Drip, drip, drip…

Image result for world dripping tap

When might overcomes right.

We are fast getting to the point where the world is being run by a few big businesses.  Each year, the division between the poor and the rich grows ever wider, the number of poor increases whereas only the wealth of the rich increases.  The middlemen become marginalised and we all bow under the pressure of government sanctioned temptations.

You might say that has been the way of the world for centuries and the big will surely fall as they always do, quoting Ozymandias and pointing to the fall of the Third Reich, Hannibal and his elephants, Rome and the Ottomans.

But we are in the midst of a subtle, pervasive threat, conducted under the smiling and beneficious arms of the law, using our own laziness to run us into the ground and bleed us dry.

Paranoia, I hear you cry.  Exaggeration and scaremongering, I hear you shout.  Not so.

I recall as a child having to run down to the shops to replace my parents’ carbonated glass bottle for a few pennies – no wastage, all recycled.  Then, a few years later, Perrier widely launched their expensive, pretty-bottled, carbonated water for sale in the UK, at an exorbitant price, and we were all bemused by the yuppies who had more money than sense, spending so much on a bottle of water just because it came from a spring.

Not long after that, ‘still’ water was launched and I distinctly recall saying, “idiots.  Why on earth would anyone in the UK, which has one of the best water supplies in the world, pay for bottled water when they can drink it from the tap?”  Now, bottled water is commonplace and if you go for a meal with friends and ask for a jug of water rather than buying a bottle, you are teased for being a cheapskate, when it is all about not buying into the hype.  It is appalling that even schools sell bottled water to the children, perpetuating the fallacy that bottled is better and encouraging them to collude unwittingly in this environmentally disastrous enterprise which does nothing but line the pockets of the conglomerates at the expense of not only our own dwindling bank balances (we’ll get onto the disparity of pay rises between the working class and the politicians another day) but also at the expense of the environment.

Now, I’ve discovered the shocking news of cases in the United States where people are being sued for harvesting rainwater, including that of a man who built a lake, preserving the beauty and richness of the landscape.  While on the other side of the fence, companies like Nestle are given the government golden-handshake to purchase a $524 permit to enable them to dry out waterbeds in drought ridden states in order to bottle water in order to make a profit at a detriment to the environment (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-36161580).

This is not the only place this has occurred: there’s Africa – a continent for whose drought ridden countries we constantly have charity fundraisers (https://newint.org/blog/majority/2011/06/20/africa-water-privatization/); India and Latin America (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2006/mar/19/business.india1).

There are others, but the point is this: when companies bottle water and ruin the environment it is to supply an unnecessary demand!  The solution: stop buying bottled water, then they’ll have no-one to sell to.  Petition your schools to make bottled water a thing of the past to protect the future, teach your children to use a water fountain, or better yet, take a bottle of water into school with them.

We hear enough about plastic pollution, and bottled water is not only adding to that, but it is also destroying the watertables we have now.  More worryingly still, the head of Nestle claims that access to rainwater is not a human right (http://naturalsociety.com/nestle-ceo-water-not-human-right-should-be-privatized/).

So, we have the pervasive persuasive push to encourage us to buy water in bottles, which perpetuates the drive to bottle more and so we buy more (it’s in plentiful supply right?) and create more pollution and more drought and so the cycle keeps turning.

There’s one other trap: you know how clever BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) is?  A 50% discount only prompts you to buy 1 item, whereas with BOGOF they instantly sell twice as much.  Well, it works the same in industry but on a much larger scale.  The supplier stipulates that it will offer an additional x% if the merchant manages to sell y,000 units, otherwise they get the standard discount.  So now, we have a reseller pushing his product to ensure (s)he meets that arbitrary target, which increases each year. I’ll give you an example: at my children’s school they sell bottled water (even though there are water fountains and the children have 20 minutes between lessons to fill up).  I told my children they weren’t to waste money buying water and to fill up their bottles at the fountain.  However, the school’s catering company now has a ‘meal deal’, whereby they have put the cost of the meal up by x% and it includes a bottle of water.  The children who refuse the ‘free’ bottles of water are given funny looks.

Buying bottled water is now ‘cool’, ‘sensible’ and ‘convenient’.

How did this happen?

How did we become so gullible?

Did you know there are three different categories of bottled water?  Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Table Water.  Now, get this, Table water is filtered, sourced, TAP WATER.  Yes, you heard me, tap water!

Our tap water is already safe to drink – it has to follow very strict rules and guidelines.  Bizarrely, I could buy a permit and open my own company selling filtered tap water and everyone would buy it because (I want to scream) they have been encouraged to do so and we are all in the habit of drinking bottled water!

If you’re a pre-80’s child, do you remember what you used to do before bottled water became commonplace?  If the answer is ‘yes’, start doing it again!  For the rest of you, it’s really easy: when you’re thirsty, ask someone for a glass of water.  Any establishment that serves alcohol has to serve free drinking (tap) water.  It’s the law!

I would like, at this point, to give a huge shout out to The Oxford Playhouse (https://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/) who have a jug of water just sitting there (no asking required) for patrons to help themselves to.

I’ll leave you one last thought.  They say a clever salesman is one who can sell snow to eskimos (and we laugh because the purchaser is so gullible).  Well, we now have companies that sell water to the populace of a country where it rains 30% of the year (on average).


Nestlé’s Chairman – laughing

Who’s laughing now?

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After Twilight

In this case, I refer to the book by Stephenie Meyer, not the time of day.

Image result for twilight

There are hundreds of websites/blogs you can go to for ideas on what to read after Twilight.  I have read several of them for the same reason (probably) that you are reading this and that is because I absolutely adored the Twilight series.  What is it about them that makes me want to dive in again and again? Certainly not the writing, but I have no issue with how well, or not, it is written as it has addressed the primary premise for a fiction book:  to capture the reader’s attention, to engage them wholly and to entertain.

For me, the obsessive romantic aspect is the real draw and while many spout such an obsession as unhealthy, to me it is as deliciously pleasurable as chocolate eclairs, only less fattening.  I felt the same pull with Fifty Shades but when I went to find ‘more books like FSOG’, I was presented with lists of books on BDSM.  Not what I wanted at all.  With the ‘after Twilight’ websites, I found more vampire novels.  Again, I’m looking for obsession and romance and twists and HEA.  So, I’ve decided to put together my own list for those of you who adored the same sappy, romantic aspects of Twilight, imbued with a little action to stop it becoming too wet.

The list is in no particular order and I only mention the first book if it’s a series.

  1. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
  2. Immortal City by Scott Speer
  3. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  4. The Magicians’ Guild by Trudi Canavan
  5. Finding Sky by Joss Stirling
  6. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  7. Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (very long series and I stopped at book 9!)
  8. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
  9. The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
  10. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
  11. The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken
  12. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  13. Angelfall by Susan Ee
  14. Need by Carrie Jones
  15. Fire and Flood by Victoria Scott
  16. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
  17. Firelight by Sophie Jordan
  18. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  19. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  20. Obsidian By Jennifer Armentrout
  21. Half-Blood by Jennifer Armentrout
  22. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  23. Legend by Marie Lu
  24. Real by Katy Evans (18+)
  25. The Collector by Victoria Scott
  26. Davy Harwood by Tijan
  27. Bright Side by Kim Holden
  28. Eternal Eden by Nicole Williams
  29. Fissure by Nicole Williams
  30. Significance by Shelly Crane
  31. Relentless by Karen Lynch
  32. Thirst by Claire Farrell
  33. Slammed by Colleen Hoover (18+)
  34. Becoming Calder by Mia Sheridan
  35. Beastly by Alex Flinn
  36. Fallen Crest by Tijan
  37. This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas (18+)
  38. Introductions by C.L. Stone (reverse harem)
  39. Angelic by L.P. Swalheim (unfinished series and the writing style makes you wince)
  40. Knight’s Mistress by C.C. Gibbs (18+)
  41. Soulmates by Holly Bourne
  42. Violet Eden by Jessica Shirvington
  43. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins (16+)
  44. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  45. Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan (the series is let down by book 3)
  46. Release Me by J. Kenner (18+)
  47. Hope(less) by Melissa Haag
  48. Relentless by Karen lynch
  49. City In Embers by Stacey Marie Brown (18+)
  50. Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan (18+)


Books/series that are touted as being Twilightesque, but I really didn’t like/didn’t work:

  1. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (enjoyed first book only)
  2. Fallen by Lauren Kate (enjoyed the first book only)
  3. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia (tried to read this four times!)
  4. Evermore by Alyson Noel (The heroine drove me up the wall)
  5. A Shade Of Vampire – nothing like Twilight.
  6. My Soul To Take by Rachel Vincent – enjoyed the first book but it quickly went downhill.
  7. Matched by Ally Condie – enjoyed the first book
  8. Delirium by Lauren Oliver – enjoyed the first book
  9. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb


Waiting to Read (because they’ve been on ‘after Twilight’ lists):

  1. I’d tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
  2. Uglies by Scott Westerfield
  3. Gone by Michael Grant (I’ve read this now and cannot see how it made those lists)
  4. Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
  5. Angel Evolution by David estes
  6. Sookie Stackhouse series – I’m put off by the sheer number of books
  7. Shiver & Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
  8. House of Night by P.C. Cast
  9. Pure by Julianna Baggott
  10. Breathe by Sarah Crossan


Other books I’ve loved but don’t necessarily follow the Twilight obsessive romance:

  1. Eragon by Christopher Paolini
  2. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
  3. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
  4. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
  5. Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
  6. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  7. Maximum Ride by James Patterson
  8. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  9. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
  10. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  11. Fallen Crest High by Tijan (18+)
  12. Lovely Vicious by Sara Wolf
  13. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
  14. Supernaturals by Kelly Oram
  15. Stolen Songbird by Danielle L Jensen
  16. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
  17. Deception by C.J. Redwine
  18. Runaway Mortal by Komal Kant
  19. Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
  20. Eon by Alison Goodman


Books on Twilight lists I probably won’t read:

  1. Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith – it’s the love triangle I can’t deal with
  2. Thoughtless by S C Stephens – ditto


There you have it.  I may revisit and add to these lists from time to time, but it is a testament to the enduring appeal of Twilight, that I have compiled this list years after Twilight first appeared on our shelves.  It may interest you to know that I re-read the series only last year (2016) and the film is still one of my favourites to iron to.  Although, I’m not sure I ought to admit to that particular vice as the films are a whole different ballgame.

Happy reading.

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Where wolves? Here wolves!

Last year I discovered Melissa Haag.  I know, I know, where in the heck have I been?  I honestly don’t know.  Why hadn’t I picked up her stuff before?  Because of the covers – again, I Know! Don’t judge, yada, yada…  But you have to admit, if you’re a Haagfan, the cover on Hope(less) doesn’t scream ‘read me, I’m awesome’.  It’s the food equivalent of blancmange and that stuff looks Bland (capital B).

If you like paranormal, romance, werewolves and teen fiction, then Melissa Haag’s Judgement Of The Six series ticks all these boxes. There’s no smut or foul language, the girls are ‘of appropriate age’, but we are talking mates-for-life and some horrific scenes.

Each book is set around a different female character.  These ladies have special ‘gifts’ and they are to be the deciding factor in a centuries-old war.  I love the devotion of the guys, the manner in which the lovers find each other and the basic storyline in general.  With the exception of the covers (which get better after the first book), there is nothing to dislike about these stories.  Ms Haag has also written a companion series which offers the male POV.

Other fabulous author discoveries are: Karen Lynch (Relentless series) – demons, werewolves; Stacey Marie Brown (Collector Series) – demons and fey; Mia Sheridan (Sign of Love series) – contemporary; Montana Ash (Elemental Paladins series – again, the covers are off-putting) – angels; B.L. Brunnemer (Veil Diaries series – if you can put up with poor copy editing) – necromancer/reaper.

In addition to those, you have to get your hands on: Sophie Jordan’s Reign of Shadows series – Rapunzel with a twist which you will not believe until you see it (hint, hint); Eric Lindstrom’s Not If I See You First; Tillie Cole’s A Thousand Boy Kisses; Cecilia Ahern’s Flawed (a new foray into the teen/YA market).

There you go.  Some of my fave reads of the past 12 months, not discounting Cassandra Clare, etc. for you to get your teeth into.  You’re welcome.  Just pop back and let me know if you agree.

You could always go to my bookshelves on GoodReads to see my reviews (especially the ones I did not finish so you know what to avoid).


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Tripe, anyone?

Image result for tripe

The best books in the world are heavily edited because, let’s face it, we tend to regurgitate a lot of rubbish.  We can’t all be R K Narayan and submit an almost immaculate work.  Even garnished with a slice of lemon and a sprig of mint, tripe is still tripe.

Indeed, my mind churns mountains of spurious stuff and the trouble with blogging is there is no editor between the brain and the keyboard so you, dear Readers, tend to get a lot of chaff.  Not that that is any excuse for poor blogging, but you have to admit the whole concept is less wholesome chicken soup and more whatever’s-in-the-cupboard.  My cupboard is very disorganised, and, as such, so is my offering to the great WWW.

My best work is created while I am on the move, either in the car or walking (if any of my work could be classified as good), most especially because I know no poor soul will ever get access to it.  The reason for the inaccessibility being that I have no access to paper and pen, or, if I did have access, no way in which I could transfer my thoughts.  Several times, in the car, I have tried to dictate to my children, but that second-hand process is stifling and I would rather rely on my useless memory than go though the torture of trying to convey my thoughts via a third party, which is why this blog is so cobweb-riddled.

Earlier today, I had a long-train of insightful musings and was determined to trap them with ink, but, as usual, my train was derailed under the pressure of work and my thoughts were scattered to the four winds.

My house is a messy (but clean) clutter – like my brain – and there are umpteen slips of paper and napkins and torn-off bits of card with scribbles and quotes lying here, there and everywhere.  My husband (bless him for putting up with it) doesn’t understand why I don’t gather them up and put them all together in one place, like my hand-engraved sandalwood box, or even type them up and throw away the original.  I suppose only another writer could understand the delight of coming across a long-forgotten chitty; they are my version of the surprise twenty pound note discovered in the lining of a bag or, even better, a forgotten bar of chocolate at the back of the fridge.  Tiny snippets of joy.  Going out to buy a bar of chocolate doesn’t convey anywhere near the same delight (Husband, if you’re reading this, please feel free to cache stashes of chocolate about the house).

My bemused husband has also asked why I don’t use the voice recorder on my phone.  Is it just me or do you also find it hard to vocalise your musings?  My most recent oeuvre is all type-written, not a single word was laid to paper first (normally I would write long-hand then transfer to screen) and it was quite a task for the first few pages because I had to keep going back to correct punctuation and read the grammar suggestions, which made me lose my focus.  But, once I learnt to ignore the red and green squiggles I got on much faster and flew through the book, sending chapter after chapter to my most faithful of readers as they appeared at the end of each day.  I’m not saying I’ve been converted, but I was surprised at how easy it feels now.  Perhaps blogging has helped as I don’t write longhand for the blog – sorry, Reader, you get the unadultered, unvarnished, raw spewings, without spelling and grammar checks.

I’ll be doing another book review soon – I read a huge amount  (several books a week) but review very few.  They have to be either pretty horrendous or pretty great or have something that claws rabidly for me to get my keyboard out.

Which brings me to this book: Darren Allen’s Apocalypedia

Encyclopaedias and dictionaries are often boring, of no help when it comes to secretly filling train carriages with subversive balloons and they rarely manage to offend everyone. Lexicographers assume that language is a big machine that you need an instruction manual to use, rather than a river of silvery ribbons that bursts out of your astonished mouth, or a spectacular instant tree that grows between people in collective surrender to something bigger than the both of us, or a slow lightning strike that pins you, howling with delight, to the sky, or some peculiar paradoxical state halfway between hard cold crystal- line structures driving us to a revolutionary, world-changing point, and mad hot erupting flowers of aimless joy. People who read dictionaries rarely snort soup out their nostrils in outrage, or nod with serene recognition at far distant and long estranged ideas suddenly flung together as mysterious friends, or feel gently inspired to fall in love with waiting forever, or seriously consider the only solution to heartbreak there is or possibly could be, or leave work to master horsemanship, or leave school to get educated, or up and seize their wives about the middle, ready to embark on a week-long reality-cracking godgasm, or stroll whistling into the void. The Apocalypedia is, therefore, a scurrilous, lyrical, lunatic and friendly countercultural A-Z that satirises modern society through an original and revolutionary collection of flash-essays and comic vignettes. It presents an apocalyptically optimistic and deeply original way of understanding human nature and of living in a civilisation that is in rapid and terminal decline. Looking at a combination of common value-charged words and new words coined to give voice to the often overlooked beauties and horrors of everyday experience, The Apocalypedia is a comic revelation of the kaleidoscopic twists and turns that ordinary consciousness makes throughout the day. A delightful gift book for the radically-inclined, the romantically baffled, the psychologically broken, the fledgling creative genius, the reckless, the sensitive and the actually dying, the book is an entertaining and uncompromising satire of modern culture.

Get ready readers, for my next subversive blog is sure to be silver-lined.


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Me Before You (review)

me before you image

It has taken me a few days to get to this point because I was reeling and crying and just so overwhelmed by the characters in this book.

Lou was cute and managed, with Will’s help, to grow out of her fears. Will, with Lou’s help, saw the world in a different light. That is the ‘changed their lives forever’ part.  For those of you are complaining because Will’s life wasn’t ‘forever’, you have to understand that for him it was because he hadn’t loved until then.
There are so many things I want to say about this book, many of them cliché, but I shall address the most obvious points as I saw them. Please note: the only thing I will say regarding the area of giving/taking/accepting and supporting ‘life choices’ is that, to me, it is obvious. Your body=your right.
When Lou was younger, something horrific happened and it bound her to her village in a way nothing else could.  To compound this, her family’s circumstances also bound her to the village; her boyfriend and his selfish self-absorbed immersion into the world of triathlon training, constrained her even more. Despite these invisible ties, Lou is her own quirky, vibrant, open person and she is about to burst (stumble) upon Will’s world in a shower of wonder.

Unfortunately, Will is bound in his own way, and not just by the accident that keeps him in a wheelchair. His past lifestyle was somewhat selfish and shallow. It was one of high finance, luxury and power, and it blinkered him to the more subtle pleasures of life, aided greatly by the jaded, separate, lifestyles of his parents – a couple who never, ever showed or demonstrated their feelings, constrained within their self-made prisons of propriety. His mother is a successful lawyer, very proper and elegant and refined, but doesn’t know how to relate to people on a personal level, not even her own son, whom she cannot look in the eye. His father checked out of his marriage and has a love interest that consumes him to the point where he looks upon Will’s accident as a stumbling block to the future he envisioned for himself – not that he doesn’t love and empathise with Will’s plight, but it is secondary to his own. His sister is as selfish as Will ever was and, while she loves her brother, it is not with the sort of affection you see in Lou’s family (I feel as though Jojo is holding up a mirror to Will’s past with his sister).
Can you see that Lou and Will’s differences goes far beyond their personalities?  She with all the love and none of the wealth or freedom.  He with all the wealth but none of the love… and no longer any freedom.

Lou’s down-to-earth presence slowly unveils a different world for Will and he begins to see that his previous lifestyle was pretty shallow; the only real things that gave him joy were using his brains, making new discoveries and thrilling adventure sports, even his bike.

In the book, when Lou asks, ‘did you never love anything that much’, and he answers, ‘yes,’ I like to think he is referring to everything except Alicia. He loved being alive: living and laughing and sex and running and sports and pitting his brains against his colleagues. All that, but not necessarily Alicia, who is merely a prop.
Alicia: I think she was used to highlight his ‘lack’. He pushed her away, but in actuality she didn’t fight it and when she gets engaged to his friend, I think Will sees it as confirmation of his utter worthlessness, as well as the fact that he will never have that (marriage, children), never ‘move on’.  At the wedding, he also sees that, with him, Lou will never have that either.

Will and Lou do fall in love, but Will never actually tells her, because he believes it to be one more thing that will hold her back. Hearing Will say, ‘I love you’, especially for Lou who is so emotionally invested, would have made Lou feel a form of obligation and it would make it harder for her to move on ‘after’. That is also, in part, why he did not want to have sex with her. The other part is that he didn’t want her to have just a tiny ‘make do’ piece of him, he wanted to give her everything or nothing at all.  It killed him that he couldn’t ‘love’ her properly.  Again, having sex would have meant Louisa investing too much of herself and he didn’t want that for her. It is another one of his unselfish acts, like the time when they go to the wedding and he wants her to have fun, entailing drinking too much to go home, even though it meant she wouldn’t be able to change his dressings and jeopardise his health. He does things he would have never have done for anyone else. It is these little things that prove he loves her.
The question everyone keeps asking: Why didn’t he delay Dignitas? Simple: Hope. If he’d delayed it to give him and Lou time, then we go back to the scenario I have already explained above and it would have given her leave to hope that he might delay it a little more, then a little more… pushing back the inevitable, during which time she falls deeper and deeper in love with him and is tied to him, not living, not growing, which he wants for her. He doesn’t want to be something else that binds her to the village, like her family and her fear and her ex-boyfriend. He wants her to ‘live’, to spread her wings and live life to the full and see the world.  She says, on the beach, ‘she isn’t enough for him’, but what she can’t seem to grasp is that she is everything and he refuses to let her tie herself to him when she could have so much more. Refuses to let her fall more in love with him, knowing that her heartache will be all the greater when the end comes – he is being selfless in refusing to let more time go by. I like to think he would have loved to have had more time with her, but he wants her happiness above his own.

Dignitas: Will explained his reasons far better than I could here, but for Will, who was so vitally alive, to be imprisoned (he mentions claustrophobia a couple of times with Lou in mind, but I saw it as him projecting), living with near constant pain and indignity, it was unbearable.  This in no way devalues the life he has/could have, it is a personal choice based on what he feels he can live with.

Will had seen and experienced so much in the world, but never understood or felt true love until Lou. Lou understood love – the love of family and friends and simple living and was content in herself, but Will opened her eyes to the wider world.
They were both missing something and, like two parts of a jigsaw puzzle, fulfilled that missing element for each other.

The heartbreaking thing is that, had Will not had the accident and been so completely dependent, he and Lou would never have met, got together and experienced such a deep abiding affection for each other; they would have remained tied into their lifestyles – Lou in her pretty village with a selfish boyfriend, struggling to keep her family above water; Will in the world of luxury, never happy with anyone and always looking for the next thrill to replace what was missing. But, contrarily, his condition meant their time together was destined to be short.

Finally, her mother at the end of the book: I was surprised at her stance because she has accepted so much else with barely a shrug – her daughter’s teen pregnancy; next door’s infidelity; redundancy; her father’s living with them – accepted and didn’t comment on other people’s choices (insisted Lou never mention her sister’s choice), and maybe this was the last straw. But, this was Lou allowing Will to make his own choice, she was merely going there to be with him while he exercised free will (huh!).

This book! Oh, this book!

Pass the tissues, please.

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Knock, Knock


Earlier this year, not long after the long Christmas break, I decided to place my first shopping order of the year.  We had finally eaten our way through all that stodgy food and now it was time to put our waists in order and munch on something healthy (Terry’s chocolate orange may sound like a good idea…).  So, I dutifully sat down and click, click, clicked away, merrily piling fruit and veg into my ‘basket’.  When it came to the payment screen I input my credit card details and then sat a little bemused when it asked me to input my credit card password.  I haven’t had to use that for at least two months.  Hmmm.  Well, okay, no big deal.  I entered the second, third and fifth characters as requested.


Oh.  Perhaps I input the wrong ones.  I counted them off on my fingers and entered the first, second and ninth characters in.


Oh!  Hold on.  Is the first letter a capital?  Perhaps that was the mistake.  Well, let me try again, and I entered the fifth, sixth and seventh characters – no capitalisation required.

Clang!  Sirens and whistles might have blown for the shock that ran across my face when I was barred from using my card for 24 hours.  Shit!

I went upstairs and told my husband what had happened.  His response: ‘You knew I was here, upstairs, while you were typing in the password and didn’t think to come and ask me?’

‘Well, why would I, when I knew what it was?’

‘Obviously, you didn’t!’

‘Uh, yes, I did – except, uh, the computer got it wrong…’

Well!  I wasn’t winning that argument this century, or the next.  Not that I was ever going to admit to being wrong (don’t get me started), because I had counted the characters out on my fingers!  See – never going to admit it!

So, my husband huffs and moans and probably calls me a few unsavoury names under his breath but agrees to call the bank who tell him all I need to do is go to an ATM, insert my credit card and unlock the pin.  Simple.

The next day I go to an ATM and… I can’t remember my pin number.  You know, the number you type in everytime you use the card at a shop; the number that you automatically tap in without thinking; the number that you originally thought of and said to yourself, ‘I’ll never forget this.’  Yes, that one.

I tried to remember it.  I even tapped it in, in three different ways.  It locked me out for another twenty-four hours.

Can you believe they ended up having to send me the number in the post?

Then, a few weeks later, I received an email from Adobe informing me that one of their old backups had been stolen and they advised I change any and all account passwords that used the same password I had with them twelve months ago.  What?  I can’t remember what I wore yesterday let alone what my password du jour was a year ago.

So, as I couldn’t remember what that password was and which other accounts used it, I changed all my passwords for all my accounts, even the ones I didn’t need to change.

My brain is now so full of passwords and pin numbers and passcodes and memorable names and, and, and…what was I saying?

The school has cashless catering which uses biometric id (fingerprinting) and it is brilliant.  I never have to remember to give the kids money for their lunches, I can see what they’ve eaten (no more muffins three times a day!), and I can stroll into the canteen without making a detour for my handbag.  This is what I want for my credit card… and then I remember how easy it was for Tom Cruise to copy a fingerprint on Mission Impossible.  Not that good old Tom is interested in my paltry pennies, still…  Perhaps a combination of both would be best.  But my brain had better get into gear.

(photograph: http://www.thehandmadehome.net/)

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FSOG Movie Review

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After all the rumours, changes in casting, delays and upheavels, we finally had a date for the finished product. Yes, Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie, was coming to a cinema near me and I could not wait.  I arranged, months in advance, to see it with another FSOG fan (my lovely sister-in-law) and, as s0on as tickets became available, we booked our seats – VIP, no less.

A couple of weeks prior to the showing, I reread the books (as you do). Oh joy. The story is so compelling, Christian’s angst so captivating, that I fell, once more, into the heady romance embroidered with Mr Grey’s ‘need’ to bind Ana.
I didn’t read any pre-reviews or opinions; I didn’t read up on the actors or actresses or sound bites, but I did watch the trailers. They were disappointing because she was not Ana and he was not Christian. Escala, however, was exactly as I expected and I was gratified to see Charlie Tango take pride of place in the main trailer.
My sister-in-law and I had a meal before the show so we could catch up and get all inconsequential conversation out of the way.  The cinema was packed and, although she had pre-booked, the queue to get our tickets was trailing out of the doors. Being surrounded by so many excited women just upped the anticipation.  The waiting began to be itchingly uncomfortable – good job we have posh seats.  The screening was packed – not a spare seat to be had – and we saw at least a dozen men in the audience with their partners (could have been siblings, but very unlikely), no doubt dragged in to show them what is expected in the romance department because Christian is very romantic when he puts his mind to it.   His obsession with Ana is mouth-wateringly delicious and I only hoped they would manage to convey it on celluloid – do they still use celluloid or is it all digitised?
Forget that and let’s get to, ta da, the film!
Casting: As I have already said, I was disappointed with the actors chosen to play Ana and Christian. They look nothing like the characters; they are either too old or too young, too happy (Christian) or not innocent enough (Ana). What was up with that fringe? Then there were the side characters – with the exception of Jennifer Ehle as Ana’s mum, the others were wrong, wrong, wrong.  Elliot was so very wrong, I actually gasped.  Actually, there was a collective gasp and murmur – see, I’m not in the minority.
The story line: I was irritated by Caroline Long’s review in The Sunday Times.  Not only did The Times send someone who was already biased against the trilogy to review the film, but she made some glaringly obvious mistakes. The book neither finished nor started as she said – one wonders whether she was rummaging for her sharpener at those points. There were a few other mistakes and, collectively, these were enough to make me dispel her review, especially when coupled with her negative attitude regarding the whole FSOG idea – please do not read it.

The first moment Christian and Ana see each other is crucial and, sure, they made sure Ana fall into his office but the next oh-so-important bit was not there: her comment about the paintings adorning his office walls make him see her in a different light. When she was lying at his feet his mind clicked and he saw ‘submissive’. That moment of sexual attraction was the seal for how he would view her physically, but it is the comment she makes about the paintings that throws him for a loop as he makes a mental connection with her – they are like-minded souls – and it this is the start of his journey into the unknown.

The contract – it does not go over the ‘eyes down/do not speak/refer to him as Sir’ part which she fails so spectacularly at and which he, for the first time in his arrangements, allows (you need to read the books to know how very un-Mr Grey this is) – it is another way in which she is so very different from his other submissives. Finally, we come to Georgia (it’s so important I had to use bold).  The most crucial thing about Georgia was her mumbling in her sleep that she will never leave him. This gives him the confidence – nay, the comfort – of going that one step further with her.  He’d been slowly easing her into his dark world, in a fun way – he knows that not only is she completely innocent sexually, but she is a lamb completely sheltered from most of the horrors of life – but now, with her assurance that she will not leave, he gives in to his craving and succumbs to her plea to ‘show’ her the worst. Of course, it fails. Spectacularly.

That last scene – Aaagh!  He certainly looks devastated, but he makes no effort to speak with her or encourage her to stay, which was very hard to see. The book handles this a lot better because, had I not read the books, I would be appalled at his reaction, at the way he seems to just give up.

Then, there is the lack of a scene as regards her wardrobe – we need that to show us his largesse and her underwhelming acceptance. It encompasses everything about how he is and his lack of appreciation for how she would feel whilst also giving us an insight into how attracted she is to him and how money is very unimportant.  They are polar opposite sin almost everything except their attraction for each other.

Talking of which, the little things – the pink champagne, silly names, ‘moot’, etc – they are like little smarties that sweeten their extraordinary relationship. By the way, I like the pencil. Nice touch.
The sex scenes – these were done extremely well, to my mind, considering their premise was to explore a BDSM relationship, which is hilarious at best. Of course, there was the expected giggling and ribald comments, huge snorts of laughter when he sniffs her panties, the oohs and aahs when he strips – but it was all done quite tastefully.  As wrong as they are as the characters, the actors performed their parts perfectly. I decry everyone who says the lack of chemistry was noticeable.
My final comment about the translation to film is a big thank you for that one little scene when she comes downstairs, ready for Mia’s homecoming dinner. When he asks, ‘do you have everything you need’ (I may have misquoted here) and it is only the die-hard FSOG fans who know he’s talking about her lack of underwear (which he’d pocketed earlier).

When the film finished on its cliffhanger there was a resounding cry of ‘No!’ which was, in equal parts, gratifying (because we all want HEAs) and annoying – had they not read the books? Sheesh.
Now, having said all that, you may be surprised to learn that I went to see the film again. Guess what? It was much better the second time round because I wasn’t focussed on everything that was wrong. But, had I not read the books, if I didn’t know all the little things that that were missing, I’m not sure I’d have liked it at all.  As a note I would like you to know that this was several days after all the horrible reviews, but the cinema was still packed to the gunnels.
Now, with the hype fully exploding on every piece of media available, my 15 ½ year old daughter wants to see it. She is very aware of the sexual world that lives outside her bubble and scoffs at my insistence that she is too young to be exposed to such debauchery, however it led to some interesting conversations.
Fifty Shades Darker: will I go to see it?  You bet. I was pleased to hear that the next two films are definitely going to be made!  I hope the main characters stay, because, you know: continuity. However, I will not be displeased to see a different Jose, Elliott or Mia (it’s not their acting!) and please, pretty please, can we get a different script writer who understands the importance of the psychology behind his decisions?

Of course, once I’d seen the film (twice!) I went home and reread book two, because I couldn’t leave it with that cliffhanger (I know I know the story, but I needed to confirm it in my own mind).  You can bet that Jamie Dornan starred as Mr Grey!  😉


If you don’t know much about Jamie Dornan, have a look at this clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqUuTLh6pHk

Now, as pessimistic as I have been about the characters, it occurred to me the other day that the actors we would visualise as best portraying Christian Grey may not want to play the part.  Let’s face it, you’d become a sex icon; you’d appear in every woman’s fantasies; you could be typecast; you may not like to nude shots; finally, your life, as you know it, would be contrasted to Christian’s every minute of the day!  So, I forgive Alex Pettyfer, if he was asked, for turning it down.  Now, after Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey is my next favourite heartthrob screen character.

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