Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Dogs and Babies.

I deliberated with myself a lot over whether to write this post. I don't intend it to be a bashing of the parents or families of children who have been seriously injured or killed by dogs because lets face it, they've probably been punished enough. It's just a matter which has been weighing on my mind for the last couple of days and I wanted to defend these so called 'dangerous' dogs. I hope it doesn't turn into a massive incoherent rant but it's a matter which is very close to my heart.

Yesterday in Pontyberem, Wales, a six day old baby was reportedly killed by her family's pet, an Alaskan Malamute. You can read the full story here. How many times does this have to happen for people to wake up and realise that a child, alone and unsupervised, with a dog just isn't a good mix? I would never fully trust any dog with a child, they are animals.

Alaskan Malamutes 'should be supervised around unfamiliar small animals, as they have a strong prey instinct'. Why would you leave an animal which is described like that around a young baby? Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love dogs. I cannot wait to be in a situation where I can get one of my own and it will most definitely be a large and widely regarded 'dangerous' breed. But even if i got a Jack Russell I wouldn't be leaving it alone with my child.

My mum has an Alaskan Malamute and a Siberian Husky and I can relate to the quote about them having a strong prey instinct. They are both brilliant dogs, so soft and gentle with us and they have really loving, laid back temperaments, but there is no way in hell I would ever let them be around children alone. I have seen them run after and pluck a seagull from the sky, thrust their heads into a hedge and come out with a bird between their jaws. I don't encourage it, obviously, but I can't punish them for it, they're animals and it's their nature. They had to survive for many years by hunting for their prey. Just because humans have decided that we like their company doesn't mean that we can change what's been hardwired into them by hundreds of thousands of years of evolution.

Our childhood dog was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix. He was the best dog ever. That's the only way I can describe him. The best dog. Staffies are immensely protective and in tune to their owners emotions, a soppier breed of dog you'd be hard pressed to find, but they are strong. More people every year are hospitalised because of Labrador bites than bites from a Staffordshire Bull Terrier but it is not sensationalised in the news because people aren't often killed by Labradors. A Labrador's instinct is to go for the arms and legs, they will bite and let go. A Staffy, with jaws that could bend steel, will instinctively go for the face and body and they do not let go. Also, bad people get Staffies. They think of them as a status symbol, a dog to make them look 'hard'. This is why there are so many Staffies in rehoming shelters, because people buy them thinking they're a dangerous breed then realise that they are soft as anything. I know there are exceptions, I am widely generalising, but on the most part if a dog has good owners then it will be a good dog.

People forget that these are wild animals which are living in their homes. Huskys and Malamutes are the purest breed of dog there is, the closest to the wolf, so surely they have some lasting instincts that make them wild and untameable? People hit, hurt and shout at these animals forgetting that the dog could quite easily kill them if it chose. People leave their children alone with these animals, forgetting that an elbow in the wrong place when the kids are climbing all over the dog or the kids taking food away from it could make it snap, bite, instinctively protect itself or it's prey. They are animals.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

1984 Theatre Review

I read George Orwell's Nineteen-Eighty-Four as part of my English A-level in college and I loved it. It seemed to eerily reflect our current society, a text which really was before it's time. I've re-read the book many times since I studied it and I enjoy it more and more every time. It also inspired me to read some of Orwell's other well know classics. Animal Farm is one of my all time favourite books, so depressing and clever. How someone can describe Britain's social state through animals so accurately is beyond me. George Orwell was such an impressive, brilliant writer.

When I saw that a stage version was coming to Richmond Theatre I was so excited and I booked tickets straight away. I couldn't imagine how the book could be transferred to the stage but I think they did it well.

Description from ATG's website :- April, 1984. 13:00. Comrade 6079, Winston Smith, thinks a thought, starts a diary, and falls in love. But Big Brother is watching him - and the door to Room 101 can swing open in the blink of an eye.
Its ideas have become our ideas, and Orwell's fiction is often said to be our reality. The definitive book of the 20th century is re-examined in a radical new staging exploring surveillance, identity and how thinking you can fly might actually be the first step to flying. 
This new major production explores the world inside Winston Smith's head, as well as the world without, and catches the euphoria and bliss buried deep underneath the cold face of Big Brother. In an age of mass surveillance, ‘total’ policing and GPS tracking, 1984 is as relevant now as it ever was.
I really enjoyed how they had adapted it for the stage. The set changed very subtely, using mainly music and lighting, but you knew what was going on. Some of the actors would wheel pieces of scenery to a different position and that would mean that the stage was now a different place, the Ministry's cafeteria or the second hand shop. The actors also played two or three different characters but it wasn't as confusing as I would have imagined, I could follow the story. The back room of the second hand shop, Winston's secret room, was set off stage. We saw Winston and Julia via a large TV screen at the top of the set. The cameras were placed quite abstractly so it was quite difficult to see the whole room but the overall effect was interesting, very different.

When Winston was taken to Room 101, he was on a chair in the middle of the stage with tarpaulin all around him. There were about eight surgeons around the stage and O'Brien. O'Brien would ask Winston a question and if his answer was 'wrong' the surgeons would descend upon Winston, the lights would strobe, then it would cut to blackout as all we could hear were Winston's screams. When the lights came back up, Winston would have blood on him, his fingers, his mouth, because he was being tortured. It was a really tense atmosphere.

If I hadn't read the book before-hand then I'm not sure how much of the play I would have understood. Because I already had a background knowledge of the story I could fill any gaps within the plot myself but I'm not sure how someone who hadn't already read it would fare. One of Orwell's best features in his writing, in my opinion, is his description. There's one part in the book which I have to skip because the description makes me feel so sick. I felt like there were a few details missed out of the play, details which make the book brilliant, but the play was only an hour and forty minutes long so there is only so much they can include I suppose.

Also, there was no interval. I know it's not a very long time but the story is extremely intense. I could have done with a break around an hour in.

Overall I really enjoyed it. It was interesting to see a different adaptation of a classic and well-loved book and it must have been hard to fit it onto a stage. A great night.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

I'm Still Here!

As Bloglovin' seems to enjoy reminding me, I haven't written a blog post for 39 days. This is bad. One of my New Year's resolutions was to blog more and that obviously hasn't come to fruition. I'm starting to post again regularly from this week, sometimes it takes a break to realise how much you enjoy something. I've taken a couple of these breaks since starting this blog not even a year ago, terrible, but I keep being drawn back. I miss it. So here I am, apologising profusely and promising much more regular posts from now on.

I've reached 160 followers! Wow, thank you so much. To all my new followers, I will be much more active on here in future. I don't usually leave such big gaps between posts. I'll also be following you all back very soon and I look forward to reading everything you have to write.

I'm part of the 2014 Blogger Challenge and I've missed a few of those posts but I'm hoping to catch up on them and start a fresh.

Currently Reading :-
On My Bookshelf :-
Source Source Source