Tag Archive | delusions

Music of the Night

Softly, deftly music shall caress you

Hear it, feel it secretly possess you,

Open up your mind,

Let your fantasies unwind

In this darkness that you know you cannot fight,

The darkness of the music of the night.

So often I feel that life and living is simply a run.  It’s a run from the time you’re expelled from a womb to the time when you decay and die.  To get from A to Z you have to run, whether you choose to run towards death or away from it.  The irony is that I am as bad at running as I am at life.  Somewhere, sometime before my brain and heart broke, I couldn’t keep up with life’s pace and I slowed down, then stopped altogether.  Now, whether a hurdle tripped me up or I wasn’t fit enough or I ultimately decided I would not run, I got left behind.  Life, the living and all that encompasses left me behind.  Others who fall and fail and struggle through life, who cannot keep pace with the run of life, are tugged along by the other runners in the race, those who knew them, loved them – who would miss them – and saw them fall.  Nobody saw me fall.  Nobody looked back at me lying in their wake.  Nobody realised I was no longer in the race.  Someone had already won and I had already come last in that instant.  Now, I’m up and I am walking.  I am walking but nothing I, or anyone else, can do now will lessen the distance between myself and those ahead of me who might have knelt down and given succour.  So, when humankind forgets you are part of it and is complicit in your survival or lack of it, to whom or what do you turn so that you can keep walking towards death and find an end to the journey?  What is it that keeps you company on your long, dark, solitary odyssey that your life is to you with a broken brain and a broken heart?  The caress and possession of your mind, heart and body by music, the sweetest and darkest music that lets the burning in your muscles dwindle and is the balm to the crushing weight of the world’s dismissal and apathy of you on your shoulders.  Music is the door from this world where Pippa trudges to Calvary alone, no longer able to run with life, to the sacred world where Lucrezia and Cordelia sing with angels and thrive away from the great race in the night no longer “dark and full of terrors”.

My extended metaphor aside, I want to write about music today, seeing as I’ve been crying (inexplicably, I might add!) through three episodes from season 2 of Glee!  It was nothing in the show particularly that elicited such a visceral response from me but it’s a show that, despite being cliched, unbearably American and full of unrealistic teen drama (even from the adults), is about music and the joys of music healing people and bringing them together with other people, who would have left them behind or never known them and made a difference in their lives.  Can you see how this fits in with my metaphor dragged out above?  Just in case I’ve been too cryptic, I’ll spell it out: it’s a show about people falling, failing and fumbling their way through life but more than that, it’s a TV show about others picking you up and being aware that you matter, especially in the episodes aired in the aftermath of Cory Monteith’s tragic passing.

Anyway, back to music!

The first tunes I remember and the first moments of insurmountable joy I experienced during a melody were those of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s composition.  I used to adore musicals and Kid’s Week in London was the highlight of my year.  Now, I find them just adaptations of better works and overly sentimental romances, but Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s works still hit a resounding note with me, despite the fact that I listen to them less and less.  Just to give you a rundown, of all his musicals, I have seen (though, even where I haven’t seen the show, I know of the songs, e.g. I have never seen Song and Dance but I have sung Tell Me On a Sunday):

  • Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968)
    • NB. also my first exposure to Donny Osmond, whom I love also!
  • Jesus Christ Superstar (1970)
    • At Chigwell School, this was one of the shows and I played trumpet in the orchestra
  • Evita (1976)
  • Cats (1981)
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1986)
    • I believe, other than the Joel Schumacher film, I have seen the show in London’s West End over ten times
  • Whistle Down the Wind (1996)
  • Bombay Dreams (2002)
  • Love Never Dies (2010)
    • NB. I saw this twice and the original ending (SPOILERS!) was that Christine dies and Gustave resides with his natural father, the Phantom, after losing his mother and I LOVED THAT!  Then, after a cast change and alteration to the musical, I saw it again and the ending was changed so that Raoul returns after leaving his wife and “son” and the Phantom lets Gustave return to the father he knew rather than stay with the father he knew no and I HATED IT

I have also seen all of the BBC 1 talent show-auditions for Andrew Lloyd-Webber productions and adored them, but I’m getting sidetracked by a delineation of the history of my fanatical following of Lloyd-Webber.  I’ll get back to proper writing now!

For my third form prom, I sang The Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera and for the reason that it speaks of how music brings a lonely, scarred, incomplete man love, a vocation and a life, I have never found another song to replace it in my heart.  Those lyrics that opened this article are words I long to sing and love to recall when nothing but music for a while (kudos to any music lovers who get that reference!) can soothe my achy, breaky heart.  (I am on fire with these references!).

The lyrics of the entire song are about transcending out of this banal and brutal world to one where fantasies can come to life and you can be who you are, not who you appear to be.  That is my life, through television, through film, through whatever I can find.  My need is to leave Pippa behind and become someone else who can feel love and give love in a world that is not going to find pitchforks and cages with which to punish me for being ugly, for being evil, for being a monster.  For, that is what you become when you fall and the run of life leaves you behind because no one living, who runs away from death and towards life itself, remembered to look for you or reach for your hand to save you, who are forced to begin the long march to death.  You become a monster and a beast with no salvation other than that you search and yearn for beyond this life and away from this earth that has forsaken you.

reaching-out-300x196LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

28-06-2015

 

Up & Down on the Silver Screen

In honour of…oh, who am I kidding, it always seems to be Mental Health Week this or Awareness of Something Week, so in honour of every week of the year in which I suffer from my mental health issues and awareness of how broken my brain is, I have decided to dedicate a post to all the moments in TV I have found where it is a sad moment with a funny bit sneaked in or a comedy show with a moving and tear-jerking moment.  These moments on television do – up to a certain extent – epitomise how mood can go from ecstasy to the depths of despair and vice versa.  For example, as I have said previously, I have a theory that mentally ill people such as myself can never experience one moment of happiness, no matter how minuscule, without paying for it in full by experiencing at least double the amount of time in sheer agony that does not let up.  In short, when we are given that one, precious, fleeting moment WE DESERVE IT because we always know it’s not going to last…before we know it, it’ll be gone and we’ll remember how we didn’t deserve it in the first place.  What spurred this article is what happened yesterday.  I am so close to the end of a 3-year BA that has taken me 4 years because my first attempt at second year was such a calamity.  Yet, a spanner was thrown in the works yesterday when I received the mark of 70 on an essay and had just finished my final exam.  That was literally so great to feel smart and successful for the briefest of moments but then I got an essay that I worked my ass off for which was marked as a 42.  I had been told that the marker was harsh and had upset other students with the unfair grades given, but because I let myself get high on my first-class essay for the smallest of moments, I felt the plummet all the more sharply.  I’m still reeling a bit from that, though not going off my medication would be a step in the right direction, but what made me certain I would write this article is the series finale of Spartacus: War of the Damned, which I have just cried my way through.  When Spartacus finally dies, that was not the sadness that gave me an outlet, but instead I have felt so much throughout the show: love, hate, excitement, pride and laughter, that I’m sorry to have reached the end of another piece of media that left broken little Pippa behind in the sand and let Agron (yes, I found another character to disappear into!) takeover, to the point where when he was crucified – but survived, thank God – I began to shake uncontrollably as if some of the pain was in my brain and able to be felt by me.  That is how far I can leave Pippa behind when her life goes to crap.  Even shadows of Agron’s pain felt with nails in his palms is preferable to the pain that Pippa undergoes everyday but especially when it all goes tits up.

So, that got me to thinking about what moments in television history have elicited a similar response.  Therefore, I’ve decided to share my findings with you!

  • Agron’s Crucifixion (for those who might like to watch it)

  • Rodney and Cassandra’s baby (a truly tragic moment in one of the funniest comedies ever broadcast)
  • Death of Solan (for a strong woman to experience the death of her unknown child and completely fall to pieces in an otherwise light-hearted show had my poor heart on a piece of elastic)

  • Chuck crying and Blair goes from happy to sad (it is Blair’s pain that is of note to me in this…going from the happiness of her mom’s wedding to her future husband crying over the “death” of his father…rollercoaster much?)

  • Klaus is reunited with his daughter (I don’t actually watch The Originals except in clips but this broke my heart…)

  • Atia’s heartbreak (another strong woman brought low, yet Atia’s truly naive feelings that bring her such emotional pain in a show about blood, sex and politics shock, but in the finale you see her hardened by her broken heart and rise from the ashes of the woman who loved Antony)

  • Ianto Jones dies while Jack cannot (in the comedic spin-off to Doctor WhoTorchwood, Ianto and Jack are a funny yet awkward pairing, but Ianto dying by breathing is so heart-wrenching in a dark series in all the light-hearted ones but still a blow nevertheless)

  • Daniel realises who Vala truly is (in the final episode of all 10 seasons of Stargate: SG-1 my favourite character for her very bipolar nature springing from abuse and assault finally gets her man when he insults her enough for her to break her walls down and he sees beyond them…would that all men could)

  • “Bad Timing” (in this episode that serves as sheer proof that a good moment must be paid for in full by an equally or greater bad moment(s), star-crossed lovers – literally – get together and are broken apart within seconds…story of my frelling life!)

This is just a snapshot of moments like these, and I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on them and watching them unfold.  Stay tuned at La Bella Borgia Speaks!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

14-05-2015

Pippa AKA River Tam

I was watching the episode War Stories from Joss Whedon’s AMAZING series, Firefly, when it occurred to me that the quote in the little spotlight I put together is such a good expression of what I feel 99% of the time and what I am sure other people who suffer from depression and other mental health illnesses feel too.  For those of you who have never seen the show (and therefore have not lived!), it is only fourteen episodes long, plus the movie Serenity to tie it all off, because FOX cancelled it prematurely and a decision that is rage-inducing to all its fans still going strong today as Browncoats.  River Tam is the character played by the glorious Summer Glau who has her mind altered painfully by the government, leaving her lobotomised but clever, agile and more perspective than her other shipmates.  It never occurred to me until today how good a character she is for mental health illness sufferers to relate to, but I guess I’ve found another kindred spirit in a TV show.  Let’s face it, no matter how much I tried to believe it, I was never going to be the eternally happy Kaylee (Jewel Staite), was I?  No, best make myself into the lonesome, ostracised and damaged young girl that is River Tam.  That’s realistic thinking for you.

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Hope that speaks to you as much as it does to me!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

02-04-2015

Fifty Shades of Fucked Up

I saw the world through new eyes yesterday…unexpected, frightening eyes.  The eyes belonged to a man…a man I found in a movie having met him first in a trilogy of books.  The eyes belong – of course – to Christian Grey of Fifty Shades of Grey.  The world I watched was the one I recognised, the one in which I am imprisoned and to which I am shackled but seeing it through such disturbing yet similar eyes was both beguiling and terrifying.

Usually, I see through the eyes of my choosing and eyes of wounded, maternal but resilient women, such as Lucrezia Borgia or Cordelia Chase (to name the eyes I use for comfort most often).  Last night, I was a domineering, scarred and dangerous man.  I cannot fathom if this change in delusionary material is due to the conversation I had concerning relationships or if the (truly terrible) dialogue and cinematography of the movie just resounded with me.  All I know is that during the moments when I was not in fits of giggling with the girl beside me, I was on the edge of my seat in the cinema feeling, understanding and spectating through the nerves, mind and eyes of Christian Grey – somewhere I never wanted or expected to be.

To give some background regarding the debate I had with a friend à propos relationships, I will tell you that I made the following statement: “I am too independent to be in a relationship with another human being”.  Quite surprisingly, this incited a bit of a debate over what – in my opinion – was a misinterpretation of my words as a decree that only dependent people enter into relationships.  I view relationships as things of compromise, sacrifice and needful of consideration, for in my experience, relationships only function when the two parties involved commit to their partner.  This simply cannot be done without being careful of their feelings, hopes and dreams, plans and ideas.  The majority of the global population, thankfully, have the capacity for this kind of life, love and affection, but as for myself, I am accustomed and value too highly what some might call inconsiderate spontaneity or “lack of intimacy and closeness that comes with a romantic relationship”.  I would not put the latter quite like that but would say instead that my business is mine alone unless I choose to divulge it on my own terms and most definitely not because I have deigned to be intimate and secrets are unhelpful in functional relationships.  That is my life and as you will notice, in my statement I made no presumptions on the life choices of anybody but myself.  For those fortunate souls who manage to have their cake and eat it too, I salute them in good spirits and congratulate them on the hand Tyche dealt them.

So, there you have it…a succinct insight into what weighed on my mind and thoughts before I entered the auditorium and perhaps contributed to the delusion that swiftly made its roots once the feature film began.  Now, on to the workings of my addled and defective brain that gave me eyes that find pleasure in pain.

Anastastia Steele is a passive, Vestal Virgin, manipulative character who asks Christian Grey to “enlighten” her.  So, in that regard I am relieved that I was not flung into her mind.  Christian Grey, on the opposite side of the coin, is complex yet straightforward and sad – a much more suitable vessel in which I can vicariously live.  The sadistic aspects of his life are not as strong with me but I too had a “rough start in life” and am still in the process of finding my ground on which I can base the rest of my life.  The dark heart of Grey is a mirror image of my own torn and broken heart.

I enjoy inflicting pain on others despite my general desire to do good in the world.  Long ago, I found that no matter how hard I tried the sadness, blackness and putrefaction in my soul destroyed that which I held dear and loved.  I am a true soul-destroyer, which is why I would never give myself to any man or woman again.  I do love someone as dearly and fiercely as Christian loves Anastasia, but as much as he flays her body through love, I would – unintentionally and unconsciously – take my pound of flesh straight from the very essence of the man I love, from his most prized possession…his heart.  The one thing I have better than Mr. Grey is that my willpower is made of sterner stuff.  “Fuck the paperwork” comes too quickly.  I value the innocence and happiness of the one I love with all my grey heart to put my own desires above that.  If I did not have this one selfless bone in my ruined body, I would have nothing, for if he wasn’t the only light in my life, if I blotted it out, there would be nothing to stop me from succumbing to the darkness.

Through Christian’s eyes, his deeds, his perversions, I inflicted harm on Ana, the representation of all those who cannot understand suffering because their lives have been plain-sailing all the way.  Of course, everyone suffers in their own way, but Ana is the exact way I see those who cannot understand or underestimate those who have endured childhood trauma, mental illnesses.  She does not understand Christian, she changes Christian (and not for the better, according to me), she willingly misunderstands the man and then finds him culpable.  See, the problem with delusions for me?  Most people find Anastasia the victim, the put-upon girlfriend of a psychopathic control freak, but I – in my mind – empathise with and am drawn straight into Christian.  I heard “bastard”, “dick” and other such terms spat at poor Jamie Dornan on-screen, but Ana, who teases and leads on and knows not her own mind, was just the target of scoffs and pity for her poor decision-making.

See it's not sexy, is it, the lip-biting?  (P. Mistry-Norman, Odeon Exeter, 15-02-2015)

See it’s not sexy, is it, the lip-biting? (P. Mistry-Norman, Odeon Exeter, 15-02-2015)

I found very little of the movie erotic or in anyway romantic, particularly not biting lips, but in its own way, despite the abysmal screenplay or plot, it spoke to me and pulled me in.  It gave me comfort, to be out of my own eyes and those of Lucrezia Borgia and Cordelia, and into new ones with unfamiliar sights and thoughts behind them.  For, after all both Christian Grey and I are fifty shades of fucked up, and there’s no one to help or to change that fact.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

16-02-2015

To Get You Through the Day

As anyone who knows me is aware, a telltale sign that I’m spiraling or trying desperately hard to get through the day to tomorrow is that I drown out whatever thoughts or feelings that are percolating in my errant brain by playing certain songs.  I have a chosen few songs that are so poignant and meaningful to me and often – and without exaggerating whatsoever – are the difference between life and death.

I would like to share with you just the most memorable of these.

  • “Light Outside” by Wakey!Wakey!
  • “Vande Mataram” from “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”
  • “Portrait of My Wife” by Seth Lakeman
  • “Shame” by Robbie Williams & Gary Barlow
  • “11” by Cassadee Pope
  • “Kiss It Better” by He is We
  • “Gravedigger” (Acoustic) by Dave Matthews
  • “Breathe (2AM)” by Anna Nalick
  • “You are my Sunshine” by Frank Turner
  • “Starbuck” by DeathStar Disco
  • “Imba Wimbo” from “Mighty Joe Young”
  • “Runaway” by The Corrs
  • “Main Title” from “Free Willy”
  • “Childhood” by Michael Jackson

These are the songs that are probably the most likely to be played in my room during times of crisis, but it’s dawned on me (once more) that this blog is about media, so I’ll also share with you some of the films and TV shows (as I’ve just come back from seeing “Kingsman: The Secret Service”), if you care to read on…

  • “Bright Star” (Jane Campion/Abbie Cornish/Ben Whishaw)
  • “Pitch Perfect” (Jason Moore/Anna Kendrick/Skylar Astin)
  • “The Phantom of the Opera” (Joel Schumacher/Emmy Rossum/Gerard Butler)
  • “Frozen” (Jennifer Lee/Idina Menzel/Jonathan Groff)
  • “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Stephen Chbosky/Emma Watson/Logan Lerman)
  • “The Blind Side” (John Lee Hancock/Sandra Bullock/Tim McGraw)
  • “Firefly” (Joss Whedon/Morena Baccarin/Nathan Fillion)
  • “Stargate SG-1” (Brad Wright & Jonathan Glassner/Amanda Tapping/Christopher Judge)
  • “The Borgias” (Neil Jordan/Holliday Grainger/Francois Arnaud)
  • “Angel” (Joss Whedon/Charisma Carpenter/David Boreanaz)
  • “Grey’s Anatomy” (Shonda Rhimes/Ellen Pompeo/Justin Chambers)

Today, I found myself feeling as though my voice was being taken away from me and that is what prompted this mini-article/list.  There are so many films, TV shows and songs about having a voice or finding your voice or some such notion, but when I sense it being diminished from the outside or just moving further and further away, I dive into films, music and television so I can find it again or replace it with Cordelia Chase’s voice, or Lucrezia Borgia’s voice.  In those moments, when my own voice, identity and mens sana desert me, I turn to the ones I know never will.  The ones that will always get me through the day…

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

11-02-2015

Brothers & Sisters

I have been thinking a lot about incest over the past couple of days, particularly between siblings. This is probably due to the fanfiction I have finished recently that is based on the BBC series, Sherlock, and the relationship between the Holmes brothers.  For, in the last episode, His Last Vow, Mycroft Holmes says to his brother, “Your loss would break my heart”, and this sparked off an idea in my mind for a fanfiction where the reason behind Sherlock’s apparent asexuality and sociopathy is a suppressed traumatic childhood memory.  The discovery of this incident then leads Sherlock on to the realisation that he is the only person who can properly love his brother and vice versa. I realise that most people prefer – when they do contemplate homosexual pairings in this series – Johnlock and Mystrade, to use the appropriate portmanteaus (on a grammatical tangent, the plural of portmanteau, really should be portmanteaux!), or even the less common pairing of Sherlock and Moriarty, but in my fanfiction dabbles I have always preferred writing either the obvious couple or – if a plausible enough scenario occurs to me – a really obtuse and rarely imagined romantic pairing.

This is not my first odd pairing, which is why I have ended up reflecting on my opinions regarding incest.  Other story pairings I have used include Peter and Susan Pevensie from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books and Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia (as portrayed by F. Arnaud and H. Grainger in The Borgias) and going on to pairings that I enjoy reading about, they include Vlad and Ingrid Dracula from the children’s show Young Dracula and Jaime and Cersei Lannister from the Song of Ice and Fire franchise.  Some are established in their own right but some are specifically fanmade so there is variety and that is just my background, but I just can’t pin down what makes incestuous relationships so intriguing and addictive to me.

I do just have to remind people at this point that I have no siblings or have never considered entering into such a relationship and never will, but just reading and watching them play out and how they seem to be – in most cases that I have seen on TV/in stories online – such sturdy and positive relationships, whereas I generally perceive non-incestuous relationships to be such hard work and so flawed that I find that now I don’t believe there is anything wrong with incestuous relationships on the most basic level as an agreement between two consenting adults of whatever gender. Of course, in reality problems do arise when a heterosexual, genetically close couple conceive and that, naturally, is an issue.  I do not pass over that lightly or ignore it in any way, which is why incest is a problem, but in a fictional and sometimes fantastical environment, this can easily be avoided and incest doesn’t seem to be a problem any more…with the exception of Joffrey Baratheon!

People talk about falling in love and being part of a star-crossed love affair that occurs so quickly and with such passion that acquaintances jump straight to lovers, bypassing the friend stage.  It is this aspect of some relationships that dooms them before they begin.  Lovers ought to be friends before they embark on their lovers’ journey; it makes for a happier and healthier voyage, if you ask me.  When siblings realise that maybe the person with whom they find themselves in love is their brother or sister, that strong foundation is already there.  Sure enough it is the foundation of family, but there is still something strong and intimate underlying their romantic relationship.

In my only relationship, I decided to throw my lot in with one of my friends but we were never that close before we hooked up and there was no real knowledge of each other there and it led to awkwardness and discomfort and lo and behold: the relationship lasted barely a couple of months and – retrospectively – I feel was doomed before it began.  It would have been much easier and much more comforting to me had we possessed some level of brother-sister love before we got involved with each other.  Now, I am scared of everyone and everything that implies commitment on a romantic level and there are really only five people I know in the world other than my father, whom I trust enough to commit myself to (not romantically!).

Two of the delusions of the past decade that I have enjoyed and have eased my life and distress the most have been the female party in one of the incestuous partnerships I have listed above.  One, which I have already confessed to, is that of Lucrezia Borgia which is still ongoing in the background of Cordelia Chase and the other, is the summer I spent being Susan Pevensie.  In both of these, the sister is the younger figure and the older brothers – Cesare and Peter – are both sources of strength, protection and love, which I think is what I hold dear.  Also, there is the fact that a lover can leave, a husband can divorce you and a boyfriend can cheat, but eternally, a brother and sister are bound together. I can put this affinity with older male siblings down to the fact that I was never protected by the men around me, only hurt and left in the dark to be hurt by others.

Furthermore, the only male family role that is still pure and untouched by reality is that of a brother as I have never had a blood brother, though I do consider two of my best friends brothers in every sense of the word except blood, which has led to confused feelings for both of them at different points in my life…I won’t deny that. I know I cannot possibly expect people to concur with me unanimously concerning the rightness or wrongness of incest, but I do hope this small glimpse into my mind and the way it processes the concept of brotherly and sisterly romantic love and how it can bring comfort to those who need it most but can get it from very few places will make you think more about flippantly denouncing forbidden (and immoral) relationships out of hand because that is what society and – in some cases, science – has encouraged us to do without considering all the available information.

This instinctive behaviour was first brought to my attention during my English Literature A levels during the study of Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, a novel that is truly close to my heart, which I think everyone everywhere should read.  I don’t want to spoil things for anyone, but the ending was so vehemently disliked in my class by everyone except me that I truly believe that people say things and do things in a group environment without thinking but if even one person stops to reflect on personal and complicated issues such as incest for themselves because of this post, I will be the most happy, though hopefully, unlike the first bearer of that motto, my head will remain attached to my body for the foreseeable future.

Just for those of you who might be vaguely interested to read more, below, I have included the links to three of my stories concerning incest.  So I hope you do read them if you think you can do so with an open mind and do leave me a review and mention you followed the link here.

On Lucrezia and Cesare Borgia: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9342924/1/La-Bella-Borgia (incomplete)

On Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10714930/1/Break-My-Heart (one-shot; complete)

On Susan and Peter Pevensie: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/8677241/1/Odi-et-Amo (on hiatus)

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-11-2014

Father Dracula

In the year of our lord 1442, the Turkish Sultan enslaved one thousand Transylvanian boys to fill the ranks of his army. These child slaves were beaten without mercy, trained to kill without conscience, to crave blood of all who defied them – the Turks. From among these boys, one grew into a warrior so fierce that entire armies would retreat in terror at the mention of his name, Vlad the Impaler, Son of the Dragon.  Sickened by his monstrous acts, Vlad came to bury his past with the dead and return to Transylvania to rule in peace. His subjects called him prince, I called him father, but the world would come to know him as Dracula.

The legend of Vlad Țepeș has been many things throughout the years: a horror story, a legend of atonement and sin, a vampire chronicle, a story of romance and loss.  However one aspect of the fact-based narrative that has rarely – if ever – been explored is the role of Vlad Dracula as a father.  As I sat today watching the new Legendary Pictures and Universal Pictures release, Dracula Untold, I found myself utterly enchanted until the epilogue section which will henceforth be unmentioned, with the movie that saw Luke Evans play Vlad Dracula the Father.

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

Vladimir Dracula (Evans) with his son, Ingeras (Parkinson)

I sat down to this film with my best friend as one of our traditional Matt-Pippa movie excursions and so I was by no means depressed or morose when the film commenced.  A happier and less depressed person would have grasped onto the historical or west vs. east themes of the film, which I did eventually, but for me, it was the sheer raw emotion displayed that caused my poor old ticker to palpitate in my breast.  With the initial voiceover by the Impaler’s son (see block quote), it felt crystal clear to me as a slightly deranged and basket case of a viewer that fatherhood and the father-son relationship was the crux (no pun intended!) and the heart of the movie.  It is – in short – what sets it apart and bears it aloft from the commonplace and slightly boring modern vampire films that have reformed the image we have in the 21st century of the vampire.

As a daughter of a delightful father, whom I adore to the ends of the earth, I am incredibly drawn to the father figure as painted onscreen, but as the daughter of a father who often did not raise arms and try to move heaven and earth to protect me, I was taken in heart and soul by the powerful and sacrificial father image that Dracula Untold created.  I have no desire to detract from your enjoyment of the film and all its wondrous surprises and positives by illuminating its plot too much so I’ll endeavour as best I can not to divulge too much as I write now.  That having been promised, the story about the drive of the royal prince who has to fight the Turkish threat and offer up his soul, his kingdom, his subjects and his reputation in order to safeguard his child is too enchanting for someone in my position not to elucidate.

Vlad the former Impaler who occupies the screen for the first section of the film reminds me of my father: at home in Castle Dracula during a ten year peace and happy with his queen and son having suffered extensively during his own formative years.  It is the Vlad who refuses the Turks what they demand as the cost of peace that made me smile and almost weep in my seat.  He defies the greater threat, a threat that has the potential to wipe out everything and everyone he holds dear, when the price of peace grows too dear.  It is his love for his family, his respect for his wife and his unconditional love for his son that drives him from this point forward despite his underlying yearning for peace.  The ultimate draw of the character is that his paternal and visceral need to protect his offspring outweighed and conquered his preference for peace in his land.  I can only say that I would be very different now if in the 21st century and without the magic and the devil and a pressing Turkish invasion, my father had valued my sanity, my unscarred body and what my future might be above serenity in Theydon Bois.

So, you see during this film instead of feeling for and finding myself in the shoes of the mother, unusually and refreshingly for me, I felt more kinship with young Ingeras.  This certainly put things in a different perspective than usual and instead of feeling the force of a natural maternal love, as I did in Brave, The Borgias and Angel (to name but a few!) I found myself in a role of vulnerability and the unconditional love of a child and feeling as a child does as my mind flew into the media and put down roots there.  That is not to say that the feelings of Mirena never took rest in my mind – they did – but it was ever linked to the child and a child’s link with his father.

The questions that floated around my mind during the film were: what will my children do without a father to protect them?  How can I possibly hope or think it’s possible for me to protect them by myself?  Will I be enough?  Is it selfish and heartless and unbelievably evil of me to knowingly bring a child – or children – into this world to face it without the love and pride and protection of a father?  Understand that if during a movie that is essentially about a vampire prince in Wallachia, I can be ruminating those questions, precisely how unstable and mental I am and why I need this blog to get some of the crazy out of my brain.  What is especially troubling still is that a piece of media can still get into my head and lay all its babies there and turn me into a blithering, blubbering, bawling shell of a person just because a vampire is a daddy!

So you see how the maternal-paternal-filial feelings have all come together in the aftermath of me watching this film to a head.  My children – I know and promise to every higher power and the cosmos – will have all the love I can give and will never have cause to doubt their mother’s love, but what plagues me now is that although I will give them the best godfathers, uncles and grandfather I can, I want them to know that if anything should happen to me, then a father on this earth will fight to its ends for them.  I say that knowing and being certain that I cannot ask nor expect their godfathers to do that for my children.  That frightens me more than anything; that something will take me away from my children and they’ll end up living the same life I do, not knowing if anyone really loves me or if the world is really against me or I just have that kind of luck.  Then, what I have sworn never to do and have often said to my mother, that I would die before I created another me, I will have failed dismally and utterly and it’ll be infinitely worse than failing myself or my parents or my friends because I’ll have created through my own means and by my own will, tortured children who will never be whole, all because I wanted a family of my own and then failed to protect them and ensure their secure future.  That is what Dracula Untold revolves around: the legacy of leaving a safe life for your children no matter the cost or what stands in your way.

That’s why, I guess, I invest so much heart and mind in these sci-fi & fantasy shows, books, and films that have these awesome father figures that possess magical powers or vast armies or some superhuman (or all of the above!).  Angel is the vampire with a soul father to Connor, John Crichton is father to baby D’Argo with the knowledge a whole galaxy wants in his brain, Noah Bennet adopts Claire and exercises his influence to protect her and that’s just fathers in Angel, Farscape and Heroes for you to consider.  Vladimir Dracula as played by Evans, like Angel, other than being a vampire, alternates between being good and bad, light and darkness and right and wrong, illustrated ever so clearly in his final showdown with Mehmed II (played – vexingly, I might add – by Dominic Cooper) where the adage, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” (Harry’s Game, G. Seymour, 1975) has never been so apt.  This is not least due in part to the fact that they symbolise a clash between east and west and Christianity and Islam, which I found a bit on the head due to the threat from ISIS currently experienced by the world, but nevertheless, it presented me with an interesting conundrum.  Although Vlad is undeniably set up as the protagonist and Mehmed as the “cardboard” (Matt’s word) villain, in the final fight where perhaps conventionally. we would usually side with the man who didn’t sell his soul and his eternity to the devil, oddly, we find ourselves rooting for Vlad as he fights for his son’s future and to keep the promise he made to his wife.  Much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer is ironic as it is now the pretty (meh) blonde girl chasing the monsters with a knife, the inversion of a supernatural heroic villain fighting a foreign threat who is – in this film, if not in history – represented as a bit of an arsehole for his family made me ask the question: can – and should – a father simply be good?  Mine certainly was and is, but I don’t know if I would have the mental and physical and psychosomatic problems I do now if my father had had a bit of evil or darkness in him enough to wage a bit of a war for me against the arseholes (myself included!) that turned my life into the circus it is today.  I know that Mirena is portrayed in the gothic setting of Dracula Untold as the stereotypical mother and damsel in distress and therefore, she is not characterised or shown, at least, to have any flaws or darkness within her – it’s all in her husband!  So, the question of whether a mother can be innately good and sin-free never really entered my mind during the feature film, for Mirena does appear to be the perfect, almost fairytale if in an Angela Carter setting, mother.  Vlad, however, in order to be a good father to his son (and, indirectly a good husband to his wife) is required to turn a bit evil, if initially temporarily and with the potential for redemption, so I just wonder if when a mother has a pristine soul, a father has to be bad, or if a father just has to have that hint of darkness in order to be the strong, virile protector he has to be.  Needless to say, it’s something I’ll be thinking about for a while and I doubt I’ll ever reach a cast iron decision on my opinion on the matter, but I will say this: the darkness within my mother has never in my life been a darkness used to protect me and the light within my father has not protected me from her darkness either so as a future single parent, I aim to be a light shade of grey and thus tone down the darkness from how strong its pigment is at the moment.  That is all I can do for my children: not be my mother and not be my father, but have the darkness of my mother and use it the way a father like Dracula did in the film for their good and to have my father’s light and accept it as the good in my soul the way the mother in Mirena does to counteract the strong and masculine darkness in Vlad.

I hope this article hasn’t bored you to death as I skirted around the plot of Dracula Untold and that I haven’t dissuaded any of you from seeing it, if you haven’t already!  I will conclude by saying that we all have monsters residing within us but it is whether we allow them to have the active or passive role in our lives that defines us as people and as children and as parents.  The right kind of darkness can be a force of light and the wrong kind of light can be detrimental.  Don’t judge someone’s darkness because it is not an obvious asset to them – it may be the only thing keeping them alive because that’s certainly what the darkness in my soul is to me.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P.Mistry-Norman

15-10-2014

Red Roses & Black Ribbons

I don’t believe in love.  I believe that romantic love or sexual or even lustful love is the most fallible and unreliable and therefore, weakest forms of love.  What I do believe in with all my heart is the love shared and nurtured between friends and the perennial stability and strength of the love between true friends.

It is said that friends are the family you choose yourself (Edna Buchanan paraphrased).  They’re not bound to you by DNA or RNA but emotionally, logically and understandably, they are bound to you by their actions and love.  I am both blessed and burdened (as most people are) by my friends.  I have two friends – two best friends – whom God gave me when I was very young because he knew I’d need brothers to carry me through my formative years and beyond.  Ben and Matt have stuck by me through thick and thin and this article is my homage to them and a meditation on my longest friendships to date and the only ones I depend on to remain constant.  The others can fade and fluctuate for all I care!  My life would be in no more danger than it is from day-to-day should those friendships run their course but as I often tell them, I would not be able to stomach living in a world that didn’t have my Ben and my Matt in it.

IMG_2006 (2)

Left to Right: Ben, Matt, Pippa (The Golden Trio)

Let me kick off properly by explaining why I suddenly have the urge to pen this article.  I have just finished reading a Harry Potter fanfiction called Premonition (https://www.fanfiction.net/s/5710296/1/Premonition) that is Harry-Hermione centric.  The premise is that Harry has a nightmare in which his female best friend is felled during the Battle of Hogwarts and from there a romance blooms.  The particularly poignant part for me that instigated the whirlwind of thoughts leading to this article was:

‘”I told you, I told you they’d be after you,” he shouted at her, his voice anguished. “Oh God, come back, come back,” he pleaded with her, hugging her tight against his chest, his chin on top of her head, his eyes closed, and Ron noticed his glasses were broken. But he had no one to fix them. Hermione always did that. Would he never get them fixed then? “I don’t know what to do without you. I don’t know. I don’t know,” he murmured, sounding rather insane with his grief. He pulled her up closer, dragging her until he had all of her in his arms, his hand buried in her thick curls, his face pressed against hers, cheek to cheek. “I love you. I love you. You’re supposed to live! You were the only one… You were the only one I couldn’t lose.” He shook his head, crying against her, his arm tightening around her to be almost crushing.

“I can’t do it without you, I can’t do it,” Harry told her, shaking his head and exhaling a big whoosh of shaky air. “You promised, you promised, you said… Hermione,” he pleaded, pulling her close again, his face pressed down into her shoulder.’

See, I have had many nights (and days – many thanks, O God of Insomnia!) of vivid and frightening nightmares in which either I die in Matt’s arms or one/both of them die in mine and I am left behind to grieve.  So, you can see that it is not the development of the Harry-Hermione friendship into amour that drew me in, but the intrinsic similarity Potter’s dream had to my own.

Ben and Matt wrote my school yearbook entry way back in 2011 and in it they call me their Hermione, so I’ll share with you a brief extract of their writing as well as fanfiction.net user Shadrac’s which is featured above.

For Matt and I, she [Pippa] also fulfills her role as Hermione, forever correcting us on our grammar (in English AND Latin!) and telling us it really is “leviOsa” not “levioSA”.

Hermione Jean Granger is bookish, overbearing and pedantic but she is also loyal to a fault, smart, someone who fixes things and the person in the lives of Ron and Harry who will give up anything precious to her in order to protect them.  It was therefore flattery and exaggeration on Ben and Matt’s part to say that I am capable of fulfilling the role of the female third of the Golden Trio.  It is definitely true that I love them to a fault and that that affection breaks my heart constantly but I don’t have her Gryffindor spunk or selflessness to sacrifice all for them.  I used to be that way when I was a better person and an infinitely better friend but now I struggle to show or give them the love they deserve without lusting after emotional recompense and a bit of love exhibited or said from them to me in return.  The source of my heartache as far as my relationships with Ben and Matt are concerned is that I always expect too much from them and that I love them far more than they love me.

This is no insult to them whatsoever.  For them to reciprocate my feelings on the same level and with the same intensity, they would have to eschew their social life, their sanity and their hearts for me.  I would wish the same paltry existence as me on nobody but me because I have done some truly evil things in my life and I deserve this!  Their lives are still whole and full and just being lived so it’s better that I exist and they live than us all just existing.

There is no room for romantic love in my heart because I’ve filled that sector with the pair of them.  I have no desire or need to enter into that kind of love because it isn’t physically possible for me to replace or oust the people in my heart who keep me relatively glued together and able to look to the future with a lesser and more volatile relationship.  This is fundamentally why, if I were to lose either – or God and Heaven forbid, both – of them, I simply would have half my heart painfully scraped out and the world would be filled with red roses with black ribbons.

My godbrother, Tim Pruss' grave, with the red rose with a black ribbon tied round the stem that I leave when I visit graves

My godbrother, Tim Pruss’ grave, with the red rose with a black ribbon tied round the stem which I always leave when I visit graves

So when I have the horrific night terrors, I come out the other side praying that they both live full, happy lives in perfect health and survive long enough to help my kids (their godchildren) plan my funeral.

As you might have inferred by now, I am both easy and complicated.  It does not take much to keep me happy or away from a fatal overdose – that makes me an easy person – however finding the real me to keep happy underneath the brittle layers and behind the adamantium-enforced walls is a complex task to say the least and only two people have ever managed it.  Nobody else has ever given enough of a damn to attempt to scale the walls or mine through the layers and that is why nobody else whom I have ever called a friend occupies a room in the sacred inner sanctum of my always broken and breaking heart with Ben and Matt.

Finally, I will say that all I need and will ever need is for them to not forget that I depend on them to reside in my heart until it stops beating and to think of me as the girl they made into their woman (in a kind of Pygmalion-esque way…) who needs them to remember how much I adore them, am loyal to them and rely on them.  I need to be their Hermione in order to feel wanted, loved and fruitful in life but not so much as I need them to need me to be their Hermione.  It’s pathetic (I know) but the world would be a better and safer place if people just communicated how they felt and other people were receptive to the information.

That’s my worldview anyway, so make of all this what you will, but love your friends because the truest of them whom you love unconditionally have the power to save – and make – your life over and over and over.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

01-10-2014

Hurt and Headaches

One thing that can be noted from my disorders is that none of them come with inherent pain.  I do not suffer from PTSD or have tumours falling out my brain, so the level of physical pain that I deal with is relatively and usually light.  Unfortunately, it has its moments…

Recently, especially as I have been disappearing more constantly into my delusions, I have found myself going to sleep and waking up and existing with really painful headaches.  They are brought on by the delusions but they come and go so fast that it barely seems worth troubling my doctor on account of them.  I do, however, feel my temples becoming taut and squeezing on my poor, little brain.  I am drinking enough and unless I’ve turned into a gigantic whale, I am not dehydrated, but as it wanes and waxes with my delusions and sometimes when I sink too far into depression.

Thus, I find myself currently battling with a lot of mental pain and an increasing amount of physical pain that sleep and pain relief medication can’t cure.  When it is a hardship to get out of bed on the best of days to contend with the outside world because your mind convinces you that everyone and everything in it is thinking badly of you and waiting for you to fail and have a breakdown, that amount of physical pain is enough to convince you that it is not worth leaving the comfort of your bed.

I can cope with a good amount of physical discomfort.  I am no stranger to it.  For, as much as my mind has had a tough life, so has the rest of my body.  If I’m not being raked over the coals because I’ve let myself fall into the category of obesity, there is always something else.  One of the more serious problems associated with my anxiety is that I cannot always eat.  I was thought to have an eating disorder for a while, but that was too basic a diagnosis, and ever since I was prescribed Citalopram (an SSRI medication), it’s got better, but sometimes now and a lot more often before I started on my drugs, as I got anxious eating, my throat would seize up and I would choke on my food.  As time went on, I got more anxious as I contemplated eating in company and so the cycle was begun and has yet to end.  On rare occasions, I could vomit up to ten times before I was done and have been taken to A&E on more than one occasion because my throat refused to cooperate and would not open up again.  The worst times are when I have thrown up so much that I pull muscles in my abdomen or when I regurgitate so much that all I bring up is stomach acid, which aggravates my tonsils and then I get secondary tonsilitis as a result.  The depression that starts because my body refuses to do what it is supposed to do is often enough to convince the best and the sanest of people that their lives are not worth living, but for someone already in the “depths of despair” (Anne of Green Gables) and anxious and scared of what comes out of their mouth and what goes in, it’s enough to drive you to get a knife or something else that can just end all the pain and suffering and hardship.

That was a bit of a tangent that went off into my background, so I’ll return to the subject of my headaches.  If I begin to develop one while I am somewhere in fantasy land, which is down the Avenue of Lost Chances and the 2nd exit off the Roundabout of Abandoned Dreams, it becomes part of my character.  I have a thing where I start pulling my hair out during a headache and I’m not quite sure why or how until after it has passed and I wake up the next morning/evening and look at my pillow.  That is how what happens in my head has ramifications body-wide and how I – with bad, torn hair and no desire to see the outside world – am in my room on the days when I simply cannot bring myself to set foot outside it’s four walls.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

18-02-2014

Fictional Families

I’ve been watching clips of Parade’s End today and I do not know whether I ought to commit myself to watching the first episode.  I know it shouldn’t be a war in the Middle East type of decision but for me and knowing the way my mind might take to the series, particularly because a certain Mr. Cumberbatch is starring in it, it is a question of whether I am willing to replace my current obsession with Sherlock with Parade’s End.

Believe me, I know how ridiculous and melodramatic it sounds when I say that the decisions I take to watch a new series or movie have the potential to run my life for the next few weeks, months or years, but it is the genuine truth.  The characters I allow to place roots in my mind never leave.  They may take a backseat or go on holiday but they never leave.  It is painful and at the moment, my mind is running at 110% with all the people that are trying to gain control of it.

Winning at the moment are Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes.  They’re even managing to keep the indomitable Lucrezia Borgia at bay and she has had dominion for about six months.  It was a bit of a coup d’etat on the part of the Holmes brothers as it took a lot out of me to be Lucrezia Borgia.  Feeling as her was too hard, too much heartache and unrequited love for me to manage.  It was almost as if I was longing for someone to take over and then I was introduced to Sherlock which did the job adequately enough.

Even now as I am writing, I can see them sitting across from me in my mind’s eye and they’re watching me with worried, unquiet expressions and my chest is becoming constricted and my heart is trying to escape from my body.  Now, Sherlock is holding my hand and telling me it’s all going to be just fine and to calm down because people love me.  Of course, none of the people he means – he means Tyrion Lannister, Sansa Stark, Cesare Borgia etc. – are real but they are still my family and I need them just as much, if not more, than my blood-family.

I know it must be hard to take me seriously after reading all of this but it helps that I can just say this stuff honestly and without fear of judgment on this blog and it was John Watson who convinced me to start this blog in the first place.

Sleeping alone never helps.  That is the ultimate cause and if my social anxiety and mythomania would let me stomach and keep another person in my life, I might not have such a problem with imagined, delusional families of fictional characters that I need in order to survive.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

08-02-2014