Archive for the ‘Richard Armitage’ Category

Richard Armitage as John Proctor in The Crucible at The Old Vic. Source: Johan Persson via RichardArmitageNet.


Wednesday saw me back at The Old Vic to see The Crucible for the second time, in front row seats no less! I can’t tell you how lucky I felt.


When we took our seats I was struck at how different it seemed from the second row where we sat last time. I could hardly contain my excitement.


There is little for me to add to what I wrote last time except to say that the front row affords you a perspective that you can’t ever hope to obtain from any other seat. It gives you a level of immersion in the play that allows you to truly forget it’s not real. There is a sense of intrusion when witnessing the Proctors at home, his love for her coupled with the frustration of her coldness towards him palpable in the smoky air. In the courtroom and in the gaol you feel complicit in the injustice being delivered, horrified at the ridiculousness of it all but at the same time powerless to stop it.


When it was all over and my heart was broken once again I cried. I cried for Proctor and I cried for his wife. I cried for the injustice of an innocent man being hanged for refusing to confess to a lie. I cried for the tears in Richard Armitage’s eyes and the way his bottom lip wobbled as he took his applause, and I cried for me … because I knew I would never get to see it again.


As the applause started I looked around me and was briefly tempted to wait for others to stand but decided that self-consciousness be damned, I would not be a sheep. I stood proudly from my front row seat and applauded a performance that will stay with me for years to come. I doubt I’ll witness anything that moves me in quite the same way ever again.


As the audience left the theatre I actually found it hard to stop crying. The temptation to just let it all out and sob loudly almost overcame me but I held it back. If I think about it now the tears still fill my eyes.


On the way home I got to thinking about certain things. If I was so affected, soppy mare that I am, how on earth does the cast cope with that kind of emotion night after night. I can’t see how one could ever become completely immune to it. Richard Armitage said recently that Proctor never really leaves him and that he was “living like a monk”. The emotion is quite clearly something that he is unable to switch off the minute the play ends so I wonder how long it takes him to collect himself. Obviously, he’s not still crying by the time he gets to the stage door but, still, it must be hard.


We were at a matinée performance so no stage door for us but the performance actually over ran by ten minutes due to a late start, possibly caused by a number of ticket mix-ups that seemed to take a while to resolve. That gave the cast just 80 minutes to collect their thoughts and drag themselves back to the mindsets they would need to start the play again. I think of all of them Richard Armitage has the hardest job.


Another thought I had was that at the beginning of the play John Proctor is a tall proud man who is a towering presence on the stage but as things progress he becomes visibly smaller. He shrinks before your eyes and almost appears to lose weight. With the audience so close that speaks volumes of Armitage’s ability to transform himself.


Other people have criticised the audience for laughing at certain lines but as far as I can see those lines are meant to be humourous. Furthermore, the humour is important as it helps to show the complete ridiculousness of the whole thing. Other criticisms have been made about the shouting. Some raise their voices to show their authority, but wouldn’t you raise your voice in frustration if it were you in Proctor’s place? He shouts because everyone else is seemingly deaf to the truth. As to any criticisms of the length, I selfishly didn’t want it to end!


On a less serious note, when sitting at the front it is advisable to watch your feet. Every time someone walked near me or was thrown towards me I felt compelled to tuck my feet as far under my seat as was humanly possible. While I may have been rather taken with the idea of Armitage landing in my lap I would have been mortified if one of my wayward feet had interfered with the play in any way.


Finally, the lip wobble. Sitting so close to the stage you see more than I ever thought was possible and as he took his applause, Richard Armitage’s bottom lip was visibly shaking. People whooped and cheered and it looked to me as if he wanted to smile in thanks but, and I’m second guessing him here, the emotion of what he’d just put himself through was still visible on his face and apart from a slight upward twitch at the corner of his mouth he was unable to do it.


I have loved having the privilege of seeing The Crucible and have especially loved having the opportunity to see it twice. The front row seat could never be bettered. It is an astonishing piece of theatre and I’m only sorry I won’t ever see it again.


Thanks to Julia for organising this second trip!




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Apologies for the delay in writing this but I’m still struggling to put into words the wonderful weekend I recently spent in London. Two plays, four friends (plus me) and the big smoke … weekends don’t get much better. But throw Richard Armitage into the mix and you reach the heights of pretty damn perfect!


But I digress a little … after all, I started the weekend with a couple of doubts.


First things first; my friends and I got to meet Rachel. We’ve been chatting to her online for simply ages and I was dying to meet the person who I say fangirls “like a boss”: straight talking and with an honest appreciation of all things Armitage and Cumberbatch there was little to go wrong. No doubts here and definitely no disappointments.


We all met up on the South Bank at the BFI, watching the strange and eclectic mix of London life go by. Pantaloons anyone? All present and correct we made our way to The Globe to watch Julius Caesar. Doubt número uno!


I have been ill for some time now. I have endured an interminable wait to find out the results of a CT scan I had a few weeks ago; the good old NHS had a backlog and so I waited … and waited … and waited. I have unexplained pain in my back and elsewhere, which the doctor thought may be kidney stones. (It turns out it’s not, so back to square one for me). I’d also been laid low with a nasty virus for about four weeks – my third in six months thanks to me working in a school – which only started clearing up with the help of some antibiotics after this much anticipated culture weekend. Anyway, the upshot of this was that I knew there was no way I could stand for three hours in the yard at The Globe, hence my doubt. I planned to see if they had any returns of seated tickets but fully expected to be spending my afternoon mooching around St Paul’s Cathedral just across the river instead.


I went to the ticket desk and asked if they had any seated tickets. They didn’t. My lovely friend Julia pleaded my case and miraculously a ticket became available – pretty much the best seat in the house. Major doubt quickly dispelled.


I hired a cushion to soften the wooden bench I’d be perched on for the duration and grabbed a free cardboard hat to shield my face from the scorching sun and settled down. The players were in the courtyard outside the theatre before the play making lots of noise and revving up the audience.


Me in my free and very silly but much needed hat at The Globe. Source: Julia.


The play started well with a raucous opening with the players encouraging the audience to join in and chant “Caesar, Caesar, Caesar” over and over with much clapping of hands and stomping of feet. It was like being at a football match when a popular player is about to walk onto the pitch. At The Globe each and every member of the audience is a member of the cast.


Overall I enjoyed the play but I suspect that was mainly because of where I was. There were some great performances but sadly I felt Caesar wasn’t one of them. Julius Caesar isn’t the most compelling of Shakespeare’s works. After Caesar is killed the play just seems to be a succession of people convincing someone else to kill them rather than take their own lives.


If it seems like I may have missed something then blame the heat. My seat may have been very good but it was in full sunlight for the entire play. The hat helped shield my face but it felt like I was sitting in a furnace with little or no breeze to provide any relief. I resisted the urge to remove my thin cardigan in an effort not to get severely sunburnt. Several members of the audience had to be taken out in wheelchairs after succumbing to the heat.


Finally released from the furnace the real excitement of the day started. The Crucible! Out of the furnace and into the fire, so to speak.


O conspiracy!
Sham’st thou to show thy dangerous brow by night,
When evils are most free?”

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 2, Scene 1

But what of my doubts? I’m not too proud to admit that although I had a long-held interest in Richard Armitage and thought him to be a very good actor, an interesting and intelligent person and thought him not too shabby in the looks department, I was not of the opinion that he was a great actor. I was desperate to see him on stage because he fascinates me but I was prepared to be disappointed, or, at least, not blown away. I doubted him and I was so very wrong.


Richard Armitage, The Crucible at The Old Vic. Source: The Old Vic.


Our seats were in the second row back from the front and the first I knew of this was when I sat down. I don’t think I realised just how close the actors would be to us until the play started, from which moment on I was completely captivated.


I’m not going to go into any detail about the play because there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t been said before. There are not enough words in the world to describe how wonderful this particular production is, how moving, evocative and thought provoking it is, or how compelling and completely absorbing I found it.


From the moment he first appeared on the stage my eyes were drawn to John Proctor. It was not Richard Armitage that appeared on that stage, it was all Proctor. From his sore-looking feet to his bloodied fingers, from the roar of his voice to the tears in his eyes, every last inch of him was the embodiment of John Proctor. When it was all over, I stood, heartbroken and in awe, and applauded. As he took his final bow and looked upwards to take the applause from those sitting above us, the lights that shone down upon him showed us that Proctor’s tears still glistened in his eyes and my heart broke a little more.


Of course, one actor does not a play make, or at least not this play and it would be remiss of me not to mention that the whole cast was magnificent. There wasn’t a single performance that was unconvincing or lacking. The whole play was brilliant; beautifully staged and stunningly performed.


Despite being heartbroken and devastated I didn’t cry. I might have done were it not for the fact that I spent the entire play trying desperately not to cough thanks to my nasty virus. As I’m sure many of you will know a cough is always worse at night and mine was no exception. I had plenty of water but the constant dry ice did me no favours. This is not a criticism it’s just a shame that I spent so much time trying to remain silent instead of relaxing. The woman in front of me didn’t help. She turned round every time I had to give in and cough – and it wasn’t like I was the only person coughing! My friends were not amused with her.


A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities,
But Brutus makes mine greater than they are.”

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3

Anyway, coughing aside, and apologies to anyone I annoyed (except “Brutus” in front who made me mildly paranoid – and yes I know the quote implies Brutus is a friend), when the play was over we gathered our wits and made our way to the stage door. I had been in two minds about whether or not to do it – another doubt – and having seen the tears still in Richard Armitage’s eyes when he took his bow, my doubts escalated. But this was probably going to be the only chance I’d ever have to meet him in the flesh. In the end only two of us joined the queue which eventually stretched all the way back to the front of the theatre. In hindsight we could have been better prepared but he came, he signed, he spoke, I took a photo and he moved on.


The photo was not my finest moment. We thought we’d be able to get a photo with both of us in but hadn’t thought through how we would take it and as Richard kindly pointed out, the security guys aren’t allowed to help. I took a photo of him with my friend, Nic, and then he was gone. She was concerned that I didn’t have a photo of me with him but all things considered: my cough, being a horrible sweaty mess thanks to London still being sauna-like even late at night, and the distinct possibility that I didn’t smell too sweet, I was happy to leave having spoken to him (about taking photos) and wielding a signed programme. I was not disappointed. The queue was enormous, he was the consummate gentleman, and quite frankly, having witnessed what he goes through on stage I was astounded he came out at all.


What of the photo? Well, he blinked and Nic looks decidedly shocked but we met him so I don’t think either of us really cares! I’m not posting it here because it’s not especially flattering of either subject. It’s a shame because the overall quality of the photo is actually quite good!


I left The Old Vic with the biggest grin on my face despite the hacking cough and unsightly sweatiness. I can’t help but say that in the flesh Richard Armitage is far more beautiful than he is in any photo or film. I was quite stunned. On stage he is a towering presence whereas at the stage door he was less tall and a lot slimmer than I imagined – although seeing him shirtless on stage (right in front of me) it seemed obvious to me that his apparent broad chest and shoulders are more about how he carries himself rather than his physicality.


Anyway, I did wonder why he comes out to greet people night after night when he must be exhausted and completely spent, especially after a day of two performances. In the interview he did with Richard Armitage US at the Into The Storm premiere, when asked why he goes out of his way to “connect with his fans on a personal level”, he said that he is “blown away” by the support he receives and for that reason alone I’m so glad I queued outside the stage door.


As to my doubts. I said before I was wrong and in a way I’m glad. Seeing just how great an actor he is blew my mind and took my breath away. To discover it this way was a real privilege.


So there you have it. It’s not a review but it’s what I want to say. Thank you to the lovely ladies who made the whole weekend simply wonderful – Julia, Nicola, Rachel & Carole. They deserve special thanks for putting up with my coughing and not making me feel like a leper although now I come to think of it no-one seemed keen to share a room with me!


Finally, I’ll let you into a little secret. I’m going to see The Crucible again in less than two weeks time! This time with no annoying cough … might need tissues!



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The dwarves see the ruins of Dale – the Desolation of Smaug.
Source: RichardArmitageNet.


Ok so that might be a slight exaggeration but on Saturday I finally saw The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. It seems that working for a living is not conducive to visiting the cinema on the day a film is released. When I saw An Unexpected Journey last year I came out of the cinema feeling rather overly emotional. This time I wasn’t moved to tears but that doesn’t mean I was unaffected by it.


I watched the film in glorious HFR and I can’t tell you what relief I felt when the Warner Brothers logo appeared. I felt like I was melting into the screen as my eyes settled into the beautiful world of Middle-earth. The 3D trailers shown before it were dire at best and I’ll never understand how anyone can enjoy watching standard 3D. If Spiderman is going to swing through the air then I would at least hope to see him swing smoothly rather than some bizarre stuttering effect where it feels like I’m watching each individual frame frozen for a split second as it flits past the lens of the projector. Also, in each of the trailers it appeared as if the 3D was just there because it could be. It didn’t add anything to the image and, if anything, seemed to be an excuse to blur everything that wasn’t in the foreground. In the end I had to look away because it strained my eyes. The HFR was, as I said, a relief.


This time around it didn’t take me any time to adjust to the HFR because it just felt so natural. I once again felt the urge I experienced last year and wanted to get out of my seat and step into Middle-earth. The 3D, so obvious and in your face in the trailers, seemed simply to enhance the beauty and spectacle. By the end of the film I’d forgotten I was watching in 3D and the harsh reality of the cinema lights and the real world were not at all welcome.


To me, this kind of cinema experience is what it’s all about. The escapism, the sense that you’ve been somewhere else for three hours, the slightly trippy feeling when you step back outside, all add to the sheer enjoyment of watching a truly wonderful film.


There were moments in the film that made me want to clap and shout with joy and there were moments that filled me with foreboding. I nearly shouted out when I spotted Peter Jackson at the very beginning mainly because I was so pleased with myself for having actually seen him. I usually miss stuff like that! I also wanted to applaud when Bombur showed us that he may be the tubbiest dwarf but he ain’t half got some moves on him! I’m not scared of spiders but even I had to look away a couple of times because they just looked a little too real! And, some pretty little bees flew out of the screen but because bees and wasps really do terrify me, I had to look away again.


Thorin reveals his identity in Lake Town. Source: RichardArmitageNet.


But what of Thorin? Still fierce, still drawing my eye and still beautifully acted by Richard Armitage. The memories of him I will take away are too numerous to mention but include him eating in the Prancing Pony, his speech in Lake Town, him with Thranduil, the stamping of his boot as he stopped the key from falling, the wheelbarrow surfing, his goading of Smaug and so much more.


Ah yes, Smaug. The intelligent and charming fire-breathing winged beast. Well, Smaug blew me away. Figuratively, not literally. What Benedict Cumberbatch can’t do with his voice is not worth doing quite frankly!


The beauty of the film is the thing that will live with me the longest. The awe-inspiring New Zealand landscape was breathtaking but so was everything else. The rooftops of Bree, the squalor of Lake Town, the magnificence and grandeur of Erebor – they all left me wanting to see more.


So why the desolation of my mind? When I left the cinema I wandered around the shops in a bit of a daze. Everywhere I went I imagined I could still hear it: the gentle thrum of Middle-earth still buzzing in my mind. I could hear the different languages, the Black Speech of the Orcs, Khuzdul and Elvish. It was as if I was on the edge of a rift between two worlds. Or maybe I’ve just been watching too much Doctor Who …


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I love poetry and I love to write poetry although I’m not especially prolific. Some poems I write for myself and some I write for others as you will see below. To read simply click on the picture.


All the links here take you to Wattpad. You don’t need an account to read these poetry collections but without one you will be unable to comment over there or vote if you should so wish.



My Poetry

I used to write songs when I was at school but never really managed to get past the first verse and chorus. Giving the song writing up as a bad job this is where I leave my very occasional attempts at poetry.



Poems for Special Occasions

I occasionally write poems for friends and family. They’re always personal but not private so I share them here.



Richard Armitage – A Poem

A short poem about the lovely Mr Armitage and how I think his admirers see him.



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I only write Spooks fan fiction and only about Lucas North. I feel like I can get inside his head in a way I have been unable to contemplate with any of Richard Armitage’s other characters. To read a story simply click on the picture.


All the links here take you to Wattpad. You don’t need an account to read these stories but without one you will be unable to comment over there or vote if you should so wish. These stories are also posted on Archive of Our Own (except A Birthday Surprise) which can be accessed here if you prefer to use that site.




Lucas North is looking forward to a well-earned day off.

A very short story set immediately before Lucas went to Russia for 8 years.
Rated PG-13 but very tame.

Book cover2

A Birthday Surprise

A very very small self-indulgent fantasy written in honour of my 40th birthday! Rated PG-13 but very tame.



Losing Lucas

Lucas escapes from himself for a while – this is a one-shot set at the end of Spooks 8.6. (This badly needs editing as I wrote it quite a while ago – I’ll get round to it eventually.) Rated PG-13 but is quite naughty.



Soothing the Soul

A short story set sometime within Lucas’ first 12 months back on the grid. It’s his birthday and it looks like he’ll be spending the evening alone until he meets someone who helps to soothe his soul with music and dancing. Rated G.



The Christmas Eve Shift

A short AU Lucas North story set before the events of series 9. A lonely and embittered Lucas is called in to work the Christmas Eve shift on the Grid. Rated G but might provoke a few tears – it did with me and I wrote it!



The Special Asset

She risks everything to be with him … a Lucas North one-shot. Rated PG-13 for implied naughtiness.



The Terrors of Loneliness

Hannah is all alone in the world until she gets caught up in something that introduces her to Lucas North, MI5 agent. With her already fragile world turned upside down, she turns to him for support.

A multi-chapter story. This takes place some time after series 8 but ignores the events of series 9. (I am very proud of this but it needs editing as I wrote it some time ago and I can now see the mistakes.) Rated PG-13 for some swearing and occasional fairly tame naughtiness.



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I know many of you have an interest in or are at least curious about British accents and the way in which they differ so much across the country. Because Richard Armitage was born and raised in Leicestershire there has been occasional talk on Twitter and on some blogs about whether or not he ever had a Leicester accent himself.


As someone who has lived in Leicestershire since the age of five I’ve wanted to write a little about this subject for some time but it may surprise you to learn that in my time here I’ve never picked up the local accent.


I was born in Essex as were both my parents although none of us have an Essex accent. We left when I was 18 months old and moved to Sussex until the move up north to Leicester. My parents have what can best be described as a standard English accent or RP (received pronunciation) accent. I do too except mine is littered with East Midlands-isms. It’s all in the vowels – specifically the a and the u. My a has survived without a Midlands intervention but my u has succumbed.


The best description that I have ever read of a Leicester accent and the dialect that goes with it was posted on the Leicester Mercury website today in an article discussing why the Leicester accent is undergoing changes:

Why Leicester accent is undergoing changes


The article reminded me of expressions I haven’t heard since I was at school. It also reminded me of the July fortnight – everything would close or operate on reduced opening hours for the first two weeks of July and everyone, especially those in the city, would migrate the 100 miles or so to Skegness. Skeggeh, as it’s known round here, is a seaside resort on the Lincolnshire coast. It’s not known for its great beauty but it has a sandy beach and most importantly, is the closest seaside resort to Leicester which is about as far away from the sea as it’s possible to get in this country. During those two weeks all the Skegness newsagents would stock the Leicester Mercury – our local newspaper – which prior to the fortnight would publish a list of stockists so you could keep up to date on goings on back home while enjoying the dubious weather of the British summer. I’ve never been to Skegness. My dad’s place of work didn’t shut for those two weeks and even if it had “Skeggeh” would never have been our first choice of holiday destination.


The accent does differ as you move around the county and there are particular nuances that are peculiar to specific villages. I wish I knew more about it and had a better ear for picking these things up but sadly I don’t.


There are certain words that I associate with Leicester that may or may not be peculiar to the region:


A cob is a bread roll. Different parts of the country call it different things e.g. batch, barm cake etc, but round here it’s a cob and people are particularly partial to a chip cob.


Giving someone a croggie means giving them a lift on your bicycle – round here that means having them balance illegally on the cross-bar!


There were a lot of these in our village – an alleyway.


This was used all the time when I was at school. Someone was always mardy about something which means they were grumpy or moody and probably sticking their bottom lip out as far as it would go!


An oakie is an ice cream and the van that comes round with the annoying music is the “oakie van”.


Ears. An old-fashioned expression is “Ah’ll bat yer tabs” which means “I’ll box your ears.”


The best known of all Leicester expressions is “me duck” but I don’t say it and neither does anyone in my family. I don’t suppose anyone in Richard Armitage’s family uses it either as it tends to only be used by those native to the area and by that I mean, those whose families have been settled here for several generations and from what I understand, his have not.


I’ve been asked several times if I think Richard Armitage has any trace of a Leicester accent and I have to say no. I don’t think he has any trace at all. Occasionally his u sounds are a bit like mine but that’s where it ends. He definitely speaks in an RP accent which could be because he moved away at a young age or because he’s had any trace of a regional accent trained out of him. Either way, I’d love to know if he can do a Leicester accent although I’d be surprised to find he can, it’s very difficult as I’m about to prove.


Just for a laugh, I decided to have a go at reading some of the newspaper article out loud. This is the result:


So there you go … that’s me trying out the Leicester accent and failing miserably. The only way you’re ever going to hear a true Leicester accent is to come up here and visit.  If you need a tour guide, let me know!



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When I decided to write a blog, I made a conscious decision not to blog about Richard Armitage. It’s no secret that I’m a great admirer of his, some might go so far as to say I’m a wee bit obsessed; however, in the ever-expanding Armitage blogosphere I decided that I had nothing meaningful to add. Selfishly I wanted to write about myself and the things that are important to me. I may have mentioned him once or twice along the way but essentially my blog is “Something about Kathryn”.


So … I’m not about to turn this into an Armitage blog but if I’m going to write about what’s important to me then he does have to be up there. He’s not on the same level as my family history, but, given a recent interest I’ve developed in another fine British actor, I find myself questioning why I’m so fascinated with Armitage and some others. Ultimately I’m questioning why they’re so important to me.


So who are these men? Yes, unsurprisingly they’re all men … and actors too. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr there will probably be no surprises here – well maybe one:

Richard Armitage – no surprises. Known for The Hobbit, Spooks, Robin Hood, North & South.

David Tennant – an old favourite. Known for Doctor Who, Hamlet, Broadchurch, Casanova.

Benedict Cumberbatch – a growing attraction. Known for Star Trek Into Darkness, Sherlock, The Hobbit, Parade’s End, War Horse.

Tom Hiddleston – a new fascination. Known for Thor, The Avengers, The Hollow Crown, Midnight in Paris, War Horse, Return to Cranford.


Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks. Source.


I was first drawn to Richard Armitage whilst watching Spooks. An avid Spooks fan from the very beginning it was only at the end of series 9 that I realised quite how involved I’d become in the story of Lucas North / John Bateman. To cut a long story short, I think it’s fair to say that it was the Spooks fandom that drew me in but ultimately the Richard Armitage fandom that claimed me. I found myself hopelessly drawn to his other work, but it wasn’t just the characters that I was interested in. I found, as have so many others, that his charm, compassion, humour, talent, and unbridled enthusiasm for his work had me hooked. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that his good looks helped but, if I’m honest, he only became so attractive to me when I knew more about him as a person, or at least what he wants us to know. His use of language in interviews was probably my undoing – I’m such a sucker for a man who uses words and phrases that are missing from my own vocabulary – and he’s a self-confessed geek which is always a winner for me.


David Tennant as Doctor Who. Source.


Now, I’d been interested in David Tennant’s work since I first saw him in Doctor Who. Geek personified! Looks wise, he’s not the type of man I would normally find attractive, but there’s something about a man with a sonic-screwdriver I find hard to resist (Matt Smith is not on my list but he’s a definite contender). Looking at the man behind the Doctor I found that his attractiveness, for me, lay in his wit, charm, talent, eloquence and compassion. I saw him on stage in Much Ado About Nothing and if I wasn’t bowled over before, I definitely was afterwards. Goodness only knows what will happen after I see him in Richard II. Finally, he inspired me to make a promise.


Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock. Source.


Benedict Cumberbatch is a strange one for me. For a long time, I kept seeing his face on Tumblr and was completely unable to understand the attraction that others felt for him. Then Sherlock happened. Geek personified – again – and a huge intellect too which I can’t resist. But then I realised that the man behind the detective had a great intellect too, was naturally witty, charming and wonderfully talented. Because of him, I intend to go and see Star Trek (something I never thought I’d do), and have found that his unusual looks are becoming more attractive to me every day. Then I read things like this and fall a little bit further under his spell.


Tom Hiddleston at the Olivier Awards. Source.


If any of these are going to surprise you then I guess it would be Tom Hiddleston. He’s not someone I’ve ever really mentioned on Twitter and, until a few days ago, I’d never posted any pictures of him on Tumblr either. For some time I was uncomfortable with the crush I was quickly developing because apart from Return to Cranford I hadn’t seen any of his work. For the first time, it was the man not the characters that first drew me in. It was his Unicef blogs from Guinea that got me: long words, beautiful phrasing, wonderful compassion. And I found that was just the tip of the iceberg. He has all those things I’ve admired in others and he has them in spades. I discovered that he doesn’t actually look like Loki in real life, a look that does nothing for me at all, and has an infectious joy that creeps out of the screen and into your heart without you even noticing. I’ve decided to be honest about this new fascination because I think I now understand it better.


All these men show qualities that I hugely admire and find endlessly attractive. Yes they’re good-looking, but they’re all men whose looks did absolutely nothing for me when I first saw them, even Richard Armitage.


My first Armitage experience was actually Robin Hood. I watched all three series when it was first on the television and never once noticed Guy of Gisborne except as a character to be disliked. With both television and films I’m a very shallow viewer and will often miss the nuances of character that others thrive on. I didn’t like the character, and his long hair (each to their own but that wasn’t for me) meant I didn’t notice if he was good-looking.


So why are these men so important to me? I can confidently say these are not simply lustful obsessions. I’m drawn to certain characteristics especially intellect when matched with fun, kindness and decency. I seem to be attracted to men who I see as being intellectually superior to me. I look for the things that were missing in the past when my own intellect was a source of humour and derision. It’s only now that I realise that the behaviour of certain people in my past says more about their own insecurities than it does about mine.


If anyone was to ask me what I look for in a man, I could do a lot worse than point out the characteristics of these men who I so admire. I’m not looking for a man exactly like any of them, they just happen to epitomise the things I find most attractive. They’re important to me because they have qualities to admire, are inspiring in ways I cannot fully fathom, and because they bring me great joy.


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Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Middle-earth. Source: richardarmitagenet.com


I never read The Hobbit as a child … it was so far off my radar I wasn’t even aware it existed. I was raised on a diet of Arthur Ransome‘s Swallows and Amazons and a book called The Chipmunks of Willow Wood by Elleston Trevor. I don’t think I read any fantasy fiction until I discovered Terry Pratchett when I was at university. Aged 40, I still haven’t read any Tolkien but that may change before too long.


In a failed attempt to curb my impatience for The Hobbit, I recently re-watched The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I saw the films when they were first released and loved the first one before getting somewhat bogged down in the other two. Second-time round, and most probably as a result of a growing interest in Middle-earth nurtured by Peter Jackson’s video logs and the impending Hobbit-fest, I was completely enthralled by them.


And so to The Hobbit … never before have I spent so long anticipating the release of a film, or, for that matter, taken such an interest in the making of it. I admit, my initial fascination was with Richard Armitage but as time went on I genuinely became eager to see it for everything else it promised. Yesterday I was anxious, excited too, but worried that it wouldn’t live up to my impossibly high expectations, that I would struggle with the 3D, or that I would find myself looking at my watch.


So, I settled down with a big bag of pic’n’mix and a coke, waited for the lights to dim and for an instruction to don the 3D glasses.


3D glasses finally balancing precariously on my nose (always awkward when there’s already a pair of normal glasses there), two trailers were shown in normal 3D. The first, I couldn’t watch. I don’t know what it was for but I couldn’t focus on the screen and could feel it messing with my head. I looked away and waited for it to finish. This was reminiscent of my only other experience of 3D which caused a massive migraine. The second trailer, for Man of Steel, was fine, but I assume that was something to do with the speed of the action, as in it was slow. I remained confident in the assurances I’d heard that 48 fps would reduce the risk of migraine.


Then, The Hobbit started and right from the moment the Warner Brothers logo appeared on the screen it felt different. Yes, the first few minutes seemed a bit strange, but my eyes just seemed to relax into it and it became normal. Normal, but different! My eyes felt relaxed the entire time, I didn’t want to take the glasses off, I didn’t want to look away, and, most importantly, I didn’t have a headache!


I’ve seen reports saying the 48 fps makes the actors’ makeup obvious and the sets look like sets but I have to disagree. I’m no expert, but I was so immersed in Middle-earth it just seemed real to me. The 3D wasn’t about things jumping out at you, it was about giving the film depth and that, for me, is what worked so well. I began to wonder what would happen if I got out of my seat and stepped forward. I felt certain that if I did, I would walk into the true reality of this fantasy world and experience it for myself. It looked beautiful, familiar because of Lord of the Rings, but jaw-droppingly and breathtakingly stunning.


As for the actors … what actors? You mean, they’re not really dwarves, wizards, hobbits and such-like? Seriously though, I wouldn’t want to single out any one performance for being outstanding because I think they all were. I was struck by the individuality of the dwarves, each with their little foibles and nuances. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t especially struck with Thorin who was regal, princely, fierce and inspiring. I’d happily follow him on any quest! But, despite my obvious bias I loved each and every character. The advantage of not having read the book is that I had no preconceived idea about what they should look like or how they should behave, so I could accept Peter Jackson’s vision without any complaints.


Richard Armitage as the regal and fierce Thorin Oakenshield. Source: richardarmitagenet.com

Richard Armitage as the regal and fierce Thorin Oakenshield.
Source: richardarmitagenet.com


There were a couple of scenes that I’d heard Richard Armitage mention as being ones that had particularly moved him and watching them, I could understand why. I, like him, was moved to tears. In fact, when I left the cinema, I was sorely tempted to run back to my car and sob I felt so emotional, but alas, Christmas shopping beckoned.


The end of the film arrived all too quickly. I hadn’t once wondered about the time or yawned or wished it would hurry up and finish. I didn’t want it to end. Walking out, I could quite happily have walked straight back in and watched more, or simply watched it again. How I’m supposed to wait a whole year for the next one is beyond me!


I will go back to see it again. The 3D is something I won’t experience at home for a very long time so I want the opportunity to re-immerse myself in that world before I’m left with a 2D DVD as my only memento of what is honestly the best film I have ever seen.


At some point in the 2 hours and 46 minutes I was watching the film, I lost my heart. Not to a princely dwarf as you might expect (although he can have it any time he wishes), but to a whole world … Middle-earth.



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This is my attempt to rediscover my writing mojo. I suppose I have good enough reasons for having lost it but recently I was asked if I’d like to participate in something and immediately knew I couldn’t do it. Not because I wouldn’t like to, but because I’ve lost all confidence in my ability to write. I’ve never been much of a blogger but I’ve loved writing. The saddest thing about not writing is that I have a story in progress…my first attempt at original fiction and after posting one chapter several months ago I’ve singularly failed to post anymore. I’m actually ashamed of myself! So I’ve had some personal issues to sort through…but in the grand scheme of things, they are nothing compared to what others deal with everyday and still manage to carry on.


So…I’ve decided to list some of my reasons for being cheerful to serve as a reminder that no matter how bad it seems, there is always something to smile about.


My friends – I have some pretty amazing friends. Friends who are always there, who understand me, who don’t judge me and who love me. I hope they know how much they mean to me.


My family – I might have moments where I whinge or complain about them, but let’s face it, like my friends, they’re always there. They support me, worry about me and accept me no matter what.


My home – It might only be rented and it might shake quite violently every time a train passes but I have a lovely, comfortable home. I’m surrounded by nice things, and it’s warm and dry and safe. Given what’s been going on in the world of late that’s something to give thanks for every day.


My car – This might seem an odd choice but just over 4 years ago I’d never driven a car. The thought of driving terrified me but I decided to put aside my fear and embarked on 12 months of lessons. My nerves nearly got the better of me when it came to taking the test, but I passed on my third attempt and have never looked back. Over 3 years on, I still occasionally have to pinch myself to prove that yes, I really am doing this! Driving…I love it.


Richard Armitage – Sorry, but I had to squeeze him in here! This is not an RA blog but you all know that I’m a huge admirer of his and if looking for reasons to be cheerful, he has to be way up there. If it hadn’t been for him I would never have met a lot of those friends I hold so dear and even though he’ll never know, I will always be grateful to him for that.


Twitter – Again, much like Mr A, without Twitter I would never have found a lot of the friends that are now so important to me. As I’ve mentioned before, it changed my life.


My musicality – I was going to put music as a reason but it occurs to me that it’s not so much the music as my ability to appreciate it and lose myself in it. I love the fact that I can sit down at a piano and play it competently (or at least I could…bit out of practice now!), that I can pick up a guitar and have it make a pleasing sound, or that I can open my mouth and hold a tune. I’m not a great musician by any stretch but I love being able to feel music and not just hear it.


My country – Say what you like about it, I am proud to be British. I never thought I would put this on the list but actually, after having watched the Olympics in the summer and the pageantry of the Queen’s Jubilee, I will be forever in awe of my country’s ability to put on a show, to smile in the face of the doubters and say, “look at us… aren’t we amazing!”


My ancestors – As part of my attempt to rediscover the things that make me happy I have recently immersed myself back into my family tree after a two year absence. For many years I’ve been researching the minutiae of all those people that have helped to make me who I am today. I’m lucky to have found some fantastic family stories and tantalising connections. But it’s not the links to the famous or infamous that I find the most exciting or that make me the most happy, it’s the ability to know so much about the lives of the ordinary people. I spent yesterday studying Merchant Navy records and crew lists (all online) to find out more about some cousins of my great-grandmother. Nothing spectacular, but I have to admit to being totally in awe of one man when I read an account of a voyage he took that ended with the words “Crew all saved”. Now there’s definitely a reason to be cheerful!


So there you have it.  Not an especially long list and by no means exhaustive. I’m actually really pleased that I’ve managed to write this. Maybe, I can start to think about continuing with my story…but baby steps…baby steps!


I’d love to hear what makes you happy if you’d like to share…

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Naughty Forty

So after weeks of looking forward to it with a sense of impending doom, my birthday finally arrived and I finally reached the age at which life is apparently supposed to begin.

When I was little, I used to get up on the morning of my birthday and peer closely into the mirror to see if I looked any older…I don’t do that now just in case I find I actually do!  But, having received a huge number of cards which I had resisted opening early and some from whom I had no idea, I woke feeling excited for the first time in years!

Opening the cards had to be done with great care.  I had a feeling there had been some mischief afoot and guessed correctly that one or two might be unsuitable for showing to my mum who was sitting on the bed watching me open them!  As I opened them, it soon became clear that I had received cards from at least one fictional person plus one or two celebrities who, apart from anything else, couldn’t possibly have had my address!  I giggled the whole way through and eventually came to a card that appeared to be slightly bulging and rattled in a way that suggested the bed was about to be showered with something my mum would spend the next few weeks hoovering up.  I carefully extracted the card with minimal showering of iridescent stars and 40s and was promptly rendered speechless.

Amazing birthday card from my friends Sandy & Chris.
My photo.

The card alone would have left me somewhat lacking in speech; however, it was what I found when I opened it that really left me open-mouthed.

Birthday surprise! My photo.

I never for one moment expected to find a signed photograph of Richard Armitage wishing me a happy 40th birthday. I have the most wonderful friends and one in particular went all out to make me smile and laugh ensuring that the day was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.  I hope she knows how much I appreciate what she did and how much I love her.

A fab lunch was eaten in one of my favourite restaurants and the day was finished off drinking lightly sparkling Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and eating a wonderful wheat-free chocolate birthday cake made by my mum! I even had a candle to blow out.

My fabulous birthday meal. My photos.

A glorious wheat-free chocolate sponge birthday cake made by my mum! My photo.

So, after receiving wonderful pressies, beautiful flowers and lovely messages, not to mention eating scrumptious food…I have to conclude that being 40 is not as bad as I feared.  At least not so far!  I’ve been told that it gives me a free rein to be naughty and to start saying things like, “We didn’t do things like that when I was your age,” and “Back in my day…”

I shall bravely attempt to embrace my 40s and whatever challenges and adventures they bring.

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