Thank you for your service

Note:  I have not previewed this movie so this is information, NOT a review.

Thank you for your service4

Here’s a movie at Cinema Nouveau Theatres many South African men of my generation will find  that they can relate to : ‘Thank you for your service’.

It is a tale of courage, love and sacrifice for one’s country told as a soldier returns to civilian life.  It is almost certainly a weepie as we follow the life of Sergeant Adam Schumann after a stint in Iraq.  Other characters include Tausolo Aeiti who was left with brain injury after a bombing, and Michael Emory who took a bullet in the head, while Will Waller has PTSD.  Physical and emotional recovery is part of the readjustment to civilian life.

The movie’s producer, John Kilik, says “We took great care, because these are people’s lives, and there was tragedy that  came along with it – we had to treat everything with the utmost respect, always.  In the end, we are telling a story of incredible strength and courage.

“Thank you for your service” is showing ONLY at Cinema Nouveau Theatres from 05 January 2018.



For booking information visit or the Ster-Kinekor app. Follow us on Twitter at @sterkinekor and on Facebook at Ster-Kinekor. To secure your tickets, contact Ticketline on 0861 Movies (668 437).  Ster-Kinekor Club and Discovery members receive discounts among other benefits.

The discounts and benefits valid for members of SK Club, Discovery Vitality and Edgars Club loyalty programmes also apply for all live theatre productions.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week 2/52 Weeks of Worship: Gay Christian Community


Date and time of service: 10 December 2017 at 17:30

Religion: Christian

Denomination: Non-denominational

Name of church: Gay Christian Community


Name of service: Worship

Leader of service: Reverend Corinne McClintock

Liturgical importance:  Second Sunday in Advent

Address: 194 Dale Lace Street, Weltevreden Park, Johannesburg.

Accessibility:  Not wheelchair friendly

Neighbourhood:  Middle class, fairly affluent, family oriented.

Website: None

Description of building:  One of the houses in the area, the rooms of Dr Gary Hudson.

Garden:  The gardens are spacious.

Impression of congregation: Elderly gay men mostly, mixed racial make up with staff from Sparrow’s Nest and Dr Hudson’s rooms present.

How many people attended: Approximately 12 people

General dress code: Casual

Welcome: A tight knit group who all know each other well

Pre-service ambience:  Chatty and friendly, quieting and becoming more meditative as the service got closer to starting.

Comfort: Dining room chairs

Opening words of service:  It is a joy and a sadness to serve here tonight.

Written liturgy/music: On printed sheet and Anglican Prayer Book
Music:  Organ, old time hymns.

Distractions:  None.

Style of worship: Formal, traditional


Length of sermon: 15 minutes

Quality of sermon: Excellent

Theme of sermon: Preparing the way

Preacher: Reverend Corinne McClintock

Child friendly?:  No.

The most heavenly part of the service: The close fellowship of the participants.

The most hellish part of the service:  After thirty five years, the direction of the Gay Christian Community is moving away from a house church back to its origins as a house Bible Study group.

After service:  A Christmas tea with everyone staying on to chat.

Ablutions: Plentiful, clean and easy to access.

Likelihood of returning:  The services are not continuing in their present form, but I will attend the bible studies.

General mood after service: The people were all quite sad at the end of an era.

The most memorable thing about the service:  The years we spent there as a group.



Posted in Church Reviews, Religion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Week 1/52 St Michael and All Angels


Date and time of service: 3 December 2017 at 09:30

Religion: Christian

Denomination: Anglican

Name of church: St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church

Name of service: Family Mass

Leader of service: Reverend Sue Waldron

Liturgical importance:  First Sunday in Advent

Address: 1123 Cornelius Street, Weltevreden Park, Johannesburg.

Accessibility:  Wheel chair friend access

Neighbourhood:  Middle class, fairly affluent, family oriented.


Description of building:  20th century, modern classic Anglican style.

St Michael 6 Building

St Michael and All Angels, Weltevreden Park, Johannesburg, South Africa

Garden:  The gardens are spacious and beautifully kept.  There is a ministry devoted to this.

St Michael 8 Hydrangeas

The beautiful hydrangeas are known as “the Christmas flower” in South Africa because they are at their best at this time of the year

Additionally there is a Garden of Remembrance which is beautiful, but soggy due to the recent rain. The congregation is involved with eco matters and projects.

St Michael 3 Garden of Rememberance

Impression of congregation: Families. Slight majority are white congregants, but multiracial.

How many people attended: Approximately 200 people

General dress code: Smart casual

Welcome: Some of the congregants and a formal welcome from Reverend Sue Waldron

Pre-service ambience:  We were very early and there was a slight bustle as people prepared and the worship group commenced singing about ten minutes before the service started/

Comfort: Comfortable padded pews

Opening words of service:  Good morning, welcome to the House of the Lord.

St Michael 7 Banners

Written liturgy/music: On overhead projection
Music:  Modern worship band with modern Christian choruses.

Distractions:  A baby crying from time to time without being taken to they cry room.

Style of worship:  Contemporary Anglican with bells and smells.

Length of sermon: 18 minutes

Quality of sermon: Excellent

Theme of sermon: Stay awake and alert in waiting for our Lord’s return

Preacher: Reverend Sue Waldron

Child friendly?:  Yes.

The most heavenly part of the service: Prayers for the people travelling, or with difficult situations like medical appointments or illness at the end of the service.

The most hellish part of the service:  There wasn’t anything of the sort

After service:  We were not invited to stay for tea and didn’t know there was tea until I returned from the toilet, by which time the rest of my party were waiting for me in the car.

Ablutions: Not wheelchair friendly, but clean.

Likelihood of returning:  It is not my first visit to St Michael and All Angels, nor will it be my last.

General mood after service: The people were all quite absorbed in their own doings.

The most memorable thing about the service:  I purchased one of their fresh Advent Wreaths for my home, so I have been reminded of them all through Advent.

Posted in 52 Weeks of Worship, Church Reviews, Religion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Monkey tales, Nicko by Penny Haw

I have a fairly strong preference for books set in South Africa, about South African things.  I was raised on an almost exclusive diet of British books and am so glad that young people today have so many local stories from which to choose.


One of these is Nicko, the story of a baby vervet monkey, which was found abandoned and then taken to the Kirk’s farm in KwaZulu-Natal. Alice Kirk, renowned for rescuing wildlife, adopted the baby into her menagerie of animals where he lived out the rest of his days.

Penny Haw, the author of Nicko, is the granddaughter of Alice Kirk, but she writes in the first person, and one can almost hear the retelling of the tales through the generations.  I often smiled, and once or twice shed tears during the reading of this charming true story of life on the farm.

As one gets to meet the other animals in the house one learns their secrets and their characters, and the animals capacities to surprise humans, even humans who know and love them, continues right through the book to the very end.

I was caught up in the story from the outset, and read it in two short bursts, one the evening before and the rest the following morning.

Mary the Scottish Terrier, Zama and Ruskie the Russian Wolfhounds, Mee the duiker and Nunu the African Skunk together with Bobcat the cat make up some of the animals which share time with Nicko and Jack and Alice Kirk. I loved each of these creatures so beautifully captured by the wordcraft of Haw.

The book is charmingly illustrated by Petra Langner in black and white and I enjoyed these drawings every bit as much as the stories they brought to life. A set of pencil crayons to go with the book wouldn’t be inappropriate.

Nicko is written for children from the ages of six to nine, but it is one of those narratives that will delight older readers just as much as the age range of those for whom it is designed.

If you are still puzzling what to put in the Christmas stocking of an animal lover, you can rest assured that Nicko is the perfect addition.

Highly recommended.

  • Title: Nicko
  • Subtitle: The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm
  • Illustrater: Petro Langner
  • Publisher: Struik Children (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
  • Year: July 2017
  • Recommended price: R130
  • Format Paper Back
  • ISBN 9781432307592
Posted in Books, Ecology | Leave a comment

Wonder, a story of hope and triumph

Wonder is a children’s novel by R J Palacio, the pen name of Raquel Jaramillo.  It was originally published in 2012, but has been re-released in 2017 to coincide with the release of the movie of the same name based on the book.


The inspiration for the book happened when Palacio and her three-year-old son were waiting in line to buy ice cream. Her son noticed a young girl with facial birth defects and started to cry, so Palacio attempted to remove her son from the situation.  Instead of making things better it made them worse.

The song “Wonder” by Natalie Merchant made Palacio realise that the incident could teach society a less, so she wrote the book under that title.

So, this is a book for children, but also a book for everyone.  Adults will also be enchanted by the powerful, heart-wrenching story as it unfolds.  While the emotions run high I never felt manipulated.  Each of the characters is very plausible and the story itself never bends credibility. The book succeeds because  Auggie, the main character, is funny and likeable – a young man with inner beauty even though his face is twisted by genetic abnormalities.

Interestingly, that while I cried several times in the book, the overwhelming impression is of a child fortunate enough to have been born into a wonderful loving family who support one another.  So many marriages crumble and fall apart under the stress of a child with severe illnesses, but one gets the impression here that the parents may have been drawn closer together in solidarity with one another and their son, August, the hero of the story.

Overall it is moving, uplifting and memorable.

A wonderful stocking filler for anyone from about nine to ninety nine.

  • Title:             Wonder
  • Author:             R J Palacio
  • Publisher:             Puffin (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
  • Year:             2017 (Movie edition)
  • Format:             Paperback (340 pages)
  • Recommended Price: R180
  • ISBN             9780552565974
Posted in Books, Movies | Leave a comment

A kid calendar which might tempt adults to keep it

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid book written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney for young people in the later years of primary and the first year of high school has spawned a whole range of sequels and other products, one of which is the 2018 Calendar.

It is a sixteen month calendar with the last four months of 2017 on one page then with two pages per month for 2018.

The illustrations are charming and even adults will be tempted to have this calendar hanging on their walls.  Quirky and fun is not reserved for middle schoolers.

This is a perfect useful stocking stuffer for the new school year in South Africa.


Wimpy Kid Calendar 2018.jpg


  • Title: Wimpy Kid Calendar 2018
  • Author: (originally Jeff Kinney)
  • Illustrator: Jeff Kinney
  • Publisher: Abrams/Puffin (an imprint of Penguin Random House)
  • Date: October 2017
  • Format: Paperback
  • Recommended Selling Price: 00
  • ISBN 9781485900429


Posted in Books, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Le Cosaire, a dance step back in time

From 2 December 2017 the little known (apart from the pas de deux) ballet, Le Corsaire, will be shown as one of the Bolshoi movie ballets.

Bolshoi Le Corsaire Ekaterina Krysanova and Igor Tsvirko Photo by Damir Yusupov

Bolshoi Le Corsaire Ekaterina Krysanova and Igor Tsvirko Photo by Damir Yusupov

Le Corsaire is rarely staged outside Russia despite its English roots as a poem by Lord Byron dating back to 1814, and possibly telling out the tale of real life pirate, Jean Lafitte.  (The public does enjoy tales of bad guys.)

The ballet was originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier to the music of Adolphe Adam for the Theatre Imperial de l’Opera in Paris in 1856. Subsequently it was reworked by Marius Petipa over the years, most famously for the Imperial Mariinsky Theatre starring Pierina Legnani Prima ballerina assoluta of the St Petersburg Imperial Theatres at Medora and another Prima ballerina Olga Preobrajenskaya as Gulnare, and Pavel Gerdt, Premier danseur of the Imperial Theatre as Conrad.  It must have been some performance.  This movie version was reworked by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky and dance scholar Yuri Burlaka to capture as much of the original 1899 production as possible

Cinema Nouveaus in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria are but three of the 1600 cinemas world-wide where the Bolshoi Ballet movies are screened.

The action starts with a pirate ship crashing onto a beach in a ferocious storm, leaving the pirate captain, Conrad, washed up on shore where a beautiful young slave girl, Medora, finds him.  They fall in love and he rescues her from the slave traders just before she is sold in a Turkish Bazaar.  The story goes on from there in a tangled web of intrigue and romance.

As usual the lovely Katya Novikova gives the background introductions in English, French and Russian.  I love the commentary which explains why this old and politically incorrect story is still so entertaining in the 21st century.  (Well, just one of the reasons is 100 fabulous dancers who form brigades of pirates, gypsies and slaves, each with their own dancers – it is a visual spectacle).

So, this is something quite, quite different for South African balletomaines.  Watch for this productions’ take on the more famous pas de deux between Medora and Conrad’s devoted slave, Ali (a hint here is that the slave doesn’t get the girl for this iconic dance, his master does). I found it all quite wonderful.

The historical recreation of the work is outstanding.  Authentic constucted sets are gorgeous, and the more than 500 costumes and their creation is outstanding (check out the beautiful moulded tutus for the garden scene).  My ballet teacher friend pointed out one of the steps and told me that it was a very old-fashioned step, very rarely used anymore.  She mailed me the details – the step is a gargouillade, from the French for dabbling or paddling, ie a dabbling movement.  We also speculated that the rather odd curtsy hand movements might be an historic thing, so if anyone can enlighten us on that, please do.

The Le Gardin Anime, (the lively garden) is a famous scene from the ballet (to music by Leo Delibes), and it had 86 dancers on stage and while it is always a joy to watch the Bolshoi company dance, this was in a league of its own.  The precise execution of the corps de ballet is nothing short of incredible, with even the children being rehearsed into near perfection.  The stylised mime is clear and accessible even to non-ballet trained people and the characterisations are as good as the dancing.

The entire production is marvellous.


Le Corsaire is a delight to start the year end season. Le Corsaire can be seen at Cinema Nouveaus throughout the country from 2 December 2017. Later The Nutcracker will also play at the cinema.

Posted in Ballet, Dance, Movies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment