Round 2: Rissington – 08/04/2017

The Super One Karting Championship started in March (Rowrah, 25/26th)! With her new number 2 plate, Abbi is competing for the win this year. Her class, Junior TKM, has 6 races throughout the year and on 8th April, I went to Round 2 at Rissington Kart Club in the Cotswolds.

Due to late developments and problems with equipment, I arrived at this event just before Abbi was to start heat 1. During qualifying, she earned 2nd spot on the grid meaning she will start 2nd for all 4 of her races throughout the weekend. After the rolling start, she went down to 6th due to a bit of trouble, but crawled back to 3rd during the lap. There was a continuous scrap for the lead within the top 3, and Abbi held 1st place for a while. But with a problem close to the end, she crossed the line a close 3rd place.

Heat 2 saw a problem, where another karter had gone off and the ambulance had to come across also (Motorsport is dangerous)! As the drivers waited patiently on the start line, they restarted the race and from there Abbi dominated in 1st place. Though, she had a problem with the carburetors on her last lap, meaning she was overtaken and finished a close 2nd.

I followed Abbi on and off track throughout the day, and you can clearly see how admired she is by others, in and out of the sport. Although, the camera followed and panned to her movements, I could still hear her name mentioned around me as she raced. In the engineers tents, I filmed as Abbi got a few visitors, including her Tal-ko sponsor, and head of media in Super One. They don’t have to check in, yet, they do when it comes to Abbi. They are ready to nurture her talent, and even caught “a potential Formula 1 driver in her.”

Both Abbi and Andy, as ever, are so lovely to be around, enthusiastic and passionate. Sunday saw Abbi dominate both races by finishing 1st and, therefore, now leads the Super One Championship!

Next up: Race 3 in Dorchester on 3-4th June!

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Mad To Be Normal (2017)

In a time where electroconvulsive therapy for mental illness was acceptable and old men were still stuck in their ways, Mad To Be Normal tells the story of controversial world-renowned Scottish psychiatrist R.D. Laing (David Tennant) and his unique community at Kingsley Hall, East London, during the 1960’s. But, with growing liberalism and equality, “The Sixties” fought against close mindedness, which was exactly what Laing set out to do also.

From the opening scene, it’s very clear what time period we are in: patient Maria (Olivia Poulet) dances, hands in the air, in a gloomy room. It’s close on her, blurry and psychedelic. Director Robert Mullan sets this tone early on, that Mad To Be Normal is on the verge of experimental, so I thought I was in for an interesting watch.

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Told in a series of moments, Mullan shows us life in Kingsley Hall, where Laing and his patients simply “live together as people.” The action is often limited to Kingsley Hall, which is decorated with period appropriate props and music. With these series of moments, there are some wonderful ones, but the narrative felt a little lost at times, and the patients psychological studies are under-developed and under-explained. I felt Mad To Be Normal couldn’t decide on what it was; an experimental film about Laing’s controversial treatments, or a straight forward biopic about Laing’s life? Falling somewhere in the middle of these two meant it lost all intimacy and was a little disjointed.

I’m a big fan of David Tennant, especially his TV work (Doctor Who, Jessica Jones etc), and here he turns in an engaging and charismatic performance as Dr. Laing. We can appreciate Dr. Laing for what he was – a broken man who wanted to fix others around him. But this film doesn’t set out to paint Laing as a saint. His genuine life pressures and responsibilities outside Kingsley Hall, including a very ill daughter, are forgotten about. Instead, he focuses solely on his experiments and the film hints that maybe Laing was out to fix himself, not just his patients.

But it’s the older supporting cast who are truly the memorable ones here, namely Gabriel Byrne (Usual Suspects) and Michael Gambon (Harry Potter). Playing patient Sydney, Gambon is a breath of fresh air and often stole every scene he featured in. Unfortunately, though, there weren’t many scenes and I felt he was often side-lined. Byrne is brilliant as patient Jim, and manages to be sweet yet unpredictable all at once. Jim is a character overlooked on purpose by Laing, but his growing estrangement doesn’t go unnoticed by Angie and us. Elizabeth Moss, as Laing’s partner Angie, gives a strong performance also, but I felt her development to be a bit stunted, instead, only used as an emotional tool the audience could touch base with.

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Although slow and breezy,  not dissimilar to the hippie-ish time period, it’s also not for the faint-hearted. It does not shy away from the use of electric shock treatment (ECT), self harm scenes and bouts of violence, and that’s something to be celebrated. Mullan doesn’t sugar coat mental illness or people’s perceptions of it during “The Sixties.”

Although Mad To Be Normal had it’s problems, it did convey a convincing message, that it’s a story about love, respect and acceptance for one another. These messages translate to our modern society today, in a time where we seem to be divided by the acts of politicians and their views. Mad To Be Normal is one I’m not sure I would revisit, but a fascinating watch all the same.

 

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