Saturday, January 31, 2009

Jay has just taken me back to my childhood.

Who would have thought the memory of a button box could provoke strong emotions - yet I feel quite tearful remembering how I would go through my mum's button collection again and again as a kid - for no other reason than I liked the shiny ones she kept in there.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Another snippet from the files

Dated 1968 - In spite of Mr H's Public School manners his boorish self soon showed through.

Question - should that actually read 'Because of Mr H's Public School manners his boorish self soon showed through'?

Or is that interpretation just showing off my own personal prejudice?

Mission Accomplished

It took me just under two months to get through War and Peace. I loved most of it, but it ended for me on a rather a flat note as I could scarcely understand a word of Epilogue Part 2, which takes up the last 42 pages.. In this concluding section Tolstoy reflects on what exactly is history (at least I think that is what he is doing!) and goes on at great length about the relationship between free will and the laws of necessity. I was relieved to read afterwards in a commentary on the book that the second epilogue is seen by others too as repetitive and unnecessarily complex.

There was an interesting piece in the commentary from the translator of my version. Language evolves of course, and whereas once it may not have raised an eyebrow to read that ‘he ejaculated with a grimace’ phrases such as that or ‘Andrey spent the evening with a few gay friends’ probably do need updating as the years go by. It also notes that previous translations were by refined young ladies and that was why according to an earlier translation when one man gets his leg blown off by a cannon ball there is a cry of - ‘Ekh! You beastly thing!’

So trying hard to forget about my struggles with the second epilogue what I loved about the book was the way it brings Tolstoy’s characters so vividly to life. They are all so recognisably human, making many mistakes along the way and having to live with the results of appallingly bad decisions, but in several brilliantly written scenes demonstrate the sheer joy of surrendering to a moment and revelling in some pleasure be it as frivolous as dancing or singing. It’s like – we know we are going to die one day – so for god’s sake let’s enjoy ourselves whilst we are here.

And it is filled with dry humour. Having gone along with the traumas endured by Pierre whilst he was a prisoner of the French we learn that ‘He was suffering from what the doctors called a bilious fever. Despite their treatment – with blood letting and various medicines – he recovered.’

I would actually quite like to read it again. But not before I have got through a few instantly forgettable crime novels first. Light reading here I come!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Is this child

suitable for adoption?

This was a question which had to be answered in the affirmative before adoption agencies would accept a baby whose mother wished him or her to be placed in an adoptive home. The records I see commonly ask questions like "Is there any history of mental illness within the mother's family?" or "Is there any history of epilepsy?" I had not however seen the following question on an official form before, as asked by the National Adoption Society as recently as 1976:

"Is there any red hair in the family?"


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

More grave news on the credit crunch.

Now Battersea Dogs Home has gone to the wall. They've gone and called in the retrievers.

Monday, January 26, 2009

New link

Just found out that one of my all time favourite Cobblers players has his own blog.

Any other fan of lower league football can see what Chris Hargreaves has to say about life, the universe, and the Blue Square Premier here.

Non football fans like Fire Byrd may care to check him out anyway for his very admirable six pack!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Typical bloody Guardian

The Guardian has been publishing this past week a series called 1,000 Novels Everyone Must Read. I am a sucker for anything like that : Albums One Must Own; Films One Must See Before One Dies; Men One Must Shag* etc etc. I like pouring over these lists, ticking off those I have read/heard/seen/shagged - and I have this week been doing just that with the Guardian lists.

Last Saturday was comedy novels, Sunday with the Observer was books on crime and so on and so forth.

Well as I do keep mentioning I am currently reading War and Peace. I have about 200 pages to go and it will count as a major life time achievement when I actually reach the end.

All week I have been looking out for My Book in The Guardian list. I needed to see it there so I could have that lovely smug feeling that this enormously long novel is one absolutely everyone HAS to read - and I have very nearly done just that. The only thing was I wasn't quite sure which category W&P would fall into so I have looked for it everyday - except the science fiction day - I really did not think it would feature in that section. The last day of the series dawned without me having seen My Book but oh yes! The section on Friday was entitled 'War and Travel'. This Was It.

Only it wasn't.

Alphabetically listed I turn the page where the last book mentioned was Sophie's Choice by William Styron to see the next entry - The Adventure's of Hucklebury Finn by Mark Twain. 'Huh?' I turn back a page - Styron. I turn forward a page - Twain. 'Ha! Probably got a special feature on My Book.' So I searched for the special feature. Only it did not exist.

I was forced to the conclusion that this enormously long book that I thought I just HAD to read was not in fact a book I had to read at all. Clearly I have been wasting valuable reading time this past two months when there are all these other essential novels which I simply HAVE to read.**

But as I was saying - typical bloody Guardian. I just went on their web site to find a link for this waffle and lo - what do I see listed inbetween Styron and Twain?

Tolstoy - Leo 'War and Peace'.

What is it with the Guardian and printing errors??? Only The Guardian could compile a list of war novels we simply have to read and manage to omit the most famous one of them all by mistake!

* Joking. Am not really a sucker for a list like that Reidski dearest!

** Joking again. Time not remotely wasted reading it - it is I have to say a joy to read.

One minute forty seconds

We hadn't won since 20th December. In our last five matches we have managed to score precisely twice. We were in need of a miracle.

And the miracle appears to have arrived in the shape of a 21 year old loanee striker from Ipswich town by the name of Billy Clarke.

One minute forty seconds was the length of time it took him before he got his first goal on his debut this afternoon. (What the hell was he doing for the previous 99 seconds I would very much like to know? The slacker.) He went on to score a hat trick and inspired the team to actually put 5 past Crewe Alexander.

My side could never be accused of consistency.

And yes - OK - Crewe are indeed bottom of our league, but my team always contrives to lose to the worst sides in our league....that inconsistency strikes again. Just hope Billy Clarke strikes again and again during his loan spell with us.

Oh and the guy in front of us who had bet that we would win 4-1 at odds of 100 - 1 still had the decency to cheer when we scored our 5th goal from the penalty spot...fair play to him!


Normal service has resumed. We lost 2-1 at Colchester last night :-(

Thursday, January 22, 2009

My portfolio

I have shares in what used to be the Halifax Building Society. When they sold out all account holders got some shares. (Thatcherism - wasn't it great?) I never did anything with them because a) I thought they might be good to sell on a rainy day and b) I didn't ever know how to sell shares anyway.

As usual in matters financial it looks like I made a mistake.

I'm no mathematician but even I can tell from this graph that my little shareholding is worth bugger all.

I will try not to jump out of a skyscraper window in my despair.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Man City's own goal

Garry Cook, City's executive chairman said of AC Milan: "They bottled it. We weren't naive. It was just that the world we entered was unprofessional. We engaged alot of professional people to take care of this. But it was all a bit too sophisticated for Milan."

Well - with all those professional people Man City employed to take care of this proposed deal wouldn't you have thought they would have managed to come up with at least one Italian speaker at the initial talks in - erh - Italy? Or would that have been a bit too sophisticated?

The worst times to be a parent

are I think when you can do absolutely nothing to help one of your off spring when they are suffering.

My 17 year old started throwing up in the early hours of yesterday. He wasn't due to go to school anyway because he had a study day - with which to prepare for his very important A Level exam.

Yesterday he did no revision whatsoever but spent his time sending me the occasional message like this one: "OK, I'm fairly sure I'm dying." If that was designed to put my mind at rest it didn't exactly work.

I'd like to be able to say it didn't matter too much as he was already done so much revision for the exam, but if he has revised for this already it must have been whilst my back was turned.

He has gone in to do the exam. He looked as bad as he assured me he felt. He is obviously totally unprepared for the exam.

And I can do nothing at all to make any of it any better, so I feel crap too.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Just Jane Exclusive

I want to start this by stressing that I hate Top Gear and were it not for having two teenage sons would never have heard of The Stig. However, I have heard of The Stig, and what is more I even know who he is. He lives in the same village as me.

And so when I read this I feel quite smug. Ben Collins may or may not be A Stig - but he is not unique. My Stig says he is one of three.

So there we are - readers of this blog (a select group) know more than readers of The Times do.

Up date - Wednesday. Four! They must be breeding.

Rejoice x 2.

1) Today Barack Obama becomes President of the USA.

2) And today Sarah Palin does not become Vice President of said country.

Why are these pictures so huge????

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weird advertising campaigns of our times.

I was in London with Reidski a few weeks back when I commented on a poster on the side of a bus which advertised the film Slumdog Millionaire. It exclaimed that it was 'The Feel Good Movie of the Decade!' and it made the film look like something in the style of the American Pie films. My comment was along the lines of 'Well I won't be bothering with that load of shite.' Reidski told me it was a Danny Boyle film which took the winds out of my, already prejudiced against the film due entirely to the poster, sails. He said he had heard it was really good. "Why then" I asked him, "are they designing adverts to make it look really bad?"

So it came to pass that I did go and bother with that particular load of shite, and it bore no resemblance to any American Pie film I have ever had the misfortune to see (I do have teenage sons you know), - except for the bit when our young hero dives into the sewer I suppose. The ending is indeed 'feel good', but I have to say that for the vast majority of the film I was frankly traumatised by the horror that was young Jamal's life experiences.

I would really like to know how much the designers of that poster campaign earnt for what seems to me to be the biggest misrepresentation of any film ever - unless anyone can suggest other candidates for this distinction?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

what actually depresses me

about this is not the sheer out of touch ignorance of Charles and his offspring.* Frankly, that doesn't come as any great surprise. But what does get me is the fact that the two people referred to with such totally unacceptable 'nicknames' feel they have to say they aren't offended. Thankfully the soldier's father has the guts to speak the truth when he accused Harry of using a hate word against his son.

And no - this isn't 'political correctness gone mad'. It's common courtesy not to use such vile expressions. This reminds us why that is the case.. No one I know would dream of using such terms- would you?

*I did always think that Harry could actually be the son of James Hewitt, but in spite of the physical likeness I think this latest episode is proof positive that he must indeed be a direct descendant of that great ambassador for cultural understanding - HRH Phil.

Our wonderful councillors

I was going on .here just before Christmas about what a bunch of useless tossers we have controlling our borough council. I am not alone in my dismay that, for example, they say they won't make a decision about developing the land around our football ground for another 18 years, and a meeting was arranged to discuss this and other issues regarding the lack of any progress over assorted plans to develop the town.

The meeting was packed and people were turned away from it. However, room would have been found for the leaders of the council - had they chosen to attend.

Only hours before the meeting was due to be held, the Liberal Democrat leaders of the authority announced they would not attend because it was "too political".

Politicians not attending a meeting because it will be too political?

Beyond parody.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What passes for an exciting evening in Northampton

Something very exciting nearly happened last night! I have still not quite recovered from just how exciting the thing that nearly happened was!!

Reidski came up to see me last night which was of course in itself exciting. I hadn't seen him since Saturday due to my cough (Can I just mention here that as far as I an concerned Alexander Fleming is the greatest man who ever lived. I feel SO much better thanks to his discovery of blue mould.)

By the way - how stupid are we? One thing we often do together is the Guardian crossword - quick version. Last night over a drink all was done bar one clue....'Chap animal?' 8. This had had us flummoxed. We were left with -e-e-o-f. Sudden inspiration hits me and I start to write in 'Shewolf' only to come unstuck immediately as letter the second is not an H - and never had been (never mind that shewolf is only 7 letters, and 'chap' rather suggests 'male'). But undeterred I declare "It is something WOLF!" At which point one of us - I hesitate to suggest it could have been Reidski, says something along the lines of "How do you spell Beowulf?" which led to numerous attempts to make 'Beoewolf' or 'Beuewolf'. All obviously totally and utterly wrong. And thus we gave up. How in the cold light of the next morning we failed to come up with 'Werewolf' I really wouldn't care to speculate upon for too long. I actually woke up in the middle of the night and yelled out 'Werewolf!' The children were confused.

I digress. back to the very exciting thing that nearly happened.

We went to Pizza Express. It was packed downstairs which might lead one to question the concept of the credit crunch, were it not for the fact that all of us punters had come armed with their latest two for one voucher. Therefore we went upstairs where a very long table was laid out, reserved, as our very lovely waitress told us, for the cast and crew of the local pantomime. She went to fetch our drinks giving my mind time to work (rather more quickly than it had performed earlier re werewolves)."Does this mean?" I asked her upon her return, trying to appear cool, calm and collected "that you are expecting Jimmy Osmond?" "Oh yes!" says she. "He will be here. In fact - he has been here practically EVERY NIGHT since the panto started!" (Yes - she did confirm he is indeed rather plump.)

Imagine how we felt!!!!!! At any moment as we ate our pizzas - Little Jimmy Osmond Himself could be coming in and sitting down in the Very Same Room As Us! Frankly, it was almost too much excitement to me - recuperating as I am from my cough. If I was a Victorian lady no doubt I would have swooned on the spot and Reidski would have had to pass me my smelling salts. A Real Life Osmond! In Northampton!

Regretfully we did not actually get to see Jimmy Osmond, having eaten up and found to our astonishment that we could not actually be arsed to linger over coffee in the hope that the great man would arrive.

It later transpired that Reidksi had actually SEEN HIM BEFORE! In Irvine. Strange. But also most unfair as he has seen him and I have not. But on reflection it was quite exciting enough knowing that I just MIGHT have seen him...had we arrived some half an hour later. Life is very random that way is it not?

Has my blogging really sunk so low that I am reduced to writing about something that did not happen? ;-)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What's Occuring?

I have no idea where I am going with this. It is likely to be in the favourite expression of my kids and their mates 'Random'. I always say to myself re blogging that if one has nothing to say one should say nothing at all. But it's my rule and rules are there to be broken (except grammatical rules obviously).

My friend Anne was recently 50 and we had a great night celebrating the occasion. She sent an e-mail to all of us who attended in which she particularly thanked the Thomas's who had travelled a significant distance to attend. Thomas senior replied thus "You have unwittingly stumbled into a small local dispute about how to spell the plural of Thomas. And I’m afraid, Anne, that your spelling is not helpful to my position on the matter. I shall have to alter your email before showing it to the children; doh!"

Anne's response was:
"OMG we're starting the new year with a Lynne Truss moment - now I know I am f**king 50................ "

Well there you go - I certainly didn't know I was going to mention that when I started this post.

Moving on:

This past few weeks I have been mainly ...watching Gavin and Stacey. Both series 1 and 2 plus the Christmas special. I have seen each episode so many times now that I know them verbatim and have inadvertently developed a Welsh accent alongside a recently acquired tendency to describe matters as 'Tidy' I also look at our toilet brush in an entirely different light - but enough about that particularly sordid hotel bathroom episode.

I have also in the past few weeks been mainly ...coughing. This is in fact how come I am sitting here now at home blogging, rather than earning my crust dealing with the whole range of the human condition. I try not to talk about my job here but if I just tell you that in the weeks leading up to Christmas I had to cope with amongst other things: the aftermath of a suicide; someone who was falling in love with his sister; a childhood story that was unremittingly awful from the day of his birth (born in a ditch- literally) to the moment he left the care system as a profoundly damaged young man; and I had to tell someone he was born as a result of his mother being raped by her father. It was all a right laugh as you may imagine. Actually, thinking back it is no wonder I have been ill. I fairly successfully ignored the fact that I was coughing my guts up all over the holiday, but at the weekend it got ridiculous and I saw the doctor yesterday. Diagnosis: chest infection as well as possible asthma. Instruction: take medication, use inhaler, come back and see me in a few days and stay at home. The silly thing is that I can't say I feel really ill. I had pleurisy 17 years ago and thought I was dying. Ever since then I have probably judged being ill as feeling like I did then. I never ever want to feel like THAT again.

The other thing I have been mainly doing is continuing with the on going struggle to get through 'War and Peace'. I am on page 545. Oh good - only another 813 to go. (The print is very small by the way.) I do like fact it is positively 'lush'. I love the way Tolstoy paints portraits of the characters - he is often very funny. My main problem with it though, at the risk of sounding very thick, is that because the book is so huge, and because the names are (surprise, surprise) Russian - plus they often seem to be known by more than one name (not helpful Leo my old mucka) - that when they come back into the narrative, I can't remember who the hell they are and have to go back and find their previous appearance to refresh my memory.

Yesterday having been instructed by the doctor to stay at home I thought I would be able to have the day in peace and quiet reading W&P. In fact I had not been in five minutes before my two youngest returned home from school together with a gang of mates. The school's heating had failed and they had been sent home. You may imagine how devastated they were. Anyway - guess what they came in to watch? Would you believe series 1 and 2 of Gavin and Stacey plus the Christmas special. So I ended up watching them yet again. Oh well - fair play.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Favourite poster seen this holiday

Holly Reeves ---->

Who ever she is she has been residing near our local recycling centre this Christmas period.

Or it could have been Christmas Day

when I stepped on to the kids new Wii Fit assuming I was going to show them how it was done, but five minutes later suffering the public humiliation of being told by the machine that I had a fitness age of 64.

So much for visiting the gym practically every day during the past year!

Worst moment of 2008 for me

Possibly finding out I was NOT (as he had assured me I was) his one and only.

Most distressing.

Dateline 3rd January 2009

Easter treats on sale at Tescos...Cadbury's mini eggs and Lindt chocolate bunnies (my personal favourites). Get yours now before it is too late.