Nelson Mandela, a Movie, and an Epiphany


I have had an amazing amount of things happen to me this year, it seems as if Lady Luck or God or whoever is in charge “up-there” is attempting to make up for my health issues and near-death experiences of last year. But for all the interesting and further “life-changing” events, the last two weeks have been the most…tumultuous? A fortnight of Nelson Mandela, making a movie, and having a sudden epiphany about my life.

I’ll explain.

On June 26, the paper that I work for, and believe me when I tell you I’ve never worked for a better company, had received news from a very reliable source that Nelson Mandela had died. Madiba was no more. The source (actually sources) were very highly placed in South Africa and had no axe to grind or ulterior motive apart from telling the world the truth.

My publisher asked me to write a piece about the facts as they’d been presented, which I sadly did. We placed the finished article in the “pending” file to wait for our second confirmation that Madiba had died. Our news editor, a great chap and one hell of a newsman/writer, in fit of over-zealousness, published my article.

All hell broke loose.

In under four hours, the article had gotten over half a million views. It also was attacked, both verbally and physically. I received a huge amount of hate-mail and negativity from readers. I got threats from individuals to remove the story at once. Our new’s site was attacked with repeated DDoS attacks that were traced back to South Africa.

The South African government, or their sanctioned agents, attempted to kill the story and our website. They succeeded in slowing the story down, but it is still alive and it is still the truth, in our eyes. Not long after the second day of DDoS attacks on our site, we received further confirmation that the iconic Nelson Mandela was dead.

While the rest of the world’s new’s sites continue to support President Zuma‘s fiction of the man being alive, we know the truth and it will come out.

But moving on from the death of Nelson Mandela, something the South African people aren’t allowed to do yet, by Zuma and Mandela’s family, follow this link to read about it, last weekend I made a movie.

Well, acted in a movie to be truthful. I had a ball! I’ve said repeatedly in my earlier posts that I had not been in front of the camera since *cough* the 1990s. Tash Harmer the owner operator of Films and Things, and if you don’t follow her F&T blog, stop reading this right this instant and do so; Tash is in University and she wrote a brilliant script for a short feature that received top honours at her Uni.

She decided to use the script to shoot her first professional effort. She wisely surrounded herself with a familiar crew, fellow Uni chums Meera Daji, Fiona Lockwood, and Katie-marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr, all of whom are in the same media type course as Tash.

Thank you all

I got the lead of Chris in the Once Bitten, Twice Shy short sans audition. Tash’s faith in me never wavered and I’ll always be grateful for the chance that she gave me. The chance to see if I still had my chops. Time and the film will hopefully show that I have still, “got it.”

But what I have definitely gotten is the chance to do the other thing, apart from writing, that I love. Bless you Tash and the gang, I’ll drop everything to work with you and the wonderful actors I worked with that day (who are, by the by, Steve Speak and Sanna Kelly).

Now on to my epiphany.

I have heard all my life two adages that have always irritated the hell out of me. The first one goes: All things come to those who wait, and the second one goes: Everything happens for a reason.

My reaction has always been a heartfelt and loud B***Sh**!

Not any more. I got divorced almost two years ago and I’ve never been happier. The loss of my second wife freed my mind, and her’s I think, and allowed me to devote more time to my first passion, writing. I now have broken the 70,000 view mark and beaten my 600 follow count by a good sum (and it’s still rising) and I’m working as a professional writer whose work is seen by millions. To paraphrase the Bible, “my cup runneth over.”

Blogging aside, and you’ll never know how much I love all of you  in the blogging community who’ve read, followed and interacted with me since I started this blogging venture, as I mentioned above,   I’ve gotten employed for the first time of my life as a professional writer and I’ve acted again, really acted for the first time in years. These two events combined with the warmth I’ve gotten from the blogging community, as well as getting Freshly Pressed last year, have really made me feel complete for the first time in years.

The divorce, my work injury and subsequent near death from a heart attack, and my ill-health retirement from same, all seem to have conspired to put me in this,  almost obscenely, happy place. I work with people that I love and respect as brother’s and sister’s who all have the same hopes, dreams and the overwhelming urge to write.

And I get paid huge dividends for my labour, as does everyone who works for the Guardian Express Las Vegas. I got a chance to re-live my passion for acting and I stumbled by chance into the world of the real news, I usually write what I call the “fluff” aka entertainment. I’ve been truly blessed.

So my epiphany  is this: Everything does, indeed, happen for a reason and good things do come to those who wait; even it that waiting period lasts a lifetime.

So there you have it. An encapsulated, if not long, period of my life and its changes and my changes. I love you all and I thank you all for going with me on this fascinating and wondrous journey. May the force be with you, or may you live long and prosper, or may you never get a wooden nickel.

Or to paraphrase one of my daughter Megs’ and my favourite film’s, Demolition Man, “Be well.”

Mugging at Kate!

Christmas Time; Memories and Time…

Not quite Norman Rockwell, but pretty damn impressive from google images…

Despite the fact that I cannot stand Cliff Richard’s Christmas song (the one that goes Christmas time; Mistletoe and Wine, Children sing in Christian rhyme…I don’t know what comes after that as I always change the channel after the rhyme part) it made a great title pop into my head for this “seasonal post.”

When Christmas time rolls around each year I feel a myriad of emotions. *you would not believe how hard that previous sentence was to write, either because of the subject or the fact that it is O-dark thirty in the morning*

The child part of my mind remembers excited mornings of rushing to see what Santa had left under the tree and getting dressed up in our best Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes and gathering up more presents for cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents and heading to the first of two “family” Christmas meals.

Time marches on and new memories grew and died. My first family, wife and son, spent only one Christmas together and as life progressed my feelings at Christmas were always wistful and sad.

My second family, wife and daughter, made up for the missed years in my previous family. Christmas consisted of spending time with my extended family (the in-laws) and doing Christmas tapes for the grandparents who could not spend time with their granddaughter on the big day.

As time continued to move ever forward, these Christmas “traditions” also changed, but, deep at the heart of each year’s celebration was the feeling of loss and sadness. I could never quite put my finger on why I felt either of these emotions on a day that celebrations are due.

My third family, me and my daughter, spent our first Christmas together in a shell shocked frenzy of putting up a tree and decorating my new flat; our second Christmas together, we did a video for our channels on YouTube (and got a better tree and more decorations). This year time has stepped in, again, and we’re only now putting up the tree and decorations.

Meg’s and my Christmas message last year from YouTube

I think that due to everything that has happened this year that we are in the “shell shocked” stage again. Not necessarily because of the events themselves, but, because of the amount of events and their “life changing” qualities.

In addition to my untimely “Get-out-of-life-free” card that I drew from the community chest of life (that luckily I did not have to use), I finally figured out why I’d felt so sad and lost at Christmas. My inner child was crying out for times and memories past to re-play each year. He wasn’t satisfied with how each “new” Christmas was going. He wanted the old days, the youth, excitement, family and love that filled whichever house he was living in at the time.

These memories were replaced, for a while, when he got to film his daughter’s excitement of Christmas and the opening of Santa’s presents that was always over too soon.

As the inner child in me has gotten smaller with time, the innocent joy of Christmas has been replaced with a longing for “how it used to be.” Somewhere along the way, I’ve forgotten the joy that comes about from just thinking of Christmas and all it means. Not the commercial aspects, although I’ve not been able to afford to buy anyone presents for the last two years, nor the religious meanings; but, just the general “feel good” factor of the holiday.

That “peace on earth, goodwill to men” thing that makes everything seem a little bit better and brighter, had taken a hike. It was on holiday (aka vacation) and wasn’t coming back anytime soon.

Last night, Meg and I went out to purchase our Christmas meal makings. As we left our little metro, the huge security chap wished us both a happy Christmas, and something in me shifted. I’m not talking about a “Grinch-like” heart operation here, but it does have to do with the heart I suppose.

I realised, finally, that I was damned lucky to be here for Christmas. That despite the overall “bad” news about work and money and health, I was still here and that (God willing) I would be here on Christmas morning. In that split second of sending the security man’s Christmas wishes back to him, I changed how I saw the holiday.

Now the memories of all my childhood Santa celebrations with my huge family have a nostalgic sweetness that has been missing. I cannot change the other memories of Christmas past but, like Scrooge, I have my Christmas present and future to look forward to. I guess you could say that my memories have taken a turn for the better and just in time.

To all my friends and neighbours, from a “by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin survivor,” I wish you a Happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Paying Up
Christmas last year.
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