Sunday, May 27, 2007

Loving and leaving you

Phew! I've been glued to this screen for 5.5 hrs and have only just realised I missed lunch ...

Having launched the Hay post into the blogosphere, I'm now going to have to abandon you all.

We're going here tomorrow for a few days ...

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... which means I'm not going to be around to check out the reactions to my record-breaking post.

So please - talk among yourselves and I'll get back to you soon as ...


No Net

I'd been hoping there would be internet access at the hotel so I could blog as I go, but no joy.

Instead I'm writing these posts in longhand and will type them up from home.

You'll need to imagine me typing this in a Welsh field as opposed to a London flat ...

Ready? Here we go then ...

Thurs 24th May
Wails from Wales

Arrive at hotel.

'Debi Alper? How are you spelling that? We don't have a booking in that name ...'
'Oh! Is it booked in the name of Sky Arts? Or ArtsWOM?'
'No ... Hang on a sec. You're not something called a ... blogger, are you?'

45 min wait for room.
I use the time to go to a cash machine.
£51 train ticket.
£33 taxi from Hereford to Ross.
Hay is nearly 50 miles away and I've been quoted £50 for cab to get there from hotel.
There'd better be no problem claiming those expenses ...

Where are all the punters?

The taxi from Ross to Hay takes an hour and costs £70!

The driver asks me - 'So do you write ... books?'
He infuses the word with the same degree of blank incomprehension as the hotel receptionist when she said 'blogger'.

So now I'm at the 20th Hay Festival.

It's not what I was expecting.
I imagined it taking over the town but it's in a big field.
(You probably knew that already, but I didn't.)

They're still setting up.
I eventually find some nice friendly people from Sky Arts and pick up my tickets.

But the festival itself so far has an eerie Mary Celeste feel about it.

Some small groups of media types.
Bunches of people in fluorescent jackets.
Some seriously hard-looking security - all suits, shades and shoulders.
The odd tractor ...
I buy a coffee.
I'm the first customer.
The guy can't get the till to work.
A woman at a nearby table gives me change.

Being accustomed to the toilets at rock gigs and marathons, I am s-o-o impressed by the upmarket portaloos.
I spend some time admiring them.
There's not a lot else to do.

Pick up a copy of the Festival programme.
It says, '... the Hay audience ... some of the most interesting, intellectually adventurous, socially attractive people on earth.'

So where are they??

Warming Up

Ah, here they are.

I find the Greenprint event, chaired by Adam Boulton (Sky News anchor) and featuring Zac Goldsmith (The Ecologist), Jeremy Leggett (Solarcentury) and John Sauven (Greenpeace) discussing the adoption and advocacy of environmental sustainability for the creative industries.
This is the last part of an informal 5 event conference.

Jeremy Leggett warns the audience that the government have 'lost the ability to be embarassed' as the current situation is 'disfunctional to the point of being suicidal'. He points to some leadership from local governments and also some businesses (though he says the committment is sometimes less than the claims would suggest). Carbon rationing is inevitable, he tells the audience. He believes that supplies of oil and gas are far less than we are being told and that they are going to run out within the next few years.

Zac Goldsmith is upbeat, saying that retailers are now competing with one another to appear green - essential as science has come as close as possible to a consensus on the dangers of climate change. He's clear that the way forward has to be a combination of energy saving, energy management and exploration of alternative energy. It's therefore essential to price environmenmtalism into the market by way of carbon trading and offsets. He also teels us that the most important thing ordinary people (that's us, guys!) can do is put pressure on central government.

John Sauven points out that if energy inefficient lightbulbs were phased out, the savings would be the equivalent of 2 power stations. He also mentions bloggers (yay!) as one example of people using alternative means of spreading the word and putting on pressure.

A couple of facts to chew over:
If everyone in the world consumed as much as the average person in the US, we would need the equivalent of 5 planets to meet the demand.
The figure for the UK is 3 planets.

The comments from the floor are intelligent, articulate and well-informed.
One person points out that climate change itself is only a symptom - over consumption of resources is the real problem that has to be tackled.

Sandi can't see me now

I was supposed to be booked into The News Quiz hosted by Sandi Toksvig.

But I've just checked my sheaf of tickets and this one's not among them.

I wander round the marquee maze 'til I find the venue.
It's full.
So the milling crowds I'd expected are packing out the events if not the walkways.

I spend some more time wandering and gawping and feeling vaguely spectral as anyone else around (and there's not many of 'em) seems to be rushing round doing things.

The one thing that does hit me is that there's a huge emphasis on the environment - which I'm delighted to see and support.

But it doesn't seem very ... er ... lit.
Like ... er ... where are the books, man?

Maybe tomorrow ...

I've made a friend

A big up to Sam, the taxi driver, who works 15-18 hrs a day, 6 days a week, fuelled by Red Bull and roll-ups.

He's not the 'what's-a-book?' cabbie, but the bright, intelligent, good-looking one who's agreed to fulfill all the rest of my cabbing needs while I'm here.

So, Sam, if you're reading this ... thanks for driving me round and being such good company.

I hope you find a woman who deserves you!

Friday 25th May
Today's the Day

After breakfast, I jump on the shuttle bus from the hotel with Samantha and Colin from Sky Arts and Sarah Jane from the Evening Standard diary.

An hour's bumpy ride through the stunning countryside brings us to Hay.

This is it.
My one full day.
I'm excited ...

But the atmosphere hasn't changed much since yesterday.
It still feels somewhat surreal and disembodied.
As though it's teetering on the brink of something about to happen.
You know that feeling when you're throwing a party and you're not sure if anyone's going to turn up...?

I sit in the Sky Arts cafe to take stock and I can hear applause from somewhere.
That's reassuring.
I'm not the only person here ...

I work out that it's coming from the Segovia stage.
The programme tells me that Carmen Callil is behind the shrouds of white canvas, talking about pieces of writing that have meant most in her life to Diana Quick and Richard Mitchley.

Fateful Choices

This is a little strange.

I realise that although I'm booked into 4 events today and will be on site for 13 hrs ...
... only the first event is about a book.
A flick through the programmme reveals that the more obviously literary events start tomorrow.
And I leave ...
... tomorrow.

My first event is with the historian, Ian Kershaw, talking about his about-to-be published book, Fateful Choices, which recreates the thinking about 10 critical political and military decisions made between May 1940 and December 1941 that dictated the course of the war.

His lecture makes you realise how easily the future of the world could have been changed if any one of these decisions had gone a different way - there may have been no Holocaust, no Israel, no Middle East conflict ... Alternatively, the Nazis could have won ...

I find it fascinating - and heartening - that more than 60 years after the end of the war, there is still room for new analysis.

A week ago I went to the Margaret McMillan Centre in Kent with Little Guy's class, looking at the experience of evacuees.

It's vital to keep the lessons of the Holocaust in public consciousness and I'm relieved to hear Ian Kershaw say that the further we get from those horrific events, the more important they seem to be in the historical perspective.

I agree. I lost one branch of my family tree to the genocide.

Think Link

Check the Festival blog here at the Guardian.

You can also follow the Hay Relay Story as it unfolds.
Started by Beryl Bainbridge, a new chapter will be written each day by a different author.


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A roundup of my favourite deckchair quotes:

'Politics hates a vacuuum. If it isn't filled with hope, someone will fill it with fear.'
Naomi Klein

'Everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.'
Margaret Atwood

'Only the impossible is worth the effort.'
Jeanette Winterson

'The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe.'
David Hare

'Everything has a meaning, if only we could read it.'
Philip Pullman

'What one writer can make in the solitude of one room is something no power can easily destroy.'
Salman Rushdie

Books - at last

I've met up with my guest.
Meet the wonderful Fiction Bitch aka Elizabeth Baines.
Now I have a fellow wanderer (and her partner) and together we ...
... find some books!

It has to be said - books don't really take pride of place at the Festival in the way I'd imagined.

There's one large marquee, selling work by people appearing at the Festival and one smaller tent with children's books.

The other stalls are mainly concerned with the environment.

Not that that's a bad thing - just not quite what I'd expected ...

Smile - you're on tv

The dear Bitch and I go to the televised Hay on Sky event with Mariella Frostrup -
- aired each day during the Festival at 8pm on Sky Arts channel no 267.

Ah. Nice comfy chairs for this one.

Lights, camera, action!

The first guest is Peter Florence - the founder of the Festival, who tells us that 20 years ago, when he approached Arthur Miller to ask if he'd like to participate in the first festival, the response was,
'Hay-on-Wye? Is that some kind of sandwich?'
(See here for the history of the festival.)

Peter justifies the move away from the strictly literary focus of previous years and says that the festival now welcomes anyone who's 'good with words - brilliance with language is what's interesting. But the spirit remains the same.'

He points out that the careers of many diverse household names were launched at Hay, including Eddie Izzard, Bryn Terfel and Arundhati Roy.

He also says that the official start of the Festival is today - which certainly explains the lack of buzz yesterday!

During the commercial break I watch as a makeup artist scuttles over to Michael Nyman, the next guest, with a powder brush to take the shine off his bald pate.
Michael tells us about his interesting way of working - when composing he does so with a background of noise from both radio and tv.

Seth Lakeman, who is described as being influenced as much by Led Zeppelin as by English folk music, then performs a track from his award winning album, Freedom Fields.

The final guest is the very funny Sandi Toksvig, recently named as radio broadcaster of the year. Among other things, she talks about her friendship with Bonnie Langford - on the face of it an unlikely partnership, though in fact they have been close friends for 25 years. (See here.) Sandi tells us they have plenty in common - for example her knee is the same size as Bonnie's arse!

She also talks about how much she hates pigeonholing. (A subject close to my heart too, as many of you will know.) Interestingly, she reveals that of all the activities on her eclectic cv, her favourite activity is writing.

The show winds up with each of them talking about the 3 books they will be taking on holiday with them this year.
(Dammit - none of them are mine ...)

Ghost Town

The Bitch and her partner have discovered there's a frequent shuttle bus service running between the Festival and town, so we jump on.

Once in Hay, there's no indication that there's a major international event going on just up the road.

The setting is just as I'd imagined (those wonderful bookshops!) but the streets are deserted.

I'm wondering if I should worry for the retailers and cafes in the town.
The shuttle bus isn't widely publicised at the festival and the site is very self-contained.
We pick up a leaflet for the Hay Fringe, which does take place in the town itself.

Don't forget that Hay, where there is one bookshop per 36 residents (could this be what heaven's like?) is the inspiration behind the festival.

I speak to one bookseller who's quite upset.
She says the festival has become a corporate event having outgrown its roots, but she reckons it has lost its original inspiration and atmosphere.

But then someone else tells me that everything will take off this weekend, when the town and the festival site will be awash with people moving between the 2.

So that explains it -
- they've been waiting for me to leave ...

Short and Curly

Back at the festival site, the Bitch and I take our seats for the show by Bonnie Langford and Sandi Toksvig.
In spite of hearing a couple of the same jokes as she'd told to Mariella Frostrup earlier, Sandi is one of the few people that truly crack me up.

Think Link (2)

For festival news and a daily podcast, check the Haycast.
To follow the virtual festival online, go here.

The thanks bit

Big thanks to the following people:

John Baker - for the invite
Samantha and Colin from Sky Arts - for looking after me
Simon from Artswom - for the advance organisation
The dear Bitch - for the company - and the grub!
The staff at The Chase - for not setting off the fire alarm (more of this later)
Sam the cabbie - who I mentioned earlier
G - for keeping the home fires burning (but not literally I'm relieved to say)
First Born and Little Guy - for the phone calls and texts

In conclusion

Although I've never been to the festival before, my intial instincts about the way it had changed were confirmed.

It's clearly outgrown its original location in the town - which many would say is to be welcomed as evidence of its huge success.
(At the larger events I calculated there were about 800 people.)

Whether the gap between the current site (about a mile outside Hay) and the town itself will prove problematic remains to be seen.

Opinion was divided among people I spoke to.
Some feel the town and its traders will lose out.
Others predict that, as the Festival hots up, particularly over this bank holiday weekend, the roads outside the site will be packed with milling crowds.

It's moved beyond being a literary festival and now offers a much more eclectic mix.
Again, some people will welcome that as progress and others may complain at the loss of focus on authors reading from their work.

Clearly, it's become far more of a corporate event as the years go by.
The evidence being the self-contained site (you have to make the effort to go into town) with roaming guard dogs, police tape and security guards resembling bouncers outside a heavy London club, the expensive food (£1.80 min for a coffee, £3.80 min for a sandwich) and the limited number and range of books on sale.
(On the other hand, it was pointed out to me that if more books were sold on the festival site, there would be less incentive to go into town and the Hay retailers would be more likely to lose out.)

The Hay Fringe, which started last year, seems to be the answer to the possible problems of the town feeling neglected.
If, as I very much hope, Fringe events are a roaring success as much as the main festival, then presumably you'll get that rare occurence - a win/win situation in which there's something for everyone and everyone's happy.

The final word

My final Hay experience was giving Sam, the cab driver, a signed copy of Nirvana Bites.

So ... I went to Hay ...
... and did a book signing!

The final FINAL word

As I'm walking up the street towards home, 6 hrs after leaving Ross, the Bitch phones me and says that today both the festival and the town were heaving.

I'm delighted to hear it and don't feel in the slightest bit peeved that they waited for me to leave before starting the party proper!

Hey, man, everyone has their own trip and this was mine.
I hope you've enjoyed it.

Here endeth this lit blogger's experience of the 20th Hay Festival.
This post has taken me nearly 5 hrs.
Some kind of record?

Over to you now, John.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Hay-sty post (groan)

Emails, phone calls, printing, lists, packing ...

... dash into kitchen to make boys' lunches for tomorrow and realise ...

... EEEKKK!!!

I promised to make FB 2 cakes to take in on Friday to share as it's his birthday next week.
(Yes, 2 - there are 28 kids in his class.)

So ... chocolate cake and lemon cake are now in oven.

Lads are shrieking - Liverpool's scored.
Do I have time to care about that?
Only if the jumping up and down makes the cakes sink.
They still have to be iced, dammit!

Anyway - I know where I'm staying now.
Good innit?
Except - gasp - no smoking policy ...

And also I have more of an idea what my role is.
I'm press!
That means that as a lit blogger/author I'm representing the blogosphere ...
ie you lot.

So I hope you're going to follow my progress and show them what we're made of.

Hay ho and away we go ...

It all started yesterday morning when I received an email from John Baker asking if I wanted to go to the Hay Festival.

Expenses paid, hotel booked, tickets to events of my choice ...
All I have to do is blog about it.

I leap to the festival site to check the dates.
Thurs 24/5 - Sun 3/6.
Next week is half term and we're going away for a few days.
But if it's the following weekend ...

I email John and ask for details.
Back comes the reply.
It's Thurs - Sat.
This Thurs - to this Sat!

Cue a day of frantic phone calls, emails and surfing.
Simon at Artswom has problems with emails bouncing.
My broadband connection keeps going AWOL.
And my browser keeps closing down too.

Another complication.
I'm allowed to take a guest.

But who can drop everything at a moment's notice?
(Apart from me it seems ...)
G can't come of course - someone has to stay with First Born and Little Guy.

Last thing yesterday I finally receive the wandering emails.
I send back my booking form and list of events I'd like to attend.

Then this morning - more emails confirming my place.
But no one's told me yet where I'm staying!
Or how I go about claiming those (all-important) expenses ...
So I don't dare book the train tickets yet.

But meanwhile another email -
- I might have found someone who's up for sharing the experience.

Only I have to go out.
For the whole day.

Arrive home 4.30.
One email confirming that I'm booked for this:

Sky Arts film a daily round-up show presented by Mariella Frostrup, featuring Hay news and author interviews. Hay-on-Sky airs daily at 8pm on Sky Arts channel 267.

But still nothing re the hotel etc.

A nice comment on the last post though.
I decide to be reassured and book my tickets.

Techy trauma!
What's with my browser anyway?

Give up and use the phone.

So now my train tickets are booked for tomorrow morning.

But I still don't know where I'm going to be resting my weary head ...

I'm going to be making Hay (hope the sun shines)

Spontaneity thy name is Debi.

I'm going here.

All expenses paid.

Details to follow.
You better believe it (cos I'm not sure I do ...)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Meanwhile in Lit-Blogworld ...

Minx is trying out a new genre. (Swoon.)

Atyllah has turned her back on humanity. (Sob.)

Cailleach has cause for celebration. (Cheer.)

Tim Footman has posted on Comment is Free re this lot. (Spit.)

Fiction Bitch has tagged me. (Ouch.)

Norm stands up for hairy bloggers. (Respect.)

Maxine is eclectic as ever. (Click.)

Caroline's counting the days. (Hyperventilating.)

Clare and Lucy Pepper have both pointed out the forthcoming Big Blogger. (Look out - there's another Minx in there.)

And Skint's only gone and lost his blog ...

Monday, May 21, 2007

An episode in the life of Debi

Monday morning.
I'd just dropped off Little Guy at school and returned home to find J from upstairs knocking at my neighbour's door.

J has severe mental health problems and is in and out of hospital.
She also had a stroke recently and is partially paralysed down one side.
She was crying.

She had flooded her bathroom (again).

After ascertaining the neighbour (elderly, dodgy hips and knees and disabled wife) was able to cope, I took J back upstairs in the lift to survey the damage.

Flooded, all right.
The hall and bathroom were awash.
Lucky she'd taken up the fitted carpets after the last episode.

Back downstairs, gather mop and bucket, back upstairs and start sluicing.

Her flat is oppressively hot.
The heating is on, the windows are closed and the curtains drawn.
The tv is blaring.

Sluice, squeeze, sluice, squeeze ...

'At least the floor's clean,' I say.
J manages a laugh.
'I was up at 3.00 cleaning,' she says. 'It's part of my sickness to keep cleaning.'
'I've got the opposite problem,' I tell her and she laughs again.

Sluice, squeeze, sluice, squeeze ...

I roll up the sodden rugs.
They're heavy.
J stumbles to help me.
She calls out.

It's only at this point that I realise her bloke is in the front room watching the tv!

A while later, I'm back home, thinking I should never complain again that G doesn't do enough in the home.

Later still, I open my front door and find a little bunch of flowers.
No note, but I assume they're from J.

She didn't have to do that ...
I was just being a neighbour ...

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bloggers in uniform

This is an interesting piece of news.

The U.S. Army has ordered soldiers to stop posting to blogs or sending personal e-mail messages, without first clearing the content with a superior officer. The directive, issued April 19, is the sharpest restriction on troops' online activities since the start of the Iraq war. And it could mean the end of military blogs, observers say.

Ticking the boxes

I've posted before about my feelings re labels and the way society attempts to push us into neat pigeonholes.

This last week we've bought 2 new gadgets - a cordless phone and a digital camera.
(Actually the camera belongs to First Born and Little Guy but I'm hoping they'll let me play sometimes.)

Along with the packaging and manuals (byebye, rain forest) both have those product registration leaflets that are used for marketing purposes.

Here are the options for you and your partner's occupations:

  • craftsman/tradesman
  • education/medical services
  • housewife/homemaker
  • manual/factory worker
  • middle management
  • office/clerical
  • professional/senior management
  • retired
  • shop worker
  • unemployed
  • student
So where does a swimming teacher fit in? Education?

And what about me - is a writer a crafts(wo)man?
If writing keeps you sane, would that put you into the medical services category?
More than likely you're also cooking, cleaning etc ie homemaking.
But if you're lucky enough to be able to churn out words, is that like working in a factory?
If you type those words, isn't that a clerical function?
But you're your own boss - senior management?
And it's vital to keep your mind open to new experiences - so maybe a student ...

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

How did he know?

The death earlier this week of Jerry Falwell, the founder of the so-called Moral Majority, has meant there's been a glut of articles in the papers about the other evangelical whackoes out there.

My personal favourite, if I can call him that, is Pat Robertson - the guy who believes the world's ills are down to the Illuminati - but luckily that shouldn't phase Pat as he has the power to divert hurricanes and cure AIDS.
Of course he has. He says so, right?

Here's what he has to say about feminism:

'... a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.'

Blimey, sisters. How did we manage to miss this guy infiltrating the movement and stealing all our secrets?

On a more serious note, these evangelical lobbyists have vast wealth and a deeply frightening amount of political power.
These are the fundamentalists we should really be afraid of.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A pointless question

What do the following people have in common?
  • Balussou Krasts
  • Bounthiang Glensvang
  • Cathal Volker
  • Ishak Novakovic
  • Ivy Oldack
  • Kelsy Randolph
  • Mario Menell
  • Nathaniel Watson
Answers in the comments box please.

Monday, May 14, 2007

I failed. Miserably.

Here are 4 questions.
Don't take your time - answer them all instantly.

Ready? GO!!!(scroll down)

First Question:
You are participating in a race.
You overtake the second person.
What position are you in?

If you answered that you are first, then you are absolutely wrong!
If you overtake the second person and you take his place, you are second!

Try not to mess up in the next question.
To answer the second question, don't take as much time as you took for the first question.

Second Question:
If you overtake the last person, then you are...?

If you answered that you are second to last, then you are wrong again.
How can you overtake the LAST Person?

Third Question:
Note: This must be done in your head only.
Do NOT use paper and pencil or a calculator.

Take 1000 and add 40 to it.
Now add another 1000.
Now add 30.
Add another 1000.
Now add 20.
Now add another 1000.
Now add 10.
What is the total?

Scroll down for answer.


Did you get 5000?
The correct answer is actually 4100.

Don't believe it?
Check again!

Fourth Question:
Mary's father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono.
What is the name of the fifth daughter?


NO! Of course not.
Her name is Mary.
Read the question again.

So how did you do?

I got .... zero.
Oooops ...

Friday, May 11, 2007

A full day gig - if you have the energy ...

Remember a while back I introduced you to my mate, John Bently?

I've just received this from him ...

Afterrabbit Gig Winchester College of Art Friday 13th July 2007

Just some early details about upcoming Afterabbit gig at Winchester School of Art. We're playing as part of a one day academic Symposium about Artists' Books. The gig lasts a whole day! There'll be talks by various artists and curators and a guided viewing of ... trumpets sound, drums roll .... The complete set of all 23 years worth of Liver & Lights publications and graphics, followed by a Make Your Own Instrument Out of Rubbish workshop, led by us!

....and then we're going to play our most rippping set, some of which will be accompanied by you on your home made instruments. Then we'll all get drunk together in the bar. A most enlighteningly educational day...If you want to book a space at this unmissable event, or for full details of the whole day, contact Sarah Bodman on Hope to see you there.

Education, education, education

If you're as cynical as I am about the government's supposedly brilliant idea to allow people with no experience whatsoever to control our children's education, you might like to sign this petition,
protesting against the creation of Academies.

Remember - for £2million someone gets control of a state school and can disapply all sorts of national agreements.
Plus the Government gives them another £35 million of taxpayers' money.

You can find out more about this stunningly stupid idea at the Anti Academies Alliance here.

Putting on the glitz

I received the following email this morning and thought I'd share it with you ...

I was due for an appointment with the gynaecologist later in the week.
Early one morning, I received a call from the doctor's office to tell me that I had been rescheduled for that morning at 9:30 am.

I had only just packed everyone off to work and school, and it was already around 8:45 am.
The trip to his office took about 35 minutes, so I didn't have any time to spare.

As most women do, I like to take a little extra effort over hygiene when making such visits, but this time I wasn't going to be able to make the full effort.
So, I rushed upstairs, threw off my pajamas, wet the washcloth that was sitting next to the sink, and gave myself a quick wash in that area to make sure I was at least presentable.
I threw the washcloth in the clothes basket, donned some clothes, hopped in the
car and raced to my appointment.

I was in the waiting room for only a few minutes when I was called in.
Knowing the procedure, as I'm sure you do, I hopped up on the table, looked over at the other side of the room and pretended that I was in Paris or some other place a million miles away.
I was a little surprised when the doctor said,
"My,we have made an extra effort this
morning, haven't we?"

I didn't respond.
After the appointment, I heaved a sigh of relief and went home.
The rest of the day was normal.
Some shopping,cleaning, cooking.

After school my 6 year old daughter called out from the bathroom,
"Mommy,where's my washcloth?"
I told her to get another one from the cupboard.
She replied,
"No, I need the one that was here by the sink, it had
all my glitter and sparkles saved inside it."

NEVER going back to that doctor ever!!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A literary joke (sort of)

Did you know that Tommy Cooper once went into a library, cut off his trouser leg and handed it to the librarian, saying,

'Here's a turn-up for the books!'

You can see more Cooperisms here.

What lurks beneath the covers?

Check out these book covers - all from different publishers.

Start here with the book by Girl With a One Track Mind.

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Now look at the latest edition of Belle de Jour:

The image “,204,203,200_PIsitb-dp-500-arrow,TopRight,45,-64_OU02_AA240_SH20_.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

and this one from the US ...

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and this ...

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
and even the classics are getting the treatment ...

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Notice any ... er ... similarities?
So what's going on here?

Is this:

a) a clever marketing ploy to cash in on a winning formula
b) a symptom of laziness and lack of imagination in some of the publishing houses
c) complete coincidence. None of them knew about the others. It's just evidence of how tuned into the zeitgeist they all are.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

One Day ...

A day will come when the number of male items on the washing line shall equal the number of female items.

And on that day, the female of the species shall breathe a sigh of relief as she fills her lungs with sweet-smelling air.

And the young males of the species shall vow to never smell as foul again and they shall declare their intention from henceforth to take responsibility in all matters related to personal hygiene.
Even, yea, unto changing their pants and socks more than twice a year and aiming their todgers within the porcelain of the toilet bowl.

And on that day we shall look to the heavens and, behold, from horizon to horizon our vision shall be filled with ...

... flying pigs.

Debi meets Norm

Norman Geras, has a regular series on his blog (see here and here) where he asks a writer or journalist to talk about a book that has been important to them.

This week it's the turn of number 101 - 'tis I!

I chose The Bridge of Beyond by Simone Schwarz-Bart, which I've mentioned before here.

Many thanks to Norm and to Maxine who made the introduction.

Monday, May 07, 2007

A bank holiday joke

Jack wakes up with a huge hangover after the night at a business function.
He forces himself to open his eyes and the first thing he sees is a couple of aspirins next to a glass of water on the side table.

And, next to them, a single red rose!
Jack sits down and sees his clothing in front of him, all clean and pressed.
Jack looks around the room and sees that it is in perfect order, spotlessly clean.
So is the rest of the house.
He takes the aspirins, cringes when he sees a huge black eye staring back at him in the bathroom mirror and notices a note on the table:

"Honey, breakfast is on the stove, I left early to go shopping -Love you!!"

He stumbles to the kitchen and sure enough, there is hot breakfast and the morning newspaper.
His son is also at the table, eating.
Jack asks, "Son...what happened last night?"

"Well, you came home after 3 am , drunk and out of your mind. You broke the coffee table, puked in the hallway and got that black eye when you ran into the door."

"So, why is everything in such perfect order, so clean, I have a rose and breakfast is on the table waiting for me?"

His son replies, "Oh, THAT!..
Mom dragged you to the bedroom and when she tried to take your pants off, you screamed, "Leave me alone, b*tch, I'm married!!!" ...

> Broken table - $200
> Hot breakfast - $5
> Red Rose bud - $3
> Two aspirins - $0.25

> Saying the right thing, at the right time... Priceless!!!!!

Are you climbing mountains?

Have you heard Joe Simpson's story?
He was a mountaineer who, after a horrific accident in the Peruviuan Andes, wrote a book about his experiences called Touching the Void, which was later made into a movie.

His is an astonishing story of survival against the odds.
After a spectacular fall which shattered his leg and landed him deep in a crevace, he climbed up and spent the next 4 (yes, 4!) days crawling on hands and knees back to camp.
As well as coping with his appalling injuries, he had no food or water to sutain him.
Nothing but his own unstoppable will to live.

When he arrived back at camp on the 4th day, he had gone from 10.5 stone to just over 6.
He was 'in a very bad way', he says with classic understatement.

He wrote Touching the Void in 7 weeks, the words tumbling from him, determined to be recorded.

Since then, he has continued to write.
Books in which he struggles with the nature of aggression and violence, the dangers of climate change and the urge to test one's body and mind to the limits.

He's a cool guy is Joe.
This is what he has to say about politicians:
Politicians - absolutely vile breed of self serving, dishonourable, corrupt, self aggrandising liars without a shred of integrity when their self-interest is threatened. Should all be put in a sack and drowned.

And this is what he has to say about writing:
Writing is just as exciting - and as frightening - as mountaineering.

And he should know ...

Saturday, May 05, 2007

How are you on forgiving?

It's hard sometimes, isn't it?

Some people believe that nursing old grievances is a cause of sickness.

But it can be hard to let go ...

Carrie Fisher apparently said that refusing to forgive is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.

Clever Carrie ...

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Anyone can make a mistake but ...

There is huge media saturation re MI5's failure to spot the 7/7 bombers - not 'clean skins' as originally claimed, but men already known to the security services.

Rachel from North London, and other survivors, are calling for a full independent inquiry.

As she says here, 'We all make mistakes. I do not blame people in the security services for their mistakes and failure to use intelligence. It is failing to admit mistakes and then trying to cover up mistakes which is unforgivable and inexcusable.'

Please check Rachel's posts and links for full details.
If this is something you feel strongly about, please sign the petition calling for a public inquiry here.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Seeking Retribution

I need your help to devise a suitable punishment for G.
It goes without saying that it needs to be hideously painful, but also it has to leave indelible psychological scarring as a disincentive to future iniquitous transgressions of similar nature.

Although I'm aware that the following will cause inevitable distress, I'm going to give you the details of said heinous sin.

There we were, in the park.

In spite of pleading unsuitable footwear (open toe backless sandals) ...
In spite of pleading irredeemable incompetence ...
In spite of arguing that I had deliberately given birth twice thereby ensuring offspring had lifelong playmates and I'd be able to lie on a rug and stare at the clouds once in a while ...

In spite of all this ...
... I found myself in goal.

As the ball trickled into the gap between the water bottle and a rolled up sweatshirt and between my leaden be-sandalled feet for the umpteenth time, G (my so-called team mate in this torture) called me ...

... a donkey!

Now I know that several times a year, when I'm carrying kit-stuffed bags on each aching shoulder and dangling from every bloodless finger, dodging fitness fascists and tramping from start to finish lines on interminable runs around the country, this appellation could be considered apposite.

But on this particular occasion I took umbrage.

So help me out here.
What do you suggest would be appropriate revenge?