Monday, August 9, 2010

Celebrity Crush

My name is Andy and I have a celebrity crush. I know, admitting you have a problem is the first step. What can I say. I'm sure I'm not the first person to feel this way, and I certainly won't be the last. Crush, thy name be Stephen Fry!

Peter and I were thrilled to hear that Mr Fry was coming to Australia, and even more thrilled that a second show was to be performed in Melbourne. Yep - missed tickets for the first show, and strangely the second was a matinee, so actually preceded the first show...ok...that's hurting my head a little. After initially missing out on tickets, I was keen to get a fix in the form of his autobiography. After trekking through several local bookshops to no avail, my online shopping account assured a copy of Moab is my Washpot was flying its was into my hands within a fortnight. What joy it was when it arrived a few weeks ago.

Peter and I dolled ourselves up and headed off to the Regent Theatre on the 31st July at 2pm. Two hours later we shuffled out with hundreds of other people. I was a little speechless. So much was rattling around my head. You know it's a lovely thing to experience things in your life that inspire you, stop you and make you think, make you look at the world a little differently, and perhaps even look at your relationship with yourself and the world in a different way. I know I was deep in thought but I was beaming.

I had just listened to someone who has an amazing relationship with language. A love of its humour and power. Stephen gave great examples of Australian accents, imitated his famous friends, and espoused the joys of his literary heroes. I laughed often, but I was also taken with is candidness. He talked about his troubled childhood, his time in prison, his suicide attempt and being diagnosed with manic depression (bi-polar disorder). He said he wasn't much good at anything else, so all he has is words. He said he wasn't really interested in fantasy so chose to really write about what he knew...himself. I must say I smirked thinking about writing this blog.

It was interesting to hear someone talk honestly and openly about what has gone on in their life. Not in an Oprah kind of way, but in a very stripped back English lets-not-make-a-fuss-about-this kind of way. He finished the show by talking about Oscar Wilde. And then said how many people make excuses in life. I can't do this because...I don't know about that so I couldn't... He said that was the wonderful thing about literature. It's everywhere...and all you have to do is pick it up. So simple. And best of all true. It's nice to be reminded and feel empowered.

I was recently sent a link by my Uni lecturer, to listen to Stephen being interviewed on Australian radio. Can I just say, BEST HOMEWORK EVER. The podcast is here, and I implore you to have a listen. You'll see the range of topics discussed in 25 minutes. Amazing. But I love the end of this interview. Stephen states that he's an optimist. As you're bound to be nearly always right. Of course the same is said of pessimists. However, he feels the need to believe that things will always get better. And at that moment I felt a kinship with this man. I used to joke and say I was essentially an optimist - but that just meant I tended to be disappointed quite a bit. But I need to believe there is a reason to get out of bed the next day. That whatever hardship is currently being endured, will eventually pass. That humour and joy can be found simply if you look for it. Or even better, create it for yourself.

It is good to be reminded about such things, but it is even better to act on it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

It is better to have loved and lost...

Fear not... The title of this post isn't giving a hint into the status of my love life. I actually said this Alfred Lord Tennyson quote to a friend, when we were talking about the loss of her dog. For some reason, which I don't comprehend at all, there are people who don't understand the roles of animals in our lives. But not me. Sandy was part of Morfia's family for over 14 years. She arrived as a ball of fluff when her kids were early teenagers. They are now in their late twenties and early thirties, and the loss of their dog is the same as the loss of any other family member.

I knew Morfia's pain, as I went through having a cat die of cancer a number of years ago. Scully was the first cat I ever owned, and I got her when I was living on my own. The landlord suggested it, and the thought of coming home to a friendly furry face in the evening was kind of appealing. She was with me for 10 years. On finding out she had cancer I cried and cried. After a huge operation the vet discovered the cancer was aggressive and had given the worse case scenario as two months. My world fell apart, but I put it back together quickly, so I could spend as much time with Scully as possible. She only ate the posh cat food, and was smothered with more love and attention than the last few years combined. She lasted 18 months from her original diagnosis and I was with her when she had to be put down. I can still remember the acute feeling as it happened. It felt like my heart was actually breaking in my chest, like no pain I had known before or since.

I was discussing with Morfia, how these lovely creatures enrich our lives and provide unconditional love. Well, perhaps a couple of conditions of food and shelter, but actually not much more than that. They just want to be part of our day to day lives and are always happy to be with us, through good times and bad. And yet some people see them as 'only animals'. I find it sad, but perhaps it goes a long way to understanding man's relationship with animals. I think I've mentioned before that I'm a vegetarian. I'm not about to get on my high-horse here and bang the drum for a meat free lifestyle. However, I remember reading a James Herriot book where he said he had trouble as a vet, as people asked him if their animals would go to heaven. You see, the Christian faith believes that man is superior to animals, so they can't have souls. I find this so upsetting, yet it may explain how some people can harm animals without any blight on their conscious. Or even perhaps how people can work in abattoirs or practice intensive farming. James by the way, naturally was an animal lover and was on the side that if we had souls, animals certainly did too.

Another friend had a pet die a few years ago, and her husband was so upset that he said they couldn't get another pet. It was too distressing for him. This is what led to my Tennyson quote 'that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all'. I believe it is always better to have had love in our lives than not, and I wouldn't replace a second of my time with Scully to erase the pain of losing her. You see, that is life. Good and bad. Happiness and pain. Love and loss. You can't have one without the other. And frankly, trying to live a life without the whole box and dice seems a bit sad. That has just reminded me of a scene from the great movie Parenthood, which I've found on youtube. Life is messy, but who'd have it any other way.

The symbiotic relationship of man and beast is complex, but for the lucky few it is a rewarding and enriching connection. I have two cats now, and I used to joke saying it took two cats to replace Scully. I am lucky to have found these character filled furry souls who inhabit my daily life and bring me immense joy. And knowing and understanding Morfia's loss, has made me even more grateful for Bella and Fin. I have just found this clip - excuse the fact it's a commercial, but it may shed some light on how some of us feel about our pets. Enjoy. Now I'm off to feed the cats.