Thursday, 20 November 2008

Waiting for a Wuther

Over on Justine's blog, there's been talk of what best to read to banish the darkness that winter brings.

She suggested Wuthering Heights, which led to a discussion of whether there was a right time of year to read the book. Some books are like that. The best time to read A Christmas Carol is ...? Easter? Hmm - somehow I think the clue is in the name.

Anyway, it set me thinking about what I've been reading this year, and although I made a rule not to read anything I'd read before - I think this might be the exception. If nothing else, reading it before Christmas will help me to be more thankful for the relative sanity of my relations. I don't have family members wanting to kill each other that's for sure.

The problem is I CAN'T start reading it yet. The weather has just been too nice for mid November. All mild and sunny with barely a wuther in sight. I said to Justine that the last time I tried to read it in Oxford I failed, because the dreaming city just isn't wild enough. However, it's supposed to snow on Sunday, so maybe I'll be able to read it them.

On a rather more frivolous note, who do you think would be the perfect person to play Heathcliffe .... personally I would like Alan Rickman, but he might be a bit too old. Maybe Richard Armitage would be better. Any thoughts??

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Something's gotta give ...

... and something has.

I'm not going to comment on John Sargeant after this post anymore. There's got to be a line drawn at some point, and I think tonight is the point. But I can't let him go without saying something about the way he's left.

It's all over the news, all over the blogs; John Sargeant has quit Stirctly.

I have to say that I am quite shocked, and I've just watched the hour long It Takes Two special and should imagine that the entire viewing public has spontaneously combusted, either at James' comments, or Johns'!

These are my thoughts:
- John wasn't a particularly good dancer. I wished during the early weeks he'd stop smirking like the cat who had got the cream.
- John seems to be a bit arrogant, and many of his answers tonight were trite and glib.
- James' statement that John's decision was the worst thing that could have happened was overstated, but I agree with him. Actually Kate Garraway managed to say exactly what James had said, only much more eloquently.
- My own, honest, opinion on John's departure is that it was the easy way out. He's been talking all along about the rules of the game and how the judges don't seem to know them, but if he was abiding by the rules, he would have stayed until he was voted out. And if that meant he won the entire competition, then so be it. I wouldn't have liked it, but I would have dealt with it.

I really hope Kristina is invited back for another series. She's a fantastic dancer, and makes a valuable contribution to the show. I also think John's behaviour towards her on I.T.T. when she was visibly upset was a bit off - he didn't seem to mind that much (in public at least) that his partner was in tears beside him. Having said that, however, he does remind me of my father in that respect!

I've also been really shocked by the comments on the BBC forum. Claudia's been getting a lot of stick, and there are a lot of people demanding the money back that they spent on voting for him. That's just silly - would they have asked for the money back if John had been voted out properly?

Anyway, enough is enough. No more talking about John any more. There are six fantastic dancers all competing for the final now, and there's barely anything to choose between them. Time to focus on those that are still in.

Romantic gestures

I'm in a mood to be swept off my feet. Trouble is there seems to be a dearth of men willing to complete this task, and therefore I have to turn to fiction.

But who do I choose to romance me? I mean of all the wonderfully written heroes; if they were all lined up in front of me - well I don't think I could decide!

So it's time for celebrity character death match!

Would Darcy manage to outshine Captain Wentworth?
Who of the Middlemarch crowd of men manage to woo me?
Would Heathcliffe romance me, or would he just be hopelessly mean?

There's tonnes of fantastic men waiting to leap out of a book and into my arms! Who would you most like for your other half?

Poem of the Week

Tennyson was made poet laureate on this date in 1850, so here is a poem from him.

Love and Death

What time the mighty moon was gathering light
Love paced the thymy plots of Paradise,
And all about him roll’d his lustrous eyes;
When, turning round a cassia, full in view,
Death, walking all alone beneath a yew,
And talking to himself, first met his sight.
‘You must begone,’ said Death, ‘these walks are mine.’
Love wept and spread his sheeny vans for flight;
Yet ere he parted said, ‘This hour is thine:
Thou art the shadow of life, and as the tree
Stands in the sun and shadows all beneath,
So in the light of great eternity
Life eminent creates the shade of death.
The shadow passeth when the tree shall fall,
But I shall reign for ever over all.’

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Oh dear ...!

I've been meaning to post lots about books, movies, theatre, weather - loads in fact. However, all I can think is Cherie Lunghi has been voted out of Strictly, and for another week the public has been stubborn enough to keep John Sargeant in.

I'll get over it, but right this minute I feel like standing on the top of St Pauls with a megaphone and asking 'WHAT WERE YOU THINKING BRITAIN!'

Normal service will resume shortly, and apologies to anyone who has been voting for Mr S. and actually likes him!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Madness in the name of a good cause

There are some things that are unquestionably British.

- Bangers and Mash
- Pearly Kings and Queens
- Warm beer

But the thing that really proves out Britishness, no matter what? 'Celebrities' willing to make a complete fool of themselves all in the aid of charity.

Yes, it's Children in Need night, once more, and I for one am very excited. Where else am I going to get to see news readers attempt to sing and dance, Eastenders do their yearly prance, Tess Daly ACTUALLY dance instead of just lift her knee for Bruce to tap, and wonder of wonders - the first ten minutes of the Christmas Dr Who!!!!!

It's all in the name of a good cause too; which is British madness at its best!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Poem of the Week

Break of Day in the Trenches

    The darkness crumbles away -
    It is the same old druid Time as ever.
    Only a live thing leaps my hand -
    A queer sardonic rat -
    As I pull the parapet's poppy
    To stick behind my ear.
    Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
    Your cosmopolitan sympathies
    (And God knows what antipathies).
    Now you have touched this English hand
    You will do the same to a German -
    Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
    To cross the sleeping green between.
    It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
    Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes
    Less chanced than you for life,
    Bonds to the whims of murder,
    Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
    The torn fields of France.
    What do you see in our eyes
    At the shrieking iron and flame
    Hurled through still heavens?
    What quaver - what heart aghast?
    Poppies whose roots are in man's veins
    Drop, and are ever dropping;
    But mine in my ear is safe,
    Just a little white with the dust.

Isaac Rosenberg

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Remembrance Sunday

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years contemn,
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
We will remember them.
-- Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Releasing the child within ...

Is there ever a 'right' time to read a particular book?

I know there's a long line of books that people say 'I should have waited to read this' or 'I was too young/old to appreciate it', but what I'm really wondering is if there are certain books that are reserved for a single time in one's life, and when that time is passed, whether we should just consign them to the highest, dusty, shelf of the bookcase.

The genre I am particularly thinking about in this case is children's literature. When you reach a certain age it seems so indulgent to read a child's book, and how many people have got criticism in some form for confessing to having read Harry Potter?

However, I think a little children's literature never did any harm, and with some, might even help to recapture those values that might have been mislaid.

Want to learn how to be tolerant? Read 'The Secret Garden' (which of course shows adults that they shouldn't be too judgemental or insular as well as children).

'A Little Princess' reminds us how to triumph over adversity (as does 'Little Women'), 'Black Beauty' helped a generation to understand the pain an animal went through for our gratification, '101 Dalmatians' is a beautiful tale of animals outwitting an evil human.

The point is that these books taught us so much when we were young, and even though we think we have learned the lessons, it never does any harm to revisit them.

What's your favourite children's book, and does it still resonate with you today?

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Poem of the Week

Here is a poem that sums up the mood of the day - at least part of it.

Hope by Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.

I've heard it in the chillest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.

I'm gearing up to a night of tension, and I'm very excited. Dad and I are watching the coverage, and I'm not going to bed until Obama is elected president.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Musings from a coffee shop

I decided to get out of the house and take advantage of free wifi in a coffee shop today.

I am supposed to be doing a couple of applications, but I can't settle to them. There's a feeling I just can't shake of being stood on a fault line waiting for the earthquake to knock me over.

Does anyone else feel like there is about to be a seismic shift? I know that most people don't want to write about politics on their blogs for fear of offending anyone, but I don't feel I can let this final weekend of the American election go by without marking it in some way.

I can't remember a time when the entire world was so involved with the outcome of one country's politics. I suppose after eight years of Bush, we are all willing people to make a change, and if we could vote, we would. Would we care, though, if the world wasn't in such a state as it is? If the economy was fine, and if we weren't at war, would this election carry as much weight as it does?

I'm planning on staying up to watch the coverage on BBC on Tuesday, and I'll use the first few boring hours to write a few bookish posts, which I am sadly behind on. But for today, I'd like to know what, if any, effect this election is having on you.