Tuesday, May 30, 2006



One hundred posts on my blog. Hurrah. I sure do talk.

The right to stick your bloody nose in

A poster on a forum I visit was complaining that someone told her off for allowing her small child to mouth a balloon. When she argued about the danger-level, that person retorted angrily that as a paediatrician, she'd had to resuscitate kids who've choked on balloons. The OP seemed furious and distraught to be confronted in this manner.

~ Is it nobody else's business what you allow your child to do?
~ What right has someone to interfere in your parenting?
~ Where does social responsibility begin and end?
~ Do we look out for other people's children or do we keep our bloody noses out?
~ Is there a particular level of risk at which we should intervene?
~ And where is that line drawn?
~ Does being questioned on your behaviour as a parent automatically mean you're being foully judged?
~ Is every criticism a personal attack that deserves to be met with eff off, (as Lynne Truss alleges it has become in Talk to the Hand)?
~ Or can you phrase something in a such a way that it is non-confrontational/judgemental but still expresses concern and awareness of social responsibility?

When I see a small child trying to take some nuts, is it ok for me to say "Oh, is he allowed those?"

Should the answer be "Yeah, he can have them", would it be ok for me to follow up conversationally with "Oh, it's a worry about choking/the onset of nut allergy due to early exposure to them, isn't it?"
(if I phrased it better) or should I just keep my fricking mouth shut (and shoot laser beams from my eyes :P)? (I have a thing about allergens due to young Mr T :D).

Maybe the parent is fully informed and thinks the risks acceptable: but should we assume they are? But how patronising is it to assume they don't know?

Of course, most parents are hyper-sensitive to possible implications that they are doing badly by their children: I've some experience of being challenged in my parenting abilities, and it was devastating. :(

But can it be good for us to get a metaphorical slap round the chops to rethink the way we parent, once in a while?

What worries me at times about the emphasis on support and being non-judgemental on this particular website, is that perhaps it could allow that which is abnormal, cruel or simply badly-handled to seem ok and defensible.
(I'm not particularly thinking of balloons at this point :)). It's like the sites for anorexics which were on the news a while back for being supportive to the point of enabling and making anorexia 'normal' & even desirable. Surely it has to be ok to say: I think you handled that badly, I think there are other options, maybe you should try such-and-such?

I remember a possible troll starting a thread in which they claimed to have kept their 3 year old on the naughty stair for 6 hours (SIX, count 'em), into the night, over a piece of uneaten apple. If true, that was wrong and on the point of cruelty and stupidity. I guess it doesn't help anyone to say that was cruel and stupid, but I don't think glossing over the fact it was a bit of a mistake is all that helpful either.
Also, there's a thread that stays with me from a looonnng time ago, about someone who constructed a unclimbable side for their child's bed, so that he couldn't keep getting out of bed - it was wooden and bolted. Although it was painted nicely, from her account, (and I suppose it's not that far from having a cot with sides... Then again, a cot has sides to prevent the child rolling out of bed, for his/her safety)... Anyway, I was uncomfortable about it. Most people responded positively about it, as though it was a great idea, and weakly, I joined that kind of tack in a facetious way. But it still nags at me in the back of my mind - apart from the caging aspect of it - would they be able to get him out quickly if there was a fire? If he was scared and hiding in a rear corner of his bed, would they be able to reach him? I feel I should have asked about that, at least, but I didn't.

Saying these things doesn't mean I have never made a mistake with my kids, never lost my temper, never let a situation get out of hand, but I hope that I would accept where I have messed up and be ready to make amends.

Clearly people heaping blame upon my head and telling me how awful I am, would not help me. But are understanding and compassion wholly incompatible with criticism?

I suppose I'm talking about the difference between constructive criticism and the ripping someone to shreds kind.

Spongebob Dolphinpants?

Is the female line of a family of dolphins using sponges as nose protectors when foraging?

Lego Camelot

Reading record: Talk to the Hand

I read Lynne Truss's Talk to The Hand about modern rudeness, over the weekend. She is the author of Eat Shoots and Leaves. It was a bit like an extended episode of Grumpy Old Women, but I quite like that show, although I don't always agree with their pet peeves, as it were.

I have nearly finished John Connolly's Black Angel, a sort of crime/horror book. I don't usually read horror, but this one slipped through the net as I mistook it for a Michael Connolly. :D But I'm quite enjoying it, although I don't think I'll go out of my way to read any more.

The past

Lately I've become more interested in my family history.

Some weeks ago, I went to see my father's grave for the first time in years, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is well-cared for. It must mean some of my family are still in the area, or at least visit the family graves regularly (my grandmother, grandfather and uncle are buried diagonally across from my dad). I was pleased I was able to find the cemetery fairly easily and I remembered the approximate area mum had always taken me to as a kid. I searched for quite some time, but couldn't find his grave at first. I think I was expecting it to be run-down and untended. I also didn't think it had green glass pebbly things on it, although I remembered playing with those. For some reason I thought they must have been on a neighbouring grave, but thinking about it, I guess mum wouldn't have let me toy with things on other people's graves. I found my grandmother's grave and since I thought it was a good landmark for mum to help me, ended up phoning her, and as I was talking to her, came to his. It was only a few feet from the other family one, I don't know how I hadn't seen it. 8)

But although I'd known the right area to search from memory, I hadn't remembered how the grave itself looked, and I think I actually didn't think it was his because of this idea I had about it being neglected and without green stones.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to do this, but I guess it's because I have developed this interest in who my family are. Like wanting to know all Gran's anecdotes and memories. I'm also interested in people's memories of my dad. It was important to me to take the kids with me as well, even though it's a bit macabre. It isn't through any notion of him in an afterlife or anything of that nature, it's about connection with my past and, I suppose, my (and their) heritage.

Seeing my uncle and auntie this weekend reminded me that they had known him (obvious, I know, but not something I've ever talked to them about, as far as I can recall). I wonder if I could ask them about it, somehow. I wonder if they remember him with affection or mixed feelings: he was somewhat older than all of them, but it sounds as though they were friends.

Mum remembers the four of them (plus possibly the children, or most likely just J, the eldest) going to the beach and the two men going off fishing in a rowing boat. Apparently they disappeared over the horizon for ages and the women were beginning to get frantic, when they returned to view, with their boat so heavily laden with mackerel it was barely still afloat. My auntie's freezer was filled with nothing but mackerel for months.

A lot of mum's memories of my father seem related to fish. He was a strong swimmer and a salmon poacher, and he used to swim across the river pulling a net and with a heavy stone on his chest to weigh it down at the other side. She also tells me of riding in his canoe while heavily pregnant, with the dog sitting on her lap. Well, couldn't leave the dog behind! :D

She's also said things like she thought it was me, the dog then her in his affections.

He was quite old-fashioned: he used to take her to the pub and he would be at the bar with the men, while she was expected to sit with the women. She didn't like that. She's not big on small talk and she wanted to be out with him. I don't think either of them knew what to expect from each other. Apparently when he was courting her, it had been different. But when they married, he expected her to be the little wifey and content with that.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Much trepidation

Everyone was a bit anxious about the birthday barbeque for my auntie yesterday, as there has been a family rift, over which everyone is currently skating tentatively.

M was on orders to keep an eye on stepdad, who had been fuming and fuffing over having to go. Our last visit had been without him, which had gone well, but his absence had been noted. And it would seem strange if he missed a birthday party. He was rather florid and puffed-up looking, sort of ready-to-blow, bubbling, volcanic in aspect, but nothing went pop or bang and although he and mum didn't stay all that long, they were there long enough.

We were, naturally, superb party guests. Everyone should invite us to every party anywhere. :D

The children were cheerful, cute, well-behaved and played nicely with the others: S being director of operations as the eldest. M did his usual of helping with everything: he arranged tables, set up lights and was chief chef of the barbeque. I supervised, entertained and distracted-from-evil the children, collected gran (who had almost been forgotten) and supplied both her and the little uns with the various courses.

T made me do endless circuits of the garden. Later he had an unfortunate brush with a sour cream and chives pringle, which brought him out in a mild rash. But it was short-lived, and the guilty pringles did time in other people's stomachs. M gave him some of his dairy-free chocolate, and some of the guests were cooing at him and playfully asking him for some of it, so he got down from the picnic bench and scooted over to offer them a bit, much to their amused consternation. Aaaaaaaw. (Are you sickened by all this cuteness yet?)

I didn't really get to talk to anyone much, although I'd have liked to spend some time with my cousin J and his wife, but it wasn't really possible as I was annexed by children. Later when M and I were more free to chat, he took Gran home and we had to go before he got back, unfortunately. We left when T was starting to droop. He'd done brilliantly, but it was about 9. S was still going quite happily, but she was ok about leaving. I think little Z, who was worshipping the ground S walked on, was rather sad to see us go.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Last Stand of the X-Men?

Last night, we went to watch X-Men 3, which was good actiony fun. Character development was pretty much abandoned in favour of introducing masses of mutants and high energy fight scenes in this segment.

M enjoyed it but went into lengthy critique of why it wasn't true to the characters/storylines afterwards. He is/was a fan of the comics, so he had a lot of good points about it. I don't know that much about that side of it, but this is what I thought about the film, (in background colour to avoid spoilers for anyone who may happen to read this & intends to see the film):

I did think Cyclops' off-screen death was a cop-out; however, I suppose it did leave the opportunity for him to be found alive, should there be another film. His character was woefully underused and he was a hugely important X-man so his elimination so soon and with so little spectacle was wasteful.

But the door seems to be very much open to another film. Even the cure seems to be temporary, as indicated by the wobble of Magneto's chess-pieces, which means Mystique and Rogue's powers could return. And even Xavier could return: why else was there mention of this brain-dead body and the morality of whether to transfer a mind?

I felt Magneto's callousness to the fate of his mutants didn't fit with his self-appointed mission to have a mutant-dominated world. I don't think he would have abandoned Mystique so easily once she was "cured", especially after her loyalty and "taking the bullet for him", as it were. Although he was the "bad guy", he was once a friend of Xavier, and it was more that he believed in mutant superiority and the need to defend mutants from being ghettoised or subjugated by humans, by violence if necesssary. Whereas Xavier believed that through low-profile diplomacy and negotiation, humans would come to accept the mutant population. It wasn't that Magneto was a purely evil kind of guy, so his callousness with regard to the fate of his pawns doesn't fit, to my mind. And if there is a cure in injectable form, it seems to me that it would be possible to reverse its effect *(especially since Beast's hand turned back to normal once he moved away from the boy who was the source of the cure), so surely that possibilty would have occured to Magneto when faced with the loss of his most loyal and useful henchwoman?

I felt Rogue's taking of the cure was under-worked and her character was barely in the film. Shadowcat was good and I enjoyed her scenes, but again, not enough of her - and the Ice-Man/Rogue/Shadowcat triangle wasn't that strong.

Phoenix/Jean Grey was amazingly powerful, but she seemed to be zombied out; rather than revelling in her power or leading, she was the led. I didn't think that sat well, and the only time she became active was to destroy. I think there should have been more of her, more struggle with herself, less passivity. I don't think she would have followed Magneto so docilely.

But that said, it was good fun, but not as interesting as the first two.

More thoughts about yesterday

Gran told me that she got to place the last stone because the girl who was originally going to do it, was too scared to go up there to do it.

I think her life has been very interesting, but I don't really get the chance to prompt her much to talk about it because the kids are always there and they don't really allow in-depth conversation. At least that saves me from rants about step-dad or fox-hunting, as sometimes she goes off on those topics. And "political correctness gorn mad" which she applies to everything she disagrees with, even when it bears no relation to political correctness. It's just her catch-all. :(

I don't argue with her, because it's not worthwhile: she'd just get upset and I don't want to be in that position. I just try to redirect to the interesting things. :)

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Kids and cafes

I usually feel fairly good after visiting my gran: it makes her happy and breaks up the monotony for her. It's not as though I get nothing from it, of course, she is nice and can be very interesting if you get her on the right topic. For example, she put the final stone in the reconstruction of Selby Abbey*, and she also won a flight in a bi-plane at a fete as a child.

But the last couple of times, I've felt we're getting to be too much for her. That the kids are too loud and boisterous, that she finds us exhausting.

We went for lunch at a farm shop/cafe, which was pleasant, but she seemed uncomfortable about the kids' behaviour. I gave T the bowl full of condiment packets that was on the table to occupy him as he wasn't hungry. All he was doing was taking them out and putting them back in again, but she wasn't happy about it. I thought it was better than him struggling to get out of the highchair and setting up a wailing, which seemed to me the most likely alternative.

I should have taken in something to amuse him, I suppose.

S wanted soup and bread, but when it arrived she wouldn't eat any soup and only half the bread. Her hot chocolate was a thing of beauty, with whipped cream and marshmallows, but she needed persuasion to drink any of it. Play with it a bit, yes, no problem - but consume? No, of course not. Then she wanted to order chocolate cake, (which became the carrot I used to get her to tackle some of her bread and the hot chocolate).

But by then gran had clearly had enough and wanted to go, so we promised S chocolate bunnage from the shop instead.

T started wailing in the car on the way as he was sick to death of being in cars & high chairs and wanted to pootle about, so Gran changed her mind about stopping at the shop and persuaded poor S that she would give her money for a chocolate bun instead. 8) But T would've settled down if we'd gone to the shop, he was just fed up of being in restrictive seats.

OK, the kids weren't perfectly behaved in the cafe, but they weren't a nightmare either. They just didn't want to eat much and aren't very good at sitting perfectly still and quiet. It was much to do with being plied with biscuits, juice and crisps by gran before we even went there.

All in all, I don't think it went that well, although we won some brownie points back by S whipping up a "thank you for being my granny" note. :D

S finally got her bun en route home.

* Although Selby Abbey was founded in 1067 (I think) just after the Norman conquest, it was badly fire-damaged in 1906 and underwent major restoration work, which was finished in 1935. Gran would have been 20 or so.

Selby Abbey

Friday, May 26, 2006

And relax...

I've had a bit of an energetic day: went to the gym and for a swim this morning, then took T to his swimming lesson, while S played in the small pool.

I did some weight machines as well as the cross-trainers etc today. Had to keep reminding myself not to be embarrassed at doing small weights: it's repetitions I'm after, and toning. :D And I don't suppose anyone was remarking on what I was doing anyway. :D How egotistical would it be to think no-one has anything better to do than criticise my training?! :D I'd definitely done enough for my level of fitness anyway (which is not good :)), cos my muscles were protesting.

As for T's swim class, it was a huge turnaround from our previous attempts: the first couple of times he screeched and clung on like a limpet, so spent very little time at all in the water. The third time, he went in and was reasonably happy but still held on for grim death. Today, he was splashing, laughing and kicking his legs with joy. :D I even got to glide him through the water and do the actions for the songs, so his confidence has grown hugely.

S was happy, doing her darnedest to swim in the small pool, and she's not far off getting it. We haven't been swimmming for ages, so I was very impressed. :) I am considering whether to join her up as a member, as it is our closest pool and most convenient. But it is fairly expensive. And will we be around to use it?

I think if we do move, it is likely I would keep her at her present school even after the summer holidays, if at all feasible, so we could go there after school or on weekends, as we're bound to spend a lot of time over here, anyway.

Knees up, Sylvia Browne

It's nice that someone finds great comfort in a belief. But when it is from an image depicted by a convicted fraudster, it's a bit worrying.

Of course, Sylvia Browne could be lying and dishonest in one part of her life and not in another, (or even wrongly convicted), I suppose.

But then, if the comfort the person finds is great in that belief instilled from dodgy sources, yet that belief is unlikely to harm them, (apart from in spending money on books/videos/etc), does it matter if it's potentially a load of hooey?

Would it be cruel to take pot-shots at this heroine of theirs?

Or would it be for their own good if they were to look at the source their information emanates from?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The mind boggles

Not only does someone want to make their own baked beans from scratch, but someone else could provide a recipe and act as though it's perfectly sane.

Not that I'm judgemental at all. :P ;)

This is lunacy, I wish to shout! Open a tin, bung it in a pan or microwave, a few minutes and job's a good un. The way I see it, baked beans are a convenience food, not something one should labour over. Perhaps made-from-scratch gourmet baked beans are superior beans, perhaps they are healthier, but I'm severely doubting the effort is worth it.

Thou shall have a fishie, on a little dishie

Birdseye have an advert selling salmon products, in which their main selling point is the fact that they only use sea-caught salmon.

Farmed salmon are apparently fed a colourant so that their flesh is the colour people expect of salmon, which in wild salmon they acquire through their diet.

Much like flamingoes are only pink if they're getting the right food.

I'm dubious about this. I think conserving our seas should be a higher priority. Surely we should change our expectations and educate ourselves to accept the "wrong" coloured but farmed salmon, ie. remove the artificial colourings from farmed fishes' diet and eat them, instead?

I'm not sure what environmental impact fish farms have, of course (and maybe I should look into it before shooting my mouth off - but let's not let it stop me for now :D), but I am aware of over-fishing and the future of our seas as issues. I don't know whether wild salmon stocks are threatened, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Obviously what sells is the driving force, but the consumer isn't always right; things like artificially shining apples and not accepting funny-shaped ones at supplier level mean our expectations of our food are unreasonable.

Not that I'm not guilty of buying this stuff. (Apart from fish, I don't eat fish).

I remember there was a recent hoohah about Rick Stein's restaurant selling cod. I thought that was ludicrous: the people to worry about on the cod issue are the mass-producers of fish-fingers and fish'n'chip shops, not one celebrity chef's restaurant. Of course, it's demand, people like their cod.


High energy hatred

Yesterday I read the very long Wiki entry on Fred Phelps (after visiting a mainly American forum). What a catalogue of misery and hatred. I don't know how much of the biography there is true, although clearly things like being disbarred as a lawyer would be verifiable.

On the bright side of reading all that dreariness, it did say that his church has only about 100 members and many of them are his relatives.

He is far from representative of Christian belief (which I already knew, obviously, but realising just how small his congregation actually is, was heartening). He must be very publicity hungry and virulent.

Some people allege he is an agent provocateur, but I don't know how anyone would have the energy to fake and maintain a pretence of that much hate.

Of course, I don't know how he has the energy to exude that much hate either. He must find it exhausting.

The eyes have it

Vanishing act? :D

Optical Illusion Index

Today I will be mostly loving optical illusions. :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Whose pants are on fire?

There is a news story out there about Iran forcing its religious minorities to wear coloured badges to indicate their religion.

Their embassies deny this is true. Some experts on the region say they don't know where this story is coming from and that they haven't heard of it.

"Hormoz Ghahremani, a spokesman for the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa, said in an e-mail to the Post yesterday that, “We wish to categorically reject the news item. These kinds of slanderous accusations are part of a smear campaign against Iran by vested interests, which needs to be denounced at every step.”
Sam Kermanian, of the U.S.-based Iranian-American Jewish Federation, said in an interview from Los Angeles that he had contacted members of the Jewish community in Iran — including the lone Jewish member of the Iranian parliament — and they denied any such measure was in place. "
(National Post, Canada)

Various political figures say the Iranians are likely to do such things, but that they have no confirmation that they are actually doing this.

Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, said yesterday that Iran is “very capable” of enacting such a law but could not confirm reports that members of religious minorities must wear identifiable markers on their clothing.
“Unfortunately we’ve seen enough already from the Iranian regime to suggest that it is very capable of this kind of action,” Mr. Harper said. “It boggles the mind that any regime on the face of the earth would want to do anything that would remind people of Nazi Germany.”
(National Post, Canada)

Is this part of the on-going demonisation of Iran? So that we can equate its regime to that of the Nazis and go bomb the shit out of it with happy, self-righteous indignation?

Or is it true?

UPI International Intelligence story

Iranmania article

Canada Post piece

Hey gringo

We had homework last night.

Each of the class has been given a World Cup team to support, and the teacher wanted them to know a bit about their respective countries. S's team/country is Mexico, (although she says she wants England and Ireland to win really :)).

It was quite interesting looking it up on the web together. We found a Mexico for Kids site with information about the people, food, clothing and some of the mythology and traditions. Instead of there being a man in the moon, there is a laughing rabbit. So we printed that story out for her to take, and some pictures of embroidered clothes. Although their official language is Spanish, there are 62 living languages spoken in Mexico.

And tequila, it makes you happy. :D

Monday, May 22, 2006

Poets corner

S wrote this in Word during the morning:

"Teleoport the qeen for once. We say you go away.
On the day of the race.
Take your bag with you. We hate you.
We love your sister. But why. Because she
Brings us balloons and presnts and you don t.
On your bithday you can come back.
When our rabbits have gone ants will be coming back."

She's made some excellent stabs at the spellings. I'm not sure what it means, but I like it. I think. :D

Reading record: Time Traveler's Wife

I finished The Time Traveler's Wife at the weekend. It was great, the best book I've read for ages, and I actually had tears in my eyes towards the end.

It usually takes a particularly moving episode of Neighbours to do that. (I jest).

I've been thinking about the story on and off since, so it's a goodie and I'm glad I read it, despite my natural anti-R&J and women's bookclubs prejudices. Although I think I first heard of it elsewhere online, as I had it on my Amazon wishlist already: I hadn't visited it for ages and had forgotten what was on there :). I did go through a stage of adding all the books that were recommended to me online to the list, so it must have been from that thread and forum.

I can take it off the wishlist now, as I don't think I feel the need to own it, presently.

In theory,

I should like Vegemite. But alas, and alack, I do not.

Marmite is more expensive, but it tastes better. They look like they are essentially the same product, but one offends my delicate sensibilities. :D

M's grumpy rantings (see yesterday's post) seem to have been the product of a drunken political analysis/discussion with B, so nothing to worry about.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The slide into stupor

Yesterday, M created a lovely meal for a birthday tea for stepdad, Mum, us and their two guests at Mum's house. It was lovely and the kids were great; they stayed up late and were adorable rather than whiney or irritable, which they could have been.

I finally took them home at about quarter to 10, since the meal was going on a very long time: they'd had their ice-cream, but the adult dessert was going to be a while. They went to sleep almost instantly and then I had the house to myself. I wanted to continue drinking, as I'd had a couple of glasses of wine at Mum's, but fortunately I couldn't find the corkscrew. At the time, I was a bit miffed about that, but it's turned out for the good: no hang-over and given that M has only stirred from bed to be sick so far today, it's just as well. :)

M came to bed at an unspeakable hour, muttering darkly about being very angry with B, one of stepdad's guests. I don't know what that was all about and hardly dare ask. Was there an argument? Did it all turn sour? I've seen Mum to talk to this morning, but didn't like to bring it up. She emphasised that it had been a lovely meal, and all that, but didn't say anything bad had happened. Apparently M left about 2am and B went to bed soon after, while stepdad passed out downstairs.

I didn't want to ask her if anything had gone wrong really, cos I prefer to hear from M's perspective first. And I don't want to mention M's mutterings if it was something that he'd just been grumping about drunkenly to me, but hadn't expressed in their company.

So I guess I'll ask him when he drags himself out of his pit. Poor sod. I bet his mouth tastes like a sewer.

It's very unlike M to get wound up by people, but that's booze for you, things get out of proportion and the wheels come off sometimes. I don't suppose it was anything to worry about, just curious as to what was said.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Mr Clemens

Mark Twain quotations.

I like the quotationspage site: I could spend far too much time there. :)

Of sea squirts and brains...

"The juvenile sea squirt wanders through the sea searching for a suitable rock or hunk of coral to cling to and make its home for life. For this task it has a rudimentary nervous system. When it finds its spot and takes root, it doesn't need its brain any more so it eats it. It's rather like getting tenure."


Falling Down

I saw a tiny bit of the movie Falling Down last night, and I was thinking about the film in bed afterwards.

The first time I watched it, I remember I was quite annoyed by the fact that Michael Douglas' character turned out to be a nutter, who had terrorised his family and was setting out to do it again. I had been on his side as he rampaged, the way he was rebelling against the rat-race, abandoning his car in the traffic jam and just setting out to walk home.

At the time I thought it was a cop-out: that failing to conform was presented as incompatible with sanity. We should all be nice little automatons doing as everyone else does.

I suppose turning it on its head and discovering he was more than just a pissed-off commuter, in fact, a fully paid-up member of the nasty psycho-loon brigade, was subverting audience expectations and causing discomfort in that they were sympathising/empathising with someone not only whose mental stability was in doubt but someone capable of evil towards his family.

Funny post

"The only time I wouldn't want to die is after saying "God if you exist, strike me dead!" Which I have done from time to time in religious arguments. I can easily come to terms with death, but whoever I would be arguing with at the time would take that as proof of God. That I wouldn't like.

And, being dead, I wouldn't be able to argue that my death was just very coincidental."


Friday, May 19, 2006

Keep it real? No, you can keep it.

I can't believe Big Brother is back again. I don't understand the fascination for watching a bunch of people who (from the snippets I've seen in the past), sit around beefing about/flirting with each other, and who seem devoid of wit or intelligence. They talk for the sake of flapping their lips. It's on in the background now, while I wait for Green Wing. I can hear that there is much squealing and swearing on BB. Like hogs that have stubbed their ... trotters, I guess.

I love Green Wing. I love how surreal and mad it is. :D

Some reality shows are more watchable than others, I think. Strictly Come Dancing and Hell's Kitchen were interesting to me: I liked the effort they put in and learning a skill seems worthwhile to me.

But watching fame-hungry egotists, stuck in a house, is just tedious.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

And while I'm on a nostalgia kick


Mr Claypole!

Maid Marian and her merry men

You should know, however, that it is your bounden duty to pronounce Maid Marian in the american accent Eddie Izzard adopts when he talks about Robin Hood legends in one of his stand-up routines. :D (Nothing to do with the tv show I'm feeling nostalgic about, but anyway...)

Reading record: Asti Spumante

I read The Narrows and the Asti Spumante Code yesterday. I may take a rest from crime fiction now; I think maybe I've overdone it in my gluttony for Connelly. I did enjoy the book, just getting a bit too samey.

The Asti Spumante Code was a good fun read. It was a parody of the Da Vinci Code and got so many of the flaws of Brown's writing dead to rights :D. (So thanks for pointing me in its direction, A :).)

I've started the Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and liking it so far. Refreshing.

Think pink

Lately I've noticed women customising or personalising their cars. It seems to take the form of pink fluffy steering wheel and seat covers, pink tints or stripes, and stickers saying things like: flirt, tease, minx, hot, totty, whorebag. (Ok, I was making one of those up :P).

Of the drivers of these, that I've seen, they tend to be young women drivers, as you might expect.

Apart from the taste issue, ("it's all in the best posssssible taste"[/Kenny Everett] :D), I think it's kind of foolhardy to advertise your sex through your car. Who are you advertising to?

Of course, we should be able to dress how we like, get as drunk as we like, walk down dark alleys all alone, never fearing harm. But should isn't how it is.

Natural explanations

So why am I blithering on about this thread and Toyah Wilcox (see 'Jack and Jill went up the hill' post) so long after the fact?

I'm not sure. I guess I did not participate in the aforementioned thread and never expressed what I was thinking at the time, and it stuck in my craw, so here I have hacked it up :D. I didn't want to get involved in the thread then because I find the sceptical viewpoint on such matters usually gets an aggressive/defensive response.

Who wants their flights of fancy shot down by that old spoilsport :)?

Past lives? ... Jack and Jill went up the hill

This morning I started thinking about an online discussion I read a few weeks/months back. It was about this woman who thought her child remembers a past life.

She said that her child was talking about things that he/she couldn't possibly know about, that sounded as though they were based on historical fact. Part of her evidence was that he/she knew the word "pail" and its context, and how would a child be aware of that? (Hence the title of this post :)).

Kids pick up words and context: that's what their brains are most adept at in the early years. It's how they learn language, largely: we don't sit and teach them each and every word, its meaning & usage, one by one.

For the rest, she was fairly vague. But I think it is more probable that influences such as television programmes and books would be incorporated into a child's imaginings than he or she is remembering a past life. I'm not even thinking in terms of documentaries: programmes such as Blue Peter often have historical pieces, and even cartoons can have historical flavouring/language, which a child might pick up on. Examples might be Maid Marian, Dave the Barbarian, even some episodes of Scooby Doo! :D (I'm not saying these are necessarily accurate sources, of course. :)) Children soak up more information than many people seem to give them credit for. Even when they don't appear to be paying attention, you can find they've drawn more from it than you might expect.

Most books of nursery rhymes will have a particularly well-known set of verses and probably illustrations of a pair of accident-prone children with their bucket.


Some time ago I watched this programme which had Toyah Wilcox going through regression to revisit a past life. Her memories were very clear to her of being an anchoress.

"In the middle ages an Anchoress was a woman who lived in a small, sealed room inside a church; she would have visual access to the Sanctuary and to Holy Communion. Usually there was also a small side window at which she could converse with visitors, receive foods, etc. Usually an Anchorite was rather a mystical and wise sort of person, steeped in prayer."

Toyah seemed very much convinced by her "memories" as they were so specific and an anchoress is quite an unfamiliar term. She was very emotional as she recounted being forced into seclusion (which would not really fit with being an anchoress, as it would be a religious choice of a hermit-type lifestyle, not something someone would be forced to do. After all, what wisdom and holiness would you expect from someone walled up against their will & screaming to be set free?) So it all seems pretty powerful.

Up until the point you are told she actually had a part in the Anchoress, a 1993 film.

Her explanation, when reminded of this role, (which she had apparently forgotten), was that perhaps she had been drawn to the role because of her past life.

Or maybe her imagination just went to town.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Yesterday we all went to peer in the windows of our pub-to-be.

M doesn't like the carpet. :D

We went for a gander round the area and it had lots of green areas, sort of sports fields, with nothing in 'em. So that was alright: I can see the children playing there a bit. There was a stream at the bottom, in which we counted 6 supermarket trolleys and a toy pushchair. A bit dreary.

We saw two teenaged girls pushing a trolley along with their coats in it. They abandoned it in a corner, obviously for the important purpose of carrying their coats on the way back, or for the noble sport of trolley chucking at some later date.

That said, the area is generally reasonably attractive, with the housing quite decent.

As we were leaving, we spotted a small playground in the opposite direction to that we had walked, so that was good. The beer garden needs some work: weeding/planting/rebuilding of barbecue, plus possible introduction of play equipment. As for the accommodation, it's a bit of an unknown. Obviously we couldn't see it, as the pub was all closed up, and it's on the first floor. (We should have taken a ladder for our spying. :D) The information on it is that there are 4 spacious rooms, wc and bathroom. I'm not sure whether the kitchen is one of those rooms or whether it is unlisted. I expect it is a two bedroom flat, but it'd be nice if it had 3.

Tomorrow I'm going with M to meet these potential employers and see the place properly.

I can't say I'm wildly enthusiastic about all this, but I guess I become accustomed to anywhere. After all, I was desperately unhappy about moving here. 8) Now I don't want to leave, I've got this trying-to-dig-in-roots thing going, that I never had before. I guess it's the schooling and upheaval of kids that has changed my perspective.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Reading record: Books books books! (in my best Roly Mo voice)

I finished Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer on Saturday. This was a book recommended by Richard & Judy, and they set me onto him as an author. Argh. :D

I like his stuff, it's decent crime thriller fodder. I haven't yet touched the Umberto Eco's I got out, or the Audrey Niffenegger, although I did consume another Connelly yesterday, Lost Light. I'll probably read the other of his I've got, The Narrows, before I tackle the other books. I found a hidden cache of his works in the library last time we went.

I have the Asti Spumante Code to read, as suggested by A, so that's probably next in line after I read the Connelly.

Cloud Atlas still nags me from its shelf...

When I'm feeling blue

I had a terrible day yesterday. I think it's based on anxiety about the future. Mum, stepdad and C went into town on Saturday and stopped by our pub-to-be. They were really enthusiastic about how it looks and its situation.

This ought to make me happy, but I'm scared and down-hearted. I'm not looking forward to moving again. I'm dreading packing and cleaning - and then unpacking and trying to find places for all our crap. I've done it all so many times.

I'm not looking forward to having to get S to her school from the new place everyday, and at the same time, I'm not looking forward to getting her placed somewhere nearer for year 2. It seems so bloody unfair for her to have to start over, and I'll be sad for her to lose her best friend, M. Maybe we'll be able to keep the friendship going - she could see her at weekends still, I guess. I don't know how well it will sustain without the school in common.

But I'm not sure whether it's practical to keep her in her present school? After all, it would make it difficult to see her friends after school, or certainly less desirable to the parents for them to visit her at her place. Although she could see them at my Mum's, I suppose. If she went to school locally, it'd be more likely she'd make friends she could see more often.

It's not like we're moving a million miles away, but I think convenience has a lot to do with friendships (and more to the point at this age) parental enabling of friendships.

But it is a good opportunity, although it bears the usual risks of pub managing (ie. getting your place sold out from under you).

And it is not as though we can stay here indefinitely. Sometime D will want to get cracking on renovation of this place and will want to move in herself, presumably.

It's a case of wanting to hide in a darkened room, with my fingers in my ears, going "La la la, I'm not listening, I can't hear you".

I don't like it! I don't like it!
[Monkey: 'Monkey turns Nursemaid' (He's stuck under a mountain, being fed melted copper)]

Friday, May 12, 2006

In the interests of fairness,

(re. my post about "why I must always get cross") I must report that S was an incredibly kind girl yesterday when I was trying to give T his inhaler, and he was weeping, (which made me want to cry too). She tried to distract him and cheer him up while it was going on, and then gave us both massive hugs afterwards.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Splish splash

Last night mum was pressuring me to get S christened ("and while we're at it, might as well do T as well"). She was a bit naughty, I think, trying to get S to say she wants it, (as S has recently developed an interest in church-going and Christianity). I'm not convinced S understands well enough yet to make this sort of decision.

I always planned to let the kids make their own choices in this area, but I was thinking in terms of when they reach their teens - I wasn't expecting it this early. Mum's arguments are that:

  • - it'll be harder to enter the church if they have to start from scratch when they're older
  • - it won't do any harm if it does no good
  • - it's a good excuse for a party
  • - it's a safety net
  • - it would please Gran beyond all things.

But I figure if they find religion when they're older, they'll be prepared to go through with baptism or whatever. I don't see why not being christened as babies should be a particular obstacle to them following a faith.

Nor am I altogether convinced that S has actually "found God", but rather that she wants to be able to say what she is when she talks about religion at school, as they seem to have been doing a lot of discussion about the various religions in the past few weeks. And as far as I am aware the only guest speaker they have had was J, the local vicar.

I'm not adverse to her learning about Christianity, I'm prepared to take her to church and I think if there is a sunday school, she could go. I'll ask about that when I next see J. But I just feel resistent to the christening idea at this stage. The way I think about it, if her interest persists and she seems to really understand what it all signifies, then I guess she can have it done. (I make it sound like having her ears pierced or something :D). But Mum says that the understanding & true belief is what she would need for confirmation, rather than christening.

I'm quite in favour of a party, of course. :D

I think it's the godparents who commit themselves to lead the child in the faith. I'm not sure whether the parental contribution is merely standing there, but I would have difficulty if it required more.

Anyway, I haven't discussed this with M at all, and S and Mum haven't mentioned it today, so I think I'll stick with waiting-and-seeing what happens.


Just to add: it strikes me as odd that Mum would suddenly start on this, but I guess she seemed really shocked that I said at the hospital that we have none, when asked what our religion was for the admission sheet.

It's not like she didn't know I'm an atheist, or that she didn't know they weren't christened, tho. She said she just assumed I would say "CoE" anyway. :S


Chin chin

M got a phonecall from the potential employers, saying they were very impressed, and want to meet him at the pub they may want him to take on. He is very impressive, f'narr, f'narr. But anyway, on Wednesday he will have this meeting and get to view the place properly. We're going to have a look round the area on Sunday or Monday.

It seems the nearest school is good from its ratings, so hopefully we'll be able to get S in there (if we are offered it/take it). Although I think we'll try to keep her where she is at least until the end of the school year (if we are offered/take it).

"Why do I always have to get cross ...

...before you do anything I ask you?" is something I seem to say on a regular basis to S.

And then I remember, suddenly, my mum saying virtually the same thing to me as a kid. That brought me up short. Maybe there's some truth in the old saw, that your children are your parents' revenge (or something to that effect). :D

You would not believe how long someone can take to put shoes and a jacket on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Philippa Gregory (Prolific today, ain't I?)

I finished Philippa Gregory's The Queen's Fool yesterday. I enjoyed it, but not as much as The Other Boleyn Girl.

I found the heroine rather irritating. She loved everybody and it just didn't work for me. She was devoted to Bloody Mary, she admired Elizabeth, she was infatuated by Robert Dudley, her true love was her fiancé. She was on all sides at once.

I guess the particular problem I had was the admiration/love for Elizabeth, who was portrayed in numerous unflattering ways: yet as readers we were expected to accept that her charm swept all before her. By being told it did, rather than shown, (which seems to be a pet hate of mine :D).

Ruth Kelly and Opus Dei

"Is homosexuality a sin? Minister for Equality refuses to rule it out"

Also I was watching Matthew Wright on telly this morning and they were discussing whether Ruth Kelly can truly act within her role as Equality Minister, due to her strict catholicism and membership of Opus Dei. One of the main points Wright was presenting was that a major duty of a member of Opus Dei is to promote her religion through all areas of her life. Is it therefore possible for her to separate her beliefs from what is required of her in providing equality?

Clearly some gay rights campaigners are concerned.

I don't think that someone who considers homosexuality a sin = that they would deny gay people equality. It might, but not necessarily and not across the board.

What does Ruth Kelly's voting record say about her views? Well, she missed 12 votes regarding gay rights since 1997.

She also voted to allow unmarried straight couples to be able to adopt, but exclude same-sex partnerships. (Of course, co-habiting is "living in sin", isn't it? So I doubt her catholic beliefs favour that either. I don't notice anyone in the media pointing that out,
(although they may have done), but it seems to me to undercut the idea that her political stances are purely informed by her religion. I suppose it's possible she saw it as lesser of two evils, or something, but we can't know that).

So where does this lead me?

I don't think we should assume that Kelly will be unable to act within her job description due to her religious beliefs. After all, we should be providing equality in all arenas. And denying someone her job because of her religious beliefs?
Erk, erk, danger, danger, Will Robinson! #Flail robotic arms wildly.#

But if she proves incompetent or attempts to push her religious beliefs through her position, she should be fired. Just like anyone else. (Although whether that ever happens in politics is debatable. :D They usually just get back into a new post the following week. ;))

I saw that there is an Opus Dei website. Obviously I had to check out what they had to say on there about the more salacious stories about their sect. They talked briefly about how their members self-mortify, which they say constitutes their regular members denying themselves a particular food, or similar. Although more active, celibate members apparently do use the cilice and discipline.


Bottoms up

M's interview today seemed to go well, so maybe we will end up back in the pub trade, after all. :D

He should hear a yay or nay in the next day or so.

Sometimes I wonder

When I moved back here and started taking S to school, it felt very strange being back here.

Early on, another of the mums came up and said "Hello X": I started and muttered, and she strode on her way. I'd noticed her before and guess we'd caught each other's eye, but I didn't acknowledge her cos I wasn't sure who she was ... and I didn't want to talk to anyone anyway. She didn't acknowledge me either, but obviously after a few days decided to confront me with a hello.
It did feel like a confrontation rather than a greeting, but perhaps it was my paranoia, or perhaps she thought I'd been blanking her.

I guess I should just smile at people, but at the time I was untreated for depression and I was hiding in my own little world. And I've forgotten how to make friends, I think.

It took me a while to work out who she was. I'm still not completely certain, but I think I've got the right name in mind. We've never spoken since, and I think perhaps she thinks I am ignoring her or feel antagonistic towards her.

And in truth, I am avoiding her.

Partly because she represents my past in some ways - she was a drinking buddy of Y's, although Y always slagged her off and spread nasty gossip about her, (like she was the local bike and had had multiple abortions). Some of it may have been true, I don't know, but ripping her to shreds was all very unnecessary.
(Why did I like Y? ... She was great fun so much of the time. But her faults were often things I wouldn't have accepted from virtually anyone else. It surprises me that I keep coming back to thinking about this. I guess even now, I'm still sort of fond of her, although our friendship is long-dead, past resurrecting.) The part of my past she represents is the person I was when I was going out drinking like that, and the person I was at school. I am still partly that person, of course, but I feel like people want to put you in a box for life and never let you out of it. If that makes any sense.

Another part of it, is that it was too embarrassing not remembering her name when she clearly remembered mine, and it has gone on so long that to start speaking to her would require some sort of explanation! :D And by now, (if she didn't initially), I think she probably does think I'm a snobby bitch or something.

I'm hopeless sometimes. :D

And I don't particularly want to make friends with her, or anyone there. We've been here quite some time, but I still feel like we're apt to move anytime, and what's the point of making the effort?

Where everybody knows your name

They are soon going to know the whole family by sight at the hospital. Mum was there yesterday having a chest X-ray.

This is getting ridiculous!

It was just to check her out after a persistent cough caught the GP's attention. But they said it looked clear, so that's OK.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Is it right, is it wrong, is this the beginning of a song?

"I was already Bishop of Hippo, when I went into Ethiopia with some servants of Christ there to preach the Gospel. In this country we saw many men and women without heads, who had two great eyes in their breasts; and in countries still more southly, we saw people who had but one eye in their foreheads."

This is cited as proof that St Augustine was a big fat liar by Joseph Whelus. And I've seen it as a sig quote at a forum.

I'm not convinced that it is as simple as that, even if the quote is accurate.

Assuming it was, it could be metaphor, or poetic license, as in
"here be dragons" rather than he literally met such people.

I could apply a literary meaning to it, where perhaps some of these people were led by their physicality (eyes in breasts) and some were spiritually handicapped (cyclops-like depth perception :D). And from cyclops, we can go merrily to eyeballs/balls/symbolic castration, if I'm following a literary bent :P. Not with this particular excerpt, just what occurs to me.

It's all in the interpretation. :D I loved such stuff in literature lectures, (and still do).

I think it's stretching it a bit to use it to try to destroy the credibility of St Augie-baby, as I feel the poster who uses it in his sig does. Sometimes I think some atheists try too hard to justify their position:
'I don't believe in God ... and anyway he stinks!' (To paraphrase Philip K Dick in Valis).

Currently I don't feel the need to justify my position. I know why I have no belief and I don't feel I need to fight about it with anyone. I do still visit the atheist forum because I enjoy the personalities and reading the debates, but I don't feel the need to jump in and expound. :D

And anyway, I think most of the resident posters there are smarter/better-informed than me, so don't need my meddling :D).

I know where you live

Much excitement today online due to a site called b4usearch. They were all looking up famous people and themselves.

Well, I say they, but I did look myself up and a friend or two :). I wasn't there, or certainly not at our present address.

I don't think it's as dangerous as some were making out: all the information is culled from the electoral roll, as far as I can tell. But I guess that it is very immediate, and that might be what is alarming about it. After all, I suppose we may think of the electoral roll as a big wadge of paper that takes time and effort to go through. But a search engine makes all the information readily and almost instantly available.

I found A's info through her husband's name. Not that I needed to, as I already know where she lives. :D Just exercising the search engine, although the amount of hits they must have got today must be boosting their site income (if that's how site income works; I may well be completely off-base about that. I have passing little knowledge of this mighty medium and how it sustains itself). Couldn't find W for love nor money. Well, I didn't actually try the money angle, as I did find mention of her on 192, but I'm not willing to cough up the dough to get further than "we have an entry for that name": just vaguely curious about what she's up to these days.

I dreamt about her last night, which is probably why I did the stalkerish thing :D. I also dreamt about S persistently running into the road and being very stroppy/self-righteous about it. :S

Oh but what a lovely sleep I had. M woke me up offering sexual favours when he got home last night, but I callously rejected him, spurned, turned him away, broke his little heart. :D (Not really).

Some were anxious to remove themselves from the site, but apparently the link the site gives asks them to give more personal information before it will agree to remove them. Ahem. I think legally if you request to be removed they have to do it, so maybe they want to put people off by making them jump through hoops to get removed?

[Menacing tone] I know where you live [/menacing tone].

Monday, May 08, 2006

Early to bed

I think I'm going to go to bed. It's just past half past eight and it's still light!

But I am shattered.

My usual suite

at the hospital was unavailable, so I ended up on 3 chairs again, last night.

Marvellous service. :)

No, I do not knock the NHS as they do their bloody best by my family. :D They are generally fab and supportive, and the nurses are kind and work hard (apart from the lengthy phonecalls about their ski holidays ;) :P).

It was Mr T again, little bugger. He is out of hospital again tonight, with inhalers and evil pink medicine. S was trying to show him it's not a scary horrible thing to happen, but he is hating the spacer and its lovely drugs.

The consultant said this wheezy episode may be the first sign he is going to be asthmatic like S, but there is still the chance it was a one-off.

I find the latter very unlikely, but maybe it's cos my optimism stayed in the three chairs last night and hasn't got up yet. Fell down the large cracks, mayhap. :D

Still S is an easy asthmatic as asthmatics go, so if he is determined to follow his sister on this route, I hope he merely imitates rather than excels her.

Oh, for a put-me-up bed beside my kid's, as it was in Stoke Mandeville hospital. I didn't know how good I had it when S was ill there. :D I used to think they were a bit mean to want me to close up the bed and put it away at 7am.

I had it so good, such luxury!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mr T versus the bug

Young master T has a cold, and is therefore unwilling to sleep tonight. Little blighter. :D

At least it's been a few weeks since his last illness, and I don't feel so wretched. The fine weather has made a huge difference to his health, I think. S probably has less exposure to bugs now that the school is more likely to open windows and send them outside into the fresh air, so hopefully it's less of a breeding ground for colds and viruses.

No enthusiasm for Atonement

I don't think I can be arsed to read the rest of Atonement.

I feel disappointed in myself when I don't finish a book. But then again, it's not like I'm reading for a course*; I'm reading strictly for pleasure, and if I'm not enjoying the damned book, why continue? Bloody silly to persist, I guess. :D

Try another, that's what libraries are for.

I will try the other book by Ian McEwan that I got out, as he was highly recommended as an author by someone online. Of course, the one they recommended was called Saturday, which isn't currently in stock there.

* Not that I managed to read many of my course books when I was at college, I tended to wait until I went to the lectures and work out which ones aroused my interest and wing exam questions about those that didn't, by recalling my notes. Not a particularly diligent student, I fear. But I made decent notes. :D

Thursday, May 04, 2006

I lost my horn, found it gorn

Well, no, but I did lose some weight. Hurrah, doodah and yip yip. :D

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


It strikes me as interesting how many people bother to include their sign when they fill in their profiles.

I suppose some are just filling in the boxes, without believing in it. It's always tempting to fill in everything on a form. But I wonder how many believe in astrology, how many think they have the personality traits of their sign, how many think it is relevant?

When we're singing...

It's a jungle out there
Disorder and confusion everywhere
No one seems to care
Well I do

Hey, who's in charge here?
It's a jungle out there
Poison in the very air we breathe
Do you know what's in the water that you drink?
Well I do, and it's amazing

People think I'm crazy, 'cause I worry all the time
If you paid attention, you'd be worried too
You better pay attention
Or this world we love so much might just kill you

I could be wrong now, but I don't think so...

It's a jungle out there.

(Theme song to Monk, tv detective series)

Out of my depth

Bugger, I'm such a tit. I don't think I helped a friend in distress. Arse.

Got any Rhino?

I love our local charity shop! There were some great kids' toys, and we purchased "Rhino Rush" and a big bag full of Hot Wheels tracks and bits. All good stuff for next to nothing.

"Rhino Rush" is enough fun that I'm prepared to play it more than a couple of times in one session, and I can lack dread of being asked. :D The only trouble is persuading her not to cheat by turning the dice to the number she wants. :D

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


I returned the 2 and a half Pillars of Wisdom unfinished as I found the protagonist difficult to get on with. I saw a couple of other Alexander McCall Smith's but neither featured Precious, so I decided to try them another time, after being rather repelled by the 2 and a half Pillars of Wisdom. I quite enjoyed the Girl Who Married a Lion, but I saw too many other books I wanted to give a go to try any more non-Precious Smiths. :)

I brought back Amsterdam and Atonement by Ian McEwan, The TimeTraveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and The Island of the Day Before and Baudolino by Umberto Eco. I still have the Philippa Gregory to read, and I've been given some more encouragement to read Cloud Atlas. I must try again!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Uncyclopaedia strikes again

Bouncy castles on the rampage. :)

Ram Ray

I find the feature on CiTV's Saturday morning show, "Ram Ray", a bit dubious. It doesn't seem that far from dwarf tossing and exploitation. Of course the guy, Ray, is a performer and all that, but I feel somewhat uncomfortable about it.

The Da Vinci Code. As conspiracy theory goes...

.. it's poorly written tripe. :D Although I think that this:

"Conspiracy theories are modern day mythology, and the best window into the mind of a society is through its mythology."

was a good point well made, (by someone on a forum I frequent).

Hmm, well, I read the book and I was disappointed. I hadn't been expecting much, but I had expected better quality writing. I nearly gave up in disgust at the first obstacle, which was the prologue. :) It was all such a cliché.

Overall, I found the plot predictable and the characterisation flat. And an albino as henchman/villain. Oh please! (Scars, the one-armed man, excessive dentistry, dwarf, funny odour, etc, etc: over-familiar motifs in film and literature. Deformity/unusual appearance=Bad Guy). Yaaaaawn.

As for the protagonists, Brown kept telling his audience how super-intelligent they were and having them drift off into reveries about how damn clever they were, but he didn't let them show it. Just kept telling us.

For a book that bangs on about the sacred feminine, I found the depiction of female characters unconvincing and at odds with that concept. Sophie Neveu, one of the main characters, started out as fairly dynamic and decisive, but after her initial rescue of Langdon from the Louvre, became a mere hanger-on. Despite her years of training as a child to solve her grandfather's riddles, she seemed thick as pig-shite and as a limp as a lettuce, and the male characters were pretty much the only ones to move the plot on.

The spirituality seemed based on the male orgasm, and woman as receptacle or conduit. It still seemed the objectification of woman rather than lifting of her status.

None of the protectors of the grail seem to be female. There are scenes where a nun appears to have a mission, observes the killer on a task and some suspense is built up as to what she will do or attempt to do. An anti-climax follows: her mission seems limited to making futile phone calls - and getting murdered. I usually like books where the expectations of the reader are subverted intentionally, but felt this was just clumsy.

The separation of the twins seemed very Star Wars. :D But let's not get into the mythology of Star Wars, it's far too much fun.

On the bright side, I did read the book in one sitting, (but that's not unusual for me).

I find it unsettling the way that Brown implies that the history he depicts is true. At the beginning of the book he writes a page of facts, which he has utilised in the tale, as if to provide a sense of this being a "true story".

"The Priory of Sion--a European secret society founded in 1099--is a real organization. In 1975 Paris' Biliotheque Nationale discovered parchments known as the Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Sandro Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo da Vinci." (The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown)

I expect that some readers would read that as saying that these people were in fact members of the Priory of Sion. Yet it's not even certain that the Priory of Sion existed in the eleventh century, as far as I am aware. I also think that the documents mentioned were found to be fraudulent.

He also writes,
"The Vatican prelature known as Opus Dei is a deeply devout Catholic sect that has become controversial recently due to allegations of brainwashing, coercion, and a dangerous practice known as 'corporal mortification'. Opus Dei has recently completed construction of a $47 million, 133,000-square-foot American Headquarters at 243 Lexington Avenue in New York City." (The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown)

But all he's doing is reporting allegations about the sect and pointing out it has a big building! :D Yet the implication is that the sect is as he portrays it.

I don't know, this book annoys me on several levels. Obviously it is fiction, and sold as fiction, but some people seem to take it far more seriously than they should.

I think it is poorly written and executed. Also the ideas presented are not new or even particularly shocking (as you might think from the uproar it caused in some places). Over-hyped tripe. :D