Month: August 2005

The Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Those of you who’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books should scroll on down to the next post. Although I will suggest you give them a try, they’re quite good fun, dead easy to read, and are a good way to unwind without having to read a “serious novel”.

And for those of you still reading, yes I do think the Harry Potter novels are serious, and the fact that I’m already looking forward to the next one worries me slightly as it’ll be a long wait!

Quite enjoyed this one but I think I should have re-read the previous book as so much was referred to that I kept having to stop and try and remember what had happened. Still it was good to see the characters mature further and…. well I’m gonna stop there as I don’t want to post any spoilers. I DO have a theory about the ending of the book though.

Beware, spoilers ahead!
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The Black Dahlia

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy

Ever since I read American Tabloid I’ve always looked forward to picking up another Ellroy novel, his ability to pull you into the era – in this case late 1940s L.A. – is second to none, as is his ability to pace the story perfectly and plant enough seeds that you develop his characters for him.

The story of a brutally murdered woman and the cop that tries to solve her case leads us into a tangled web of corruption, intrigue and… well you can get all that from the blurb on the cover. What Ellroy consistently produces is a well crafted plotline, full of curveballs, smacking you hard in the gut when he drops the chops on how it played out.

If you’ve read any of his other novels you’ll feel at home in this macho world where when hit hard, and dames play the sass to perfection. The grime oozes from the pages as you fall deeper into the story and next thing you know it’s playing out like nothing you thought. He seems to take a perverse pleasure at crafting stories which give you all the clues but that you’ll never solve – allowing some empathy with the lead character.

At times brutal and over the top in many aspects, Ellroy manages to portray the film noir scenes perfectly, knows when to speed things up, and what he can leave up to the reader. Case in point – early on in this book there is a boxing match, whilst reading it on the train I could feel myself racing through the passages, caught up in the fight itself and willing the lead character to win.

Not a book for everyone, but if you’ve never read any Ellroy this is a great place to start. Be warned though, once you’ve read one, you’ll want to read another.

Prick

I had a “morning constitutional” down to the doctor this morning, well the nurse as it turned out. I was getting some blood taken to get my cholesterol checked. Previously this was done with a pen-like gadget, a quick prick on the end of your thumb and it spat out a reading:

“FAR too high you lardy so-and-so”

Slightly disconcerting when you are expecting it to read 5.4…

Anyway this was the proper “you’ll only feel a little prick” type of blood gathering and, after my childish giggles had been abruptly stopped by a rolling of the eyes (I wonder if nurses hear any NEW jokes?) I departed with a teeny plaster that apparently fell off on the way home and the instructions to phone the surgery a week on Thursday after 2pm.

it’s odd, I know the reading will come back high as it was high the last time it was taken a few years back and the doctor already has notes on why (the whole hereditary thing), and whilst I’m conscious of what I eat at times, mainly I’ve not bothered as I always figured I’d end up on medication like my Dad.

It’s only just struck me that that day could be sooner than I expected, I’m wondering if I’ll get called into see the doctor in a couple of weeks and that’ll be me. Pill-popping for the rest of my life. Do I still have time to control it through diet? Is that even an option? Guess I should have a chat with my Dad.

The really odd sensation is the realisation that I’m middle-aged, things don’t work they way they used to, I have aches and pains when I get up in the morning and I’m realising how badly I’ve treated my body – my temple – in the past. This thought has been developing over the past few weeks, ever since my Dad’s heart attack, and for once I’m losing weight, exercising more and I’m not really thinking about it as a chore. I’ve not eaten chocolate in weeks, even when I was out at the weekend I had a few glasses of water at various points through the night, and abstained from my usual post-club snack.

This all goes to prove to me one thing; you can have all the knowledge of what you should and shouldn’t be eating, how much you should be exercising, and so on, but if you aren’t in the right state of mind it won’t make the blindest bit of difference.

Something inside my head has clicked though. I have offered myself no incentive to diet and exercise, there is no reward, or competition to spur me on, yet I feel more determined than ever.

My name is Gordon McLean. Three weeks ago I sent the scales over the 18st mark, this morning they are just over the 17st mark and I ain’t stopping there.

A joke

Well it made ME laugh.

The FBI had an opening for an assassin. After all the background checks, interviews, and testing were done there were 3 finalists. Two men and a woman.

For the final test, the FBI agents took one of the men to a large metal door and handed him a gun.

“We must know that you will follow your instructions no matter what the circumstances. Inside the room you will find your wife sitting in a chair. Kill Her!”

The man said, “You can’t be serious, I could never shoot my wife.”
The agent said, “Then you’re not the right man for this job. Take your wife and go home.”

The second man was given the same instructions. He took the gun and went into the room. All was quiet for about 5 minutes. The man came out with tears in his eyes, “I tried, but I can’t kill my wife.”

The agent said, “You don’t have what it takes. Take your wife and go home.”

Finally, it was the woman’s turn. She was given the same instructions, to kill her husband. She took the gun and went into the room.

Shots were heard, one after another. They heard screaming, crashing, banging on the walls. After a few minutes, all was quiet. The door opened slowly and there stood the woman. She wiped the sweat from her brow and said…
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Thinking

“What shall I write about today?” I pondered to no-one in particular. “It’s a thought ain’t it” I replied to myself.

Sometimes inspiration hits, sometimes it’s just a bag slung over a shoulder on the train, either way the jolt is the same and the kick start is enough to get your brain moving.

Except mine appears to be stuck. Don’t get me wrong, I can find plenty of topics to waffle on about, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, but that key ingredient, that essential release is missing.

I don’t post about work, I don’t really do much during the week, and weekends are typically spent on the mundane aspects of life, gardening, shopping, and so on. There is only so much I can say about my family without scaring everyone away (although with my Mum becoming a more frequent commenter I fear my blog days are numbered as it is, she’s getting a new kitchen don’t ya know), and only so much I can say about my life because I’m all too aware of who reads this nonsense (see previous brackets).

Maybe I should start up an anonymous blog?

Yes, I’m suffering blog depre… no I’m not using THAT word. Let’s call it blog malaise.

But then I look at other blogs and see that they don’t really talk about much either. “I need to develop some characters” I say to myself, my mum would be a prime candidate for this, and this would be the perfect place to catalogue all her little “foibles” (or should I say “turning into her mother”-isms?). She’s not quite on a league with my Gran yet mind you – who once referred to some pears as “runky” (spelling unconfirmed) – and has a way to go to catch up with the, now infamous, comment from another Granny (not mine) who, sometime in the mid-80s, pondered what the fascination was with these “pubic cubes”…

Mind you, maybe I don’t need to go to the lengths of embarassing my mother (if that’s even possible, she’ll pop along soon and deny it is, just you watch) as I’m fairly well practised at waffling myself out of these slumps, next thing you know I’ll be posting three or four times a day. Maybe that’s the “blogger secret”, the key, the solution. Just keep blogging.

God, that sounds trite.

Rational

So part of the Friday night story goes like this.

Towards the end of the evening … er.. the early hours of the morning, it’s only me, a friend of Lesley’s (can’t recall his name) and her cousin Tracy that are left in the club. Lesley and Sid have just left, and the three of us are finishing our drinks.

Friend of Lesley’s suddenly says cheerio and so Tracy and I are left to finish our drinks. The club starts closing, we make our way outside. It’s raining and Tracy has to phone her husband to meet him to get a taxi. I offer to wait with her until he shows up.

We chat, and about 10 mins later her husband appears. He looks like he is in a bad mood so I say my farewells and leave. I’m a bit confused as to why I was getting dirty looks but pass it off without much more thought.

Turns out he threw a bit of a mental, took his wedding ring off and accused Tracy of… well I don’t know exactly but suffice to say he’s off in the huff. Tracy and I got on well, admittedly, but it’s not like anything happened. Apparently he’s done this before, but I still feel kinda sorry for Tracy as she’s dealing with the brunt of it and it ain’t her fault.

So that was Friday night. I only found this out today, and when I told Louise she butted in at the start of the conversation and said “ohh I bet he thinks you shagged her..”. Yes folks it’s THAT laughable. And that’s about it for Friday night, or as much as I’m gonna divulge here anyway.

Hopefully my muse will return and I’ll be able to give you something a tad more interesting soon.

An aside

What is it about Mondays? Melancholy and dark switch places with jovial and trivial at the drop of a hat.

Is it just because I’m waiting for an outcome? Is it just me?

It is, isn’t it.

Sorry, no inspiration at the moment. Maybe later. Maybe not.

Last night

Note: They always say you should self edit, and whilst I’m no good at that I think it’s only fair to forewarn you that what follows is self-indulgent waffling. You are hereby excused from reading this post. I don’t want to delete it but, seriously, scroll down a bit to the next one, or pick a link from the blogroll on the left.

Still reading? Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Aside from the usual beer consumption, a couple of Southern Comforts, and some dancing, Friday night was memorable indeed for many reasons, and only some can be revealed here (lest someone read about something that DIDN’T happen). One reason in particular is stuck in my head but it’ll require some consideration before I figure out all the bits especially as it consists (in part) of snippets of conversations in a nightclub, with only the occasional word heard (thinks: did she say “competition?”).

Anyway, that’s enough cryptically obfuscated nonsense – although it was necessary even if only to provide me with a reminder of a unique evening – the main reason we were all “partying like it’s 1999” was because Lesley had officially left the building. A lot of people had taken the afternoon off, but thankfully they weren’t TOO drunk by the time I got there. The number of colleagues and friends (and her cousin) a testament to how missed she will be from our, now much quieter, office.

Still I’ll see her in December, if not before, for the Foo Fighters concert. I DID say I’d gotten a ticket, didn’t I??

Louise was also out last night and, for once, she has spent the day nursing a hangover. This is a reversal of some magnitude as it’s normally me being the pathetic one, lying groaning on the sofa all day and… ok to be honest I suspect she’s either eaten something that has disagreed with her or, and this MAY be more likely, it’s related to the fact she no longer has a gall bladder? I have no medical basis for this (my Google-fu is failing me as well) but she certainly was more than just hungover. Believe me, I’ve plenty of experience in that area.

Spent the afternoon (come on, I didn’t get home until 4 am) catching up on the first three episodes of Lost. I’d seen the first one aff the internet and the next couple keep things moving along. Admittedly I do wonder where things are heading, but I guess there are still a lot of characters to be introduced and developed.

Right, I’ll stop waffling now as I’m certain this is just an avoidance technique on my own behalf to stop me thinking about last night in too much detail – although it’s something I’m prone to do, dissect, gather the pieces and solve the puzzle. What’s your favourite avoidance technique?

Closure

It’s the end of another week, an odd stop start week for me, with some days flying past in a blur, others stalling at regular intervals before disappearing at the end of the evening leaving chores and tasks uncomplete. Still, that’s what weekends are for…

Of course I will have to discount some of Saturday as we’re off to the pub this evening to celebra… er… wish good luck to Lelly who is leaving the company to pursue her dream of becoming a drama teacher. She’s a bit of a drama queen so I’m sure she’ll be fine! (only kidding sweetie!).

Some people have the afternoon off (not me unfortunately) but we’re all going out for lunch – to a Japanese restaurant called Miso which I’ve read good things about – and I’ll catch up with them later. Isn’t always just wonderful to join up with people who have been drinking all afternoon…

The weekend itself looms large and adequately empty. We could do with a weekend to re-charge but we’ll see how the mood takes us I guess.

______ Lady

Arrived home this evening to find a large plastic coated woven bag on our doorstep, our new “glass recycle sack” no less. Already half full and in the garage as there is no room to store it in the house (well unless we did a little clearing out… but that would mean trimming the junk from the kitchen cupboards and we all know how much fun THAT chore is…

As Louise walked to the garage I commented that I was glad I had my very own bag lady.

We also seem to have inherited a cat. It’s a nice wee thing, black with white socks, and from what we can tell it’s not any of the neighbours (still to check mind you). We’ve given it the odd saucer of milk, and chunk of tuna, but I think we need to do a quick survey round the cul-de-sac and see if it belongs to anyone.

Mind you, Louise is quite taken with it, and I pondered aloud the prospect of having my own “mad” cat lady.

I’ve now been sent to “my room” and I’m not sure when I’ll be allowed out which, normally, would be fine as I get peace and quiet to “muck about on the internet”… except I’m dying for a pee.