Searching for Sugar Man. Have you heard of it?

Searching for Sugar Man is a documentary film, Directed by Malik Bendjelloul, that follows two fans and their search to uncover the anonymity of a singer. The singer was as big as the beetles in South Africa, he offered hope and strength to the country, his words bearing truth and inspiration to an isolated country, but in his home of the USA he was little to unknown, he wasn’t recognised and he wasn’t heard.  The true story focuses on would-be rock legend Sixto Rodriguez, with his songs centred around desolate Detroit, he was discovered on a foggy night, hidden in a smoke filled bar, playing his guitar singing his words that were true and told of his troubles.

The documentary is beautiful and incredible, not a second was spent thinking of anything else whilst I was watching, not what I was doing after, or what should I eat for dinner? Because all my attention was spent on the film. The story perfectly unfolds, flashing by in a blink. Were we really in there for over an hour? It felt like half the time.

True stories occasionally lack the substance of fiction, the thrills and tension but, when a film can encapsulate that with no added exaggeration, when it is just re-telling the truth it adds something truly special, and In Searching for Sugar Man the suspense lasted through the whole film and further remains after it ended. I could expand a lot on details because I fell in love with the film, the people in the film, who made the film and Rodriguez himself but, I want you to see it for yourself.

I have a few films that I can think off the top of my head that have moved me in such a memorable way. I haven’t stopped thinking about this film for a couple of days now, it makes me smile to think of it. It reminded me of what life is about, giving, the modesty of people and the power of a community. I really want you, your parents, and your parents, parents, your teenage son, teenage daughter or cynical auntie to go and watch this; I can make a guarantee, a promise that they will be inspired, uplifted and thankful.
Let me know what you think.

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Finding, dining and eating chicken.

At the weekend my boyfriend’s family came to Bristol,UK. Which is fun because, as you know I love being a tourist in my own city but also because you get to see responses to the city from people who don’t know it, you get to take adventures and visit places forgotten or past by. I wonder if being a tour guide would get boring, or would your energy be supplied by the gleaming faces of tourists?

Having walked the city till our feet were sore and muscles in my legs, which I didn’t know existed, burnt and stung with exhaustion we decided it was time to reward ourselves to a dinner out.  We decided to take them to a little Jamaican in Stokes Croft, named Rice and Things. Me and my boyfriend had passed this restaurant several times, like the other lovely smelling cafes and bistros staggered throughout stokes croft, we finally went we had the occasion to go, and couldn’t ignore it any longer. Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain, as it would’ve been an easy option to choose, tired and flagging from a long day out.

The menu at Rice and Things was bursting with combination of foods I’ve never tasted, dishes were named with suggestions of the chefs personality and heritage. The atmosphere was buzzing; people coming and going, grabbing their take-away meals or waiting for the next available table to open up.

Then it was our turn to taste.

When the food arrived we let out a gasp. Thank goodness we didn’t have any starters, the plates were piled high with fried chicken for me, and jerk chicken for the hot spice tolerant. We had rice and beans for a side, fragrant with cinnamon, herbs and spices my amateur pallet couldn’t yet pick out. We also decided to try the ‘boiled food’ option, the ambiguity of the description let curiosity order. The boiled food was a boiled banana, dumpling and potatoes, the mellow tastes complementing the subtle spice of fried chicken perfectly. It was a feast, a mini banquet, the tastes were beautiful and we were disappointed not to squeeze a desert in. There is nothing I like better than to see satisfied faces around the dinner table, the food turning into the subject matter, and nodding in approval that “we went somewhere different”. Everything about this place makes me want to recommend. It isn’t the glossy chain, you don’t get what you expect, instead you get a plate in front of you that has a story, another culture filled dish, made with love and pride.

Much to the appreciation of our guests, they were thrilled to not go to a chain. I am forever wanting to try different foods, finding back street cafes big enough for about 4 people, or street food with lingering smells that invite you in, but not going to mass restaurant chains. They are popular because you know what to expect, the menus normally have safe go-to options and you don’t have to think about hunting somewhere else, perhaps it is more convenient or genuinely find the ambiance and food appealing. But there are so many delicious restaurants and eateries around that expose you to such amazing food that I can’t go back to chains, not when I have been to the other side, not when there are so many independent businesses offering up food that I’ve never tasted, offering a culture other than the one I’m used to. I like to support these places and enjoy finding them, hidden gems, to use a cliche but they really are.

Food is so much more than an eating habit, for me it is my favourite social activity, at university we would pass up a night out for a dinner party, bring a dish and a bottle and plenty of conversation, I miss those days. When I was younger I remember getting my nice dress on for a “dinner out Friday”, it always felt special. We weren’t sat around our dinner table, mundane and boring from too many after-school dinners, predictable and rushed, too eager to play we would finish our dinner with fork fulls of leftovers ,much to the dismay of my mother. But eating out meant we were fresh in surroundings, the adrenaline of doing something different encouraged interaction and with the lack of distraction meant we caught up as a family, acknowledged each other and listened to stories of the week.

Do you mind if I sit there?

The cinema is one of my favourite activities, watching new releases, eager to see what the world has come up with this time, to watch them on a grand scale with surround sound blasting out from mega speakers, the smell of popcorn and sour sweets. The cinema is romantic, used for first dates and through relationships, offering couples an alternative to couch potato-ing  and speech for approximately 120 minutes. The classic glamour of luxurious red velvet seats and tall curtains draping to the floor, that become epic in their unveiling of the big screen. Cinema go-ers are all united in watching the film, it is like a front sitting room only maximised and shared with a bunch of random guests. My recent trip to the cinema has brought to light some potential problems that surround enjoying a film with many strangers.

After the obligatory popcorn buy, then comes the long walk up the narrow corridor to the screens, Its all quite epic, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Walking into the designated screen you are faced with the mountain of stairs from which everyone looks down from, as their attention isn’t fixed to the screen yet their eyes are drawn to the new guest in the room. ‘um hi’ I mutter because it feels like everyone is staring at me, it dawns on me that we are all here to watch the same film, well what if we all hate it? What if someone decides to get up and leave, that would be awkward. What if the stranger sat next to me doesn’t find dramatic, over-exaggerated scenes funny? Will we all be OK  if I rustled my paper popcorn bag, or whispered the plot to my co-cinema go-er? Do you mind if I sit there?

I watch others enter, watching intently as  those sat before me did, the seats start to fill, empty seats are becoming few and far between, the seat to my right is free , I watch a man as he squeezes past, his eyes locked on the target next to me. He sits. Too much aftershave on and smelling like a fragrance store I became a little uneasy. His arm has claimed occupancy of the armrest, where do I put mine? I thought, there is an unwritten rule, I’m sure it exists, that you half share the arm or no-one gets it, in fear of being too rude or possessive. He hadn’t read the unwritten manual.  Nothing I could do apart from fidget, and sigh with my disapproving stare.

At the final moment when the lights were beginning to dull, conversation falls into a silent whisper as the sound starts from the surrounded speakers all voices are drowned and attention is fixed to that big screen in front of us. Together we are watching, all cosy in our large, very large, maximised front room. I’m sat, comfortably, my choice in seating has paid off and I have a good view of the screen, the film starts. A late comer shyly emerges and heads straight for the seat in-front of me, its fine I know it won’t jeopardize my viewing experience, unfortunately this young lady decided to create a sculpture out of her hair, towering in-front of me, creating a crazy silhouette, thanks no really thank you, there is a time and a place for fancy hair, and here ain’t that place. I left the cinema with a crick in my neck and a tired right arm.

The cinema, so romantic with it’s red velvet, warming smells and anticipating costumers. Unfortunately it doesn’t all go so romantically and those sharing the film with you will attempt to disrupt the order, sabotage your view and arm space ,taking the romance vastly away. Do you have any tales from the cinema? Have you sat too close to a noisy popcorn chewer or been unfortunately the late comer, or seen some inappropriate hairstyles, not made for the cinema?