Tag Archive | tv show

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

Contemplating Single Motherhood

As listing makes me feel better and calms me down exponentially, but I keep running out of novel things to list because I have to do it so much, I tried to find something valid and interesting to make a list of and stumbled onto the topic of single mothers.  Now, I have said before that I have no doubt that I will be a single mother by choice because I need children but cannot bear to envision a life with another adult.  However, it got me to thinking, seeing as this blog is about the media and how it can help and hinder a medium mind like mine, about how many single mothers appear and have extremely positive roles in television.  Now, you may observe that there are some controversial additions to this list of positively characterised single mothers, for example, Ellis Grey and Lettie Mae Thornton, but to me even they are good examples of mothers.  This is simply because they did their best.  They may have succumbed to obsessive working and alcoholism respectively, and throughout the TV series that feature their characters their daughters hate their mothers, but even characters whom the audience is supposed to view as villains are redeemed by the realisation of their children (though sometimes it comes all the way in season 11) that their mothers worked with what they had and did their best in the given circumstances.  There are times when I empathise heavily with Meredith or Tara Mae, both scarred and having died and attempted suicide by life, but knowing my luck my life will pan out quite like a TV show and it won’t be until the last season that my mother and I call a ceasefire.  Either that, or one of us will end up killing the other…

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Anyway, this post was meant to be cheerier than the last one and here I am talking about homicidal tendencies!  So, I present to you the – by no means exhaustive – list of single mothers that I consider to be good examples of both the triumphs and mistakes of single motherhood on television.

The Single Mothers of TV

  • Martha Rodgers (Castle)
  • Shelby Corcoran (Glee)
  • Jackie Tyler (Doctor Who)
  • Ellis Grey (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • Shirley Bennett (Community)
  • Vala Mal Doran (Stargate SG-1)
  • Patty Halliwell (Charmed)
  • Liz Forbes (Vampire Diaries)
  • Lettie Mae Thornton (True Blood)
  • Catherine Bordey (Death in Paradise)
  • Carrie Mathison (Homeland)
  • Rachel Green (Friends)
  • Edith Crawley (Downton Abbey)
  • Regina Mills (Once Upon a Time)
  • Eleanor Waldorf (Gossip Girl)
  • Norma Bates (Bates Motel)
  • Joyce Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  • Darla (Angel)
  • Claire Littleton (LOST)
  • Karen Roe (One Tree Hill)
  • Vy Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

04-03-2015

The Day My Heart Broke

As you will have realised by now, this is the place where I share my darkest and innermost secrets and memories and experiences.  I have written of my virginity, my mental health illnesses, and the demise of my family and the dashing of the majority of my dreams.  So now I am going to share a very poignant and traumatic memory as I have currently gone off my pills in a social experiment to prove – somewhat self-destructively – to my mother that every time she takes away my tablets or chides me for taking them or the like, she is more or less instructing me or relegating me to suicidal tendencies and periods of severe and excruciatingly painful depression.  This memory came to mind particularly as I am getting a tattoo on the day after my birthday which has the date when my heart was broken irreparably.  29th May 2013.

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart design by Ellie Hall

Basic Hand of Fatima with Heart tattoo design by Ellie Hall

So, as you can see from that date I survived it and have resigned myself to an unhealed heart and a life without the love of a partner.  People have called me weak, lazy, sensitive, crazy and a plethora of other negative and hurtful things over the years, but I may be all of those things (from time-to-time!) but my one redeeming aspect is that I am still here, I’m still fighting and I try every day to convince myself that driving a knife through my ugly body (seriously, I could be a study on physiognomy!) is a bad idea.

Many people with depression and other mental health difficulties fall when conversations like the one I’m about to share with all of you – and I hope you’ll read it with an open mind, as usual – occur, but I put myself out there and opened my breast to the dagger that was thrust into it.  I asked for it and though before I was dealt an almost fatal blow (I won’t lie, my emotions in the aftermath of the final part were all over the place and in the time directly after I read it all, my death was not far off) I am now glad I was told the truth so candidly.  For, although the 29th was one of the worst days of my life, in the beginning of June ’13 I had no false hope where the love of my life was concerned.  Yes, I still call him the love of my life because he is and will always be but now I do not live in the expectation of my feelings being mutual or reciprocated in any way.  I am content just still to be as much a part of his life as he’ll permit me to be.  So, when in films and television shows and books, some hero or heroine professes that they’ll be content just to be friends or a part of each other’s lives (Angel and Cordelia spring to mind initially…), most of them end up giving in to their feelings or someone inevitably will come round, the reality is that sometimes that just doesn’t happen and the heroine is left on her own and the hero finds his true love.  David Copperfield in this way is a fairytale, for in real life, Agnes would never get her David and the family she has with him.

Now, I guess I should stop stalling and writing about age-old books and Cordelia again and actually speak about Pippa.  This blog, after all, is called LaBellaBorgia Speaks and that’s me.  So please dig in to the following online conversation (so don’t worry about me recalling it all accurately or with exaggeration).


I know I’ve been distant lately and I feel I owe you an explanation, one which I am ashamed to admit I am too much of a coward to give you in person.  Please do read this in its entirety though I fear it will be lengthy because I do, more than anything and with no melodrama, wish you to know everything I have been feeling for years, which I have kept hidden, but I can’t anymore because to put it quite simply, it’s killing me.
I have always had few friends and God knows I can’t keep a new friend to save my life and understand me fully when I tell you that I seldom leave my house or flat if it is not with family or you.  To me you are my family and that fact has plagued me more than it has consoled me, for it has been apparent to me for some time (and I do not intend to be harsh, I merely say what is true) that I see you as vital to my existence, whereas I am not as important to you, which is the result of either you simply having more friends or it is because I am not the kind of person who can be needed to carry on each day, as you are to me.
I know my shortcomings.  I am difficult to know, needy, intolerant, deceitful and a whole host of other things and I know I exasperate you, but know that I could and would give anything for you and some of the most frightening night terrors I have are ones in which you leave me and I can do nothing to stop it.  That is the thing that frightens me most and so I hope you can grasp how hard it is for me to make this confession.
Recently I had lost my faith in the God who has kept me alive so far, yet when it seemed that something supplanted that faith I was confused.  It was the realisation that I believe in something much more powerful and much more personal than God and that is the power of you, me & x.  The belief I had that our friendship would be the strength of my life and the love that I clung to above all others was misguided, I see that now, because I expected too much.  I hoped you would be as devoted to me as I am to you two, but I overlooked a few things:  I am a woman and my nature is to be devoted (I did not get Materfamilias tattooed on my right arm for my own enjoyment); you two have so much more to live for than do I; as a woman, I am inclined to see others’ feelings and you two have never truly been privy to my own.
What I am about to say here has the potential to shake our friendship to its core and possibly to tear it down, but I am willing at this point to risk all (yes, I have been watching The Borgias too much!).  It pertains particularly to you.  I have never been particularly discreet about the fact that I love you and as more than a friend, but I don’t believe I’ve ever actually said that to you.  I do not confess this with any spirit of hope that my feeling are returned or may ever be, in fact it would please me greatly if you never loved me ever.  I would never want to ruin your kind, trusting and lovely soul, which is what I would do to it were you ever to allow me to and that would break my heart and spirit.  I feel so much for you that when you hurt and your nature doesn’t permit you to hold a grudge or bear ill will then I hate for the breaking of my own heart and then for yours.  The months after you and Lily hurt me in a way more than the months when you wanted her and that – believe me – is saying something.  The only and I mean the only reason I tell you this now is so that you understand the very heart of me and why I have done what I have.  When I couldn’t have you, I went after someone else and now I have terrifying flashbacks that have on occasion led to sedation and I’m not pinning blame, it was above all my own fault, but I settled and in doing so I made sure I would never be able to love anyone else but you.  I have spent years of my life learning you: what you eat, what you drink, how you feel and think, so that I can feel as though I am the one person who knows you above all even though I know that’s not true.  When you tell me that we can’t hang out, the thought that immediately falls into my paranoid mind is that I have done something wrong and I am hurt much like a girlfriend would be.  I know I’ll never be that to you, but I would ask that you don’t shut me out because of what I’ve just told you and know that every time you do my heart sort of breaks.


Well that certainly is a lot to go through, and I’m not going to lie, it takes a lot of guts to say all of that, it really does, and I respect that very much honestly. I don’t think I could do the same.

I guess I don’t really know exactly how to respond, I’m no expert at this stuff, but here goes. First off, I must admit I’ve known that you liked me as more than a friend for some time, and I do think, through nobody’s fault, it has caused something of a wedge between the two of us. This is not your fault, I know that when you like someone, no matter who they are or how ridiculous it seems, you can’t help it. You just do. And that’s totally fine. And I am only sorry that I don’t feel the same way. In a way, I do partially blame myself for this, perhaps it would have been the mature thing to tell you I didn’t feel the same way years ago, but for whatever reason, I didn’t, and I’m sorry for that. I love you like a sister, and that is God’s honest truth.
I also feel partially responsible for how, and it does feel this way, that we’ve drifted apart in recent times. I can’t make excuses, I think it is just, unlike both you and x, I am not someone to who emotion comes easily. I’m not good at expressing emotions, in fact I’m rather embarrassed by it, and so it is true that I sometimes choose to hang out with people who, like me, do not deal with things emotionally. Call it a cheap move, it’s just the way I feel sometimes, I’d rather avoid issues than solve them, and that isn’t fair. I feel I owe you an apology for several years of that.
But there’s one other thing you need to know, and that is that none of this will force us apart. I think this stream of confessions, bearing the soul and all that, will help bring us back to a kind of harmony that seems to have gone missing. We’ll all know where we stand, as such. Pippa, you are the older sister I never had, and though I’m afraid I do not see you in a different light, and that isn’t going to change, I would not want to be without you. I would say to you, and I accept how empty the words can sound, that you shouldn’t shut yourself off from people. You can make friends, I have seen it, even if you do find it hard, and you deserve to find someone special more than anyone I know. I accept it’s hard, and I do not expect you to change that overnight, but there’s a whole world for you out there, you just need to explore it, and I only wish you could. And now we’ve all laid our cards on the table, I have every faith that it’ll clear things up. There’ll be no more need to feel awkward or smoke and mirrors. We know how all three of us feels, in all honestly, and we can accept that as the way things are. I have every faith it’ll only make the three of us better friends.
So uh, I guess, that is me, doing my best at talking about stuff. I hope everything made sense. And hope to see you both soon


I’m now crying so hard I can barely see through my glasses, but it’s so worth me reading all that again.  It’s so cathartic for me.  I will just say that I know most of you readers will have no clue who this is, but I fear, that despite my preventative efforts, some of my acquaintances will surmise to whom I was talking, so please – for ME – keep the confidence of LaBellaBorgia Speaks, as he doesn’t read it and I doubt he ever will, but it’s where my soul and heart lies now.  It’s a broken heart but it beats here and thrives in the honesty and true life I can’t find away from the blogosphere.

I will say this final thing…I took some of his advice that day.  I have travelled and will carry on travelling the world searching for something to fill the void that is in my heart.  To name but the most memorable: I have seen the ruins of Carthage, inhaled the tanneries of Fes, glimpsed the Misty Mountains, felt Apollo’s sun beating down on me in Delphi, drunk Jack Daniel’s in Piazza San Pietro and watched the sunrise where the Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea meet.  That was good advice and when I spend the summer in the USA and January ’16 in Tuscany, I’ll be following orders, but one thing I would say now again is that to wish me on someone else and to want me to spend my life unhappy trying to love someone else with a heart that is not mine to give away is worse than what my mother does when she tells me to stop taking the tablets that keep knives in the kitchen and out of my bedroom.  What my mother does is condemn me to a painful, self-inflicted death, but what the love of my life does – unwittingly, as ever – is condemn me to a painful, living death that would be drawn out and have not one…but two victims.

That is something I’m not strong enough or malicious enough to survive or inflict on someone else and I’m so glad of that.  It means that tomorrow will be better and that I’m keeping someone else’s heart safe even when mine has been so amicably crucified.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

25-02-2015

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

Inspiration

Further to my post about my best friends, I thought I’d list a couple of the best friendships on television (like I did with teachers) so I hope you are ready for a less putative article but will enjoy this one nevertheless!  (Also, I can’t sleep again so it’s something to keep me from sliding into my occasional 3am hole of despair!)

images

  1. Alex and Meredith (Grey’s Anatomy)
  2. Stefan and Caroline (The Vampire Diaries)
  3. Troy and Abed (Community)
  4. Sookie and Tara (True Blood)
  5. Ka D’Argo and John (Farscape)
  6. Malcolm and Kaylee (Firefly)
  7. Rodney and John (Stargate Atlantis)
  8. Starbuck and Helo (Battlestar Galactica)
  9. Jack and Teal’c (Stargate SG-1)
  10. Miranda and Stevie (Miranda)
  11. Justin and Daphne (Queer as Folk)
  12. Buffy and Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
  13. Angel and Doyle (Angel)
  14. Amelia and Addison (Private Practice)
  15. Jon and Samwell (Game of Thrones)
  16. John and Sherlock (Sherlock)
  17. Merlin and Arthur (Merlin)
  18. Dorothy and Michaela (Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman)
  19. Cory and Shawn (Boy Meets World)
  20. Perry and Carla (Scrubs)
  21. Javier and Kevin (Castle)
  22. House and Wilson (House, M.D.)
  23. Chuck and Nate (Gossip Girl)
  24. Spartacus and Varro (Spartacus: Blood and Sand)

So there you have it – short and sweet though it is!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

03-10-2014

Pride

I was bored as the most immense and beautiful storm pounded Essex overnight and I wondered if I could think of twenty-five of the most impressive, realistic and important portrayals of LGBTQ characters from the gold and silver screens.  I did!  There are more from TV than film and this is only from films and shows I have watched, so don’t expect a perfect list by any means…they’re just my opinions from the media I’ve experienced.   Hope you find it interesting and a varied list!


  1. Brian Kinney (Gale Harold) in Queer as Folk 
  2. Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) in Glee 
  3. Calliope Torres (Sara Ramirez) in Grey’s Anatomy
  4. Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis) in True Blood
  5. Barca (Antonio Te Maioho) in Spartacus: Blood and Sand
  6. Emmett Honeycutt (Peter Paige) in Queer as Folk
  7. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) in Brokeback Mountain
  8. Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  9. Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) in Glee
  10. Agron (Daniel Feuerriegel) in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Vengeance & Spartacus: War of the Damned.
  11. Russell Edgington (Denis O’Hare) in True Blood
  12. Ianto Jones (Gareth David-Lloyd) in Torchwood
  13. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) in Torchwood
  14. Justin Taylor (Randy Harrison) in Queer as Folk
  15. Nasir (Pana Hema Taylor) in Spartacus: Vengeance & Spartacus: War of the Damned.
  16. Hephaistion (Jared Leto) in Alexander
  17. Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) in Brokeback Mountain
  18. Tara Thornton (Rutina Wesley) in True Blood
  19. Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) in Glee
  20. Loras Tyrell (Finn Jones) in Game of Thrones
  21. Craig Pelton (Jim Rash) in Community
  22. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) in Grey’s Anatomy
  23. Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) in Game of Thrones
  24. Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) in Downton Abbey
  25. Melanie Marcus (Michelle Clunie) in Queer as Folk
  26. Brittany Pierce (Heather Morris) in Glee
  27. Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  28. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) in Grey’s Anatomy
  29. Pietros (Eka Darville) in Spartacus: Blood and Sand.

Please comment any shows/movies/characters that you believe should have been included as I am always on the lookout for good LGBTQ themed and integrated media.


Farewell once more.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

18-07-2014

Pippa, Penny Dreadful

I have encountered another gripping and wonderfully gothic television show called Penny Dreadful.  This blog post was not supposed to come before one about speech day at my alma mater but during episode five entitled “Closer Than Sisters”, which serves as an origins-flashback episode that comes vaguely mid-series.  I have no wish to spoil this series for anyone (as everyone should give it a go!) but I have a host of topics and feelings on a sheet of A4 beside me here that I would like to approach and unravel through the medium of this fantastic (in every meaning of the word), entrancing and erotic period drama.

The foremost item on my list is perhaps the most detached, but can also be construed as the most integral to the reason why Penny Dreadful has so entrammelled me: namely, the actress Eva Green.  I have long admired her work and the ethereal presence with which she imbues her films.  Ever since I saw Marlene Jobert’s daughter (yes, she is!) in Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven in which she plays the Queen of Jerusalem, Sibylla, her talent has led me to actively seek out feature films and programmes in which she stars.  Thus have I watched CamelotThe Golden CompassCasino Royale and Dark Shadows.  In all these roles, she plays mysterious and complex women all of whom have a distinct magical quality, whether it be literal or figurative, and are unlike the loud and cliched lead females to which we have grown accustomed in western cinema. She is the leading lady who smiles rather than grins, floats rather than glides and is unconventionally beautiful rather than in-your-face attractive.  Can you tell I’m a little bit in love with her?

Her character in Penny Dreadful – Miss Vanessa Ives – moves through the crowds of Victorian, Jack the Ripper London analysing and observing the throng around her, not simply avoiding it or following it like a sheep.  This is something I am wont to do more often than not.  I choose to exist beyond the crowd and watch people interact rather than be an active party myself.  It gives me more enjoyment and more power and control over myself than people who merely wend their way through life, unable to notice but ever willing to ignore.  That is all I will give you concerning her background in the show…the rest is up to you to discover as you watch the series yourself!

In this episode featuring flashbacks and Vanessa Ives’ and Sir Malcolm’s (played by Timothy Dalton) origin stories, as a viewer I witnessed a young girl who grew into a young lady much like myself who had to battle with insanity and the loss of her friends, her family but most of all, her mental wellbeing in the early years of adulthood.  The core reason for her disintegration lies in her relationship with her best friend, Mina Murray, and how as the pair mature, it dawns on her that life and marriage will cart her bosom friend away and she will be left behind in the shadows to a life she cannot have and doesn’t desire.  Every cruel action, thought and emotion she has stems from the innate need not to be abandoned by a friend who is more like a sister to her.  I can understand that.  The moments when Vanessa questions herself and viewers observe her growing cruel and callous, are intensely familiar to me and just as I understand (from my parents and extended family) that I used to be a sweet child who grew and changed into a colder and manipulative adult, I felt myself get pulled into her narrative.

The codependency that exists between Vanessa and Mina is similar to the one that keeps me attached in heart and mind, if not body, to my two best friends who are – like Mina – slipping away and flourishing in their twenties, while I languish and struggle to make it from one day to the next without scarring my left wrist further.  They are my lifeblood, my everything and they are the brothers I wasn’t given by blood.  As they forge new friendships, get girlfriends and experience what life has to offer them, they need me less and less and forget that I need them more and more.  I remember in my last few years at school I used to constantly ask if they would forget me when they both went off to the same university, not because I wanted the affirmation that they would do no such thing but because the greatest fear I have, more than dying and being barren, is that they will fade from my life and I will fade from theirs like a memory of a person that once meant something but now is just a name at the bottom of an unappreciated Christmas card on the mantle once a year.  It is this fear that utterly grips my mind and heart that leads me to do the most cruel and inexplicably immoral things to ensure that no matter how low I sink or how high they reach, I will always be there and they will always have me.  Vanessa’s action was to seduce Mina’s fiance on the last night before their nuptials to stop them from going to India.  She gets her comeuppance in her madness and relegation to an asylum.  My misdeed was to cling too hard and too fast to my “brothers” and in so doing, I wrecked something that took decades in the forming and is now irreparable.  Vanessa mentions how she will never be able to forgive herself for her sins and I echo the sentiment.

Furthermore, there is that part of you that is desirous of having those upon whom you depend remain with you and forever yours, but the prevalent part of people like Vanessa and myself that causes us to harm those we love is jealousy.  There is something in us, in our very souls, that cannot abide the notion that someone – or something – else can divert you from us.  It’s selfish, I know, but when you have as little as we do, the parable of the poor man’s lamb seems oddly appropriate.

“You could know love, you could know a man’s touch, while I, the courageous one, know nothing of life” – Vanessa

Vanessa says this and in all its eloquence does manage to express that primordial feeling of envy and sorrow that I feel on a daily basis.  They are the words of one who does watch the world pass them by, is losing those they care for most, is being left behind.  They are the words of someone prepared to do anything to avoid feeling that ultimate sense of loss, despair and depression.  Vanessa does that and so do I in every action and in every thought.  I cheat and I manipulate and I know that no matter how much I try to improve and get better, depression and a desire to have my family about me will never let those anxieties and wrongdoings cease.

Left: Vanessa Ives as a young woman; Right: Vanessa Ives in a mental institution

Left: Vanessa Ives as a young woman; Right: Vanessa Ives in a mental institution (Eva Green, Penny Dreadful 1×05)

“How I envied you…perhaps I even hated you” – Vanessa

The crux of the matter is that envy can turn to hatred which in turn leads us lost souls straight down the path to abject insanity.  It is the last aspect of the journey that is the most painful and therefore the hardest to leave behind and escape.  This arduous journey is shown in Ives’ face, for without the toil and passion inherent in mental and emotional upheaval how can the girl on the left be reduced to the shell of a woman on the right?  After episodes of seizures, catatonia and apparent possessions by demonic entities, she is committed to an asylum in London by her mother and father.  There she is subjected to hydrotherapy, lobotomy and straitjackets.  I will say this: I have trouble watching love scenes on television but up until recently, with this program and if I am completely honest, which I do endeavour to be on this blog, Ripper Street (in episode 2×02), I have experienced spasms and intense physical reactions to images of extreme treatments for mental health patients.  Even though patients are under ether for lobotomies during this period, I surprised myself by convulsing as the drill bored into Vanessa’s skull.  Those occurred sporadically during the sequence, however, when she was suffering through hydrotherapy (something that I believe was dreamed up by a person worse than Hitler and Jeffrey Dahmer combined!) the convulsions were consistent and constant.  I have nightmares where I dream that my friends and family have me committed like that to save themselves the bother of having to deal with me and my downright problematic existence.  As Sir Malcolm points out: cruel little girls can break families, which is something I seem to have a distinct aptitude for…and so, it is the easiest thing in the world for this cruel little girl to imagine being lobotomised and blasted with a seemingly unending powerful stream of water or held down in an ice water bath just to get her out of society and away from people whose souls she can destroy.  Although the rational part of me is perfectly aware that such backwards and savage methods are no longer applied in modern medicine, as I said before, that part is easily overwhelmed by any iota of mania and suddenly it seems entirely plausible in the dreamscape to be subjected to those horrors by apparent loved ones.

So, you have probably gleaned from that spiel that watching this particular episode of Penny Dreadful was a bit like cycling round the country on a Penny Farthing but it is actually immensely comforting for someone like me who struggles to leave the confines of her bedroom and who feels that any friends she has are slowly but surely leaving her behind to see such a similar character on a TV show.  Much like I hope this blog lets others know that basket cases exist somewhere who are either experiencing the same (or similar) things in life to other sufferers from mental health disorders, so does TV and film as a media allow everyone in general to understand that what may be going on in reality is not that big a stretch for someone’s imagination.  Then, what is imagined can swiftly become reality to someone and all of a sudden, you’re not alone sitting at your computer typing away in the hope that someone will hear you next time you’re weeping or that you’ll find someone who just won’t leave you alone.   It’s all about what you see and more poignantly, what you can envision for yourself.  I haven’t yet got to the end of season one of Penny Dreadful but I want to know just what awaits my compatriot, Miss Vanessa Ives, so I can see how my own story might play out.

Sorry if this seems a little haphazard in tone and structure, but to be frank, that does reflect the rollercoaster of feelings I am currently experiencing, so what the hell, call it a metaphor!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

09-07-2014