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"Her voice is full of money." Homage to Gatsby.

Posted on: Sunday, 24 June 2012

OK, so I had a lengthy post planned about friendships and weirdness and feeling out of place and how things don't get easier as you get older...

But then I saw The Great Gatsby trailer and it was impossible to write about anything else. WATCH IT. Watch it NOW.

Baz Luhrmann and The Great Gatsby. When you think about it, how did it take so long to happen? The decandence of the novel lends itself perfectly to Luhrmann's O.T.T. theatrical all-the-mayhem-of-a-circus style. And the trailer is a Feast For The Eyes.

I love how Luhrmann stays true to to the original text - or did with Romeo + Juliet, anyway, in the most obvious way, i.e. sticking with Shakespeare's language - but puts his own entirely appropriate modern slant on it. It doesn't detract at all, I think - it just shows how bloody universal a book like TGG is.

So, here's what I LOVE about the Gatsby trailer:

  • THE MUSIC CHOICES. Kanye West and Jay-Z? Oh, Mr Luhrmann, you're spoiling us. I've been listening to No Church in the Wild aaaall weekend (and feeling a little bit gangsta). "There's something that the pastor don't preach, that's something that a teacher can't teach." Woah. Amezzin. And Love is Blindness by Jack White is a stroke of genius. "Love is blindness/I don't wanna see/Won't you wrap the night around me?" I love the desperation of Jack White's voice - no matter what he's singing about, he always sounds on the brink. Oh, I love it.

  • The racial mix of the characters. Way to bring the film up to date immediately.

  • The swimming pool. That logo at the bottom? Sumptuous.

  • The zebra in the fountain. What's not to love?

  • Carey Mulligan. Annoying as hell in Shame (which was not at all arthouse in my humble opinion, but actually just a bit gross) but pretty perfect for the part of Daisy. Who'd have thunk it? Way better than Knightley, who was in the running for it (allegedly) and irritated me no end in Atonement.

What I'm WONDERING ABOUT at the minute (N.B. NOT a hate list. Not yet.):

  • Leo - apologies, but yer narr. He's supposed to be 32, and he's actually coming up 40. I'm a DiCaprio fan, don't get me wrong - he just doesn't match up with the image of Jasy Gatbsy I have in my head. Hmm. I did wonder whether Tobey Maguire might have made a pretty good Gatsby rather than Nick. Anyway, I predict once I've seen it Leo will have completely won me over - the clip of him throwing shirts over the mezzanine is almost enough to make me eat my words Right Now. Anyway, reserving judgement. 

  • I'd have really liked Tom Buchanan to have been played by Ben Affleck, also said to have been in the running for the part. He has Prick Factor in spades, but sadly it wasn't to be. Sniff.

The realisation that the release date is in December (I knoooow!) is, I'll be honest, a crushing blow, but  I'm holding on in there. I reckon I can get at least three more weeks of constant trailer-playing enjoyment out of YouTube.

You say apartment, I say flat.

Posted on: Tuesday, 12 June 2012

I did a whole post on a selection of my instagram photos from Brussels (I did, I really did) and I didn't include this bad boy - one which sums up Brussels - the beer, the bread and the honey-coloured slightly holiday-y feel of it all. Ahh.

3rd August, here we come. Moving Day. The Eurostar is leaving, baby, and I'm booked on board. This is REALLY happening (see? I said it again!)

So, how does one go about moving to another country? Problem is, I don't really know. I went to a bank and opened a bank account (or an account de BONK which, in heavily-accented French, I personally thought was hilarious but my sister thought was, well, a bit juvenile) while I was over there. That was a step towards becoming a legitimate citizen, I felt. Go me! Although our lack of French (our or reluctance to speak really shite, half-remembered GCSE French) is still seriously letting us down.

We entered the ING bank (bonk) and the fella behind the counter, glasses balanced on the end of his nose, looked up, clearly disgusted by our Englishness.

"Err, we've an appointment to open a bank account," said Adam. He's marginally less embarrassed about speaking in English to French-speaking Belgians than I am. There's not much in it, mind.

He sighed. Theatrically. A full five seconds elapsed before he lowered himself to respond. With no words, but a dismissive wave towards our (much friendlier) advisor-blokey.

Intensive French course, here we come.

So we have a bank account. I have sussed out the tramline to school. We spent what felt like five hours in a Belgian Habitat buying a bed. Like any another self-respecting Brussels-based ex-pat, I have a folding bike. We've sorted out some (very nice) tenants to pay us rent in the UK (thank Christ). We need to go to the local commune (some sort of local council-type office from what I hear - not the cult-like organisation it seems to suggest) and apply for our ID cards (ID cards - remember those? Gordon Brown was sweet on them once upon a time - for ID-card-related funnies, click here) and there's the small matter of packing up all of our earthly possessions, putting them into a big van which in turn will shunt them into a mahoosive container and pop them on a boat. And we need to make sure Bedders is on the other side to greet it.

And then we need to get them into our new 'apartment'. I've resisted saying 'apartment' as I think it sounds a bit wanky alongside 'flat', but maybe I just need to lose that paranoia, yeah? Because it IS an apartment. And it looks like this.

 It's a bit grey and drizzly (that's because it WAS grey and drizzly), but it's purdy, no? It's the first floor. That bay window you can see is a bedroom. Then working to the right the next window is the kitchen. The next two windows along belong to the dining room, but it's all an open-plan kitchen/diner anyway. Then if you had your back to the dining room windows, you could walk towards the back of the house into the living room and the French windows and the roof terrace. Yah-huh. And the rest of the apartment weaves back from the front bedroom - there's a bathroom, a separate loo, a laundry room and another bedroom. And I love it. And Bedders did very well not to have a mental breakdown finding it after viewing 573 apartments*. Bravo, husband.

*slight exaggeration

More Wants

Posted on: Monday, 11 June 2012

Reader, I need you to steel yourself. If you have a penchant for stunningly beautiful home furnishings, you may regret reading. Just take a look at these cheeky little devils.

Umm, hello Donna Wilson. You seem to be making blankets that are basically ME but in a BEAUTIFUL BLANKET FORM.

Problem is, Donna, they're not exactly at impulse buy. At £180 - which I have no doubt these little beauties are worth, especially after the ill-advised trip to Hay-on-Wye's Welsh Nursing Blanket shop (yes, there is such a thing - here) which was run by the poshest woman I have ever met - a woman so very, very posh it was almost difficult, as a Northerner, to communicate with her - anyway, I digress - where was I? Oh yes, at £180, I'm going to have to save up and perhaps direct some birthday money towards this particular purchase. But that's not a problem. You see, I simply MUST own the blanket.  

Bedders does not understand the blanket. He did not get an agenda about the blanket. He thinks the blanket is pretty, yes, but does not understand that the blanket commands me to own it. He doesn't realise that I'm just a pawn in the blanket's game; a mere mortal fated to do the blanket's bidding. Never mind. Soon he will understand the blanket's wishes. He will yield. Oh yes, he will yield.  

Now which colour should I go for?

PS Don't even LOOK at the rest of the website. Certainly don't browse the cushions. Or the little birdy plates, otherwise it's game over. G-A-M-E-O-V-E-R.


Posted on: Sunday, 10 June 2012

Again, I am about forty billion years behind the times, but I have signed up with Bloglovin. So, you know, have a look and that, maybe. Apparently it makes it loads easier to read stuff, which is good. I'm up for anything that makes the arduous task of reading easier.

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3669001/parliament-of-owls?claim=vf5ytq35brb">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

I could do with some new blog recommendations, actually, so if you have any please tell me via a comment or a tweet or worreva. Now that I'm up and running with the ol' Bloglovin (that missing g really irks me - I am a pedantic sod) I'd appreciate it muchly.

Lazy Picture Post


Sooo....I've been to Brussels for half-term (really, Laura? You didn't mention it...) My third time in Belgium and I'm moving there in...oo, six weeks or so? Yikes. It's all starting to feel very real (how many times will I actually write that before I go, 'JESUS, WE'RE MOVING AND I HAVEN'T PACKED A THING!'?)

The Good News: WE HAVE A FREAKING APARTMENT! And it is luscious. Spacious and awesome windows and on a handy tram line AND a roof terrace. The boy did good (even if it nearly killed him with stress finding it). And it's above a speech therapy office so, you know, I'll be properly taken care of if I develop a lisp. Phew.

The Other Good News: I went into my New Workplace and everyone and everything was charming. I've returned with a load of exam specifications and a poetry anthology and a copy of I'm The King of the Castle by Susan Hill. Reading a-go-go.

The Rest Of The Good News: I saw my sister (avec bump) and brother-in-law and all is well in that department, had a beer every day (and an icecream almost every day), went to Bruges (nice) and Gent (even nicer), was inspired to use Instagram a little more (I'm missmacdonner, as per the twitter - come and have a looksee - I want more people to follow!) and was forced by a couple of days of poor weather to buy a pair of Eurohipster trainers (see above). Well, we all have our cross to bear.

In fact, everything was so ruddy lovely I'm not even going to mention the fact I was nearly bitten to death by mozzies in Europe. Nope. Not a word.

Book Q&A

Posted on: Friday, 1 June 2012

Book Q&A Rules
1. Post these rules
2. Post a photo of your favourite book cover
3. Answer the questions below
4. Tag a few people to answer them too
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you've tagged them
6. Make sure you tell the person who tagged you that you've taken part!

What are you reading right now?
My Mistress' Sparrow is Dead, edited by Jeffrey Euginides. It's a collection of essays and stories about love - but none of that schmaltzy stuff. It's all about love as characterised by loss. It's wonderful thus far.

Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
I have a Miranda July book that comes hotly recommended by a friend, so probably that. Although I have to read Susan Hill's I'm The King of the Castle for school at some point soon...

What 5 books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?

Captain Corelli's Mandolin - it passed me by.
Anything by Rushdie. Never read him - despite the death fatwa, which is a bit of a pull, I'll admit.
The Wrong Boy by Willy Russell. Bedford is always banging on about it, and it's got a Smiths connection which should have been enough reason. Haven't gotten around to it yet, though.
Can't think of any others right now...

What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
I have given up magazines, deciding that they're destructive to self-confidence and consumerist-encouraging drivel. Oh, I AM lofty, ain't I? I started buying the occasional health and well-being magazines (WOMEN'S RUNNING, grr) but realised that they essentially print slight variations of the same articles every month. The only regular publications through the Bedford door are Farmers' Weekly and Private Eye. I only read the 'Farmlife' section of FW, and Matthew's column when he's in.

What’s the worst book you've ever read?
The first Twilight book made me want to die. Bloody Bella swishing her hair about and wondering why all the boys fancied her. Gah. A serious book? The Old Man and the Sea, by Hemingway. Jesus. I think this painting by Harland Miller pretty much sums it up...

What book seemed really popular but you didn't like?
Birdsong. Just couldn't get into it. Maybe I need to try it again.

What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Currently, The Marriage Plot by Euginides (quelle surprise). However, previously, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer or The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. They tend to bring on a 'OHMYGODYOUREALLYNEEDTOREADTHISHERE'SMYCOPYTAKEITTAKEIT!'-type conversation.

What are your three favourite poems?

Oh Christ. I'm going to interpret this as 'Which three poems instantly come to mind when you're asked an impossible question such as 'What are your three favourite poems?'
Um, in which case I think Out of the Blue by Simon Armitage - a very human account of 9/11 - is pretty mind-blowing. An Arundel Tomb by Larkin is a typically-Eeyore-esque (and therefore Right Up My Street) reflection on the transience of life and love. And Macbeth's 'Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' solilquoy is so utterly nihilistic that it cannot help but speak to my miserable side.  And is written in verse so it counts, yeah?

Where do you usually get your books?
I tend to have a big quartley splurge in a second hand book shop (see recent trip to Hay). Otherwise, Amazon. Sorry.

Where do you usually read your books?
I read voraciously on holiday. I read more in 10 days than I can manage in four months

When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?

I remember going to the Galleries library and getting out Puddle Lane Books. Then I remember being in the elite reading group at primary school; we were allowed Different Coloured Banana Books to everyone else. Woah. I read anything and everything, including the back of the cereal box. 

What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
The Marriage Plot, Jeffrey Euginides. Couldn't. Stop. Reading.

Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
Yup. Bleak House was a set text in my first year at University; I used it as a door stop and not much more.

Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
I have a few versions of Gatsby because they were too beautiful to resist. I love Faber and Faber covers, though. I bought Sean O'Casey's The Plough and the Stars because it was just too beautiful for words. Never read it. Criminal.

What was your favourite book when you were a child?
Mallory Freakin' Towers. The My Best Fiend books. The Anastasia books. Sweet Valley High. Emily of New Moon. I was a completely indiscriminate reader. I remember being thirteen and reading Jane Eyre alongside Maeve Binchy's Light a Penny Candle. And I might have cried more over Light a Penny Candle.

What book changed your life?
'Changed your life' is quite a bold statement. However, John Diamond's The Big C was a bit of an early branch-out for me from the usual stuff I was reading at the time, and you're all the better for branching out as a reader, I fink.

What is your favourite passage from a book?
Impossible to say.

What are your top five favourite authors?
Jeffrey Euginides
F Scott Fitzgerald
Alan Bennett
Patrick Kavanagh
Jonathan Safran Foer

Mebbes. This could change pretty regularly.

What book has no one heard about but should read?
I love the Foyle Young Poets books, which periodically drop into my pigeonhole at work. There's a lot of unspeakably good young talent out there.

What 3 books are you an “evangelist” for?
The Secret History, Donna Tartt.
Anything by Alan Bennett - Maybe Untold Stories as a cheat, as it includes so many different examples of his writing.
The End of the Affair, Graham Greene.  

What are your favourite books by a first-time author?

Once in a House on Fire, I think, was Ashworth's first book, and is wonderfully accomplished.

What is your favourite classic book?
P'raps Jane Eyre. It was the first classic I loved. 

5 other notable mentions?
Tarry Flynn - Patrick Kavanagh. I wrote about it here.
Sons and Lovers - DH Lawrence. I love its earthy diaglogue and the entirely accurate representation of family tensions.
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? - Jeanette Winterson. Found it in a bookshop in Bangalore (err, how?)  and devoured it.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - one of the most quotable books EVER.
Tender is the Night - F Scott Fitzgerald. Better than Gatsby. Now there's a claim.

I got this Q&A from this lovely blog, and I shall endeavour to tell Louise that I have nabbed it. To tag? Well, Bedders should get off his backside and write summat. Really, this is a more developed Books That Made Me Me slot, but I like it because you get to slag off books you hated, too. Hurrah.

I'm off to Bruxelles pour le half-term, innit? You'll be glad to hear I'm going to do an intensive French course over the summer so my Franglais may not be with us for much longer. Enjoy it while it lasts.

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