Review 3

Book: Blind Faith by Ben Elton
Publisher: Bantam Press 2007

Brief Synopsis: An dark future of death, blogging, religion and flood
Personal Source: Xmas Present

Ben Elton's latest book is a bleak, dark future set about 100 years from now, and takes blogging, web-cams and reality tv to its ultimate limits.

Imagine a Britain that has been flooded, a population squeezed into half the space, with all previous scientific knowledge condemned by religion.  'Sharing feelings' are compulsory and everyone wants to be 'famous'.

Although I have been a fan of Ben Elton's for more years that I care to remember, I have always thought his books sort of lacking.  The premise is usually excellent, but the actual story does not seem to deliver, the books do not usually live up to their early promise.  Unfortunately, it is the same in Blind Faith.  I enjoyed it until about 3/4 the way through, when it felt like it all had to be wrapped up very quickly.

It was thought provoking though, and I did think twice about continuing this blog, as it seems to be a slippery slop to the nightmare future of Blind Faith.

What have we learntAlways take a reality check and don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd (and don't worry about disliking X-factor, Big Brother etc).

: ** - Ok, only I am afraid.  But if you are BE fan like me then probably a ***

Ratings: * - Rubbish do not recommend
** - OK
*** - Worth a look
**** - V enjoyable, recommend
***** - Excellent, you must read

Review 2

Book: Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson
Publisher: Penguin (Viking) 2007

Brief Synopsis: The story of "How two million women survived without men after the First World War"
Personal Source: Xmas Present

I had previously read a short article about this book, so was pleased to get this as a Christmas present.

It is quite an interesting book, in the fact that according to the 1921 census, due to the deaths of so many men in WW1, there were approx 2 million 'surplus women'.  Many newspaper articles were written about concerns over this at the time.

It describes quite a lot about the experience of many women who never married, and what they did with their lives.  At the time there were not many opportunities for women and it was assumed that when you married you automatically left employment and just looked after the home and any family you had.  So if that did not happen options were limited as to what you could do.

Many single women broke barriers at the time, such as becoming stock brokers, lawyers and doctors.

I felt that the book tended to dwell on the more upper or middle class of women and did not describe that many 'ordinary people'.  The author justified this with the fact that a lot more of the 'Officer class' died in WW1 comparatively, so left many middle-class women without any prospect of marriage.  In those days, the class system was very rigid in the fact that the above mentioned middle-class women would not have dreamt of marrying out of their class.

I did feel quite inspired by many of the stories though, and remembered that I had 2 maiden aunts who were born at the beginning of the 1900's and worked all their lives and never married, although I don't know for sure, I wondered if they were tow of the 'surplus' women.  Unfortunately, I will never know for sure.

What have we learnt: A lot about women lives during the 1920's and 1930's and the kind of lives they lead and how hard it was for them.

Rating: *** - Definitely worth a look, the difference between our lives as women now, and what our ancestors did to drive feminism forward.

Ratings: * - Rubbish do not recommend
** - OK
*** - Worth a look
**** - V enjoyable, recommend
***** - Excellent, you must read

Review 1

Book: On the Edge: My Story by Richard Hammond (with Mindy Hammond)
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2007

Brief Synopsis: The story of Top Gear presenter Richard Hammond and before, during and after the famous (infamous?) crash he had in a jet powered vehicle on 20 September 2006.

Personal Source: Xmas Present

I really enjoyed this being a big RH/TG fan. I did not expect it to be as well written and deeply personal as it was. Some autobiographies I have read are surprisingly impersonal.

RH briefly describes his childhood, and career to date that 'all seemed to be leading to a Top Gear audition', which of course any fans will know, he got the job. It describes his fascination with cars, bikes and engines and where he may have got the interest from (both grandfathers). The book builds up to the fateful day in question and a very detailed account of the lead up to the accident - with interesting descriptions of how the programme is actually made.

After the accident Mindy Hammond (RH's wife) takes over the writing and the emotion is evident in every sentence. She describes RH's remarkable recovery in detail and the fears and anxieties she had. I was very moved by her writing indeed.

It also described the dedication of the medical teams involved and I found it absolutely fascinating as I did not know much about brain injuries before this.

MH & RH each take turns in describing the recovery of RH and how they spent time in Scotland privately as a family in a little isolated cottage and how gradually RH became well enough to return home and normal life. 

What have we learnt: A lot more about RH motivations and his life and family. Also about brain injuries and the recovery invovled.

Rating: **** - An feel-good (eventually) read, high on emotional content
- maybe *** if you do not know RH

Ratings: * - Rubbish do not recommend
** - OK
*** - Worth a look
**** - V enjoyable, recommend
***** - Excellent, you must read

Mother's Day - an ode

Bah, humbug!! Why is it an hour less than every other day of the year?

At last I get some peace, that must be what Mother's day is for!
I can read till I'm bored!
I can actually fill in this journal without guilt!
I can hide under the quilt!
I can get husband to administer the kids!
I can dance a jig or jigs!
I can guzzle chocs in front of Time Team!
I can be really mean!

And not make the 'Sunday dinner'!

Get a takeaway instead!
Drink wine and eat cakes!
Until the clock chimes midnight!
Then it's as you were -
And back to normal tomorrow!

Happy New Year

OK, another year, another cold, another quick booking of a holiday before August is full, (oh the life of a modern mum!!)

Yes OK, we have booked an extremely expensive camping holiday,in warmer climes and times.

So I have to renew not 1, not 2 but 3 passports of the clan, renewing 2 members is quite easy, fill out a few forms, new pictures (see below), send large cheques.

Baby F is more difficult, as you have to apply for a passport, loads of forms in Black ink, (first find your black pen - charities should be made to send out their freebie pens in black not blue.) Then you have your countersigning problems....

There is a criteria, well lots of them,

1. No relatives (Ok makes sense, they may lie)
2. Be living in UK (well that counts a couple of emigrees to France out)
3. Must know you for 2 years, (well there is loads who have known me for 2 years, work, friends, acquaintances, etc)
4. Hold a current British passport (most people I know can't afford to take their offspring out of the UK (see top of page).
5. Be able to identify me & baby F. (Ok well, we are narrowing stuff down now, most people at work could identify me at a pinch, but baby F.... hmmm I bought her into work when she was 8 weeks does that count? no well, A's school, well I know some of the teachers, but they probably wouldn't be able to id F reliably, ok,maybe neighbours, they can afford to go abroad (they are retired and go out of season)
6. Be a professional person!! (This narrows it down a lot... the neighbours are out, as they are not a professional couple, old friends who went to uni when it was free and managed to get jobs, the bank manager (who I haven't met), the Doc, who charges a fortune, umm, umm)

In today's modern, mobile, no support network lifestyle, sometimes you long for the suburban, known everyone for 20 years life of childhood, where summers were hotter, and you were happy with a day trip to a stony beach.

You would have been stuck then, of course, for in those days, we did not know anyone of a professional capacity capable of signing a passport.

Now there is the problem of the photos, you should see the criteria for that....

I don't get computers

Ok, well here I am! Told you I would put something up here M! don't know how I lost my account, maybe it expires after a certain time! Who knows ...

Anyway, what a week, R was away for 3 days on various work dos. So I had F & A all evening, and A had various activities to go to such as school disco, karate etc, had to take F with us on cold, and wet nights, F was not impressed. Thank God for G the babysitter who lives 2 doors away, very nice and handy!

So I am shattered (again) this weekend, another week gone, have not sent an update email to J in US, have not done cards, or finished Christmas shopping!! Aaaah only 15 days to go to the BIG Day, need a cheap remote control boat - and fast for A's present, hope Craptown has one this week.

Still on up side, will do cards tonight (honest), R is home now, going to A&A this pm, going to the Farm in Dorset tomorrow, so hopefully will be quite relaxing even after 2 hr drive.