Language and Culture – the Key to Humanity, Understanding and Acceptance.

Language and culture, those of us who have a greater understanding of language and culture beyond our own are truly gifted. That has been my interpretation of being multilingual for ages due to the fact that I speak one other language fluently, other than my own and speak notions of four other languages (French, Italian, Spanish, Polish) and can say a few words in Chinese and Arabic. I truly envy those who speak twelve languages fluently. However, my belief is that to understand culture is of more importance, and why? My reasoning with that is simple – we get to understand each other a lot better.

I have harboured a belief since I was in my early twenties that we can can all create an understanding of one another through an understanding of each others culture, wherever we are from. Whilst I have lived in the UK I have met people from all four corners of the globe. I have met people from Central and Eastern Europe, people from Italy, Spain France and Belgium, made friends with peoples from Poland, America, Argentina, El Salvador. I have made friends with people from Pakistan to Algeria. And though I have an Argentinian friend that I went to school and worked with in Zimbabwe I started to pick up Spanish from he and his family. Some of my cousins had a Belgian background and so started to pick up French from them. But my understanding of language & culture never really took off until I came to the UK. That is one of the beauties of the United Kingdom, its broad spectrum of different cultures and backgrounds.

I am no lingual genius, I do however wish I was but being able to speak the notions I do is gift enough but had I carried on with my Polish course I would be able to speak Polish fluently. But this is where I think the ultimate respect for other nationalities come from. Although I do believe that an understanding of another religion, other than my own helps. I do not believe that is where the ultimate in understanding and acceptance comes from – it primarily comes from language & culture.

So at the end of the day what is your understanding of the key to humanity, acceptance and understanding?

This post totally goes against what I have remodelled this site on but I think this is an important part of who we all are and who we should be.

Reflections

It all began with a single thought, lying in my bed staring out of my window at the night sky – starless, wet, and cloudy – a typical English winter evening. I began to think of home – my parents, my horse, the space, the farm – everything representing my past I began to think of and with this I became emotionally strained, tears streamed down my face as I recalled the past; I faced facts – I was certifiably homesick and although I had refused to face facts before I had to admit it as my mind stirred bringing all that filled my world. I thought of everything that was precious to me. All the anger, the pain and memories stirred up.

The last walk that my father and I had in search of poacher’s who we ended up apprehending after sitting on an O.P. (Observation Point) for an hour monitoring movement through binoculars, eventually catching the poachers who had poached Guinea Fowl, unfortunately it was nothing major like any antelope but they were still poaching, we apprehended them in the end letting them go their ways but confiscating their catch they had tried to hide once they saw us watching them which was unintentional, as far as my father and I were concerned our O.P. was well hidden, unfortunately it was not.

On the same farm we resided on in the Manicaland Province of Zimbabwe I had inherited a horse from the previous owners of the farm who had relocated to New Zealand within a year of the Zimbabwe land reform programme beginning. The horse was just short of 16 hands; he was dark brown – almost black known as a dark bay in equestrian circles. A stallion of eleven years, extremely powerful and very quick – his name was Beauty, pretty original and so I tried to change his name to Pilgrim which is the horse from The Horse Whisperer and it didn’t fit, so then thought of Destiny and that still didn’t fit, and so kept his name. Named by the mother of the previous owner who according to her son thought “she knew the world about equines but in fact knew nothing and would refer to “her” books claiming that they were the only things that were correct so practically she knew nothing about horses but when it came to the theoretical side’ – such as maintenance, handling and sheer up-keep “she knew everything”, any horseman will however tell you that practical horsemanship is different from theoretical – practical. It is the practice that makes a horseman great and able to connect with their horses. This I have always believed as in many corners of life practical outweighs theoretical, for if you cannot listen to a horse how on earth can you pay attention to a human? I am no professional horseman but this is a belief I have held for a very long time. Even though I have had to learn it the hard way in an accident which could have claimed my life, but that is possibly another story for another time.

Beauty was my friend – I don’t think there was one corner of the farm we didn’t cover; we rode fence lines, herded cattle in for corralling at night keeping them from Hyenas and cattle thieves, drove them in for dosing or dipping on a monthly basis; it was utter bliss and herding with him was heaven, he knew exactly what to do without me reigning him and was extremely affective – he kept the cattle in line and you could tell he was always at his happiest when droving. On one occasion whilst we were gathering the herd to take them for dipping a cow decided she would be brave and try take Beauty on and so she began to charge, Beauty then turned in and kicked out at the cow, she stumbled but lucky for me she was not injured, probably a bruised ego more like. Shortly after that incident that heavens opened up and we got the gloriousness of an African thunder storm.

One of my last rides on him was a moonlight ride, just him and I before I left for the other end of the country so stayed as much time as possible together because this horse had truly become one of the best friends I have ever had and through that a philosophy will always stick with me, “Never once do we choose the horse, we are chosen by the horse”. The night of our last ride was utter bliss; the moon shone brightly, the African night sounds stayed vibrant – crickets, nightjars and jackals would seem to be entertaining themselves and the odd cry from a Hyena would bellow out in the distance, and every now and then a slight breeze would kick up. As we rode I stared at the night sky, stars like diamonds on black satin glistened in the darkness, the odd shooting star would pass over head and burn up in the atmosphere. I would usher the odd reassuring word to Beauty as we continued our ride on the dusty trail. Eventually after a two hour ride we returned to the stables and we stayed in the yard for a bit after removing his tack and stayed with him for a while. I lay back on the empty feed trough and watched the sky, listening to the sounds that surrounded us. Beauty coming up and nudging my face and smelling my hair, sometimes nibbling my nose out of affection – after a while with him I decided it was time to retire. I petted him down, picked up his tack and walked back home with him following closely behind, I opened the gate, put his tack down, petted him down and hugged him one last time and locked the gate behind me and with that he returned to the stables of which were a lovely Victorian style design. The stable area was a square design with a cement feed trough in the middle, each stable was naturally big and had an individual feed trough in each corner made out of cement. In total there were fourteen stables, a feed room, and traditionally, a foaling stable – the stable area and yard was huge and when properly maintained was stunning. The stables had two entrances – one for a vehicle, another for when coming in from an outride or releasing the horses into the stable grounds or grazing pastures which in the nineteen forties and fifties had been a horse racing track on the farm which is what the stables were originally used for, the view from the stables and main house was stunning; we stared into utter vastness and down into the pastures which the cattle and horses would often share. In the distance lay foothills which would put Ben Nevis at Fort William in Scotland to shame. It was utter bliss and can happily say that it was possibly one of the best farms we resided on – the house was big and also a huge traditionally designed colonial era house.

I spent a few more days at home and as usual spent the majority of the remainder of my days on the farm known as Coldstream Estates with Beauty doing the norm; herding cattle, riding fence lines and being a regular “African Cowboy” and sometimes visited the former Zimbabwean minister of finance – Simba Makoni, if he wasn’t on the farm I would go and see his nephew and manager.
I understood from my mother when we spoke on the phone once from the other end of the country that Beauty would often gallop up and down the fence whinnying after I left as if he were trying to call me.

I then left the comforts of home to go work at Zimbabwe Online in Harare (Internet Service Provider) but later transferred to the west of the country to the country’s second capital Bulawayo to work in the office there which was by complete accident, I stayed there for almost a year and in that period realising that it was time to leave Zimbabwe in search of a better life so I could concentrate on building a future. Within that time I had organised for Beauty to go to a good home in the same area and not far from the farm we lived on. So, from March 2004 to November 2004 I lived and worked in Bulawayo. My time there drew to an end and I left to travel to directly the other end of the country to spend my last month with my parents, they had moved two months after I left home. It took me three days to get home to my parents as I spent two in Harare to finalise my travel plans and say goodbye to friends. On the third day I secured a lift to Headlands which was the area where we had lived for several years and had inherited Beauty, I was dropped at Halfway House in hoping that I’d be able to find a lift all the way through to my parents of which I managed to from a German expatriate who was a doctor in the eastern town of Chipinge. Whilst there I saw the person I had entrusted with Beauty, a brigadier in the Zimbabwe National Army. I enquired after my equine friend but the news was unfortunate and my heart sank. He told me that he had not been able to secure Beauty and that he had eaten a shrub which poisoned him – without him telling me the name I quickly deduced that he had eaten the same plant that had killed his mother two years before I inherited him called Lantana Camara which is hazardous to both cattle & horses in the tropical regions of Africa, America and South America, it induces Cirrhosis of the Liver and kills them slowly and painfully – my heart sank upon hearing the news – my friend I had shared good times, sad times, lonely times with was dead – he had made the world simpler than it was and had made more sense than any human possibly could.

At one stage in 2002, a year prior to inheriting Beauty I went to house/farm sit within that same area for an Australian expatriate who went away to Mana Pools and Chirundu Game Conservancies for a few weeks, the setting of the farm was absolutely stunning. I was allocated a horse, a South African breed known as Bosikop and was skewbald (white and brown colouring) – the name was Ziggie, he was an eight year old, 16 hands on the mark and having been of South African breeding was extremely rugged – whilst on the farm we rode the valley’s, stream’s & foothills and the views one would find are the kind to be ever captivated, ever beholden. I would awake at 0430hrs, go out, get Ziggie from the paddock, stable him and feed him – return to the house prepare breakfast which was often two slices of toast and a mug of coffee.

I would then get him groomed and tacked up and then depart on a days ride patrolling the gullies and streams, often running into a small herd of Kudu, a large troop of Baboons, and bumping into the odd Duiker or Klipspringer and passing the odd obvious lair of a leopard, with it being summer I would often end the day off watching the sun go down from a huge hill next to the house.

On one occasion I had been patrolling on Ziggie when I became bored and with it being mid October and the weather being inherently hot I needed to be kept occupied. I was riding in between two rock formations in a valley when I noticed a troop of baboons to my 1 o’clock so trotted roughly twenty meters ahead of the column and dismounted to face the troop of which had become curious and had stopped at my rear of which I was now facing; I kept my hands by the bit keeping the reigns on his withers so as to mount and depart immediately so knelt down on my haunches and sought out the ring leader, once I had spotted him I locked eyes and began to challenge him by barking at him in the typical baboon manner a “BAAA-HOOOW”. This being a challenge several male baboons barked back without moving, I again barked – this continued a few times before the “main-man” started to move forward. This, to me being a game barked twice of when I noticed the troop beginning to charge in my direction. I had one advantage, I had a horse so I quickly mounted, turned Ziggie in on the heal, barked once more and cantered away in the opposite direction, in front of us was a wide stream and then a semi-steep climb up the bank on the other side. Unwilling to be literally torn apart by baboons I crossed the stream and cantered up the bank on the other side and carried on riding. I had now kept active and my adrenalin had now got going as challenging a baboon is extremely dangerous as they have been known to tear apart leopards, humans and dogs. Having Ziggie as a trustworthy companion was a delight and even until today when I think back to the entire time there I smirk to myself; knowing that I only did what I did on that occasion because I had one advantage over the baboons and also with it being a very brief stage in my life of which I thoroughly enjoyed and loved every minute of, it is one of the few parts of my African life I can never regret.

All this I registered and remembered as I lay in my bed 5000 odd miles from my former homeland and feeling nothing but a heavy heart. I felt a heavy heart at the situation, a heavy heart as I now realised that I was homesick and missed my parents; that naturally wasn’t a realisation – I always did miss them from the moment I left, the moment I walked through those departure gates at Harare International Airport on the 16th of January 2005. I felt a heavy heart as the Africa I had grown up in was a different Africa and had learnt a different language & culture, liberalised certain viewpoints of past situations with the country and made friends with the majority of Africans I had met within my short twenty six years in Africa. What had happened to the country I had grown up in? The country which I had once loved, what had happened to the nation I had once served in pride as a police officer for two years?

I can safely say that I truly wish my children could have the upbringing I had – the space, a different culture, a different language – sadly, my children will not have that – I will not share that with my family. Times change, situations change, life changes but I guess who and where we come from will never change in our hearts. We will always stand proud, stand true and be who we are. Memories we will always have to remind us of where we are from and who we are.

I guess those of us who have left will always say “I had a home in Africa”.

Guy Taylor

January 2007 ©

Magnificent Seven 2016 Making

Well, who knew I’d ever write about the making of a movie and although this is in reviews it isn’t really a movie review because the piece is about the making of Magnificent Seven – well, lets just say its a making that blew me away and kinda excited me. When I described how I’d do movie reviews I mentioned they’d come with a twist and if really good then I would wait until they were released on blu-ray and DVD in order to be able to watch the making before watching the feature film in order to be able to write an effective review, so really, this should be an edit to my review of the feature film but in all honesty I think this deserves its own review, and why…well…like all the leading actors in the film I love westerns, my Dad loves Westerns – I’ve got to say that it has to be one of my favourite genres out there, since I was a kid. I think Vincent D’onofrio who played Jack Horne said it best ‘it has nothing to do with a good western, it has to do with morals and good and evil’.

For me the making of a film has everything to do with the film, it has its own backstory, through the cast and the crew; it is what they go through to make the story great, its who they are as people that they bring to the set and from what Chris Pratt said, its about what they have wanted to bring to the set. The role he played was a part that he wanted to play as a child and what makes it even greater is he looks as though he thoroughly enjoyed himself during the making, as I said in my original review, he made the film and is my favourite character in the whole film – his arrogant, amusing, cocky personality is what made him make the film. Even throughout the making he will keep you chuckling.

To me Denzel’s depiction of the film and its spiritual aspect of good against evil, which is a powerful statement to make, especially in a film of this magnitude, especially when you have an ongoing story of Magnificent Seven to live up to and keep it great, without disrespecting the original stars of this great western. Denzel also says that there are those of us that have been put on this earth to protect the innocent, to defend the innocent which is why I love the genre – it is not only that but it is the sense of freedom, it is the sense of being able to do what you please and go where you please, unhindered.

Ethan Hawke who plays Goodnight Robicheaux goes a step further and I quote “There’s something deeply American about the Western, there’s an iconography about it that I think has reached a lot of people. There’s something that is so heroic that we all long for that kind of heroism in our life’. I think its that quote that just labels it all because we do, remembering that I am the same generation of the majority of the main cast who grew up watching westerns. I grew up watching Clint Eastwood in spaghetti westerns, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and then other Westerns like the older Magnificent Seven, The Lone Ranger, John Wayne westerns – it is iconic and I can definitely agree with Ethan Hawke because it is an iconography, its an iconography that led me to wanting to write the western that I want to write.

So, do yourself a favour, ignore the fact that Denzel Washington never runs out of ammunition and invest in this version, you will not be sorry, for the feature film or the making and I guarantee you that if you watch the making first you will want to watch the feature film…

Enjoy…

Script-to-Screen

When I first started this blog I didn’t really think about my writing in the full scheme of things, I thought about blogging which is just a small part of it all, for years since my teens I have dabbled in my writing and have a few drafts saved in my cloud storage, all works of fiction, one even going back to when I was seventeen years old that starts during the Belgian-Congo uprising in the early 1960’s; I got as far as losing the manuscript but years later I remembered how I began the story and I had matured a lot and so I embellished on the opening scenes way better than I could in my teens, however for some reason one day I just didn’t touch it again. Its sitting in my cloud storage facility and if it were possible it would be gathering dust – lets just say it is, “cyber-dust”.

Within the last decade or so I have fancied doing a screenwriting course and writing a screenplay and so I have invested in two courses, the Complete Screenwriting Course by Charles Harris and another I am waiting for delivery on, Screenwriters Bible, 6th Edition by David Trottier. Both seem pretty formidable in the particular field from the reviews and should help me get to where I want to in the field of screenwriting, although I would like to tackle the other books I have started writing, all of which are titled but none of which are actually complete. One starts in the Belgian-Congo in the early 1960’s (which I might shelve), the other is set in the US in Montana (present day) of which I feel I am at the point where I can only do so much research online and one is a fiction take of what could happen in Zimbabwe where the ruling party have declared all out war on the populace and murdered all political leaders of the opposition parties and several foreign governments have evacuated their nationals and there is an international military/humanitarian response with the inclusion of several other African states – I then have another story I want to work on…

Genre: Western.

Type: Screenplay.

I haven’t even written anything down for this, I’ve done research on weapons they’d have used within the period which begins on October 5th, 1877 at the Battle of Bearpaw Mountain between Chief Joseph of the Nez Perc and the US 7th Cavalry – this is the only factual part of the story. The research has gone from researching Native American tribes locale to the area (s) (surrounding Montana, Utah and Wyoming right down to New Mexico during the time that the story is set which ranges from 1877 to 1887) to cowboy slang, weapons, dress, geography, meteorology and the US cavalry. But sadly I haven’t taken myself further than that. This year I however intend on taking my writing a lot more seriously.

Course vs Project: –                                                                                                                                                  

So in light of all the other projects I have in the pipeline I have a screenplay that I have had in mind for a couple of years that would be ideal as a project whilst I do the course that in the past have only gone as far as thinking about but no more than I am now. It is set during World War Two and a joint operation between the then British Special Forces and the Armia Krajowa (Polish Free Army (Polish Resistance, basically)) I have already made moves to do some research through the Imperial War Museum in London. My idea behind this specifically is I believe that the British film industry should make a come back and I know for a fact that I am not the only prospective writer/screenwriter that feels like this. If are we to look at films such as Battle of Britain, Bridge Over the River Kwai (though co-produced by British and American companies), The Dam Busters, Guns of Navarone (British and American co-produced), Where Eagles Dare; but to name a few and not to mention some other genres which made the British film industry great and I think its time that the industry made a steadfast comeback.  Yes, sure, we do have some later, more modern great British flicks, there is no doubt about that but I think its time we made a good comeback and I believe it is up to us writers to help with that; whatever the genre, be it war, science fiction, romance, romantic-comedies, comedies, horrors (though I am not one for horrors), thrillers. We need to start pumping out pieces of work (I needed to elaborate on the pumping out because of several friends of mine who would add a connotation to that) and this is the reason I am pushing myself for this project I have in mind because I believe that the industry can make a great comeback, even if we went back to co-producing with some American film companies. Even if we started producing films with European film companies such as Nordisk Film that made Krigen (A War), or Easy Company in France that co-directed with several other production companies to make the outstanding modern French war film Forces Spéciales. I do believe its a comeback that is possible and with legendary British directors/producers/screenwriters such as Paul Greengrass that IS possible – thats assuming he’s washed his hands of any further Bourne movies. So yeah, this is where I am at, I need to grasp this momentum and fly with it because it is only us who can make our dreams come true, through shear hard work and determination.

I have also taken the liberty of posting both trailers for Forces Spéciales and Krigen. Forces Spéciales is default French with English subtitles. Krigen is the same, Dutch with English subtitles. Both are really good films and Krigen shows the bitter truth of what European troops are up against for doing their jobs in Afghanistan. I recommend both and worthwhile investments as war films go.

 

 

 

Harpur’s of Melbourne – Second Time Around

So, this being my second time around at Harpur’s of Melbourne but to check out their breakfast menu. My first review, Harpur’s of Melbourne, was my first time eating here as a friend of mine had come over from Birmingham and so this was the first restaurant I tried and since then have decided a big part of the reviews will be reviewing Melbourne pubs and restaurants/eateries, while I’m here.

So the plan was to have the harpur’s full which consists of pork & leek sausage, bacon, black pudding, baked beans, grilled plum tomato, flatcap mushroom, free range eggs, wholemeal or white toast being at £8.95 a meal, not bad going – however, as I am not overly fond of baked beans or mushrooms I opted not to have either, which I hope won’t impede a successful review; I have no doubt for those that do like either, or they will be perfect.

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As I opted not to have the mushroom or baked beans I chose to have an extra rasher of bacon, I should have had an extra egg as it already came with two rashers but the breakfast itself, as the lunch a few weeks ago was done to perfection.

A slightly amusing instance was the reaction when I mentioned my previous review to the barmaid and asked if it had been sent on to them by head office, she then asked if I blogged to which I said yes it was why I was here, to do my second review, she then sounded nervous of which I assured she had nothing to be nervous about as everything was fine to which she replied they weren’t even prepared; as I said to her, its like a mystery shopper, its not designed to make anyone prepared, its there to surprise them, to catch them off guard.

I then tended to my blog with a lovely glass of fresh orange juice.
I then tended to my blog with a lovely glass of fresh orange juice.

But the breakfast was delicious, the service was good, the bar area was spotless and there are no complaints from me in general. I have found both Kate and Hayley’s service second to none.

I do look forward to reviewing the hotel and further reviews in the future. I will be reviewing other Melbourne eateries in the future to mix it up a bit, so if you’re in Melbourne and see this review, see you around – look forward to seeing what you have to offer in cuisine and service.