Saturday, 5 March 2011

Oscartastic Week

It was a good week for the British film industry. The King's Speech was crowned best picture at the Oscars, with Colin Firth named best actor. Tom Hooper was named best director for the film, which also won for best original screenplay for David Seidler at the ceremony. Seidler waited more than 25 years to see his vision of the film become a reality, having promised the Queen Mother that he would wait until her death before making the film about her husband, King George VI. At 73, Seidler became the oldest winner of the screenplay Oscar.

The rise of The King's Speech from a British independent film to a worldwide commercial and critical phenomenon was a huge testament to the creators, the cast and everyone involved. It was a magnificent final chapter for the UK Film Council which funded the film. The success of the film will be a bitter-sweet triumph for the recently axed Council, which invested £1m of lottery money in its early development.

I bet now it was basking in the reflected glory of the film's four Oscar wins in the few months it has left before being wound up completely. In November last year,  it was announced that the British Film Institute (BFI) would take over as the government-led strategic body for film. But with a structure already in place, why pull the plug? Isn’t that a very short-sighted decision? It was an irony that The King's Speech - whose global box office success exceed £152m- was viewed as a vindication of public arts funding. 

So what do I think of the film? I read it was a story about a stammering monarch, King George VI, his impromptu ascension to the throne and his friendship with his unorthodox speech therapist who helped the unsure monarch. My colleagues had seen it, saying it was the best film they’d seen so far. Hmm, it seemed that Moi and Babe were the only one in the world who hasn’t seen it. I guess we’ll just wait for it to be on DVD.

On Tuesday, it was another adventure on the bus to and from work. This time, the children were back at school and as usual, clogging the entrance with their huge rucksacks. I was late because we’d to stop at every bus-stop along the way. In town, I was waiting at the traffic lights when the No. 12 bus to the university whizzed by. What lousy timing!!! Should I run after it because I know it will stop at the next stand? But looking down, I was wearing heels. I guess better not. So joined the queue for the next bus and arrive at work at 9.15am!!!

Since it was St. David’s Day, the patron Saint of Wales, I’d my daffodil brooch on. It was the day to show you're Welsh (?) and wear the daffodil or leek (!) with pride. I e-mailed friends in Wales wishing them Dydd Gwŷl Dewi Sant hapus. JH who works in the National Library of Wales e-mailed me back saying that they have a harpist playing in the lobby. What a wonderful gesture. I’m soo jealous.

I planned to have a Welsh feast for dinner but changed my mind since I’d to take the bus home. We had stuffed peppers with the leftover Baked Chicken Biryani I made on Monday. I have made this dish countless times but somehow this time, the rice wasn’t properly cooked. It was soo frustrating. We only ate the chicken. That was why I re-used the rice as a stuffing for the peppers. I fried it with onions and mushrooms before stuffing into the peppers and topping it with cheese. I baked for about 30 mins. and viola, it turned out fantastic.

On Wednesday was World Book Day. It was designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading. world book day logoIn the UK and Ireland, the main aim was to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own. I only knew about it when I saw this poster on the window of the University’s book-shop.

An acquaintance of mine, Rosalie Warren, was due to have her third book published with the launch of Coping with Chloe on March 21st. It would be her first novel for teenagers. It follows the story of twins Anna and Chloe and the former’s attempts to cope when her sister is killed in a car accident. I got to know Rosalie when both of us attended the book-club at the now-closed Borders. We are now trying to find time to meet to celebrate her new release.

I also attended a very short briefing with the Marketing students. This was regarding a library survey which the International Student Group was conducting. They will be going around interviewing international/foreign students about the library. Questions like did the library meet their expectations, if not, why etc. I couldn’t wait to tabulate the results. The survey, too, will be on on-line.

I ended the week with a Fish and Chips lunch with Satila at the Library Cafe. We haven’t had a proper conversation with each other for nearly 4 months although she often knocked on my window everytime she walked past. We’d a lovely time catching up. She was now very busy with her first draft of her PHD. She needed to complete her studies because this was her second extension and she will be returning back to Malaysia in the summer. I wish her all the best.

I also asked her if she could distribute the library survey among the Malaysian students. They meet all the time and I think it will be an advantage for me to know about their perception of the library. There were more than 500 Malaysians studying here but I don’t expect Satila to distribute to all of them.

After our lovely lunch, I checked out a table-stand beside the cafe. It was a Fairtrade Fortnight stand that was raising awareness of Fairtrade products and thus, offering people in the developing world a more secure future. I spend some time listening to their very enthusiastic talk and then decorated a flag to show my support of what Fairtrade means to me. My art-piece will become part of a Guinness World Record for the longest bunting in the process. A very worthwhile cause.

The Charity of the Fortnight 2011 was Mount Elimu. Their aim was to send textbooks to libraries in underprivileged schools and orphanages in East Africa. Since its formation in September 2010, they have helped stock four libraries and are aiming for another ten by Summer 2011. I also purchased a lovely beaded This is Africa Society (TIA) bracelet which I shall wear with pride to add to their kitty. Their objectives were very close to my heart.

After work, we filled the car with petrol at Sainsbury. It was £1.26 per litre. Petrol prices were rising and kept on rising. We’d a 2p off Tesco voucher and we were going to use it on the last day dated. We are using it just to keep the price down. Then a quick shopping spree around the supermarket. We were filling up the trolley with creme brule, a roulade, sweet pancakes, peanut cookies, Fridji drinks and cheese and onion pasties. Oh my…junk food. That was why it wasn’t good to shop on an empty stomach. But we did buy a cauliflower and a punnet of peaches. I also bought a lovely Red Knit top fit enough to wear at the Oscars.:-)

Winds of March, we welcome you,

There is work for you to do.

Work and play and blow all day,

Blow the winter cold away.


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