Sunday 29 January 2012

BOOK REVIEW: Me Before You

Friendly, funny, 26-year-old Louisa Clark, who still lives with her parents and serves tea at the Buttered Bun Cafe, loses her job and is forced to take a six month contract as a carer. It is clear from the moment she meets handsome, intelligent 35-year-old Will Traynor, an ex-city high flyer and action man who is now a quadriplegic, that her initial awkwardness and his resentful disdain will eventually melt into full-blown My Fair Carer.
The stakes are upped when Lou discovers that Will has set his mind on ending his life at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland. Unbeknownst to him, her secret knowledge charts her on a mission to improve his life with experiences which will enrich it and ultimately change his mind.
The irony is that she is successful in changing his life simply by being in it. Their witty banter and details about her fairly small life become intriguing to Will. He coerces and cajoles her into watching foreign films and borrowing his books. He forces her into thoughtful and thought-provoking debates on issues of the day. It’s Educating Rita with a twist and of course, as the pupil falls in love with learning so the teacher falls in love with the pupil. It is he who changes her life by opening her mind to new ways of thinking about herself and the world, and how to live.

Friday 20 January 2012

Highs and lows

My husband is away skiing. To me, skiing is the sensation of being cold and frightened half way up a mountain and always needing the toilet.
 On that basis, he has gone with friends to the French Alps and I remain here at home, with our Darling Little Boy. 
He’s been gone two days and already it has been a revealing exercise. It has revealed that our son definitely has a favourite parent, and it’s not me.
It started before my husband left, when we trekked en famille to an indoor ski slope for him to ‘warm up’ for the trip, so to speak. Having booked in we set up camp in a coffee shop. I went to the toilet and came back to find father and son giggling like newlyweds. Husband went off to buy something and Darling Little Boy wailed: Where’s daddy? I just want a cuddle with daddy....”

Monday 16 January 2012

Shop local for a good panto......

I have seen a grand total of four pantomimes during this recent festive period. Oh yes I have. And that is not counting the Cbeebies panto, much trailed and anticipated in our house, viewed endlessley on Iplayer, along with the previous two years’ offerings – kindly laid on by the BBC as a gesture of Peace on Earth to all pre-schoolers and their busy parents.
Of the live productions, here's what we thought:
Panto 1: Center Parcs in-house production of Aladin. A poor offering. Presented in a conference room, with a women playing the dame and man playing the principal boy. Darling Little Boy loved it....

Sunday 15 January 2012

BOOK REVIEW: When God Was A Rabbit

I really enjoyed this book. It’s my kind of book in that it’s by a wry, intelligent writer who has a keen eye for contemporary life and funny situations. She draws a complex central character who takes us with her on her journey.

Through the eyes of Elly, we follow the fortunes of her family, starting at her birth in late 1960s urban Essex and moving a decade later to rugged Cornwall, with the story reaching to New York and London in later sections.
There’s her mother and father, Kate and Alfie, older brother Joe and aunt Nancy, a gay actress. The characters who weave in and out of their lives drive the narrative.

They include Elly’s best friend Jenny Penny, whose mother’s neglect is subtly alluded to and yet raw. The fragile sincerity of childhood friendship and the vulnerability of the Jenny is depicted with real poignancy.
Also important is Joe’s teenage best friend Charlie, who is in fact his first love.

In Cornwall, elderly fop Arthur becomes their lodger, and along with his aging starlet friend Ginger they become part of the extended family.

Thursday 12 January 2012


The man I love has a crippling addiction which brings shame on our family. Yes, at the grand old age of three my Darling Little Boy still has a dummy. His beloved dodey. He would go to the ends of the earth for those things.
We tried to get Father Christmas to take them away, but if truth be told, I don’t think we had the courage of our convictions and when he woke up having nightmares at the prospect of it we abandoned the plan altogether.

The trouble is, it’s genetic. I was late to give up the dummy.

First Lesson of 2012

How do they do it? Other people, I mean. Immaculately stylish knitwear, a wondrous herb garden - it’s the question that always gnaws away at the back of my mind, where I harbour suspicions of some wonder drug or secret ingredient - but to a large extent accept that they are just considerably less lazy/have better taste than me.
At the moment, it’s energy. Or, to be specific, ability to cope with lack of sleep and constant physical activity.

Back in the day when I was a new mum to a tiny dictator whose torture of choice was sleep deprivation, I had every excuse to be dead on my feet. Now that Darling Little Boy is three and ‘sleeps through’, I don’t do badly for zeds.