Playing the notoriously uncool music critic Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe's 2000 film Almost Famous, Philip Seymour Hoffman remarks, 'great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing'. Found dead, alone, and with a needle of heroin in his arm in his New York apartment this month, the conflict and pain that linked so many of Hoffman's characters began to resonate with the final image of the man himself.
This Saturday I step out in front of - or should I say behind - Ricky Wilson, Sir Tom Jones, Kylie Minogue and Will.i.am in one of the most nerve-wracking things I've ever done - The Voice UK on BBC One! In my blogs I want to share my experience on the show and what led me to finally audition, after applying for every season so far but never actually queuing up and going through with it.
This Friday, I'll be taking to the stage in Trafalgar Square, and shouting from the top of my lungs that we do not have to be fed up, that we do not have to accept this. At midday I'll be joining One Billion Rising, a global campaign that has made it its mission to end violence against women, and rising up for justice for women here in the UK and far further afield. We will call for political change, from mandatory sex education in schools, action to ensure that women in immigration detention centres are safe from violence, and the repeal of visa laws that tie domestic workers to their employers and put them at serious risk of exploitation. We will dance and sing - and we will make ourselves heard.
The famously neurotic director has not been accused by anyone else of sexual assault, his loving wife Soon-Yi defends their relationship vigorously and he will probably never be charged, let alone found guilty of what he's been accused of. But between what has been alleged by Dylan and what we know of Soon-Yi, who among us will ever think of him in the same way again?
Outsized reaction to celebrity death is not a new thing, it even has its own entry on Wikipedia: Mourning sickness. Its zenith in this country was the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, a period in our history during which we behaved so peculiarly that we still can't look each other in the eye whilst talking about it. A madness took us, like a Bacchanalian orgy, only with less orifice-filling and more commemorative crockery.
Emerging from the stage door of the National Theatre in a pair of jeans and simple t-shirt, Zack Momoh looks a world away from his role as the soldier/cyclist in the performance of From Morning to Midnight. He has only a few hours before he's back on stage for the evening show, yet he greets me with an easy smile and relaxes into an armchair in a room looking out over London's Southbank...
As we prepare for and look forward to this milestone, an exhibition charting our history opens in London this week. This exhibition not only takes us back to our roots, it's also a timely tribute to all we've achieved and the campaigners, writers and artists who've helped us along the way. It's quite the walk down memory lane, and fills us with inspiration and hope for the future as we prepare for the inevitable challenges and threats to our rights and freedoms ahead.
If you asked the general public whether they believed in charity the overwhelming response would be yes. Of course charities do good work; no one can deny that charities help tens of thousands of vulnerable people in all manner of difficult situations. However, most of the mainstream charities and NGOs have become corporatised, choosing relationships with corporates and government instead of grassroots social change movements.