My Poem “Frozen Tears”

The snow fell slowly…
the snow fell deep…
the snow fell quietly…
the snow fell so peacefully
that while I was watching it
I drifted off to sleep.

In the morning, as I looked out
at the blue sky above
and at the white snow below,
I felt like I was a child
and I wanted to go outside
and walk in the snow –
and that is exactly what I did:
I put on my walking boots,
my coat, my scarf, and I threw
my rucksack on to my back
and I set out, one step at a time,
to explore the frozen beauty of nature
and the wonderful sights
that most of the time remain hid
before it was too late –
because even in nature things
are not always meant to last.

The sound of the snow cracking beneath
the soles of my boots was invigorating –
most likely because the sound of my own
footsteps was all that I could hear…
the way that the crystallised snow
sparkled and glistened as the sun
shined upon the pure white path
before me was dreamlike –
untouched, vast, like being within
a moment of time in which
there was no beginning and no end:
like staring at an eternal representation
of life and nature and feeling so moved
by this overwhelming and profound landscape;
and yet, even though I wanted to cry,
I was unable to conjure any tears –
I instead choose to close my eyes,
to breathe in and to breathe out,
to smile from ear to ear,
and to feel more blessed
that I had felt for years.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #72: “Batman” (1989)

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films and the first film that he remembers seeing in a cinema as a child: the 1989 film “Batman” directed by Tim Burton. Based upon the DC Comics character of the same name, “Batman” redefined not only the superhero genre of films but its depiction of the “Dark Knight” refined how people interpreted who the character is and it also examined the tragic psychological burdens that he daily suffers with which compel the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman to continuously decide to don the cowl and become a crime fighter and a symbol of justice within the occasionally uncivilised city of Gotham City. The film stars Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Kim Bassinger as Vicki Vale, Michael Gough as Alfred Pennyworth, Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent, as well as several other great actors in memorable roles. “Batman”, like “Superman: The Movie” before it, changed how audiences saw superheroes and revitalized the potential of superhero movies with its relative realistic depiction of extreme characters, places, and situations mixed with thought-provoking storytelling, that would come to revitalize and inspire an entire generation to once again become enthralled by the character of the “Batman”.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #71: “Superman: The Movie” (1978)

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films: the 1978 superhero film “Superman: The Movie” directed by Richard Donner – written by Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, and Robert Benton – based upon the DC Comics character of the same name. The film stars an ensemble cast of phenomenonal actors, including: Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Margot Kidder, Jackie Cooper, Terence Stamp, and many others. The story of the film depicts the origin of Superman, his infacy, his youth in the rural town of Smallville, and while disguised as mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent his double life, his bejourning romance with Lois Lane, and his battle against the diabolical villain Lex Luther. A favourite film of Mark’s since he was a child, “Superman: The Movie” has inspired him in so many ways over the course of his life – and now, just as when he was a child – whenever he watches the film again he once again believes in the possibility that a man could fly – as the tagine of the film accurately boasts.

My poem “It’s a Boy!”

On the 21st of January, 2021,
my sister Clare and my brother-in-law Ben
were blessed by the birth of their baby son –
and I just wanted to write something
to welcome this brand new gift of hope
to the world and reassure him that
for all the days of his life
he will always be blessed by love.

Last night there was storm of rain,
but at the moment that my sister Clare’s
baby boy was born the clouds literally parted
and the sun shone upon everyone
brighter than it had done so for months –
and as soon as I was told that my new nephew
had arrived safe and sound
and was in his mother’s arms
I immediately felt this overwhelming
feeling of pride for what my sister had done
and I quietly conveyed my belief
that no matter what happened
my new nephew could rest assured
that he would never knowingly
come to any harm.

The ability to create new life
is one of the greatest gifts in the universe…
the phenomenon that someone
who you have known all your life
can still find ways to surprise you
in rising to the occasion of becoming
something bigger than themselves
is truly an awe-inspiring and a breathtaking
superpower that to me has always
been beyond any words.

I have never been prouder
of my sister Clare than I am today…
I have never been happier for anyone
than I am for my sister Clare
and for my brother-in-law Ben right now
because of the arrival of their new
buddle of love and joy…
I have never wanted to meet anyone
like I am looking forward to meeting
my new nephew…
I have never been more overjoyed
to share any news with anybody
than I am to say that my family now has
a brand new beacon of hope in our lives
in the form of a beautiful baby boy: Milo!

🥳🎊🎉🧑‍🍼🤱👶😍

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #70: “Stand by Me” (film)

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films: the 1986 coming-of-age film “Stand by Me” directed by Rob Reiner, based on Stephen King’s 1982 novella ‘The Body’. Starring Wil Wheaton as Gordie LaChance (aged 12), River Phoenix as Chris Chambers, Corey Feldman as Teddy Duchamp, Jerry O’connell as Vern Tessio, and Keifer Sutherland as John ‘Ace’ Merrill, the story of “Stand by Me” revolves around four boys in 1959 Castle Rock, Oregon, who go on a hike to find the dead body of a missing boy. Richard Dreyfuss also stars as the older Gordie LaChance – who also serves as the film’s narrator – who after hearing of the tragic death of a childhood friend reflects back upon the memories and the unforgettable experiences that he shared with his friends during the Labor Day holiday weekend in 1959.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #69: “The Avengers” (2012)

In this Marvel Cinematic Universe themed episode Mark talks about the 2012 American superhero film “The Avengers” (also known as “Avengers Assemble” in the UK) – written and directed by Joss Whedon. In this ensemble film, which was the first to feature many prominent Marvel characters from other Marvel films who also featured within the pages of Marvel Comics over the decades, “The Avengers” brings together “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” to face off against a powerful interstellar threat lead by Thor’s brother Loki. Starring an all-star cast – including Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, and Tom Hiddelston – “The Avengers” paved the way for all the other Marvel Cinematic Universe to follow, and also showed that with great characters, great writing, great directing, great special effects, a truly epic superhero film could be produced that would become the benchmark for all others to follow.

The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #68: “Black Mirror” (TV series)

In this episode Mark talks about the British dystopian science fiction anthology TV series “Black Mirror” created by Charlie Brooker. Made up of standalone episodes (which are alluded to all take part within the same fictional narrative universe) each of which examine humanities ever-evolving and over-dependant relationship with ever more advanced forms of technology, and dramatises questions such as: to what end society may become influenced in the actions that they choose to make in the future because of the overabundance of technology. Often told with a dark and satirical tone, and often dealing with controversial and contemporary subject matters, each episode of the series explores who humanity is and why some people are motivated to do what they do no matter the cost to themselves.

My Poem “Always”

My heart goes out to everybody
who is having to adapt to doing things
and to living their life as best as they can
in a vastly different way than they had
previously known how to
since all of the restrictions put upon
their interactions, the way that they shop,
how they work, and how they learn
were introduced in order
to combat against an unseen
and an easily transmissible enemy
that has seemingly brought
the modern world to a stand still.

My heart goes out to parents,
because most of them have had
to adapt to becoming not only
their child’s guardian and around
the clock source of entertainment,
but they have also had to become
their child’s tutor and home school teacher –
and in most cases parents are struggling
to be all the things that their child
needs them to be all of the time,
while perhaps also simultaneously
having to juggle the responsibility
of being a supportive partner.

My heart goes out to the children
of this generation who want to learn
and who dream of becoming something
and someone with a calling
and a purpose in life to be fulfilled…
my heart goes out to those families
who are having to share their one
and only means of accessing the Internet
and those who are having to take it in turns
to seek out some kind of escapism
from the stark reality of world events
in any way that they can.

One thing that is undeniable
is that life is hard for people right now,
and the world, unfortunately,
seems more fragmented than ever;
however, whenever I see new art being created,
whenever I hear of new music being shared,
whenever I find out about new
innovations that are being made,
whenever I look beyond the shores
of my island home,
I am reminded of how resilient the human spirit is –
which is why I do not stop myself
from believing that with a little time,
patience, and perseverance
the human race will one day
collectively come out from
the shadow of this dark era
more resolute than ever,
stronger than ever,
consistently riding the waves of change,
because we have always been a species
who no matter what has always found a way.





The Mark Hastings Experience – Episode #67: “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

In this episode Mark talks about one of his favourite films of the last few years: the 2019 comedy-drama film “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Set in 1969 Los Angeles, the film follows the fading career of character actor Rick Dalton (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double Cliff Booth (played by Brad Pitt) as they navigate the changing film industry. Set against the backdrop of real life events – such as the real life murder of film actress Sharon Tate (played in the film by Margot Robbie) – the film perfectly interweaves events fiction and fact as it tells an alternative tale of what might have been if Charles Manson and his followers had not been allowed to carry out their psychopathic and murderous acts. Featuring a star-studded cast and a memorable soundtrack, the film also serves as a tribute to cinema, television, and the golden age of Hollywood.

My Poem “The Blackout”

One second there was light
and the next there was darkness…
One second all was bright
and the next I couldn’t see
my hand in front of my face…
One second I was looking at
my phones illuminated screen
and the next I was using the torch
of my phone to guide my way…
One second the sun was shining
and the next it had completely
disappeared below the horizon
heralding the end of the day.

I still remember those days
and those nights when I was a child
when the power used to go out
every now and again –
but whenever it happens now
it is always a complete and utter surprise
to the degree that some people
still attempt to flick light-switches
on and off multiple times
perhaps believing that they can cause
somekind of electrical reset.

It’s strange looking out of the window
at night and seeing all the streetlights off…
it’s odd having no power, no light,
and no heat for a short amount of time –
but such an experience does make you truly appreciate how much we all
do sometimes take for granted
the gift of instant electricity,
and how much when we do not have it
at out disposal some of us feel immediately lost.

When the lights come on again,
when the TV screens flicker back to life,
and when we no longer have any further need
for the torches and the candles that we
had lit as temporary sources of light,
we all feel thankful to be able
to see clearly and to feel comfortable
once again in our world of modern enlightenment
that for a time had been taken away from us
by the inconvenience of a brief
but significant neigbourhood blackout.