Right now, I am sweltering in the heat, reading book after book, while outside temperatures barely move above -20 degrees. …..it is freezing outside….. looks like a winter wonderland with deep, crisp and even snow and it was -32 degrees last week. My home is in what’s called, a ‘blok’- a Communist built block of flats. It has every home amenity. You can find identically built ‘bloki’ in Siberia, Slovakia, Moscow, or Vladivostok, infact anywhere in the old USSR. The heating system in these ‘bloki’ was the best thing that ever came out of the era. They never turn the heat off!
A children’s communal play area was always built in the middle of these buildings but sadly, some were neglected in the past and never fully utilised by the children. Now, a majority of them are used as carparks.
Natalia had nowhere to play as a child.
Natalia, had an impoverished Russian childhood, a sister with cerebral palsy, single parent mother and couldn’t go to school normally because often she had to babysit…she struggled.
This lifestyle affected her so much that when she came into a bit of money, she started up a charity called ‘The Naked Heart Foundation’ in 2004. Like Natalia, we share the same goals having had a childhood giving resilience, with little that can surprise in life. Equipped with learn’t and inherited life skills-tools that other people don’t necessarily have-such as the will to push that bit further, to make things happen, to succeed and get what you want, within reason.
She is someone I know, and believe in. She is so passionate about her goals in life.
The Naked Heart Foundation developed in Russia because Natalia wanted to do something purposeful with her life. She had nowhere to play as a child and her Charity Fund has created hundreds of new playgrounds in Russia.
The ONLY playground being funded outside Russia by her charity will be in Northumberland Street, Dingle, Liverpool. L8, an area I grew up in as a child.
This is an important venture as it puts eyes on our city and is reported on Russian TV and media in general.
The facility is a much needed one in the area.
It includes a sports arena, 5 a-side football and netball pitches and mini allotments for the children to grow vegetables. Deigned by local children.
The cost £100K.
Ready by Easter 2013.
If you want to know more about Natalia, then checkout the name and website and you may be pleasantly surprised with what you find. No matter how money and lifestyle may influence ones life, some people still have the gift to ‘give back’.
Comparing this year of mine to a film with the Movie industry constituting my life thus far then I’d say Ive had an ‘ Avatar ‘ on my hands or for those with whom I’ve now became aquainted ‘ Mr Bean.’ Having this Romantic affair with Lady Liverpool and her talented family has made me determined to contribute and introduce myself to elements within the Arts that are a long haul flight away from my comfort zone. I can’t very well urge you all in my previous blog to roll the dice and try something new if I wasn’t at all prepared to run alongside or even a little further on.
So with this in mind I set myself a challenge . To try something where the chances are I’m much more likely to fail than succeed . This may seem ridiculous but to be honest the pay off in attempting this alone will be enough . The challenge set is STAND UP COMEDY. This isn’t because I think I’m particularly funny (I know I make my children laugh but this is usually unintended and at my own expense) but more about not having it on the list of ‘ Oh I wish I’d tried……’ That very list I know you’ll have yourself and that which I feel on a mission to help all who read this eradicate. You see there is really nothing at stake for me here. Nothing to prove to myself and certainly no credibility to lose and it’s in knowing this that I’ve avoided cradling my head in my hands and squatting Basil Fawlty style in the corner of my living room muttering ” What the Hell have you done you receding Ginger Idiot. He’s from Faifield you know! “
So the wheels are now set in motion.
Emails to various open mic venues sent and replies both eagerly and nervously awaited and I have to admit, stand or fall I couldn’t recommend taking the trip to discomfort city enough.There’s every chance that next year may well be a ‘ Police Academy II ‘ year for me as far as sequels go but as luck would have it , I looked at the label on my new coat and it does state ‘ tomato resistant ‘
For all thats going on click http://culture.org.uk/
If at the beginning of my role as one of Liverpool’s Cultural Champions I would have become pregnant then right about now I’d more than likely be crying ” Get it out! Get it out! Why hasn’t the epidural worked? and other such favoured and deserved lines of the expectant mother. In an obviously far less traumatic way this has kind of occurred. No banana flavour pizza cravings or swollen feet (well maybe the odd blister) but a healthy gestation period of three trimesters each one enabling the next to build and thrive eventually giving birth to a wailing newborn. This newborn would be ME
After reading a very recent blog from my fellow Champion Andrea I felt inspired nay compulsed to endorse her statement about changing your relationship with the City. For what us Cultural Champions would hope to achieve I don’t think it could have been put better and it’s in changing my relationship with this City that I have become the aforementioned newborn. I’m not about to advertise events that are upcoming or places to go or things to see (although I do promise handy links to appear at the end). Rather I would advertise a change of habit. Over these nine months my habits changed dramatically from a bloke who sought comfort usually from laying horizontally on his couch in an effort to decompress and slumber away the weekly toil to someone on the lookout for an inexpensive and fulfilling new event and in truth it was instantaneous.
Apart from giving you the old platitude of ‘ keep an open mind’ If I had to give any practical advice it would simply be to ditch the T.V. guide for a Whats on Guide and take your pick. Dare yourself to go. I guarantee they’ll be expecting you. We don’t have a Biennial in Liverpool just so the Art Students have something every two years to muse over. It was for YOU. Yes YOU. An Open Mic night at that Cool Bistro isn’t just for the Musos to check out the competition. It’s for YOU. The free Origami workshop at the local Library is there for YOU. Honestly I swear.
Even as a Cultural Champion I held certain reservations about my entitlement to appear at a new event on the grounds that I had no background in whatever was launched. I quickly got on to the fact that there is nothing expected of me but to be there . This applies to all. Armed with this reassurance I didn’t just dip my toes but plunged Tom Daley style into what the Pool provided ( Hows about that for a play on words eh!). Each event seemed to be a stepping stone to another event I’d have never known of had I not turned up to the former and so on and so forth. New friendships forged, new talent witnessed, unexpected surprises and a busy diary were all a consequence of this change of habit. This new relationship with Liverpool. This New birth. This Year of the Butterfly effect.
For those about to dip their toes we salute you: culture.org.uk/