Here’s To The Ones Who Dream: A 17th Helpful Reminder for 2017

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SPOILER ALERT: La La Land is really rather lovely.

(Hope I haven’t ruined it for anyone who accidentally read that.)

To be fair, it was never exactly going to be a hard sell for me. I’m a jazz singer who loves MGM musicals, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. Put all these ingredients together and tease me with a poster that mimics the colour palette of Singin’ In The Rain? I am IN.

And the film is truly adorable. Charming, funny, unashamedly romantic… and I mean the latter in the widest sense. There may be a love story at its heart, but above all, La La Land is a film about pursuing your dreams. And there are few notions more romantic than that.

In January 2016, I wrote a piece for Standard Issue called ‘16 Helpful Reminders For 2016’. So naturally, what with it being January 2017, I’ve been thinking about a 17th reminder to add to the list. And after much head-scratching, soul-searching and, yes, watching La La Land, I’ve decided on one. It is… *big musical-style overture* …

‘You’re never given a dream without also being given the power to make it come true.’

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Labour Of Love (Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Join A Political Party)

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One of my favourite movies is Broadcast News – and one of its many, many beautifully written, witty exchanges that has always stuck with me is the one above. Super-smart, super-informed TV news producer Jane Craig (Holly Hunter) schooling not-as-smart, super-handsome TV news anchor Tom Grunick (William Hurt). I think I’ve always remembered it because deep in my heart, I want to  be Jane Craig – but somewhere even deeper in my heart, I have a terrible fear that I’m Tom Grunick (without the super-handsomeness). It resonates because my inner Tom fears that my inner Jane is right.

It’s a scene that came back to me recently in the run-up to the election. Like most people, I read news stories and political commentaries, and occasionally shake my head and sigh at the computer screen (in the absence of a TV). But, like Tom, how informed, how prepared, how qualified am I, really, about the issues I care about, about the things that make me shake my head at my computer screen? And more importantly: what do I do about them? Apart from sharing links and writing satirical pieces – the latter of which had a very powerful impact on the final election result, clearly – very little. My ‘taking part in the political process’ has, in practical terms, consisted of voting in elections. And that’s it.

But there was something about this election that galvanised me. It may have galvanised me at the very last minute – but it did galvanise me. Many polices of the Tory-led coalition – and the policies the Conservatives were proposing if they won – are things which I am opposed to. Austerity, and the ideology of austerity – which effectively punishes the most vulnerable in our society for something which they didn’t bring upon themselves – is something I am very strongly opposed to. Not only did I firmly not want the Conservatives to win – I firmly wanted Labour to win. And the closer the election got, the more important this became for me.

So while I have always sat left of centre (politically, not literally – it’s not some weird tic I have when choosing concert seats), I have never aligned myself fully and properly with a party. Until now.

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