March 26, 2012


Talent seems to be a dirty word these days. You can't tell someone they have it, you can't tell someone they don't have it. I think it is ridiculous. If we can't use the word, how to we respond, with any real meaning to people like this?

Jonathan (aged 17)

Jonathan (aged 16)

Jonathan (aged 15)

Jonathan (aged 14)

Wait for the first three minutes to load on this one, then hit play.

This is just funny

This should start in the right spot, if not, go through to 2:20 and play from there. There are not subtitles in this. Self explanatory why this is here.

March 17, 2012

It takes a beat to tap your feet

(if you don't watch any of the others - watch this)

And this is why they won the series...

Now for a change of pace, how about some hoofing on a giant type-writer?

Or some very camp looking ballet from a 1938 movie;

Those of you reading this in Brisbane go see this show!!!!! I would love to but sadly, I only have these clips.

10 Favourite Fictional Heroines

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The header tells you that there will be ten fictional heroines in this post. It seems that I don't read a lot of books where women are the primary leads, or are even that memorable. I think this is awful, and I will try to rectify the problem. In the meantime, here are the six that I did decide were worthy of my list.

Scarlet O'Hara
I love Scarlett. There is so much growth in her as a person throughout this book. From shallow and naive, chasing Ashley, to delivering a baby for Miss Melly, to having her own family and well, you know how it all ends.

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Eowyn. The most amazing woman in the Lord of the Rings and many other pieces of fiction. The woman who destroys the Witch King and changes the face of the battle. Who would also have been a better pairing with Aragorn, but Faramir is a good runner up I guess.

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Lucy Farinelli. Smart. Strong. Rich. Brilliant. Everything I would be if I were going to be a fictional character.

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Theodosia Browning. A single woman who runs the Indigo Tea Shop in Charleston, USA. She is another character who I would love to be. Perphas minus the almost getting murdered in every book. If I could have the tea shop, the food, the friends and the location, I'd be happy.

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Lisbeth Salandar. Another strong genius. I don't think I would like to be her, given what she goes through, but I find it amazing that a man has written such an amazing woman. Perhaps I shouldn't say it, but I think in today's market that if a woman had written this character, she would have faced a massive backlash.

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Miss Marple. What's not to love about a seemingly harmless old lady who solves murders whether she's been asked to or not.

March 13, 2012

10 Books for a Deserted Island

Image by John Slater - available on Getty Images UK 90864536

Thanks to the lovely ">Danielle and her own interactions on the blogosphere, I came across ">The Broke and the Bookish. (B&B) B&B do a top ten Tuesday which I find a great way of focusing ideas for a blog. I’m going to go back through their lists and do my own top tens, maybe not always on a Tuesday though. The first one I want to unpack is what books I would take with to a deserted island.

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1. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. J.R.R. Tolkien. How could I not? Ever since I was introduced to it by S, it is one book I always have a copy of somewhere. When I first came to the UK it was the one thing I had to leave behind because of the weight limit on suitcases. It was, however, one of the first books I brought when I got back from the Middle East and was in need of something to read.

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2. The Children’s Book. A.S. Byatt. This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. The prose, the imagery, the locations. I stumbled across this book almost completely by accident. I was waiting for a friend to arrive for our coffee date, I passed a W.H. Smith and saw their by the Times for a pound, get the weekly book for £2.99. Almost one of the best deals I’ve ever made.

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3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Steig Larsson. I know. Everyone seems to have read this book. There have been two movies made of it. It doesn’t matter. The attention to detail in this series is amazing! The whole construction of this book is much more solid than anything I have ever read. Perhaps this says more about my reading habits than it does about the books, but they are an experience.

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4. Battleaxe. Sara Douglass. This book started off one of my most amazing friendships. Sadly, Sara passed away late last year. 

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5. The Swan Thieves. Elizabeth Kostova. This book made me wish I could draw and paint. Kostova brought out ideas in me I had never had before. 

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6. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Susanna Clarke. Such skill has gone into the writing of this book. Clarke is so funny with her twists and turns, and the footnotes that give you more of the story are fantastic. All the added stories within the story. 

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7. The Three Musketeers. Alexander Dumas. Truth, Honour, Loyalty. What more needs to be said. 

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8. Little Women. Louisa May Alcott. I always wanted to be Jo.

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9. Gone with the Wind. Margaret Mitchell. Such grandiosity. I loved Scarlett from the opening line. I borrowed this book without any optimism that I would enjoy it, or even finish reading it. I had no expectations on it at all. Turns out to have been one of the best books I’ve ever read.

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10. My Name is Red. Orhan Pamuk. A hard but amazing read.

March 07, 2012

The giving of knowledge

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"Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." --William Butler Yeats

The half term starting, for me, tomorrow afternoon, cannot come fast enough. The students this semester are a nightmare!!! They have been so infantilised by their home institution they do not seem able to cope with what they need to achieve here. Almost daily, we send out emails to the group explaining how to reach a London locale or to remind them they have assignments due or to ask them for the forth time to please lodge their travel plans for the half term. It is tedious. My boss and I swear until the air is blue. We yell at each other and it is stressful. Add to that the frustrations regarding pay and contracts and banking etc to the mix, and you can understand my stress.

There is one student in particular who is proving himself to be a pathological liar. His arrogance is also startling as he constantly insults us while at the same time, he acts as though he has given a compliment.

He told us one morning that he had been to the Tate Modern "with someone called Professor X" but he didn't know why he had had to go there again, as he'd only just been there. The professor he refers to is the teacher of the class he takes and he went to the Tate Modern because that was where the class was due to be held.

For the class I took he was ten minutes late. He had been waiting on Euston Road instead of the forecourt of the British Library. I have no idea why he waited on the footpath as this was directly opposite to the instructions I gave the class. For the second part of the class he was 15 minutes late. He got caught up looking at all the items the library holds. Something I understand but it does not help his position. He came into tell me the next day that he had really enjoyed my class. He didn't think I would know so much on Victorian spiritualism or that I would be able to find such interesting stories for their assignments. Gee. Um. Thanks.

Yesterday, he told us, via email, that he wasn't happy with the assignment he had written for Prof X so he wasn't handing it in and would happily take a reduced grade. He was told in no uncertain terms that this choice was not up to him and he now has to submit the assignment by Friday. 

In his class yesterday, at the National Gallery he told the guest lecturer that he had done national service in the Israeli army. Problem the first, he hasn't lived in Israel long enough to be called. Problem the second, if he had served in the army, he would still be there. From what I have been able to find, Israeli national service starts at the age of 18 and lasts for three years. He's only 20.

I could tell you many more tales about this kid. Like how the Tower of London is pretty amazing. Did we know the Tudors lived there. Or how he went to the Liverpool verses Wales game on Saturday March 3. Those of you playing at home will know it was Liverpool verses Arsenal. Or had we ever heard of the Edinburgh Festival? It might surprise him to know that we know he was tweeting during his screenwriting class. Oh yes. Captain Fuddy-Duddy didn't notice, didn't ask him to stop and probably won't have the stones to challenge him on it tomorrow if he tries it again.

Perhaps these small parts do not sound terribly trying on the whole but when you times him by 28 others, all equally as tricky in their own unique ways, it might give you more of an idea. We have the sickly ones who miss classes and don't notify us. We have those who can't tell the time and are continuously late for class. We have those who write their own blogs, promoted by their home universities that are racists and ridiculous. We've even had one student appear on the Graeme Norton show in the big red chair. She didn't last long and Graeme flipped her. We have those who don't speak. We have the alcoholic who suffers from "food poisoning" chronically. 

This semester has been so trying. Thankfully, I am able to fit in my own research around these individuals and these books give me much amusement. You must always be thankful for small mercies.

March 04, 2012

It's all about the music 3


Heading to Soho

This picture was doing the rounds on Twitter the other week. The meat is cheap but don't be fooled, the cut is stringy.
Waiting outside the British Library waiting to go into the Illuminate: Up Late
Wall of Books inside the British Library

This was 3D when you were in front of it but you lose quality in the picture.

For some reason this won't rotate but this is my "creation" from Illuminate. We were asked to choose a letter and design it. The letter could be calligraphy, logo or anything we wanted. Some of the ones I was being done were amazing. The letters are being collected to go into a book that the group leader, Mary Pullen, is going to put on her website here.
"Teabag with needs" - just about says it all really.

My religious, lucky charm.
Mini daffodils. Angie's finger as scale reference.

Actual shadows caused by actual sun. Contrasting hugely with today where it has been raining and yuck with a few pieces of sleet thrown into the mix.

Inside the Cafe in the Park in Cassiobury Park

67 Gade Close - Cassiobury Lodge. Grade II Heritage listed building. Built 1805-1815. This is part of the stable portion of the house. The main house was demolished in 1927. For the number of times Angie and I have walked around the area, this is the first time we've actually noticed this house.

Apparently this passes for "classy" in Watford. I know I go for the tiger skin on my cupboards.

And if you live in this ugly monstrosity, the above interior could be yours.

Now for those who haven't done their own research, the Central line DOES NOT run past this building.