January 6, 2011

I’ve been tinkering with my blog and have added two new pages: films, to list what I’ve watched (because I really do seem to watch a lot of films, as you will discover); and craft, to post photos of the stuff that I make throughout the year.

And I’ve started listing my recent reading material on the books page once again.  I’ve added the no-brainer stuff I read at the end of 2010 – the first three Diana Gabaldon novels (the most fantastic trashy historical stuff – highly recommended), and Jump! – the latest from Jilly Cooper.

Now, I’ve written before about my love of Jilly Cooper, but I’m sad to say that I think she’s finally passed her best-by date and it’s time that she was put out to pasture.  Jump! was pretty ordinary and parts of it were terrible.  This was my favourite sentence from the entire book:

“Sheep-coloured hills were covered in sheep.”

I can almost forgive the author for writing something like that (almost – she is getting on a bit, after all), but how did the typist fail to notice it?  And how did it survive the editing process? Astonishing.


The American

November 28, 2010

This is the film we watched on Friday night:


And this is somebody watching paint dry:


Spot the difference…

I’m exaggerating slightly; the film wasn’t all that bad.  It was just trying a bit too hard to be Drama.  I think that a good film needs to have one of two things: a fast-moving and entertaining plot, where lots of things happen (such as Pulp Fiction); or an engaging character that you just like watching and find interesting to observe, even if nothing really happens in the film (such as Poppy, in Happy-Go-Lucky).

The plot of  The American was not complicated, but nor was it particularly interesting.  And George Clooney was silent for most of the film, so the viewer was supposed to guess from his permanent scowl and his endless gazing into the middle distance that he was wrestling with internal demons, without knowing him well enough to recognise what it all meant.

On the positive side, Clooney gets his shirt off once or twice.  For an older gentleman he’s in fine shape.

Progress: 13 September

September 13, 2010

Blimey, I’m tired. This morning Tristan was up before 5 because he had to fly to Scotland for a couple of days, to begin his MSc.  So I was up early as well:  I took Tui the Wonder Dog to the dog sitter’s house for the next two days and then caught a train just before 7am.  As I parked at the station (because I’m still not supposed to walk much and I did quite a lot of walking over the weekend, as it turns out), I realised that my front right-hand tyre is almost completely flat.  I didn’t notice anything weird when I was driving, so either it happened as I got to the station or I’m a really bad and unobservant driver.  Anyway, that will be fun to sort out when I get home this evening.  I’ve already programmed the telephone number of our emergency breakdown cover service into my phone, because I have more chance of making a car from scratch than I do of changing a tyre myself.

This weekend I achieved some of my goals, but not all of them.

Things I did do:

  • Watched the rugby (and the All Blacks beat the Wallabies at the last minute, which was awesome)
  • Went to Tamara Drewe (which was pretty entertaining, albeit fairly ‘slight’)
  • Ate sweets
  • Did lots of embroidery while watching Sky Plussed episodes of Masterchef Australia (and Tristan has decided to bow to the inevitable and watch this series with me, which is the path of least resistance given that this programme is on TV six nights a week for the next fourteen weeks)
  • Bought birthday presents for two nieces: Gabriella (who turns ten at the end of the month) and Claire (who turned fifteen last week and who had the three-week trip to Europe at our expense earlier this year)
  • Walked Tui the Wonder Dog twice
  • Spent the whole weekend with Tristan

I also:

  • Went to London with Tristan, to help him as he bought new trousers and jumpers
  • Bought a new jumper and a new cardigan, both from the Uniqlo mensware concession in Selfridges
  • Drank a good vanilla milkshake at Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Soho and ate a fairly rubbish burger there as well
  • Baked a damned fine-looking banana, coconut and mixed berry loaf (which I will ice this evening)

However, I didn’t:

  • Write anything
  • Clean the house
  • Colour my hair (although I did order that Colour B4 stuff that I mentioned the other day, so I should have regained my natural hair colour by the end of the week)
  • Obey my own rule about not buying clothes (obviously)

Also, please note:

  • I’m nine for nine when it comes to breakfasting at home on work days
  • I’m also nine for nine in the ‘take lunch to work’ stakes (although it was easier today: I had a lunchtime training session and sandwiches were provided)
  • Friday was a no spending day and today will be one as well, so that’s six days so far this month

Right, it’s time to tackle the vast number of unanswered emails in my work in-box.  I have been run absolutely ragged since Alice departed, so thank goodness that Emma, her replacement, is starting this Wednesday.

Progress: 10 September

September 10, 2010

Breakfasts eaten at home on working days:  eight out of eight

Lunches brought to work from home:  eight out of eight

No spending days:  four so far – today might be the fifth

Mental state:  frazzled

Weekend plans: sleep; watching the rugby; eating sweets; a cinema trip (I want to watch Tamara Drewe and as all of our recent cinema visits have involved shooty-killy-die action films, I think that it’s time for a change of pace); writing; embroidery; buying a birthday present for my niece Gabriella; possibly colouring my hair; cleaning the house; walking Tui the Wonder Dog; spending lots of time with Tristan the Wonder Husband.

The September Issue

September 5, 2010

This morning I watched the documentary film The September Issue (for the first time, even though it came out a couple of years ago).  It was fascinating to see what goes on in order to create a huge issue of Vogue (and handy for me, as there’s a magazine-related sub-plot in the book I’m writing).  Anna Wintour seems to be freakishly controlled as a person, but the real star of the film was the fantastic Grace Coddington, the magazine’s creative director. summed up what happened very well (and it’s a good review of the film, if you haven’t seen it): Wintour agreed to the film being made, but Coddington became the star when she demonstrated through her interactions with designers, models, Vogue staffers and the camera crew that she is passionate, real and warm.  Wintours suffers by contrast: she comes across as very focussed, but strangely dispassionate.  And she seems to be entirely lacking in personal charm.

A great moment occurs when Coddington decides to feature members of the film’s camera crew in a photo shoot.  Wintour likes the resulting photos, but she can’t resist making a snide comment about the less-than-svelte figure of one of the cameramen (while the same guy is filming her), telling him that he needs to go to the gym.  She really gives the impression that she’s somebody who has been indulged to the extent that she is now slightly cruel just for the hell of it.  It’s very unattractive – and she does it with a little smile on her face, as if she thinks that she can claim that she was only joking, if anybody takes offence. 

Anyway, the cameraman is there when Coddington checks in to find out what Wintour thought of the shots.  He mentions that Wintour asked for his stomach to be Photoshopped smaller and Coddington expresses such exasperation at Wintour’s attitude and the lack of recognition that normal people don’t look perfect (and that this isn’t a bad thing).  She tells the cameraman that he doesn’t need to lose weight and she totally overrules Wintour regarding the re-touching, and gets her way in the end.

I particularly liked Coddington because she reminded me a great deal of my friend Sarah, who works with me at the firm.  Sarah is older than me and has had a more interesting media background than mine.  She’s worked at the firm for several years and is responsible for our in-house magazine, published four times a year.  I like her enormously because she has all the qualities which made Coddington such a hit in this film: she’s hugely intelligent; she approaches her work with real integrity (it would be easy just to fill a law firm’s magazine with dull puff pieces, but Sarah takes her work seriously and always strives to create issues with genuinely interesting and well-written stories: similarly, Coddington seems to approach every part of her job with passion, wanting each photo to be beautiful because beauty is a worthy goal in itself, as far as she’s concerned); and she’s wonderfully droll and dry, always giving you the impression that she’s watching everything unfold around her and finding it gently amusing.  It’s an admirable way to be; although she gets annoyed about work issues at times, it seems that she manages to keep things in perspective for the most part.  And Sarah is a really nice friend and colleague – thoughtful, kind and interested in the people around her.

So I enjoyed the film very much, but a large part of the reason why was because it reminded me of how fab it is to know Sarah!