The Fiona MacCarthy

The Fiona MacCarthy

What pleases and annoys

Instinctive, impulsive, and logical but always passionate and reflective of what I feel here and now.

Individual blogs are in most recent, first sequence and are also grouped in various "categories" which are just to the right & down a bit should you prefer to search that way. Please feel free to add a comment.

Blog restarted June 2018

Food Festival, Bandwidth, Zebras & Immigrants

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 19, 2017 07:14:29
Immigrants & I

On the evening of 16th March 2002 I boarded a plane in Lagos Nigeria, bringing to an end 18 years of life upon the African continent and bound for London where I arrived in the early hours of Sunday 17th March which you may recognise as St Patricks day, an immigrant to this wonderful country. I therefore found the speech by the Irish PM Enda Kenny in the presence of Trump most touching and heart warming as he talked about immigrants. (Consensus on Patrick is that he was from Wales, captured enslaved, freed and returned to bring Christianity). It has been the most impressive political leadership riposte to the ignorance of the leader of the USA.


Certain Women (9/10 in my opinion) was a delightful movie of 3 stories about 4 women in a rural setting of the American North West directed skilfully by Kelly Reichardt. Excellent acting of the ordinary lives of these women seeking to realise ambitions and dreams, explored sensitively. The first two stories reflecting frustrations of working and living in a male dominated society (not a historical movie either) whilst the last story explores the friendship of two very different women thrown together by accident of classroom.

Lion (6/10) as directed by Garth Davis is a heart touching true tale of a boy lost on the Indian railway system, adopted by Australian parents who don’t want their own children (they adopt two). Searching his own roots at University prompted by other non Australian born he (Dev Patel playing adult role) uses Google maps to track down the village he came from. Some scenes with Nicole Kidman are excellent but it is boy-Saroo played by Sunny Pawar that steals one’s heart with his expression and acting. A great movie for Christmas time on the sofa.

“Van Dyck and the artists Eye” at the Laing Gallery was good show of paintings by artists of themselves including the approximately 1640 Van Dyck painting and a Picasso too.

Robert Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern was mind blowing in showing his versatility, skill and in my opinion his humour. Variety of subject matter, materials used and scale of work from his 6 decades of work frequently took my breath away or just brought a big smile to my face. Eg the stuffed angora goat.

Food Festival, Bandwidth, Shekels, Rugby.

Hosting a Food Festival upon Fish Quay North Shields in the 2nd weekend of March was the outcome of a meeting of minds of an optimist with a lunatic. Saturday was damp drizzly misery forcing a happy adjournment to a local hostelry (Low Lights) for several hours. Sunday brought inspiring freshness of air and sunshine to allow exploration of small range of stalls and standardised options. The sign for chai tea lured me to one but there was no “masala chai” to refresh memories of my Indian adventures. Hopefully the show will return in future years in warmer times and on a bigger scale.

Off to London last week on Tuesday for 3 days followed by a trip to Manchester on Friday, to meet various Agencies and “rocketise” my contract search and shekel-search (ancient use not modern intended) for life and holidays. I admit to not being 100% these past weeks in my emotional state of mind but am getting to where I want and need to be and where my “elevator pitch” is pitch perfect. At one of my meetings this week a non-young agent said I had “bandwidth” and before I used my talons to pop his eyeballs onto my perverse-pool-playing surface in response to references to elastic/ ated waistlines insults as inferred to my mind scanning all wavelengths but missing the right tune. He was referring of course to my breadth of experience rather than being specialised in a micro segment of accounting which is the norm now. But there are roles for those such as I with “bandwidth” (of skills) he assured me. I am more confident than before.

Last weekend saw a van arrive at my door with various family heirlooms including my mothers dressing table. All items welcomed displayed hung (if needed) housed etc and that concludes that phase of a rather rocky nine weeks. Shared pictures from my sister of my mothers home now listed for sale shows a very empty house and home. Mine is delightfully crowded and very homely. Thank you Mum.


Yesterday brought to an end that great competition of rugby rivalry: Six Nations. Ireland have been inconsistent and England consistent but unexciting. I was not optimistic but certainly not as pessimistic as implied by Austin Healeys (an Englishman) prediction of a 23 point victory by England. Ireland played with perfect clinical passion against an uninspiring England winning 13-9 scoring the only try of the match.

England also won the womens version of this same competition and the Table sequence was the same as the Mens being in sequence Eng, Ire, Fra, Sco, Wal, Ita. wonder the odds on that.

Nail Art
Classy Red meeting wild graceful zebra (aka merger african past my present)

  • Comments(0)//

Spring sprung

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, March 05, 2017 07:35:52
At Sanctuary house yesterday, I had nail-art inspiration in the form of the above from an on-line picture of half Yellow vertical block covering half the nail with adjoining black white stripes. To avoid looking like a mutant bee, the Green moved in and non-symmetrical pattern applied. As St Patricks day of Friday 17th is before my next appointment and as I arrived on St P day in 2002, its a nice combo of Irish roots and Newcastle home (the football colours are B&W - for the slower!!).

Last weekend was back in Ireland for Saturday - Tuesday for the "month's mind" for my mother who died 7 weeks earlier on 14th January: How time flies and slowly heals although healing is rather non-linear but the trend is the right way. The family gathering at and after mass (dont do many of those) was very cathartic and it was strongly supportive of a steadily developing positive outlook. Spent 2 days with my sisters at Mum's home to sort and share those items from our 5 decades (approx) shared times. Some items are now in their new home whilst others will arrive next Sunday. Funny how some just fit right in as if they always lived here and others are like waving:at me.

Pursuits of the mind have been scarce this past fortnight but will re-engage with local offerings this week (to come). Bacchus inspired pursuits were too dominant last weekend.Liked the quote from the linked wikipedia article about the months mind from Bede "survivals of the Norse minne, or ceremonial drinking to the dead".

Continue to look for next work contract but my mind is becoming more focused and less emotional: Clearer maybe even like that of a bee. Plenty of work out there but one must have done the near same role very very recently. Being professional interim does not sell in most places as hamsters preferred. Have now got a refined plan for that.

Yoga and walking provide either stretch that body or let the wind blow cobwebs from the mind. Recent reading suggests that the "mind" is not just the brain but a greater spatial occupier. Both very therapeutic and still thinking about mind.

  • Comments(1)//

Darkness lightens

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 19, 2017 07:40:27
Picture is from my latest fortnightly visit to the creative Christine at Sanctuary House. idea found by nail guru me on-line of course.

The topic of the music lecture this week from the Explore programme ( was the composer John Cage whose style was best exemplified by the quote "Everything has its own spirit which can be released by setting it to vibrate". His use of chance in itself promoting the concept of risk, such as involving the I Ching to frame compositions or the creative 4'33" work which encourages us to "listen" in the extreme. My own summation is that sound is all around us and it is to us to provide context structure and extract pleasure.

Enjoyed Denzel Washington's adaptation of August Wilson's stage play "Fences" about a dysfunctional and very non rare family set in the 1950's Racist USA. Disappointed dreams of the father Troy (Washington) who has replaced love with automaton duty, is conditioned by the racial roles of the time and seeks to impose his values and distrust of sport upon his youngest son who has the same sports genes but less confined by walls or fences than his father. The conflict between the two is realistically harsh. His wife played by Viola Davis struggles to bind the family and is a delight to watch. The dialogue of the script is a gem to the ear. My assessment 8/10.

Later this Sunday I start a 2nd yoga class which I hope will complement my long running (no run!!) saturday session and returns me to where I was in 2015 with 2 classes per week. This body needs love and care.

Busy week, work search but no interviews yet. Continue and expand approach next week. No worries.

Off to Ireland next weekend for a Mass in Waterford on Sunday for my mother and then to her former home on Monday/tuesday in Navan to sort out some things. The growing daylight in the morning mirrors my own lightening of mood but dark days intrude too sometime.

  • Comments(0)//

Blog restarted

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 12, 2017 07:20:24
A few weeks ago, this picture was taken of me whilst waiting at Agra rail station en route to Varanasi: a minor 12 hour overnight journey officially (Northern India if you must ask and my website has my notes and pictures). There were some seasonal delays in services due to fog but I was thinking and making plans whilst reclining on my rucksack under the protective covering of my sunhat at approx 8pm.

Back home in North Shields now, its time to make those plans real.

Firstly I am actively engaged in looking for a new work contract to replace last year's excellent contract at Goldsmiths University in London. No longer bound to the beautiful North East but free to apply my skills wherever I can source good meaningful and intelligent fairly paid work. (not too much of latter nearby but there is some). But here is "Home".

Secondly, I am continuing my interest in what is artistic and or educational in its broader sense. This week I have been lucky to enjoy

The German black comedy Toni Erdmann with its sensitive observations about an unhappy relationship between joke making father and work focused ambitious daughter. At nearly 3 hours its a longer than normal movie but such is the quality of the script and performance of the father daughter actors that its a joy of a movie 8/10 for me.

Also enjoyed but not as much T2 Trainspotting a follow up of the classic movie from 20 years ago. The acting is excellent, the script slow moving for the first half in explaining what happened so long back which I my opinion could have been sped up with a different technique for explaining the past. Its 4 lads now Mark, Simon, Frankie and Spud with the latter making the biggest steps in life following advice from Mark that he has to replace his heroin addiction with a different and better addiction. A lesson that can be applied to any other bad habits we may have which im working at (not the heroin bit!!). 7/10 for me.

A very thought provoking exhibition at the Baltic by Italian artist Monica Bonvicini, made much better by a 1-1 guided tour by a staff member. One floor is the big installation and painting works and loved the variety of techniques applied and in particular the use of drip paint in the 2 colour paintings of buildings in USA following various natural disasters. The 2nd floor of her work focused on control including various displays of bondage gear in everyday shapes. That was also good <smile>.

A lecture as part of the Explore (WeAreExplore) programme on the use of forms of Jazz music (broader sense rather than purist whom I think get it wrong by too narrow definition) by classical composers including Shostakovich (eg Tahiti Trot), Gershwin (eg Rhapsody in Blue), and Darius Milhaud (La creation du Mond), not to forget Ravel and Walton amongst other. The start of this Jazzy thing was of course back in Ragtime and loved the sounds of Scott Joplin to shade the blank canvas as my mind was rather blank on the matter at the start of the lecture.

Northern stage is one of my favourite theatres and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a stirring imprint upon my childhood brain. I was therefore expecting to enjoy as I did Dr Frankenstein directed by Lorne Campbell and Polly Frame playing Victoria a female version of the Victor of old. Excellent acting and I especially enjoyed the "dream" scenes blending so magically with reality. The themes of where life begins and ends as well as taking responsibility for our actions are ageless but more complicated with Science. So appropriate as we create more complex and therefore more "human type" robots.

Live music excursions to the Exchange last Sunday for the monthly (1st sunday) musicians playing their own compositions rather than covers followed by the Boneshakers at the Maggie which following the departure of the manager seems to have shut its doors this week (was closed saturday night 10.30pm), and no future music listing on display as is normal. Will check out today but it will be a sad miss to the live music scene and more so being 100 yards from my back door.

Bucket list of short and longer holiday destinations taking shapes as well as other plans for the next 2 decades or so. Life is too short

  • Comments(0)//

Autumn Arrives (6th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:57:35

Autumn arrives

Time is moving on and whilst I have enjoyed much in this fascinating city I realise I have barely touched the surfaces.

Some venues have seen my footprints far more than others.

Back at the Tate for the modern art collection. Picasso’s 3 dancers great painting indeed but Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus the one that hit my brain full on. Dazzling creativity. The range of paintings, the variety of styles, the output of such talent. A nice haven from the crowds is the balcony in the members area facing the river where one can sip and savour a flavoured waterey refreshment at 350 pence or so whilst enjoying a fabulous view. The frequency of visits to the non free parts of this venue have paid for the annual fee.

My other frequent favourite is the British Museum and this weekend I enjoyed free tours of the “Japan” collection (note this is also an air-conditioned room far up and away from the sweltering (korea and Inca rooms too provide respite when London gets hot). The 2nd free tour was of Sassanian glassware which prompted a time check as to century. From 250-600AD/CE and strung between Syria and Iran was a powerful and rich empire. Yes the old glasses and bowls impressive but it was the small coloured glass perfume bottles that caught my eye. Small enough to be enclosed in a fist, they were such a personal touch from a time so distant. My perfume bottles will not last so long!.

Back to live Comedy and this time at Comedy Carnival at Club rumba next to Trocadero. Friendly intimate more personal and distinctly cheaper (£16 entrance on Saturday and change from £20 for a bottle of wine). I laughed from beginning to end and eyes filled with water several times as a range of varied and talented comedians pushed various boundaries of humour. Much preferable to the Comedy Store nearby.

Do the crowds never give up. Every street so busy, every table occupied, bars boldly busy.

National Gallery for the George Shaw exhibition. Detailed paintings particularly of trees in enamel. The rest of the Gallery will be explored in instalments as will the Portrait gallery nearby who have daily talks on specific paintings and occasional musical recitals.. More work lol

My 3rd and final visit of this years Proms was #72 (previously 37/57) and as close to the Last as I could get.

Woody Allen’s Café Society seemed auto biographical in style, well acted, beautifully filmed and costumed and with a ¾ dazzling script.

Ron Howards documentary on the Beatles Eight days a week was very enjoyable and technically they have done magic with old images. Ringo’s comment about how poor the sound systems were in the USA where they frequently played over the staium tanoy system was hilarious. He had to watch the movements of Paul’s arse to work out where they were in the song. They were good at songwriting, professionally packaged to perfection and incredibly close knit team of four.

Andrew Neil chaired a session on plotical landscape of Britain post Brexit vote. Anatole Kaletsky (doom), Liam Halligan (optimistic), Chris Darbyshire (on fence) Claer Barrett (no views of note) were united in not being sure of their facts. Why anyone would talk before Andrew without fact checking beats me.

Next fortnight

Cosi fan tutte, Tate talk on Georgia O K, British Museum talks on Egyptian wisdom and their new SA art and a New Statesman/ Goldsmiths lecture. Those booked must fill in the gaps lol

  • Comments(0)//

Last Summer Bank Holiday (5th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:55:39

Last Bank Holiday of Summer

Comedy Store in central London was my first London Comedy night out. It was slick professional and pricey. The comedy was no better than that which I have experienced at the Stand, Newcastle although maybe the best were all at Edinburgh this weekend. Jammed pack in rows of seats that would make Ryanairs Michael blush. I laughed of course. But at £26 for ticket, nearly £25 for bottle of wine and £12 approx for a steak sandwich, it aint cheap. My normal prices at Stand are £12 entrance Saturday (£6 Friday for same acts with annual membership £30) and change from £20 for a bottle of wine (quality comparable).

An earlier visit to the Tate which is another venue to be explored slowly revealed the photographic works of the Finnish Konttinen based in Byker from 69-77 recording the British working class. She clearly was welcomed into the homes of many and her pictures are natural, professional and a historic record.

Walking in Hampstead was part of my series of Sunday walks via “London walks” where one turns up at a Tube station at a certain time, no booking, pay a £10 for 2 hours guided walk. Hampstead is quaint, perched on a hill to the North, pretty and pricey. Ridley Scotts 30 room home was sold for £28m. I find the idea of £1m per room supportive of the idea of keep the plebs out. In a local pub that seemed to have missed the gastro pub paint brush a Sunday lunch was enjoyed at £12 whilst a woman from up north (Manchester me thinks) quibbled about the price of a half pint saying that for same £2.40 she’d get a pint and more back home. The east European staff could not care less, nor could I.

A tour of Westminster Abbey on Sunday was moving beyond belief. The introduction included the memorial to the unknown soldier and the story was relayed by our Guide in a way that moved tears to cheek with ease. In a place that hosts remains and records of so many powerful and famous it was the death of a single symbolic soldier that made the most impact. Id like some of my ashes scattered in the quiet cloistered area. My ghost will have much to learn as night falls and spirits mingle.

  • Comments(0)//

August Arty (4th weekend in L)

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, September 18, 2016 10:53:48

My 4th London weekend

Set in a rather posh part of town, okay its very posh aka Knightsbridge, the Royal Albert Hall is a lovely building in tribute to some long dead bit of royalty. But in contrast to the Royal Opera House it conveys a feeling wrapped in an atmosphere of British essence of normality, packed full with a love of music. And so it was upon my first visit to building amidst the 2 month long series of proms, number 37 that I swivelled my chair to gaze over the Prommers, those who stand for a sliver of the seating price having perhaps queued for upwards of 1,300 tickets designated for non cushioned attendance. As it was not packed by ay any means many stretched out upon the floor. The musical programmes was varied and entertaining. (prom #37 Waltons Partita, Webern’s Pascaglia and Brahms 4th the latter being the only piece I had heard before but all equally enjoyed

The Royal Academy (London is tough on those seeking venues of a Republican hue) is that semi egalitarian semi democratic, majority elite where a bunch of Artists in the club or guild or Union depending on perspective invite British artists to submit works of art and approx. 10% approx. get to be displayed and cannot help but wonder how much gets displayed in bed in order to get displayed on the walls. The selection process by reported accounts is flawed and artists who have financially made it judging who to admit has the hint of non fairplay to it. The rooms are delightfully bright and the displays of artistic exhibits conversation prompting in the main and pleasing in the minority. The bijoux garden areas surrounded by 4 high storey buildings a pleasant respite from how did that get in here to how did the gem survive the architects pen in a city noted for the price per square foot. Your two feet will probably fit with a shape of 1 foot square but your hips and shoulders will probably not. Ordering 2 glasses of prosecco for my friend & I and asking of snacks, offered bowl of almonds and waiter says I will bring them over, shot the bill up into levels (I have just returned from a meal of afghan spag bol for /£6.50 at nearby Perseplois) I decided to skip contemplation . £23. The absence of pence from bills is a warning.

I had by this weekend been to the Royal Opera House to see 3 very different shows, Obsidian tea plus 2 other dance/ballet, Verdi’s Il Trovatore and the Bolshoi’s Taming of the Shrew, without misogyny. The Bolshoi will not be back in London next year touring Paris, Scandinavia, New York and Japan and as it was my birthday week and as there was only 1 seat left for sale and none for Swan Lake, it seemed only fair to join the reverse-paupers in the stalls for Le Corsair (The Pirate) and their last night in town or indeed the UK. Critics may debate the finer points of Ballet but they bring an expertise to costumes that is superlative. The most humble of parts and judging by only 2 performances are attired in the most delightfully coloured, tailored and role appropriate costumes. As tho the Ballet and having only seen UK groups before before Obsidian tear, the Bolshoi bring a lightness of touch, a glide and a gracefulness, an energy and excitement enhancing sense. They are true Masters and Mistresses of their art form. I’m glad I paid the asking price of £135 but I leave my friends assured that my next three shows at the ROH in total cost £12 less than that single price. Yes, Im back up the top dusting the ceiling but still savouring the beauty of what art is available so frequently here.

The options on Sunday based upon why not go on the river was to go up river somewhere nice or downstream to Greenwich. Those of you familiar with the way of rivers and as limited by there being only one will understand the great choice of 2. Greenwich won and we headed off in the non touristy but tourist filled commuter boat. The Cutty Sark waved its sails and gosh it is small, the village was jammed with tourists. The former naval building designed to assist the recovery of sailors of the British navy from injury and ailment so vast in scale they could probably accommodate the entire naval staff now. It was and is a symbolic tribute of physical and perhaps psychological benefit to those who had served to expand and maintain the empire at its height. Up the hill to see the folk queue to be pictured on the meridian line and learn about Harrisson’s clocks (Dava Sobel’s Longitude purchased) provided a technical guru expertise counterbalance to the physical ardours of those who recovered at the base of the hill. Atop the hill allowed those Londoners to update their clocks daily. And all that in the last 2 centuries.

  • Comments(0)//

melodies of notes and love

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Wed, June 22, 2016 22:07:44

A musical weekend with The Force on Friday and then “Big Red and the Grinners” (Sunday) providing good quality live music entertainment and pleasure in my local home pub, the Maggie Bank. I am firm in the opinion that the absence of live music is a poorer place to live. Sub optimal in extremis. Both bands were energetic, professional and left me feeling much happier for enjoying their magical touches.

In the middle of last week (Tuesday) I was very fortunate to attend and enjoy some great entertainment from Paul Cassidy at Goldsmiths; Frederic Chopin Ballades 1&2 and a new composer to me Frederic Rzewski born 1936 Ballades 3&4. Great contrast, great talent and great luck to be there.

Mikado by Scottish opera at Theatre Royal Newcastle was a dilemma in entertainment. It offered ingredients of pantomime, predictable lines eg “Yum Yum” as the main female lead and whose humour from aging magician playing touch bum with young female assistant was more in Carry on mode. Or maybe carry on just adopted the great scripting and lazily enjoyable music of Gilbert & Sullivan. Skilful, professional but so dated despite some efforts to make it au-jour (to the present day if my French is awful)

More recently I enjoyed intensively the delightful movie Tale of Tales, an extraordinarily creative trilogy of fantasia and imagination. There was plenty of material for plenty of discussion and I do wish I had seen this with an equally adventurous imaginative friend. Skip here if you plan to see.

For me the tale of the 2 brothers born, of selfish maternal love at all costs to have a child and then create 2 by sorcery. Their love for each other proved stronger and overcame the other one sided love of the warped mother.

The Princess in hope of love who is married off by a father more in love with a flea than her to an ogre of great physicality but no love, she wins, forgives father and becomes queen.

The two sisters in aged support and gentle but eventually cruel rivalry. The twist was the rich bloke fooled into accepting into his bed one of the old women , then realising his error trying murder before falling in love with the reincarnated but now younger woman. But she loses her youthful skin and runs away. Love is more than physical although that is oft the spark.

True love is stronger than selfish love. Embrace. (okay I will xxx)

Typed as Ireland beat Italy and go through to next round. FANTASTIC only saw the replays as I typed lol
Wednesday 26th June, 2016

  • Comments(0)//

Busy time

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, June 19, 2016 09:06:37

Greetings. It’s been a while and a busy while too. But it also has been very good.

For the past few months (4 in case you curious), I have been commuting from home (Yep, that is still North Shields) to London on a weekly basis. For most of that time I have regarded the Angel of the North statue on the outskirts of Gateshead as a sign that I’m home. What then followed was a frantically busy period before Monday dawned and a commute work cycle repeated. Busy working week with a bit of time after work in one of a several options before retiring to hotel room for a bit of telly and sleep. A bit of a bitch in terms of quality of life!

In the past month life have been changing and improving with slightly more social routine be it music, or a movie or a different place. An effort which would conceivably draw critique from any good friend “could try harder at life”

With work contract very recently extended by 4 months a different and better personal plan is in place. There is more to life than work-sleep-boring routines.

Last weekend was the first during which I stayed over in London. Stupid to have stayed away from there so long but now there are bookings for end July and August where I will stay alternate weekends.

For my first stay on a sunny Friday evening, I ventured south from my hotel a great distance of 10 minutes getting to Peckham Rye which is a treasure trove of English life at a gentle pace and much different to Peckham high street with its never ending blare of blues and yellows emergency vehicles. Awful noise. Peckham Rye started with an ice cream cone and a stroll around the streets of small shops bustling with activity and fresh produce competing to be sold. Artusi provided the meal and Victoria Inn the refreshment as sunlight enabled a joyful feeling to permeate the ether and lift any darkness.

Saturday morning had me eagerly travelling to the British Museum for “Sunken Cities” a memorable and wonderful exhibition of treasured buried in 2 cities off the delta of the Nile. The strong bonds of Greece and Egypt were obvious in terms of their deity worship and a bold statement of living together when we shortly vote of divisions between us and our neighbours. Trade binds in the money sense but people bond too across countries as they have done for millennium. The equivalent of gravestones bear testimony to people adopting aspects of both cultures in which the Gods of the Greeks had human form whilst those of the Egyptians had animal form.

British museums are charge free but special shows as this have a cost of approx. £15 which deters many. A positive aspect of this for space loving me was the relative calm compared to the rest of the museum.

A contrast was offered by the Modern Tate which used the cash register to dampen the audience numbers at certain parts of its displays. Its sinful to keep the Mona Hatoum away from the general public as its inspirational in its creativity, provoking at every step and entertaining.

Evening time had me walking around Covent Garden busy as could be before seeking calm and entertainment at the Royal opera House. Excellent Ballet performance with a threesome of ballet: Obsidian tear (a sorrowful watery emission from the eye or a rip- you to decide) with Wayne McGregor providing the choreography for 9 male dancers in a strange and beautiful performance prompting many questions and leaving the interpretation to the audience. Wonderful not to be simplified. The 2nd performance was “The Invitation” by Kenneth McMillan a retelling of a controversial ballet from the 1960s’ about the crossover relationships between a younger and older couple. The 3rd ballet was “Within the Golden Hour” by Christopher Wheeldon a mesmerising performance by 7 couple dancing either as a couple or 2 couples through 7 dances until the final stupendous scene. The 3 ballets in one night provided great variety entertainment and thoughts for the mind. The quality of the dancing superb and the setting divine. Return visit booked.

Sunday morning had me enjoying one of the many walking tours in rain, for 2 and a half hours through the quiet silent streets of the business district, its wonderful streets of old, rebuilt churches and the special peace of St Dunstons with its Blitz bombed walls untouched for over 7 decades and now a garden space of serenity in a money mad making stretch of trillions but emptied for a Sunday. Lunch in a Christopher Wren pub was a touching reminder that people are often remembered for one thing only when we often do many great things.

I don’t see myself moving lock stock and barrel to London in 2016, but I will spend more of my personal time there this year. In November I will be looking for a new contract in London as the quality of engaging work is there at a day rate that covers the expenses and hassle of commuting. The North East offers average quality work at average £rates and lengthy gaps between contracts that crucify any savings and cause unnecessary stress (2 mths last year and 1 this year with a low paid role in between). A creative blend of work life balance is an option as my work does not mean I have to be in London for 5 weekdays but that depends on my client / customers and by negotiation. My dream job would be 3days in London per week with alternate weekends, a 4th workday each week here at “home” during which days (all 4) I would do a working week of say 37 -40 hours. Its good to have a plan and I must simplify how I tell it.

Will be back here more often now.

  • Comments(0)//

Temporary sabbatical

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, April 17, 2016 08:28:06
Have been working away in London since February and my personal life more than slightly impacted.
Will be returning here in next week
best wishes

  • Comments(1)//

Weddings, Fairies, Dance, Education, Love and Gender

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, February 07, 2016 08:56:53

My Tuesday music class from Explore ( on the theme this Season of music from Shakespeare was on the subject of the music of a Mid-Summer Nights dream and more specifically On Mendelssohn or more fully “Jakob Ludwig Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” where we looked at his creative clever instrumental play including on how he created an image of mischievous fairies and the better known at least to many Wedding March piece.

Rambert Dance were in town again as part of their 85th year tour presented a programme in 2 parts

· “Frames” a very clever use of shapes (interlocking metal bars) to “frame” the dancers as they engage with each other.

· “The strange Charm of Mother nature” where the dancers become the atoms of the universe whizzing or is that dancing about to the music of Stravinsky and Bach

· The three Dancers based on Picasso’s painting of same name but using 2 groups of 3 dancers, one in black the other in white initially separately but then combined in a thought provoking play on ecstasy and doom which can separately and at least for me simultaneously occupy the human mind. The music for this part of the programme was the best and most captivating. The programme tells me its from an Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin because I had no idea.

On Friday a short play called “Presumption” from third Angel of Sheffield was a 20 year revival without updating analysis of the loving relationship between a couple. Starting with an empty stage then the 2 actors and ending with a furnished living room in their flat, we were taken through in stages and for which the furnishing of the stage was a prompt. The script was relayed in matching stages as they explored their own love, compared with friends in a realistic way with uncertainty honesty wrapped in their relationship of love.

On Saturday I went to another show at Northern stage where Kate O Donnell originally from Coventry took us through a very theatrical take on her gender transition. I say “very” as there were times I thought over the top although it was in fairness to her the prop to aid her difficult times and struggles with her family along her journey.

During the week was at a lecture at the Lit and Phil on Education as influenced by war. Professor Docherty of Warwick (dam farm not to do with “war”). He started with Ireland which is a good way of getting additional attention from myself and the founding the first catholic university by an Englishman Cardinal Newman. The importance of education is a major artery to us Celts and so it was that this University was a building block in later nationhood. The role of Universities in France under Napoleon and Germany at the time of Hitler was also looked at before turning to the UK and the current civil war taking place on freedom of speech.

I was shocked to learn that lecturers are expected to monitor and report what they perceive to be extremist response in writing, talk or even body language of students. Most of us can define extremism by ak47 wielding bomb carrying bearded terrorist of a certain religious group. But the lack of legal clarity and use of nudge nudge self police but don’t get it wrong makes the whole area very subjective. I say this in a country that went from fighting the IRA here and in Northern Ireland with its own troops and security service to having the leaders meet the queen and engage in talks, in a few decades. Terrorism to freedom fighter to diplomat to politician is a singular road and using Higher Education to police thought wrong.

Earlier in the week I was absorbed in the high quality acting bond between mother and son in “room” who were held captive by a nutter (he fathered the boy) their escape and most difficult assimilation back into normal life. The strength of the relationship between mother and child which was forged in their prison, tested frequently, provided aid to escape and most crucially was the catalyst to survive the media analysis and support family helplessness (some not all).

My personal Work quest (as I must) has seen a 3 week (since holiday) spell of plans efforts and talks without outcomes reach a stage where I now have interviews confirmed for 2 perm (from last week) and one interim job next week with interview date awaited for 1 further perm role (also from last week). At last action although 2 weeks later than I had hoped. Am also in running for 2 interim roles of which 1 is in London. Will be looking more closely at that city in the following week if no action.

Next week's plans

Play at Northern stage: Learning how to die

Play at Theatre Royal: Inspector calls

Lectures: Music (Explore series), Energy entropy & wealth (Newcastle University Insights), Chinese Cultural Revolution (Explore- Saturday)

Chinese New Year banquet at Golden swallow on Friday evening: so fitting

3 at least or maybe 4 interviews, 2 yoga, and 1 Age UK befriending visit (play on numbers).

Would like to see the Icelandic movie Rams and a 2nd visit to Assassin if possible

  • Comments(0)//

Miners, Movies and Me.

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, January 31, 2016 08:58:20


Enjoyed Land of our Fathers at Live Theatre (this Saturday) which tells the tale of 6 Welsh miners trapped some 1,000 or thereabouts feet below surface in 1979. The date gives context to their discussions chatter and song as they awaited efforts to save them. Mining has a particularly strong legacy here in North East England too as besides being an inherently dangerous occupation it provided a multi century battleground between work and safety legislation of a long rooted common sense type. There was no safety legislation in early days and most concessions came from bitter disputes with only a few proactive mine owners.

The play is very good but in my opinion misses from being excellent due to poor script at the beginning of the 2nd half. The first half pre break is excellent in itself. But from the start of the 2nd half the subjects as raised by miners are more like a checklist of subjects one would expect but their sequence seems random and contrived. Rescued by an excellent final quarter from the miners.


“The Big Short” is a very funny movie about the banking crisis of 2008 from a USA perspective but as many British banks and building societies bought the same fraudulent stocks it has resonance here too. The narrative pace is fast and funny and the movie takes time to explain in an easy to understand way some of the tools of the trade of these crooks and opportunists. We are also reminded several times that there is and was a major impact on human beings and that this was not a victim free crime. Having called it a crime, it is sad to note that few went to jail that a fine from the employing organisation settled most but that there were many innocent victims and also some who should have known better. The childhood fairy-tale about the Emperors clothes, having none came to mind.

The “Assassin” will need a cinema-return by me to work out the subplots although I did understand the main plot. It is beautifully filmed with great scenery and acting. The title implies violence and there is some and so don’t go if you expecting a martial arts movie in human killing. The dialogue is frequently fast and trying to follow the new characters as they are introduced when a Chinese speaker can focus on the picture rather than sub titles makes this a must re-do as I hope to crack the tales and sub plots.

The Danish Girl tackles the earliest reported tale on surgical intervention for a transgendered person in this case a Danish artist who underwent several pioneering surgeries to achieve her true self. It’s a lot to squeeze into 2 hours and more so when the Director incorporates specifics of the particular case which serve as red herrings to someone who might be watching this movie with little prior understanding of transgenderism. As a movie it is fairly well done and could have been better if simplified. The movie attracted criticism from many transgendered for not using a transgendered person to star. Named and famed actors seem to be preferred by Directors but I do wish that Directors would be bolder in casting of other similar movies.

Lecture this week

“Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” was the topic of this week’s music class from Explore looking at Shostakovich 1934 opera. It’s a great lively bawdy opera whose contemporary tale is in tune with much that is offered these days in soap operas. Of course the music and singing is a distinguishing characteristic with the soap opera but the plots and subplots are at home with our humanity.

This opera toured successfully in Russia for about 2 years until Stalin went to see it, condemned the morality and send Shostakovich into an uncertain limbo for several years.

Work- mine

Have 2 interviews planned for next week plus 2 from last week to be rescheduled. All 4 are for Permanent roles and are for organisations I’d be happy to work with and for. Long term solution to a long term past and current problem.

Next week's plans include

Rambert Dance at Theatre Royal

Presumption at Northern Stage also "Big girl blouse"

Movies: Room (hopefully) and Assassin maybe

Lectures from Explore (Music series), Lit & Phil (education) and Neas (archaeology)

  • Comments(0)//


Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, January 24, 2016 08:51:01

My descent to reality this week was as rapid as my plane landing at Manchester last Sunday and took place on Monday morning after a chilly darkness encased breakfast

Warm clothes including headwear of a non-sunny disposition, boots and gloves litter my hallway with a strange familiarity that is a million miles away from 8 days ago when insect repellent and sunhat were to hand, to head,

This week I occasionally look at my feet as the tan marks of my sandals tell a tale of warmer days and tanned parts fade.

Back to several pre-Christmas routines such as yoga in full swing with a great and difficult class yesterday as my lazy body collided with ambition beyond stretchability and another in an hour. Musical pub excursions resumed too. Strange having both topics in same paragraph.

My mind is being re-engaged with activities other than beach bargaining and converting Dalasis to £. Strange having..... !

On Tuesday my music class this Season as part of a series on musical interpretations of Shakespeare looked at the music of West Side Story with delightful recordings of Bernstein in rehearsals with his stars and team as he looked for artistic perfection in a recording. “Take 123” etc. was of note. The search for Peurto Ricans who could sing dance and act the challenge in this interpretation of Romeo and Juliet with a gang culture immigrant twist.

Yesterday I went to a wonderful one off lecture on the sagas of the Icelanders with reference to the surviving manuscripts from 600 to 800 years ago. The prose style as vivid in use then as it is now, as they recorded on paper their long standing stories from their oral tradition. We looked at the origin of settlements, the impact of early Irish hermits’ pre 8th century followed by Norse from 800CE onwards. Celtic DNA features strongly on the female side suggesting slaves captured on raiding trips to Ireland and elsewhere on the periphery of the UK. Their exploration trips to north east America interestingly in tandem to Irish theories on who got there from Europe before Columbus. We Iris claim that. Yes sounds like another country (Iceland that is) to add to my plans when warmth not on the holiday agenda.

Sat in last night and decided in consequence to watch War Horse which Id not seen in film or stage before due to no planned fault. Great acting by the lead horse “Joey” and then discovered that 14 horses played joey of which 8 was whilst he was an adult. I was saddened to have my naïve assumption of a single horse, knackered by fact in the hands of a great story teller of the current day; Spielberg. Cannot criticise him too much when I am gentler and equally fascinated by the ancient writers from Iceland.

  • Comments(0)//

Ho ho ho

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, December 27, 2015 10:09:24

And so it came to be that an age routed period of pagan feasting wrapped up in a Christian fable and submerged in a crass commercial festival came to be celebrated. And what a fab time seems to have been enjoyed by so many including myself. I base my assessment of others good times upon the posts on facebook by various friends. I’ve not seen many folk in recent days.

I have struggled in prior years or indeed most of the past decade to gain serious joy out of this period of the calendar but am delighted to say I have enjoyed the month: yes the month and that is the month to date as another week or so remains in my end of year celebrations as I wrap up this year and start to unwrap the challenges of the year ahead.

In earlier weeks I have enjoyed many nights out with friends from over the years whom I do not see regularly. That sets the tone for me, the wrapping up and bringing together and upon which friendships can carry (hopefully) into the future.

Christmas period 24-26th was by selfish selection of what to watch, listen to, smell and savour. I used to mock my father when back in Ireland as I turned 20 or so a few decades ago he used to take a telly guide and mark therein what he wished to see often with overlapping conflicting choices. For him it was perhaps liberation from the time (earlier still in history) when Ireland only has one television offering or perhaps the misguided hope that my Mother would concede some token concession programmes that did not disrupt her planned relaxation. A game of bluff perhaps. I do the same now with the programme guide although following the departure of Milly the 7 legged spider from my home I get to make the big choices. Milly left following 2 assassination attempts by the Celtic warrior brigade (i.e. me) and she should have known better than rest upon an open page. She lives but our relationship is beyond repair as is one of her legs.

Mood setters are essential and 2 good movies on Christmas Eve in the form of Mama Mia and Hotel Marigold got me right in the festive mood of good cheer and happy will. Christmas day passed peacefully between movies such as White Christmas, Avatar (fellowship and friendship of the former and how we screw up Mother Nature and the environment in the 2nd) and 2 excellent programmes on Ballet by Darcey Bussell showing how male dancers have changed the way ballet is presented. Billy Elliot and Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake are good examples of current trends but Carlos Acosta from Cuba another. Least enjoyed and my only viewing on the top 10 for the period was Mrs Brown’s Boys which is now truly tired in script, lazy in acting and past its best by date. Sprouts can only be reheated so many times.

Two enjoyable movies on Saturday at Tyneside Cinema brought to an end a period of relaxed viewing and post on Facebook yesterday said; “Double bill at TC of Suffragette which did well in movie time to tell the tale of the national struggle for voting equality, the personal struggle of Maud played very well by Carey Mulligan whose interaction with Cop Brendan Gleeson could have been so much more firey- a missed opportunity. Sadly it took the martyrdom of Emily Davison to galvanise the opposition and a further 2 decades approx before all women got the vote. It would take a much better Director than Sarah Gavron to make best work of the impact of the various struggles in such a short time i.e. better as a series on telly.

Brooklyn is delightfully sweet movie of a young Irish woman in New York in early '50s. Great acting by Saoirse Ronan and others, sharp script played carefully between stereotypes and gosh I knew (even know!) people like that and those who engage with life with passion.”

Have set objectives; new year resolutions sound great in January and tired in the month of Mars although Objectives rather scary as early morning sun rays plays upon the floor, in each of the 4 key areas of my life Family (much more positive), Work (tuff) Personal (my playground of the mind), and a Miscellaneous hodge podge group for which am searching a name. Same in concept to prior years but more specific, more focused and better still to measure how much joy I extract from this life. I can still reflect happily upon the dozen days or so spent lazily in a hammock in Place of 4,000 islands upon the Mekong in Southern Laos 15 years ago but there are times for action too and this year will bring forth plenty opportunities which I will not squander. Have booked some 20 shows in a variety of places in the period till mid May or about 1 a week. One big holiday planned for first 2 weeks of January in Gambia and shorter trips away a new must do for 2016. The big challenge is permanent work to provide a platform of stability and plans in that direction are going very well with meetings to progress last and next week. Classes at Explore, Lit & Phil, and Newcastle Uni diarised. Comedy Club will abound merrily plus many more as mu divorce from telly proceeds with glee.

Later today it will be Sri Lankan cooking with some beef brisket a far different cut than my fine fillet steak of Christmas day. Sri Lankan Beef Smore with Mallung and Pol Sambol and all the spices and idiot guide from TheSpicery. Release the flavours and dance upon the Sky.
Find me on twitter at @fionamaccarthy for the more impulsive me

  • Comments(0)//

Smashing 60!

Week that wasPosted by Fiona MacCarthy Sun, December 20, 2015 11:50:27

Smashing 60!

It’s been a delightful festive season this month of catching up with friends and colleagues from the past and last night was another delightful night in local places cos that sure does beat the taxi craze.

A quiet drink at Charlies (not my fav place but the group I was with more than made up for it), before sailing forth on a wave of rain that abated on cue for a wonderful quality meal The Staith House: the Christmas choice menu a delight of pleasures and one of the most challenging chocolate desserts no light and fluffy here but rich penetrating dark taste. The only disappointment of the place is the price of the wine which despite the quality of its house wines was off-putting on the wine list itself. The fact that most of the price goes in taxes rather than the provider is niggling at a time of giving. From there we wondered the short distance to Low Lights which was chock a block with good cheer great laughter lovely folk and fair quality wines at non sobering prices.

A piles of laughs enjoyed at Stand comedy on Friday night where a great line up concluding with Carl Hutchinson who has a wonderful stage presence and a way of telling stories that is artful. Too many comedians like to laugh at others but those that have the courage to laugh at themselves via their humour are the best for me.

Finished my work contract at QE Gateshead this Friday past and the NHS accounting processes bring most of its pain upon itself. It could learn so much from simplification of financial processes that would improve efficiencies, reduce costs and generate more meaningful information. Great learning and made some good contributions made during my assignment. Updating this week my marketing CV and will be circulating it and the more conventional CV to agencies before Christmas shut down. It’s a right real shutdown for all but retail staff and front line public sector. If you are working right through and not one of those and would like to correct my generalisation, please write longhand.

Christmas day this week will be a quiet day but not a lonely day as is my preference. There is so much socially in and around this time of year that I enjoy it all.

Will use the next 2 weeks to put in place plans for the New Year and the first 3-4 months in particular. More importantly to relax mind and body and exercise both too of course. Yesterday at the Quay tap for lunch I was heartily regaled with stories of bird eating spiders (giant) in Gambia. They exist and I will be leaving the budgie at home and bringing the peregrine falcon to protect me when I depart on the 2nd.

My yoga this weekend has been more than challenging as red wine oozed from my pores and lapped about on the mat, but what a delightful feeling of inner happiness from completing most of the routines. A 2 hour session Monday night is next and then I may read the book I bought 5 years ago but got no further than a few pages. Should be more readable this time round.

Wind blusters and a blue sky excites a lovely day whilst sun rays dance to Verdi. The “60” in the title is the units of alcohol between 5pm Friday and 7pm tonight nearly all in wine from sundowners, lunch dinner and pub. Nearly all from partaking in great events with wonderful folk. Its also 10% more than my age which seems so irrelevant this year. Maybe I should increase my units of a as I age perhaps to a power factor: Must think about which as squaring ridiculous.

  • Comments(0)//
« PreviousNext »