Headlines UK

The Isle of Wight’s Childhood Problems

The Isle of Wight in Solent Bay is located just a few kilometers from Southampton and Portsmouth, but lives a very different life. A favorite vacation spot for tourists and elderly Englishmen, the island is connected to the mainland only by ferry service. The cost of a ferry ticket varies depending on the season and during school holidays can go up to £ 200 (for car transportation).

Against the backdrop of prosperous South-East England, the island stands out for its child poverty indicator: while in England it averages 30%, on the Isle of Wight it is 32.2%. The highest rate in England in 2019-2020 was recorded in Middlesboro, where poverty affects 41.1% of children. At the same time, in the case of the Isle of Wight, the stereotypical mention of a large number of ethnic minorities (and a supposedly proportional level of poverty) breaks down on reality: the population of the island is about 150 thousand people, and 92.2% of them are white British.

We spoke with an Isle of Wight resident Melinda Henry who moved to England from Latvia – she is worried about the situation on the Isle of Wight.

“According to you, the islanders, especially the children, are in distress. How is this possible in a developed western country?

I want to clarify: I do not want to denigrate my place of residence, but seek to attract the attention of foundations that can help our local organizations. The biggest problem is that there is not enough work on the island for everyone. Because of this, we have a huge proportion of houses owned by the municipality, and some are relocated from the mainland here because it is easier to get municipal housing here. Even before the pandemic, there were many unemployed here, and during it it got even worse, because 45% of our economy this is tourism. In the summer the situation was a little better, because the whole of England went to rest with us, but now everything has become more complicated again.

We do not have work for everyone, the state does not want to build a bridge, and if a bridge did appear, our roads are in such a state that they would not withstand a large flow of cars.

As a result, we have a very high level of child poverty – although at the local level everyone helps as much as they can. For example, I recently spoke with a school employee, asked how the situation with the coronavirus and the transition to distance learning affected children – and she said that specifically their school gave children 50 Chromebooks, and many received them free of charge.

Some received prepaid mobile modems from the school, because many families do not even have a stable Internet connection, and without this, the children would not be able to study. Twice the same school raised money through the GoFundMe platform to provide hot meals to children from the most disadvantaged families – I don’t know how the municipality was involved, but the school raised money nonetheless.

In addition, the Aspire Church provided hot meals to children in my city. All this is necessary, because many children have the opportunity to get a good hot lunch only at school – it’s true, I myself know such families. The school also helps children get in shape. The clothes from which the children grew up can be exchanged at the church – during the pandemic, the demand for such a service has grown.

And of course, we have a lot of second-hand charity shops – buying in them is considered much less shameful than on the mainland. And we were prepared for the situation of a pandemic. For many years, the municipality has been running special courses where they teach how to cook food with a minimum amount of waste.

The Toy Appeal program was launched ten years ago. People who migrated from the mainland realized that there are a lot of children here who are left without a present for Christmas – their parents simply do not have the opportunity to buy it. And then, ten years ago, they organized the installation of special containers, where anyone could put a gift. In the early years, this initiative caused a stir – now, of course, enthusiasm has shifted towards other problems, but the initiative exists.

– How did the inhabitants of the island as a whole experience the pandemic at the household level?

– Before Christmas, our coronavirus restrictions were Tier 1, Stay Aware. But we have only one hospital on the island, and if the virus clears up, it will not be able to accommodate everyone. Therefore, the locals ask people from the mainland – those who work on the island, who come to rest, who have country houses here – not to come. I even know that now, in many pubs, restaurants, beauty salons, the security does not allow inside those who do not have confirmation of their permanent address on the island.

– On your Facebook page, you tell about the project of creating a Russian library on the island. What is this project?

– I started it during the second quarantine – I decided to open a private library on the island to support the Russian-speaking community. At first I bought books at my own expense, then I published on Facebook a request to donate books in Russian – I myself paid for their shipping. I received a huge response and many kind words. Yes, there is a Russian-speaking diaspora on the island, in which there are many people with higher education, and they are interested in this undertaking. I will open a library at home, and if there is demand, by April I will try to contact the municipality with a request to allocate a room. The main thing is to start doing something. In quarantine, people want to somehow be distracted, and the opportunity to read books in their native language is a pleasant entertainment.

– In your opinion, what does the island need most from the state now?

– It would be nice if the state paid attention to our transport, state support and regulation would be very helpful. For example, our island bus company is a monopolist, and it charges tickets higher than on the mainland. Ferry schedules – owned by three private companies – do not correspond to bus and train schedules, so after disembarking from a ferry in Southampton or Portsmouth, you have to sit for a long time at the station waiting for the train.

Interviewed by Vera Shcherbina


Jets request to interview ex-corner Aaron Glenn for coaching job

The Jets are dipping into their history for one head coaching candidate.

The team has requested permission to interview Saints secondary coach Aaron Glenn, according to the NFL Network. Glenn has been with the Saints since 2016. 

The 48-year-old is well known to Jets fans, who watched him play for Gang Green from 1994-2001. The Jets drafted Glenn in the first round (12th overall) in 1994 and the cornerback became one of their top players. Glenn went to the Pro Bowl twice with the Jets and had 24 interceptions in eight years with the team, tied for the fourth-most in franchise history.

Glenn went on to play for the Texans, Cowboys, Jaguars and Saints. He rejoined the Jets in 2012 in their scouting department. After two years with the Jets, he began his coaching career as the Browns assistant secondary coach in 2014-15 before going to New Orleans.

Jets Aaron Glenn interview request coaching search
Ex-Jet Aaron Glenn coaching with the Saints last month.
Getty Images

Glenn can’t interview with the Jets until after the Saints’ playoff game with the Bears on Sunday. 

The Jets began their interview process Wednesday with Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. They have also requested interviews with Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Titans offense coordinator Arthur Smith, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley. 

Entertainment USA

Whoopi Goldberg SHUTS DOWN Meghan McCain on The View in interview with Senator-elect Rev. Warnock

Whoopi Goldberg SHUTS DOWN Meghan McCain on The View amid interview with Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock

Whoopi Goldberg quickly shut down Meghan McCain in a segment on The View Wednesday interviewing Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia.

In the segment, McCain asked the Democrat, fresh off his victory over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday’s election, about potential changes in the offing with the Democrats grabbing the majority in the U.S. Senate.

‘I watched the race closely, just like everyone else, and you talked a lot about unity on the campaign trail, and the need to unify the country, and unify Georgians,’ McCain said, ‘but progressives across the country are celebrating the election could mean adding two states, eliminating the filibuster and packing the Supreme Court with more members.

Details: In the segment, McCain asked the Democrat about potential changes in the offing with the Democrats grabbing the majority in the U.S. Senate

The latest: Whoopi Goldberg quickly shut down Meghan McCain in a segment on The View Wednesday interviewing Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia

McCain said cited how Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin ‘has joined the Republicans to reject those ideas,’ asking Warnock where he would vote on such issues.

‘Chuck Schumer tweeted this morning, “Buckle Up,” so you can understand how it’s hard for Republicans like me to believe in the spirit of unity,’ McCain said. ‘I want to know, will you do the same thing as Joe Manchin and agree not to follow up on all those things?’

Warnock said he was ‘not focused’ on the issues McCain asked about, saying he was looking at helping ‘ordinary’ Georgia residents persevere through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

McCain responded, ‘Senator, I do believe that average America care about packing the courts and I just want to know if you agree, and join Joe Manchin, and agree that you are not for that.’

Response: Warnock said he was 'not focused' on the issues McCain asked about, saying he was looking at helping 'ordinary' Georgia residents persevere through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Response: Warnock said he was ‘not focused’ on the issues McCain asked about, saying he was looking at helping ‘ordinary’ Georgia residents persevere through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic 

Return: McCain recently made her way back on the ABC chat show after maternity leave

Return: McCain recently made her way back on the ABC chat show after maternity leave

No more:  Goldberg said she was 'actually going to end this interview,' shutting down McCain's efforts to continue her line of questioning

No more:  Goldberg said she was ‘actually going to end this interview,’ shutting down McCain’s efforts to continue her line of questioning

Warnock replied, ‘My job is to take the concerns that are being raised by my constituent, and what I’m telling you is that they’re asking about their health care. 

‘They’re asking about whether they can earn a livable wage for working hard every day, and they’re wondering when in the world they’re gonna get relief after waiting for it for months.’

At that point, Goldberg said she was ‘actually going to end this interview,’ shutting down McCain’s efforts to continue her line of questioning.

Goldberg said, 'I am actually going to end this interview ... we are going to say thanks to the Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and we will be right back'

Goldberg said, ‘I am actually going to end this interview … we are going to say thanks to the Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and we will be right back’

Priorities: Warnock said he was 'not focused' on the issues McCain asked about, saying he was looking at helping 'ordinary' Georgia residents persevere through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

Priorities: Warnock said he was ‘not focused’ on the issues McCain asked about, saying he was looking at helping ‘ordinary’ Georgia residents persevere through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic 

The Democrat appeared on the show fresh off his victory over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday's election

The Democrat appeared on the show fresh off his victory over Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in Tuesday’s election 

Goldberg said, ‘I am actually going to end this interview … we are going to say thanks to the Senator-elect Rev. Raphael Warnock and we will be right back.’

Sources with ABC News told Fox News that the segment was cut short due to technical difficulties and time constraints.

Warnock’s appearance came after he and Senator-elect Jon Ossoff defeated their Republican opponents Sen. Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue to give the Democratic party control of the U.S. Senate.

Entertainment UK

Princess Diana Panorama interview investigation to face a ‘delay of months’

The inquiry into allegations that Princess Diana was tricked into her 1995 Panorama interview faces a “delay of months”, as pressure mounts on Scotland Yard to launch a criminal investigation.

Lord Dyson, a former Master of the Rolls and Head of the Court of Appeal, is understood to have told colleagues he intends to “press on” with his independent investigation, despite the Met Police examining claims of criminality at the BBC.

Sources have revealed the report from the judge’s probe is now likely to face considerable delays as it runs the risk of prejudicing any police inquiry and subsequent trial.

BBC reporter Martin Bashir is accused of forging bank statements to claim palace courtiers and a former head of security for Earl Spencer, Diana’s brother, were receiving cash for information on the Princess of Wales.

Bashir gained the trust of Charles Spencer before being introduced to Diana and convincing her to be interviewed for the bombshell programme that sent shockwaves through the royal family and led to her subsequent divorce from Prince Charles.

The inquiry into allegations that Princess Diana was tricked into her 1995 Panorama interview faces a ‘delay of months’

Alan Waller, who worked for Earl Spencer in the 90s, has officially complained to police regarding “very serious concerns” of a conspiracy “to create an instrument of fraud”.

Sources close to the investigation have revealed Lord Dyson and his team are preparing for a “delay of months” due to a complaint made to Scotland Yard concerning Bashir’s methods in securing his sensational interview.

Lord Dyson has appointed Fieldfisher LLP as solicitors to the independent investigation. Fieldfisher’s has a track record of advising those conducting major public inquiries, and has acted as solicitors to the inquest into the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed, the 7/7 London bombings inquests, the Litvinenko inquiry, and the Baha Mousa Inquiry.

Bashir gained the trust of Charles Spencer before being introduced to Diana and convincing her to be interviewed for the bombshell programme that sent shockwaves through the royal family

The source added: “Everyone is prepared for a delay of months to the investigation and any chance of publishing a report.

“The issue is clearly the danger of prejudicing a live criminal investigation if Scotland Yard decides to take on the case.”

Mr Waller’s barrister Anton van Dellen told police the faked bank statements had caused “significant reputational and financial loss”.

At the time the probe was announced in November, Lord Dyson said: “This is an important investigation which I will start straight away. I will ensure it is both thorough and fair.”

At the time the probe was announced in November, Lord Dyson said: “This is an important investigation which I will start straight away. I will ensure it is both thorough and fair”

The distinguished judge has already gathered a list of at least a dozen names he wants to cooperate with his independent probe.

It is expected to cost in excess of £1.5million even before any delays are taken into account.

They include former Panorama reporter Bashir; former BBC director-general Lord Hall who was a former head of news at the BBC; Tim Gardam, the-then head of weekly programmes and Matthew Weissler, the former BBC graphic designer.

Mr Wiessler claims he was made a scapegoat after Bashir allegedly tricked him into creating false bank statements purporting to be palace staff receiving cash payments from media organisations.

The infamous interview led to Diana’s subsequent divorce from Prince Charles

Earl Spencer, the princess’s brother, will also be asked to hand over evidence he has collected which he claims shows how she was allegedly manipulated into agreeing to be interviewed.

The Earl has told friends he could also push for a criminal investigation after describing Lord Dyson’s probe as a “toothless operation”.

Mr. Waller could also be integral to Lord Dyson’s probe regardless of the Met Police’s decision to investigate.

Tim Davie, director-general of the BBC, said that the independent investigation would “get to the truth” of allegations that Bashir forged documents and lied to win the trust of the princess and her family.

Bashir, who remains in his post as Religious Affairs editor for the BBC is currently signed off work while he recovers from quadruple heart bypass surgery

Bashir, who remains in his post as Religious Affairs editor for the BBC is currently signed off work while he recovers from quadruple heart bypass surgery and complications from having contracted Covid-19 last year.

The BBC has said in a previous statement: “The BBC has made clear it will investigate the issues raised and that this will be independent.

“We will set out the terms of reference in due course. We will do everything possible to get to the bottom of this.”


Sharat Saxena’s emotional old interview goes viral, actor shares how he was ignored for 30 years: ‘Directors saw me as junior artist’

A 2018 interview of veteran actor Sharat Saxena is going viral on social media. In the emotional interview to CINTAA (Cine & TV Artists Association), Sharat spoke about how he was typecast in Bollywood for 30 years simply because he looked fit.

Speaking to Ajay Bhargav of the association, he said that because of his big physique, no director ever considered him as an actor but simply gave him a fighter or junior artist’s role. “Back in those days, in our whole country, whoever had muscles or someone who looked like a body builder, that person was put under ‘labour class’. He was not considered worthy of fine arts, finer feelings. He could not be an actor, a writer or anything. He could only be a fighter,” he said in the interview.


“Unfortunately, when I came to Mumbai, I was quite fit. My father used to be an athlete in Allahabad University. We got inspired by him and worked out. When Bombay’s producers or directors used to look at me, they never saw an actor but only a fighter or a junior artist. So for 30 years, I only did action. When it came to acting, I was given dialogues such as ‘Yes boss, no boss, very sorry boss, maaf kar dijiye boss (please forgive me boss)’,” he added.

Sharat was an engineer but wanted to become an actor. He worked in hundreds of films as a villain’s henchman in the early days of his career. Later, he starred in films such as Saathiya, Baghban and others.

People of social media were touched by Sharat’s struggles. “He was mind-blowing in Ghulaam against Aamir. In Saathiya, his role as a father was even better,” wrote one. “He’s actually an excellent actor. Never got a role worth his talent. Ghulam might be the only major role in a movie that he has bagged,”another wrote. “Really feel sorry for this man. Bollywood’s fascination with Fair skinned actress as well as stereotyping based on looks is deeply rooted,” commented another person.

You can watch the full interview here:


In the same interview, Sharat also talked about finally getting recognised for his work. “There is a director called Shaad Ali. He gave me the father or the heroine’s role in Saathiya. The film released and the role was very small but people really liked it. After that role, I was finally classified from fighter to actor. It took 30 years for that to happen,” he said.

Also read: Anil Kapoor thanks Nawazuddin Siddiqui for praising AK Vs AK, reminds him ‘I’m sure you noticed you were a part of it too’

Talking about why he was typecast, he said, “This is country of Lord Ram worshippers. The hero’s face should be a reflection of Lord Ram and one should see Ravana in villain’s face. In India, the concept was that Lord Rama was fair with straight hair and he was handsome. And me being a poor guy from Madhya Pradesh, there are no such men in my state. You find people like me there. So they made people like me a villain.”

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Entertainment USA

Carole Baskin ‘Murders’ Interview & Leaves Ken Jeong, Joel McHale Squirming During NYE Special — Watch

Carole Baskin videoed in for an interview on FOX’s New Year’s Eve special, and it quickly got ‘dark.’ Multiple references were made to both Carole and Joe Exotic’s scandals that were highlighted in the ‘Tiger King’ docuseries.

Carole Baskin, 59, was a virtual guest on FOX network’s New Year’s Eve special on Dec. 31, and it got, well…awkward. Actors Ken Jeong, 51, and Joel McHale, 49, were hosting the special, and Ken started off the interview innocent enough: “How does it feel to be recognized everywhere you go?” Carole got very candid in her answer.

“You know it’s so weird, because of the combined fear of them [fans] being hitmen and not knowing them from the paparazzi. Every time people are running up to me, I don’t know if they’re running up to kill me or [are] running up to take a selfie with me,” the Tiger King star admitted. This seemed to be a reference to the fact that her rival and fellow Tiger King star, Joe Exotic, was accused of allegedly seeking “someone to murder Baskin in exchange for money” in the past, and was even convicted of two counts of murder-for-hire, according to the US Attorney’s Office Western District of Oklahoma.

Without missing a beat, Ken sarcastically exclaimed, “Wow, thats not a dark answer at all!…We’ll just avoid the whole hitman motif on eight p.m. eastern standard time here on FOX.” Joel couldn’t resist adding a jab, though. “It’s not like we’re dressed like hitmen,” the Spider-Man 2 star quipped (Joel and Ken were bth dressed in tuxedos). But it got even more awkward.

Joel reportedly said that Carole “murdered” her interview, according to one Twitter user (see the tweet above). Joe Exotic has long accused Carole of murdering her second husband, Don Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. Carole has vehemently denied these murder allegations, especially after Tiger King led fans to share their theories after the docuseries was released in March of 2020.

Former zoo owner Joe Exotic, pictured above, was sentenced to 22 years in prison in Jan. 2020. (Photo Credit: AP Images)

“[Tiger King] has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don in 1997,” Carole wrote in a blog post for her Big Cat Rescue non-profit’s website in May. She added, “The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims. They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers.”

Sports UK

Keane doesn’t believe McTominay’s post-match interview answer after Man Utd win

Manchester United demolished Leeds United at Old Trafford to banish any home form demons they had coming into the fixture.

Braces for Bruno Fernandes and Scott McTominay were accompanied by goals from Daniel James and Victor Lindelof in the Old Trafford rout.

It’s rare for the Scot to get on the scoresheet let alone score twice inside the opening three minutes. And he set up James in the second half to round off a terrific game.

The result puts United third in the table, with a game in hand and five points behind leaders Liverpool.

McTominay was asked if he looks at the table but the midfielder claims he pays no attention to it.

Roy Keane doesn’t believe Scott McTominay’s answer.

Roy Keane, though, was not having any of it.

“I don’t believe what McTominay said at the end about not looking at league tables,” Keane said on Sky Sports.

“Everyone looks at league tables. Players and staff.”

Scott McTominay isn't getting carried away.
Scott McTominay isn’t getting carried away.

Presenter David Jones then asked the former United midfielder if they should be looking, Keane responded: “Of course they should be. That’s what they’re playing the game for.

“You want to know where you are, where you’re heading to. It’s been a nice few days for United.”

Despite the result, McTominay said United won’t be looking too far ahead.

“You don’t want to be getting too carried away. It’s nice to score two goals and the team do a really good job.

“For us the next game, every game, is a cup final and manager’s firmly reiterated that to us.

“Last season we were far too inconsistent approaching games not in the right frame of mind but I feel like this year we have to be so dialled in, so focused in every way that we’re approaching games.”

Entertainment UK

Oprah gets Xmas basket from neighbour ‘M’ amid Meghan and Harry interview claims

Oprah Winfrey has sparked speculation she’s been gifted a luxury Christmas basket by Meghan Markle.

The telly superstar, 66, thanked a mysterious neighbour named only as ‘M’ for gifting her a hamper full of latte mixes.

She shared a video on Instagram showing her unboxing the products and adding a plug for the Clevr Blends brand.

Although she didn’t name the present giver, she dropped a huge hint about their identity by writing: “Yes that M” and adding a crown emoji.

She wrote in the caption: “On the first day of Christmas my neighbor ‘M’ sent to me…

“A basket of deliciousness! (Yes that M) My new drink of choice for the morning and night.

“Wish I had @clevrblends sooner cause I would’ve added it to my Favorite Things list. #HappyHolidays.”

Oprah Winfrey shared a video as she unboxed her gift basket from neighbour ‘M’

Oprah counts Meghan and Harry among her neighbours after the royals moved into a sprawling mansion down the road from her in Montecito, Santa Barbara.

She’s believed to count the couple as friends as she was invited to their wedding in Windsor back in 2018.

Since she shared the Instagram video, fans have been speculating the mysterious gift giver is Meghan, with one writing: “I think the crown emoji indicates Royal neighbor Meghan.”

Other suggestions left in the comments including Michelle Obama, Madonna and Mariah Carey.

Meghan and Harry live close to Oprah in California

The post comes amid rumours Oprah could land the first sit down interview with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex since they stepped down as senior royals and moved to California with their son Archie.

Harry has teamed up with Oprah to work on a new TV series focusing on mental health for Apple TV.

It will feature appearances from stars including Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston and aims to “inspire viewers to have an honest conversation about the challenges each of us faces”.

Oprah was thrilled with her latte blends

Oprah was a guest at Meghan and Harry’s 2018 wedding

The project could pave the way for an interview with the Sussexes

Previous rumours of a sit-down chat with the media mogul emerged at the start of the year before Meghan and Harry moved to California.

However, a representative for Oprah said at the time: “No, [Oprah is] not in discussion for an interview.”

She also denied she’d advised the pair during their transition as they stepped away from royal life, saying: “Meghan and Harry do not need my help figuring out what’s best for them.

“I care about them both and support whatever decisions they make for their family.”

Mirror Online has contacted a representative for Oprah for comment.

Headlines UK London

Actor Dainius Valutis: “The street has become a purgatory for me”

Actor Dainius Valutis is well known to London lovers of Russian-language theater – for three years now he has been on stage in productions of the Art-Vic Theater (director Viktor Sobchak), playing in a new way Professor Preobrazhensky, Woland and other images that not every of his colleagues can do. craft. We asked the actor about his unusual creative path and outlook on the theater.

– Each person comes to the acting profession in his own way – how did it happen with you?

– I dreamed of being an actor since childhood and after school I was going to enter the acting department in Klaipeda. But the teacher there dissuaded me, saying: “Denis, you can do more. The leaders of amateur performances are trained here. Apply in Vilnius “… But instead of following the advice, I started spinning: the army, parties, perestroika – and stayed in my native Kaunas.

A few years later, a friend told me: “You know, Viktor Shinkaryukas (this is our, Kaunas actor) put together a training course”“Can not be, – I answered, – student theater courses are recruited only in Vilnius “… But I went to the Kaunas Drama Theater to check, and found out: the course has already been typed, the exams are over. I returned home thinking that I had missed the chance. Then he gathered all the impudence into a fist and called Viktor Shinkaryukas himself.

In fact, he should have said: boy, you got the number wrong, the train left, but (as I learned later) he was hooked by my assertiveness. He made an appointment the next day in front of the theater, where I talked about my experience – by that time I was playing in the folk theater with his colleague Kibortas. Finally he said: “Okay, we’re doing cementing tonight – come on” (cementing is like a corporate party for a recruited troupe). When I arrived, it turned out that everyone was five or six years younger than me. So I was accepted on the course.

– How did you get to the UK and how did your first years of adaptation to the country go?

– I ended up in the UK because I had to escape from Lithuania. I was a man with a bunch of addictions: alcohol, gambling, addiction to relationships with women – everything except drugs. I lost everything, drank everything, both mine and someone else’s, both bandits and the state persecuted me – and therefore I had to leave my family, and the theater, and Lithuania, and my homeland. And I ran, because nothing mattered anymore: I was in hell.

Yes, running away is ugly, but God will not judge me. I had time to realize that if you ruined yourself, you cannot give anything to anyone – not your daughter, not your loved one, not the theater. In Lithuania, I got to the point where in the last months I lived on the street, as in my first year in the UK.

Oddly enough, this was the best year – not in life, of course, but in England. I got outside and found my peace. There is hell, there is heaven, and between them there is purgatory, and that is what the street has become for me. There I cleared myself of my addiction (primarily from gambling), there I found a sponsor for the 12 Steps program.

On the street, I realized that a person needs little. There is a backpack and a sleeping bag, their place on the street. If you need to smoke, you can collect makhorka in the city center when there is no rain. For the first two weeks I spent the night under large lanterns in St. James’s Park, opposite the Queen’s residence. You attach a sleeping bag to this lantern – spacious, warm, stars, high. A nearby fountain is not life, but a fairy tale! In the end, adventures, trials are always interesting to the actor, and indeed to the artist in general. This is a different world: the world of the unemployed, lazy people, drug addicts, alcoholics, all kinds of rabble … but believe me, there are concepts that are sometimes more sincere than those of the rest of the world. Helping each other, distributing food, transferring information – all this is done without calculation.

– At what point did you decide to return to the theater?

– Firstly, I wanted to return to life, so I started going to our Lithuanian church – and there I met the one who became my “sponsor” in the program, this is, so to speak, a spiritual leader. I realized what was happening to me, and sincerely followed the recommendations, wrote an inventory of every day of my life. I really didn’t like this procedure, but I did it, and the miracle happened little by little. Every Sunday I washed the floors in the church, and then I began to do it also in the day center for the homeless – because selfless service also helps to heal the mind and soul.

I didn’t think about the theater or about money – only about the fact that I had to become a normal person again. I understood that addiction would not disappear anywhere, but I had to become independent and reason soberly – and then I could return to life. And a miracle happened: a year later I received a small room from the municipality. Then I walked the spiritual path for another year and then started earning a little.

When he began to return to normal social life, he began to correspond with Lithuanian theaters. But in Lithuania there were many unresolved questions, and I began to take root in Britain. So here, in London, I went on tour of the Russian and Lithuanian theaters, and three years ago I met Viktor Sobchak, who gave me cameo in “Morphia”… And since then in three years we have had fourteen joint productions.

– After all that you have experienced, what role would you most like to play on stage? And do you think a pandemic could end the theater as we know it?

– First, I want to thank fate: nothing happens just like that, in every good there is evil, in every evil there is good. No matter how sad and ashamed I was to leave my daughter in another family (thank God, now we have contact with her, and she lives very well), the theater, Lithuania – I am grateful to God and the circumstances that allowed me to play here such roles that another situation would not have happened: Professor Preobrazhensky in “Heart of a Dog”, Woland in The Master and Margarita. It was a big challenge to play the devil – after all, I am a practicing Catholic, this is how my grandmother raised me from an early age, and despite the stormy life, I am with God all the time. This connection manifests itself in every way: through my sufferings and dependencies, I both lost and manipulated God, but returned, prayed, and felt relief. So when I started to delve into the role, it was difficult at first. But then I saw that Bulgakov does not call Woland the devil, but shows the devil in people – and I began to be proud of this role and enjoy the game.

I have no desire to “play Hamlet”, something famous – I wanted to be a clown since childhood. I want to make roles specific, non-standard, I am interested in the depths of the psychophysics of man, devil, animal. I want to play an old or dying person or the biggest villain in the world – just not mediocrity.

And I’m not worried about the fate of the theater: the theater will always be there, even after a pandemic. Actor is one of the oldest professions, and theater, in some new forms, will survive both in basements and on large stages.

Interviewed by Vera Shcherbina

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“The coronavirus has created a moment of truth for us”

Pandemic, isolation and lockdowns are today the equivalent of unemployment, poverty, bankruptcy and financial fraud. How has the pandemic affected ethics and how has it transformed corporate culture? Why exactly wearing masks causes aggression in people? What pain points in business, work and family did COVID-19 reveal? Tells Sofia Azizyan, HR policy expert, partner in the audit and consulting company Ernst & Young.

– Is the increase in the number of cases of financial fraud, especially related to IP telephony, a worldwide trend?

– Yes, this is a global trend associated, among other things, with the fact that many people have switched to telecommuting. After all, at home they work in IT systems, which may not be well protected and encrypted. Big questions for the Zoom platform.

Also, employees send business mail through open communication channels, for example, from personal mail. If a person works from home or in a coworking space, the likelihood that hackers will break into traffic or crack your password (and as a rule, it is always quite simple) and enter your system is much higher. For example, the company does not recommend our employees to work and open secret files on the hotel Wi-Fi; there is a prohibition to use personal mail to transfer information related to work issues.

In addition, today it has become much easier to obtain personal information, just use the page on social networks. And when a person calls you and names your personal data: date of birth, patronymic, then you get the impression that they are calling from any organization. There are cases when they call a bank card number, a code word – but there is clearly some kind of insider information from banks (from former or current employees) or, which also cannot be ruled out, this is a good job of hackers. Now there are more frequent situations when fraudsters manage to withdraw large sums even from the accounts of cunning businessmen.

– After the pandemic, will offline return completely or the transformation of corporate culture that has begun is irreversible?

– Online will remain. The reason is the economic crisis, which is forcing companies to cut costs as much as possible, and office rent is quite a significant expense, so there will clearly be workspace optimization. Let me draw an analogy with our offices in London and New York, where rent is expensive. They sent employees to work from home long ago and kept areas smaller than, say, we could afford some time ago. They have optimized costs. Employees came to the office or for collective work meetings, or for networking, such as teambuilding.

I think that the staff will work on a flexible schedule, but when the pandemic is over and it becomes possible to return to the offices, the teamwork will definitely take place live. The corporate culture is transforming.

I cannot say that it is getting worse; on the contrary, a flexible schedule allows you not to be stuck in traffic jams on the way to the office and makes it possible to live outside the city, independently allocate time for work, family, sports – there are many advantages.

– Attitude towards masks – why did this attribute become a bone of contention?

– I suppose that restrictions cause rejection. Both the British and the Americans still went on strike against restrictions and isolation. And then there is the example of Sweden. On the one hand, time will show how effective their model is, on the other hand, there was no collapse in the country, the mortality rate is now not much higher in comparison with other states.

People look at Sweden and understand: what is the point for them to go through all these restrictions, when their business collapses, they lose their jobs? And masks are simply something to which they can direct their anger of dissenters, a certain attribute that causes aggression. Like a small child hits his toy when there is no other way to show protest.

In Asian countries, where masks immediately took root, people wore them even before the pandemic (if they got sick or during the flu season, SARS), and no one went on strike against them. Personally, I find it easy to put on a mask indoors. I read the studies of both British and Australian scientists: there is no closure of oxygen access and there is no excess of CO2. Doctors work like this all their lives, surgeons operate in masks for ten hours and do not suffocate. It’s more of a psychological aspect.

In addition, it seems to me that such a strong protest is also due to the factor limiting freedom: cameras, surveillance – conspiracy theory. People are afraid that now everything is known about them, and the states or unscrupulous people will use it. Perhaps their fears are partly true. Such risks are potentially there, but nevertheless, the risks of infection upon contact with the virus are high, so I am in favor of observing medical recommendations.

– How legitimate is it to fire people for a decrease in efficiency in the remote mode and not pay money when they are laid off?

– It is completely wrong, especially when it comes to people with small children.

I have not come across many cases where I would be fired for reduced efficiency. The layoffs are largely due to the decline of the business as a whole. Many small and medium-sized businesses that I know sold personal assets to pay at least the minimum wages to employees. They tried to keep their team. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, my team has employees with small children, and with elderly parents, and those employees who are initially disciplined and responsible, the pandemic and the transition to remote work did not affect. And employees who were not responsible and disciplined naturally lost their effectiveness, because now it is difficult to hide incompetence and become leaders at the expense of someone else.

My guess is that there have been completely unfair layoffs, where unscrupulous executives simply took advantage of the general situation. But in the future, such actions will affect their reputation, because today, in the era of social networks, it will be difficult for an employer to hide the facts of illegal behavior. The only excuse for this situation is the bankruptcy and liquidation of the company.

In countries like Germany or France, where there are very strong trade unions, illegal dismissal is simply impossible. And in the United States and England, where the support of trade unions is not so strong and the legislation itself is rather on the side of the employer, it is easier to fire people.

Another important point is the low legal knowledge of the population. Many people, not caring about the future, often do not pay due attention to the execution of employment contracts, which must be read very carefully. If you are not able to figure it out on your own, you need to involve lawyers so that in the future you do not find yourself in a situation where they do not act with you within the framework of labor legislation, and you cannot prove anything.

It seems to me that the pandemic has become a kind of trigger and has revealed all the weak links in work, personal life, and health. After all, when people live with the belief that tomorrow will always come, there will be money and bread, then they have a dragonfly strategy from a famous fable. And then suddenly a force majeure situation ensues, when you need to save and live within your means, correctly formalize contractual relations, revise intra-family ties and build them in such a way that there is a person nearby who can support both in grief and in joy. Perhaps, in the future, this knowledge will be useful to us – such a moment of truth! Of course, it would be better to find out all this in a different way, but this is how this leap year turned out, and we have nothing left but to change in conditions of instability.

Interviewed by Elena Nedelya