Halifax Constituency Labour Party Meeting 10th August 2016

I attended the meeting last night of the Halifax Constituency Labour Party.

Initially I was barred from attending this meeting as I am a recent member – this was overturned and I received an invitation and statements from the candidates.

The vote happened after 30 minutes discussion (voted instead of an hour) equally divided between representatives for the 2 candidates. These discussions were balanced and each applauded by the audience. The speakers were interesting.

The final vote was Jeremy Corbyn 95 – Owen Smith 38.

Jeremy Corbyn is therefore the winner of this vote for Halifax.

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#ITSOKAYTOTALK the male mental health campaign sweeping Britain — Halifax North & East Blog

The #ITSOKAYTOTALK selfie campaign has gone viral on Twitter but did you know it started right here in Ovenden? When his brother-in-law committed suicide 6 months ago, Halifax rugby league player Luke Ambler decided he wanted to do something after seeing the impact and devastation it caused in his family. Luke decided that he wanted to do something, […]

via #ITSOKAYTOTALK the male mental health campaign sweeping Britain — Halifax North & East Blog

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The Amy Winehouse Movie

I was both fascinated and nervous of seeing the Amy Winehouse movie because while appreciated that Amy was an important artist in her short life, I confess to never being a massive fan as Jazz really is not my music. Then again –  every now and then I would see an acoustic version of a classic track performed late at night on the BBC or even Valerie by the Zutons and I would think, “that is a special talent”.

She seemed to explode onto the music scene, mainstream consciousness and already damaged and fragile persona that proceeded to unravel, while the world watched in awe and unconsciously exploited in equal measure (later on as the film portrays that exploitation was blatant and pretty cruel). This is all bourn out by the film in a tale that is definitely defined clearly as pre/post fame.

The director Asif Kapadia obviously felt an intense fascination with Amy and the relationships she had alongside her music. There feels to be an obvious appreciation of the subject (Amy) and a strong feeling that this is authentic film making. It seems (as much as you can tell) to be objective and inquisitive about the person underneath the hype and how intrinsically she seemed to be tied to her choice of artistic expression.

On release much was made of Amy’s family’s discomfort of certain aspects of the film – this seems to be both an understandable defensiveness (as it must be hard to watch a loved one suffer as she unquestionably did) and a certain amount of guilt that she could not be saved. Anyone who played any part in her personal life must have wished things could have been different – it must be hell for a family to see this again.

The film was made following 20 months of editing that took 3 years. I presents what feels like a true portrait of the artist/person and is incredibly moving. Amy’s friends obviously felt comfortable sharing early footage where Amy seemed to enjoy the bantering, chummy intimacy of the camcorder where she was free in cars and bars to show off to her friends, the world was not watching at this point and it shows.

In fact it does come across that fame seemed to be her key to acceptance from her father who she seemed to get back when her fame kicked in, she obviously idolised him and loved her family – but it is her friends who got very obvious affection and in times of intense stress seemed to be a surrogate family.

Another thing that stands out is that all her personal experiences fuelled Amy the songwriter and she used so much of her life as inspiration, that it is very hard not to believe anything but the words and music that she blisteringly performed. When she sang – you could feel the betrayal, adultery, confusion and unrequited love – how could we not believe that when she was told to go to rehab, her dad did in fact say “no” – he may have changed his mind but I would swear that conversation did happen. Not going to rehab at a particular moment was a defining moment both for the album and tragically her life.

It feels very much that Amy’s early friends must have trusted the film for the first section to even have been possible. Nick Shymanski in particular (her friend and first manager) must have been won over as his input makes this something special.

What struck me the most was how interested and fascinated Amy was with music, Jazz and telling the truth. She probably would have needed little else but a small audience and some gentle appreciation. Being propelled head first into the intrusion, image obsession and cruelty of the paparazzi was not ideal and her love for Blake Fielder-Civil may have been the catalyst to her forgetting that it was unreal, he publically flaunted his control and influence on her.

The paparazzi and cruel jibes that started to appear in the media are obviously vile in retrospect but I always believed that she was ill and too thin from the first publicity shots that appeared for Back to Black. She was feted as perfect – talented and thin, but you can be too thin – yet this was never mentioned while she was on the rise. It seemed that she believed the hype and the boyfriend. I always loved her more natural hair and when she looked like the clothes choices might have been hers.

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When the beehive and the heavy eye-make up got cartoonish, she looked lost.

Little has been made of the Terry Richardson photo-shoot in the film but I thought it was disgusting – it glamorised her skeletal body in underwear and self harming tendencies. It also promoted Blake to get into the limelight – a far crueller joke than any chat show host could crack.

The second part of the film highlights her inability to escape the forces that conspired to scupper any attempt at recovery. The media coverage was alarming as was her fathers adoption of her persona to launch a secondary Winehouse career (his) as commented on my Amy herself and as many noticed themselves when she was still alive. She was never allowed to escape the songs that had made her famous but which, in time, tied her to a period she wanted to evolve from.

In the end it would seem that she was a natural singer but not a natural performer. The most compelling section of the second half of the film is the duet with her hero Tony Bennett. She is chronically star struck in his presence and immensely critical of her astounding vocal performance that increases in scale as she relaxes into the company, she seems to come alive again.

In the end – it was the 85 year old Bennett who perfectly demonstrated in that room, in front of those microphones how Amy should have been treated. He spoke to her with respect and encouragement that resulted in an individual session that was full of warmth, soul and interpretation that filled me with awe.

Goodbye Amy, now you can rest knowing that we have seen the best and worst and that you have escaped the life that would always have got you in the end – you were too fragile for that kind of pressure. God bless your true friends who clearly never exploited or abandoned you.

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Neverending Story

I took my kids to see this film as it is based on the book of the same name and I never went to see it when it came out in 1984. The book sounds great – fairy-tale, myth and fantasy and the director Wolfgang Petersen created ‘Das Boot’ (The Boat) which was masterful TV. This was not that good unfortunately.

Bastian Balthazar Bux is nobody’s idea of a hero, least of all his own. Through the pages of an old book, that he finds in a bookshop, he discovers a mysterious world of enchantment – but a world that is being destroyed by an evil nothingness that destroys all in it’s path. The great task of putting things right in Fantasia falls on Bastian as he reads the story and so begins an adventure which he is unwittingly guiding.

The story within a story is a nice idea, as is the child’s faith being able to influence the outcome it’s just that the acting is not very good and there is far too much overblown reliance on the special effects. These effects were probably expensive and very impressive at the time, but now look less so. That said – the character puppets (which seem heavy influenced by Alice in Wonderland) are far more convincing than animation as they exists very much in 3D and therefore when the characterisation is done well, they have the same depth as the human co-stars. We were very impressed with the dark menace of Gmork and can’t help but smile at Falcor the Luck dragon, who is the star of the posters.

  Ogmork

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Not a great film, but at least it was different at the time, as all other films were ripping off star wars – so this provided a break from outer space and was an entirely new world.

My vote is with Gmork, his best quote “if you come any closer I will rip you to shreds” he should have been more than capable of killing Atreyu.

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If I don’t get the job, I am proud of this………….. :)

I am a photographer with both technical and creative abilities which were fully utilised when I worked for myself at Animania!

 I am fully trained in Photoshop and Illustrator and have worked on many creative freelance projects. I was a Design and Graphics Technician before working for myself creating original artworks and illustrations using my drawing skills and the IT advantage of layers, brushes, textures fills and text to create bespoke artwork for which I could licence reproduction. I have a great eye for composition and many technical skills.

 I can confidently work on Adobe and Apple software. I am reliable and hard working and can demonstrate in my current role that I provide

exceptional customer service and have the ability to work on my own initiative. I have a long standing fascination with photography – I understand image resolution and print criteria. I have studied advanced digital photography and often assist the Marketing Manager at the LEP in Leeds (who works through Calderdale College) with publicity and promotional graphics and photography projects.

 I studied Photojournalism at University as a special project and wrote a paper on Don McCullin. I have skills from my degree that include composition and perfecting image output, documentary style images and film speed, colour and exposure settings. I also have extensive knowledge from personal interest of key camera controls, advanced digital manipulation and fine art photography.

 My cameras are a Nikon D50 (which I use with wide angle and telephoto as well as standard lens), Olympus E-PL1 and a Kodak EasyShare M853 (for quick point and push instant images) I also use a Samsung camcorder for panoramic quick images when recording is needed. I also have a Nikon manual film camera which I use occasionally.

 My most recent experience is in the External Funding Department at Calderdale College where I have used my IT skills and attention to detail to work as a Rapid Response Officer responsible for providing advice and support to the External Funding Unit to ensure all staff meets the required standards of performance in terms of management of data handling. This role has also allowed me to volunteer in a variety of additional activities which support the unit and the College as a whole.

 It has been a distinct advantage that I am adept at Marketing and publicity work from previous roles and can use these transferable skills to create marketing and promotional ideas for College events like the Skills Show at the NEC in November – where I have created high quality, print ready artwork for panels and an exhibition banner promoting the college at the show.

I have worked with the Marketing Officer and the Business Administrator on ideas and then created print ready artwork for the exhibition stand showcasing images of students/apprentices achievements and also incorporating branding and sponsorship logos for the college as a whole.

I understand the computer systems and software that the College uses and have particular skills in design and photography that give me a good eye for promotional and marketing opportunities. I also feel that the work I have done in External Funding has given me a good idea of the promotional activities that take place on a national level to increase brand awareness of the college and other organisations that are linked to the college such as the Skills Funding Agency.

 One of my main reasons for choosing to work at Calderdale College was the highly visible and effective marketing and branding that I feel is clean, contemporary and effective in getting the college values across to the target audience. I love the use of colour to denote college values.

 I am degree educated in Educational Media Design – from Manchester Metropolitan University, a degree that allowed me to specialise in Illustration, Photography, advertising and copywriting for the Education Sector. I have created printed publicity for charities whilst studying on my degree. I illustrated, typeset and wrote copy for a series of leaflets and information booklets in the health and education sector. I have also developed skills such as illustration, research, colour theory and producing artwork for commercial printing.

I have always had a love of print and publicity and continued to educate myself in new technologies by doing courses that have increased my technical knowledge and understanding of the field. I have a City and Guilds in information Technology and Web site Design which expanded my knowledge of online content and communities. This has led to a real interest and knowledge of promotion of business through online platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. As well as marketing tools such as online mail shots and specific sites such as LinkedIn that can actively promote individual skills and business ideas, whilst linking to advertising and recruitment.

 On a personal level have become used to deadlines required by my current team and always prioritise to hit deadlines within the timescale suggested. I am very aware of quality of paperwork and carefully use notes from quality reports to ensure that my checks on existing paperwork are in-line with Calderdale College standards. I can communicate efficiently and confidently with my team and Managers. I have delivered training to new employees and done presentations to my peers.

 I have experience of delivering PowerPoint presentations for training and can confidently produce screen grab Microsoft Word documents that clearly explain systems and instructions for partners and colleagues. I have been working within the existing quality systems that are presently in place while checking paperwork and have assisted with major audits as well as on-going reviews of paperwork. This detailed knowledge has all been acquired as part of my role, I am actually more qualified to deliver training and promotion on visual and promotional activities, but feel that my role in External Funding reinforces that I have the commitment and flair to take on new challenges and succeed.

100_0937I would like to channel my photographic and artistic skills in a new direction.

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Witnesses – Channel 4, Wednesdays

Marie Dompnier as Sandra Winckler

Marie Dompnier as Sandra Winckler

Currently loving the first 3 episodes of French subtitled, creepy drama Witnesses. It’s intense, creepy and fascinating. Last nights third episode was taut, sinister and satisfyingly restrained.

Dead bodies exhumed and placed in show homes as a family group! There are comparisons with Scandinavian dramas which are understandable, but the show is more light and shadow, rather than relentlessly grey.

While I will not have a bad word said about Saga from The Bridge (she is brilliant) the plots are sometimes vastly overblown and complex. Similarly Sarah Lund from the Killing was a great character, for the first outing but the dead ends and U-turns in the plot made the long duration almost unbearable. I also was vastly impressed by the book of The Killing (which came out later and was based on the series) which did an amazing thing and created a much more satisfying plot and denouement.

So far Witnesses deals with a more likeable but equally fascinating heroine – but her interactions with colleagues are both constructive and professional. She is more socially aware than her Danish counterparts and has a personal life that is believable and interesting alongside the plot. There are still hints of obsession that I am sure that will surface given time.

I also love the haunting music, so lots to enjoy in a dark way. More to come I am sure…..

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