One Door Closes, A Whole World Opens

Posted in The Ramblings Of ... on 12 August, 2010 by sonal

And so we come to an end of things. School is over, the MA passed, a writing career is ahead of me and currently I am procrastinating over a cover letter for a job application (some things will never change) …

It’s finally time to move on and bring an end to my days on Maupuia Masala. Having too much school work has already done most of that however I think I have achieved all that I wanted to with this blog.

As those of you who are still reading know, it all started with a broken heart which lead to a voyageold sights and sounds, old and new friends, lost a few folk along the way, mellowed out and became more stubborn at the same time.

It ends with a heart healed, stronger than ever and deeply in love; much of which has been kept off of this blog, probably with good reason … I feel so different to the person who started this blog that Maupuia Masala no longer fits as well as it used to.

This doesn’t meant the end to my life on the web, just the end of this particular phase. I’m moving off to Songs From The Ninth Floor, a new place where I can procrastinate while talking about writing and occasionally veering off into other things. The twitter feed won’t follow me there but it will be still active here if you want to check in and see what I’m up to.

See you on the other side.

Arohanui

s xx

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Liveblogging: The Hitchhike To Reform?

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 6 May, 2010 by sonal

Well, a girl can dream.

It’s election day in the home of the “Westminster system” where that archaic electoral dinosaur know as first past the post is still in play even though they’ve managed to do away with hereditary peerage, an effective monarchy and the ability to settle an argument between men with a duel (a sad loss, in my opinion).

Tonight an angry voting public could take us to a hung parliament – sick of banks being bailed out with public money and still getting big bonuses, politicians from all sides claiming expenses as ridiculous as duck ponds not to mention this wee business of a war that Tony Blair lied to everyone will lead us to a very close race between Labour, Conservatives (Tories) and the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems)

The polls have just closed, the night begins.

10:17pm BST (or British Summer Time/GMT+1 – praise daylight savings!)
And within minutes, the combined BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll has come in … and my first question is: Sky? Really? Rupert and James Murdoch (or Rupert Jr until I think of a better nickname) agreed to cooperate with the very organisation they would like to lead down an alley and bludgeon to death with a page 3 girl given the opportunity?

Anyway, the exit polls read as – Tory: 307, Labour: 255, Lib Dems: 59, Others: 29

10.36pm BST
It’s a bit of a grim forecast, the Lib Dems have been polling very high this week and were expected to be in a race to be second with Labour. There’s no reason to despair just yet, the Tories don’t have an outright majority, the numbers are close and, of course, it’s just an exit poll. The Financial Times have a good article on why to read them with a few sacks of salt.

One in six voters refuse to respond to an exit poll It’s a mind your own business answer. And no one knows if these people disproportionately vote for one party.

The exit polling sample barely covers Lib-Lab marginals Because there is no data from on individual polling stations, the wonks calculate the change from the 2001 and 2005 exit polls. It covers around 120 polling stations. But there’s only data on three Lib-Lab marginals. That’s why the Lib Dem vote share prediction was too low in 2005. The problem will be even greater this year.

It’s a mad rush to manage the data and make a prediction It’s a Thursday. Most people vote after they’ve been to work. That gives the boffins very little time to make the calculations. They’re working to a 10pm deadline and data is still streaming through until 7pm.

10.53pm BST
The BBC is reporting that a polling station in Cameron’s constituency turned voters away when they closed dead on 10pm. Voter turn out has been high this year with long queues at polling stations reported all over the country.

That said, I wonder how many or well distributed the polling booths are? I didn’t come across one on my way into town or during my run this evening which makes me think that they need more.

Houghton & Sunderland South are first to declare in favour of Labour (with a majority of 10,990 and a turn out of 55%)

10.57pm BST
That was one of the most amusing declarations I’ve ever seen, mostly because I just couldn’t get this scene out of my head while watching …

No really, it’s exactly the same. Exactly. Including the Pitt the Even Younger … she won the seat.

11.12pm BST
Voters in large numbers (and by large, we mean 200 at some booths) are reporting that they were in queue to vote and then turned away the second the polls close with police called in to disperse the angry mob.

There are also a number of expat postal votes lost thanks to the volcano (all hail Vulcan, for he is mighty!). Turns out you have to post your vote to arrive in the UK in time. Given the amount of technology available to us, this is ridiculous! To vote in the NZ election, Louise and I had to print out our voting papers, sign a separate declaration paper and fax both back to NZ. FAX. I know! Who uses those things anymore?

11.27pm BST
So what’s the coverage like? On free to air television, your viewing choices are the BBC (currently playing on my laptop) who have wholly embraced CNN Situation Room style graphics (sadly sans hologram but with domino falling sound effects) and Jeremy Paxman (like Paul Holmes and just as irritating/arrogant/a cunt); ITV with a dull set that could be part of TVNZ’s coverage (but less diverse … ok, grumpy, old, white guys) …

Ooh, Washington and Sunderland West declare in favour of Labour (another traditionally safe seat)

11.38pm BST
Where was I? Ah yes, coverage. Channel 4 has their “alternative election coverage” which means a bunch of funny, white, males such as Rich Hall, David Mitchell, Robert Webb, Charlie Brooker and Alan Carr give their commentary … it’s a bit hit and miss, plus their news seems to be about half an hour off at the moment, possibly to run it through a set of writers off camera for a gag first. BBC Parliament have the BBC Scotland feed which I can’t see very well except to see that the set looks like TVNZ election day circa 1984, minus an excitable Nigel Roberts bouncing about and making the backdrop wobble.

And we break again for Sunderland Central to declare …

The seat goes to Labour.

11.52pm BST
There’s a palpable sense of disappointment from the various commentators that they have to wait a bit longer for Labour’s first defeat and the whiff of change. So without that, they have danced all over the “swing to the Conservatives” line … of course, they’re still on FPP, so it’s MP wins that count, not votes for party. If a hung parliament occurs in spite of the swing in the Tories favour, does this mean they’d back electoral reform?

Sky are breaking that a polling station in Sheffield is unable to remove the ballot boxes for counting as angry voters, who were unable to vote, won’t let them.

12.04am BST
Ah yes, Sky News, that’s the channel playing on my television and my other source of television coverage for the night. It’s like a poor man’s BBC (oh the irony, Rupert, the crushing, meglomaniacal irony) – split screens, voice over live feed images and title graphics but nothing like the virtual Number 10 that the BBC are currently giving us a history lesson on.

12.26am BST
BBC are now reporting that some of the electoral lists hadn’t been updated in time for today with registered voters being turned away. This is the headline for the election now with a public apology from the chief returning officer and much talk that there may be legal challenges to the final result.

I have no idea what the letter of the law says, then again, no one else seems to either. It would appear that the returning officers believed that there was a risk that any votes received after 10pm would be invalid. Problem is, there seems to be other talk that the law extends to the line, so the last person in line at 10pm should be the cut off …

Oh and some of the polling stations ran out of ballot papers.

Cos, y’know, it’s not like you had to register to vote 3 weeks ago and then be told the polling station you had to attend or anything, so obviously, it was a complete surprise. *headdesk*

12.39am BST
I’ve lost my internet connection … yes, I’ve switched the modem off at the wall and switched it back on again … will I ever have it back? I’ve been reduced to knowingly talking to myself about politics … and silent yelling at the modem.

On the bright side, found stale corn chips in the cupboard. Score!

12.49am BST
Le sigh, it appears there is an unknown outage in the area, length until it’s fixed? Also unknown. Fuck you Talk Talk, you’re a useless ISP.

1.01am BST
And back online, in time to see Cameron do a walk and shake … someone stick their leg out and trip him up, please.

Apparently the bond market is opening. At 1am. Are they fucking insane? No really, WTF? Since when did trading begin outside of usual office hours? Actions like this do little to dissuade me that Capitalism and The Market are greedy, ugly bastards.

1.09am BST
In other news Belfast East went to the Alliance (and judging by the excited response of my mate, Alan, this is a surprising thing), and the Tories have taken their first seat in Kingswood.

Torbay declares for Lib Dems, keeping their sitting MP.

1.12am BST
Somewhere in the middle of losing the internet for an hour I’ve managed to miss a few more seats – the current house reads as: Labour 4, Tories 4, LibDem 1, Others 6

I turned over to see what was happening on Channel 4 only to be rewarded by the sight of Boris Johnson … it’s a sign, back to my BBC and Sky diet.

1.19am BST
Results are starting to coming in a bit faster. The seat of Putney goes to the Tories and David Blunkett has gone on Sky to tell us that the Tories will come away with a small majority overall … Somewhere in a small storage, rocking back and forth in the corner is a sweaty Labour strategist, yelling at their iPhone and fashioning a voodoo doll out of mop ends and toilet rolls into the form of David Blunkett.

1.32am BST
Yikes, energy is starting to flag … in the meantime Kirkcaldy, Gordon Brown’s seat is safe and a dude stands with sunglasses on and his fist in the air … eh?

He’s keeping it up while Brown gives his acceptance speech.

Does he think he’s a Scottish Malcolm X?

1.49am BST
Labour keeps Tooting (to the jubilant cries of “yes we Khan”), the Tories take Battersea and the commentators fret at the variation of the swings to the Tories, some seats are as high as 9% others as low as 3% … the media wants results, the voters are fucking with their heads.

1.57am BST
So it turns out that fist dude is a comedian who calls his party “Land is Power” … uh huh … dude needs to work on his jokes.

Commentators are starting to freak out about a hung parliament while the pound rises in value – it would appear that the Market is bidding on a Tory win. The Market and it’s spotty school boy traders can go fuck themselves … they’re probably expert at it.

2.32am BST
The biggest freak isn’t around a hung parliament itself, rather that Labour would try and form a coalition government with the LibDems, even if they get less votes than the Tories – how dare they form a government with the like minded party who are a natural coalition partner.

One thing does seem to be clear across the coverage and on the numbers alone, the LibDems don’t seem to be doing as well as the polls during the week have promised. They haven’t taken any Tory seats so far (and have lost Montgomeryshire to them) but, at the same time, the Tories haven’t been taking as many Labour seats as expected, either.

What is interesting is that the sentence “the problem about voting under a system like this” is starting to crop up more and more in the analysis. Tonight is proving to be particularly frustrating for the commentators as they begin to comprehend that the popular vote may not yield the majority they expect. Does this mean electoral reform? I hope so, but the immediate financial crisis that the UK faces (and we’re talking epic Greek levels of up shit creekness) means that reform could be put to the side and forgotten for a while.

A very sleepy 2.48am BST
An update on numbers so far: Labour 57, Tories 42, LibDems 6, Others 18 to get an outright majority, a party will need 326 seats.

Sky are reporting that Labour holds the “bellweather” seat of Birmingham Edgbaston … BBC tell us that it’s under recount. More broadcaster repeat the same things they have been saying for the last 5 hours now … 5 hours? Must. stay. awake.

2.59am BST
David Cameron holds his seat. His shiny face makes it’s way to the podium. A man with a cowboy hat and yellow ribbon stands behind him.

His sentence “Labour have clearly lost their mandate to govern our country” only gets applause from a couple of people. He then says “blah, blah, blah, change, blah, blah” verbatim.

3.30am BST
Holy crap it’s 3.20 in the morning and only one third of the constituencies have been declared … I don’t know if I can actually do this anymore. Labour and the Tories are currently neck and neck but the overall swing to the right has dropped to only 4%, not enough for the Tories to get a majority of any sort.

The BBC are now reporting that Labour and the LibDems have started a conversation meanwhile their commentators are also beginning to point out that the LibDems demands for electoral reform doesn’t sit well with the worship of FPP by the Tories. Possible paddle on the horizon?

3.37am BST
The seat count has now gone in favour of the Tories – 117 the rest follows as Labour 106, Lib Dems 19, Others 24 … and the commentators ask how the LibDems and Tories can reconcile their differences to form a government.

4.03am BST
My mind is starting to drift … and my eyes are droopy … I’m going to take a nap, which may turn into sleep. Apologies for abandoning you. I highly recommend the far more informative liveblog from the Grauniad (not sure if you can watch the BBC coverage outside the UK, do let me know). May see you soon. Or not.

We know the final answer though.

It’s hung.

7.47am BST
Aaaaaaaaand, we’re still going. Aah, awaking to a parliament as hung as Guido Fawkes before he had an appendectomy among other things is quite refreshing. One of my home electorates has been called in favour of Labour, the other has not (nae bother, both are safe Labour seats … poor folk live around me, they are not as easily swayed by glittery things as those who could be categorised as “the haves”). Of course the media are in a tizz and the ugly traders have drunk too much sugar and coffee so are bouncing off the walls waiting for the ultimate sugar crash as they don’t know who’s running the country.

The numbers this morning read: Tories 285, Labour 220, Lib Dems 51, Others 43

I, however, need to get up and off to school so more on this, later …

2.33pm BST
Previously on Yes Prime Minister …
David Cameron is about to make a speech. At this point the Tories have hit the 300 mark with Labour on 255, LibDems on 55 and Other parties/candidates taking 28 seats.

Plastic face walks on stage: “blah, blah, blah, blah, change, blah, blah”

Cameron makes an offer for a confidence and supply agreement with the Lib Dems BUT he appeals back to his base and against LibDems policies of immigration and EU partnerships.

2.43pm BST
He makes the promise to get rid of the ID cards (bet that doesn’t extend to me) and some form of electoral reform … and by some he means changing the electoral sizes so that they’re “even” but keeping it FPP rather than proportional representation. Er, David? That’s not electoral reform, that’s wallpapering.

This is not the offer of a coalition.

2.55pm BST
Earlier in the afternoon Gordon Brown made his semi concession speech … semi in that his words were:

I understand and completely respect the position of Mr Clegg in stating that he wishes to make contact with the leader of the Conservative party.

“As you know we already have in place mechanisms and facilities that will give the political parties any civil service support they need. Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg should clearly be entitled to take as much time as they see necessary.

“For my part I should make clear that I would be willing to see any of the party leaders. Clearly if the discussions between Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg come to nothing then I would of course be prepared to discuss with Mr Clegg the areas where there may be some measure of agreement between our two parties.”

3.14pm BST
The speeches over, the negotiating begins. A variety of Tory MPs and Lords are arguing that electoral reform doesn’t equate to proportional representation.

In closing this blog I think I’ll throw this over to an image that my flatmate, Helen, has found …

link

If the LibDems are going to go into any form of agreement with either party, they would be incredibly stupid to accept anything other than electoral reform leading to proportional representation.

The answer for them lies with the next election in 2015 – go with Tory and alienate their voter base who didn’t want to vote Labour but hate the Tories with every bone in their body? Or go with Labour and be stuck with Gordon Brown and tainted by Labour’s corrupt hand?

Thanks for reading all the way down to here while I geeked out and yet probably missed a lot of info for you if you weren’t already watching.

I’ve lost my ability at grammar.

Time to call it a day and return my energies to assignments and fretting over my immigration status (where the hoops probably got smaller and higher).

Til the next election …

Live Blog Tonight – Please, God, No Tories!

Posted in In the News, Liveblog on 6 May, 2010 by sonal

Will the UK be brave enough to give us a hung parliament (and finally get electoral reform)?

Will the Thatcher Menace be defeated?

Have you voted yet? No? Stop reading this and go vote, NOW!

link

The Calling

Posted in School, The Ramblings Of ... on 21 February, 2010 by sonal

You know you’re homesick when* …

As I said in yesterday’s rant, I’m at the point where I feel I need to defend my voice or at least I now think I know what my voice isn’t (which is not as good as knowing what it is, but I’ll clutch at these few straws for now). I received a critique on how darkly I’ve been looking at the world with each draft and every time I been given the suggestion of something lighter or happier for the characters, something redeeming, I’m unable to feel the truth of that situation.

I wonder if I’m starting to fit into the idea of a cinema of unease … the style of story telling that I’m becoming more comfortable with comes from home. My story world is at home and now as I struggle with the characters and the story, I feel a need to reconnect, to stop running away from the landscape.

The mountains are calling. Dark, oppressive, foreboding, they’re calling me home. I can feel the call in my heart – every night I dream of them and the long shadows that they cast. My memories of them are not sunny or warm but cold and brooding.

This is a strange headspace to be in.

(* yes, I’m in a desperate state – I’ve got the Two Towers on for god’s sake! Yesterday it was Braindead, last week it was Eagle Vs Shark and now I wish I had a copy of Sleeping Dogs, Goodbye Pork Pie, Came A Hot Friday, Out of the Blue, The Price of Milk, In My Father’s Den …)

Losing My Way

Posted in School, The Reading Room on 20 February, 2010 by sonal

So for today’s 30 min rant we shall talk about why I haven’t done a 30 min rant since I promised to.

1. The internet died. No, really. For some reason our ISP decided to change something that identifies us to them to connect us, didn’t tell us and so no internet for a few days.

2. Storyline, deadline. No amount of 30 minute babble was going to help with what was essentially a basic structure issue with little prose … well that’s what I’m telling myself anyway.

For the last week I’ve been wrestling with the feedback I received for my feature outline. To start with I HATE what I am writing right now. I really wanted to write a zombie film and came up with a couple of secondary ideas that I was a bit luke warm about to add to the pitching session because we had to come up with three of them.

Turns out, everyone latched onto the one I had made up an hour before class and so it became my feature. It’s a film about rugby.

Yes. I know.

anyway, there have been a couple of twists and turns along the way – at one stage the story was a satire about the commercialism of the sport and then it was about two brothers and their rivalry.

One tutor, pushed me to have something complete as a story line, a new tutor has pushed me into looking at the truth of a character. I’m unhappy with the results from both.

Firstly, yes, I now have an awesome character who I really like, but somewhere in creating him, I’ve lost what has left me really interested in the story and gone for something else. Now I feel I have to fight a little for my voice, which I guess is part of the learning process, but it is incredibly frustrating all the same. Especially when a rough draft of the script is due at the end of this week … yup it will be another all nighter for me on Thursday, I think.

Not being in love with this script is driving me insane. As it is, my mind has started wandering to other projects – I’ve now got a few ideas for some film and television, another couple of scripts that I want to start getting into and even found a solution to dirty creatures (I really do have a thing about zombies) … I chose to stick with this project as a lesson in just completing something. We all know how difficult that has been for me in the last couple of years.

At the same time, this screenplay is meant to serve as my spec script to send out when I start looking for an agent after school is over – I want it to be a fair representation of what I can do so I can get more work out of it. I don’t want to create something that is something I never intend on writing again.

In a sense it’s a good thing this isn’t the zombie film or the t.v. murder series, Shakespeare adaptation or even a film version of dirty creatures – we all know that these screenplays are the ones that will never get made and I really want to make my zombie film.

And on that note, my 30min are up (with some disruptions to plug in my mac and turn on the telly) … time to find my way.

Something for the Reading Room: A great summary from a writing event in LA. My favourite bit is this:

“Precious” screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher, in response to a question about the script being his first produced screenplay, told the audience that he’d written more than 15 other scripts. “I’d heard that Oliver Stone wrote 20 before he got produced, so I”m ahead”

Looks like there’s a long way to go for me …

And In Other News

Posted in School on 7 February, 2010 by sonal

I’ve made it into term 2 of film school (you need to pass each term to proceed to the next – and given the massive surprised I received from passing all of my assignments, this now doesn’t seem as difficult to do).

School is insanely busy, all though this term feels a bit easier than last. This term my major assignments are the first draft of my feature film; my work and research journal and a minor seminar about Pinter.

As always with my writing, there are good days and bad days … and yes, still leaving plenty to the last minute, although I’m trying to change that (with little success). Last term I tried to find a routine and came to the conclusion that 4 hours of creative output on my own work was about all I could do before I was writing complete shit. Now I’ve just have to find a way to create the conditions to get those four hours of slightly less shit.

At the same time to this, I’ve been learning to run. Yes. Actually running, outside, sometimes even in snow thanks to the good old couch to 5k programme – tomorrow is week 9 and 5kms around West Norwood with Kathryn (after which we shall celebrate with a cup of tea). So I’m going to see if I can apply interval training to writing … build up to the 4 hour momentum slowly until my brain becomes used to it. We shall see.

As part of this, I’m going to use this blog as part of the 5 min warm up “walk” and just write a bit of garbage that has nothing to do with what I’m actually writing to get my head in the right space – slowly building up from, say 90min to 4 hours.

I’m not promising anything of quality – it may be me writing something along the lines of ‘oh dear god, how the hell am I going to write for 30min about sweet fuck all without resorting to “blah, blah, blah … I can’t think of anything” etc.’ OR it could be stuff that may or may not make it into my work and research journal.

Here we go …

For Those Of You Playing At Home …

Posted in Travelog on 7 February, 2010 by sonal

I finally have a student visa for the UK, so finishing my studies at film school shouldn’t be any issue, providing I pass. As for what happens after school finishes is any one’s guess – I’ve got two months from the date of the last class and then I’ll have to either leave or ump through a new set of hoops for the next visa (if I can get it in time). Ugh.

I am also now in the possession of an ID card for dirty foreigners. This now replaces the standard visa that used to be in my passport so now I have to carry both whenever I go through the border and if I apply for any part time work. It has a wee microchip and carries a pile of information on me – probably more than I’d ever be comfortable with in the same place. Apparently the Tories are planning to do away with these cards if they win the next election (it’d difficult to see how they won’t at the moment).

I’m not holding my breath.

I wonder how long ’til the whole system is compromised by some absent-minded civil servant?