30 Sep 2011

RED DUST ROAD.

The 69th book read in my ......




There is a moment when, as a little girl, Jackie Kay, realizes that her skin is a different colour from that of her beloved mum and dad. Later in life, and pregnant with her own son, she decides to trace her birth parents. On a journey full of unexpected twists, turns and deep emotions she discovers that inheritance is about much more than genes: that we are shaped by songs as much as by cells, and that what triumphs, ultimately, is love.
...... Outer back cover.


FIRST SENTENCE: Jonathan is suddenly there in the hotel corridor leading to the swimming-pool area.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 122): Now, when we go on family holidays, I drive and my parents sit in the back; perhaps that's when to date the strange reversal of roles that happens between parent and child.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: A reading group read, I have no intention of buying a copy.

I was quite excited by the thought of this book until I realised it was not fiction as I had first thought but a memoir.

Now as many of you know I'm not too keen on memoirs but as this was a reading group read I felt obliged to at least give it a try ..... after all I might have even enjoyed it.

Except, try as I might, I didn't.

Written by poet and author Jackie Kay (it turns out she is also a lecturer at our local university)Red Dust Road is the story of a woman of mixed parentage who was adopted as a child. Chronicling the years between 1969 when Jackie was 7 until 2009 by which time she has decided to meet her birth parents the book was warmly received by many critics many of whom thought it a humourous, heart-warming read.

Homourous? Well, it certainly had its moments, moments generally involving Jackie's biological father, a self-styled preacher and healer. The only problem being I felt a bit guilty that I found myself laughing at him and his beliefs - something which didn't sit comfortably with me.

Heart-warming? In a way, yes. I couldn't fail to be moved by Jackie's biological mothers frailty but on the whole I just couldn't bring myself to have any true depth of feeling for any of these people.

Other things that I just didn't like ........

Some of the chapters seemed unnecessary, almost superfluous. And though Jackie was in fact probably trying to illustrate certain points ('we are shaped by songs as much as by cells' for example), at times it almost seemed that certain passages had been added as a means of padding out the story, of bringing it to a required number of pages.

The author could be repetive in detailing her encounters with her birth parents.

The one thing I really liked about the book?

The fact that though life was sometimes difficult for Jackie as a child and she did on occassion meet with racism from both children and adults, Red Dust Road, though it did mention some episodes, did not dwell on them making this a read that dwelt more on the positive than the negative.

29 Sep 2011

I'M SO EXCITED.


Hurrah .........

Today a collection of 'lost' Dr Seuss stories entitled The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories is published.

Available from Random House in the US and HarperCollins in the UK, the collection of seven stories is described by the publishers as ......

"the literary equivalent of buried treasure".

Including other stories such as 'The Strange Shirt Spot', 'The Great Henry McBride', 'The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga', 'Steak for Supper', 'Tadd and Todd' and 'Gustav the Goldfish', 'The Bippolo Seed' tells the story of a conniving cat who encourages an innocent duck to make a bad decision.

28 Sep 2011

AND NOW FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE.

Inspiration for posts comes from many sources, the inspiration for  this musical meme came from Kelly, see her answers by clicking HERE.

What’s the most annoying song in the world?
Like Kelly I agree that it's often those songs that stick in your memory despite all efforts to erase them. I think Agadoo by Black Lace would come pretty high up on my list.



See, I told you so, annoying isn't it?

What’s the saddest song in the world?
No need to think about this one ....... Tell Laura I Love Her by Ricky Valence. Click HERE to see the lyrics and tell me if this doesn't bring a tear to your eye.

What’s the sexiest song in the world?
Ooh! Erm! Black Velvet by Alannah Myles. A song written about Elvis Presley, I love Alannah's voice, so sexy.

Name a new, to you, band or music artist that you can’t get enough of.
A group that tours the club circuit here in the UK, called Fiddlinfantastic who play all kinds of music with 'a twist'.

Have you met any famous musicians?
In a word, no.

What song best describes your life?
'May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young'
- Meat Loaf.
Not exactly the song that best describes my life but something I like to remember, to think of when I'm feeling less than strong. (click HERE to see all the lyrics).

How important is your partner’s taste in music to you?
We do have some musical tastes in common but only some, others he only gets to play when I'm not around. No, the main problem with his music is the volume at which he likes to listen to it.

Do you sing in the shower?
Of course.

What was the last live music show you attended? Did you buy a T-shirt?
Not a fan of live music, I don't like crowds. The last concert I attended was  Meat Loaf and though I didn't buy the t-shirt I got a programme.


What’s the sweetest song in the world?
Ooh, I'll have to think about this one. How about .......
'If I should smile with sweet surprise
It's just that you've grown up before my very eyes
You've turned into the prettiest girl I've ever seen
Happy birthday sweet sixteen'?
- Neil Sedaka.

Can you play a musical instrument?
Are you in a band or are you a performing solo music artist? If yes, what kind of music do you play?
No and no.

Have you ever dated a musician?
Sort of. Husband dearest was the drummer in a church group (does that count?) years ago. He sold his drum kit in order to buy my engagement ring.

Are you a groupie?
What do you think?

If you listen to the radio, what station and type of music are you tuned to the most?
Not a fan of radio, I prefer to listen to my CD's

27 Sep 2011

THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL.

THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL by RACHEL SIMON

The 68th book read in my .....



On a stormy night in small-town America, a couple desperate and soaked to the skin, knocked on a stranger's door. When Martha, a retired schoolteacher living a safe and conventional life, answers their knock, her world changes for ever.

For they are fugitives, Lynnie, a young woman with an intellectual disability, and Homan, a deaf man with only sign language to guide him, have escaped together fron The School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, a brutal institution where people with disabilities are left to languish, shuttered away from the world.

In a moment of despair, they reveal that Lynnie has a newborn baby. But, moments later, the police bang on the door. Homan escapes into the darkness, Lynnie is captured. But just before she is returned to The School, bound and tied, she utters two words to Martha: 'Hide her'. And so begins the unforgettable story of Lynnie, Homan, Martha, and baby Julia - lives divided by seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet drawn together by a secret pact and extraordinary love.
...... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Part 1: The Bride's Request): At the end of the night that would change everything, the widow stood on her porch and watched as the young woman was marched down her front drive and shoved into the sedan.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 100): There was one other thing in the pouch. A metal pencil sharpener Doreen had snuck away from Uncle Luke's secretary, Maude. Lynnie was hoping to use it if she ever had the good fortune to own her own pencils.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: A reading group book, this shall be returned for other groups to read - I shan't be buying a copy of my own.

'As powerful and gripping as The Help' claims the bright red sticker prominently stuck to the front cover.

Says who?

Ok, so The Story Of Beautiful Girl was an enjoyable enough read but I certainly wouldn't compare it with Kathryn Stockett's The Help (click HERE to see my review).

Told mainly by 'Beautiful Girl' Lynnie, and 'Buddy' (aka Homan) with occasional insights from staff member, Kate and retired school teacher, Martha, the novel covers the years from 1968 when Beautiful Girl and Buddy show up on Martha's doorstep to 2011 when ..... ha, as if I'm going to tell you, now that would be a spoiler.

I don't know if it was because the book told the story of three different people with several long gaps left in the narrative or whether it was because I really only found few of the events vaguely interesting but this novel just didn't flow for me.

No, of much more interest to me than the characters themselves were the passages chronicling the history of The School - I won't go into any further details now other than to say this I thought very realistic and very, very moving.

As I said an ok read that I personally think was let down by the comparison with The Help, you may enjoy this if you liked The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (click HERE for my review) which to me was quite similar in several ways...... uh-uh, now there's me making a comparison which as I've just pointed out is not always a helpful thing.

25 Sep 2011

WELL, WHAT A WEEK IT'S BEEN.

Firstly may Husband dearest and myself thank you all for your kind words, it made our silver anniversary all the more special to think that so many people wished us well.

With regards to the poem, sadly neither of us wrote it and a search has proved fruitless as to who did though it does seem it is often used by those of the Roman Catholic faith.

Anyway .......

What have I been up to since I last posted?

Well, Hd and I did manage a few days away in the Lake District resort of POOLEY BRIDGE - a surprise holiday (I knew we were going away but not where) we stayed in the small hotel that we last stayed in some 25 years ago during our first holiday together ...... very romantic.

At least it would have been if we hadn't spent our actual anniversary with Hd in hospital and me in a hotel room by myself (altogether "aah")


ULLSWATER STEAMERS.
(Photograph courtesy of the Visit Cumbria website.)

Still, we did have a good day couple of days before hand, redoing the lovely steamer boat ride from Pooley Bridge across Ullswater to Glenridding (you can click HERE for some more website pictures though, fingers crossed, we hope to bring you some of our own photos soon) AND Hd, feeling much better, we did manage to make it home for our party on Friday evening.

And what a party it was.

We began with a presentation of our wedding photos, accompanied with the playing of Tracy (what else?) by The Cufflinks before going on to play some party games which was followed by a short quiz on marriage and a caption competition which I may well reproduce in the next day or so - who knows there may well even be a small prize.

This was then followed by a buffet, what wonderful food, thanks CHEESE AND PICKLE CATERING .... even though Hd had catered for what seemed like the whole of Newcastle by the end of the night very little was left ...... and then the cutting of the cake which I have to say was stunning. A 3 tier chocolate confection hand decorated with white and milk chocolate fingers and maltesers, it looked beautiful and tasted divine.


(Cake purcased from Sweetest Sensation - click HERE for website.)


The evening then ended with some dancing thanks to the wonderful ......


 (Click HERE to visit their website)

.... who proved a great hit with all of our guests both young (18) and not so young (80+)

Enough of my witterings though, thanks once again to all those who made our anniversary such a special event, we really did have an amazing time.

20 Sep 2011

LIGHTING OF THE WEDDING CANDLE - A WEDDING BLESSING.


Having burnt our candle for 25 years now, today we celebrate our silver wedding anniversary.


My light shall be with you on your joint path.
More than a gift am I, a silent witness in the house of your love.
When the sun shines, I do not need to burn,
...but when it gets dark, when storm arises,
then light me.


At the first argument,
when you are secretly crying in pain, then light me.
When the first step has to be taken, and you do not know how,
when you need to talk, but cannot find the words,
when you want to embrace yet your arms seem paralysed, then light me.


My light is a sign in your house, bright and clear.
It speaks a simple language that the other quickly understands.
I am your wedding candle, and I love both of you.
Let me burn, whenever needed and however long it takes,
until you can both extinguish my flame,
cheek to cheek.


     (Would love to know the author of this?)


18 Sep 2011

I SO WHAT TO BE OVERCHARGED £1.10

No, it's not Monday, I just wanted to confuse you all by posting my Monday Media post on a Sunday.

Now that's what I call service with a smile dinosaur......


M&S CUSTOMER DEMANDS AN APOLOGY. A Marks & Spencer customer who demanded a "hand-drawn picture of a smiley dinosaur" after being overcharged for a sandwich was delighted to receive exactly that.
Bill Bennett fired off a letter demanding a refund after he was overcharged £1.10 for a salmon sandwich at an M&S store.
He was promised a £5 voucher as compensation – but when it failed to arrive, he asked for a hand-drawn picture of a smiley dinosaur instead, to cover the inconvenience.
To his surprise, M&S customer adviser Steve Jones sent the voucher and the child-like drawing through the post. - Steve Morris, The Guardian (13/09/2011)

Exterminate! Exterminate!

DALEK SETS NEW RECORD. Doctor Who fan Rob Hull has set a Guinness world record after amassing a huge collection of 571 unique Dalek models. - Jimmy Nsubuga, The Metro (14/09/2011).

Slug slows traffic to a, erm, snail's pace.

SLUG CAUSES TRAFFIC CHAOS. Council engineers were called to a busy junction in Darlington, County Durham, when the lights failed.
They found the dead slug when they opened the control box in Whinfield Road near the town's Asda supermarket.
Councillor Chris McEwan who has received complaints from residents about the fault, said: "Somehow the slug managed to infiltrate the control mechanism, sit on the circuit board.
"We don't know how long the slug had been there.
"Unfortunately, it was dead by the time we found it, so we were unable to question it.
"Sadly, you just can't legislate for a rogue slug trying to take out Darlington's traffic system." - Yahoo News (14/09/2011)

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.

17 Sep 2011

THE CHAMBERS DICTIONARY.

Generally when I bring you dictionary related articles it's a post about words that have been added to/taken out of the Oxford English Dictionary.

Not this time.

This time it's about the influence the internet has had on the Chambers Dictionary with ........

"Nearly a quarter of the words added to the new edition coming from internet culture, the recession and climate change also make a mark with quantitative easing, double-dip, and carbon offsetting among the 200 new words and phrases added.
The 12th edition of the single volume edition of Chambers Dictionary, which was first published in 1901, contains 620,000 words and definitions.
The new words "herald a wave of geek chic, a more strident green agenda, and the way in which the recession has shaped how we speak today," says the publisher.

And some of the other words to have made it?
  • National treasure
  • Neet
  • Man flu
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Paywall
  • Staycation
And ............
  • Some abbreviations made popular by social networking sites, including OMG (Oh my God) and, BFF (Best friend forever).
To read more click HERE.

16 Sep 2011

AN EDUCATION INTO .......... WITCHES

Let me begin by saying that whilst I acknowledge that there are indeed modern day witches, many of them Wiccans, (did you know that in the 2001 census some 7,000 UK citizens said they were witches?) this post though factual in places also largely takes a look at the witches of myth, of European folklore.

Deriving from the Old English masculine noun Wicca meaning 'sorcerer, wizard', the feminine noun Wicce meaning 'sorceress, witch', the plural form for both the masculine and feminine nouns being Wiccan, the modern spelling (witch) did not appear until the 16th century.

To dispel one of the main myths about witches .....

A male witch is not called a warlock, warlock means traitor, devil, summoner of spirits, oathbreaker ...... depending on just which website you are looking at.

Not that it's any surprise that most of us think of witches as women, and not just any women at that. No, witches are wrinkled and old, they wear black or darkest purple and have warts on their noses ..... don't they?

According to sixteenth-century lawyer William West ......

“ A witch or a hag is she which being deluded by a league made with the devil through his persuasion, inspiration or juggling, thinketh she can design what manner or evil things soever, either by thought or imprecation, as to shake the air with lightnings and thunder, to cause hail and tempests, to remove green corn or trees to another place, to be carried of her familiar (which hath taken upon him the deceitful shape of a goat, swine, or calf, etc.) into some mountain far distant, in a wonderful short space of time, and sometime to fly upon a staff or fork, or some other instrument, and to show a thousand such monstrous mockeries.” - Monstrous.com

Found in many cultures and feared by many, according to the Bible

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live,"

which is why many accused of witchcraft were hanged or burnt at the stake for 'crimes' such
  • Having red hair.
  • Sweeping their porches on a Sunday
  • Putting herbs in soup.
  • Blaspheming.
  • Being unable to live peacefully under their rulers. (Joan of Arc was believed by many to have been a witch).
Ok, so apart from looking out for a red-headed, warty-nosed woman who is blaspheming whilst sweeping her porch on a Sunday, how else would one know one is in the presence of a witch?

Well ........

According to the movies many look just like me and you, some such as Serafina Pekkala (The Golden Compass) attractive, and some (The Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz), well, not so attractive.




Oh, and of course they all have a cat which is usually black.

A black cat, where did that belief come from?

Because they are nocturnal and roam at night, during the Middle Ages many considered a cat to be a witches' familiar: a supernatural servant of the witch or even a witch incarnate, who folklore has it, if a witch became human, would no longer reside in the house.

But enough of cats, black or otherwise, what about the broomstick? Surely a sign of a witch.

A common household object in Medieval times, the first known incident of a 'witch' flying on a broomstick was recorded in the fourteen hundreds when male witch Guillaume Edelin confessed to just such a thing.

Don't be fooled by the word broomstick though, witches disguised their wand/staff used for magical purposes by binding twigs around the end in order to give the appearance of a broomstick.

15 Sep 2011

YUM OR YUK?

The Jiuhua plantation in Gushi is advertising for 10 tea pickers - with specific qualities. They have to be female virgins with at least a c-cup bra size and willing to do the picking using only their mouths. The combination of virginity and curviness is believed to promote the tea's properties of well-being and purity.


Chicken farmers in Dongyang City are hoping to find an export market for their local delicacy - eggs boiled in schoolboys' urine. They describe their product as 'the taste of spring' and claim it counters drowsiness and heatstroke. apparently, for the perfect recipe, the boys should be under the age of 10.

14 Sep 2011

DON'TS FOR WIVES - 1913.

The 67th book read for the 100+ Reading Challenge.
DON'TS FOR WIVES - 1913 by Blance Ebbutt.

FIRST SENTENCE (Preface): Art is a hard mistress, and there is no art quite so hard as that of being a wife.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 51, 'Food'): Don't be afraid of cold meat. A few cookery lessons, or even a good cookery-book, with the use of a little intelligence, will make you mistress of delicious ways of serving up 'left-overs'. Some men like it, but cold mutton has wrecked many happy homes.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: A wonderful little read, definitely one for the shelves. I shall be keeping this for reference.

Bought in Edinburgh by Husband dearest (who else would dare?) this is a wonderful little gem of a book containing "words of wisdom for a happy marriage".

First published in 1913, Don'ts For Wives was again published some 94 years later in 2007 and is part of a series of books which includes ..... Don'ts For Husbands (Erm, funnily enough Hd forgot to mention this one).

Full of 'useful' information, including advice on 'Avoiding discord', 'Financial matters', and, 'Evenings at home', I think this would make an ideal wedding gift as though we certainly laughed at some of the advice which seemed ludicrously outdated, there were other snippets that certainly still rang true ........

“Don’t take your husband on a laborious shopping expedition and expect him to remain good-tempered throughout . . . men, as a rule, hate indiscriminate shopping.”

Sound familiar?

Not that its all advice about making your husband's life more comfortable though ..... oh no, it also gives advice on making your life better even if by doing so it actually makes him happier.

Read very much tongue in cheek, I confess that I enjoyed Hd reading some tip or other as we lay in bed - a wonderful way to end our day.

13 Sep 2011

DEPRESSED, HAVE CANCER, HAD A SEX CHANGE?



At a time when public services, libraries included, are being drastically cut back are such questionnaires a good idea?

Designed as a way of making sure Equal Rights legislation is being complied with it seems some councils are asking new borrowers some fairly intrusive questions....... or are they?

The information is being gathered as part of efforts to comply with equal opportunity rules that are aimed at ensuring people who use public services do not suffer discrimination if they are homosexual, disabled or from an ethnic or religious minority.
But critics attacked the questionnaires as a waste of taxpayers’ money and called for an end to the “madness” at a time when many public libraries face funding cuts or closure. - Matthew Holehouse and Tim Ross, The Telegraph (27/08/2011).

But is it going too far to ask readers questions such as ......
  • Do you have a hidden impairment such as HIV, cancer or diabetes?
  • Do you consider yourself to be a Gypsy/Traveller?
  • Are you transgender?
  • How would you describe your sexual orientation?
- Islington, North London.

  • Does your gender differ from your birth sex?
- Haringey, North London.

  • Do you have a health condition such as cancer, HIV or Multiple Sclerosis (MS)?
  • What is your sexuality/Race/Religion?
-Leicestershire.

  • Do you have a mental health condition such as depression or schizophrenia?
  • Do you have a longstanding illness such as cancer or HIV?
- Brent, North London.

So, a necessary 'evil' in order to make sure all readers have equal access to services OR as Anastasia de Waal, head of education policy at the think tank Civitas, put it .......

“The point of a library is that it is open to everybody and that you go there to read and to get lost in a world of books and forget everything else,” she said. “If you are being asked what your status is, that is almost the reverse.

To read  the full article by Matthew Holehouse and Tim Ross click HERE.

12 Sep 2011

WHAT DO A BUTLER, A DRUNKEN MOOSE AND A BUSKING DOG HAVE IN COMMON?

I've brought you similar posts about Her Maj Queen Elizabeth wanting staff .........

QUEEN SEEKS BUTLER. It may not command the highest salary and the hours might be long and arduous – but jobseekers who want to work for a well-known boss need look no further.
The successful applicant, will be based at Buckingham Palace, but must also be willing to spend at least three months of the year at other Royal residences, including Balmoral in the Highlands and Sandrigham in Norfolk.
While the salary on offer is only £15,000 a year, butlers receive free accommodation and are trained to the highest standard.  - Martin Evans, The Telegraph (05/09/2011)

Typical!

An attempt to break the world record for the biggest kite ever flown had to be called off after organisers of the Bristol International Kite festival decided it was ........ too windy. - The Telegraph (05/09/2011)

Thanks to Ollie for this article.

DRUNK MOOSE STUCK IN A TREE. A drunk Swedish moose got stuck up an apple tree and had to be cut free after an intoxicating evening foraging for fruit.
Police believe the inebriated elk got into a state after eating fermented apples, and got stuck while trying to reach fruit higher up the tree. Metro News (07/09/2011)

After last week's tattoo story (click HERE if you missed it)today I bring you one of my favourite articles ........

If Joy Tomkins ends up in a life-or-death situation her wishes are plain to see – written across her chest.
The 81-year-old gran-of-six is so adamant that doctors should not save her life in an emergency, she has had a “Do Not Resuscitate” tattoo.

And in case she collapses face down and paramedics miss the big, blue capital letters, she’s had “PTO” and an arrow inked on her back. - The Mirror (08/09/2011)

It had to happen.

Newcastle United(NUFC)have become the latest football club to launch their very own lingerie.
The range, in the team's black and white stripes, include briefs, stockings, suspender belts, bras and camisoles.
The 'Toon Army' have signed a deal with football-related underwear specialist Premier Lingerie to stock official club shops with special underwear emblazoned with the teams logo. - The Mail (08/09/2011)

Ouch, this had to hurt!!!!!!!

SCOTTISH WOMAN GIVES BIRTH TO UK'S BIGGEST BABY GIRL.Farrah Gallagher weighed 12lb 9oz when she was born - nearly twice the average weight of newborn girls in the UK.
Proud parents Karen and Robert Gallagher said their daughter's size had been something of a surprise to them, particularly as Mrs Gallagher is just 5ft 2in tall. - Yahoo News (09/09/2011)

Saving the best till last, my favourite articles this week?

A 'singing' dog has become the first pet in the country to be awarded a busking permit, allowing it to howl in the street (click HERE to see BBC video).
Egypt, a Newfoundland dog, accompanies its musician owner Simon Cartlidge, barking and howling while he sings and plays the guitar. - The Telegraph (09/09/2011)

DEVON BREEDER BECOMES DAD ....... TO A DUCK. A duckling shunned by the rest of his feathered family is now inseparable from the man who rescued him — and even follows his new "dad" to the pub.
Eleven-week-old Star was just days old when he became distressed and started doing a manic "waddling dance" in a bid to escape his siblings.
So his breeder, Barrie Hayman, 65, from Eastleigh, North Devon, decided to rescue him from the incubator, and popped him in his pocket. Now nearly three months later the unlikely pair have become inseparable and wherever Mr Hayman goes Star is waddling not far behind – so much so that the duck has become somewhat of a local celebrity. - This Is Devon (09/09/2011).

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.

11 Sep 2011

THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU.

THE VERY THOUGHT OF YOU by ROSIE ALISON.

England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As  Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes - and finding herself part-witness and part accomplice to a love affair, with unforeseen consequences.
..... Outer back cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): There was a hint of afternoon sunshine as Anna Sands and her mother Roberta stepped off their bus into Kensington High Street.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 283): Like a ghost released from the pages of a book. A message for him, from more than twenty years ago.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: To be passed on to various family and friends, I will not be keeping this novel.

Before you read any further I feel I have to warn you that try as I might I found it impossible to write this review without the use of some (albeit small) spoilers.

A debut novel, The Very Thought Of You was longlisted for several prizes including the RNA Romantic Novel of the year 2010.

Now I'm not a huge fan of romantic novels so I wasn't at all influenced by the list of prize that this novel had been longlisted for. No, it was more the war setting, its depictions of children evacuated from all they knew, that appealed to me. And in this I was disappointed as the story of Anna (and the other 85 children evacuated with her) came a very poor second to the several 'romantic' plots that were featured.

I say romantic but to me there was nothing romantic whatsoever about this novel. Call me judgemental if you will BUT in my eyes the fact that every one of the 'love' elements involved adultery does not a good read make.

Adultery aside, apart from one event, I found The Very Thought Of You predictable, the characters, without exception, unremarkable at best and totally unlikeable at worst - the very thought of the adults involving a child in their illicit goings on quite simply made my blood boil - and yet, despite all this, I have to admit that I was touched by the not altogether unexpected ending. All in all hardly a good advertisement for romantic fiction, I can't say this in any way endeared me to the genre.

Purchased from The Book People magazine, this was the 66th book read in my 100+ Reading Challenge.

10 Sep 2011

A QUICK CHUCKLE.

Our local police station was broken into last night.

The thieves got away with two police dogs and a toilet.

- The police reported that they had no leads and nothing to go on.


9 Sep 2011

AN EDUCATION INTO ......... VAMPIRES.

Having read my EDUCATION INTO WEREWOLVES post, Nina of J'ADORE HAPPY ENDINGS lay down the gauntlet and challenged me to produce a post on vampires.

Challenge accepted Nina, here we go .......

Mythological creatures, vampires, a term by the way not popularised until the early 18th century when it is believed the word first appeared in English in 1734, feature in the folklore of many cultures including ancient Greece and Rome.

Believed to be revenants (visible ghosts/animated corpses)of evil beings, suicide victims or witches OR, less likely, having been created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse OR, less likely again, having been bitten by another vampire vampires/ vrykolakas/strigoi vary in appearance from the traditional image of the blotted, rotting corpse, ruddy in colour (from drinking blood?) who, seen in the coffin, had their left eye open and blood seeping from both their nose and mouth to the more modern creation who is largely human in looks.

Strangely, though teeth, finger nails and hair were said to have appeared to have grown after death, 'fangs' do not play a large part in the history of the vampire. Indeed Slavac and Chinese folklore has it that rather than being bitten by another vampire the causes of vamparic generation might involve ......
  • A corpse that was jumped over by an animal(especially a cat or a dog) 
  • A body with a wound left untreated by boiling water.
Whilst according to Russian folklore those who had rebelled against the Russian Orthodox Church whilst alive were said to be particularly at risk.

So what of the European vampire?

Already known in German literature and  in Austria where the practise of exhuming bodies and 'killing vampires' was not unknown , it is believed the word vampire (derived from the French vampyre?) first appeared in English in a travelogue entitled Travels Of Three English Gentlemen in 1745.

But I'm getting away from the point.

Most of us know that legend, well many books and certainly most black and white Hollywood films anyway, has it that in order to kill a vampire a stake must be driven through the heart - a method around for hundreds of years, made typically of ash or aspen, the stake could also be used as a means of prevention with those thought to be of higher risk of becoming a vampire staked whilst in their coffins -BUT did you know that there isn't in fact one method guaranteed to kill all vampires though it is generally agreed that the best method involves .....

beheading the vampire, cutting its heart out, and then burning the body.

And if that doesn't work? Well, you could always try .... 
  • A crucifix. A crucifix and not a cross mind you - the first has an image of Jesus Christ on it, the later is, well, just a cross- which comes from the power of the Christian religion and Jesus' ability to combat evil. This, however, only works if you believe in its power, if you don't then it will be of little to no use.
  • Sunlight. Believed to kill vampires, in fact in Medieval times sunlight did not kill the vampire who roamed the daylight hours much the same as you or I. It is only in the last 50 or so years that the tradition of the sun being able to kill vampires has emerged - a trend now in reversal with Stephenie Meyer's Twilight vampires able to move around in daylight even if they do kind of shimmer.
  •  Silver. Only good for werewolves, right? Wrong. Considered a metal of great purity, silver stakes, spears and daggers have been known to slow down and kill a vampire. Also used in the form of an amulet (or such) silver can be placed above a coffin to prevent evil spirits from escaping OR made into nails which can be driven into the coffin lid to prevent such spirits from leaving the grave. Also .........
Silver could be the reason why legend has it that a vampire's reflection cannot be seen as many, many moons ago mirrors were lined with this (or mercury) and as both are incorruptible the reflection of an evil being was unable to be seen. Then again, this could also be that the vampire has no soul and therefore no reflection. Hmm, interesting and the later explanation would also explain why the image of a vampire can not be captured by the camera.

All very fascinating but do you know what the most bizarre piece of information I found was?

No of course you don't ...... and least not yet.

The most strange bit of info was to be found on a website entitled ZEROTIME PARANORMAL in which I came across the theory that vampires are said to have the personality disorder known as OBSESSIVE COMPULSIVE DISORDER (OCD).

Yes, that's right, according to Zerotime ........

'Common symptoms of vampire OCD include bizarre checking and counting rituals. For example, a traditional method of escaping from a vampire was to throw down a handful of seeds. The vampire is powerless against its obsession to stop, pick up and count every single seed that was thrown down before doing anything else. An ancient method of stopping a vampire involved filling up its coffin with seeds. The vampire would never be able to escape from it's own impulses of check and counting the seeds'
(Click HERE to read more on this theory).

Perhaps two of the most popular vampires ever, the first Nosferatu as played by Max Schrek in the 1922 movie, the second, Edward Cullen played by Robert Pattinson in Twilight, 2011.



Thanks once again for the challenge Nina, I have to say its one I really enjoyed.

7 Sep 2011

THE PEBBLES GO TO TOWN.

The 65th book read in the 100+ Reading Challenge.
THE PEBBLES GO TO TOWN by Michael Cooper.

I'm soooooo excited.

Some time ago I seem to remember mentioning the first book I ever bought ....... The Pebbles Go To Town by Michael Cooper.

Aah, happy days ..... purchased through a school reading scheme, every week we'd pay into a savings club (10p I seem to remember) and then once every 3, perhaps 4, months a van would pull up into the school yard and we'd get to pick a book(s).

Anyhow, for years now I've had a longing to find this book but all of our searches proved fruitless until .........

last week when a small parcel arrived. YESSSSSSS Husband dearest had managed to track down a copy, what a star he is.

No longer available in print, this was a good second-hand copy, and was just as I remembered it - a cover with what looked like two jacket potatoes wedged between a car and a lorry, all about two scared pebbles, Peter and Penny, who on a dark and stormy night .......

"Their bucket houses were washed away and they lost all their things.
The Pebbles climbed up the beach and hid under some pieces of wood."

Such happy memories, this was a joy to read, a real trip down memory lane, thank you Hd.

6 Sep 2011

A POST ABOUT ........ SUPERMAN/SPIDERMAN/WONDER WOMAN?

Being somewhat a girly type of girl and having no brothers I was never really exposed to the whole superhero comic book scene and, to be honest, apart from The Incredible Hulk, oh and maybes Batman and Robin (I loved Cat Woman), I can't even remember being particularly interested in any of the film versions.
Now an adult and still not interested (no, not even in the Hulk and I hated the 'new' Batman films, what amazes me is just how popular this genre of films still are...... not that these three unsung heroes are likely to make the big screen any time soon for great super powers do not always big box-office sales make.

BIBLEMAN.
Also known as:  Miles Peterson.
Power(s): Superhuman, a powerful full suit of armour ( The Full Armour Of God), a light sabre.
Costume: Purple armour consisting of the 'Waistbelt of Truth', the 'Breastplate of Righteousness', the 'Shield of Faith', the 'Shoes of Peace', the 'Helmet of Salvation', the 'Sword of the Spirit'.
Sidekick(s): Cypher, Bible Girl.
Enemies: Gossip Queen, Shadow of Doubt, Primordius Drool, Wacky Protestor.
READ MORE.

DAZZLER.
Also known as: Alison 'Ali' Blaire; The Disco Queen.
Power(s): A human disco, highly skilled athlete, accomplished roller skater able to turn noise into a light show, can generate illumination, able to create holograms.
Costume: A silver catsuit.
Sidekick(s): Excalibur, Gladiators, X-Men.
Enemies: Various.





ARM FALL OFF BOY.
Also known as: Floyd Belkin/Splitter.
Power(s): Able to detach his limbs and batter people.
Costume: Vest, belt, leggings, gloves.
Sidekick(s): Not known.
Enemies: Not known.

So, what would your super hero name be, what special power would you have and what about your costume? Don't be shy, do tell.

5 Sep 2011

FROM HAPPY FEET TO T REX.

You remember me telling you about Happy Feet, the young Emperor Penguin found washed up on a New Zealand beach? Good news ......

HAPPY FEET RETURNS HOME. Hundreds of people have visited Wellington Zoo to bid farewell to an emperor penguin who was due to set sail for his home in Antarctica last Monday (the 29th). - BBC News (28/08/2011)

And another animal story that brings 'MOO'sic to my ears.

YVONNE THE COW RETURNS HOME. A cow called Yvonne, who escaped from a Bavarian farm after apparently sensing she was about to be slaughtered, has been tracked down after three months on the run.
Having been fattened up for slaughter, the six-year-old brown dairy cow escaped from her field in the village of Zangberg, 50 miles north-east of Munich, on 24 May. She managed to breach the electric fence surrounding her farm before seeking sanctuary in nearby forests.
Yvonne can now look forward to spending the rest of her days in a paddock at The Gut Aiderbichl animal sanctuary with grass to graze on. - David Batty, The Guardian (01.09/2011)

Whoops!!!!!!!!!!!! x 2.

SECURITY FIRM TAGS FALSE LEG. Private security firm G4S has sacked two members of staff who tagged a man's false leg allowing him to remove it and break a court-imposed curfew.
The pair were fooled by Christopher Lowcock, 29, who wrapped the prosthetic limb in a bandage when G4S set up the system at his Rochdale home.
He was then able to remove the limb and break a curfew imposed for offences involving drugs, driving and a weapon. - BBC News(29/08/2011)

An elderly couple returned home to find a gardener in their back garden cutting down trees ..... by mistake.
Margaret and Alan Atkinson said their back garden had been ruined after 4 15ft (4.5m) high conifers were felled by a workman who went to the wrong address. - The Telegraph (03/09/2011)

Familiar with 'WHERE'S WALLY?' the series of books in which readers are encouraged to find a character named Wally in group? I can only presume John Mosley must he a hugggggggeeee fan to have had this done.


MAN HAS WHERE'S WALLY TATTOO DONE. Norwich resident John Mosley had the elusive wearer of bespoke stripy shirts applied to his skin last week, in a mammoth backscratching operation that lasted more than 24 hours. Wally appears hidden among 150 other characters – including Darth Vader, a beached shark, and a humanoid horse – but his precise location remains a mystery for Mosley. "I still have not seen the finished result so I don't know where Wally is on my back," he says. Can you find him? - Patrick Kingsley, The Guardian (29/08/2011)

Personally I'd prefer to be wrestling in chocolate.

5TH ANNUAL GRAVY WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIP. It's usually poured over meat and two veg - but it was all gravy for these wrestlers as they grappled for the top prize.
Slippery competitors went head to head at the World Gravy Wrestling Championships in an array of costumes. - Laura Caroe, The Sun (30/08/2011)


An unusual form of getaway transport, don't you think?

CROOKS ESCAPE IN A CANOE. Norwich police are hunting two suspected burglars who used a getaway canoe to escape from a property after being disturbed by the homeowner.
People living in homes backing on to the River Wensum have spoken of their surprise after hearing how the suspects fled in the boat. - Peter Walsh, EDP24 (31/08/2011) 

Hmm, I wonder who was really upset, the father or his son? I'm guessing it was the father.

The Early Learning Centre (a chain of shops selling toys, many of them educational, for young children)has admitted that its dinosaur toys are not 'anatomically correct' after a father complained that his son's Tyrannosaurus rex had the wrong markings.
"When we spotted the difference in books my son" (aged 3)"was upset about it. He likes to be able to tell the different dinosaurs apart and he started saying ' t he T rex isn't right.'" - The Telegraph (03/09/2011)

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.

3 Sep 2011

MORE AND MORE OFTEN I FIND MYSELF ASKING ........

......... If it ain't broken, why fix it?

I don't know if I was more saddened or annoyed to discover on Lilly's site, The Lilly Pad, that yet another classic book had been retold (click HERE to read said post).

To which book do I refer? I'll give you a clue ........

... by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.

Yes, its THE VELVETEEN RABBIT by Margery Williams.

A truly magical tale  of a stuffed toy rabbit that comes to life thanks to the power of love, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes.

Ok, so I haven't read this retelling of the story by Maggie Downer (published 2005)and to be honest, though I feel I should, I'm not sure I can bring myself to do so as I'm pretty certain it can't be as magical, as beautiful, as the original ...... can it?

And, though not quite as disturbing but almost ....... Dirty Dancing, one of my all-time favourite films is to be remade - is nothing sacred any more?

So come on, which of your favourite books/films has been redone? Which would you love/hate to see remade?