Saturday, 18 February 2017

When Do You Stop Chasing the Dream (and just be normal)?

I suppose there is a time to stop chasing the dream; whatever that dream maybe, albeit climbing a mountain, which starting a business feels like you are doing anyway; or trying to win the lottery, which it feels like you have more chance of doing that getting anything off the ground in this current climate.

Am I being too negative? Perhaps. I have struggled with setting up a new business for nearly two years now since its inception, and I have reached a point when I am beginning to have had enough. How long do you continue to flog a dead horse before realising that it is, in fact, a goner?

I have sent countless emails and press releases, been in the local newspaper, had a drip of excitement from some people, and had nothing to show for it. There must be a point when you say enough is enough and move on to something else. It takes time and an enormous amount of effort, and that is time and effort that could be utilised better on something that has an opportunity to take off.

There we are, maybe I am feeling bitter about the lack of opportunity. Perhaps it is right to ask yourself if it is working and if it is time to call it a day; or put it all on hold and concentrate your ideas elsewhere.

Self-doubt can lead to self-loathing in my universe; in my head the two are not very far apart. Any failure that I encounter is naturally my fault and nothing to do with anyone else. I am not doing enough; I am not good enough; the concept is not good enough… all sorts of thoughts run past my eyes and end up in the pit of my stomach for my acid to growl over.

I just don’t know what the right time to give something is. Impatience is one of my traits, and expectations are usually unnaturally high for everything that I put my hand to. When the outcome is not the version that I saw in my head then I am distraught and abject. I throw my toys out of the pram and promise to never again set off on a similar venture; only to be lured into something else by my evil imagination a couple of weeks later.

So, when is the time to give something up? Is two years too long? Should I have reached a painful conclusion months ago?

With slumped shoulders I stare at this screen and wait for an answer, knowing that one will not be forthcoming. I have different fingers in different pies and maybe there are not any fingers left. Perhaps I have exhausted myself with possibility and no proof that any of it would work.

Optimism is not a strong power within me; if it even exists at all. With a heavy heart I have much soul-searching to do; but there is also a need to ruthless and determined. Because there will always be something else, perhaps an angle that I have missed; and in the cloud of self-judgement I am not looking at all the paths that could lead forward.

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Zac Thraves is a storyteller and writer living in Kent; if you wish to book him to come along to your party, young or old,  or to give a speech at your local school then please contact him at    

Friday, 17 February 2017

We all Have the Power to Change.

We all have the power to change. It only when we change that we can change the world. Tony Blair is currently on the media round discussing us all leaving Brexit and people rising up to challenge the notion put forward by our current government. What is he trying to do? It’s a little late for him to talk about democratic resolutions when he led us into a war that no-one wanted to be a part of. Where was the talk of asking the people then, and if the result wasn’t what he wanted to ask them again?

We all have the right to change our minds, but what Mr Blair is trying to do now is something that he completely failed to do when he was in office. He didn’t give us any choice, or a referendum which is what they like to call it, he gave us war and a phony war at that.

Now I’m not here to dis Tony Blair, I was one of his supporters many years ago when he first became leader of the Labour Party; yes, I was suckered in to the charismatic lies that he offered, not that he is any different to all the other politicians that have graced us with their presence ever since.

I remember reading an interview with him in GQ magazine and was struck by how much sense he seemed to make as a person. I then foolishly followed him as he brought the party to power and the became the first Labour Prime Minister to win three terms. How stupid I was to be led along by someone I saw as different, refreshing, young and dynamic. He fooled us, and now he is trying to fool us again by thinking we can win in a vote that has already happened, I mean, what if a second referendum leads to the same result, do we have a third and fourth until he gets the result that he wants?

We are out of Europe, it is that simple. But I will always consider myself as a European, as British, as English and as a member of the human race.

We are all one, when you look at the great scheme of things. If you had the opportunity to look at the planet Earth from the moon then would you really care about the borders that control each country? Would they seem so important? I would argue not, after all, the universe cares little for a stupid tiny man made border that controls whether or not a person can enter; let alone a wall to divide one country (USA) from another (Mexico).

If we all lived in this world as one then we would not have to think about wars, or debt, or borders and passports. All we would have to think about is our position in this universe and what would we do if the sun decided to suddenly blow up. That’s a big deal, not worrying over the deal for Brexit.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Democracy, is it failing us?

Now is the time for a revolution; but how do we tell the children that? I’m not suggesting that it is too late for us, us middle-aged belly-spreading generation that wanted it all to be so different; or the current next generation of newbies glued to their phones and thinking that a revolution consists of ordering something a little different at Starbucks. No, it is not too late, but I think we will not be taken seriously. Just look at the demonstrations that have been happening recently against the Trump-ton. Have they been taken as anything other than an itch that is annoying and needs to be scratched away? This is not right, the political classes should be taking us all seriously. But all Theresa May and her cronies on the bench seem to do is smile smugly and then wave it away as if they have something far more important to do, such as destroying the evil NHS.

Democracy, it maybe sane to say, is becoming a parody of itself. Let’s look at what democracy should mean:

system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.

That is according to Google, who of course know so much more about what a democratic state should be; but it is interesting when you break it down: a system of government by the whole population, you just have to look at the current way that the government bicker and attack with their shadow government to realise this is not on behalf of the whole population. It is for their own interests. Then we are asked to believe that they do it on behalf of their electorate, the majority of which when it comes to elections see nothing fit to vote for so abstain. This is not democracy, it is delusion. We are living in a broken society that only something new can fix.

A new kind of politics is needed. Winston Churchill, arguably one of our greatest prime ministers, once said that democracy is the worst form of government;, apart from all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

We need something new and inventive. Something that will attract the imagination of everyone old enough to vote, indeed, he also said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.  Just watch Prime Ministers Questions on a Wednesday at midday and realise what an embarrassing disaster our political system has become.

So what is the answer? Is there an answer and if so who implements it?

We do. We are the answer. We need an uprising and then we need to start this whole process all over again. And it can start with the internet. Here we have the greatest tool at our disposal, so great and so new that the higher classes of the political system refrain from using it. It is the best weapon anyone could have, so much better in the knowledge that our ministers do not demean themselves by using it.

Educate the young to want better than what we have been given. For too long we have let mediocrity slide over us like a large blindfold; or like one of those Rovers from The Prisoner, to stop us from speaking our mind. That is the government that is being created worldwide and it is all being done under the banner of democracy.

Perhaps it is too late for us forty-somethings, but it is not too late for the younglings (quoting George Lucas from Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith).

Can we save democracy? Yes, we can; but it should not be and cannot allow to remain to be the domain of the elite. It should be for all of the people and represent all of the people. That is why so few bother to turn out to vote, because it has become an exercise for the elite to get exactly what they want and draw a veil over the rest of the country. Heck, Donald Trump talks about being "one of the people", and he is one of the richest on the planet, screwing everyone along the way (in more ways than one if you believe all of the stories). So if he is one of the people and represents a break for the establishment, then that is a country in deep trouble. Here in Britain it is similar, we have elitists in power who do what they want to do for their own gain. That is not a democratic country, it is elitist. But it can be changed.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Leslie Halliwell and Star Wars

Does anyone out there  remember Halliwell’s Film Guide? It was a mine of information about movies, including awards garnered, a list of the production crew and cast and a small review giving you Leslie Halliwell’s thoughts on whether or not the movie had any merit. Notable actors and technical crew were in italics, giving you an idea of who shone when the movie was released. The book was a source of information for any movie buff and a must have at Christmas. Leslie Halliwell died in 1989, having created a mammoth list of movies and reviews; he was respected throughout the movie world and also worked for ITV as a buyer, bringing in the James Bond franchise which still holds strong with ITV today, as well as hit tv shows and the network premiere of Star Wars, which was a big deal when it was first shown.

What has led me to this thought of Leslie Halliwell? Well, in his tradition I have started to catalogue all of the films I have seen using his four star rating system. It is quite a task, but an interesting one when you take each film, new releases or ones that have to be viewed again, one at a time and give it a fair, review based on your own perceptions and not influenced by anything like awards or critical response.  I think what made Halliwell so special was that he used his own voice, and I am bringing that to my own catalogue of movies.

According to Wikipedia, who must have a good source of information, Halliwell’s favourite film was Citizen Kane, which seems to be high on many a critical list. The classic movie from Orson Welles, which famously introduced ceilings to the set, was released in 1941 and flopped at the box office. It has gone on to be named as one of the greatest movies ever to be made.

I still have a couple of his film guides, and they still hold strong even when you take into account the amount of movies that have been made since his death. I wonder what he would have thought of the state of cinema when you include all of the remakes, sequels and superhero movies. Would he have looked favourably on all the Marvel movies that are being made, or of the new Star Wars franchise? It would have been interesting to have seen his take on the industry now.

I remember watching Star Wars for the first time on television. It was during a time when we did not have a VCR, or video recorder, which was a tape that you put into the machine which was plugged in to the television and allowed you to record films and shows to watch later. Before households had technology like that you either had to stay in and watch the show or had to miss it, simple as that.

Anyway, Star Wars was being released onto terrestrial television to much hype and the only way I could record any of it would be to place a cassette recorder up to the speaker of the tv and record it as you would a radio show, to play it back without pictures at my leisure. Of course, I was Star Wars mad, so it would have been foolish not to have done this, and being crazy I could also memorize the pictures so I could imagine the movie playing out in front of me just by listening to the sound effects and dialogue.

Years later they released Star Wars onto VHS in widescreen and then eventually it has come onto DVD and BluRay, but back then 1982, when we had just three channels and an upstart fourth, times were a little simpler for us movie buffs and we had to rely on sound recordings and (what!) book to get us through the three years between episodes.
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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Living in a Shaking World

The World shakes

I have recently decided to come off of my medication; this is generally because I don’t want to be tied to false hope all of the time and I wish to wrestle back control of my life. The trouble is that there are side effects, and this was to be expected. However, in recent days I have been feeling dizzy and I was not aware that this would be one of the side effects of stopping taking the drugs.

It is a strange sensation, it makes me feel sick and uncertain of myself. The world around me seems to shudder for moments at a time, as if a small quake is taking place. My eyes feel as if they are unable to take in the world around me, they struggle to focus on what is ahead of me and I cannot concentrate. It is a little like being drunk, but all of the time, and not in a good way. It is the strangest sensation, and if I were drinking I would expect it, but I am off the sauce so can’t even blame that. There is only one explanation, the drugs and lack thereof.

I was expecting to feel ill as I did when I went on them all that time ago. But this is something different and not very pleasant. Hopefully it won’t last very long just as it didn’t when I started this course of drugs. For about three days I felt sick and could not eat much, so if this lasts for longer than three days then I may have to visit the docs.

The world is a strange enough place anyway, without it shuddering every fifteen minutes.  After all, if shuddering is not bad enough we will all be banned from travelling soon as well.

I am one of those people who signed the petition to ban Donald Trump from being invited to a state visit to the UK. Of course, I signed it in the knowledge that it won’t come to fruition, after all, we have a government that has no backbone and a prime minister who simply smiles when all around her is a collapsing into a pile of shit, I think they refer to her as measured. But it says something when half a million people sign a petition in one day after the ridiculous decision by President Trump to ban certain countries from entering the US. What is that hoping to achieve, apart from worldwide derision? I know that some Americans can be portrayed as being a little challenged in the brain cell department but this is taking it to another level!

On another disastrous note, Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who. So who should follow in his footsteps? I was dismayed, actually distraught to hear that Miranda Hart was one of the favourites to take his place. Now, this is not in any way because she is a woman and Doctor Who has always been played by a man, but please, Miranda Hart? Of all the actors in all the world and the only woman on the list is the slapstick Miranda Hart? That would not be right, and I hope that this is not going to be the case. She may be funny to some people, but I personally am not a fan and it would ruin my enjoyment of Doctor Who if Miranda Hart became the keeper to the Tardis keys.

In my opinion I think they should go for a relative unknown who can make the part his (or her) own; someone who is new to the scene like David Tennant was and Matt Smith. It gave an edge and unpredictability to the character that has sadly been lacking as of late.

Friday, 27 January 2017

Snacking in a Surreal World

Surreal snacking has always been a treat for me. It started when I was younger and would experiment with food, in the form of mixing a tin of tuna with a tin of baked beans, and having this on toast; I called it tuna and baked beans on toast.

This one act started my revolution with food and gave me the impetus to continue on my quest for the ultimate surreal snack.

My next course of action was to produce a delicate treat that has lasted for over thirty as a staple of comfort food. The recipe is really quite simple, cheese on toast, and then with extreme care place two boiled eggs on top. I have used poached eggs but found that they were a little tasteless, and fried eggs are a no-no as that would make the meal too greasy, boiled eggs work perfectly. Working the two together really does make for a delightful teatime treat, and when the egg breaks and the yolk pours out onto the melted cheese it is sheer heaven.  I use thick bread for this when I can, a good farmhouse loaf that crunches when you bite into it, and mature cheddar for the cheese is a must. This meal is my go-to for comfort, when I’m feeling cold or tired or down, then cheese on toast with an egg on top is what is required. It also works as a great hangover cure. Not that I get many hangovers at all of course.

The best cure for a hangover, someone once told me, is to remain drunk.

I have come across an ancient hangover cure that has proved to be popular with sadists, and that is to beat yourself across the chest with a bunch of lavender. I’m not quite sure how this works for a hangover but I suppose that the act of beating probably works you up into a sweat and then, most likely because you feel stupid, you quickly forget that you ever had a headache and that you are actually all well. I imagine though that the whipping action would drive you to drink, and that is not a good thing. Too much alcohol is good for the soul but not much cop for the liver.

Lavender can be a useful ingredient when it comes to cooking a leg of lamb. If you are about to set off and cook a roast dinner then you could do worse than use lavender on your lamb. It creates an unusual taste but one that is quite satisfying. Lavender is one of those ingredients that has been forgotten as time has moved on and it is seen something as more of a toilet cleaner than a necessary condiment to food. However, I have tried lavender flavoured biscuits and they really did taste like a toilet block, it was not a pleasant experience and was one of the few times that I have spat out a biscuit.  However, biscuits aside, it works with lamb and I ask that you try this not as a cure for a hangover, but as a wonderful addition to the flavour of your roast dinner.

You can catch my blog on surreal snacking at   where you will find recipes for a whole host of sandwiches with unusual fillings.



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