Monday, 25 August 2014

{Bank Holiday} Monday Missive

Lovely weather for it, innit? Last Bank Holiday of the year, probably the last day of summer-proper... Sob... Sniff...

#I can still recaaaaall our last summer... I still see it all...#

OK, sorry, moribundity set in a bit there.

'Fraid no gifs today, but the monotony of my monotonous monotone is thus broken by pictures.

This week past two weeks, I have mostly been...

Re-reading | Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard

I read this some 22 years ago at school, and notoriously reviewed it for the weekly newsletter (an act that solicited a couple of weeks of ridicule because, c'mon, what teenager reviews books for the weekly newsletter, thus admitting to reading off-syllabus, and does not expect ridicule?!).

It reads as a very different novel to an adult; that said, great books are perennial. And this is a great book.

Watching | Educating Yorkshire

I'm late to the party on this series but it is a huge, huge eye-opener. From what I've seen, I have so much respect for so many members of staff at the school but the head, Mr Mitchell, is just superb. Calm, fair and approachable, but still a little scary. In a good way.

Rewatching | An Education 

Because, Carey Mulligan, Dominic Cooper and Emma Thompson. In the same film. A little bit of filmic excellence.

Seeing | David Levithan and James Dawson in conversation Waterstone's Piccadilly

Blurry author pic (taken from third-to-back row!) | James Dawson (l) and David Levithan (r)

Work friend Evie and I were super-quick off the mark to get tickets to this sell-out event on Thursday 14th August, 'chaired' by recently-crowned Queen of Teen James Dawson, discussing David Levithan's latest novel published by Egmont -- Two Boys Kissing -- as well as James Dawson's own new publication, This Book is Gay (published by Hot Key Books).


Both authors are excellent, witty speakers who are able to verbalise great truths about the writing experience; and, yep, I took notes. Of course, almost two weeks have passed since then and my notes make little sense out of context, but the upshot was:
You can write what you don't know -- if you've done your research as a writer, and have empathy with your characters, it shouldn't matter. 
David Levithan on feeling responsibility for his readers and their experiences: "The responsibility I feel is in terms of YA literature -- not [...] society in general."
DL on the narrative voice of TBK (the ghosts of men from the AIDS generation): "I don't think [of it] as my own voice. I did it by not thinking about it. ... When that generation has gone, you have to speak [for them]."
Afterwards I queued to get books signed for Evie, Clare, and myself. I love these little dedications!

"To Clare -- Rock on!"

"To Evie -- Live every day in wonder"

"To Beth -- This book is happy to meet you"
{How They Met}


It's a Bank Holiday weekend, it's a Sunday night, nothing I'd rather do than go...

...gigging in Reigate again!

The company was exquisite (though obvs we missed you, Jos, Glenda and Jude, our usual dance-floor compadres!).

The band line-up was deliciously familiar (should mention this particular manifestation was The Prelude!), and they were all fabulous -- that saxophonist?! SKILLED.

Oh and last evening's frontman was a little bit familiar as well:

Why yes, that's that Shane Richie off the telly. For whom I've sung backing vocals before, don'tcha know?! {Yes, we know -- time to lock that one up, je pense!} The video has gone AWOL from the page link by the way. Which is probably for the best.

And no, I completely did not snatch a taped-down set list from the stage before it was disassembled, nope.

{oh. looks like I did. oopsy. :-)}

The chips made me do it.

No night out with Charlie is complete without a trip to the kebab shop, and cheesy chips.

(The looks of disdain from the kebab shop staff are worth every gluttonous bite.)

Ranting Putting the World to Rights

In case you didn't happen to check on the quirky brunette last week for the usual SS, only to be confronted by another of my angst-ridden Contemplations, here's the link to my diatribe on the perils of Facebook, of which, I conclude, there are many (and yet I'm still on there).

Note to self: maybe I should...

After all:

{via Pinterest}

Incidentally, this brings me back to a previous Contemplation on the increasingly public coercion to charitable giving.

Ice Bucket Challenge, I'm talking about you.

I'm not against it by any stretch. I love that there are countless videos on the web of celebs being liberally doused in ice water, and then donating their monies to raise funds for, and awareness of, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or Motor Neurone Disease in the UK.

And now it's a widespread craze. My Facebook feed is 'awash' (gnarf) with videos of my friends taking the challenge, and then nominating their friends to do it too. And I have some jolly game friends.

But I ask you, please don't nominate me: a) I'm not being ostentatious, but I've already donated to the MNDA, b) who's going to douse me and film me when I live alone? and c) there's a question mark over the ethics of the water waste (thanks to AJ for the best and most reasoned arguments I've read so far against taking the challenge).

Right, onto lighter subjects now, I think!

Ten Pins

My last ten pins on Pinterest:


{top of the Rock!}

{library love}

{dive in!}

{hip coffee stencils. <3}

{for the hair, not the fur. I'm not into fur}

{book stack cake. so much love}

{coffee truth}


{that view!}

Two-Weekly* Weblinks

*ergo, some of these may be a little out of date!

Literary Linkage

Non-literary Linkage

{Stephen Collins | via Guardian}

{combo alarm clock + coffee brewer. oh yes, yes please}

And finally:

Keep warm and dry, my friends. Nearly autumn. Meh.

qb xx

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Contemplation: Share and Share a Like

[Disclaimer: I do not purport to speak for anyone but myself in this blog post. I take full responsibility for my opinions, no matter how skewed they may seem. :-) qb xx]

After seven years, I have a Like-Dislike relationship with Facebook.

  • I like keeping in touch with far-flung family and friends. 
  • I like the daft banter. 
  • I like that as a single lady living alone it keeps me from feeling isolated. 
(I touched on these first three reasons in my pre-Lenten Facebook fast post.)
  • I like tagging friends in photos of things they might like:
{@Amanda... @Lizzie...}
  • I also like being tagged in photos of things I might like: 

  • I like the fact that objects have been reunited with owners via Facebook. 
  • I like it as a wide-reaching platform for sharing causes, raising awareness, or requesting sponsorship.
  • I dislike that Facebook has the potential to make folk feel inadequate. 
  • I dislike that Facebook has the potential to make folk feel guilty if they don’t Like or Share a viral photo:

  • I dislike that we rational folk occasionally can’t make the distinction between how our friends live, and how they depict their lives on Facebook.
  • I dislike the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that Facebook inspires:
Remember those friends of yours? Look! Here they are in this gallery of photos simply bombarded with Likes! They’re all out having the best time WITHOUT YOU. And next time you see them in the Real World, they’re going to reminisce, in front of you, about that great time they had WHILE YOU WEREN’T THERE.
  • I dislike that for a long time on Facebook I posted my every waking thought because it seemed the thing to do at the time. Colour me dullard:

  • I dislike extensive celebrity eulogies on Facebook by people who are strangers to that celebrity.
  • I dislike that the relative isolation of this forum has the potential to turn us in on ourselves until we believe all negative statuses are about us:
  • And I dislike that folk can share something that they care about, or are interested in, and have it publicly questioned.

But everything we post is of course open to the response and reaction of our friends. Like it or not.

The simple answer would be, of course, not to share anything on Facebook.

In fact, the simpler answer would be to step away from Facebook altogether.

After all, nobody is legally obliged to use Facebook.

And if you do use it, you can always choose how its content affects your state of mind and your self-worth.

Except of course it's not a conscious choice much of the time.

I draw your attention, dear reader, to this article:


I shared the link to this article on my Wall on Thursday with the intention of giving it more considered attention over here on the blog (where my opinions are my own, no matter how skewed, as you know...).

And I was surprised and alarmed by the discussion the article prompted. The thumb of opinion was clearly pointing south.

Having read through the comments again, it appeared to be the perceived tone set by the title – “I’ve done this and so should you” – to which people most objected.

Nevertheless, this is not the first time I’ve posted something with an instructional tone, and sparked off dissent among my friends: 18 Things Everyone Should Start Making Time For Again garnered a similar response which was, "don't tell me what to do!".

The criticism, in both instances, was geared towards the authors of the articles, but as the proverbial Messenger, I unwittingly put myself in the firing line; and naturally I absorbed the criticisms.

After all, there I was, saying, I find this interesting; maybe I should consider taking some of this advice. 
So, in effect, by taking offense at the article, people are taking offense at my opinions. 

I need to point out that by sharing these articles I’m not forcing any instructions on anyone. I'm simply flagging up something that I might implement into my life, as the issue of whether or not to come off Facebook completely has been near the forefront of my mind lately.

I welcomed the suggestion that stepping away from Facebook occasionally might make me feel happier and free up a little more time to do other things such as...


And I welcomed the implication that maybe I ought to write more letters by hand, cook a meal from scratch, or just unplug and read a book and suppress that FOMO. 

These, to me, are not bad things to be encouraged to do.

For years I’ve laboured under the misguided belief that your Wall, or your status, is your platform, that whatever you write, you ‘own’, and nobody can justifiably contradict you, outdo you or dismiss you. (They might ‘unfriend’ you as a result of something you've posted, but you will probably never know.)

Likewise, you can empathise on someone else’s Wall, offer advice when requested, Like (or Dislike, but, again, you will probably never know...), share their words and sentiments if you echo them, but let the person ‘own’ that Wall and the sentiments therein.

It doesn’t work like that, though, I've found.

Everything we post is open to the reaction and response of our friends. 

And I was actually quite upset by the reactions to those articles. 

But I accept that it was my own fault for posting on Facebook in the first place when I’m not obliged to do so.

I accept that it was my (unconscious) choice to absorb the criticism.

So, in closing, I'm stepping back from Facebook. I'm not coming off completely but I no longer plan to impose my actions, feelings, beliefs, values or opinions – misguided or otherwise – on my Facebook friends.

(Thank goodness I still have this blog, eh? :-))

Sunday Summary suspended (this week only!)

Hey friends

So, after taking myself out on a walk yesterday morning, I came home and spent much of the day nursing my heel blisters and drafting a Contemplation in response to an article I shared on Facebook which didn't garner the most favourable response.

I wanted to respond to, er, that response and also to the gist of the article itself, but that particular post is still sitting in my Drafts folder because it took quite a lot of emotional energy to write and I'm a little anxious to post it.

I'll see how I feel about it come 5 o'clock. Ish.

Anyway, the upshot is that in spite of having a fairly interesting week (well, Monday to Wednesday were fairly substandard but Thursday was great and Friday not bad at all) I can see it taking most of my day to write the Summary and I need to fill that time with other things today.


qb xx

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sunday Summary

It's been a quiet ol' week at QB Heights -- but not in a bad way! (Though I'm afraid there are no homemade gifs to show for this week. I've been in a bit of a an epic lethargic fug. I blame the weather.)

Speaking of enjoying the quiet, one of my Voicerox friends shared this rather perfect depiction of introvert traits on FB, which for the most part could read as my Myers-Briggs profile:

Click here for the full article. (Thanks, Kerry!)

Right, back to business.

This week, I have mostly been...

Reading | Shame on You by Clara Salaman

There's a theme in my reading matter at the moment: when cults go bad which all counts as research for the book I'm trying to write (except, clearly, I'm not writing it very actively at the moment, I'm blogging... Ah well, semantics..).

This novel looked promising, in spite of its cover, which resembles one of those tell-all, hard-luck autobiographies with titles like A boy called Nobody or The girl no one loved. But sadly Shame on You was of less literary integrity than even those bios*. Cliche, formulaic (adult reopens Pandora's Box of childhood 'trauma') and yet often so flummoxing and unbelievable I made it to the end just to be able to write my own tell-all, hard-luck autobiography herein entitled My Dirty Literary Secret or: how I survived substandard** literature.

*According to Goodreads -- the author was raised in a cult, which would potentially explain why the central protagonist's initials, CS, are identical to her own, but does not explain why the whole treatment of the narrative is so downright clumsy and far-fetched. Surely approaching the subject matter as a tell-all, hard-luck autobiography would have given it some much-needed gravitas.

Or not.

(**Disclaimer: I should mention this is my purely subjective opinion.)


No, fear ye not, there were no keys or bowls on tables involved.

I'm talking old-fashioned, 'push your legs out and pull 'em in to FLY' swinging.

I took Wednesday off to spend some proper, quality time with my gorgeous bestie and her two gorgeous moppets (to whom I am Auntie B and right proud I am of that title).

We wandered round Dunorlan Park (Tunbridge Wells), ate fry-ups and ice cream for lunch, wandered some more, danced on a hilltop, blew bubbles, then relocated to the glorious Nevill Crest and Gun for a tall, icy OJ and lemonade, a game of Frisbee with rules decided and bent at large by the little people, involving Auntie (Q)B running around like a lunatic seven-year-old and never quite reaching the Frisbee!

And did I mention there were swings?

There were swings!

Nothing transports a decrepit 36-year-old back 30 years like a swing. And actually I'm pretty sure there are physiological benefits to the process as well. Or there'd better be otherwise why else did I ache like a nonagenarian for most of Thursday?

My mythical dream/future home will have a grown-up-size swing in the back garden (close enough to the mythical dream/future pool for me to be able to jump straight in, natch).

Rewatching | Mamma Mia

Because, Meryl Streep. And Dominic Cooper.

And Colin Firth's delightful treatment of 'Our Last Summer'.Walks along the 'Sane', anyone? Oh, we still would.

And 'Slipping Through My Fingers', which never fails to break me a little bit.

Of course I can't take any element of this very sage, very intellectual film seriously since this excellent French and Saunders tribute:

Snapping | for The August Break 2014


Day 4: orange

Day 5: "three"

Day 6: "reflection"

Day 7: "today is..."

Day 8: "selfie"

Day 9: "in my bag"
{why yes, officer, I do carry around two different hand creams, three different notebooks and a Tictac box full of kirby grips, what of it?}

Day 10: "drink"

Ten Pins

My last ten pins on Pinterest:

{1. tile game}

{2. that Mark Twain quote again!}

{3. metabolism boosting foods -- my diet has been a bit slack lately...!}

{4. inspirational quote}

{5. a little spot of truth}

{6. The American Standard Building, NYC}

{7. 1970 London Transport poster}

{8. book wedding arch | brilliant!}

{9. innovative book shelving}

{10. inspirational quote}

Weekly Weblinks

Literary Linkage

My thoughts? I see their point but Charlie... is not an adult crossover title the way Harry Potter proved to be.

And back to less controversial material:

Non-literary Linkage
which segues neatly onto:
{The Grace Hotel pool, Times Square, NYC. Totally on the maybe-to-do-in-NYC list!}

***Sorry. You need to realise my 25-year-long obsession with The Flying Doctors to appreciate, then discount, this reference.

{Be still, my heart.}

Victor Charlie Charlie, over and out...