Saturday, 4 August 2018

Gender Bias…

Those who know me know that I really cannot stand to see gender prejudice. When we think about gender bias I am sure most people consider it in terms of rights for women, but we should remember that it can go the other way too. This week I had an experience which I found quite shocking, both in terms of what happened and then afterwards discovering what my colleagues felt about it.

What started the whole thing was a pair of shorts. We are in eastern Europe. It has been consistently 33+ degrees outside for the last goodness knows how many weeks. It is hot, and what I mean by that is that it is seriously hot. Hot enough to be permanently tiring. Hot enough to feel permanently uncomfortable. Hot enough to generate a near-constant sheen of sweat across my brow. It is hot.

A fairly new male member of staff came to work wearing a pair of shorts. They were smart shorts, knee length, inoffensive in no way whatsoever. This staff member was told to by his line manager, not in private, but in full view of his whole department, that his dress was inappropriate and unsuited for a work environment and that he should go home and get changed into full length trousers. I did not witness this conversation but am told afterwards that everyone was laughing at him and the manager’s approach was very blunt, and borderline rude.

I checked the policy when I heard this story. Our office dress code is ‘smart dress’ and nowhere in the document states that men have to wear full length trousers or that shorts are forbidden.

Needless to say the staff member in question did not take this order well, and the situation escalated into a discussion with the head of the office and the HR head and a series of latter communications over the subsequent hours and days – the contents of which obviously I was not privy to – but the end of the story is that his contract was terminated. 

When I heard about this situation later on, I was outraged on his behalf. From what I hear his behaviour after the initial incident was certainly unacceptable and as a department manager myself I certainly would not have tolerated that in my own team. However, my point is: the incident which started the chain of events – the request that he go home and change into trousers – shocked me. I completely understand that he would have found that a frustrating and unjustified request. I am not surprised that he reacted negatively.

When I challenged my fellow managers on this, I was further shocked to discover that not a one of them, male or female, agreed with my point of view or saw the decision to send him home to change as a poor decision. When I asked on what basis they felt this was the right thing to have done, not one of them could give me an answer. I pointed out that no one is forcing me to cover my legs in full length trousers or tights in this weather. They laughed. “Are you hot in those trousers?” I asked a male colleague who was wearing suit trousers. He refused to answer. “Do you not see that this is gender bias and is not acceptable?” I asked them. Two of them told me it was not gender bias but “the way things should be.”

I was disgusted by the reactions of all of them, and felt incredibly disappointed that the company I work for, that prides itself on having a modern and open culture, a ‘western’ culture in a traditionally closed and hierarchical society, had a group of such narrow-minded people forming its leadership team. I told them so, and also that I didn’t blame him for being annoyed at being told to go home and change. I explained how disappointed I was to be working among a team of dinosaurs, and left them to hopefully consider what I had said.

At the end of this month I am leaving the company. A career change into a new industry will be my next chapter, and I am pleased to say that at face value my new employer appears to actually embody that modern and open culture that my current company thinks it has. I have recently discovered that my new workplace actually has a gender neutral dress code. There is a little spark of hope within me that I will find the beliefs and opinions of my new colleagues more in line with my own, or at the least open to the ideas of others and open to the idea of change.

Gender bias works both ways, against women, against men, and neither is acceptable. Here, where it was based on unchallenged traditions and illogical decisions, it was a shocking demonstration of old fashioned values conflicting with the modern world. I can only hope the people around me will learn to open their minds a little more after this week’s episode.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Viscose is Not My Friend…

When I moved to Budapest I knew I would have at the least just shy of a year and was really exited by that fact. The thought of experiencing all of the seasons, knowing that here they have more extreme seasonal distinctions appealed to my constant desires for experience and variety. Since then, I have learned how it feels to live through some of these seasons.

I arrived in autumn to a pleasant surprise. It was warm, as warm as an English summer, in fact, and I basked in it. Yes I had to do boring admin like queuing for hours at the immigration office, finding a banker who spoke English to get a bank account open, and apartment hunting, but it was an enjoyable weather welcome to my new home and it helped me to appreciate that I had made the right decision in coming here.

Winter was cold. I think in a solid month long period in January/February the temperature remained permanently below zero. Bundling up was a necessity. My thick winter coat was a blessing. Yet I did not feel so terribly cold to the bone as I usually do in an English winter. The lack of a constant wind made a difference. Also the damp in the air, I am told. On stripping off outer layers after being outside, it does not take a further five hours to really feel warm again like I have on occasion at home.

Which brings me more to the now. It is early June. The beginning of March was still on the chilly wintery side of the seasons. In early April when I returned after a break spring and summer had definitely merged as far as I am concerned. For the last two months or so now, bar the odd few days here or there where it gets stormy and the temperature drops to the mid 20s, it has been steadily in the high twenties or low thirties – and we are talking degrees Celsius here – all day every day. I wake up and get ready for work in 27 degrees. I scurry around at lunchtime trying to run errands or hide in the shade from 32 degrees. I go to sleep at night in 27 degrees. In short, it is very hot. If this is spring, I confess I am quite scared about going into full summer. Wish me luck.

I have always loved the sun, and even described myself as a sun worshipper on occasion. Cut to my first weekend in Budapest when I moved here, sunbathing on Margaret Island (Margitsziget). Cut to last summer, England, we had a several week run of very pleasant weather in the 25 degree region. My lunchtime routine became a short walk to the local university campus for a 99 with a flake and a sunbathe before returning to the office. In fact it was the only thing getting me through the work day back then. At the end of the summer I quit the Birmingham property industry, hence my almost-year in Budapest.

As I sit here in my apartment, 9am Sunday, the early morning sun beams through the windows and makes the waters of the Danube gleam invitingly. If I could go and jump in it, I would, but I have been highly discouraged from doing so! Instead I am planning a mini holiday to Lake Balaton, Hungary’s beaches on the lake region, and of course there are always the thermal baths close by when you feel that need to plunge into cool water. Which I do, on around a three-hourly basis. It can be an expensive habit.

For someone who thought she was a sun worshipper, living in sun of this strength, for continuous periods like this, is hard work. Sticky, sun-cream laden skin is now the norm, rather than the sign of a holiday. No freezer compartment is big enough for the number of ice cubes I need in my day. Sweating and continuously rehydrating have become my life. My brain is functioning at around 70% performance.

Even my wardrobe needed a total overhaul, as I quickly learned. Any piece of clothing that is not at least 90% pure cotton, modal, other natural, breathable fibre has been banished back to the UK or at least hurled back into my suitcase in disgust ready for the next journey home. Polyester is a pest. Viscose is an absolute no-no. It is a horrible sensation trying to interview candidates for job openings or lead a training session when you feel over-heated and 100% uncomfortable in your outfit. Never have I fidgeted so much during my working day.

I have now been in Budapest for eight months and like a typical English girl, the weather still very much dictates how I spend my time. If it is going to be a real scorcher, as it often is, I may opt for a cool museum or art gallery trip coupled with a sunshine stroll around Buda Castle, City Park (V├írosliget) or the island where shade and thermal baths are on offer. If we are in for storms – and my goodness have I seen some phenomenal lightning storms since I moved here – then a welcome day at the keyboard it is. And for the rest, it involves a lot of water, a well prepared picnc, decent walking shoes, a hat, a helluva lot of high factor sun cream, and early morning energy to catch the bus/tram/train to the selected destination for a day of exploration.

I do still love the sun. That fundamental desire in me to feel its rays on my face and see it glinting off rooftops and water has not changed. But my desire to always be in it, feeling it against my skin, has. As someone before who would always have chosen to sit in the sun, now I make a beeline for shade. As someone who enjoys being outside, walking around new places, exploring, finding peace and being left to my thoughts, regularly sitting, dripping with sweat and exhaustion, on busy public transport, going here or there under fierce heat has become really hard work. It has got to the stage where it is almost a chore forcing myself to make a plan to go out and do something with my weekends and getting up early enough to go and do it before the sun hits its peak.

I always say, in life, that I would only ever want to regret things that I had done, and not things that I had not done. So I need to stick to that philosophy and force myself myself to fill my last months in Hungary with soaking up as much of its country and culture as possible before the chance to do so ends. Soon enough I will be back in England, onto the next chapter of my life, and I would hate to return knowing that I did not live this chapter as fully as I wanted to.

Then again, at least, if nothing else, I have learned that viscose is not my friend, and I have found that hiding from the sun does wonders for ones word count.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 8 April 2018


Whilst it can be of phenomenal strength in literature or poetry, music or film, repetition in life is arguably among the most tedious and irritating experiences we are doomed to suffer. At least that is the way it can feel. Time passes so quickly and yet at once seems to stutter and start over the same hurdles. Without challenge we would be bored, but why do the same lessons have to be repeated?

I seem to be stuck in a nightmare circle in my day job where the same problems, which have already been reviewed and seemingly resolved, crop up time and time again whenever there is a contract or staff change. Is it that people are inherently incapable of taking instruction from others, always believing they know best and resisting guidance? Is it that they are entirely unable to learn from mistakes? Or unwilling, perhaps?

I am become that broken record, continuously providing the same instruction and the same piece of advice over and over and over again in an endless whirl leaving me to frequently and repetitively pose the questions: “What is wrong with people?” “Am I speaking English?” “Where is the nearest brick wall so I can bang my head against it?” There is something severely distasteful to me about having to revisit something already considered closed. Why?

As a child I was very lucky – my parents would often read to me, making stories and characters come alive and igniting that love for storytelling which means so much to me today. One book, one phrase, always stuck with me, and I can, even now, hear my father’s voice uttering it: “And don’t look back”.

Has that phrase, don’t look back, so ingrained itself in my subconscious that any repetition, any revisiting of the past stokes impatience in me? Has it become my underlying philosophy in life?

Don’t look back.

Life is too short to dwell. Too short to spend time re-doing something that was already done. Too short to linger on what has gone.

Don’t look back.

Repetition. It can be a beautiful and poignant device.

Repetition. It can be the most depressing point of the day.

Don’t look back. Don’t dwell on it. Move on. Embrace the repetition. Perhaps that has to become my new mantra. Perhaps I will learn something, even if others won’t. Perhaps reaching for optimism in our lowest points is to truly find strength within that we did not know was there.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Two Months In Budapest…

It really has been two months since I squashed as many of my belongings as I could into two suitcases, leaving pretty much everything that was precious to me behind, not for the first time in life, and moved to Budapest, a city that is as diverse and exciting as it is dated and surly with the weight of its past.

Its past is an immense treasure, uncovered piece by piece, day by day, as life here goes on. The first thing I learned was always to look up. I have since realised that it should be always look everywhere. You never know what next point of interest is hiding around the next corner, beneath your feet, or towering above you.

My first weeks here were a wonder – the novelty of everything new, everything waiting to be discovered. I was here and despite the terrible stress of my day job, despite the culture shock and despite a horrible cold/fever that plagued me for those first weeks, I could not have been more hungry to experience all that my new home could offer.

Somewhere between then and now the great many administrative tasks I have had to negotiate in a language I cannot speak have put a more dull coating on my new existence. Apartment hunting – landlords, agents, tenants, appointments – always a bit of a bore. Opening a bank account – not so easy when you realise that English speakers are the definite minority. Thankfully a recommendation from a colleague solved my issue. And residency permits. Who knew as a European – for indeed we Brits still are European for now, and long may it last – I needed one? Queuing for nearly and hour in the cold then for almost as long again in a stuffy hot hall amidst a nervous, eager, frenzy of immigrants clutching passports and paperwork, desperate to be allowed to stay in a country where they have secured jobs and laid roots all the time knowing that it could all be snatched away. I almost felt guilty that firming up my residency status was so easy in comparison – I only needed to provide my signature 10+ times on papers I could not read (placing a lot of trust in my translator there!) to get a printed, laminated card that makes me an official Budapest resident now.

And from immigration I move to poverty, for it has become very apparent that many Hungarians are living in poverty. Homeless roam the streets even more visibly than back in Birmingham. Their makeshift homes and tiny communities are evident. I cannot understand them when they speak, but when they smile and greet me good morning on my way to work my heart aches. This is a city where you cannot recycle glass at your home – something that enraged me initially – but now I know if I get my glass empties to someone homeless, they can exchange them for a few forints at a supermarket. I may not be able to solve their problems, and I ‘do not judge’, which is all they ask of me when I pass by, but I can send a few forints their way. How they choose to spend it is up to them.

This is a city where a ‘few forints’ can buy an exceptional cup of soup or a pretty decent ‘daily meal’. Another thing I have realised is that here, with my ‘British’ salary, even on a single income I am far nearer the ‘wealthy’ end of the living spectrum than I ever have been before. This is a country where first class train travel, luxury spa treatments and slap up three course meals with drinks are very affordable. This is a country where I qualify for a premium bank account, for goodness sake. Me. I have my own banker.

This is a parallel universe, but not one that is easy to digest. Maybe I should be revelling in my comfortable status, but it actually leaves a bit of a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. The difference in perception of money, value, affordability, between myself and my Hungarian colleagues, is jarring. For me, being able to buy a two course lunch, every day if I wished, for about £2.80, or a very, very tasty fresh soup for £1.40 is a miracle. To them it is ok but they can’t afford to do it very often. To me, jumping on a train from Budapest to Vienna with a return first class ticket for less than 40 euros was a miracle. To them, it is an occasional trip that would need planning and saving for.

I have lived the highs of Budapest, and I have seen and heard the lows, and I have had wonderful days, and I have had days that are not so wonderful. Is that any different to life anywhere else, at any other time? Had I not come here, would I be sipping a glass of wine, eating olives, and tapping out my thoughts just the same as I find myself doing tonight?

The language is my main problem, fact. Going to places. Doing things. Shopping. Online shopping. When you realise that you cannot read or even pronounce almost every word you see, and cannot converse with people, life becomes hard. Every task that would usually be easily accomplished takes ten times as long as it should and comes with an added level of stress and challenge. Today I managed to buy the correct postage stamps in the post office from a non-English speaking clerk. And this is a great achievement of the day. I have to try and focus on the positives and take something from each experience.

So here is the best thing I have learned since moving to Budapest: the things we take for granted in life are blessings. Without them life becomes much harder, much sadder at times. We can become easily disappointed with our own limitations. So we must try not to. We must try not to get downhearted, and we must try not to take things for granted. Where we have advantages, comforts, benefits, we must appreciate them, because for those who do not have them, life is not so tinted with joy.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 22 October 2017


Walking the streets of a new city, looking around shops and studying products as though everything is totally new to me because packaging is no longer in a language I can understand, taking nothing for granted anymore, I am seeing the world and all of its parts in a new way.

All around me I see imitation. Is anyone satisfied with being him/herself? In people, products, places it is there. It seems as though everyone, everything, everywhere strives to be someone, or something, or somewhere different. 

One of the main shopping streets here is known as the Champs Elysees of Budapest.

Why can’t we stand alone? Why can’t we be ourselves?

As I look around me I see groups of young people dress in the same way, style their hair the same, make themselves over in the style of someone else – a stranger on their morning commute, the still, serene face from a magazine, their closest friends, their greatest rivals. They wear matching bracelets, buy the same cover for their identical mobile phones, live in the same area, visit the same places.

It appears to be in our nature to mimic what we admire. To crave it for ourselves. To always want to better ourselves in some way. To be in a better place. To become that which we admire. Life is short. Perhaps it should be no surprise that we want more from it. But by wanting more do we miss the chance to enjoy what we have?

No matter how deeply it runs, no matter how great the effort to achieve that imitation, the copy is never as interesting, as convincing or as good as the original. It is the original’s very uniqueness that makes it worthy of imitation in the first place.

A crude experiment helped me realise this conclusion. Take two make-up palettes, one from a big name brand with a high price tag, the other from a high street store with a scandalously cheap price. The low end product is a blatant homage to the first. Same colours, same theme, same attempt at scenting the product, same cute presentation. Both portray an appealing picture, but when it comes to the detail the low end copy falls short. The cheap plastic casing has already broken whereas the high end metal tin is flawless. The eyeshadows themselves are an inferior product. Application is hard work for a finish that looks less polished and is not as long lasting as the original.

Before I tried either of them I suspected this would be the outcome, but I had to try. And there it is. Imitation. A desire to bring something better to within our grasp. It will always be there, because even when we know we have found something unique, something worthy of being up on that pedestal, we cannot help but reach for it.

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

One Week in Budapest…

Well almost a week. I arrived in my new home on Monday. Already I have walked sooooooo many miles to and from work and spent the evenings exploring possible areas to settle, have greatly enjoyed the autumn sunshine, eaten a rose-shaped ice cream and listened to a band play beside the basilica, and begun to get used to being in a place where everything beside a few high street shops is unfamiliar.

Life is officially an adventure and learning experience from hereon in.

What have I learned so far?

1) In Budapest, always look up. There is so much cool architecture and design here and if you don’t look up you are guaranteed to miss a gem, like in the photo above. I saw this while waiting to cross the street on the way to work. The photo doesn't really do justice to those paintings.

2) English is not as widely spoken as you think it would be. I will have to rapidly learn some basic Hungarian to avoid any more awkward charades-meets-Marcel-Marceau moments.

3) C&A is my new favourite shop. In the UK we lost it around the 90s but here it lives on in splendid fashion!

4) I am possibly in the best place for Halloween. There is a pumpkin festival. Yes, really!

5) The way the morning light hits the Basilica is magical.

6) Eating lunch on the bank of the Danube is magical.

7) Living in Budapest may well be magical.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Budapest: The Next Chapter…

Where have I been? What have I been doing? Why the silence? Why the distance?

Only a major life change/decision could keep me so preoccupied, and it has.

The next chapter of my life will begin next week when I move to Budapest.

That’s right, I am moving to Budapest!


Life never turns out the way you think it will.

The offer of relocation came from the day job. After a lot of deliberation, surprise, awe, joy, puzzlement, musing, major excitement, etc. etc. I decided to go.

It was the only decision I could make. No regrets. No wondering what if.

There will be ups. There will be downs. There will be the Danube and Margaret Island, there will be rose shaped ice creams and thermal spas, there will be a proper winter and a beautiful summer, and there will be enough culture and history to hopefully keep the downs at bay. I spent four days there in May and loved it. I hope living there will be just as magical.

I am moving to Budapest. Wish me luck and if you are ever there, let me know!

Elloise Hopkins.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Crayola Colour Mood...

Spring has sprung, well and truly, making my colour of the moment the lush Maximum Green. Maximum Green! Can you get any richer a green?

Spring means traditional celebrations of new growth, the build up of crops, flowers, bird song and the lighter, brighter pathway to summer. Spring is for awakenings and change.

Spring means spring cleaning, time to spruce up the home, and time to spruce up your life. Spring is for new starts, not those flippant, desperate ones you strive for in winter at the beginning of the new year but the true new starts of spring, of lighter mornings, warmer days and the dawning of hope and happiness.

Spring means getting outside, shaking off those lazy winter blues and breathing the air. Breathe it all in!

I have spent the last weeks walking in the countryside, getting spring into my lungs and a spring back into my step. As the miles fall beneath my feet I feel the possibilities of life and future creeping back to hug me in a grassy, mossy, ferny blanket. The reassurance of spring.

So for today I consider myself fully immersed and committed to all that spring brings. When in doubt, breathe in the Maximum Green and indulge in Spring 2017’s Crayola Colour Mood.

Maximum Green!

Elloise Hopkins.

Monday, 13 March 2017

The Few That I Don’t Review…

When people from my ‘other life’ find out I am a book reviewer they very often ask what I do if I get sent a book for review and don’t like the book. It is a good question, if a little negative, but it has to be considered.

Not every book is enjoyed by everyone. We do not all read for the same purpose. We do not all seek the same satisfaction from our reading material. Any book has the capacity to inspire some and deter others.

I could easily name a handful of books written by established names that I was convinced, prior to reading them, that I would love them, but actually failed to connect with them in the way I thought I would. Similarly I could name a handful of books that at first glace at the cover or the blurb – I know, don’t judge, right? – I wasn’t convinced I would enjoy, that have turned out to be wonderful.

So what do I do with the few books from my reviewing hauls that I just cannot get into?

Answer: I do nothing. If I can’t finish a book, or if I finish a book but just did not feel inspired, excited, or connected enough to it to write a review, then I don’t write one.

This answer has shocked people. They have been shocked that I put out no review rather than putting out a negative review. They wonder why I do not publish a review explaining what I thought didn’t work about it and why.

But that is the point. Just because it didn’t work for me, does not mean it won’t work for other readers. It is all subjective. We are all very, very different. Yes we are.

I read a book recently and struggled. It appealed to me initially because the cover endorsement was by one of my all time favourite authors. The cover art was attractive and the story sounded like a lovely piece of escapism. So I should have loved it, but in the reading I struggled. I struggled to connect with the narrator right from the start. I struggled to see where the story was going or what kind of story it was. I struggled to read on, even though there were some strong images and a lyrical, historical, magic feel to the whole thing. I struggled to the end and I started to write a review. Then I stopped. For some reason this book just wasn’t speaking to me. I don’t know why. Even now when I see other people's praise of it, I am not sure exactly why. It just did not work that way for me.

In every review I write, I begin with a summary of the who’s, how's, what's, why’s, or where’s of the book, to give the reader a taste of what they may find within it. I find this part usually flows really easily but for this particular review I didn’t make it past a paragraph. The words just would not come. I closed the document and resigned myself to this being one of the few that I don’t review.

I won’t tell the world what I didn’t like about this book. I won’t tell the world what other people might not like about this book. Because what good is a negative review to anybody? Who does it benefit, really, if I taint your view of what a book may be, because of what it was to me? Do you really want to miss out on your next gem because – due to circumstance, personal taste or the mysteries of the universe – for me it just wasn’t a gem?

So that abandoned review, and the book it relates to, will linger in the archives, leaving its future readers guarded from my opinions. One day it may speak to me and be granted a second chance, but for now it is left in peace, intact and waiting discovery by those who may look upon it more favourably.

Elloise Hopkins.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Trainspotting, 20+ years on…

Trainspotting was released in 1996, and certainly then and in the subsequent years I know I watched it quite a few times. On this particular then-15/16-year-old it made an impression.

Hard hitting. Real. Instructive. Tense. Well crafted. Loud. Cool. Brilliant.

Looking back, those are some of the ideas and impressions I have of the film but in the years since the mid-late 90s I don’t think I have seen Trainspotting more than once. Twice, perhaps.

With the sequel pending and a re-watch scheduled, this month I tried but could not really remember much about the original film. I had strong visual impressions of a couple of characters and a handful of key moments but little more than that. Certainly the storyline had become lost to me among those main elements – the music, the clubs, the pain and the drugs. But something else in that film had spoken to me. At the time it had felt so significant, yet whatever magic Trainspotting had over us 90s teens, now, as an adult, grown and changed over again since then, I could no longer grasp it.

In fact many of those original commands that as a young teenager had seemed so old and far away – “Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers […] Choose your future. Choose life.” – were now a very real part of life (except for my television which is modestly sized at best and the compact disc players which 20+ years on are just about obsolete).

2017. Me. Older. More grounded in life. Sadly aware of the harsh, sick, contradictive and often hard-to-stomach parts of reality that along with the lighter side form life. Real life, which my 16-year-old self had but little exposure to. How would a film that was, in its time, poignant, symbolic and significant, in a real if indefinable way, speak to me 20 years on?

On re-watching I was surprised to discover that I had remembered the story, and far more of it all than I thought. That magic was real; Trainspotting evidently did speak to me back then and leave a much clearer and longer-lasting impression than I thought. In all its grim, gritty, grainy truths, amidst the swearing, the violence and the filth there lurks a wonderful study of human behaviour, relationships and survival, which is just as true of today as it was of then.

There are moments when you laugh. There are moments when you cringe. There are moments when you turn away from the television but even turning away is not enough to banish the horror that is being presented. There is no getting away from it. And should there be? Has the lust for life truly gone? Should we face it anyway?

Those who know me or who have read my blog before will know that I am always dubious of a sequel. Yes, of course, there have been many brilliant sequels over the years. Specific ones. You know which ones are exceptional. There have also been an awful lot more terrible sequels – and re-makes, while we’re on the subject – which should never have been made at all, and I always fear a bad sequel, so the prospect of T2 Trainspotting after all these years rings a few bells, although seeing the original line up still involved and knowing it is in Danny Boyle’s capable hands reassures me no end even if I once again cannot understand the title.

The end of Trainspotting left 90s Renton certainly more hopeful than the beginning found him, although his path was far from easy or clean. Did he grow up to be just like us, with our 9-5s and indexed pensions, getting by, looking ahead to the day we die? I have purposefully avoided any discussion of or spoilers about the sequel – I prefer to make my own first impression – but having today been reminded of how good a film was presented to me in 1996, I look forward, with glee and apprehension, to what the new instalment will bring.

I also look back and I wonder… In another twenty years will I once again be inspired to choose my future and choose life? Will I once again reach back, holding only vague memories, and find much deeper impressions left behind by an inexplicable magic?

Elloise Hopkins.