Friday, 30 December 2011

Tomorrow we end this year

2011 has been a bit hit and miss for me. I lost a job, spent a few months broke and struggling with money worries, got another job, finished my Masters degree (a letter confirming I had achieved it came the other day), celebrated a year with The Boy, failed to leave the country yet again, realised a few things about my life and the people in it, read a lot of books (some good, some not so), ate too much, didn't lose the weight I wanted to, saw a bunch of films, spent a lot of money, and made a wishlist for next year.

2012 Wishlist

1. A holiday, somewhere nice and interesting in another country.
2. A new job that I genuinely enjoy rather than just about tolerate.
3. Making enough money to afford to move out. Living at home at 25 is getting old.
4. Another happy year with The Boy.
5. Some adventures, whether big or small.
6. Working out what it is I really want to do with my life.
7. That my health is ok, both physical and mental.
8. That my grandparents are still with us this time next year, we are not ready to lose them.
9. That I finally put my degrees and all that hard work to use.
10. That my friends and family stay well and are happy.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Why I'm not a Christmas person

Last week I realised I am meant to be a house cat, I don't like to be cold or wet, I like sleeping, can sleep almost anywhere and enjoy being spoiled. What I am not meant to be is someone who gets up before the sun, treks across the city in the cold, spends all day stuck behind a desk and then traipses back across town in the cold, wet dark home.
Added to that is the stress-fest that is Christmas. Since I was about 17 I have been responsible for buying the family Christmas presents (including my own), I also have to wrap them and keep them til the 24th when they go downstairs to wait for morning. There are no children in this house, 4 adults live here. Christmas is not a magical, wonderful time. We eat food, watch tv and argue. This year it's become fiendishly complex.
I finish work on Thursday for 11 days. On the 23rd I'm going with my mother and sister to see my grandparents and have lunch with them. Then I have to jump on a train into town (they live out in the countryside) for my work Christmas meal. Christmas Eve does not equal a rest, not yet, my mum and I have to go and do some food shopping, then finish sorting out presents and wrapping paper, finally I have to whizz round to the pub to meet my friends for a few drinks before Midnight Mass. Which finishes at about 1.30am.
Christmas Day will be spent with my parents, sister and The Boy. Boxing Day may pass in the same way, plus my cousin. My mum's got out of cooking on the 25th again this year, and we will be dining in a restaurant nearby, the 26th will be a buffet lunch of cold meats, cheeses, salad and other bits and bobs.
Then we have to hare off to The Boy's grandparents to celebrate with them and his dad, then a bit further afield to his mum and stepdad's for Christmas Dinner part 4(5?? Who knows!) Before returning to London in time for my aunt and uncle to visit us on the 29th (still with me?). Finally I'll be having dinner and catching a movie with my lovely friend Ben on the 30th, before squeezing in lunch with The Boy and my grandparents on New Year's Eve and collapsing in a heap.
I haven't even made plans for NYE, I'm just too exhausted by the planning.
I reckon I'll need a holiday to recover from my supposed holiday.
Well, there's still presents to be wrapped and bits and pieces to be organised. See you all on the other side!!

This is what I want when I look back on my life.

"everyone much older than me keeps telling me that time seems to start flying at an unimaginable speed when you get older.
my friends and their friends are getting sick and dying. it only serves to draw me closer to each moment, to enjoying each coffee, to sipping my wine with more fervor….
i feel like i don’t want to waste a single second of this precious time on earth on the wrong things, the wrong energy, the wrong people.
it’s like i’m gaining an allergy to negativity and anger in other people that’s actually serving me beautifully. i don’t fight back. i say less. i listen more.
i try to see the pain behind people. it makes it possible to love everybody all the more when you know that everybody is striving to be happy, striving to be peaceful, and trying to bulldoze everything in the way in order to get there.

there are no wrong choices….but i feel a stronger and stronger pulls towards the light, and away from the darkness." -Amanda Palmer

Friday, 2 December 2011

Getting the nightmarish stuff out of the way early.

I hate Christmas shopping, I loathe and despise it. Unfortunately I love giving gifts, I find that making people smile by getting them something they'll love makes me happy. Which causes a problem. Currently there is a huge pile of stuff in the middle of my room, none of it is really for me. Mostly it's for other people. Now I have to wrap all the stuff up. Which is where my loathing of wrapping paper comes in. Last year I went for gift bags and glittery stuff to layer over things. I may combine wrapping the occasional thing with gift bags this year to make it slightly less stressful. Just buying everything now, and not the week before Christmas does ease some of the tension I usually feel around this time of year. But if I'm honest, I'm just not a Christmassy person. The whole season seems intended to cause so much stress and irritation.
I think I'll be avoiding shopping centres and overly festive people for a bit.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Remind me, no more education

This weekend has been possibly the most stressful ever. Today I wrestled with a printer that didn't want to print, a photocopier having a mini breakdown, all in order to finally print out my dissertation and take it to be bound. On Thursday I'll finally be handing it in. It has been a long hard trudge to get here. I have literally sweated to type the damn thing. Now I'm, at long last, done.
Obviously I'll spend the next four days obsessing over how much better I could have made it, and what else I could have said. Knowing there's nothing more I can do.
So now I'm going to go out for dinner with The Boy and a friend and try not to think about it anymore. Wish me luck!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Apparently Christmas is coming...

I have bought exactly 2 presents. Other people seem to have bought, wrapped, addressed, posted and generally organised themselves into an early grave. Christmas is for children, as an adult I'm pretty disinterested in the whole charade.
I enjoy elements of it, Midnight Mass, spending time with my friends and family, watching people's faces light up as they open the perfect present, sausages wrapped in bacon, stuffing, being able to have a lie in as I'm off for over a week.
There are some things I can definitely do without. The crowds, so I'm doing as much of my shopping online as I can, having to schlep around endless family gatherings, no getting around that, the excessive food, not really a good time to be trying to lose weight, and how cold it's going to be. I really should buy a coat sooner rather than later, although I do have my snowboots ready!
I've also set myself the task of getting the dreaded dissertation finished by Saturday, then I can take it to be bound and hand it in next week when I have a day off and can get down to the campus.
Hopefully once that particular stress is over and done with, I can move swiftly onto stressing about Christmas and all it's myriad stresses.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

It's been a while...


Me again, sometimes I disappear for a bit, you've done nothing wrong dear little blog of mine. It's just I've been busy, and then I got sick again.
I never used to get sick, clearly the long commute on a packed train and the office full of people with germs I'm not used to is not working out. My immune system needs to man up and adjust. I cannot be sick all the time, it does not look good.
Anyway, this weekend I'm going to my friend's wedding, which should be really lovely. Hopefully it won't be too cold or rain. I need to make sure my camera battery is charged so I can get some pictures.
Hope things are well with you little blog.
Til next time. xxx

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Mastiff - Tamora Pierce

Finally, finally a new Tamora Pierce book arrived in my excited hands. It's been a couple of years since the last one, but it feels a lot longer. Pierce's books have helped me through dark times by reminding me to be my own hero and not to need a knight in shining armour to save me from myself and my darkness. Her heroines are smart, funny, strong and surrounded by awesome people (and sarcastic cats).
Mastiff picks up Beka Cooper's story from Bloodhound, a few years down the line. Beka is now a full member of the Provost's Guard and a trained tracker, with her scent hound Achoo.
She and her partner are sent on a Hunt to find the kidnapped Prince Gareth and bring his abductors to justice. Completing the Hunt team are Lady Sabine, a female knight, and Farmer Cape, a mage. Beka is accompanied by her black cat, Pounce, who provides some of the humour, mostly in his exasperation with humans.
Like a lot of Pierce's books there is a deeper concern running throughout, in this case, slavery, through the character of Gareth and his experiences.
Beka's story takes place about 200 years before the events of the Alanna quartet, Pierce's first series, and Beka is an ancestor of George Cooper, Rogue (chief thief), who befriends Alanna in the first book.
The Beka Cooper trilogy is a welcome look at Tortall's history and explains some of the background to her other books.
Even if you've never read one of Pierce's books, I recommend you pick one up and Beka's story is as a good a place to start as any.
The Beka Cooper books; Terrier, Bloodhound, Mastiff.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

I'm sick

This week I have mostly been sleeping in between lying down and standing up while the room moves about around me. I have an ear infection, which is affecting my hearing and my balance. I've become really sensitive to noise and keep feeling wobbly.
I've been off work and bored silly. I could have used the time better, but I've been feeling so wrung out by this that I've been napping a lot, not sleeping at night.
Today I went into work, I lasted til lunchtime. The office got noisier and having struggled into the office on the underground, I was feeling wobbly and had stabbing pains in my ear. So home I came. And to bed I went.
So far the most I've accomplished is reading all of Terry Pratchett's latest novel 'Snuff'. It's very good, if less funny than some of his previous work.
Hopefully the delightful antibiotics the doctor prescribed will eventually work and make everything better and I can go back to work on Monday feeling normal and get my work done.
Here's to a weekend of healing.

Friday, 21 October 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake - Aimee Bender

At the age of 9, Rose discovers a strange power, she can taste the emotions of her mother in the cake she has baked for Rose’s birthday. It isn’t just her mother’s feelings she experiences, everything she eats comes loaded with the moods of everyone who has participated in putting it together. Rose learns to survive and starts to notice the cracks in her family. Then her brother starts disappearing.
What starts off slowly grows into a much more interesting and slightly weird narrative. If you enjoyed ‘Like Water For Chocolate’or ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ you might well want to read this.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Teetering on the edge of being a grown up...

I am 25. Which sounds awfully depressing, I'm also working full time, finishing a Masters degree and in an increasing serious relationship. I think that means I'm almost a grown up. Whatever that is.
The Boy and I have been talking for a while about what we want from our relationship, this is not a casual thing, we both see a future of some sort. Yes, we've had problems, arguments, we're working out what the boundaries are for each of us. The compromises we have to make in order to meet each other on solid and equal ground.
Recently we've been talking about moving in together. I've outgrown my bedroom in my parents' house and he's tired of living alone. First thing we have to do is start saving money so we can afford to pay a deposit and first month's rent. Secondly we need to find somewhere to live. I'm the more difficult one in this respect, I don't want to move too far away from my friends and family. He's already moved several hours from his parents, but I'm close to my mum and most of my friends still live in the area.
I think we'll spend the next few months looking around and saving, which isn't the easiest thing to do with Christmas on the horizon. But I think we can do this. If it's what we really want, we'll just have to work for it.
Growing up is boring, but exciting in its prospects.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Poems and Poets

Tomorrow is National Poetry Day, which celebrates the talents and history of this slightly neglected and misunderstood genre.
Apparently sales of poetry books have remained rather good, despite the economic downturn and the fact that book sales have fallen. I'm surprised mostly because bookshops seem to think that poetry books need to be hidden in a remote corner of the shop, on maybe 2 shelves, slightly neglected.
I own a lot of poetry books, mostly by favourite poets like Wendy Cope and Carol Ann Duffy, but also classic works, The Waste Land by T.S Eliot being one of them. I like the power and humour poetry can convey, the way in a few words so much can be said.
Poetry is full of rules, and people breaking them, not all poems have to rhyme, they just need to have a rhythm all their own, and that elusive ability to say just what you were thinking.
What poems/poets do you like?

Monday, 3 October 2011

Where have all the girls gone?

Studio Ghibli's latest film 'Arietty' is a new take on Mary Norton's 'The Borrowers', Arrietty is the daughter and the new film tells the story from her point of view (as of yet I haven't seen it, waiting for the DVD). The trailer for Pixar's next film 'Brave' is also out. The film's female protagonist is a Celtic princess, but not the usual Disney kind - needing to be rescued.
I like films with a feisty females taking the lead. I love 40s comedies like Bringing Up Baby and His Girl Friday, where the women have roles as big as the men and are funny, clever and capable.
I never really loved the princesses, maybe Beauty & The Beast's Belle when I was 8, telling Gaston to get lost, but I was more interested in Roald Dahl's Matilda or Boudicca, the Iceni warrior queen. I read Tamora Pierce's Tortall books, all featuring some seriously cool and powerful girls growing into Lady Knights, King's Champions and heroes. Yet sadly none have yet been adapted for the screen.
There is a time and a place for cheesy rom coms; curled up on the sofa or chilling with your friends, not taking it remotely seriously.
But it would be nice to have more films made with strong, independent women in the lead. Not needing a man to rescue them and where the plot doesn't revolve around finding and getting a man.
I haven't seen Bridesmaids, I'm intrigued by the concept, but since I'm not a huge fan of spending a small fortune to sit in a dark room full of people coughing and fidgeting all the way through the film, I'll have to wait. Although from what I've read, it has a love story subplot because we simply can't do without one!
I liked Whip It!, Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, a lot. It was funny, had a mostly female cast, was smartly written and the love interest could largely be ignored. We need more films like this. Especially animated ones, little girls need to know there's more out there than princesses.
Growing up I watched all the Disney films, my favourites were probably The Aristocats and Robin Hood. In terms of princesses, I had a phase, I recovered.
I wish I'd known about Studio Ghibli's feisty girls then. It's been said that Hayao Miyazaki is a bit of a feminist, and certainly in most of his films, it's the girls saving the day. His Princess Mononoke is first seen raging against the factory killing her forest and then sucking infected blood from a giant wolf's wound. Nausicaa (of the Valley of the Wind) is another heroine who's determined to save her people her way, fighting off giant destructive insects and invading armies.
Even the lighter films have spunky heroines, Porco Rosso may have a flying ace as it's protagonist, but his red-headed engineer is not a girl to be messed with, and even helps defeat a load of sky pirates.
The studio's most famous film, Oscar winning Spirited Away, has a girl at it's centre too. One trying to find her way home.
All of these girls know what they want and are willing to work to get it. So let's celebrate the heroic young women and hope the princesses have had their day.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

On Not Having A Plan

Once upon a life I had a plan. I was going to get my A Levels and go to uni to do English Lit, which I did. Then I graduated and had no plan. Since then I've had several jobs, gone back to uni for a Masters, met someone I sometimes think I could spend my life with (or at least a considerable chunk).
Reading a lot of blogs, including The Bloggess; who inspired this post, it seems I'm not alone. Last week I turned 25 and said on Twitter that I thought I should have had a plan by now. My cousin, who's a couple of years older, pointed out that she doesn't have a plan either.
I talked to some of my friends, and a few of the people at the office, it seems most people, regardless of age, don't have a plan.
Don't get me wrong, we all have ideas about what we'd like to do, places we'd like to visit, things we'd like to accomplish. But there's no plan. No step by step guide to how to live their life.
I starting to realise that this is normal, having no plan is just fine. Maybe that is the plan.

Totally love this video and song. The Bloggess used it, so I'm doing the same. We share a love of the extraordinary Amanda Palmer, we should be friends!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Happy Birthday to me!!

Tuesday was my 25th birthday. I celebrated it with food and friends, always a good combination. Last Saturday The Boy and I went to Giraffe on London's South Bank with some friends to eat scrummy food and drink delicious cocktails while admiring the view of London lit up at night.
Tuesday after work was spent doing a spot more celebrating. After blowing out the candles on my cake (which I still haven't had any of) The Boy and I went out with some more friends for dinner and drinks. Some of my friends I hadn't seen in ages, one had been travelling around Europe all summer and the other had been doing Camp America, so it was extra nice to see them.
As I've got older presents have decreased, but I did alright on the book token front, and got 8 brand new books with them. I'm quite excited to actually get around to reading them. The Boy bought me some pet Angry Birds (yes, based on the game) as a sort of private joke, a spot of chocolate, and The Dresden Dolls self-titled album, which was the only one I didn't already have.
I also got a lovely writing set, which sorted out the thank you cards, and my awesome American friend Lauren got me a mini baking set in a really cute case. a little rolling pin, apron, cookbook, cupcake cases and whisk. Perfect for baking dinky little cakes.
All in all it's been a good birthday, much better than some of the previous ones where things didn't go as planned.
Still to come is lunch with the bestie (who was working), a present from Aleks, dinner with my cousin (also a September birthday) and the spending of the birthday money on treats!!
This year hasn't been my happiest, I have struggled with things at times, but slowly it's all starting to come together, The Boy and I are celebrating a year together this month, my new job is proving to be interesting and enjoyable, I'm finally getting on top of things financially and with my degree (I think) and slowly I'm starting to enjoy my life more, and this incredible city I've been lucky enough to live in.
So here's to this next chapter in my life, to growing older (but not growing up!) and to the things yet to come.

Monday, 12 September 2011


Yesterday marked the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon in America. I was on my way home from school (due to the time difference it was afternoon here) when I heard about it on the radio. When we got in, I switched on the tv and sat there, tears pouring down my face as I watched the footage on the news. My tears were for the lives lost, and the people who would have to live without their loved ones.
Even now, reading the stories of those who lost friends and family members I tear up. It's a pain I hope never to have to face. Losing a loved one in such a violent and pointless way.
Did it change anything? It did, but not necessarily for the better. The events of 10 years ago has led to more death, as servicemen and women, civilians and children have paid the price for this attack on America on it's own soil.
All this loss and sadness breaks my heart. I hope that those who have lost friends and family members in the decade since are able to move on with their lives and find some happiness, even though they may never fully recover from this tragic early century.

The Dresden Dolls song 'Truce' sums up some of the feelings that are associated with this, as well as being a rather beautiful song.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Back to School (or not!)

So it's been a week at my new job (Well a week tomorrow) and so far I'm doing ok. I think. There's a lot to get to grips with but luckily there's someone else doing the same job as me, and she's been there a while and is training me up so hopefully sooner or later I'll know what's what.
There are some other new people who've just started, although they have different roles, but it means I don't have too much of that 'new' feeling.
Everyone has been very friendly and welcoming. I'm starting to remember people's names, but it might take a while as there are a lot of people in the office. Plus there are two other offices full of people whose names I need to know, as we share communal space and do the post for them.
I haven't had a lot to do yet, and I'm off for 3 days of training next week but I'm sure the longer I'm there and the more I learn, the more work I'll be given to do.
All I need to do now is complete my dissertation and then that stress will be over and I can relax and use my free time as I see fit, work finishes early enough to go out after and do fun things, and it's in London, so I travel through the city centre after work and can just hop off the tube somewhere and go shopping or meet friends.
I think it's time to take advantage of being in my twenties, having a job (finally!), and living in this incredible city.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Sometimes you have to get a little out of yourself to find yourself

Last night I went to an absolutely awesome gig in a gay club in town. I'd never been to Heaven before, and it's an odd place, underground in a sort of cavern. The gig was an anarchic mix of musical styles, with multiple special guests. Amanda Palmer (who I think is utterly amazing) was introducing her new band, The Grand Theft Orchestra, and some of her music. Her support bands were The Jane Austen Argument from Melbourne, Australia who are brilliant, and Bitter Ruin from Brighton on the coast, who are also rather brilliant. At different times they joined AFP on stage for a couple of songs, including a Regina Spektor cover and a wonderful rendition of The Dresden Dolls (AFP's last band) Delilah, which they really need to record and release as a single.
Her husband, the incredible Neil Gaiman (one of my favourite writers) also performed his song The Trouble With Saints, which is hilarious. Her other special guests were violinist Una Pallister (excellent, so talented), Tom Robinson (who I hadn't heard of, but who writes comedy political songs, and is hugely interesting) who performed a new song he'd written for the occasion, and the absolutely hilarious Tim Minchin!! He's one of my favourite comedians, and performed his song You Grew On Me, after informing the crowd he wasn't going to perform a comedy song, but a ballad (it's a bit of both really). I don't think he knew Amanda was going to get him onstage as he wasn't really dressed the way he usually is when he's on stage.
Everyone, including the backstage crew joined her for the finale and encore. She had borrowed Eric Clapton's brass section and with her new backing band was raising the roof (probably a worry for the businesses over our heads!) We had a dancing lesson from Super Kate (who did an amazing belly dance in between bands), and soon the whole room was bouncing around and singing along.
Anything goes at an Amanda Palmer gig, and this was no exception. At one point I think about 20 people were on stage, and there were two brass sections. It was raucous, funny, entertaining, genius.
It was also what I needed.
After a difficult and frustrating summer I needed a chance to blow off steam, dance like a loon, laugh, and get a little out of myself (no drugs or drink needed, just music and the energy).
I start my new job on Monday and spent today hanging out with the boy, eating lunch in a cafe, walking in the sunshine and curling up together to watch Doctor Who.
There's light at the end of this particular dark and depressing tunnel finally.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Dark Tower sequence - Stephen King

I'm a huge lit geek, and one of the things I enjoy is when writers play little games to amuse themselves and their readers. I've recently been reading the Dark Tower Sequence by Stephen King, in which he does this a lot.
Now I'm not really a Stephen King fan, I've only read a few of his books before, including the short story which became The Shawshank Redemption. The Boy bought me a copy of The Stand a little while ago, and I really enjoyed it. He suggested I borrow The Dark Tower books from him and read them, and so I did.
I found the first book, The Gunslinger, a little dull and heavy going, despite it being a slim volume, but once other characters began to enter the plot in the second volume, then I began to enjoy it a lot more. The characters are fun and realistic, the plot sprawling and multi-layered. Occasionally it's a little confusing, and can get a bit frustrating; especially once the author entered the plot as a character.
There are loads of clever meta-textual references, to other Stephen King novels, to the Wizard of Oz, and dozens of other books. It's inspired partly by the works of Tolkien and also Robert Browning's 'Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came'.
If you like epic quests, brave heroes, and cute little animals who talk, I recommend you give them a go. There's also a series of graphic novels based on the novels, which I will be reading next.

The Dark Tower Sequence
  • The Gunslinger
  • The Drawing of the Three
  • The Waste Lands
  • Wizard and Glass
  • Wolves of the Calla
  • Song of Susannah
  • The Dark Tower

And so ends the summer...

For the third year running I've had a stressful summer, but this one seems to be ending on an up. I start a new job soon, which means I can finally sort out my finances and perhaps start saving for some things, like a holiday.
I've managed to get an extension for my dissertation. So I'm less stressed, I have to speak to my lecturer on Wednesday and sort out a schedule for getting it completed. It's one less thing to be worrying about.
My 25th birthday is fast approaching, and I'll probably have plenty to say on that subject soon. I'm going out with my friends and The Boy.
I don't need another summer like this, and hopefully it won't ever be like this again. Time to move forward and never, ever feel this hopeless again, depression or not, I don't want to be this girl anymore.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Well of Inspiration Has Run Dry...Again

Haven't had much luck with my supervisor so I'm plowing on with potentially the worse dissertation ever. I have no idea what I'm doing and can't imagine I'll make the word count by my deadline. I wish I could quote Douglas Adams "I love deadlines, I love the whooshing sound they make as they go by" and laugh, but if I miss this deadline then I don't think I'll be getting my Masters and will have wasted a lot of time and money for nothing. Problem is I honestly don't know whether I'll make it. I haven't wasted the summer, it's been very stressful and I've honestly tried to write before this. I just couldn't find the energy or motivation. I've done some reading, made notes, and now have to somehow produce one complete, half decent dissertation in, oh about a week.
I have this sinking feeling it's not going to happen. I don't know if I can ask for an extension. I'm trying to do as much as I can, but it's such a struggle. Well, here goes nothing.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Good news at last!!

So after the stress and strain of the summer, finally some light. I went for an interview last week in a different department of the organisation I used to work for. Spent a week with my fingers crossed, and I got the job!! I start the first week of September and I'm thrilled. It won't be the most exciting work in the world, but until MI6 get back to me, it'll do (that's a joke by the way, I'd make a terrible spy).
It's quite a relaxed office so I won't need to buy to a suit, just smart enough to look professional, I've even seen people wearing nice jeans. Having spent the last couple of weeks working in a shoe shop just to make ends meet I'm eager to be back in a job where my feet aren't aching by the end of the day. Although I like the people I'm working with, but I'll pop in every now and then and say hello.
This means I can't sort out my finances and start saving to move out, or maybe for a holiday.
Finally life is starting to be normal again, clearly summer is not a good time for me, last summer wasn't great and neither was the year before, but I'm getting back on track. So yay!!

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Getting Old

In less than a month I turn 25, which isn't usually considered old, but when most of your friends are a year or more younger than you, it certainly feels it. Because of the way school years are organised, September babies are the oldest in the year. One of my best friend's is 7 months younger than me, the other 3 years younger. Even my boyfriend is a year younger (although I didn't know that when I met him).
When I was younger I thought that by 25 I'd have it all figured out, a great job, a home of my own, a wonderful partner, no money troubles, life would be good. By my age my mum had been married for 2 years, my nan had been married, become a mother and she never lets me forget it.
I don't have a great job (yet), I'm sleeping in my childhood room, I do have a wonderful boyfriend, money is still tight and things could be a lot better. But I have achieved things.
In my family at large, I'm one of the first to go to university (behind a couple of my cousins), I've travelled to countries my parents never have (and they're well travelled), I've worked several different jobs, some while studying, met a lot of awesome people, seen some wonderful things, had adventures both big and small, learned a lot about myself and still have more to do, see and be.
I know this, but still a tiny part of me is sad, that having reached a quarter of a century, I still don't have it all planned out, the way I did when I was a kid.
I guess life isn't as easy as you want it to be, and I'm not a famous writer, or someone to admire. I'm just me, trying to make it in a world which has become a lot tougher to achieve in.
So Happy Birthday all you 25-year-olds out there. Maybe this is our time now.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Oh My City!!

Three days of rioting, parts of London burning. No political message, just pointless looting and burning. Police stretched to breaking point trying to contain the chaos. The Prime Minister returned in the early hours of this morning, too little too late perhaps.
My heart aches for my city. My wonderful, nutty, fucked up city. Ripped to pieces by it's own residents. London has been torn apart before, but not by Londoners, what happened to the Blitz spirit that got us through the Second World War? Why can't we pull together, instead of tearing apart at the seams? Oh London, my home.

Monday, 8 August 2011

A Weekend Away and why (at this rate) I'm never finishing my dissertation

This weekend just passed was spent mostly at an ice rink, where The Boy was playing sledge hockey in a tournament. It was a nice weekend, we went up on Friday, stayed in a hotel, had dinner with one of his teammate's, spent time with his mum and step-dad who'd also driven up for the match, and drove back late Saturday night. Meaning Sunday was mostly spent recovering and snoozing. What we'll do if it's ever on a Sunday and we have to get up the next day is beyond me.
A brief explanation of sledge hockey, basically it's ice hockey for disabled players, originally invented for wheelchair users, at league level, both disabled and able-bodied players strap themselves into buckets on tea trays (pretty much what they are) and whizz around, using two spike ended hockey sticks to propel themselves about (the BSHA website probably explains this better). The rules are pretty much the same as in ice hockey. I'm just getting to grips with it myself. I help out on the bench at these tournaments, passing players water bottles and jelly babies (to keep their sugar levels up) and cheer them on.
This was a home match for The Boy, despite the fact we live quite a distance from the rink. It made it more fun, and they'd gone to great lengths to fundraise, with a cake stall, programs, a raffle and tickets for the crowd, people showed up just to watch and all the teams competing seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Sunday was a quiet day for us, we'd originally planned to attend a music festival, but in the end it was better that we weren't really able to as we were both quite knackered, and napped like old people in the afternoon. (Baby, if you're reading this. Stop. Now.)
Anyway, onto the second part of this post. Why I don't think I'll be completing my dissertation.
It boils down to this. I haven't got enough words written, no motivation whatsoever and I just don't see me suddenly cracking out the best part of 15000 words before the end of the month.
I need to email my tutor and confess, hopefully I can submit it at some later point, and won't have to start again with a new idea. Because, quite frankly, I'm out of them.
This summer has not been great overall. I've had no job, money worries, struggled to find something to help pay my bills, had trouble sleeping, my dad's been in hospital, I've been paranoid about losing The Boy, I feel disconnected from my friends, and that horrid creeping monster that is depression has been hanging around me again.
I've got a job interview on Thursday for a different department in the organisation I was working for most recently. Hopefully it'll go well and that'll be one less stress to deal with. I'm starting to get on top of my financial woes (I think) and a new (decently paid) job would definitely help with that.
The sleeping tablets I've been taking aren't really helping, but if things start to be less stressful, maybe I'll finally get some real sleep.
My dad's recovery from heart surgery is slow going, he needs to have a further procedure at some point, but right now he's trying to get the doctors to agree to let him go back to work, as sitting around doing nothing is driving him mad. My best friend's dad is also in hospital following an operation. What is it with these dads? We need them to stick around just a few more years at least. Fingers crossed they'll be better soon.
My worries about my relationship are probably nothing, we argue a fair amount and often seem to misunderstand each other and end up sulking and frustrated. It's a year next month that we've been together, and I don't want that to be it. We need to work on our communication, and are looking at going away, just the two of us, no family visits or hockey matches, just a little time for the two of us to be together. I hope that'll help. He's wonderful and I don't want to lose him.
As for the creeping depression, I know it's going to be tough to shake, sometimes I've managed to bury it in the past, but it doesn't ever really go away. A friend I hadn't spoken to in a while sent me a message on facebook the other day, saying how impressed she was that I write about this, as she doesn't feel that she could write about her feelings and her depression. I suppose I do it as a form of therapy, if it's written down (here or somewhere else) maybe I'm not carrying it around as much.
I don't really know. With this there is no real answers. Just guess work and a lot of hoping that tomorrow I'll be ok.
On that slightly bleak note, enjoy your week. Some comments would be nice, as it does feel like I'm writing into the ether sometimes. Or not. Who knows.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011


One of my weekly little rituals/treats is checking the amazing PostSecret blog. The postcards there range from heart-breaking to hilarious. Sometimes I find myself going, "That's me! That's what I think!" Frank Warren's art project turned confessional is really rather wonderful and highly worth looking at. If you haven't already, go and see for yourself.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Asking for Help

I'm the first to admit that I don't like asking for help. With anything. I hang onto my independence even when it's slowly killing me. Like right now. I'm struggling. With everything, or at least that's how it feels. So I've started to ask for help. I sent an email to Sane (the mental health charity) to ask for help with my depression, this lack of sleep, crying all the time is horrible. I need to know I can cope.
I'm going to speak to my supervisor about my dissertation. I'm really struggling and all the great ideas I had a while ago just seem stupid and impossible now. I know this is linked to the way I've been feeling in general. But I have to say something before it gets too late.
I also have to go to the bank and see if they can't help me with my overdraft etc. Hopefully the bank manager will be kind and understand. I applied for Jobseeker's Allowance, which will mean going back to the jobcentre that made me so unhappy last year when I had the same problem. However, this time I'm going to make sure I explain why I had such a bad experience, with the terrible attitudes of some of the staff and how completely unhelpful they were. If that doesn't help I'm going to find out how to register a complaint, I could have gone to them months ago, but my previous experience put me off.
Hopefully job-wise things will start to look up soon and I can move on with my life.
What I'm trying to say is, sometimes asking for help, sorting things out and saying "I don't know what to do" is good. At least I think it's a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Review: Beyond Black - Hilary Mantel

Confession, I've had a copy of Hilary Mantel's Booker winner, Wolf Hall lying around for ages, but this is the first book of hers I've read.

Beyond Black tells the story of Alison, medium and psychic. Making the rounds of psychic fairs and conventions with her various colleagues, Alison meets Colette, who decides to become Alison's manager, and make her peculiar talents go further. Alison is haunted by the ghosts of her past, the majority of whom are rather unpleasant and slowly her own forgotten past comes to affect her present.
I quite liked Alison, despite being a complete sceptic, and the brisk way she tried to deal with the dead who kept bothering her. Colette is brittle and not very nice, impossible to feel for, unlike Alison, who I felt quite sorry for when her childhood comes back to, well, haunt her.
It took a little while to get into the book, but once I was I whizzed along, to the conventions and shows, where the psychics gather to be quite rude about their punters after hours, the long car trips the two women take between venues, returning to their home, filled by evil ghosts and menacing nightmares.
This book is quite fun, and not too heavy going, with some quite comic bits. Well written and interesting. I recommend it.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Reading on the move

I may have mentioned before that I've had to devise a list of books that cannot be read in public as I either start laughing or crying, but I'm rarely without a book when travelling about.
I remember being about 10 and going to visit my godmother in Cardiff. She found it very odd that I sat in the car reading my book as we drove around, saying it made her carsick. For me travelling, on a bus, a train, in a car or a plane is the perfect time to get some reading done. Well, it's not like I'm doing anything else. Nowadays I plug my headphones in too, to shut out the noise around me, the people shouting into mobile phones, or just shouting, the kids who won't be quiet, the engine noise and the traffic buzz.
Then I can disconnect from all that and lose myself in a book. This is easier to do if I'm in a car or plane as someone will let me know when I've reached the end point of the journey, on the bus or train, unless I'm going to the end of the line, I need to remember to get off!
On routes I know by heart I can usually sink a little deeper into the words, but I still need to be slightly connected to the world, I find the free newspapers are useful for this, something to read, but not something that requires a lot of focus.
I have also been known to read walking down the street. Which, I know, isn't exactly safe. I tend to do it from the bus stop at the top of my road to my house. I know the path pretty well, having walked it often enough in the nineteen years I've lived here, although I do have to pause in order to cross the main road. Really, it depends what I'm reading, if it's something I'm not too involved in, I put my bookmark in place and pay attention, if I'm really sunk then I just have to hope I don't fall off the pavement!

In which I have not slept properly in ages.

Things are going from bad to worse. I still don't have a job, and therefore have no money. I have bills to pay and it would be nice to be able to go out and do something every once in a while without panicking that I have no money for the train or for anything really.
I keep applying for jobs and praying that someone will decide to hire me. Or at least interview me. So far, nothing.
This is having a knock-on effect on my dissertation, which still remains a few nonsensical sentences and nowhere near the 15000 words I need to have written by the end of next month. It's really not going to happen. I'm too busy stressing over how my life is falling apart.
My dad was in the hospital last week for an operation on his dodgy heart. He almost died. So my mum was very stressed about that, and I was worried for both of them. My dad might drive me a bit nuts at times but I want him around for a bit longer.
I feel like I haven't slept in months. I wake up regularly all night long. I sleep in five minute intervals between lying there panicking about my life. I've been having weird dreams, the other night I dreamt a bee crawled up my nose, it woke me up and I was scared to check whether it was real.
Last night it felt like something had crawled in my ear, I could hear a buzzing like an angry insect right up against my eardrum. It was horrible and I lay there for hours trying to work out if it was real or I'd imagined it. This lack of actual solid sleep is making me more stressed and emotional. I keep crying for no reason (or for very valid reasons) and I can't sleep during the day, too noisy and not dark enough.
I think I need to email my supervisor and explain that I really don't expect my dissertation to be completed on time and see what I have to do to not fail my Masters, I've worked too hard and come too far not to complete it somehow, I just think the deadline is going to be whooshing past without me.
The only things keeping me from tipping over completely into mental breakdown mode is my mum, who's trying to be as supportive as possible and The Boy (if you're reading this, don't, I don't want you to worry). He's being as supportive as he can, considering he has his own worries. Spending time with him allows me to get out of my head a little, I try not to worry about other things when we're together. Sometimes I get a little scared it could all go wrong overnight and I could lose him. I suppose that's perfectly normal. I don't really know.
My friends haven't been as available to me as they were last summer when things were bad. I know they have their own lives and worries, and I understand that. I think I just need to know they're there if I need them. A few friends have been brilliant, one told me about a job at her office and I emailed her boss (fingers crossed he comes back to me), another has been making me laugh on Twitter and I've never met him in real life, others have been making me smile with Facebook status' and silly comments, weird photos and interesting links. Sometimes that's all it takes to make things seem less horrific.
I won a prize, a free cookbook from Innocent Drinks, I entered their competition randomly, and I, who never win anything, won! That should be in the post right now. It's a tiny silver lining on a really dark cloud.
Right, I'm off to try and work out what to say to my dissertation supervisor, fill in another job form or two and have some lunch before I keel over from low blood sugar.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Book Art, thoughts.

My friend Jo recently wrote an interesting blog post about books, book art and unusual ways of playing with text and presentation. It's made me think. I'm a lit geek, book nerd, whatever you want to call me. I own  a ridiculous number of books, I've read an even more ridiculous number. I love books. I loathe ebooks, the kindle is the devil as far as I'm concerned. There is something about the physicality of books that adds to the pleasure of reading them. The heft, the smell, the texture of the pages. I have issues, I know.
Most of the books I've read have been fairly conventional. The way the text is presented, the narrative structure (whether it starts at the beginning or the middle or even works backwards). I've studied book history, read dozens of books of all different kinds, and continue to be fascinated by them.
A few have done clever things with the text, The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall and House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski are two that spring to mind. There are definitely others out there.
Then there are those books that are more like art than text, like A Humument by Tom Phillips, which is a Victorian novel reappropriated as art.
Graphic novels often alter the way you expect to be shown things, playing with words and images, blurring the boundaries between text and illustration in a playful, creative way.
Some of the oldest books I own are now more object than text, rendered less than readable by age and decrepidation. I won't let anyone handle my copy of Where The Rainbow Ends by Clifford Mills as it's not only ancient but out of print and therefore irreplacable. It does mean I don't get to read it, the spine has started to give way and is being held together by librarian tape and hope. I like old books, but they tend to be more keepsake than readable text, residing on bookshelves never to be read because I'm too scared to open them. I repair my books, sticking them together with my fingers crossed the tape will be enough until I have to crack out the brown paper and cover them to hold covers and spines together. Maybe I'll make my own cover art.
I also have some lavishly illustrated books, my mother's copy of The Water Babies by Charles Kinsley is gorgeously drawn and rendered in woozy watercolours. I've not seen another copy like it. I'd love to own a copy of the original Tenniel Alice illustrations or Arthur Rackham's Peter Pan watercolours.
I'm out of shelf space so maybe I'll have to start exhibiting my books as art and not literature.

*Pictures from found via Google*

Charles Mozley illustration from the inside cover of The Water Babies
Found via Google

Arthur Rackham - Peter Pan
Found via Google

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go - Patrick Ness

I finally got around to reading this book, winner of The Guardian's Children's Fiction Prize. It's the first in the Chaos Walking trilogy, and takes place on another planet, New World, in a settlement called Prentisstown. There are no women or children left in the town, and Todd is the last boy. There's something called the Noise, which means everyone can hear what everyone else is thinking. Shortly before his birthday, which will make him a man, Todd stumbles on a secret, one which will change his life forever and means he must run.
I quite enjoyed this book, it's written in Todd's voice, complete with misspellings, which adds to the rounded characterisation Ness has created. I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it, so without giving anything away... read it. It's fun, clever and well written. If you know any young readers, get them a copy.

Cooking Dinner For One

I cook alone
Something simple, quick
Healthy but not boring
I think of you
I cook too much pasta
The cheese doesn't grate
Where you are now
What you might be doing
One plate, one fork
I sit at the table
I ache for you
I spill pepper and sneeze
Take my dish to the sink
As I wash up I remember
The way you'd sing in the kitchen
It makes me feel lonely
The phone rings
"I love you"
Tomorrow I'll make dinner for two.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Depths of despair

Things have taken a turn for the worst. This time last year was pretty dark and depressing, I really don't need another summer spent miserable and struggling. Things seemed to be on the up, I started my Masters, met The Boy, got a new job. Now it's all a little gloomy. The job ended, I can't seem to get started on the dissertation and I worry that we spend too much time bickering and stressing about money to be happy together.
I have no money. I only have a roof over my head because my parents are letting me live here, at 24 it's a little pathetic, but I have nowhere else to go. I have no job, and I keep applying for things and getting nowhere. In a way even an out and out rejection would be better than keeping on sending things out into the ether and hearing nothing. It's really getting me down.
The dissertation is slowly driving me insane. I can't seem to get anything written. I have no drive to get it done. 15000 words due in just over a month and I have nothing. It's like my brain packed up and left.
The Boy and I have been together for almost a year. It's been wonderful and I'm completely in love with him, but it doesn't  mean we don't have problems. We both have financial worries, uni stress, work concerns. He tells me I can come to him with my problems, but I don't want to burden him with my worries and stresses when he has his own. So he worries more, that I'm not telling him things because I don't trust him or something. He can tell I'm upset by all this stuff, but I keep telling him it isn't a problem when clearly things are.
I could do with some guidance. And a job. A job would really help right now.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Tell me a secret...

I don't have many secrets, a long time ago I decided it was better to be honest and accept the consequences, than keep secrets from others and from myself. Unfortunately most people don't seem to have the same policy. I am pretty happy to answer people's questions, almost an 'ask me anything' policy. There are a few things I'm not willing to share, mostly because they're private, but since at least one other person usually knows them, not exactly secret.
I've been following the Post Secret blog for a while now, and it interests me. People post their secrets to Frank Warren, and he puts up a selection on the website. What originally started as an art project is now this huge phenomenon, with thousands of site visits and several books published all over the world. There are international versions in French and German and so on.
I think it interests me because I could never send anything in. Occasionally I see a postcard on the site and I think 'that used to be my secret' but I stopped bothering with them long ago. I'm not proud of everything in my past, or my present, but I'm trying not to be in denial about it either.
I suppose my secret is, I have no secrets.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

In The Papers

There's been a lot of scandal recently in the news about The News of the World paper, hacking into people's voicemail, it was fairly scandalous anyway, and then it was discovered that they'd hacked into the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler. Milly lived in the town my grandparents live in, she went to the same school as one of my cousins. Her death was a senseless tragedy. The NOTW hacking into the desperate messages left by her parents and friends is absolutely horrific, as if her parents haven't been through enough. The paper has been shut down and the investigation is ongoing into who authorised these invasions of people's privacy.
Personally I think the people at the top should be held responsible. That means Rebekah Brooks (head of News International, the publisher) and Rupert Murdoch (News Int's owner). Despite their insistence they didn't know anything (Brooks was previously editor of several News Int papers) they must have been aware of something going on that shouldn't have been.
What I found bizarre about the investigation was that it was being done by News Int itself, which makes zero sense. The police are also in trouble over some of this. I'm not precisely sure why, something about them being complicit in some of the carrying on going on at NOTW.
There needs to be greater scrutiny of the press and what means they use to get stories, especially if it's of dubious origins. People should be protected from these serious infringes of their privacy, like Milly Dowler's parents and the victims of the 7/7 bombers. There was no need for anyone to use such illegal and underhand methods. The Dowlers and other victims of this should be left to live their lives in peace.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011


This weekend saw Pride take over London once again, in glorious sunshine, with crowds thronging Trafalgar Square and Soho. I went along to hang out with my friends, get covered with stickers and support the gay community. I am not part of it really, although I get called a fag hag (a term I don't much care for), or as my lovely friend Holly termed it 'fagulous', and most of my friends are gay. I support people's right to be who they are, to love whoever they love and the freedom to do so in the knowledge that they are safe and afforded the same rights as everyone else. I'd like gay marriage to be legalised, and for adoption and surrogacy to be made easier so gay couples can raise families if they want. I want people to be able to take part in their community as fully as they want to, or not.
Call me sentimental but I believe in love. Love between people, in all its guises. I love my friends, my city, my family, my boyfriend, my books, all in different ways, but all of it accepted by everyone. Which is how I think things should be, that it's ok to love and be loved.
So if there's a Pride event where you are, go, support love. Support people. Help the world become a better place to live.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Road Trip!!

So this weekend The Boy and I went on a road trip to a Sledge Hockey tournament. Sledge Hockey is the sport he plays, and once a month there's a tournament, and they're all over the country. We packed some sandwiches and selected some Cd's to entertain ourselves and headed out. The drive up was good, traffic seemed non-existent, and the sun was shining. The company was good too!
The tournament went well, The Boy's team won one of their matches. I had a laugh with some of the other women who'd come along to see what their men were getting up to at the rink.
We stayed the night with one of The Boy's friends and his wife, which was OK.
The next day we drove through sunny countryside to visit The Boy's parents in the seaside town he grew up in on the way home. He gave me a tour of the town, showing me where he went to school and where he worked as a teenager. We sat in the conservatory drinking tea in the sunshine as The Boy opened his birthday presents before strolling down to the front for a lovely dinner in a restaurant, local fish served with chips. Traditional and delicious.
The drive home went swiftly and we collapsed on the sofa to watch a film before attempting to sleep in the awful heat. The storm the next day was definitely needed!
All in all a great weekend, and we got to spend some time together, just the two of us, driving around the country.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Broody? Me? Good Heavens No!!!!

A lot of my friends seem to be breeding at the moment. Every time I log onto Facebook it seems another person has changed their profile picture to a squashy red faced baby. Newborns looked all squished to me, like bulldogs or a t-shirt in need of a good iron.
I don't dislike babies, unless they're screaming and you're not doing anything to stop it, or they puke on me. Some are really cute, and babies in adult sunglasses are really hilarious, I don't know why.
I'm glad you're happy and had a healthy baby, I hope you do an excellent job raising them to be kind, caring, intelligent and engaged in the world.
But they are expensive, polluting, over-populating, and sometimes I just don't care about your kid.
So please, change your photo back to you, it's your profile after all, and stop updating your status every time they do something like blink or breathe (I can do that too, you don't seem me boasting) and just enjoy their babyhood, they'll be obnoxious money grubbing teenagers soon enough!
Rant over.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bakin' brownies.

For The Boy's birthday I baked some really yummy chocolate brownies, the recipe's originally from a magazine, with slight tweaking by me. Makes about 16, depending on how generous you're being.

170g butter, unsalted or healthy alternative
200g caster sugar
100g light muscavado sugar ( or soft light brown sugar)
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g cocoa powder
50g plain flour (I used a little more to make the mix go a little further)
1/4 tsp salt
100g walnut halves or chopped chocolate (or choc chips from the baking section)

Heat oven to 180oC.

Butter and line a brownie tin.

Melt butter in a pan until it turns golden brown. Leave to cool.
Mix together the sugars and eggs until thick and glossy. Beat in the vanilla and butter. (I did this by hand, but a mixer on a low speed works just as well).
Sift the cocoa, flour and salt into a separate bowl, then fold into the mix, careful not to over mix.
Add the walnuts/chocolate and scrape into baking tray.
Bake for 20-25 mins until mix sets, test with a sharp knife, if it comes out clean, they're done.
Leave to cool before lifting from tin and slicing.
If wanted, add melted chocolate to the top and place in the fridge to set.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Books that make me cry

I've been doing a lot of reading, one of the benefits of having a surfeit of time on my hands I suppose. But it seems I've been picking books that make me well up and weep. Both The Girl In Times Square by Paullina Simons and When God Was A Rabbit by Sarah Winman have reduced me to sobs this week. Both deal with some sad stuff, cancer and death in the former, 9/11 and death in the latter. I know this makes me a soppy idiot, but when a book is well written and tugs on the heart strings, I cry at the sad bits. Other books make me laugh, and cannot be read on public transport as the stares of my fellow passengers can be a bit embarrassing, these include everything by Terry Pratchett, and the two volumes of biography on comedian Billy Connelly that his wife, Pamela Stephenson, wrote. All are guilty of making me laugh in public, although they're not alone.
I always think it's a sign of excellent writing when a book affects your emotions, changes your mood, makes you think. Talented and skilled authors know how to lure the reader in and then make them connect with the characters and the story, in whichever way they want.
Perhaps I should read a book that makes me giggle, like The Pirates! series by Gideon Defoe (very funny books indeed) or Marc Acito's How I Paid for College and Attack of the Theatre People (also hilarious). Or perhaps I ought to concentrate and solely read the words of Neil Gaiman (literary genius) and get on with my dissertation.
What are you reading??

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

A little light in a dark place

Today the sun is streaming through the glass, the floor feels warm to the touch where the carpet bathes in the light, it should make me feel hopeful, but it's not really working.
Even with the bright, cheery sky, so much more uplifting than the grey rain-soaked streets at the weekend, I can't find my way to a smile.
Things were going so well, I was working, studying, socialising, having a jolly time of things. Then it ended. My contract came to a close, and there was nothing else for me there, so I'm back to being completely broke, struggling for bus fare, sitting in one place filling out job application after application, hearing nothing back. Worrying about how I'm going to pay my bills this summer, dreading having to return to the cretins at the job centre, who say things like "if you took your degree off your CV, you might have more luck with low-skilled jobs" as though the 3 years of blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the £20,000 student debt was all for nothing and matters not a jot.
I have a dissertation to write over the summer, I just need a job that'll tide me over until I'm finished and can look for a full-time, permanent career type thing.
My friends are all in different places, my best friend just bought a house with her boyfriend, she's one of the few with a stable job, my other best friend is still at uni getting his degree, and living off student loan money. Others are working as many hours as they can fit around their studies, teaching piano, stock taking in high street shops, pulling pints. A few are doing more off-beat things, selling jewellery on etsy, making cakes and painting faces, busking.
The Boy is volunteering while he studies, a useful gap filler on a CV, but something that comes with little in the way of financial aid for bill paying, so you have to either have family support or work as well.
My CV isn't exactly bare, I've done voluntary things since I was 13, and worked since 18, including volunteering while at uni and working at weekends. I can juggle, so I can juggle a job and my dissertation, as long as they're flexible. It was the best thing about my last job, and if it wasn't a charity, and undergoing restructuring (meaning everyone was being made redundant), then perhaps they could have found a way to keep me on. But it wasn't to be.
I've been applying for a whole host of jobs, mostly admin ones, and some of them in the Arts sector (where I'd most like to work). So far nothing. The worst is when you hear nothing, not a yes or a no, just a silence.
I have things I'd like to do this summer, and I have long term plans. But financially I can't do a thing til I get some work.
Even the sun making electric light unnecessary this afternoon can't illuminate things enough for me right now.

Monday, 6 June 2011

It's a trip when you're young and hip*

Erm, so my excuses....

I've been a little busy, doing a Masters, working and trying to squeeze in my friends, my boyfriend, and my family has been really hard. My contract's done, so I'm unemployed again, hopefully not for too long, have to pay my phone bill somehow!
I have my dissertation left to write, due in at the end of August, which sounds ages away, but will be here sooner rather than later.
It's the lovely Aleks' birthday tomorrow, party on Sunday, so that'll be good. My awesome, funny friend Ben is back in town for the summer, there's Pride, hopefully a festival, some random days out, a few afternoons in the park, road trips, and general summer fun still to come. I'll be studying and applying for new jobs, spending time with my lovely Boy and trying to get some reading done.
I will also be blogging again, I missed it. It was difficult to find the time, I had a two hour commute each way while I was at that job, and was always too tired to do much of anything, let alone write a blog post.
But I've decided to try to blog about 2 times a week. Today's rush of posts won't always be a possibility. I'm thinking about what I'll blog about, probably compose a draft on my phone, a Blackberry called Bob, and drop hints on Twitter (which is still the best way to keep in touch).
I'm also going to try to get round to other blogs again, the blogging community was so good to me and for me last summer when I was really down, and I miss reading about what everyone's up to.
Please let me know how you all are in the comments, and what you'd like to see here.
Thanks for your patience.

*totally nicked this from Aleks' birthday event on Facebook.

Book Review: Kraken - China Mieville

Mieville's latest Embassytown is out now in hardback, but as I haven't yet read it, I thought I'd review his last book, Kraken, out now in paperback.

Kraken starts in the back rooms of the Natural History Museum in London. Young archivist, and cephlapod expert Billy Harrow has been put in charge of preserving the museum's latest acquisition, a giant squid. Only it's gone missing. Thrusting Billy deep into London's cult underground.

With various cults, gods, talking statues, apocalypse worshippers and other assorted craziness, Mieville's underside of London is akin to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.
Billy is not entirely believable as a naive scientist, he occasionally becomes slightly annoying, and some of the side plots and characters could probably be done without. Having said this, I'm a Mieville fan, especially of his Bas-Lag books (Perdido Street Station, The Scar & Iron Council), and I quite enjoyed this romp through an alternative London, the darkness that many writers have explored. You can't have a city of officially 7 million and not have scary stuff bubbling away underneath.
Mieville is a tremendous writer, The City & The City was my starting point, and I thought that was brilliant if a little mind-boggling. His only book for younger readers, UnLunDun also looks at another London beneath the real one. Presumably it's a theory he'll return to at some point.
If you like fantasy writing, mixed with a little realism, crime spliced through with conspiracy theories, then I suggest you give Kraken (and the rest of Mieville's stuff) a go.

Here we go again...

There's been a lot said recently about young people and reading. Here's my two cents.

I read, a lot. Always have done, learnt to read at three and never saw the point in stopping. I love books, libraries and book shops are my favourite places to spend time, wandering through the stacks, looking for old friends and new ones. When I was younger I read whatever I could, still do, and some of it probably wasn't suitable for my age. My parents trusted me, they knew I was mature and sensible enough to decide what was appropriate reading for me. I read Lolita at 17, by request of the school librarian, who wanted to see whether or not I thought it something that should be included on the library's shelves for anyone to pick up and read. It is not really a book most people would ask a 17-year-old to read, let alone a librarian in a church school, but there you go. She was a smart woman who knew her readers, and trusted us to be sensible about things. I told my mum I was reading it, she didn't mind. It is a work of fiction, yes it is contentious, yes it does feature a man obsessed with an underage child. No it isn't really something any school would include on their syllabus. I can distinguish between reality and fiction. Lolita contains some gorgeous phrases, and is a work of literary art. It is not the true story of a peadophile.
That is an extreme case, what the Wall Street Journal's article seems to be saying is that all fiction written for teenagers is dark and dangerous, and will leave your child damaged. I don't particularly like the current trend for vampire fiction, mostly because the vampires are so wet. I grew up watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, with its genuinely quite nasty monsters, and the Twilight thing leaves me cold. My sister adores it. She's able to understand that it's fiction. It doesn't impact on her life, they're just stories. The idea that parents have to be gatekeepers and only spoonfeed their kids books they
consider suitable is absurb.
Yes, there are dark books for teens, some of which are classified as fantasy (vampires, werewolves etc all come under this) and some are realism. Melvin Burgess' Junk, about two teen heroin addicts, is often banned for promoting drugs, it actually does the opposite, Gemma and Tar's lives are so bleak, it'd put even the most determined rebel off.
And yes, a lot of books do address teen sexuality, the reality is, teenagers are experimenting and exploring themselves and their potential selves, so why shouldn't the books they're reading to do the same.
In short, parents, trust your kids, they'll be ok. Teens, talk to your parents, reassure them, they can't help it, they've forgotten how to be young.

*Update Bitch Magazine (love) have a really interesting article on the topic.*
*Also if you're on Twitter, follow the #YASaves tag for more comments and articles from writers and readers*

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Why are the three most loaded words in the English language "I love you" ?? They can make you smile like an idiot, or break your heart or both at the same time.
When he says those three little words, my heart sings, my mouth smiles, my face glows
Or so he tells me.
I can't see but I know how I feel
Like never before, like the grass after rain
His arms around me feel like home
There is nowhere else I want to be, buried against his chest, listening to a heartbeat echoed by my own
This can never end, must be forever, the thought of pain makes my smile fade
I love you.
Please, say it again.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Bookworm: TV and Film Adaptations I Haven't Hated

It is rare to find a film/TV adaptation of a book that doesn't make me want to kill someone (or at least force them to read the damn book- Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy director, I'm looking at you). They either edit it down to nothing, make stuff up or mangle the plot and characters to the point where it no longer resembles the book it's supposedly based on.
However there are, very rarely, exceptions to this rule.
Normally I like to read the book first, but sometimes that doesn't happen and I end up doing things the wrong way round. In the case of Julie Powell's Julie and Julia, I've seen the film several times (love Meryl Streep in just about everything) but only just read the book. I loved the book, I loved the film, and yes, there are slight differences, but still it's a really good adaptation. If I ever meet Julie Powell, I'm going to give her a hug!
William Boyd's Any Human Heart is another one where I've seen the adaptation first, in this case a TV serial shown over several Sunday nights, watched curled up with The Boy. I liked it, I thought the protagonist, Logan Mountstuart was annoying at times, however as I'm reading the book, right now, I'm warming to him. The written Logan comes across so much better than portrayed, much more rounded. Although I rather liked the TV version too.
At the moment I'm really enjoying The Crimson Petal and the White on Wednesday evenings, a gorgeously filmed series for the Beeb. I haven't read Michael Faber's book, but I can see my copy from where I'm sitting. I think I might have to crack it out and see how the show pairs up.
There have been films that have led me to the book (see above, and also the slightly odd adaptation of Elizabeth Taylor's story of a bonkers writer, Angel, film is bizarre, book good). Then there have been books that led me to films.
I am wary, especially, of adaptations of books I love. Sometimes they're very hit and miss, and when it's a much loved favourite, it can be that much harder to like. Having said that, the new run of CS Lewis' Narnia books has been quite enjoyable, I thought Prince Caspian was fun (although the influence of the recent Lord of the Rings films was quite evident) and I'm looking forward to getting around to seeing Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
The Nineties adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere for the BBC is quite a good retelling, fairly faithful and enjoyable to watch. I only knew it existed from a comment in the introduction to the Author's Preferred Text edition, and promptly had to hunt it down.
The Sky adaptations of Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels have, at times, got it completely wrong. Hogfather was really good, Colour of Magic much less so, but Going Postal was cracking, very funny, and reassuring to spot 'Messed about with by Terry Pratchett' in the credits. If the author's involved, often it seems a little stronger.
I know that for many readers (including myself) the story comes alive in your head, you have a clear picture of the what the character looks like, how they talk etc and any adaptation is fraught with concerns about how the fans are going to take it. Sometimes the director is a fan, and is therefore more willing to stick to the text, but sometimes it feels like they haven't even bothered to pick up a copy of the book and leaf through it, let alone read it.
So, which adaptations have you liked, and which have you loathed?

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Mad About The Boy

So it's been 8 months, 8 long months that have been some of the happiest of my life. My lovely, funny, smart, handsome, daft, wonderful boyfriend who told me once that he wanted to be my light in dark places has been part of my life for 8 months. 8 is a lucky number for some, and maybe it is for me. I feel better about myself, my confidence is higher knowing I have someone who loves me for me, someone I love for the person he is.
Two years ago he got really drunk and went out of a window, breaking his spine. Since then he's been wheelchair bound. I haven't written about this before because it doesn't matter to me, it doesn't change how I feel about him. He no longer drinks and will never be able to walk unaided. He does physio to build up his strength so he can walk in leg braces and using crutches when he graduates with his Masters degree. Standing he's 6'4", sitting he's the same just lower down!
It comes with its own set of challenges, but he is completely independent, doesn't consider himself disabled and is probably more capable than many able bodied people.
Recently he went to Sweden as part of the Team GB Sledge Hockey team, for the championships. I'm incredibly proud of him for excelling and representing his country, he's decided to take a break from international competition and play at league level as there's a lot going on. In January he passed his driving test, and should be getting a car soon. My chauffeur has arrived!!
I am completely head over heels in love with him. He makes me laugh, smile, melt. He is a kind, generous, loving soul and I couldn't imagine my life without him. (If you're reading this, I love you, here's to another wonderful 8 months).
We're not perfect, we argue, we bicker, we make each other angry and upset. But we make up, we talk it through, we try to fix things so we're not walking around resenting each other. This is how it should be.
I am so grateful and so wowed by how genuinely lovely he is.
I wish everyone this kind of happiness (only not with this one, he's mine!)

Monday, 21 March 2011


I've wanted to visit Japan for some time now. I have a few Japanese friends and am slightly obessed with Studio Ghibli and sushi. The people seem friendly and welcoming, the countryside looks beautiful, the cities mildly bewildering.
What has happened and is still happening there is heartbreaking. If you can, please donate to the Red Cross and help these lost, sad and mourning people begin to put their lives, and country back together. I'll be reaching deep when I get paid this week and passing some of my good fortune onto them. I hope you can do the same. Thank you.


What a weekend!! I've been here, there and everywhere. But I'm going to rewind a bit and start with Thursday evening.
I went to see Frankenstein transmitted live from the National Theatre to my local cinema (and dozens around the country). It's sold out every night at the theatre and I can see why. It's absolutely brilliant. Benedict Cumberbatch ( a man with a glorious name) and Jonny Lee Miller are alternating the roles of the Creature and Dr F. Both are stupendous actors at the top of their game, and they're showing it again next Thursday, get tickets and go.
Friday was a bit less glorious. I had a work away day/staff meeting to get to, over in Canary Wharf, the other side of London. I left extra time to do the trip, but due to London Underground and TfL's incompetence, it took 2 and a half hours to do an hours trip. Needless to say I wasn't a happy camper and they should expect 2 letters of complaint, one about the service and the other about the incredible rudeness of their staff. If I ever spoke to a customer they way I was spoken to, in any job I've ever had, I'd expect to be disciplined if not fired.
Anyway. It got better, the building was just down the road from the O2 and if you follow me on Twitter, I snapped a quick pic of the view. The free lunch was delish and the meeting bit was fairly brief. I work with some really nice people and it'll be a shame to say goodbye to them in May when my contract ends.
Friday evening found me on a train bound for Lowestoft, the most easterly town in Britain, and home of The Boy's parents. It was a long journey, but since we spent it sat in First Class, I wasn't that bothered.
We got there, headed to the hotel, snuggled up and watched Comic Relief. Then I experienced the worst night's sleep ever, mattress like a board, pillows like melting marshmallows, too soft.
The next morning found us both a little groggy. Restored by breakfast (and a refund on the room), we walked our way into the town centre, via a clifftop viewpoint, and then on to the seafront.
I thought I'd never been to Lowestoft before, but walking along the front, a flash of revelation, a few years back, before I became too pampered (and decrepit) to sleep in a tent, I'd been camping with some friends, and we had spent the day at the seaside, this seaside it turns out. Life is indeed very random.
After a delicious lunch cooked by The Boy's step-father (Thai chicken curry with jasmine rice or dan dan noodles), we went off to Norwich to see the touring Avenue Q. Absolutely hilarious and brilliant, another show I'm going to recommend you go see. Now. Right away. Quit reading this and go!
Our train back was empty, we finally made it home to bed at 1.00am. I slept for a large part of Sunday. Today was a day off from work, I needed a break.
Tomorrow I'm back in the office, and Wednesday is my second to last week of uni classes. Which is slightly worrying, as that means I'm almost done (3 essays and a dissertation to go).
But for now, I'm going to take a little rest and contemplate some stuff. Then do some work for class and off to bed. Hope you all had a great weekend too.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Bookworm: World Book Night

A few weeks ago I took part in the first World Book Night event. I had been selected to receive 48 copies of one of the 25 shortlisted books, Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife, a collection of the Poet Laureate's work based on fairytales and myths.
The opening event was held on a Friday evening in Trafalgar Square, and The Boy and I went as wristband wearing VIPs (as all givers had the opportunity to be). There were free smoothies from Innocent, demonstrations of the Kindle (boo, hiss) and mini bookshop tents from Waterstone's who sponsored the event.
Shivering in the bitter March wind the crowd gathered to hear a selection of authors read passages from their own work or that of others. Philip Pullman read from Northern Lights, another of the 25, and he did all the voices for his characters, at one point I closed my eyes and just let it wash over me. Alan Bennett read from his memoir A Life Like Other People's, about his mother's slow descent into dementia, it was sad but he has such a lovely voice. Rupert Everett, Sarah Waters, David Nicholls, Monica Ali and even Mayor Boris Johnson (who has an excellent voice and should he ever give up politics could very easily get a job reading audio books) were among the other readers. Margaret Atwood was my only problem, she doesn't have the strongest voice and her reading seemed to go on for ever.
It's a shame it wasn't warmer, standing there shivering was a bit grim. But on the whole a thoroughly enjoyable literary launch.
The actual day was the Saturday (March 5th). Following on from World Book Day a few days before, the first week of March should be declared Book Week.
I rounded up my glamorous assistant, Aleks, and we set out to hand out free slices of literature to all and sundry.
Harrow being a bit of a hole, the literary bods were not out in force, we jumped on a train and headed into London. In Soho we handed books to people sitting outside cafes, walking along the streets and hanging out in the square. A few went off to the hospital Aleks' mum works in, a few more to my uni friends and a couple of lecturers, including the head of department who was so taken aback at my gift, she gave me a big hug!
A couple are waiting to be sent to friends slightly further afield, including my funny chum Tyler, who was the first person to ask for a copy, and has apparently made a video about it (he makes hilarious youtube videos).
My work colleague Karen, who makes me laugh every day, got one, my boyfriend's mum will be getting one this weekend when we visit, the shop assistant in the massive Waterstone's in Piccadilly got one, another couple of friends who asked nicely will also be getting copies as soon as I can get to the post office. Aleks' friend who met us for coffee got one. Complete strangers got them.
48 books with new homes. Times a million. That's right, a million books were given away for World Book Night, and hopefully people rushed to their local bookshop and picked up something perhaps that they'd never read before.
I've already signed up to be a giver next year.
What book would you like to give away?? What book would you like to receive and what book do you always give/recommend to people?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Culture Vulture: Mogadishu

Last Thursday, my theatre buddy and I headed off to the lovely Lyric theatre in Hammersmith, where we have seen some blinding shows, Punk Rock and Blasted among them. We were going to see Mogadishu, script by Vivienne Franzmann, directed by Matthew Dunster.
It's a play about what happens when a lie is told, and spins wildly out of control, when all you can do is keep lying and what happens when it unravels and you're left with the consequences.
Set in an inner city school, Jason is a bully, and when caught bullying and told to stop by a teacher, Amanda, instead pushes her to the ground. Faced with expulsion for his violent behaviour, Jason claims Amanda assaulted him, he is black and she is white. His lie, which he forces his friends to go along with, becomes something much larger when his father gets involved and an investigation is launched.
The largely teenage cast were absolutely brilliant, Malachi Kirby is an intense Jason, full of anger and pain, lashing out around him, and Shannon Tarbet as Amanda's vulnerable and equally angry daughter, Becky is definitely someone to watch.
The adults were good too, Julia Ford, as Amanda, conveying the mix of frustration and hopelessness of people trapped by bureaucracy was very good. She doesn't want Jason to get in trouble, saying he didn't mean to push her, he was angry, yet knowing all the time that she couldn't protect him.
If you're in London, there's time still to see it. I highly recommend you do. Absolutely brilliant piece of theatre. Much like the rest of the output of the Lyric.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

In Which I'm A Bad Blogger

I am a bad blogger, I know, and I'm sorry. I haven't written anything in a while, mostly because I've been busy living it, and not writing it down.
I also haven't had time to get round to the blogs in my reader, sorry lovely bloggers. I'll try and catch up on all the things you're writing about as soon as I can.
There's been a lot happening in this damp (but drying out, hello sunshine) corner of London. I've been a busy little bee.
The things that were stressing me out last month are still there, more or less. But I'm trying this whole, take it as it comes thing. So far it's sort-of working.
There's been some good stuff (World Book Night (a whole post to come), The King's Speech (go see it, gorgeous film), trips to the theatre, fun times with friends, working things out and falling in love even more with The Boy, weekend away trips), but writing it all out could take days, and I just don't seem to have the time.
Last night I got in from work and went straight to bed, no dinner, and fell asleep. I'm completely knackered, falling a little behind on my uni reading because of it, am too tired to stress about it now, but come tomorrow morning I'll be a little ball of paranoia that I haven't finished The Road to Wigan Pier, let alone started I, Robot (for different classes). But right now, all I'm thinking, is quick call to The Boy and then bed.
Ah, bed. My faithful friend.
Best way to keep up to date, and keep in touch with me right now is Twitter. I tweet from my phone at all hours, my thoughts, feelings, observations and what I'm up to, even if it is just sitting in the office counting down the minutes until I can leave!
Hope you're all well. xx

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Things that are rubbish no. 135: Growing up.

I am having a really bad weekend. Well a really bad since Thursday. My depression is rearing its ugly head and making me feel really sad and blue. I want to see The Boy, but he's not back til Monday and I have work and uni and probably won't see him til next weekend, which right now feels like years away.
I promised not to be the clingy girlfriend, but when you're depressed and hormonal (never a winning combination) it's really hard not to want a hug from someone who says you're beautiful when you're not wearing any make up and who says they want to be your light in dark places. So, Sweden, can I have my boyfriend back???
I'm proud of him (if you're reading this, I really am) but a tiny part of me is scared I might lose him to this sport, I don't want to be a hockey widow. I don't get to see him as often as I would like, and now he's saying he's going to commit fully to staying on Team GB, gym everyday, training once a week, healthy eating, less coffee. It feels like it's also going to be less me. Which is selfish and probably irrational. But right now I can't help it.
I'm a bundle of stress as it is, my contract's up in May and so far I haven't really worked out where to go from there. My degree is ending around the same time, leaving only the dissertation due in August, I sort of have a topic, but beyond that not a whole lot. I want to get my other essays and reading assignments done first, so I have space in my brain to think. I've decided against going to a music festival with my friends this summer, the dissertation is due in not long after and as the job situation is up in the air, I can't really afford it. This sucks, but that's life. I think I'm over being a grown up, it's just making me feel worse.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Bookworm: The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery

This is a rather sweet little story about the residents of an apartment building in Paris. There's Renee the concierge, Paloma who lives in one of the apartments and is planning to kill herself on her thirteenth birthday and new resident Kakuro and the bonds they forge. Paloma is trying to be a philosopher, and writes her philosophical thoughts in a notebook. Renee is trying to hide her true intelligence and passion for life, literature and film inside the stereotype of the surly concierge. Kakuro's arrival starts to change their lives and change the people they're pretending to be.
The ending is a bit sudden, and it is a little slight, I wanted to know more about Renee and about Kakuro before they came to the building. But if you want something light and quite lovely (and set in Paris!) then perhaps you'd like to find out what makes a hedgehog elegant.

Monday, 14 February 2011

A Valentine's Day Poem

Since my Valentine is out of the country at the moment, I thought I'd share one of my favourite poems with you. It's by Wendy Cope, who is very clever and very funny.


My heart has made its mind up
And I'm afraid it's you.
Whatever you've got lined up
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can't be signed up
This year, next year will do.
My heart has made its mind up
and I'm afraid it's you.


What a week I've had. Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably know some of what I've been up to. But here's a more detailed round up.

Last Monday was the only day I ate dinner at home, I've been so busy, rushing around doing things (fun things mostly.). I'm more or less recovered from the virus I had, so Monday was back to work time, and Monday evening was veg out night, as it is pretty much every night.
Tuesday evening was spent being cooked for by The Boy, and Wednesday was Reading Week at uni, so I had the day off to spend with my lovely helping him pack for the Ice Sledge Hockey European Championships (he plays for Team GB, I'm really proud of him). He left on Friday for 10 days and I miss him terribly. They've done well, winning their first match.
Thursday night was a trip to the theatre, to see Blood Brothers, which was excellent, if you get a chance go.
Friday night saw me at Victoria station waiting for a train to Sussex and a weekend away by the sea. The train took an hour, we went out for dinner and I spent a relaxing weekend pottering around Lewes and Rottingdean, looking at antiques, the sea, and eating delicious food. I also visited Much Ado Books in Alfriston, a little village with lovely quaint cottages, the shop's run by two American imports from Massachusetts, and they sell all manner of new and old books. If you're ever there, say hi!
The only problem I had was that I'm allergic to cats and the gorgeous house I was staying in has four. Lovely creatures they are, but my eyes were all puffy and my nose runny on Saturday night, which was a pain. But Frankie, Mabel, Phoebe and Kitty didn't mean it, and I'll be down when it's sunnier again, to see the ducks and lambs and llamas!! Yes, there's a llama farm down the road.
All in all a fun packed week. This week I have nothing planned, so I'm going to watch TV, read some books for uni, and just chill. Next week's shaping up to be a busy one too.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

What I've been doing while you've been out having fun

I'm sick. Spent the last 3 days at home in bed, feeling fed up and gunky. There's a lovely image for you.
So far I've read 5 books, 3 newspapers, watched 1 film, most of a boxset, and some random stuff on tv. I got sent home early on Tuesday from work as my voice was going and I felt off. I didn't make it to uni on Wed or work on Thurs & Fri. Today's Saturday. It's the first day I've worn make up or shoes since Tuesday. I've mostly been looking super awesome in pyjamas and moisturiser to save my skin from the curse of drying out from illness. I feel like death. Which is an improvement. My appetite seems to be returning, however I went for a walk earlier, and came back feeling worse than ever. Shaking, sweating, not pretty. (Again a lovely image).
The Boy is away at hockey training this weekend in preparation for representing the UK at the European Championship in Sweden (he leaves next Thursday for 10 days), so I haven't even been able to get him to pamper me. He's back tomorrow and I'm planning to spend the afternoon with him.
I have to go back to work on Monday, I can't really take anymore time off, so I need to shake this as fast as possible. Time perhaps for another mug of tea, it seems to be helping.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Bookworm: Squeezing in the reading...

Ok, so here's the first Bookworm post at Note to Self... Hope you like it!

In between working miles away from my house (hello horrid 2 hour commute), studying like a crazy person for my MA, seeing my lovely Boy, hanging with my awesome friends, and occasionally sleeping, I've been reading, lots of reading, not all of it uni related.
I should know better, when I did my BA in English Lit, I ended up having to abandon personal reading choices for academic ones for months at a time, which made me miserable, but also let me discover some great writers. I'm after the complete Mapp and Lucia books by E.F Benson at some point, as well as a few more of Elizabeth Taylor's (not the movie star) books as I think they're both fantastic. Benson is hilarious, especially if you're a Wodehouse fan.
But I'm determined to read some of my own choices and not have everything dictated by reading lists and research.
I've been contemplating re-reading the Sandman books and all of my Tamora Pierce books again, it's really starting to bug me that I don't have masses of reading time anymore. So I need to carve out a bit of time to just wallow in words.
I have however read Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant, Room by Emma Donaghue, A Room Swept White by Sophie Hannah as well as my required reading in the last week or so. I recommend them all. All completely different, all really well written.
Dunant is a writer of historical fiction, commonly set in Italy, as Sacred Hearts is, it tells the story of Isabetta re-named Serafina when she is incarcerated in a convent by her father, because she dared to fall in love. It's also the story of the infirmary sister Zuana, and the connection between the two women. I've read Dunant's previous novels, heartily enjoyed them, and devoured this one.
Emma Donaghue is an interesting writer, she's written all sorts of things, Slammerkin was a historical novel, Kissing the Witch a collection of fairy tale retellings, Stir-fry and Hood lesbian love stories. Room is none of those things, it tells the story of Jack and his Ma and their life. It's gripping, compelling, shocking and rather brilliant writing. Shortlisted for the Booker last year, go get a copy and get reading.
Sophie Hannah used to be a poet, now she writes thrillers. A Room Swept White is the latest in paperback. A woman has been murdered, she was cleared of killing her children, and now there is a concern that the murderer is looking for those connected to her case, and it's up to two detectives from her previous novels to stop them. If you like tight, intelligent crime novels, read this. If you like poetry, try Hotels like Houses, same author, completely different, it's a definite skill.

And that's my little book round up for you. Look for the next Bookworm post soon.