Happy Friday. Ooo-Arrr (like a pirate)

Is there such a thing as too much Milkybar? They were selling the 'sharing' bars for £1 at the petrol station and I may or may not have bought one and well, not shared. & now I feel sick. Whoops.

Well, here we are again. Friday. Another week gone and another week closer to Christmas (which I am in no way prepared for, by the way.) I'm off to my friend Jane's this afternoon/evening where I shall play with her super adorable little girl and we shall drink coffee and gossip. Lovely.
Tomorrow is the family dinner party. Eeeek. & then I think on Sunday I shall mostly be asleep. I'm looking forward to it all. Ok, I'm slightly stressing about tomorrow but I'm sure it'll all be fine. It'll be fine, right? Right?

I just have this fear that the food will be a disaster and that the whole affair will be punctuated by awkward silences that I don't know how to break. STRESSSTRESSSTRESS.

Let's not think about it.

Let's instead celebrate the start of the weekend with a little bit of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow because everybody knows that makes everything better.

Also, Darren Criss Glee is back next week. Dance with me?

Happy Friday.

in which i am feeling jolly (if not a little cold)

I can't believe we're halfway through the week already! Seriously, this week seems to be flying by. I looked at my watch at about half past 11 this morning and nearly keeled over; I honestly expected it to only be about 9.30.
I shall have to work faster I think if I don't want time to get away from me. I could always just sit back and let it go of course, but that's hardly productive is it?

I am in a good mood today bloggers, because I am planning a weekend in London town with the rather spesh Jen, not til after Christmas but since I haven't actually seen this girl since our summer excursion in '09 I think I'm entitled to get excited now. I have no idea what the weekend will entail but I suspect there will be winter Pimms and yummy food and books and giggles and photographs aplenty. I also suspect we shall walk on Hampstead Heath (and not get lost like we have maybe been known to do before!) Whatever happens it will be lovely lovely and the prospect of it is making me very happy because look how much we love each other *points to photo*

In other news, this weekend I am having a meeting of the families. Ha. By that I mean that I have taken it upon myself to cook for my parents and brother and Ian's parents and sister. I think I might have taken temporary leave of my senses if not only because there will be 8 of us present and I only have 6 dining chairs.....

It's Friday

Haha. I love this. Look at Archimedes.

I am a very big fan of The Sword in the Stone, actually. It reminds me of lazy winters days on the sofa with a quilt and some of those potato trianges they used to sell at ASDA. Does anyone else remember those? No? Oh well, they were amazing and I loved them.

We had the movie on video, not a shop bought one but one we'd taped off the TV. Disney's Robin Hood (another favourite) was on before it, you had to fast forward that to get to this and I watched it so many times that it was a little fuzzy in parts and I knew Merlin's "Higutus Figutus" song by heart. I class this as one of my greatest achivements actually because it's not an easy song to learn, it's right up there with "Substitutiary Locomotion" from Bedknobs and Broomsticks (I know that one off by heart too. I know all of B&B by heart but that' another story....)
Anyway, I found this clip and got all nostalgic and wanted to save it so figured I'd save it here!
Happy Friday!!

We accept the love we think we deserve.

"Sometimes, I look outside, and I think that a lot of other people have seen this snow before. Just like I think that a lot of other people have read those books before. And listened to those songs.
I wonder how they feel tonight."

"The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" is one of those books that I've been meaning to read for ages. One of those books that I've heard about and that people have told me I should read but that I've just never gotten round to picking up because there's always something else that catches my eye and in all honesty I doubted it would live up to the hype.

"The Perks Of Being A Wallflower"
is one of those books that I really really wish I'd read sooner. I loved it. I read it wanting to see what all the fuss was about. Now I know. & I want to read it again.

I've read a lot of good books this year, I think I've said that before. I've read a lot of books that have made me think and that have stayed with me but this one, it's different. It's a couple of weeks now since I finished it and I still can't get it out of my head, I can't stop thinking about it; there are quotes, lines and passages that keep coming back to me and making me feel like a heavy weight has settled somewhere in the middle of my chest. It's a beautiful beautiful book: the characters are beautiful, the language is beautiful, the message is beautiful and I just...loved it.

In a nutshell, it's the story of a fifteen year old boy, Charlie. It follows him through a year in his life, through a series of letters he writes to an somebdoy whose identity is never revealed.

Charlie is all kinds of wonderful. He doesn't want to let go of his childhood but at the same time he wants to grow up; he's caught in that no-mans land that we all go through at some point, balancing on the cusp of adulthood and knowing that when you finally jump nothing will ever be the same again.
He's clever and compassionate and senstive and massively messed up and he has this unique way of expressing himself that at times made me wonder, particularly at the start of the book, whether he was autistic; whether at the very least he was suffering from a high-functioning form of Asperger's because he seemed like a very young, very naive 15 year old. I never was and have never met a 15 year old like Charlie, he is absolutely not your average teenage boy yet (and this is part of the magic) at the same time he really is.
We follow him through a world of suicide and bullying and first love and lost love and friendship and a depression that breaks your heart and as I read I fell in love with this slightly damaged kid a little bit, a lot, because despite the fact that Chobsky's narrative style and the way Charlie's peers react to him make him seem more like a kid of 12 at times, he also has this maturity that makes him seem older than his years, this outlook on life that's like a smack in the face sometimes.

There's no convuluted vocab, no over-complicated plot, no complex descriptions, it's all so so simple and the way Charlie's thoughts are juxtaposed against his actions; his ability to look so much deeper than what he first sees or hears alongside his struggle to fit in with the people he wants to call his friends, shows who he is so effectively.

I'm really not making any sense am I? This is probably the crappest most garbled review I ever wrote. I blame the lack of coffee in my life today for my inability to be coherent.

I think my point is, when I was doing that OU course the other year ago my tutor was very big on 'show don't tell.' It was like her mantra or something and she was right because to as a writer, a good writer, you have no tool more powerful than the ability to show and not tell.
'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' is one of the best examples of showing and not telling that I have ever come across.

You know what else I keep thinking? I really really wish I'd read this book when I was fifteen. Not because my high school experience was like Charlie's, much, but because, I don't know because it made me feel things differently and it would have been good I think, to have felt these things back then.

Again with the no sense.

It's like....it's like I'm 28 and I'm about to read this book about a 15 year old American school boy and I'm thinking there's no way I'm going to be able to relate to this story and then I actually read it and Charlie makes all these observations and I find myself just knowing somehow exactly where he's at. It's like sitting down and having a talk with a friend that you didn't know you needed until you realised things seemed better and I just think it's one of those books that I love now but that would have made a difference back then & whilst it's hardcore: drama after drama after drama, angst following angst following angst, the tone of this novel is absolutely spot on. It never felt deep and heavy and depressing. It's so frigging beautiful too. There were so many parts of it that I just wanted to quote, that I wanted to read aloud, that I wanted everybody in the world to share.

& I am so tempted to just delete this entire post and come back another time when I am caffeinated and able to do it justice but I've written it now. Besides, there's always the chance that this is garbled and nonsensical because I am garbled and nonsensical and if that's the case then this might be the best I can do *shrug*
If you haven't already then go read this book and then get a teensy bit excited about the film (starring Emma Watson) because that's just what I did.

I'm going to put the kettle on......

it's friday and Jen is doing the 100 poem challenge

I’ve been a bit under the weather this week, so the majority of the time I’ve not spent working has been spent sleeping and still I am tired. Ian and I were supposed to go and see ‘The Three Musketeers’ last night but instead I was asleep by 9.30. Poor Ian. I slept Wednesday night away too. I haven’ even done any reading; I’ve been on page 36 of my book (Murakimi’s South of the Boder, West of the Sun) since Tuesday. Most unlike me.
I did see my Grandparents last night though, which was lovely. It was my Grandpa’s birthday on Wednesday so we called round with a card and chocolates and had a catch up, that was a giggle.
& Monday marked my ten year anniversary at work. Yup, that’s right people, I have been working here *gestures around self* for a whole ten years and four days. How about that. I was feeling quite sentimental about it on Monday, if I’d had time I probably would have blogged about how even though there’s been times when I’ve been utterly utterly miserable deep down I feel a sense of achievement at how far I’ve come and how actually from office junior to the desk I have today is pretty darn good and things are better at work right now than they’ve ever been and hurrah for me. I didn’t have time though, which is probably lucky for anybody reading this as it would have been a truly yawn-worthy post. I did get a new watch out of it though, a very pretty one too (I have it on good authority that it was chosen by my boss’s wife. Ha.)
Whilst I’m here I’ll quickly point you in the direction of the fabulous Jen Campbell’s fundraising page. Jen is a good friend of mine, she’s a bookseller and writer (her book, as I’ve mentioned before, is out early next year) and has a very rare genetic condition called EEC Syndrome. It’s so rare that people in the medical world don’t even have any statistics for it as such, s’just rare. Not a lot is known about it, new things are being uncovered all the time such as the way it affects the cornea meaning Jen, and other people with EEC might lose their sight. So, Jen being Jen and not one to sit around feeling sorry for herself, has decided to try and raise some money for EEC Italia, who research not just EEC but lots of other conditions. She’s doing this not by a bake-off or a sponsored walk but by writing 100 poems in 1 weekend. That’s right, 100 actual poems. (Seriously, she has so much damn talent that if she wasn’t so cute I’d probably hate her!) Miles did the maths and has calculated something ridiculous like a poem every fifteen minutes, which you have to admit is pretty impressive. So, I ask you to click this link, read what Jen has to say; she’s much more eloquent than me, watch the video if it takes your fancy and please pledge some money even if it’s only $1 (it has to be dollars; the site is American) because it really is a worthy cause and every little helps. Fanks.
& Happy Friday.
Yes Mark, yes, it's VERY VERY COOL. I wanna see where Molly killed Bellatrix. Take me?
Ben Mills was an X-Factor contestant a few years ago. He was all long hair and rock ballads and totally my type; I loved him from his first audition. He was pretty enough to look at and his voice was just this gravelly kind of heaven. I swear, when that man sang I forgot how to breathe. It was ridiculous how much I loved him; how badly I wanted him to win the competition (he didn’t; he lost to Leona.) He did release an album though which I bought, and played and played and thought I could listen to his gravelly perfection forever. I wonder where that CD is…..?
Anyway, the point is I had it bad for this guy, for this guys voice but I got over it and (not including my Take That love because that’s like actual musical love that has lasted for over half of my life) I’ve not had a crush on anyone that much since because I grew up and I’m 28 and I have a boyfriend and a mortgage and 28 year old people with boyfriends and mortgages do not have crushes.

And herein lies my problem:

it's Friday. Have a cute Brothers & Sisters clip.

Friday: the perfect time to spread a little bit more Brothers & Sisters love, mainly because I was watching it last night. This time the little clip is in the shape of Kitty and Robert (Calista Flockhart and Rob Lowe) I mean seriously, look how cute these guys are. Looky looky.

In other news, the week is over (thank goodness) and in an hour and a half I shall be leaving the office and heading home for a weekend of fun fun times. We're having belated birthday celebrations tonight for my Mum (her birthday was in July!) so Mum and Dad and Helen and Drew are heading over to mine and we're going for chinese food which will be lovely. Saturday Ian and I are off to visit our friends Mark and Andrea. We plan to stay in and play board games because we're cool like that and then Sunday I have a coffee date with Jayne and baby Daisy. Fabulous.

I'm reading 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' at the moment which I have to say is rather lovely, so hopefully I'll finish that and come back to leave a review of some sorts.

Happy Friday.

day 24: a book you wish more people would read

So, what’s it about?

“Hector Kipling has everything to live for: he is a talented artist with loving parents, a beautiful girlfriend, dependable mates and good health. But when Kirk Church, one of his best friends, and a habitual painter of cutlery, announces that he may have a brain tumour, the prospect of a character-building bereavement, with all the attendant suffering and sympathy, is a little too difficult for Hector to resist. Will it make him a better artist? Will it make him as successful as his friend Lenny Snook, who fills limousines with blood and has just been nominated for the Turner Prize? As events begin to unravel it doesn’t take long for Hector’s charmed world to fall completely and irreparably apart.

From settees to stalkers, con men to corpses, paranoid self-portraits to S&M, The Late Hector Kipling is an irreverent and candid exploration of life, death, art and everything in between. “
Why do I like it? The Late Hector Kipling is one of those books that you just want to share; you kind of want to stand up and say ‘hey listen, this book is totally under-rated. You might not have heard of it, but it’s great,” because it really is. It’s dark and satirical and clever and funny and it shows Mr. Thewlis is not only a fabulous actor, he can write too. He creates a main character that you don’t like but that you’re fascinated with all the same, his characterisation is clever and his dialogue feels….I don’t know. Real. This novel feels personal – sometimes a little too personal – and it feels real at the same time as feeling utterly absurd and perhaps it’s because it’s written in first person but reading Hector Kipling kind of gives you that feeling of looking at something you shouldn’t; you know you shouldn’t stare but somehow you just can’t peel your eyes away. It’s a car-crash book.
It’s not a book that everybody will love, at all, but it’s definitely a book that I really wish more people would read.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Success

The only reason I had any interest in watching Tinker Tailor Solider Spy was the cast (Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hardy et al.) I will hold up my hands and admit that willingly.
In fact, the only reason I read the book was that I knew there was a film and I knew the cast was spectacular. I was totally biased. In all honesty, as I think I’ve mentioned before, I found the book hard going, so hard going that I almost gave up on it several times and whilst I finished it thinking I’d maybe enjoyed it, I was dubious about seeing the film and I fully expected to be as befuddled and exhausted at the end of it as I was after the book.
I was surprised.
A lot is cut from the book, something I usually gripe about but this time I firmly believe this to be to advantage of the film – there is no way on earth that the enormous amount of detail that the novel holds could ever be shown in all it’s debatable glory, unless of course a brain-frying 7 hour film is your cup of tea. It isn’t mine and so I liked the way the book was edited: I like the elements that were kept and I liked that the book ending that has you gritting your teeth because you’ve hung on for so many hours just to still be left hanging is not the film ending; loose ends are tied up and I like that.

Be aware, if you plan to go and see Tinker, Tailor that this is not a bond-esque spy movie; there isn’t so much as a hint of glamour. The world of Tinker Tailor is grey and dull. It’s a world of run down offices seen through a haze of cigarette smoke and full not of Sean Connery style suave sophistication but of edgy, anxious over-worked men (and Kathy Burke.) In one scene Colin Firth rides a bicycle into the office; James Bond never did that. It’s the perfect setting really for the events of the film to play out: this story of doubted loyalty, of humiliation and of betrayal (so much betrayal) just wouldn’t work any other way. Despite the intricacies of the plot the film doesn’t lose pace because there is no pace; it’s almost slow motion, so slowly does the tale unfold and despite making my brain work harder than it usually likes to at the cinema, I was gripped from start to finish.

& what of the cast? Gary Oldman is fantastic, properly fantastic (of course) as Smiley, the agent brought out of retirement to try and find a mole at the top of the Secret Service. His portrayal of Smiley’s cold hard determination and barely disguised emotional pain is understatedly spot on; without him ever coming out and just saying it, you know that he’s angry and embarrassed by the way he was retired from the service, you know that he will find the mole if it kills him, you know how deeply he loves his wife, you know how hurt he is, not only by the professional betrayal of the mole but by the personal betrayal of a colleague sleeping with his wife. Every single emotion is unvoiced yet tangible and this is proof I think of the calibre of actor Oldman is. I was totally sold on his performance, totally and utterly.

Colin Firth makes a convincing Haydon, (although I did chuckle when in his first scene he called somebody a ‘prick’ – it didn’t seem right somehow, coming from Firth. Ha.) and his scenes with Mark Strong’s Prideaux, particularly at the end, were moving to say the least. There's a scene near the end at a Christmas party where the two of them exchange a look which just got me somehow, and then there's their final scene. More of that unvoiced emotion. Poor poor Prideaux.
Benedict Cumberbatch was fabulous – quote of the night from Helen “I think I love Benedict Cumberbatch even more now, even if he is ginger” I do love that girl. – and Tom Hardywas v good as Ricky Tarr. I did feel sorry for Ricky - falling in love with someone else’s wife, classed as a defector and then after the event offering his help in exchange for a false promise. Smiley was a very bad man lying to him about the woman he loved like that. Bad bad George Smiley.
Don’t be fooled: this is not an easy watch; it’s no light relief. It’s complicated and it requires your constant concentration and my brain was hurting by the time the credits started rolling but it was worth it. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is an unexpectedly good film, much better than the book.

Tell me why I don't like Mondays

I am not a fan of this week. I feel like I am coming down from a massive high and in comparison to the past week it's all a bit s**t.

Last week I spent 4 days in Abersoch; I only spent 3 days in the office; I went out for Tapas; I spent the day with Helen and our respective Mums; I saw Sister Act and sat 5 seats away from Stephen Fry; I got lots of Daisy cuddles and I saw Phantom of the Opera for the first time.

This week I am in the office 5 days and have a LOT of work, I have tummy ache and tomorrow I have to go to the dentist (in case you didn't know, the dentist is my Kryptonite!)
Talk about going from one extreme to the other. Boo.

Ian has gone to the garage so I am curled up in massive PJ bottoms with a monkey print and a Dirty Dancing t-shirt, cuddling Jasper, reading 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower,' drinking hot Vimto and eating salted chocolate. Ok, you're right. Maybe it's not that bad after all....actually, wait, I still have to go to the dentist tomorrow - it is that bad, and then some. Woe really is me.

For you, a thousand times over

"Children aren't coloring books. You don't get to fill them with your favorite colors"
I've read so many good books this year. So so many and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is another. It's just....beautiful. It's graphic and it's heartbreaking and it's tragic but it's also beautiful and poignant and hopeful. I am so mad at myself for waiting so long to read this.

"she had a voice that made me think of warm milk and honey"
I was speechless when I finished reading this book. I laid my Kindle beside me on the bed and just sort of stared for a while. It was one of those books that just left me not quite knowing how I felt. I'd read it slowly because I didn't want to finish it; I didn't want to leave Amir and Hassan and Baba and that world behind. I wanted to know more. I wanted to know everything.I've read a lot of books this year that have broken me a little bit; it's not been a year for light relief and The Kite Runner is no different. It made me so so sad; it left me several times with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye and there were several occasions where I had to take a deep breath and bite my lip just to be able to keep on reading. I guess any story told against the backdrop of pre-war and post-Taliban occupation Afghanistan was always going to have that effect; was always going to be haunting.
"...and I would walk by, pretending not to know her, but dying to."
All I knew of Afghanistan before I read Hosseini's work (both this and A Thousand Splendid Suns) was what I read and seen in the news and whilst I'm not going to profess to be any kind of expert now, I certainly feel like I've had my eyes opened. I mean, I'm not an idiot. I read the news, I know things aren't good over there and I know they've not been good for a long time and I know that ultimately this is a work of fiction but it's rooted in truth and reading books like this make things hit home perhaps not harder but differently to reading news reports and you become aware of things that you might otherwise not have even considered.
"It turned out that, like satan, cancer had many names."

It is, at times a brutal book and every single time a passage was hard to read I felt guilty because however hard it was for me to read I couldn't help think, for example, about the people who actually lived under Taliban rule, people for whom this wasn't fiction but reality.But please, if you haven't read this book, don't let the fact that it will without a doubt make you sad put you off, please, because this book is so much more than a tear-jerker; ultimately it's a story of redemption and the emotions and relationships Hosseini created were rich and honest. It's a fantastic read.

"The first time I saw the Pacific, I almost cried."
Hosseini's chracterisation is incredible. Take Amir. As a person he's not always particularly likeable, at times he's the opposite. If someone was to tell you about a snobbish little boy who likes to play with a little servant boy but only if nobody is around; who he never calls his friend, who he'll tease and ridicule for his own amusement and who he won't stand up and protect from a vicious attack, you'd think he sounded like an awful spoilt brat and I suppose to a certain extent he is but in a literary sense he's a really great character. Amir is so so well written, so well written and is so well developed, so deep that you can see past his cruelty to Hassan, you really get to know this troubled vulnerable little boy so desperate for the affection of his father and whilst you can't condone the things he does you can't help but sympathise with him, care for him and ulitmately be proud of him.

"Proud. His eyes gleamed when he said that and I liked being on the receiving end of that look."
There were so many things to love about this book, so very many. As we follow Amir from the 70's to a year or so after 9/11 The Kite Runner never loses pace, or vision. We learn about Afghanistan in the 70's, the lives the people lived before the arrival of the Russians and with hindsight we are are flabbergasted by the initial reactions to the arrival of the Taliban - how they were welcomed at first, how they drove the Russians out and many Afghans were grateful thinking this would be the start of a new dawn for their country; the beginning of a better time. From there the descriptions of Afghani life, of the Taliban, of the atrocities commited are nothing less than frightening, and extremely hard to read but still the book never loses hope, you as the reader are never allowed to lose hope. As for the ending, I don't think I've ever wanted to hug a child so much in my entire life.

"America was a river, roaring along unmindful of the past. I could wade into this river, let my sins drown to the bottom, let the waters carry me someplace far. Someplace with no ghosts, no memories, and no sins. If for nothing else, for that I embraced America."

Whilst Hosseini doesn't shy away from the fanatical side of Afghanistan he also paints a beautiful human picture of the other side. The Kabul he draws with it's pomegrante trees and markets and kabobs and kite-running competitions is of a tightly knit community that anybody would love to be, would be proud to be a part of. The community spirit of these people in Afghanistan, then in Pakistan and later in America is heart-warming, it makes you believe and whilst this is a sad story, sad because of what was lost in it's pages and what it reminds us has been and still is endured it's also a wonderful one. The characters and the world they live in are warm and colourful, the message of determination and hope and redemption is inspring and I know it will stay with me for a long long time.

"He walked like he was afraid to leave behind footprints. He moved as if not to stir the air around him."

On a lighter note, you know what I realised reading this book? That Ian could never be an Afghan for no other reason than that they share the endings of films. Anyone who has witnessed my boyfriend covering his ears with a "don't tell me ANYTHING" would know that if he lived in a culture where the question asked of somebody returning from the cinema was "how does it end" well, it just wouldn't be pretty. Ha.

"...and when she locked her arms around my neck, when I smelled apples in her hair, I realized how much I had missed her. 'You're still the morning sun to me...' I whispered."