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I no doubt have a lifetime of my father quoting Churchill to thank for this one, but so many of his quotes have stuck with me over the years…
It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.
Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality that guarantees all the others.
If you are going through hell, keep going.
Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.
I am a lover of truth, a worshipper of freedom, a celebrant at the altar of language and purity and tolerance.
Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is.
Having a great intellect is no path to being happy.
Life, that can shower you with so much splendour is unremittingly cruel to those who have given up.
What’s great about them is that anybody can go into them and find a book and borrow it free of charge and read it. They don’t have to steal it from a bookshop. … You know when you’re young, you’re growing up, they’re almost sexually exciting places because books are powerhouses of knowledge, and therefore they’re kind of slightly dark and dangerous. You see books that kind of make you go ‘Oh!’
I used many times to touch my own chest and feel, under its asthmatic quiver, the engine of the heart and lungs and blood and feel amazed at what I sensed was the enormity of the power I possessed. Not magical power, not all that Carrie teenage telekinetic wank, but realpower. The power simply to go on, the power to endure, that is power enough, but I felt I had also the power to create, to add, to delight, to amaze and to transform. Yet I was unwanted, rejected and unthought of. My mother, yes, she believed in me, but everybody’s mother believes in them. No one else believed in me.
“Principally of course—oh how one sees that now—myself. Principally, I did not believe in me. I believed in ghosts more than I believed in me, and take my word for it, I never believed in ghosts, I’m far too spiritual and emotional and passionate to believe in the supernatural.”
After last week’s post in regards to Emma Watson’s amazing first speech as a Goodwill ambassador, I decided that this will be a new little tid-bit feature of this blog, because, you know, I’m not all about photography projects and aimless wanderings around London sans camera and stylised OOTDs and runway favourites. I have always been an ‘idol connoisseur’, and from that a ‘quotation connoisseur’; I have numerous little Moleskine cahier journals lying around filled to the brim with quotes from everything from political debates to feature films, literature to theatre to overheard snippets of bus-stop conversation. My ‘idols’ are equally as varied, but all generally follow a leading thread; wisdom, ambition, and quite often a dizzying level of intellect. I think it’s important to have idols to inspire us, to envy enough that it motivates us to not just want what they have, but to go ahead and get it. I also think it’s important not to simply what the materialistic perks, and the inflated bank balance to make it so, but rather, I find myself watching a show or reading an autobiography of my idols, and envying their minds, their wisdom, their knowledge and experiences, enough to seek my own personal growth with an even greater degree of hunger than usual.
So, it felt only natural that once a week I give a little nod to the people who inspire me.
And where to begin… Emma Thompson.
Isn’t she just amazing? She’s the gem who introduced Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, two equally-valued idols of mine, she’s has been awarded two Oscar’s as both an actress and a screenwriter, not to mention Baftas, Golden Globes, Emmy’s… she is a comedy treasure, a brilliant actress, a talented screenwriter, and author, and yet she still finds the time to support about a dozen charities, including being an ambassador for ActionAid. Not to mention that her husband is so, so gorgeous. And she’s also a really smart cookie. There’s just something about her quirky sense of humour… she’s in equal parts embarrassing mother and hilariously fun aunt. Or that’s how she strikes me, anyway.
That’s the dream, right? To spread our talent across multiple platforms, to become just as celebrated in each medium that we fancy dipping our toes in, and to help the world with our influence.
A few great Emma Thompson quotes:
It is remarkable how many misconceptions there are here about life in the developing world, and I think that that knowledge gap has done a lot to contribute to the imbalance quite frankly.
I think our hearts are very chemical and we change the way we see people according to how we feel about them. That’s what love is, in a way.
Children are much more understanding of the suddenness and arbitrariness of death than we are. The old fairy tales contain a lot of that, and we’ve stolen from them, just as they stole from Greek myth, which has that same mixture of pre-Christian chaos.
If you don’t want women to do whatever they need to do, then you must provide them with food, you must provide them with shelter and their basic human rights.
I’ve realized that in all the great stories, even if there’s a happily-ever-after ending, there’s something sad.
It’s unfortunate–and I really wish I wouldn’t have to say this–but I really like human beings who have suffered. They’re kinder.
It’s fair to say, I love her.
Surely you’ve seen it? Everyone’s talking about it – the internet is going crazy over it. Twitter is pinging with supportive tweets and snaps. Celebrities are clamouring over each other to try and associate themselves with it. I’m talking about Emma Watson’s amazing UN Speech, which can be viewed here.
I’m a big believer in having idols. I think having people to admire and even envy (within reason) is healthy – without losing sight of ourselves, of course – as it inspires us all to embark on a path of self improvement, and so when those who we admire involve themselves in greater causes, such as charities, it inspires those who look up to them to become involved, and to step back and think ‘how can I help? Is there something about my lifestyle that contradicts this amazing cause? Is there something that I can do?’
I’ve heard some people say things such as ‘why is this little actress getting involved with this stuff? What difference can she make – she’s an actress’. Please. As a member of the Harry Potter generation, its fairly obvious to me just how influential Emma Watson is. The series may be over (for now… who knows, after all), but the Harry Potter generation is ongoing, and therefore whatever ‘Hermione Granger’ has to say, this age group sits up and listens.
It’s so great that she is obviously fully aware of this fact and is therefore using her voice wisely.
So yes, she is someone who I admire, in the mush that is the often-ugly world of Hollywood; a world of twerking, ‘accidental’ wardrobe malfunctions, sex tapes and… Jesus.. the Kardashians… I think I’d cry if either of my younger sisters turned around and said that they want to be just like one of the Kardashians or Miley Cyrus when they grow up, to be quite frank.
So this is a little shout out post to someone who actually speaks sense.. simply because I like people who speak sense, but they are such a rare find!
I don’t want other people to decide who I am. I want to decide that for myself.
All I can do is follow my instincts, because I’ll never please everyone.
But it’s a journey and the sad thing is you only learn from experience, so as much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.
I don’t want the fear of failure to stop me from doing what I really care about.
There’s nothing wrong with being afraid. It’s not the absence of fear, it’s overcoming it. Sometimes you’ve got to blast through and have faith.
I have felt for the last 10 years I have had this battle; I’ve been fighting so hard to have an education. It’s been this uphill struggle. I was Warner Bros’ pain in the butt. I was their scheduling conflict. I was the one who made life difficult.
I don’t have perfect teeth, I’m not stick thin. I want to be the person who feels great in her body and can say that she loves it and doesn’t want to change anything.
The saddest thing for a girl to do is to dumb herself down for a guy.
I feel that young girls are told that they have to be a princess and fragile. It’s bullshit. I identify much more with being a warrior – a fighter. If I was going to be a princess, I’d be a warrior princess, definitely.
Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love.
As much as someone can tell you things, you have to go out there and make your own mistakes in order to learn.
Yes, I know that I have been all about London since I moved here, London, London, London, London this and London that, but today, I spotted a news article that really struck me in a way that I would not have expected; today, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, the last Mitford sister, Deborah Cavendish, passed away.
This isn’t a grand obituary, or any such thing, it just felt right to whip up a quick post for someone who always seemed to feature somehow in my consciousness, be it a day trip to Chatsworth, a Nancy Mitford novel or a documentary on the Mitford clan. Not to mention, someone who I’ve always envied for their style. Go to Chatsworth, and you will find countless paintings and photographs of the glamorous Duchess, and, later, Dowager Duchess.
Having spent just under four years living in Derbyshire, and before that, eighteen years just one county away in Staffordshire, Chatsworth house – the Cavendish estate – has always struck me as being the most magnificent house in the whole world. I have visted Blenheim and Versailles, and I still prefer Chatsworth. I think that preference is in part down to having spent my childhood reading and re-reading Pride and Prejudice, only to then pick up the remote and watch the BBC series (and later, Joe Wright’s beautiful 2005 version), on repeat. After all, rumour has it that Pemberley was based on Chatsworth, which was visited by Austen. I also think that it’s partly down to a consistent fascination with the famous Mitford sisters.
Can you blame me for having sat up straight and taken notice of them? It’s not every day that you come across a family of sisters as varied as the Mitfords: a novelist, a duchess, a naxi, a fascist, a communist and… Pamela, the one with the quiet life. I have lost count as to how many Mitford books I have read (both those written by Nancy and the numerous biographies and autobiographies, and so it just seems obvious that I would love visiting Chatsworth even more, it being the home of one of the fascinating six sisters, a home which is also one of the most beautiful houses in the country.
Like most of us, I never met the Dowager Duchess, but I saw what she and her husband, and later, her son have done to the estate over the years; the farm shops, the twee little cafes and the produce that lines the shelves of independent shops across the county, all to stop Chatsworth from becoming another National Trust property – not to mention the constantly updated art collection that lines the old walls in a more modernly styled wing of the grand house.
And then of course, as I said before… she was just.. so glamorous!
It’s been a lovely afternoon for me, spent meeting with a friend over coffee. I couldn’t help but overhear, however, the conversation taking place between two bushy bearded men two tables away. It seems I have a hyper-sensitive radar in regards not only to the mention of my name, but any reference to me whatsoever – in this instance, I was simply ‘nah, mate, the other one’.
We were being assessed. Luckily, not with numbers (I hate that. Why do guys have to label us with a mark out of ten? Could their way of expression any attraction – or lack of – be any more degrading?) Instead, they were comparing us to the standards of beauty of today. That’s when that term came into use… ‘real woman’. According to Santa’s Hipster son 1# and Santa’s Hipster son 2#, I’m a ‘borderline real woman’ because I have a bum, but according to his friend.. ‘nah mate, she’s not a real woman, she’s too thin, mate, too thin, I like real women.’
Excuse me, I can vouch that I am a real woman, and I can also say, with confidence, that I am not hovering around an imaginary line between womanly and… whatever the alternative is. Boyish? Butch? Barbie? I see myself naked on a daily basis, and trust me, I’m all woman.
Of course, the bigger issue with this conversation was the fact that we were being so casually evaluated in the first place.. I’ve heard men hold similar conversations in front of the meat aisle in Tesco. ‘Mate, steak tonight? What d’ya think of this one?’ – ‘Nah mate, look at it, that’s barely a steak at all – it’s a borderline cold cut! The only thing that’s good for is being slapped on a sandwich!’
I’m not about to start complaining about being picked at by men, however. I frankly can’t even muster the energy to do so. But I can muster the energy to complain about that term, because this isn’t just a degrading term used by men who see woman as objects to be assessed, and used, and disposed of, but it’s a part of the forefront of our society. It’s used in our magazines and on our TV shows and in our day-to-day debates as we compare ourselves to others. Suddenly it seems that in the ‘quest’ to force the fashion world to accept ‘plus sized’ and curvier women rather than sticking so stubbornly to their size-zero ideals, everyone has in the process developed this obsession with what is and is not ‘real’ or ‘natural’. Is that not counter-productive? Everyone has been calling out for the fashion world to accept all shapes and sizes, and yet we’re all too willing to decide for ourselves what is natural. And that just makes it ok for guys to then do the same.
Is it not about time that we adopt a cultural attitude that is accepting of all shapes and sizes? Take me and my friends, for example. Yes, I’m thin, but I have a bum and boobs . Take a look at my friends: anonymous friend 1# is thinner than me, and she really doesn’t have any curves at all, while anonymous friend 2# would be described as curvy, anonymous friend 3# is a full time plus-sized model and anonymous friend 4# has a perfect hourglass figure the we all can’t help but envy. (PS, those friends may be anonymous, but they know who they are and they have agreed to be mentioned here… just in case the rest of my friends real this and wonder.)
These are our builds, our natural figures and regardless as to how well or how badly our diets are going, our shape never changes, the only thing that changes is how squidgy the top layer is. Equally, while we all know that most models work hard to keep in shape, working on every inch of themselves until they are a sculpted masterpiece of perfection, it’s ridiculous to say that they are not ‘real women’ either, because they are there, they exist – I’ve seen enough famous models pass me in the street here in London over the years; Kate Moss and Lily Cole and a strew of lingerie models, and I can tell you, Photoshop or no Photoshop, they still look as stunning and slender as in their expansive portfolios. They exist and therefore they are real.
So please, can we stop referring to women as ‘real’ or ‘not’? Because last time I checked, it was definition enough to be a real woman purely to exist in all our fleshy goodness and to have no dangly bits between our legs… etc.