to e-read or not to e-read…

I’m getting very annoyed at lots of things on social media lately.  If I blogged about everything that annoyed me I’d have no time to go to work, bed or the toilet, which would be disastrous to say the least!

However…  I’m getting increasing hacked off by the book bigots.

You know the ones – the anti-e-bookers, the Kindle haters, the Kobo loathers, the Nook knockers.

You see, they love books.  Luuuurve them.  Really, really love them.

But isn’t “I love books” the most meaningless saying ever?  What, all books?  Every single one? Just the green ones?  Or not the green ones?

And with the unpleasant implication that us unworthy peasants couldn’t possibly understand.  Compared to their lofty and unsullied souls I expect we’re just too damn common.

EreadersBooks

I fail to see why it has to be either/or.

I have both an e-reader and ‘real’ books.  I don’t have the luxury of travelling with an unlimited luggage allowance or equally unlimited porters so an e-reader is perfect.  I don’t have the money to live in a big enough house to hold a substantial amount of books nor do I live in an area where the housing is affordable enough that I could even consider it.  As it is I worry about the floor loading…

It’s complementary – I have some books in both formats, some in paperback, some hardbacks and some only in electronic format.  It’s brilliant to be able to take a library out with you in a small bag. (Not that I really ever go anywhere with a small bag.)  If I’m unexpectedly stranded somewhere I can fire up the app on my phone and carry on reading where I left off or browse through a comforting and familiar tale.  It’s equally lovely to pick up a worn paperback and see it open at a favourite passage.  (Or in the case of the copy of Lace I’ve had since school and that everyone read, at the goldfish scene…)  I like seeing what was underlined in a second hand book or where the pages were turned down.

downloadTo clarify. I don’t hate either.  

(Frankly, I don’t see the value of spending energy on hating things.)

I don’t care if you only have ‘real’ books or a kindle or a tablet or whatever. 

I DO care that you read and enjoy stories.

If you dislike the progress and hate the alleged move away from ‘real’ books then where do you stop?  Are paperbacks acceptable or should we only read hardbacks?  Or just leather bound, gold lettered tomes from our own library?  Scrolls?  Clay tablets?  Do purists adhere only to the oral tradition?

images(And by the way – the fall in sales of e-readers versus books is because you only need one e-reader, replaced only after years of use.  Just to point out the utterly bleedin’ obvious.)

It especially annoys me to see established authors decrying electronic books.  I’m quite sure they all stick by their principles and would never allow their stories to be available on them if they feel so strongly about it.  Oh.  Hang on a minute…  Not to mention that it feels terribly dog in the manger when e-publishing has given an outlet to so many new writers.  They wouldn’t be concerned about the competition, would they?  But they love books, they really really do…

(And yes of course, like all rational people I have concerns about Amazon.  But that’s a whole other topic)

It’s probably timely to insert a quick plug here (Oh Matron…) and add that my books are available in real paper with a nice shiny cover and for kindle – look here!

So.  I wouldn’t presume to tell you who to praise or worship or not, who to love or who to rub your genitals up against – so why would I presume to tell you how you should read?

If you read, then keep reading – and do it however the hell you like!

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And I couldn’t resist adding the wonderful Elvis Costello on the next step after everyday, everyday you read the book…

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all I want for christmas…

Dear Santa

That naughty or nice list you have?

Well.  I can explain…

Love me x

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What do I really want for Christmas?

Not much.

Honest…

bunny__s_letter_to_santa_by_sebreg-d4w5554To start with an either/or.  I’d like a magic wand.  A real one but maybe with a few sparkles and some shiny bits? No point in anything too drab.  If that’s a problem I’d be happy with a common sense stick.  I know they are rare and I promise not to hit too many people with it.  Who knows where that might end?

I’d like the time to spend with family and with old and new friends, time for laughter and silliness and putting the world to rights.  With beer.

Shoes.  You know that but I’m not asking for Louboutins…  Jimmy Choos will do.  Even Prada.

Let people count their blessings, see all the good things in their lives and appreciate them.  Yes life’s a bitch but dwelling on it lets it win.

By the way – please don’t turn me into Pollyanna.  I don’t do happy skipping…

Or pinafore dresses.

Please send me barmen who don’t say ‘are you sure you want a pint?’ And what the hell does a real beer drinker actually look like anyway?!

imagesI think around this point I’m supposed to add world peace and fluffy kittens.  If that’s not too much trouble.

I’d like to see Cardiff in the sunshine.  OK, let’s not go mad.  Just not in the rain…

A small jar of inspiration wouldn’t go amiss.  Maybe two if they fit in the sleigh.   And a quiet day or two to open them and savour the contents.

Finally I’ll raise a glass (or two…) and wish that everyone has the Christmas that they want.  Really want.  Not the one that the supermarket adverts make us believe we have to have.  No rules, no obligations.  Buy the dinner ready-made.  Never eat mince pies.   Don’t have a tree.  Go all out, make your own crackers and eat turkey and pudding until you burst! Whatever works for you…

Ho Ho Ho/Bah Humbug*

*delete as applicable

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dressed to impress… Hollywood Costume at the V&A

hollywoodWhen you see antique clothes in a museum your imagination has full rein.  Who wore them?  Where and when and how? Were they made for them or hand-me-downs?  Just what had those clothes seen?  Whether they are beautiful high class embroidered silks or plain hardwearing work clothes there are endless stories and speculations.

To display costumes is so much harder.  We already know exactly who wore them and why.  We know they were carefully crafted to create a character or a mood.  We really don’t need our imaginations at all.

So how do you make an exhibition of the most famous Hollywood costumes exciting and attention catching?

Exactly as the V&A have done.

You start with a huge screen playing key movie moments and the dark rooms, cleverly lit to spotlight the exhibits are rather like walking into a dark cinema.  Although thankfully without the smell of kia-ora past and the crunch of stale popcorn under your shoes.

chaplin little trampThere’s no easing you in gently ether.  Straight away you’re faced with Chaplin’s Little Tramp from 1914, a cough and a spit off a century since it was first seen on screen which is pretty mind boggling.

There’s so much to see it’s hard to remember it all and it’s the random thoughts and moments that linger.

There was a slightly surreal moment when I looked up to find Superman – or his suit at any rate – flying over my head!  It looked rather thermal but I suppose when you’re off out of the atmosphere you would want to keep all your bits and bobs warm…  And who would take seriously a superhero in a cardi?

spidermanThe superheroes were shown off nicely – as well as a flying Superman, Batman was perched on high looking down and Spiderman was half way up (or down) the wall.

Halle Berry’s patchwork leather Catwoman costume stalked us from above – and was one of the ones that while it seemed larger than life was actually teeny-tiny!

Indiana Jones’ costume is analysed in detail – how it was created, adapted and aged, how he sat on the hat.  All those little details and intriguingly Steven Spielberg had initially sketched his vision of what Indy should look like.  It’s pretty close to the end result although it is quite reassuring to see that with all the other talents he has he really can’t draw!

hollywood costumes insideNot all of the costumes are jaw-droppingly gorgeous.  Some are frankly hideous.  I’m looking at you trouser suit.  Yes you, you from Valley of the Dolls.

Some costumes could be worn today (please) – Tippi Hedren’s classic suit from The Birds was still covetable and such a neat touch to project a varying array of birds with it.  Some you can’t imagine how anyone could have worn them – the various versions of Elizabeth I not only look heavy and inflexible but corseted to hell and beyond.  A good moment to mention Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet curtains ensemble – and its unbelievably tiny waist!

I was lucky to visit early enough to see one of the original pairs of ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.  Another reminder of the power of film – in the original L Frank Baum book the slippers were silver, they were changed to ruby red to contrast with the yellow brick road – all in glorious Technicolor!

Modern CGI techniques aren’t ignored and a clip of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? reminds us that it was one of the first films where some of the animated characters had a costume designer.  And I have to say that Joanna Johnston certainly did Jesica proud!  I’d never noticed before that Jessica’s dress only sparkles with sequins when she is on stage.  (That’s a nice little bit picked up from the book that accompanies the exhibition – well worth getting.)

7year itch dressOne of the dresses I was looking forward to seeing was Audrey Hepburn’s iconic black Givenchy gown from Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  It was there but it was curiously lifeless.  Beautifully cut, impeccably glamorous but just a dress.  The same with the two gowns worn by Marilyn Monroe – Sugar Kane’s sequins from Some Like It Hot and the white silk that billowed so memorably in The Seven Year Itch.  They just hung; limp and lifeless on their mannequins, not attracting the attention I would have expected them to demand.  Those dresses are testament to the eternal allure of the women who wore them and brought them so vividly and unforgettably to life.

A true case of when women maketh the clothes…

It’s almost impossible to pick a favourite – there were beautiful costumes, some astonishing in their complexity, some in their simplicity, some with background details and quotes that made them even more memorable.

The wedding dress from Camelot lingered in my mind – from a distance so simple and almost out of place among the Elizabethan bling.  Up close however the finish was immensely complex – it took ridiculous numbers of  craftspeople to create all the hand crocheted fabric and the trimmings are tiny seeds and shells – so much more appropriate than the more obvious pearls and crystals.  With its stately train it is an apparently understated but perfect confection, a wonderful 1960s view of the medieval.

adams familyI’d wear Morticia Adams’ gowns every day if I could. (And if – of course – I was as tall and slim and elegant as Anjelica Houston.)  (Which I’m not.)

I keep thinking of more and more wonderful and iconic costumes – and how amazing it is that so many of them have survived to be displayed.  There were cloaks galore – Hedy Lamarr’s peacock feathers from Samson and Delilah and Dracula’s sweeping silk and the less glamorous but just as fascinating outfits from Brokeback Mountain, Fight Club and a surprisingly plain suit from Twilight with not a sparkle to be seen!

I keep wanting to add more, to remember this one and that one – oh, and that one but what I should say is just go and see it for yourself.  You won’t regret it and if you do, well, tough.  There is clearly no romance in your soul!

And if I had to take one home?  Just one?

red dress bandw-tileI think it would have to be the gown worn by Joan Crawford in The Bride Wore Red.  And she most certainly did!  Glowing, sparkling red sequins, ultimate Hollywood glamour – practically perfect in every way and all the more so for being filmed in black and white…

ruby slippersOh – and I’d slip the ruby slippers in my handbag…

You won’t tell, will you?

the shovel list…

“I employ this thing I called The Shovel List.”

A shovel..?”

“No, a shovel list. It’s more of a conceptual thing. It’s a list of all the people and things I hate so much I want to hit them in the face with a shovel.”

That’s a quote from Marian Keyes’ new novel “The Mystery of Mercy Close” which is lurking on my kindle waiting for me to have time to read it.  I need time as I suspect it’s a one-sitter and I don’t want to be interrupted by stuff like work, cooking or the need to scour the bathroom.

But the Shovel List has got me thinking.  We all have one.  I know I do although I’ve never sat and worked out exactly what’s on it.

This is the first attempt!

(Actually, this is harder than I thought. Worried I may miss something.  Many somethings…)

__________

Bad manners. Not etiquette and all that rigmarole, just basic lack of please and thank you and shoving people around.

Brown shoes.

People who wear full lycra get up including the padded arse shorts and special shoes on a folding bike.

Weather haters.  Too hot.  Too cold.  Too wet.  Too dry.  Too windy.  Too still.  What the hell do you actually want?

Tall, Grande, Venti. What’s wrong with small, medium, large?  (and extra large, extra extra large, humongously large and wheel me to a seat)

Adults who complain they are bored.

People who eat fish and chips in the cinema.  Actually, people who eat in the cinema.  And talk.  And discuss the plot.

Amazeballs.  Hilar.  Totes.

People who look at you sadly when you say you’re single, even though you like it.

‘Comedy’ ties, socks and underpants.  Just be told – they don’t make you funny.

Miming inverted commas.

Creative borrowers/work thieves.  Those who take credit for knowing the things you told them. Or ‘reinvent’ your work.  Usually badly. Always uncredited.

Anyone who stops dead when they get off an escalator.

Asda.

People who have no idea that they might have to pay or pack their shopping in the supermarket.

People who abandon their trolley in the middle of the aisle in the supermarket.

People who insist on having their trolleys across the aisle in the supermarket.

(Stop it with the supermarkets…)

Women who insist on taking men who loath clothes shopping clothes shopping.

PMSL.  Really?  How messy…

People who insist on eating in faceless chain restaurants because “You know what you’re going to get.” Well, exactly.

Anyone who when asked how they are actually tells you.  In detail.  With diagrams.

Cupcakes.

Parents who refuse to believe you when you politely say “No, I really don’t want to hold your baby…”

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And there’s so much more…

I should be getting embarrassed about how long this list is getting!

But I’m not.  Because it’s all so very, very reasonable.

What’s on your shovel list?

hobby horse…

It’s official.

I have too many hobbies.

In case you haven’t figured it out that’s my excuse for being MIA on this blog for an embarrassingly long time.

I’ll have you know I’ve really been quite busy – blogging about Being Human, making jewellery, watching TV, buying shoes, thinking about buying shoes, location stalking sightseeing trips, a bit of photography, generally making things – oh, and boring stuff like working for a living, eating and sleeping.  And there was you thinking I was just filing my nails and looking out of the window.  I mean, have you seen the state of my nails?!

Something had to give.

(Mostly it was housework.)

And I now realise that random blogging had been pushed behind the sofa cushions of my brain and got lost, and until just recently I hadn’t missed it.

Now I do miss it so here we go again.

Random thoughts. TV reviews.  Probably on the sarcastic side although I like to think affectionately so.  You may disagree.  Please do!  Some new shows, some I meant to write about when they were on and just didn’t.  There will very likely be shoes.  Possibly a rant or two.  Maybe even a few chuckles.  There may even be something reasonably thought-provoking…

Here’s hoping anyway!

Back soon…

…promise.

deleted scenes from the cutting room floor…

… which is the title of the debut album, from Dutch singer Caro Emerald.  It is brilliant – and I’ve been playing it nonstop for rather longer than I care to admit!

(I should probably apologise to anyone near my car recently who has had the misfortune to hear me singing along.  Sorry.)

How to describe it?  Caro Emerald is a jazz singer but the album is so much more than that.  It combines, jazz, humour, sultry vocals with some very modern rhythms and some rather wonderful guitar than makes me think of David Lynch films…  The lyrics are beautifully crafted and the whole album just reeks of smoky nightclubs, lipstick stained martini glasses, high heels, sharp suits and late night, low light, slightly seedy (in a good way) glamour.

This is my current favourite track, performed live.  I really adore the fact that she is just so groomed and gorgeous – and barefoot!