Phase II Trial Begins for Potential Alzheimer’s Drug

A phase II safety trial to investigate a potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s has begun. MSD, known as Merck & Co Inc, will trial a drug called MK-8931 in people with mild to moderate stage Alzheimer’s disease.

MK-8931 aims to block an enzyme called BACE, which is known to play a role in the production of amyloid – a protein that builds in the brain during Alzheimer’s disease. Experts believe this build-up of amyloid may act as a trigger for the disease, and it’s hoped the drug will be able to tackle the disease by blocking BACE and stopping the build-up of amyloid.

The initial phase II trial will assess whether the drug is safe for use in a group of 200 people with mild and moderate stage Alzheimer’s. The firm then hopes to begin a phase III trial with up to 1,700 patients, to see whether MK-8931 is able to improve their thinking skills and ability to carry out everyday tasks. This phase III trial is expected to be completed in December 2016.

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“It takes many years of research in the lab before a clinical trial can begin, and it’s great to see research into potential new treatments for Alzheimer’s disease progressing in this way. This drug is designed to target the first step in the chain of events that produces the amyloid protein, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The challenge for these trials will be to determine whether the drug is safe for use in people with Alzheimer’s and, crucially, whether it has benefits for these people. We look forward to seeing the results of these trials in four years’ time.

“Half a million people are affected by Alzheimer’s in the UK yet there is still no way to stop the disease in its tracks. We desperately need new treatments for Alzheimer’s, but for these to become a reality we need to see many more drugs being trialled and much more invested in research.”

This material has been published with the kind permission of Alzheimer Research UK.

Film Review: Identity Thief

Identity Thief Identity Thief works on
many levels. I loved the chemistry between the two leads. Jason
Bateman (Horrible Bosses) stars alongside
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) in this funny
film. This could’ve have been a disaster, we’re all being more
careful about our information, our credit cards, who we even lend
money too. But this film serves a purpose to show just how careful
you have to be. I think some messages need humour to get the point
across. It all starts with a phone call, and when you hear the
words; “I need your name, number and social security number.” You
know it’s the worst thing to actually give them. However Sandy
Patterson does and he soon finds out a woman Diana (McCarthy) is
using his details to print cards and have the time of her life – at
his expense. It’s a mad cap ride as Sandy hunts down Diana to
reclaim his credit and convince his boss he isn’t a risk. The
chemistry between them made all the situations hilarious. Like when
Sandy has to stay in the bathroom, whilst Diana brings a man into
her motel room. The inept stalking, the will she won’t she do the
right thing. They can’t go back by plane, as they share the same
name. Which is why this takes a turn into a road trip. There’s even
an appearance from Robert Patrick (T-1000 from Terminator 2) wow, I
thought he’d retired! He plays someone out to get Diana. Then as
their fortune worsens by losing their car, Sandy is given an offer
by Diana. Will he steal somebody’s identity to get them money home?
It’s a very interesting moral question. What would any of us do if
the chips were down? Stay true or cheat a little? Sandy is really
tested when Diana suggests a target he doesn’t like. The different
names ‘Diana’ uses gets a little confusing. Plus with all the
people looking for her, it’s amazing she can start a life of crime,
let alone make a living out of it! Even Sandy’s detective was aware
of her! The script isn’t Shakespeare but on a positive note, it has
an essential item – a beginning, a middle and an end. And it’s nice
to have something non complex. I just switched off my brain and
relaxed. All that was missing was a nice cup of tea. A good effort
and an enjoyable film. It’s easy on the eye and packed with humour.
7/10 from me.

Image reproduced from Trailer
reproduced from YouTube / movieclipsTRAILERS

Belfast Scientists Awarded £100,000 for Study to Improve Alzheimer’s Detection

Scientists in Belfast are embarking on a project that could bring a simple blood test for Alzheimer’s disease a step closer, thanks to a £99,754 grant from Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity. Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast will use a state-of-the-art-technique to find ways of identifying people with Alzheimer’s and those who are at greater risk of developing the disease.

The two-year project will see Dr Brian Green and his team investigate how metabolites – tiny molecules that are involved in biochemical reactions in the body – may be used to detect Alzheimer’s disease. These molecules act as ‘chemical fingerprints’, offering clues about what is happening inside our cells. The researchers hope to be able to identify different patterns of metabolites that are most associated with Alzheimer’s, as the first step to developing a new test to diagnose the disease in its earliest stages.

The team has already tested several different ways of profiling metabolites, using brain samples from people who died with Alzheimer’s and people without the disease. One specific method, which rapidly analyses thousands of metabolites, was able to detect a pattern of metabolites that were linked to late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers now want to see whether this method can detect the disease at a much earlier stage.

As part of the project, the researchers will team up with clinical collaborators at Belfast City Hospital’s memory clinic to recruit volunteers to take part in the study. Using blood samples from healthy volunteers and people with Alzheimer’s, the researchers will search for different patterns of metabolites that can distinguish between the two. The study will also include people with mild memory problems, who are at a higher risk of Alzheimer’s, to see whether metabolites can be used to predict which of them will develop the disease. The funding will also allow the team to collaborate with researchers in Galway, Bristol and Coleraine and will permit them to test their method on generously donated brain tissue.

Dr Green said:
“A simple, reliable blood test for Alzheimer’s is a ‘Holy Grail’ for clinical diagnosis, and we hope our study could form the foundation for such a test to predict and diagnose the disease. By understanding what changes in metabolites are associated with Alzheimer’s, we should also gain more understanding about what happens as the disease develops – potentially aiding the development of new treatments. We’re extremely grateful for this funding, which will allow us to build on our results and take us closer to a new way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s.”

Dr Simon Ridley, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We’re delighted to be supporting this study, which has real potential for improving the way Alzheimer’s is diagnosed. This project is a good example of collaborative research, with scientists from different centres coming together to pool their expertise and tackle this problem. Alzheimer’s can be notoriously difficult to diagnose in the early stages, and an accurate test for the disease could make a real difference to people’s lives, allowing them to access care and existing treatments far sooner. The ability to predict Alzheimer’s would also be a huge boost for research, allowing people to be recruited to clinical trials in the earliest stages of the disease, when treatments are more likely to be successful.

“Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, which affects more than 15,000 people in Northern Ireland alone, yet currently there are no treatments to stop the disease in its tracks. If we are to find treatments for the future, we must invest in research today.”

This material has been published with the kind permission of Alzheimer Research UK.

Only Children and Drunks Tell the Truth – Part 1

When we are young, falling down is second nature. We are taught to get up, brush ourselves off and try again. If someone pushed us down…we are taught to forgive, forget and that tomorrow is another day. As children, the whole world is a playground; some days we are suffocated with enemies, left clinging and isolated within our own walls of securities, whilst others are filled with familiar faces.

Our bodies may suffer hefty bruising; great falls from the heights of monkey bars, knocks to the head from a variegation of balls/rackets/Frisbees – paraphernalia of great perils which must be learned to be perceived within peripheral vision, and often blows at the hands/feet/legs or bodies’ of our mortal enemies of that day. As children, all other children, be it mortal enemies or just regular foes, are innocent. As children we are immune to the pitfalls and consequences of heinous sin, because as children, we cannot distinguish the nuances between right and wrong.

It is ironic really – I wish I had taken advantage further of my free ticket of emancipation from the law and morality when I was younger. I mean as a child, I remember with not such sweet nostalgia, being rolled down dirt hills in nothing more than an actual plastic barrel at about 100 miles per hour, hurtling full speed for the road ahead – basically todays equivalent of a fully-fledged adult being stuffed into a beer barrel and forced to commute via rolling along Queen Elizabeth Bridge – incredibly dangerous, albeit pretty amusing for observers.

As children there are no consequences, no censors to danger providing there is entertainment. Children are selfish, and the playground remains one of the greater places of evil I have ever encountered…it seems a precarious place for a little person to have to learn the ways of the world in, where temper tantrums and the wraths of other angry little people are endured to whatever extent under acceptance that these specimens of humankind are ‘children.’

So what is it that happens that forebodes ‘angry wraths’ and violence amongst the elders of our society? We are taught as we grow and mature that violence is categorically wrong and should not be expressed or reciprocated when we feel angry…especially violence against women or those weaker than ourselves. So what do we do instead? Lashing out, biting, hitting, pushing could actually be seen as a very natural reaction to take against someone who might aggravate, intimidate, humiliate, expose or hurt us emotionally, or physically themselves. It clearly is the reflex reaction when we are children.

I certainly recall a few sofas suffering the wrath of my toothless bite when they disrupted the path of my escapades. And when my little sister was born…on my birthday I might add, I was a typically very jealous child – bitter, resentful and…well…angry I must have been, I lost my temper on numerous occasions with her, managed to break her little finger once, bit her several times, I had a temper on me. Simultaneously though, I am told I was protective of my little sis, I looked out for her dutifully at school, I played harmoniously with her in the evenings, I let her borrow my toys and I guess she must have done something right because I do love her very much these days.

I know I was not the only child to experience such uncompromising outbursts within the playground or the home environment, I too suffered a few knock backs myself from anger ridden kids, violent attempts to knock me straight out my little boots on the climbing frame, I lost a few teeth of my own on the way. There were some of our ‘species’ I guess, who never took to this, it just didn’t seem to be a part of their temperament or nature – the timid, quieter ones, most notably the girls to be honest.

So what about the rest of us then? I honestly can’t say I recall if the ‘violently disposed’ ones of us were in the minority or not but I suppose we were excused from our sadistic behaviour upon explanation that we were children and therefore could do ‘no wrong,’ but it seems strange that society should condemn and punish something which is arguably quite natural, so highly.

Now, I don’t want to condone violence here…but it has to be questioned, – what is to become of those of us more prone to our…short tempers? Are we just to learn to get over it? Expected to pretend it’s not actually a deficiency of our character after the age of what…12? Are we to repress the pulsating desire to punch, bite our sofas and little sisters for the rest of our lives? Well yes, actually. And violence that has been inflicted unto us also, this is to leave no excuse for further acts of violence against others, despite whatever inner struggle of poor self-image, esteem, crippling psychological damage that may have been incurred – there is never an excuse for violence. And I agree…there is never an excuse for violence, but there is all too often a reason.

To discover what reason for violence Laura is talking about, check out Part 2 of her article published on 29 September 2012

Image reproduced from

Wine of the Month – March 2013

Also on Cambridge Wine Blogger.

With a name taken from the Roman god of war, March is neither quite the depths of winter nor properly spring.

Chilly, rather than frosty, it is said to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.

February’s snowdrops have given way to early-flowering daffodils and the days are noticeably longer if not especially milder.

It is no surprise, then, that this month we have all red wines – albeit not quite such hearty ones.

Aliança Bairrada Reserva, 2011, Portugal £7.25 (Noel Young Wines)

Portugal seems to have been on the cusp of greatness forever now – with unusual indigenous varieties, interesting flavours and a modernised wine industry, its has everything it needs to be the next wine region to watch.

Made from a blend of indigenous varieties (Baga, Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz), this wine has black cherry fruit, black olives and bitter green herbs on the nose.

The palate shows ripe cherry fruit and firm, grippy tannins. There is a refreshing sour cherry acidity and a savouriness; the finish is firm and persistent.

Ripe and modern, it is also distinctly Portuguese – and great value; match with beef or lamb.

Chateau Plaisance, ‘Grain de Folie’ Rouge 2011, Fronton £9.99 (Joseph Barnes Wines)

Chateau Plaisance, based in the Cotes du Frontonnais region of of southwest France, is run organically by the father-and-son team of Louis and Marc Penavayre.

This ‘Grain de Folie’ (‘a touch of madness’) is a blend of mostly Negrette with some Gamay. An organic, low-intervention wine, it shows a blast of pure black cherry and elderberry fruit, with a touch of spice.

The acidity is mouthfilling with sour-cherry sharpness and there is a gentle firmness that persists on the finish.

Match with duck or lamb.


4 Meses, Juan Gil, 2011Jumilla, £8.49 (Bacchanalia)

Made from Spain’s Monastrell (aka France’s Mourvedre) from old vines in Jumilla, the home of Spain’s Big Reds, this wine spends four months (4 Meses) in French and American oak.

Dark purple in the glass, it is an exuberant pup with aromas of ripe bramble fruit, liquorice and oaky vanilla. Straight out of the bottle, this is a full-on, crowd-pleasing party animal.

The palate is full of ripe cassis and creamy, sweet vanilla spice – like a blackcurrant creme brulee – but underneath it, there is a soft texture, good acidity and a fulsome structure. For me the tannins are just a touch overripe and over-extracted, most noticeably on the finish, but don’t let that put you off what is otherwise a great, crowd-pleasing quaffer.

Match with hearty meat dishes and stews or rustic sausages

Recommended Wine

All three wines here are very good and perhaps choice will be decided more by weather conditions than anything else, but for me the most interesting wine here is the great value Portuguese Aliança Bairrada Reserva from Noel Young.

Other related articles

Wine of the Month archive


Bacchanalia –

Joseph Barnes Wines –

Noel Young Wines –

Tigger on the Couch

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams reviews “Tigger on the Couch”, a book that looks at mental health problems and personality disorders using fairy tales and children’s stories. Follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s website

When I was first introduced to this book I was very impressed at the way Laura James approached the concept of mental health problems , an angle so inventive that it avoided the stigma so often associated with disorders such as schizophrenia, addictions, histrionics and ADHD to name just a few.

I found her case studies witty and amusing revealing many mental health issues that trouble my clients enabling me to provide them with metaphors that they could relate to.

Fairy tales are often used in many cultures to help children grown up with a set of values/morals that help them navigate this very difficult world. Likewise it is my belief that Laura James’ book Tigger on the Couch allows adults to circumvent the pitfalls that life puts before us.

I often tell my clients their life is a screenplay as them as the star and it is the leading man or lady complete with flaws and problems that are not only interesting but that we can learn a lot from. To emphasise this point I find myself recounting some of the case studies in Laura James’ book Tigger on the Couch to which I have had very successful responses.

Without going into too much detail as I really think this book is useful to all whether it is understanding yourself, your friends, your colleagues or even your partner, I have chosen a few of my favourite stories from the book to share with you.

One of my favourite books is Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne and who can not fall in love with Tigger with his continual excitability bouncing around in fantastically fun interaction with a large variety of people. However on a closer psychological analysis as Laura James points put, Tigger’s constant bouncing, running, climbing, fidsgeting and overall hyperactivity not to mention his irresponsible attitude which results not only in consequences for himself but for his friends is a clear sugn of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder most likely of the Impulsive type. For example, Tigger often arrives at Pooh’s house in the middle of the night unable to control his impulses. This type of behaviour reeks of a disordered individual as someone without Tigger’s disorder would have known it is more appropriate to visit during the day or call first. Tigger also makes bold statements, impulsively claims whatever food he is offered is his favourite, gulping down large mouthfuls only to find he doesn’t like it at all. Add to that Tigger’s poor impulse control which he often exhibits by the belief he can do anything having no sense of fear or responsibility.

ADHD is generally managed with behavioural therapy and/or medication however using Tigger as an example to patients with ADHD shows that even the most annoying of habits can be managed under and are lovable qualities as is Tigger.
Another favourite character of mine is Cinderella, although her early life was happily spent with her parents after her mother’s tragic death and her father remarrying the most awful of step-mothers with two evil step-sisters to boot it was no surprise that Cinderella began to lead a life needing to please everyone but herself. This sis very common in SF (Sensory-Feeling) typology however we have little detail on Cinderella’s MBTI data. Either way using Laura James’ analysis or my suggestion of SF typology, it is very clear that Cinderella has lost touch with her own emotions and thus suffers from Approval Addiction. Although Cinderella took her step-mother’s rejection hard, more often than not in situations like this the Approval Addicted client if more upset that her blood relative (in this case her father) did not protect her therefore allowing her to be treated in an abusive manner.

Until the point where Cinderella meets her prince (i.e. has contact outside the family unit) she has yet to build up the self-esteem to confront her step-mother with reference to the unfairness of the situation. Although more often than not Cinderella is seen as the epitome of a love story, from a psychologist’s perspective all she has done is create a drama triangle where she continues to play the role of the victim casting her step-mother in the role of villan and putting her prince on a pedestal in the role of rescuer. This pattern is often seen in people with low self-esteem and/or children who develop coping strategies to enable order and peace in the household by ensuring they please everyone. In playing such a game it is impossible not to lose one’s self. Using Cinderella as an example to clients, it enables the therapist to help the Approval Addicted client to set up firm boundaries for themselves and others, confronting any issues that surface, making peace with the past and moving on.

Laura James also talks about other fairy tale favourites such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, the Wizard of Oz, Goldilocks, Pippi Longstocking and Willy Wonka to name just a few.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the checklist/exercise at the back of each section which allows you to work out which character you are most like and in theory which personality disorder you are more likely to have, if any. Although the checklists are fun I would urge anyone to make sure any disorder was properly diagnosed by a psychologist or psychiatrist before any attempt at self medicating.

Having said that, this book is a fantastic read. Its witty case studies really help you understand yourself and others and I highly recommend it.

Images reproduced from, and

Film Review: Side by Side

Side By SideSide by Side is an impressive documentary that brings a crucial and fiery debate to the screen. The subject: is celluloid being replaced by digital film making? With front-man and narrator Keanu Reeves, director Christopher Kenneally picks the brains of some of the most influential and respected Hollywood members, from directors, to writers, to technicians. This alone should illustrate that this is no small debate. This is an analysis of the future of the world’s most influential industry. Celluloid was the only method available to film makers for over a hundred years, until the 90s when digital technology became available. It’s cheaper. The cameras are smaller, so it’s easier to move around and be creative. But does that mean it’s better?

Both sides of the argument are very well represented. Director Danny Boyle talks about how he will never go back to using celluloid, after the problems he had making probably his most negatively received film The Beach. Since then, Boyle has made every film using digital cameras, and is very happy doing that. Watch the trailer for his upcoming film Trance, and you can see how the technology has benefited Boyle’s alarming visual style. At the other end of the spectrum, we have directors like Christopher Nolan, who still insist on using film. His defence of celluloid is exactly the same as the majority of people in the pro-film camp; it’s more real.

While Kenneally and Reeves try to keep a step back throughout proceedings, their own viewpoint eventually starts seeping through. They are pro-celluloid, there is no doubt about that. When James Cameron suggests that digital film making is far superior to celluloid, Keanu Reeves intervenes in almost vitriolic fashion. He tells Cameron that his movie making style is fundamentally fake and devoid of reality. Cameron doesn’t lose his temper like you would expect him to. He simply smiles and responds to Reeves by making a very good point. He mentions all the times that Reeves has been stood on a street, that is actually a set in a sound studio. He points out all the times movies have used fake rain. As far as Cameron is concerned, cinema has always been fake and make believe.

Despite Keanu Reeves’ views, and the many people he finds who defend celluloid, there is no doubt that it is now on its death bed. No big camera manufacturer is producing celluloid cameras anymore. In some cases, they are even being pulled from sale, never to be used. It seems inevitable that digital will become the only way to make movies. Side by Side sees this as a bad thing, but it’s getting harder and harder to prove that is the case. When digital first came along in the 90s, it was rather dirty and imperfect. Now though, digital cameras have advances to such an extent that post-production effects to improve picture quality are becoming more and more obsolete.

While Side by Side attempts to defend celluloid, it completely forgets a reality that seems to be lurking in the background of some of the interviews. Digital film making could have saved Hollywood. It’s considerably cheaper to get hold of a digital camera than it is a film camera. It cuts down on the amount of time needed for post production, as digital cameras have the ability to show you what the image looks like before you record. With celluloid, directors have to wait to watch dailies. Editing, as you would expect, doesn’t take as long either. It saves money without hindering quality, which at times like this, will be music to Hollywood’s ears.

It still will be a sad day when celluloid disappears. It has given birth to entire industry, and delivered some of the biggest cultural moments ever experienced. While Side by Side is a little biased in its views, it is a heavenly film for movie geeks, and an eye opening one for everyone else. It shows the audience that cinema is at a crossroads, and the medium that we all so dearly enjoy will never be the same again once the material that brought it to us for over a hundred years bids us farewell.

Image reproduced from
Video reproduced from YouTube / movieclipsTRAILERS

Low Childhood Food Intake Linked to Slower Cognitive Decline in African Americans

US researchers have found older African Americans who report going without food as children may have a slower rate of cognitive decline in later life. The study is published in the journal Neurology.

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago, studied 6,158 people with an average age of 75, and followed them for up to 16 years. They asked the participants a number of questions about their childhood environment, such as asking them to rate their health and body size compared with other children their own age, and asking how often they went without enough food to eat as a child.

The participants were given a series of tests to assess their thinking and memory skills at the start of the study, and again every three years. The researchers analysed the results for African Americans and white participants separately, to account for each group’s different socioeconomic conditions in the early 1900s, when they were children.

The results showed that among African American participants, those who reported sometimes, often or always going without enough food as a child had a slower rate of cognitive decline in later life. In contrast, for white participants the results showed no link between the amount of food eaten in childhood and the rate of cognitive decline in old age.

Dr Marie Janson, of Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“Cognitive decline in older people can be a warning signal for dementia, and unpicking the factors involved could help understanding into preventing the condition. These surprising findings suggest that diet in early life may affect different groups of people in different ways, but it’s unclear whether other factors may have influenced the results. The information about childhood diets in this study was recorded through a questionnaire decades later, so may not have been reliable. It’s not possible to draw firm conclusions about the causes of cognitive decline from this study, and we don’t recommend restricting children’s food intake.

“The best evidence shows that eating a healthy, balanced diet can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause dementia. With 820,000 people affected by dementia in the UK, and a rapidly ageing population, finding ways to prevent the condition is crucial – that means we must invest in research.”

This material has been published with the kind permission of Alzheimer Research UK.

The Gift of Fear – Gavin De Becker

London Life Coach & Relationship Expert Sloan Sheridan-Williams reviews “The Gift of Fear”, the international bestseller by Gavin De Becker. Follow Sloan on Twitter @SloanSW_London and check out Sloan’s website

A remarkable book and international best seller, first published in the late 90’s, the message in this book has stood the test if time.

It is a classic misconception that protecting ourselves is rude, and therefore we often overlook the very gut feeling that could save our lives.

This book explains that it is imperative for people to take responsibility and learn how to protect themselves. Gavin De Becker highlights how to tap in to our fear, realise what it is telling us and teaches us to act accordingly.

He also points out the ‘myths’ we live by and explains that although a person may not seem to have the physical advantage that it does not infer that they will not be able to adequately protect themselves if the situation arose.

A lot of people have asked who is Gavin De Becker to speak about such situations with any authority, but it appears he does indeed know about the dangers that society can deliver from first hand experience. Regretably it has been reported that he was subjected to domestic violence in his younger years that was more than just a one off. This resulted in him watching his mother shoot his step-father at the tender years of 10.

Unfortunately, his potential suffering did not stop there as by the age of 16, he lost his mother to a purported heroine related death as she was by that time an addict. Many would have wallowed and/or fallen off a positive path but Gavin remarkeably uses his misfortune to learn grow and ultimately teach.

Gavin De Becker takes the information he has acquired over the years (both innate and taught) using it now to teach police and civilians alike saving no doubt hundreds of lives over the years if not more. He has developed a system to evaluate threats and I believe bases this on his assertion that most of the more violent acts albeit random do have clear warnng signs. His teachings explain that we are able to use this to our advanage to provide a safer environment for ourselves and our loved ones.

The Gift of Fear is a good read if you would like to further your education on situations that involve stalkers, abusers, predators, paedophiles, death threats, unbalanced employees, or mass killers. It is not at all solely aimed at women and is beneficial to all age groups. It gets down to the core of one’s basic instinct and intuition and helps you realise what is real danger and what is imagined danger. There is also a chapter on whether the person in front of you will actually use violence against you or not.

There is a very good interview on Oprah with Gavin, please click here to view it.

This clip above with Gavin De Becker and Oprah talks about the book, the difference between worry and fear, noticing what is real and noticing what is imaginary. He also touches on terrorism and how politics has used the media to its advantage overshadowing the emphasis of domestic violence with terrorism etc..he then goes on to explain that domestic violence is actually more prevalent in the general population than terrorism but we are all focusing on the larger less likely scenarios and forgetting to educate on everyday situations happening right in our homes or neighbours. He then goes on to talk about how instinct can protect you and why it is definintely not prudent to attack a mother when she is with her child. It is truly remarkeable what adrenaline will do to a women who is protecting her child, and in many ways reminds me that we all do decend from the animal kingdom.

The book bases its advice on the fact that there are appropriate ways to behave in dangerous situations, and that we do not have to exist in a world where we talk ourselves into disbelieving our fears when we are being followed home at night etc…

As Einstein once said “Knowledge is Power” and this book definitely draws up on that enabling us with coping strategies for when dangerous situations rear their ugly head.

It is amazing how many times my clients have said to me ‘if only I had gone with my gut feel’ and now have to spend time rebuilding their life after a violent attack of some sort. Therapy is great in these circumstances, however Gavin de Becker allows you to listen to that feeling and take a different path before the injury occurs which can never be a bad thing.

I do suggest reading the Gift of Fear, or at the very least buying it for someone that you think would benefit from a few coping strategies when danger strikes. I was in my early 20’s when I first read this book and suffice to say I gave it another read just before writing this review and with hindsight this information really does save lives, I’ve used it myself numerous times and coach others to use their intuition more too because of it.

You can buy a copy of the Gift of Fear from Amazon UK or any good book shop.

I look forward to hearing any comments you wish to share.
Photo: courtesy of Amazon

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Film Review: To The Wonder

To The WonderOne hundred and twelve minutes. That’s how long it takes for To The Wonder to pass before your eyes. That’s how long it takes to watch Olga Kurylenko prance around in a field like she’s not getting enough iron in her diet. One hundred and twelve minutes of listening to Javier Bardem’s monotonous voiceover. “Christ is above me… Christ is below me…” He keeps going and includes Christ to his left, right, and heart. He makes that last for around five minutes. It takes one hundred and twelve minutes to hear Ben Affleck say pretty much nothing while we try and tell how he feels from his facial expressions. It may be one hundred and twelve minutes, but it feels more like a four-day test match. Only there’s no cricket, just prancing.

In the interest of fairness, you have to give the director Terence Malick some credit for the beautiful images he can create. Combine that with a wonderful operatic soundtrack, and you’ve got a film that is rather hypnotic. At least it would be, if the script and indeed the story didn’t feel like a two-hour long version of a perfume advert with Brad Pitt. Replace Brad Pitt with Ben Affleck, and the similarities are disturbing. None of the all-star cast are really acting, but then again it’s not a requirement. All they have to do is stand around and look sad, happy, angry, or thoughtful. For the most part, everyone just looks vacant.

Here’s the plot of the film. Neil (Ben Affleck) is a wannabe writer who meets Marina (Olga Kurylenko) in Paris. They fall in love, and decide to move to America, along with Marina’s daughter. Five years later, the couple start having problems. Marina leaves, and while she is away, Neil meets Jane (Rachel McAdams) and they have a brief affair. But Marina returns, and the couple attempts to make their relationship work. The majority of this plot synopsis had to be printed in the press notes for the film. Without it, we wouldn’t just be missing most of the plot; we wouldn’t even know Ben Affleck’s character is called Nick.

When the film premièred at the Venice Film Festival, people in the audience actually laughed at scenes that were supposed to be serious. That’s how truly terrible To The Wonder is. It’s possible Terence Malick thinks the film all makes perfect sense, but he needs to get out of the habit of thinking that explaining the plot is for feeble minded people. Instead, all we get is a collection of meaningless shots strung together to make a feature film out of a plot that would be better suited to a short film. There probably is some sort of deep meaning that Malick is trying to get across. But whatever it is doesn’t make it. Not even over the course of one hundred and twelve minutes. But it will only take around five of those for you to realise that this is nearly two hours of your life you’ll never get back.

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Video reproduced from YouTube / OptimumReleasing

Film Review: Hitchcock

Hitchcock“Hitchcock” is an uneven film that has a few comically pleasing moments, but ultimately comes across as shallow. Anthony Hopkins is the master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock, a man who has become a mythical creature just as much as he’s become a directorial legend. In this instance, he’s an insecure general, who leers at his blond leading ladies, bullies people on set, and while he’s worried about his weight he’s fed up of his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) pestering him about it. The problem is, we already know all this about Hitch. We’ve known for years. As a result “Hitchcock” doesn’t really feel like a movie. It’s more of a TV movie you’d expect to find on the BBC at Christmas.

This is rather ironic, considering that the BBC did just that with “The Girl”, a rather dark depiction of Hitchock’s obsession with Tippi Hedren, his leading blond in “The Birds”, and how he put her through hell when she spurned his lecherous advances. If you were to put both “Hitchcock” and “The Girl” side-by-side, the latter probably edges it. That’s not to say “The Girl” was good; it was actually a bit of a hatchet job. But at least it had the guts to be darker, and cast doubt over the integrity of one of the best British directors that ever lived. Plus “The Girl” just feels like more of a movie than “Hitchcock”. It illustrates how in the current climate, TV has very quickly overtaken movies. They’re better written, better acted, they have more depth, and are comparatively cheaper.

There’s no doubt that Anthony Hopkins nails Alfred Hitchcock. He looks like him. He sounds like him. But still, he fails to convince. For the most part it feels more like mimicry than embodiment. It sounds strange that this is a criticism, but Hopkins really has too big a screen presence. When he introduces the story to camera in delightful Hitchcockian style, he doesn’t seem like the quiet narrator. He seems like someone who owns the film.

At the start of the film, Hitch is walking out of the premiere of “North by Northwest”. The press are gathered outside, all clamouring to ask him questions. One of them asks him if, considering his latest film is such a triumph, and his age, he will be calling it quits soon. We don’t hear Hitchcock answer, but we know what the purpose of this question is. It’s planted the idea in Hitch’s head that he must find something fresh and original to do next. This is probably the closest to the real master of suspense we ever get. We admire his urgency to find something no one has ever seen before. We feel warm when we see his delight when he comes across the novel “Psycho”, based on serial killer Ed Gein. And we smile wryly when he disgusts the press with his crime scene images, and finger sandwiches that he says are made of real fingers.

The director Sacha Gervasi gets the mood spot on during the first half hour. It’s a joy to watch Hitchcock rushing around, attempting to convince people that “Psycho” is worth investing in, despite it’s incredibly violent content. Hitchcock mortgages his house in order to fund the film himself, and Gervasi clearly admires his artistic integrity and passion in order to do that. But it’s when they actually start filming “Psycho” that the wheels fall off the wagon. “Hitchcock” turns from an uplifting comedy drama to a soapy melodrama. It has no idea what it wants to be. One minute Hitch is cracking jokes, the next he’s leering through a peep hole into Vera Miles’ (Jessica Biel) dressing room. Hitchcock’s misogyny is more truthful to the real life director, but it’s presented so fleetingly in the mix that it feels totally out of place. It’s strange, but the comedic build-up to the start of the production actually betrays the story. Gervasi wants to focus on the idea of Hitchcock being vulnerable and flawed, but still can’t seem to resist making him a wryly humorous charmer. Here Hitchcock is a quick witted personality first, and a deeply flawed, lecherous misogynist second. If Gervasi wants to make a great film, he needs to swap those priorities around.

We get a peek into Hitch’s psyche when he dreams about witnessing Ed Gein (Michael Wincott) commit his murders. He later goes from the subject of dreams to a full blown hallucination when Hitch becomes obsessed with his wife Alma (Helen Mirren) and her friendship with her writing partner Whitfield Cook (Danny Huston). One minute the director is making a dry joke about how men can easily be driven to kill when Alma tries to take away his ice cream, the next he’s trying to collect evidence of Alma’s suspected affair when Ed Gein suggests it. “Hitchcock” is trying to explore Hitch’s complex mind, but it’s unable to multi task. Gervasi seems torn as to what to focus on; Hitchcock or “Psycho.” He should be able to do both at the same time, and while he attempts that during an on-set tantrum, it fails to break the surface.

Everything should revolve around the process of making “Psycho”, but really things just happen around it. Alma eventually accepts her husband’s new vision, and she allows him to mortgage their house when not a single studio will touch “Psycho” with a barge pole. Helen Mirren is a delight, as always, in the role and she has decent chemistry with Anthony Hopkins. But as their marriage comes under predictable strain as the film goes on, what was a good relationship shifts into soapy melodrama.

Alma is given a little more screen time than most lead character’s wives. This is probably down to Helen Mirren’s screen presence for the most part, but Sacha Gervasi is the main source of any deep insight. It’s like he’s constantly battling with the script, trying to find something that isn’t common knowledge. When portraying the production of “Psycho”, Gervasi brings a lot of intrigue to the process, and teases us along the way. The filming of the infamous shower scene however is painfully misinformed. It has no doubt been altered for the purposes of the story, but an infamous moment like that deserves a little more screen time.

There’s no doubt that Sasha Gervasi has good intentions, but perhaps they are a little too good. He wants to pay respect to one of the greatest directors that ever lived, but perhaps feels he can’t do that if Hitchcock’s darker nature came to the service. Ultimately, “Hitchcock” should probably be a TV movie. It has some comic pleasures, and some enjoyable moments, but as a whole it’s rather shallow.

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Oscars 2013: John Kahrs wears English Cut

I’ve never had the chance to go to the Oscars but our suits certainly have. However, this time it was rather special as a lovely client of ours was awarded an Oscar for the best animated short film at this years 85th Oscars in Hollywood. We’re extremely proud of Mr John Kahrs and delighted that he said we made him feel that bit more comfortable and stylish on such and incredible evening for both him and his family.

Director John Kahrs awarded best animated short film for "Paperman" at the 2013 Oscars

Director John Kahrs awarded best animated short film for “Paperman” at the 2013 Oscars

What made this more challenging is that we were recommended to Mr Kahrs and he liked the feel and soft comfort of our suits. However, we were short on delivery time so a straight finish was required for the event without any fittings. Scary for everyone involved but although not perfect the sartorial gods shined on us on this occasion.

“I believe I wore the best-made, best-looking tuxedo on the red carpet Sunday night, and I have you and your team to thank for it! What pleasure to wear something that fits so well, and I got MANY comments through the evening and all through the next day about how great we both looked. Even more impressive is the fact that we skipped the usual fittings” – John Kahrs.