Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Too busy on Saturday to buy a copy but finally managed to get to a bookshop late on Sunday afternoon. Spent the evening reading, absolutely engrossed in the story. Reading fast but deliberately trying to slow myself down as I just didn't want the story to end. We only bought one copy so M is now reading it; just as soon as he is finished I will post my review.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Year On

I know, I'm a few days late. Haven't really had much spare internet time lately. There's my job, you see, and e mailing, and facebook and once I've done all that, my lunch time is nearly over. Then there was my sailing holiday; a lovely trip despite the rain, but there was no internet on board and I was too busy navigating, hoisting sails and weighing anchors to care very much.

So here we are, the 19th of July, only 12 days late. On 7/7/2006 I posted my very first words on this blog. I didn't think anyone would read, and to be fair, apart from some occasional high points, I don't think many people have or do. I've had some positive comments and a spate of not so positive but it has mostly died away now. The majority of people seem to come here via google, these days, now the internet connection at home has been lost and I can't update every day.

It has been a varied year, mostly punctuated by the usual noise of working, drinking, seeing friends, shopping, more shopping, going to parties, going to previews and exhibitions, a few trips abroad. I started out living in Primrose Hill in an extremely shabby flat but one that was great for parties. The flat had its fair share of disasters, including, memorably, the kitchen ceiling falling in. I write now from a bigger, better more homely flat somwhere in North London which even has a garden, although we are still renting.

I started the blog in the height of summer, filled with trips to Cornwall and a longing for Alexandra to return, which she did, at the end of September at the last possible moment before university started. In the autumn of 2006 I posed for the Sainsbury's magazine with other WI members and in May we were featured in the Sunday Telegraph Stella magazine. I also started writing for Marmaladya and attended a number of MarmaEVENTS, some of which I wrote about here and there.

In October 2006 I wrote my hundreth post, took part in Songs of Praise and met Carol Caplin. In December we were burgled. In February we travelled to Morocco; in March I joined other bloggers in raising awareness to try and catch Rachel's stalker. In April we travelled to Tuscany and then, finally, after several years of waiting, I started my Training Contract. In May, Tony Blair announced his departure and so did we; we moved house a few weeks later.

In writing this post I have had a chance to trawl back through my own archives; I found it overwhelming mundane. Very few posts of any significance jumped out at me. My writing seems to have developed in style but not in interest. I hope that my second year of blogging will allow me the chance to remedy the situation.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Out of the Tunnel

After work finished last night I caught a bus to Oxford Circus and went to Borders. I was after a book that I knew had been published the week before and which I hoped would be on the shelves. I had already tried a local bookshop close to my office but their copies had not yet arrived. Unsure as to how the book would be categorised, I scanned the shelves of new books, local books, important issues, autobiography, summer reads. But to no avail. Defeated I approached the information desk and tried not to laugh when he directed me to the self help aisle. I can see why they put it there, I suppose, but I don’t think that hiding it amongst the self help titles is attracting it the attention that it deserves.

I started reading the book on the tube on the way home and was so engrossed that I almost missed my stop; walking home was a bit nerve wracking after what I had just read and I was pleased when I reached home and was able to curl up in bed to continue. I read for 2 hours before I finished the book and parts have stayed with me ever since. It was only by reading the metro and determinedly thinking of someone, something else, that I was able to pass Arsenal, Holloway Road, Caledonian Road, King’s Cross, Russell Square before emerging into the sunlight at Holborn wondering why I felt quite so strange. The events that had entered my sub-conscious happened 2 years ago. I travel that route every day and have done so for several months. But still, I felt odd.

On the surface Out of the Tunnel is an interesting insight into the mind and life of the person behind one of my favourite blogs; reading the book meant that I was able to see further and deeper into the life that she writes about on her blog and understand some of the background to the position from which she views the world. It was written well, flowed nicely and I only found one sentence which I would re-write (usually I find 10 or 12). It read differently to her blog though, it seemed more careful, more cautious, almost more simply written. I could tell which passages were lifted straight from her blog, although whether that was simply through recognition or through a shift in style, I am not sure.

Delve deeper though into the content of Out of the Tunnel and it is, at times, rather disturbing; I have never read such a vivid, descriptive account of rape that I could picture it, try as I did to wipe it from my mind. And if I can picture it my heart bleeds for anyone who actually has such an account imprinted on their mind. Some of the text was familiar to me, for I read Rachel’s Story in The Sunday Times, but that description seemed almost to have been censored in comparison to this. I never read the Marie Claire article, so I cannot comment on the content, but it was graphic enough for Rachel to have been re-living that night in 2002 whilst she was reading her story in the magazine on the tube on her way to work on 7/7/2005; the second date that would change her life beyond recognition at the hands of a Jamaican teenager with no care for anyone else other than themselves.

The description of 7/7 is vivid, yet somehow I also felt very removed from the situation, despite travelling daily on the same tube (now, not then, thankfully). I found it hard to picture exactly where she was standing, although I could imagine all to well the feeling of being able to almost lift ones feet off the floor in a packed tube carriage. What did strike me was the way that London pulled together to help each other; from the people involved to emergency services, the police, the general public. Rachel provided a glimpse into the awful world of PTSD, of survivor guilt, of good days and bad days. It is not something I know much about and I imagine that anyone suffering from similar symptoms would draw great strength from Out of the Tunnel.

Out of the Tunnel is not an easy read. It fills the mind with images that one would prefer not to think about, yet it is compelling reading and I couldn't put the book down despite wanting to sleep, to stop, to remove myself from the situation. I didn't, because I could.

Friday, July 06, 2007


7/7 tomorrow. Will be thinking of all those I know that were affected by the terrorist attacks. I will not detract from their stories, thoughts and remembrances so will say nothing further, other than they will be in my thoughts and prayers.

On a personal note, 7/7 is also another anniversary. It will be a year since I started this blog. When I'm not so busy and have longer to compose a post I will pause to reflect on that as well.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

a few thoughts

Bogged down today by some unseasonable blues, the likes of which I just can’t seem to shake off. Not entirely sure what the cause is for such gloom but I’m pretty sure that the events of the last 72 hours have not helped matters. A government source says that when the terror threat level is raised to ‘critical’ then we should worry. But what good will that do? Worrying is not an answer or even a worthwhile suggestion. Worrying is something I do all the time, every time I leave the house, sometimes whilst I am still in it. Now is not the time for worrying; now is the time for vigilance, for being careful, open, friendly, for breaking the we are Londoners and therefore we do not talk on the tube rule, now is the time for living..

London is my home and has been for the past 4 years. The events of 2 years ago have not been far from my thoughts since Friday morning, both because of the upcoming anniversary as well as the timely reminder from some more failed terrorists that London is not a very safe place. It is polluted (the Euston Road where I used to work is the most polluted road in London), there are huge amounts of crime, people are being mugged, killed, burgled and attacked every day of the week, yet I cannot imagine living anywhere else.

As I write this the rain has stopped falling and there is sunlight shining through the window. There is a church bell tolling nearby, which when I started writing this only served to underline my sense of doom but now that the sun has made an appearance (and about time too, as it is July) it actually sounds more like the sound from a holiday past. Yet still I cannot help but wallow in my general feeling of self-pity. I feel uneasy, on edge, as if I am waiting for some rather unpleasant news but of what kind, I don’t know. The tubes were delayed again this morning; security alerts at Hammersmith and Baron’s Court. The circle line was closed because of something at Tower Hill. I heard these announcements as I stood on the tube, waiting for the delay and wondered if there would not be a better way, a safer way, to get to work. It’s all about playing a numbers game, these days. Buses crash more often than tubes and the morning journey is much, much slower. Statistically I am far more likely to be killed when riding a bicycle to work (being both female and an observer of the Highway Code the odds are stacked very unfavourably towards me as a cyclist – not that I am, as they are expensive to buy and insure and I do not know anyone with one who has not had at least one stolen, even when ‘locked’ up) than I am to be injured on a tube journey. But when the tube flashes past those new red wires between Kings Cross and Russell Square every morning, I can’t help but think what if it’s me next time? Because there surely will be a next time. Maybe not on the tube, or the bus, but somewhere.

I know, I know. Time to pull myself out of my black cloud and start thinking of pleasant thoughts, of all the things that are going well in my life, but what is this blog for if not for somewhere to record my thoughts so I don’t bore anyone in actual conversation…

Monday, July 02, 2007


Not much time to write about things at the moment. Woke up on Saturday morning far too late and in my haste to get ready I managed to crack my head on the edge of the bathroom door. Although it was rather painful it was only when I was on the train, fitting in a quick trip back to Berkshire, that I realised that there was an enormous lump, bruise and red line in the middle of the top of my forehead. I shall endeavour to be more careful with my bathroom activities next time.

Had a lovely lunch and pot of tea with some school friends followed by seeing my sister and parents over supper and then it was out for a friend's birthday. Had a lovely evening catching up with some people that I hadn't seen for a while and also meeting some of their friends. Finally met back up with my sister around 3am and took ourselves back home for a few hours of much needed sleep before getting back up and heading to another friend's garden party. Whilst we helped with the cooking it rained heavily but by the afternoon the sky had cleared and we spent the afternoon playing croquet. A very enjoyable afternoon and then a delayed but non-eventful train ride back into London, whereon I collapsed on the sofa and fell asleep in the middle of Clueless (which I bought in Oxfam for 99p) before I even got to the "Oh my God. I love Josh" part. Sad. Must try to stop cramming so much into the weekends!