31 May 2011


A big thanks to Beth for hosting the WHAT'S IN A NAME 4 READING CHALLENGE. My apologies to those who have been following my journey during this challenge, you may well have already read my thoughts on some (or even all) of these books. For those of you interested in reading my full reviews simply click on the book title(s).

Finished in just under 6 months, the challenge has been fun even though I didn't stick to the books I intended to read, read more non-fiction than I normally do and really only enjoyed 2 out of the 6 books read.

So what did I end up reading? 

'Evil' Category ... 

WICKED by Gregory Maguire.

A new author to me and not one I'm in any hurry to read again but then never say never.

Told from the Wicked Witch of the West's point of view as opposed to Dorothy's we get to visit the land of Oz. 

Not a book to be read if you are expecting this to resemble The Wizard Of Oz - you will be disappointed.

'JEWELLERY/GEM' Category ... 


Normally a big fan of this authors works, I found myself a bit disappointed by this offering which didn't really capture my imagination and seemed to be lacking in the usual quirky/eccentric characters. Then again it could be that bats and pigeons just don't really do it for me.

'Life Stage' Category ... 

LIFE IN REWIND by Terry Weible Murphy et al.

The memoirs of a man who developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) as a boy after the death of his beloved mother, Life In Rewind also chronicles the story of his therapist who is fighting his own demons.

Though fairly interesting and informative I did find this repetitive - and yes, given the repetitive nature of OCD, I do get the irony of my using this word.

'Number' Category ...

ELEVEN HOURS by Paulina Simons.

Now this was more like it - not just my favourite read of this challenge but one of my favourite books this year.

Fast paced, gripping and with lots of twists and turns though it has to be said because of the novel's subject matter (the kidnapping of a heavily pregnant woman) this was at times a disturbing read.

OK, so mile was pushing it as a size but Beth did tell us we could be inventive.

The last book I actually read for this challenge and, it has to be said, my least favourite.

Totally disappointed, this had such huge potential and yet read like a school assignment.

'Travel/Movement' Category ... 


The other book that I really enjoyed reading. I was only recently introduced to this author and series of books and this, the second Rachel Morgan story did not disappoint.

A good story with just enough action, little sex and a great mix of characters, both human and otherwise, this is a fun book that does not take itself too seriously.

30 May 2011


Husband dearest's choice and perhaps my favourite .........

WHITE TIGER HUNTED ..... IN HAMPSHIRE? Police were contacted at 4pm on Saturday afternoon by "several" members of the public, each reporting the presence of a white tiger in a field in Hedge End. One of the callers had examined the predator through the zoom lens of his camera, and was convinced the animal was real, and threatening.
A police officer, who has not been named (I can't think why!), was duly dispatched to the field to investigate, and was able to "confirm" that there was indeed a tiger lurking in the grass.
"They gave us the option to dart and tranquillise the animal rather than destroy it.
"After a brief stalk through the Hedge End savannah, the officer realised the tiger was not moving and the air support using their cameras realised there was a lack of heat source.
"The tiger then rolled over in the down draught and it was at that point it became obvious it was a stuffed life-size toy."  said a spokeswoman.
It is understood that the tranquilliser dart was not used. - Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian (23/05/2011)

The latest in online dating?

A DATING SITE FOR DOGS. An online 'dating' service for dogs has gone live online in an attempt to improve the health of pedigree animals.The Mate Select service, now available through the Kennel Club website, enables owners to assess how a proposed mating of two registered pedigree dogs will affect the genetic diversity of the whole breed.- The Telegraph (26/05/2011)

Home Tweet Home Cone .....

Take a beak at this family of great tits - who decided to nest inside a traffic cone.Chris Blake, 65, took these pictures after finding the mum hatching nine chicks at a car park in Norfolk. - The Sun (27/05/2011)

Not the sort of emergency requiring a speedy response.

FIRE BRIGADE CALLED OUT TO RESCUE A SNAIL. An elderly woman distressed by the mollusc's presence 8ft up a wall in her hallway called the fire brigade.
It was just one among a series of bizarre call-outs which also included retrieving a cow from a tree and reuniting a duckling with its mother - quite how the cow came to be up the tree is not known. - The Daily Snail Mail (28/05/2011)


MEERKATS WITH FOOT FETISHMeerkats at a new enclosure at Longleat Safari Park have developed a fetish for women's sandals and painted nails – and have even been sneakily peering up visitors' skirts.
The creatures seem to be enjoying their new enclosure in Jungle Kingdom – an enclosure into which visitors can enter and walk among the meerkats – but their foot fascination has forced staff to put up warning signs about their keen interest in feet. - The Metro (28/05/2011)

And finally, three article not about animals .....

From one emergency service to another.

POLICE OFFICERS ISSUED LIFESTYLE GUIDES.Among the pearls of wisdom offered are that officers should assist their spouses with household chores and take up gardening or dancing to keep fit. The guide also offers advice on what fillings to put in sandwiches ........ Jasper Copping, The Telegraph (29/05/2011)

Or how best to transport apples.

New craft magazine Molly Makes has a solution to bruised fruit - the crochet jacket pictured left. - The Guardian (23/05/2011)Click HERE for instructions and to visit the site.

Sorry your majesty ..

MISSING:QUEEN'S 80TH BIRTHDAY PRESENT. A £900,000 handmade coach designed for the Queen's 80th birthday has vanished in Australia.
The Britannia is decorated with 24 diamonds, 130 sapphires and 400 books of gold leaf. - The Telegraph (28/05/2011)

PLEASE NOTE: Wherever possible I will endeavour to bring you the links to articles I have used in my Media Monday posts but this is not always possible.

29 May 2011


Patrick walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the corner of the room, drinking a sip out of each pint in turn.

When he had finished all three, he went back to the bar and ordered three more.

The barman says, "You know a pint goes flat soon after I pull it ......... Your pint would taste better if you bought one at a time."

Patrick replies "Well now, I have two brothers, one is in America and the other in Australia and here I am in Dublin . When we all left home, we promised that we'd drink this way to remember the days we all drank together"

The barman admits that this is a nice custom and says no more.

Patrick becomes a regular customer and always drinks the same way ....... Ordering three pints, drinking a sip out of each in turn, until they are finished.

One day, he comes in and orders just two pints.

All the other regulars in the bar notice and fall silent.

When he goes back to the bar for the second round, The barman says, "I don't want to intrude on your grief but I wanted to offer my condolences on your great loss."

Patrick looks confused for a moment, then the penny drops and he starts to laugh, "Oh no," he says, "Bejesus, everyone is fine!

Tis me, .................. I've quit drinking!"

28 May 2011


The 45th book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge and the 6th and final book in the What's In A Name Reading Challenge (A book with size in the title category.)

John Gross is the son of a Jewish doctor who practised in Mile End at the time of the Second World War. His parents were children of immigrants, steeped in the language and traditions of a European past, yet outside the home he grew up in a very English world of schools and books. Looking back on his childhood, Gross reflects on this double inheritance. The richness of Yiddish words, the rituals of religion set against the daily life of the East End, where gangsters were heroes and patients turned up on the doorstep at all hours. Yet in the background, behind the wit and the colour, lie the shadows of anti-semitism and the Holocaust.
...... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE: "You're such a lobbes!" *

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 10): ..... one of her specialities was baking taigelach - small treacle-coated biscuits which no dentist could have approved of and few children would have been able to resist.


Perhaps the shortest book review I have ever written or am likely to write, I can sum A Double Thread up by saying that it had the potential to be an interesting and informative read but, to me,  was let down by the style of writing - reading less like a memoir and more like a collection of school essays I found this dull and such hard going that my mind kept wondering. Never have a mere 190 pages seemed so long.

* Meaning something like 'rascal'.

27 May 2011


NRI Girl has been a blogger buddy of mine for a good while now and recently introduced me to Flat Stanley - a cut-out paper guy, you treat him as you would a guest, take photos of him being shown around places of interest before emailing them off to NRI Girl along with a note explaining your adventures.

A great idea, this sounds like such fun don't you think. If, like me, you'd love to host Flat Stanley (or Sguidged Stan as I think of him)click HERE for more details. 

26 May 2011


FRIEND .........

  • A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts
  • A person whom one knows; an acquaintance
  • A person with whom one is allied in a struggle or cause; a comrade
  • One who supports, sympathizes with, or patronizes a group, cause, or movement.

As the URBAN DICTIONARY would say ......

A real friend is someone who:

  • it's okay to fart in front of.
  • you don't mind talking to on the bus for at least 20 minutes.
  • can borrow $5 and never has to pay it back
  • you'll actually call up do stuff.

The word ‘friend’ is one of the rare cases in the English language whose meaning has remained consistent throughout hundreds of years of usage. The word of Germanic origin has existed in the English language since its founding in Old English. Back then, ‘friend’ existed as ‘freond’ which was the present participle of the verb freon, ‘to love’. The root of the verb was ‘fri-’ which meant ‘to like, love, or be affectionate to’.

To use the word ‘friend’ in Old English was to define a relationship with strong feelings, independent of sexual or family love- a meaning that is still very similar to the ‘friend’ we use over 1500 years later. ‘Friend’, in a period of warfare and conflict, was also defined by its antonym ‘enemy’. To be a ‘friend’ one could not be hostile towards the other- there were no friends on different sides of a conflict, and it was at this time that ‘friend’ extended its meaning to describe and define loyalty. By Middle English and beyond, a friend had the added connotation of someone who would financially help a particular institute and by the late 17th century friend was adopted into an adjective to mean, ‘well disposed, and not hostile’. - Language Study by Suite 101.

With modern methods of communication and the ever increasing popularity of social-networking sites (FaceBook, Twitter etc) the meaning of friend may well be the same but now more than ever we have more 'friends' than ever before as ......

The average person has double the number of online friends compared with physical ones, a study has concluded.
And people tended to be more open, confident and honest with their virtual friends than their 'real' counterparts.
The study, commissioned by the Cystic Fibrosis Trust shows that people typically have 121 online friends compared with 55 physical friends. - The Telegraph (09/05/2011).

121online friends and 55 physical ones? I wonder how that will change when people realise .......

FRIENDS CAN MAKE YOU FAT. Obesity is contagious and people who have a higher number of fat friends or family members are at greater risk of becoming obese themselves, according to a study.
Researchers said there were a number of ways that fat people could influence others. It could be subliminal, by making people think their weight was normal, but it could also be more direct, with obese people putting pressure on their slimmer friends to eat more and exercise less. - The Daily Telegraph (09/05/2011)

Well, what can I say? I've brought you some pretty incredulous 'research' stories over the last two years but I think the must get the award for being the most ridiculous.


What thinks you? What is your definition of a friend? How many people do you class as friends? Do you class your online friends as 'real' friends? Do let us know your thoughts.

And remember .........

So see you soon,

25 May 2011



Orphaned, penniless, Jacob Jankowski jumps a freight train in the dark, and in that instant, transforms his future.

By morning, he's landed a job with the Flying Squadron of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. By nightfall, he's in love.

In an American made colourless by prohibition and the Depression, the circus is a refuge of sequins and sensuality. But behind the glamour lies a darker world, where both animals and men are dispensable. Where falling in love is the most dangerous act of all.
.... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Prologue): Only three people were left under the red and white awning of the grease joint: Grady, me, and the fry cook.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 408): With a secret like that, at some point the secret itself becomes irrelevant. The fact that you kept it does not.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: I will be returning this book and have no intention of buying a copy for our home library.

A reading group read, I'm not sure I would have picked this one up otherwise as I hate the thought of animals being made to perform in circuses. That said I did enjoy the book and am glad that I read it.

The story is told by Jacob as both a young man in his early 20s and an elderly gent aged either 90 or 93 - he can't quite remember which.

Young Jacob's story is full of hardship and yet is vibrant, full of adventure and first love and made enjoyable reading whilst the story of  elderly Jacob made quite depressing reading and was only saved from being totally maudlin by his memories of happier times and the kindness of nurse Rosemary and circus owner Charlie.

Colourful and exotic, there were a wide variety of characters, many of them complex, all of whom I responded to in one way or another and many of whom I came to care for greatly. Written with more male characters than female, the afore mentioned Rosemary and circus performer Marlena being the only two of note, I think author, Sara Gruen, did a tremendous job getting into the mind-set of all these men.

As for the animal aspect of the novel. Thankfully more about human relationships, I adored the friendship between Jacob, Camel and Kinko, than the animals, I nevertheless found the animal scenes both touching and, at times, distressing. And being totally honest would have preferred for them not to be there at all but I guess their inclusion was necessary if the plot was to remain realistic as animals were a main attraction in circus during this period and sadly would not have always been treated kindly.

What did I like best about the book. Certainly not the love story between Jacob and Marlena - I simply could not bring myself to like her. I think it was the fact that no matter how bad things got for young/old Jacob there was always hope and someone there to offer friendship and support. That and knowing that in the end the villain, the 'baddie', of the story got his just deserts.

The 44th book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge.

24 May 2011


"It’s a scene that is in all the books: the heroine is having a nice breakfast/lunch/dinner, when the phone rings. It’s bad news. And PRESTO—her appetite disappears. A variation is the family dinner, when an argument erupts, and no one eats anything. This is patently ridiculous. It never happens. Our family can yell and eat simultaneously with no problem." writes Molly in her post CLOSE THE DOOR.

A real fun post, it certainly got me thinking about all those funny quirks in film and on tv that left me wondering if anyone actually lived like this.

Things like .........

Yeah, food. As good a place to start as any for as Molly rightly points out why do people in movies find it next to impossible to argue and eat at the same time? AND why do so many men (it's never a woman is it?) find their dinner has ended up in the dog bin after they once again return home late from work? AND why is it that we Brits are seen to head down to the local pub (which incidentally is always at the end of the street) at the first sign of woe whilst Americans head for the freezer and a huge, and I mean huge, tub of ice-cream?

With regard to thrillers/horror films -  Why do people want to live in a house/place knowing full well that the funeral directors do a roaring trade? I mean would you really ever consider getting back in the waters of Amity Island after several people had already been devoured by Jaws. AND in just the same way why would any one want to be in the same room, let alone befriend,  people like Hercule Poirot or Miss Maple when chances are they'll come to. err, shall we say a sticky ending? AND why does the baddie never stay dead? Even when they have been hit over the head with that frying pan, stabbed with that fountain pen and reversed over by that car they still won't lie down and die.

And what about houses that on the outside appear like an average Victorian terrace and yet on the inside resemble Dr Who's tardis. Something peculiar (I think) to British soap operas is the house that no matter how small always seems to expand, making room for the relative that no one had ever heard of  up until the point they show up on the doorstep and, needless to say, are welcomed with open arms despite the family not knowing if they are a mass murderer or not. Not a problem with the Americans of the movies as they all live in huge mansions anyway - that is unless they reside in a trailer park which, it goes without saying, means they will have a least one dubious relative.

And finally, children. Once again I'm pretty sure this only happens in British soap operas when children are often not only not heard but not seen either. I'm thinking of Coronation Street's infamous Tracy Barlow who was often upstairs or at school and in one infamous episode went to the toilet not to be seen for two years when she reappeared a completely different child (as if we wouldn't notice it was a different actress).

But not forgetting the Australians of soap opera land who, like us Brits, know literally everybody in the locality and, as an example of their devotion, at the drop of a hat rush off to the hospital to see the latest casualty who, despite having had both legs and one arm amputated (oh, and been in a coma) after yet another murderer has struck will be back home, as good as new, and in the diner/coffee shop (the equivalent of us Brits heading to the pub) in a day or two. Not that that matters as there's still time for each and every neighbour to take that traditional get well gift (grapes/flowers?) a casserole which no one will eat as an argument is sure to erupt and no one eats anything.

So come on, do tell what film/tv occurrences have you wondering if anyone actually lives like this.

23 May 2011


'Bee'yond belief.

BEES ATTACK WOMEN'S FUEL CAP. Melissa Dell returned to her car to find thousands of bees attacking her fuel cap.
 She was forced to call a bee-keeper after the insects spent two hours swarming around their queen and did not look like they were going to move on. Mail Online (16/05/2011)

Last week we had the incident of the boy wearing a girl's school to school in protest that he wasn't allowed to wear shorts, this week it's ..........

'SKINNY FIT' TROUSERS ARE BANNED. Teachers at Downlands Community School, Hassocks, West Sussex, banned the fashion items worn by celebrities such as Russell Brand (pictured right), after pupils started wearing them in the classroom.
The school had previously warned girls about wearing tight trousers, but it had never before had to discipline the boys. - The Daily Mail (18/05/2011)

Not that its always the children.

PARENTS TOLD TO STOP WEARING PJ'S TO SCHOOL. It is normally pupils who need reminding to dress smartly to school, but head teachers have been forced to tell parents to stop wearing nightwear when collecting their children.
The schools said increasing numbers of parents were wearing pyjamas to drop off and collect pupils, and even in meetings with teachers. - Harry Wallop, The Telegraph (21/05/2011)

Now for two articles from the wonderful world that is FaceBook.

COUPLE NAME DAUGHTER AFTER FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON. The 'Like' button on Facebook, as with YouTube's 'thumbs up' feature, is there to let users signal their approval of friends' comments, status updates, photos, videos and the like.
And it turns out Lior and Vardit Adler like the 'Like' button itself so much they, like, named their little one after it. - Joanne McCabe, The Metro (17/05/2011) Read  'A' Simple Blogger's post on this by clicking HERE.

It all started out as a bit of a joke but ended in the publication of a book designed for exhausted parents.

POTTY-MOUTHED PICTURE BOOK SET TO BECOME A HIT.  Last week Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach got to number 1 on the pre-order on Amazon and the film rights have already been bought by Fox 2000.
Mansbach is a writer and father of three-year-old Vivien. It was after putting Vivien to bed last year and thinking "I'm going to be stuck in this room for ever" that he snuck on to Facebook and wrote: "Look out for my new book, Go the F**k to Sleep, out next year." It was a joke that became real. A lyrical picture book aimed at parents rather than their children is out on 16 June but beware there is swearing on every page, don't read it if you can't take a joke. - Annalisa Barbieri, The Guardian (18/05/2011)

Like something out of a horror film .......

ERMINE CATERPILLAR MOTHS STRIP TREES. A Yorkshire urban park has been infested with thousands of caterpillars, stripping 15 trees of all their leaves.
The larvae have formed large communal webs covering railings and tree trunks in the small park at Frizinghall. - BBC NEWS (17/05/2011)

Now I know why I was attracted to Husband dearest.

Tall men (Hd is 6ft 3inches compared to my 5ft 3 inches) attract women because they remind them of our strong, ape-like ancestors, a study claims. Research found that men can hit harder standing upright than when kneeling and when directing punches downwards,giving early humans who walked on two legs an advantage when competing for women. - The Telegraph (19/05/2011)

They say a dog is mans best friend .......

LEGAL WRANGLE OVER A BAILEY, A MINI-DACHSHUND. Next month a senior judge will be asked to settle a highly unusual tug-of-love. At the centre of the legal wrangle is not a child but an 18-month-old sausage dog. - The Telegraph (19/05/2011)

....... Then again it could be a horse as:-

MAN TAKES HIS PONY FOR A DRINK AND TO HOSPITAL. Baffled people snapped the pony in a crowded bar and in a casualty department as the man led it by its reins.
Weatherspoons chain spokesman Eddie Gershon said: "On Friday the man did come into the pub.
"On Saturday he tried to come in again with the horse but was stopped at the door. He was told he could not come in which he accepted."
The horse was taken into the Accident and Emergency department where the man had asked for treatment for the animal from a doctor.
A health board spokesman added: "He was politely asked to leave the premises by the security guard and duly left, taking the pony with him."  - The Sun (19/05/2011)

Not the end of the story though for a few days later said man ......

ATTEMPTS TO BOARD TRAIN ....... WITH HIS PONY. A rail passenger in north Wales tried to board a train with his pony – but station staff said "neigh".The man attempted to buy a ticket for himself and the animal for the 19.02pm service from Wrexham to Holyhead.
Despite being told that large animals were not allowed in the carriages, he put the pony into a lift and took it down to the platform. -The Guardian (19/05/2011)

And now from ponies to sharks.

AQUARIUM STAFF FIND SHARK. Stunned aquarium staff have discovered that a shark they did not know they had has been living undetected in their ocean tank for years.
Staff at Blackpool Sea Life Centre were baffled when two shark eggs were discovered in a tank occupied by sharks which give birth only to live young. - The Daily Mail (19/05/2011)

Had a row today? There are six more to come.

AVERAGE COUPLE ARGUES 2,455 TIMES A YEAR - That's almost 7 times a day.
The biggest single reason for a tiff is not listening to what the other half is saying, which is responsible for around 112 cross exchanges a year. - Jane Hamilton, The Sun (20/05/2011)

PLEASE NOTE: Wherever possible I will endeavour to bring you the links to articles I have used in my Media Monday posts but this is not always possible.

22 May 2011



When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum's classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch- nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked?

Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again.Wicked is about a land where animals talk and strive to be treated like first-class citizens, Munchkinlanders seek the comfort of middle-class stability, and the Tin Man becomes a victim of domestic violence. And then there is the little green-skinned girl named Elphaba, who will grow up to become the infamous Wicked Witch of the West - a smart, prickly, and misunderstood creature who challenges all our preconceived notions about the nature of good and evil.
....... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Prologue): A mile above Oz, the Witch balanced on the wind's forward edge, as if she were a green fleck of land itself, flung up and sent wheeling away by the turbulent air.

MEMORABLE MOMENT: "She's sent the crows out to blind the guests coming for dinner!"
"Well, that's one way to avoid having to dust, I suppose."

KEEP IT OR NOT?: Hmm, do you know I'm not really sure.

Most of you will have watched the film version of THE WIZARD OF OZ even if, like me, you haven't read any of the 15 books in the series.

Despite many people believing Wicked is based on the story The Wizard Of Oz, it in fact charts the life of the Wicked Witch of the West - you know the one, green, the sister of the witch who meets her death under the house of Dorothy- telling the story from her point of view.

A great start to the book,the first few chapters chronicles the life of Frex and Melena before and up to the birth of Elphaba/Elphie and is wickedly funny and a touch naughty.

If only the middle section of the book was so good. Detailing the mid-years of Elphie's life at (a sort of) finishing school, the author seems to concentrate on the nature of Animals (with a capital 'A') as opposed to animals (with a small 'a'). Actually this became quite a big problem for me as the greater part of this section of the book seemed to debate this as well as, to a lesser extent, several other issues including the nature of evil. All very well if you were expecting this but to be totally honest I was just expecting a nice, easy, fun read.

So what of the end of the book? Well, the author seemed to come full-circle and once again the dialogue becomes (in places) very, very funny.

Character wise,many of the characters from the film appeared in Wicked (some of them only very briefly) though if you were expecting them to be exactly the same as in the film then you will be disappointed - in some cases, hugely disappointed. My favourite character? Without a doubt, Nanny (of Elphie) who, to me, supplied a major part of the humour as is demonstrated in my memorable moment.

Purchased with an Amazon voucher won at BookQquoter's site, A THOUSAND BOOKS WITH QUOTES, I was both happy and disappointed that I read the book, part of me would love to see the theatre production if only to see how the book has been adapted.

The 43rd book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge and the 5th for the What's In A Name Reading Challenge (A book with 'evil' in the title category.)

21 May 2011


This email on the complexities of the English language seems to be doing the rounds at the moment so apologies to those of you who may have already seen it - to those of you who haven't I hope you enjoy it.

  • The bandage was wound around the wound.
  • The farm was used to produce produce .
  • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse .
  • We must polish the Polish furniture.
  • He could lead if he would get the lead out.
  • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
  • Since there is no time like the present , he thought it was time to present the present
  • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
  • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
  • I did not object to the object.
  • The insurance was invalid for the invalid.12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row ...
  • They were too close to the door to close it.
  • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
  • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
  • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
  • The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
  • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
  • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
  • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France . Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat. We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables what does a humanitarian eat? Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send cargo by ship? Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people not computers and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all. That is why when the stars are out they are visible but when the lights are out they are invisible.

AND ........

As if the English language isn't complicated enough

Slang words including thang (meaning thing), innit (isn't it), and grrl (A self confident woman) have been added to an official dictionary for SCRABBLE players.
The Collins Official Scrabble Words also includes words from Indian cookery, such as keema, and from the internet - including wiki and myspace - among nearly 3000 additions to those allowed to be used in the game. - The Telegraph (09/05/2011) READ MORE.

20 May 2011


Firstly, is it just me or are these book covers very similar?

SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES  (Read February 2011)& The Flowing Queen.

The Flowing Queen has always protected the people of Venice. Till now.

When Merle and her pickpocket friend Serafin overhear a plot to betray the city of Venice to the Egyptians, they are plunged into a thrilling race against time to save the Flowing Queen - and even Venice itself. But can a pair of lowly apprentices get past an entire mummy army?
...... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1, Mermaids): The gondola carrying the two girls emerged from one of the side canals.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 187): "What is magic but a kind of technology that most people don't understand? Either they don't understand it yet or they don't understand it any more."

KEEP IT OR NOT?: Ex-library stock, I shall be donating this to a charity shop.

The first in a trilogy of books, written in German by Kai Meyer and translated into English by Anthea Bell, I can't help but think that with the 'poisoning' of the canals of Venice as part of the story there is a subtle ecological message to this novel, whether or not this was the authors intent I do not know.

I think this is a first for me as whereas I am used to books that form part of a series carrying on certain aspects of the story into future books I don't think I have ever read a book where the story comes to such an abrupt end only to be continued in part(s) 2 (The Stone Light) and 3 (The Glass Word). Disappointing enough for me as an adult reading this children's book (it's aimed at readers between the ages of 10 and 16), I think it would be even more so for a child as, yes, we all like a bit of mystery to our reading but this left to many loose ends and questions unanswered.

A slow starter, it wasn't really until page 100 or so of this 280 page book that much seemed to happen and even then the plot at times dragged and, then there was the fact that I was left wondering why many of the characters and events had been included at all such was there insignificance  -  having finished the book I can only presume that The Flowing Queen was something of a scene-setter for the future books, with some of the events and characters only introduced at this point as they have a part to play in parts 2 and/or 3.

As well as the 'main' body of the story, the author also delved into the story of two of the characters ('mermaid' Eft and, stone lion, the Traitor of Old, Vermithrax, who to be truthful I found very touching and of much more interest than the other characters who, apart from Merle, remained a bit of a mystery.

The most interesting parts of the book for me? The breaking of stereotypes - everyone knows mermaids are beautiful creatures, and stone lions are, well, inanimate objects made of stone, right? Think again - And, having visited Venice, the author's description of the canals, St mark's Square and, most of all, the Bridge of Sighs brought back many memories.

The 42nd book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge.

19 May 2011


 Colleagues who arrested a Russian policeman after watching him take a bribe were astounded when he locked himself in his police car and promptly ate the evidence. Alexi Nikolayev scoffed three notes worth 2000 rubles (£45).

Polish policeman Andrzej Tymanski fined himself £5 for walking on a railway line. Bosses had set Tymanski a quota of making one fine a day and he says he couldn't find anyone else who had broken any laws.

A surgeon at Glan Clwyd hospital in Denbigshire, Wales needed treatment himself when a 13kg lamp over his operating table suddenly collapsed in the middle of surgery, giving him concussion.

A teacher in Okazaki, Japan, has been reprimanded for setting his seven-year-old pupils a maths problem that frightened them.
He asked "If I wanted to kill 18 children and I could only kill three every day, how many days would it take me to kill them all?"

A Mexican official has been sacked after punishing a graffiti artist by sprat painting his bottom.