majority of the eligible voters believe we are better together, and I whole-heartedly agree.

better together - scotland votes to stay in the united kingdom

The Scottish referendum has been a bit of a funny beast for those not in Scotland. It kind of felt like when your parents are having a tough time, and as a child, you don’t really know what’s going on but you know ‘something’ is happening. You might hear a bit of shouting or a few slammed doors, or you might witness your parents giving each other the silent treatment, but you figure they’ll get over it, and it’s not really any of your business.

However, as a citizen of the United Kingdom, but living in England it kind of was our business whether Scotland wanted to cut ties and go it alone. However, no-one outside of Scotland seemed to be having any debate about it, as it wasn’t our conversation to have. Then over the last few days, the conversation came. People who hadn’t expressed opinions about it before suddenly felt that they could have a say, even if they didn’t have a vote.

I sat up through the night watching the results come in after making the mistake of having a ‘quick check’ of the news before bed. The first ones were just coming in. They were nos. In fact the first 5 were nos.

Then Dundee came in with a yes. Because this was a larger area than most of the previous ones put together, the overall percentage of no to yes votes swung from roughly 57% NO to only 50.1% NO. That was the first time that I actually thought, oh flip, they really might vote to leave. What would it mean for our smaller United Kingdom if they did go? Another yes vote followed. Even on the news, the presenters also seemed to be approaching it with less certainty than the earlier results had suggested.

And this was all without the reports of suspected electoral fraud thrown into the mix.

An historic vote, drama, and live reaction via Sky News, BBC one and Twitter.

I was hooked. It was great to hear reports of an average of 84% of Scottish voters turning out to make their feelings known and to cast that all important vote. That figure is way higher than the amount of people across the UK who turn out for regular electoral events, so it was inspiring to think of the passion that had inspired those votes.

Thankfully overnight, not once did the YES campaign ever gain the majority. It eventually settled on 55% voting no to independence. But I am glad I sat through and watched this momentous event unfold as it happened. I felt a sense of connection and great pride for our United Kingdom, this tiny little island that once ruled most of the world, letting the people who wanted to be heard have their say. If I had just woken up this morning and been presented with a result, I’m not sure I would have felt quite so emotional. It would have still felt like listening-in to a muffled conversation in the next room.

Alex Salmond very graciously summed up his acceptance of the verdict of the people with, “We shall go forward as one nation”. I liked that a lot.

Alistair Darling said ‘We have reaffirmed the bonds that tie us together. Let them never be broken”. I loved that.

David Cameron said he would work towards giving Scotland more power over their affairs, and similarly England, Wales and Northern Ireland would have more say over theirs.

Let’s see where we go from here with the bar set high with such a reasonable debate, gracious acceptance and amazing voting turnouts. Britain, together we are truly GREAT!

United we stand - Scotland votes no to independence

And finally, inspired by all the various people who made speeches after the NO result was announced, I have written a little poem.

United We Stand

Scotland was asked a question
And the majority has spoken
They said these bonds tie us together
Let them never be broken

They voted in their masses
They really made it count
The turnout figures staggering
An unprecedented amount

The world watched on in wonder
As democracy played through
And though we couldn’t vote
Scotland, our thoughts lay with you

We saw the votes be counted
The statements trickled in
It soon became apparent
That the NO campaign would win

So, this is our United Kingdom
4 nations side by side
With focus on OUR future
Alliance beyond land divide

United We Stand is a  poem written by Ms Moem on the occasion of Scotland voting to stay a part of the United Kingdom, and no to independence.

Teachers Strike

So, some teachers are on strike today. With hours soaring, and conditions and morale deteriorating, they are hoping that this will make the powers that be (Gove) listen to them. Whilst it might serve as an annoyance to many parents up and down the land who are faced with having to find alternative childcare possibly, I believe that teachers are right to take action if they are not happy with their working conditions.

Teachers aren’t thanked nearly often enough for the vital role they play in building generation upon generation of hardworking and bright individuals, capable of great things.

This is a poem I have a written in support of teachers today, and every day.


Teachers are priceless! They give us all a solid foundation

And I don’t think we give enough credit to the cornerstones of our education

It’s not the cushy nine to three that most people believe
They’re in school at the crack of dawn, and it’s often dark when they leave.
There’s endless piles of marking that goes on into the night
And countless parent evenings, telling parents “Your kid’s doing alright!”
Then there’s planning and preparation and additional training days
Leaving them working more and more hours, for less and less pay.
But it’s okay, the people say, because they get a six week holiday.

Teachers enter the profession with a hope to help our youth
But they’re faced with legislation, and a bitter, disenfrachised truth.
There’s red tape and inspection, politics and fear;
In fact many fresh new teachers leave within the first five years.
These were people who trained long and hard for this valuable career
People whose intelligence and enthusiasm were clear
Left tired and demotivated and sometimes moved to tears.

So to the powers that be, I implore you, I beseech
We owe so much to our teachers, so listen to them & let them teach.

Teachers is a poem written by Ms Moem.

It’s A Boy – Catherine, Duchess Of Cambridge Gives Birth

First picture of Kate Middleton, Prince William & Baby Cambridge

First picture of Kate Middleton after birth – HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, HRH Prince William & HRH Baby Cambridge

————————————-
Congratulations To The Duke & Duchess Of Cambridge
And Welcome To The World Baby Cambridge | A Poem

A brand new life has officially begun
As the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed a son.
HRH Prince of Cambridge was sent to fill their lives with joy
And he becomes 3rd in line to the throne, this precious little boy.

His whole life will be geared towards becoming our King
But for now, he’s brand new, and I wish him one thing
That he can grow up in a family that is contented & happy
Who are overcome with pride for their little prince in his nappy.

His name not yet announced, he was born at 4.24
And I am absolutely certain he is all that they wished for.
So congratulations Kate and Will and enjoy your little lad
And cherish your babymoon now you’ve become a Mum and Dad.


Congratulations Poem and animation © Ms Moem

Margaret Thatcher Has Died – Aged 87

Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister when I was born
And on hearing of her death, the country seems to be torn
Between those have respect for an old lady’s passing
And those who are joyous, and scathingly, almost laughing.

For someone who’s been out of power for over twenty years
It seems somewhat callous for her death to be met with cheers.
Political issues naturally cause quite a lot of debate
But after a stroke, aged 87, I feel she doesn’t deserve the hate.

This lady took the top job, in a body made by men;
She’s a significant historical figure, and we’ll never see her like again.
You don’t have to respect the politics, you don’t even have to care
But if you have nothing nice to say, it’s more respectful not to share.

So my condolences to her family, at this most saddening hour.
Baroness Thatcher showed that girls don’t have to be afraid of power.
We can step up and have opinions, and even run the country too;
This lady wasn’t for turning, and she just did what she had to do.

The Duchess Of Cambridge Has No Privacy

no privacy for the duchess of cambridgeThat’s it. The Duchess of Cambridge has no privacy left.
An unethical paparazzi, is exposing the Royal treasure chest.
I find it quite abhorrent, that Catherine’s private holiday time
Has been violated in this way & is about to be published online.

She is young & newly married, & was with her husband in France
When someone with a long lens, decided the capture was worth a chance.
She has a very public role, but does that mean she can’t be free
To sunbathe topless if she chooses, especially when she thought no-one could see.

It follows on from Harry’s naked scandal, and it is really just a shame.
If only the ones with the cameras, had a heart and felt the same.
I really feel for the Duchess of Cambridge, though nothing but dignity will be shown.
Let William and Catherine have some privacy; for goodness sake, leave them alone!

In Memory Of Neil Armstrong

In Memory Of Neil ArmstrongOne small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.
We say goodbye to a legend; A hero of our time.
He had boldly gone, where no-one else had tread.
He was our man on the moon, and his words were bravely said.

What a marvellous legacy Neil Armstrong has left;
Heroic inspiration, with real bravery and depth.
To say out of this world, is a cliche but true
So look to the stars and let him inspire you.

The first man on the moon; a brave pioneer
He broke all the boundaries, without question or fear.
Forever remembered as commander of Apollo 11
Neil Armstrong we salute you, as you take your first steps in heaven.

Top Tune About To Take Flight – Wings

Little Mix won the X Factor, with great delight
And now their first single is about to take flight.
It’s catchy, it’s bouncy and fantastic to sing;
I think they have a number one, with debut single, Wings!

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