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.