Saturday, July 28, 2007

A two star review of 'Hope and Glory Britain 1900-2000' by Peter Clarke

Another of the stupid IT things which annoys me is Amazon book reviews. Blaglady introduced me to this hobby a few years ago. But unfortunately for them I give them detailed, negative reviews and those ones they don't publish which really gets on my nerves. But now, this is critical. One of the things about studying & writing is that you have to try and write every day. So you can get feedback, improve your style, find your niche, get confidence, improve spelling and so on. So I'm going to start publishing my negative reviews on my blog. This will also help with my MA, where summarising books is a good skill to have, obviously especially if they're relevant.

So here goes:

Yes, the Spectator and the Telegraph rave about this book, but for most of us, who have to read it anyway as it's a core text on a reading list, we struggle to give it three stars. In fact the three stars it's getting is just in case any of the professors who have contributed to it and will be marking my work shortly might read this review and spot who I am. Anyway to cut a long story short, if you enjoy watching the History Channel (which incidentally in our house is called 'The War Channel') if you like Newsnight, Dragon's den, subscribe to the Economist and want to be a Merchant Banker when you graduate, then I suspect you'll devour it in less than 2 hours, and give it 5 stars here.

For me, it's a bit too much like nineteenth century historians would write about the twentieth century, for example on page 53 'Asquith stepped effortlessly into the premiership in 1908 and looked the part immediately'. You know what? I don't care about Asquith. That was under the 'Fiscal Crisis' by the way if that whets your appetite.

As it proceeds through the twentieth century it gets quite hilarious,as the book tries to stay up to date, almost as if the publishers want you to have it as a coffee table book and as if you'd pick it up to remember what was going on in 1992. So on page 414 there's a footnote 'It was not known that Major himself had had an affair in the 1980s with the Conservative junior minister Edwina Currie until the publication in 2002 of Currie's memoirs'.

It's not so much history as politics. The twentieth century is treated in the standard way of a progressively improving place with good chaps leading the way. Boring, turgid and ridiculous. And who, by the way, was the Metric Equivalents of Imperial Units Chart on page 6 published for? Some French metric historical political enthusiasts who might have picked up the book by accident? I wonder how many times the owners of this book have thought - ooh, how many hundredweights are in a tonne, I might pick up my Peter Clarke history text book to check?

I did like the prologue, where he looked like he was going to talk about interesting stuff like married women having 10 pregnancies, but actually the whole book is more like an instruction manual to the mood swings of prime ministers and imperial heavyweights.

Tamoxifen advice

They're being very strict with me about taking Tamoxifen and finally I'm getting used to it thank God.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Fed up with Facebook

Facebook is all well and good, but the problem with the real world is the rain. You never think 'Oh, I can't be bothered to switch on the computer because xyz might happen'. Yet tonight, with a nice invitation to go out and because I might, God forbid, get slightly wet and go to bed later than 10pm, I'm thinking 'I can't be bothered'. Yet I can be bothered to look at random photographs of strangers plus people I haven't seen for fifteen, twenty years and realise that on Facebook's stupid options you don't have 'sister' of friend or dare I say it, neighbour. I suppose in America people don't make friends with their neighbours because they're all rednecks.

If I sound bitter, that's because I am. We had another meeting this morning - me and xyz. Another friend of mine from a few years ago said 'Never cry in front of your enemies'. At the time I took this very seriously - ended up on medication for a while. Z said something similar this morning 'You've got to be dispassionate, forget the emotion, look at the legal intricacies'. I did a politician-esque speech in response to this saying that passion creates politics and politics creates the law. Yet, with superb irony and quite hilariously my voice broke half way through (through emotion of course) and I couldn't finish the speech, with tears in my eyes. So Z and my other friend from years ago are right. Of course.

Tony Blair's final speech had an impact on me, “If it is on occasion the place of low skullduggery it is more often the place for the pursuit of noble causes" about the houses of parliament. For me, belief is not science, because if I don't agree with something I WILL find the evidence to support my view. And that's what most politicians are like. Belief comes from passion not from science. And science comes from belief anyway - belief in something has to trigger where you're getting your so-called facts from.

People say, you've got to de-politicise xyz. I think, Politicise. Let's introduce 'neighbour' as an option on Facebook. It'd be a good start. Make friends with the Rednecks. Easier than doing an impression of Tony Blair at a meeting.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We're moving to Leeds

Yes, sorry to disappoint all our London fans, and much in the same way that Posh and Becks have gone to LA, we're going to Leeds. Husband has got a job there, I've got family there, we can buy a castle, what more can I say?

Homerton hospital is back on course for its privatisation plans, the people using our drive as a toilet for both number ones and twos can carry on in peace, Leeds Bicycle Users Group are quaking in their boots, and my employers have cracked open the champagne.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tatton for Governor

I'm standing for Governor of Homerton Hospital under the combined banner of the Green Party and Keep Hackney NHS Public. Against cuts and privatisation and for expansion of services. Anyway there's a postal strike today so because I posted my form yesterday means it might not get in. If I do get in to the contest, it's the first contested election I'll be standing in. I have stood to be elected before for things, but when nobody else wants to do it, so I've always got in.

I've decided already that if they try to do anything I don't like then I'll resign, so if I do get elected I might not keep the post for long. The other problem is that next year I'm likely to be very busy indeed. Doing my MA which I'm even more enthusiastic about than ever because of the National Audit Office report on dementia, this governor thing, which may not take off of course, and the job which I'm wanting to keep to as many hours as possible for financial reasons. And I'm enjoying it which is quite unusual for me. And my wifely duties, which take up much more time than you think.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Three Amazing Things (TAT)

1) I managed to get almost all my points across at an important meeting
2) My bank account is not overdrawn
3) I now have 36 friends on Facebook.

I do feel like it's draining my energy though - I know that's not an amazing thing, but I just can't keep it up. There's only so much time you can spend looking up your brother's school friends on Facebook, before the TV license man comes round and locks you up. Time I could be spending actually seeing or speaking to my real friends in the real world, in the new, fresh air pubs. Or paying the TV license. In fact I wouldn't be surprised if they used this blog in court on that issue. Or the other. In fact I'll just save all that time management nonsense and just hop over to the police station. Except I can cycle now. Ha ha. You see the fourth amazing thing pops up and we're back to FAT all over again.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Overtaking Men

My new bike is absolutely amazing, not only can I almost do wheelies, but I can stop quite quickly, I can go at what feels like a hundred miles an hour, the bike doesn't click when you push your foot down, and you feel like you're flying. And this morning I overtook two men. Just to clarify that amazing fact, I have NEVER overtaken anyone on my old 'KingCYCLE' bike - even the disabled, obese and children (sometimes all three in that category) would overtake me. And this morning, as I was zooming down Kingsland Road, which doesn't seem the death trap it seemed on Friday, I overtook two men on my way to work, as if I was in the Tour De France or something. And the fact that I was heading for a car door didn't faze me, I touched the brakes and hey presto, nearly over the handlebars, but yes, stationary.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tatton Mayhem

There is an event on the mountain cyclists calendar called 'Mountain Mayhem'. My equivalent, which incidentally doesn't raise that much for charity funnily enough is called 'Tatton Mayhem'. It involves driving round North London with a lot of rubbish in your car, following policemen with Thai Brides taking you to fields. My husband lasted about 4.5 nano seconds. Then you spend what could be 5 lovely hours, but instead you're the inspector of some mobile toilets for the Royal College of Nursing, without any clinical wipes, literally sitting around. Your husband meanwhile has run off with the Thai bride, and her girlfriend, a phillopeno woman, selling off all your clothes for five pounds. And I'm not joking.

Welcome to the world of Carbooting. A bit like Dogging, without the celebrities. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we made about thirty quid, which considering we were selling off ten grammes of mould was quite good. We came back. I made a roast, we moaned again about friends on facebook not being categorised on 'carboot' level, then put Paolo on facebook and Phil is watching 'Coming to America'. Paolo is still on Facebook, but at least he's quiet. But Police Academy 2 is better - and we should know because we watched it about 2 minutes ago.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Tatton, Queen of the Elves

I'm sitting here trying to concentrate on blogging/facebook whilst Lord of the Rings is on. And just about getting away with it. It looks like I'm an enthusiastic minute taker of the dwarves of Gondor. Husband is none the wiser as the DVD is laced with a tasty combo of crack/cocaine/heroin. At least I think it is as I haven't got any other logical explanation for the clinical signs of addiction in this room currently.

TO be honest, I think actually watching a video of people going on their home computers and facebooking/googling/blogging is more interesting than this pap. The skulls of Gondor/Mandor/Horses/summoned dead/Endor/Condorman are on the screen now.

I'm thinking about my new bike (Specialised Hard Rock) and the carboot sale tomorrow. We're selling garbage to bargain hunters. We've done our research on Ebay and a lot of crappy shot glasses just go unsold, so we're banking on the normal Tattontastic 3pm 5p sale phenomenon that's shocked Holloway Road into elvish submission recently. They love it and last time lapped up mouldy, rusty crap at 5p a time. No doubt my Dad will get on to me about laying into my readership/clientele.

Call it arrogance, call it a sense of humour, but I think the Elves will reign supreme and see a break even at least.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pouilly de Fume, Steak Au Poive & Tamoxifen

My wonderful husband cooked the most delicious Steak Au Poivre last night - despite having never cooked it before - whilst I relaxed supping Pouilly De Fume we brought back from honeymoon, which I thought was absolutely delicious combining bone dry excitement with gooseberries and apple. Marvellous, can life get any better? I was thinking to myself as I was browsing the National Audit Office report on dementia.

Finally a report comes out and I love it.

Tamoxifen is quite simply a different kettle of fish. Give me the national audit office report any day of the week. Tamoxifen, definitely a Tuesday night thing.

I quite like living up to Blaglady's 'odd blog' title.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Succumbbed to Facebook - after 5 nanoseconds

Rather than waiting for inspiration from my parents, which is hardly 21st century motivational management textbook speak (and I should know), I just emailed all the people in my inbox who I could be bothered to, who wouldn't be too offended to find out I was 'left wing'. And hey presto, I now have eleven friends. And I've put away all the clothes, started taking Tamoxifen at night, which is de-rigeur for all us sensitive people who hate it and other various things like pack the tea spoons I got for the office at the weekend.

Fascinating stuff. But more fascinating would you believe that the sort of stuff that comes up on Facebook. I'm amazed there aren't photos of people putting their rubbish out, cleaning their teeth and turning their ignition in their cars on their way to work.

I think it's for more arty people than me - you can see the people who've spent hours on their pages, doting every t and making themselves sound amazing.

Jealousy. One of the seven deadly sins I believe.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Flabbergasted by Facebook - the perils of 21st century friendship

There's been a lot in the media over the past few weeks about even old people like us having to get on 'Facebook'. And dare I say it, we have a few, Ahem, young friends who recently suggested that we may as well not live than not be on facebook. And one of my even older friends than myself sent me an email today requesting that I become a friend of theirs on it - she's got 61 herself!

So feeling bamboozelled, I felt I had to join - you can't see them you see if you don't. Anyway what was flabbergasting was that you register and then it automatically searches through your email addresses and shows you everyone in your address book who has a 'facebook' page. I felt like I was pilfering through peoples' underwear drawers and had to look away. The photos some of my so-called friends have up there are shocking. Most of them haven't got photos - they're the ones I know better and I have no idea what that means, if it does have a meaning.

Anyway to cut a long story short I'm not going to email any of my so-called friends asking them to be my friends as I don't want to disappoint myself if they then refuse to call me a friend. I might check what the etiquette is in these situations, or alternatively wait for my parents to do it, which normally means it's about time I did it.