Let me tell you a story…

This was going to be an Instagram post, but it deserves my best audience. Good things in this life are incredibly hard to find. Moments to be proud are too and even with everything that has unfolded this year from the depths of the unexpected, this milestone was always going to be celebrated. So let me tell you a story…  

alas

Ten years ago today I took a plunge into the unknown. Perhaps the biggest dive I have ever taken into the excitement of what could be. It was on the 21st of July 2010 that I first walked through the doors of the Iver Heath Drama Club a place that has always let me be whoever I want to be.

I’ve been to a lot of places, I’ve known a lot of different people. I’ve worked in different industries and socialised in many groups but I have never ever fit in anywhere like I have fit in at IHDC. This is the most important thing the club stands for; inclusion; something the world is always fighting for but something IHDC is ahead of the world with.

From being a performer which they always supported to writing their shows which they fostered and took on with care. To be a success in IHDC all you have to do is show up, embrace it and work hard – perhaps this formula can translate to success in all walks of life. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t of ever had the confidence to realise my dream of writing stories and now after all these years, here we all are.

I don’t write shows for me, I write shows for them. And after all the time that’s seemingly flown by, and especially after what is currently going on in the world, good things like the Iver Heath Drama Club deserve celebrating.

Thank you IHDC, for 10 years of memories, for the shows, the audiences, the moments, the friends and family I now have. Hopefully soon we can all get back together and do what we do best, put on entertaining, fun and all inclusive shows for the community.

Here’s to many more decades! Rock and roll man!

Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Erase history, erase the lesson…

France – June 10th 1944 

On a sunny Saturday in a rural farm village known as Oradour-sur-Glane 642 innocent people were massacred by the German 2nd Waffen SS Panzer division. They just turned up out of the blue that morning. Women and children were herded to the local church and then grenades were thrown through the windows. The men were split up and put in the many barns that surrounded the area. Those barns were set alight and any one trying to escape were immediately shot. The small peaceful village was then practically levelled by German grenades and fires. A harrowing tale of unnecessary violence toward fellow man. War has always been the same and the survivors were less than 10.

Instead of bulldozing the wreckage, it was decided that a new town be built very nearby and the current remains left as a reminder, as a monument of the harrowing destruction and loss of life war brings upon this world. And trust me, I know this because I have been there twice, and it’s poignant, quiet and sombre. You can feel the atmosphere among the silence. The still charred stone of buildings along the high street. A doctors car still left with it’s door open, rusted and sunken into the ground. The church, now without a roof or stained glass in the window frames. Bullet holes in the walls and many more plastered over a WW1 monument. The museum that straddles the monument puts everything into context, without it, maybe the place would be wrongly conceived as just a ruin, because new generations forget, but within those crumbled bricks and a growth covered tram line is the truth of what history really serves, a reminder and lesson of where humanity went once, and a hope that we can learn from it.

Oradour-sur-Glane, France: Remember. – Rick Steves' Travel Blog

Statues fall and so does the lesson…

Every now and then a moment in history moves many people toward a desire for change. As humans we should always be trying to better ourselves. Regimes fall and over time they are forgotten mostly, or at least their context is. Those people who died on that sunny Saturday are forever immortalised by the wreckage of their home which serves as a monument. If the French authorities were to tear down this monument, or if a mob of protesters looking for change suddenly invaded it, then there would be public outcry.

I see the news and what is going on right now. I can only think the same thing when I see these mobs tearing down statues, some of people who serve important moments in our history. There is no thought, just spray paint and tear it down. Of course some of these statues represent people and a time far gone. Slavery or even genocide, people who probably shouldn’t be paraded in public places, but removing that statue and that name entirely is erasing history. Erase the history and you erase the lesson and again we lose our humanity. 

Not for one moment should you think I agree with these statues and what they stand for morally once upon a time, I agree that they should stand as a reminder of where we were and where we are now. Like Oradour-sur-Glane in 1999 they opened that museum and gave everything some context, because people of that age were rapidly passing away, time takes away good people and memories of a certain time.

Put these statues in museums with some context beside them. People have lost reasoning because there is no context and they are desperate to see something done. Why is there a statue of this person? And more importantly why was it re homed to this particular exhibit.

You keep the history, you keep the lesson and eventually you reinstate humanity. I know what happened recently is terrible. And Black Lives Matter very much so, even more now than ever because racism needs to be stamped out and we can only do that via education and history. I’m 100% with everyone who’s feeds have become activist feeds recently, keep flying that flag, keep being proud to call bullshit on racism, but remember the history that got us here and view it in the context of modern day. This year alone has been the true test of humanity and we need it more than ever!

‘The Devil Next Door’ – Netflix Review

In quite recent times Netflix have led the way in creating some truly gripping and informative documentaries. Over the past year I’ve kind of become obsessed with the stack of true crime programs that the now giant of streaming has to offer. Even though many of these stories are harrowing, chilling and disturbing; I find myself fascinated sometimes.

devil.PNG

Last week I came across a new release and at the time it appeared in the #1 trending thingy that Netflix have recently introduced – a feature somewhat better than ‘stuff you might like’ – in terms of television shows and their popularity the masses don’t lie most of the time.

‘The Devil Next Door’ happened to be sitting in that #1 trending spot and the trailer began playing before I could do anything and I was instantly hooked on the premise. That premise being the story of John Demjanjuk a retired Ukrainian who lived in America and was an American citizen until he was arrested for being identified as a Nazi war criminal.

Even now the subject matter is pretty heavy and to this day there isn’t a definitive answer why so many Jewish people lost their lives in what was a mass extermination during world war two. For me, even thinking about it and how much those people suffered is enough to first make me angry and then upset. So some of this 5 part documentary not only covers some harrowing subjects but it also shows some footage of what is probably just the tip of a sinister iceberg – this one isn’t for the sensitive types.

John Demjanjuk or ‘Ivan the terrible’ as he used to be known as while working in Nazi death camps finds himself extradited to Israel and what unfolds is a lengthy court case which could lead to conviction and possibly execution. The whole thing is spread out over a long time and throughout I found myself asking have they got the right guy here? Evidence isn’t as definitive as it would be today and this court case took place in the 80’s. Photo’s of him as a younger man are from identification papers from the world war era and it’s obvious to see he’s a lot older. This is just one of the many variables in what is a gripping account of court room footage and angst amongst the people this man might have committed vile acts against.

The whole morale dilemma runs parallel to a battle of identity along with right versus wrong. If this is the right guy should they be entitled to execute him? Would letting him live be a compassionate act that rises above what all of those people suffered? Should the court case have taken place on neutral ground? The whole concept is layered intricately with these questions and a roller coaster ride that I couldn’t look away from. The outcome might come as a shock which I won’t share but recommend you watch.

 The Devil Next Door is an enduring watch with a heavy subject matter, a subject matter that history cannot and will not ignore, it’s graphic in some places but it has to be because what we are shown is nowhere near as bad as what the real people suffered. It’s dramatic and even shocking in places but will hold your attention throughput. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hell Fire Caves : A paranormal (sort of) Adventure

Ghostly stories shrouded in mystery. History of speculative happenings deep below. A place where hauntings are said to be frequent.

 Turn out the lights and read on, but don’t shower alone or go into the woods because there could be tears before bedtime…….

hellfire

I walked through the dark and cramped corridors that lay below a west Wycombe hill. Known as the hell fire caves, just the name can suggest what this place could have once been. The cold damp air puts a chill in the atmosphere suggesting and maybe fueling ones imagination that this place might even be haunted. The dark can have a way with one’s mind, especially when the imagination is thinking what could be there.

Hopefully I have enticed you enough to read on because my experience of the hell fire caves turned out to be better than expected. Some could argue it was something from nothing, but isn’t that how good experiences are born?

So there we were putting our token through a flimsy unattended turnstile and heading into an arched white washed corridor. There were pictures and writing displayed, you can read most of that on Wikipedia, I said and I did some time ago. There was a level of intrigue for me considering the stories surrounding this place.

The man made and cut corridors were narrow or low in places. Most surfaces were damp or cold to the touch, every so often we were shown a caged display of some manikins. If you looked at their eyes they would follow you.

hellfire2

Pretty scary huh?

Of course during this experience there were the usual high jinks of a group of friends. The ample choice of nooks and corners gave us scope to hide and jump out on people. Maybe that was the design. Deeper we walked and to a grand opening. A banquet hall once. The loose stones below my feet crunching.

At this point there wasn’t anything that really appealed to me or to say ‘yeah go the hell fire caves, check it out’. We delved deeper, the floor slanting angular downwards. Low light hid the many corners and coves as we came to the final chamber. Four or five period dressed manikins were set up in party scene, but maybe more than that happened during the times long ago.

Around we turned with ‘is that it?’ in our heads.

Continuing back up to where we came, the banquet hall again approached. Our group headed up the slope of the cavernous corridor and as we did there was something. In the shadows I saw a small girl clutching a teddy bear.

That wasn’t scary

hellloComing out into the larger much better lit banquet hall we all discuss what we just saw. Implications such as we were the only group in the area, this little girl was on her own all the way down here. At least five of us saw her so the ghost idea immediately diminished.

Deciding to go back she was no longer there.

 

She’s probably got back to her group

But did somebody see something else?

Thinking nothing more of it we continued up and past the hall. All the time on our minds was the girl, for me her safety, to others maybe ghostly suggestions. The hell fire caves had got into our heads. This thriller had now become psychological.

Getting closer to the surface we took the decision to turn back and see if we could find this ‘girl’. The heart was pumping and at this point we ordered those with torches on their phones keep them on.

There was no way she could have passed us, we would have seen her.

Our group split and we took a parallel path each and went separate ways. Along the cold dark we went, several feet crunching on the floor. Coming to an opening there was light, of the other half of our group. We met and then split again as the paths did.

Not being a believer of such things (due to lack of experiencing things) I led my team. The people behind cautiously peering around corridors as opposed to my clumsiness. We came to another corner where the path of the others would meet. Me being first I stepped out into better light. I looked down to see the girl standing in the centre, with closed eyes and arms wide. The teddy in one hand.

My heart jumped.

The amount of witnesses quickly extinguished any chances of this being a ghost. She was really there and with other people, but for only a second I was in a horror film.

banquet

The Banqueting Hall

The hell fire caves; was this experience heightened because of the place? Is there something else at work playing on our minds? Either way it made a good afternoon. If you check out the Wikipedia page there is a few stories of the ghostly persuasion. Nobody knows what happened during the hell fire club’s short reign, but we all know something certainly did.

You can see footage of our experience, there is even a mystery mist near the end of the video……

cave encounters

 

 But just remember it’s not the dark you should be afraid of, it’s what is lurking in it………

 

Check out the photo below, is that the arm of a person or someone else in the background? Sleep tight……

hellfire3

 

 

 

They will be Remembered

At this time of year in the UK you will see many people with a small red flower pinned to their chest. This poppy represents and serves as a reminder to all those who gave their life in conflict since 1914. The use of a poppy to remember was inspired by the World War 1 poem ‘In Flanders Field’.

I am a big fan of history and to me it is vitally important that everyone who left us in conflict are to be remembered. No matter what level of history it is, we look back at it so we can learn and use this knowledge for the future. The debate on whether or not War is the ‘right’ thing to do has no place for remembering the fallen because they died to create a world that we live in today.

Two minutes silence is served at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month each year in the UK. It is the least we can do to nod towards those who have helped shape this world we live in. Conflict will always happen wherever the human race goes, and we should never measure a man by his conflicts but by his resolutions. That is what makes us superior to every other species in this world.

#LestWeForget   

 

remember them