Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Not the post I was going to write.

Yep, this is not the post I was going to write. I was going to write a post titled "A Year in the Life of a Blogger" and in fact I had already started it when Whoopsy! - I lost it. I've no idea how but no amount of making gentle cooing noises to my PC, offering to soothe it's weary keypad with my silky feather duster and tickle its lead with my negligee would entice it to bring back my post.

Naturally, I tried my other tactic which I learnt from watching Columbo..... sneaking around the PC in a dirty old mac, casually asking routine questions whilst admiring the curtains and then just as I am about to exit the room, turning around and pointedly remarking;

" And where were you 12 hours ago when the text mysteriously disappeared? And don't give me that line about being in the john... and I don't care if you are wireless you still can't make it there on your own....."

But oh no, my PC still wouldn't talk. Even when I angled my lamp, got out my tweezers and said;

"I have vays of making you talk. You vill tell me where ze text is or you vill be punished!"

Nope, nothing worked. Not even smothering my PC in my granny knickers till it overheated.

Humph. My dastardedly PC knows how to hold out under really serious torture. So I did what any normal woman does in these circumstances; I got out my frying pan.

I've now renamed Percy the PC to Limpy the Laptop.

Anyway, the mystery still isn't solved. So here's an abbreviated version of my missing post;

On the 27th December I completed one year's blogging. Hurrah!

This amazing statement was then followed by a recount of various events during the year including;

1. Crashing my volvo, crashing my cmax and oh yes crashing my cmax again.

2. Eating too much chocolate, burning too many teas and doing as little cleaning as possible whilst perpetually covering Mr T's glasses in a thin layer of goose fat.

3. Offering my arse to the Swiss government should they need assitance in filling in any black holes caused by the Hadron Collider.

4. Booking tickets to Tom Cruise's forthcoming release Honey, I shrunk Myself.

5. Being somewhat amused that American presidents' secret service codenames are public knowledge on Wikipedia. Being even more amused that Ronald Reagan's codename was"Rawhide."

6. Sending a text to the FBI saying Excellent piece of subterfuge; no one will think of looking on Wikipedia for codenames. I recommend you give the Director of the FBI the secret codename "Jackass."

7. Donning my bullet proof vest and hiding out under the hyacinth bush.

8. Discovering something horrid in my bed;

Yes, those little b..b...b.. boys. However, whilst discovering the naughty young masters were responsible for this fiendish crime and duly locking them in The Turley Dungeon I was also mightily relieved this was not a plot by the FBI to dispose of Mrs T. (Then I came to my senses and realised that such a scheme would have been far to cunning.)

9. Being hugely disappointed that Master Sy already had the Tee shirt I planned to get him for Christmas but then I found this;

Perrrrfect! I bought an XXL as Master Sy tells me he is a little on the porky side at the moment. But he tells me it fitted perfectly - around his ankle.

10. Making some very good friends all around the world.

So a Happy New Year to all my friends and readers across the world! May 2009 bring you all peace, joy and happiness and maybe someday soon our world will become a far better place.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Music Mondays; Memories of Yesterday

As this year draws to a close it has marked some personal highs and lows, the nadir being the unexpected death of my mother back in October.

It’s quite bizarre how sometimes you’re going about your daily business and then suddenly the enormity of having lost someone you love hits you. Memories once blurred become very vivid; sights, sounds and even smells come flooding back, swamping you in a current of unrestrained emotions.

Music has many associations for me and sometimes particular songs have stayed with me for….for as long as I can remember….

Years before my family had a record player my parents used to play cassettes on a radio/cassette recorder in the kitchen. We had a wonderful country garden and my father used to sit looking out of the kitchen window at the wildlife, the shrubs and flowers and the surrounding woods. I often wondered what he was thinking about for hours on end. Although he could be very funny and sociable at times he was also quite a quiet, introspective man who had contemplated the priesthood in his youth.

Music often played in the kitchen especially in those early days when it more commonplace to listen to the radio than watch television. Two artists that my parents listened to with regularity were Joan Baez and Charles Aznavour. I’m sure they were my father’s choice because they always remind me of him. ( I think it would be fair to say my mum was the funky one!)

A song that really reminds me of my father and which is one of my all time favourites is Yesterday by Charles Aznavour. It’s not the more well know “Yesterday” by the Beatles, but I’m sure you’ll agree this song is just as good, if not better. I love everything about this song; the melancholic reflective mood, the angst in Charles Aznavour’s voice and the contemplative moving lyrics. If I close my eyes to this record I can always see my father... and as I get older the lyrics become even more meaningful.

The version I’m playing is one Charles Aznavour performed live at The Carnegie Hall- I’ve heard him sing it substantially better but I think you’ll find it’s still a great song;

(If the video is not showing please try this link. My blog seems to be experiencing some interference.)

This is the view from just outside the kitchen window the day my mother and I said goodbye to our family home for over 40 years. In earlier years the garden had more trees; mainly fruit trees but there was also an oak my younger brother had planted as a toddler. The fruit trees eventually came down as they passed their life expectancy and the oak became diseased a year or two before this photograph was taken and that too had to come down. The garden probably returned to a more natural state. Backing onto the Mendip woods there was a proliferation of wildlife; woodpeckers, jays and even buzzards made an appearance amongst the more frequent visitors. Foxes and badgers made regular appearances and even the odd cow or deer peered over the back wall!

This is the skyline a bit further along from the kitchen, looking up to the woods; no wonder my father's favourite place was in his chair by the kitchen window.

Yesterday, when I was young.

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.

Friday, December 26, 2008

At last I get to dance with Pierce and Daniel....Yeee Haaaaa!!

Well unfortunately this application looks a bit temperamental.. as it keeps going wonky! Just as I was enjoying dancing with the lovely Pierce. Oh well, better get the blow up doll out again. (Strictly for dancing with of course.)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

At last I get to dance with Pierce and Daniel! (And believe me - inside I am really smiling! Ho, ho, ho)

Nooooooo! What happened? Damn this technology! Just as I'm getting into the groove with Pierce and Daniel the IT things packs up. How outrageous! I shall to try again and save it on disc. So I keep it for posterity! (And very possible dribbling!)

Test your sobriety with Mrs T

Yes, yes okay. I was going to write something slushy and sentimental but then I thought what people need is actually something practical to get you through Christmas. Now, regrettably, I can't offer any cooking tips (For obvious reasons) so here's a test for your sobriety. So if you're thinking of getting in the car, dancing on the table or murdering your mother in law you need to complete the following test. If you fail you need to take 2 Anadins and go to bed.

I should warn you this test is not for the feint hearted so if you have a pacemaker or are of a nervous disposition read my Christmas Socks poem instead.

By the way, when you get to the end of each level release your mouse and then quickly press down again to take you onto the next level.

Right, off to bed with you! And if you're wondering if that was me. Fortunately, it's not. I'm far better looking, although I have to say there is a vague similarity after a night on the tiles.....

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Music Mondays; The Land of Make Believe

I love Christmas. It should be full of love, laughter and happiness, irrespective of religious beliefs. For children too, it's also a wonderful, magical time of believing in a Land of Make Believe.

I think it's so important for children to develop an imagination and enjoy the world of Santa, elves, giants, witches and a host of other fairytale characters. Having the capacity to imagine is what sets us apart from other mammals, to create, to develop, to inspire is a human gift and I believe we should encourage our children to develop their sense of imagination because reality, unfortunately, comes all too soon.

I loved reading stories like The Princess and the Pea, Rapunzel and of course the more popular stories like Snow White and Cinderella as a child and in turn I loved reading them to my boys. Everyone loves a fairytale, be it Star Wars, Lord of the Rings or Shrek and there's no better story than when good triumphs over evil.

There's so much to be enjoyed about Christmas including friendship and camaraderie and even when I no longer believed in Santa one of my favourite things about Christmas and New Year's Day was gathering in front of the television with my 2 brothers and my sister to watch the now defunct Top of the Pops. The Christmas Specials would always have the most popular songs of the year and, of course, the Christmas no 1 which in those days was coveted by all the big artists. These days it's pretty much certain to be the prerequisite of the latest X factor winner which kind of takes the fun out of it. Still, it's still better than St Winifred's Girls Choir.....( I guess you'll be only one to remember that one Paul! Hmm... maybe Mike and Gary too...)

The song I'm playing today is The Land of Make Believe by Bucks Fizz. It was very popular over the Christmas season back in 1981 but it didn't hit the top spot until January 1982 being kept of the no 1 by The Human League and Don't You Want Me Baby from their album Dare.

Bucks Fizz, as their rather frothy name suggests were a slightly cheesy group manufactured to represent the United Kingdom in the Eurovision Song Contest which they won with a catchy but rather corny song called Making Your Mind Up and an even more corny skirt ripping routine! Like most other Eurovision winners their star was expected to wane pretty quickly but after 2 top twenty hits later in 1981 and a no 1 with Making Your Mind Up they hit no 1 again in January 1982 with The Land of Make Believe which was then followed by numerous big hits. Their Greatest Hits album is well worth the purchase for some classic 80's pop tunes.

Although Bucks Fizz still continue to perform today the line up has changed a number of times. The original group suffered a major setback when their tour bus was involved in a major collision in 1984 which resulted in one member, Bobby G, sustaining serious head injuries from which he took a long time to recover. Then in 1985, Jay Aston, the curly haired blonde with the "come hither" eyes left in acrimonious circumstances and that, regrettably, spelt the real end of the heady days of Bucks Fizz's Chart topping success.

Here's The Land of Make Believe, it always reminds me of Christmas. It's such a magical time for little children and I hope that wherever you are in the world you and your families have a wonderful Christmas.

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Socks

Christmas comes but once a year
Hurrah for that ’cos it’s very dear
So raise your glasses, hoist your frocks
Be prepared for those Christmas socks

Open your prezzies, empty your stocking
Whose gift is best for ritual mocking?
Is it the pants or is it the clock?
No, it’s those awful Christmas socks.

Boil your sprouts and eat those tarts
Get outta the way before hubby farts
Baste your turkeys, drink your hocks
Parade those hideous Christmas socks

Pull the crackers, tell some jokes
Those silly rhymes will make you choke
Fry the leftovers in a wok
A new ingredient is… a Christmas sock

Granny cries, “What’s this in my bubble and squeak?”
Mummy lies, “Just a new a new kind of Christmas leek!”
Granny goes into anaphylactic shock
At the pungent smell of the Christmas Sock.

Granny coughs and drops down dead
And now you can retire to bed

For never again will you have to put
A Christmas sock upon your foot.

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

(My excuse is that I was under the influence of drink - that hot chocolate does crazy things to me.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Flowers and silly stuff

I'm warning you all now - this post may be silly in places and a tad long. Sorry about that.

Anyhow, a few weeks back when I was feeling a little blue an email popped up from Go! Smell the Flowers! It was an award for my (rather dubious) musings which really cheered me up when I needed it...so a big Thank You to all the team at over at the Flower Shop for the vote of confidence. But that's not all...because a few days later a video link appeared for You Tube for a Flower Smeller film where just for a second my silly jester icon pops up! Here it is below; see if you can spot me!

Well I really enjoyed that little bit of fun! And if you're wondering what the song was, it's the latest release from Girls Aloud, winners of Pop Stars; The Rivals (which preceded X factor) a few years back. Girls Aloud seem to be going from to strength to strength. I believe it could be something to do with Gary buying all their records in bulk! Anyway, I was a bit cruel to Gary posting that chicken last week, so here is a picture of the lovely Cheryl Cole from Girls Aloud just for Gary. (Yeah okay, and all you other hormonal guys...)

Right, now the male dribbling is over. (That includes you Sy) It's time for me to pass on the Flower Smeller Award.

Here are the list of rules for tagging for flower smellers & founders alike:

1. If you are awarded the flower smeller badge or are a founder of GO! Smell the flowers then pop the flower smeller badge up at your blog and award it to 5 others by writing a post with links to the 5 blogs or websites that you choose.

2. You can award this badge to a maximum of 5 people per month from now until eternity as and when you come across more flower smellers.

3. Link to this post so that people can find the origin of where the award started and find their way to this community.

4. Proudly display the Flower Smeller award with a link to the post that you wrote announcing your award.

5. All flower smellers - be prepared to be approached to write a 500 word account of yourself to feature in our 2009 book - The Flower Smellers that some of founders will be featuring in - here’s a few examples we prepared earlier, in PDF format for now over at The Flower Smellers page. .

Now I've chosen my first four recipients for their overall contribution to the blogging world not just for the content of their owns blogs. (I'm obviously excluding my own blog here which only requires responses of a rather dubious nature).

So my first award goes to Mr Geoffrey for his three blogs Falling Forwards , Love's passage and Geoffrey's Farrago The quality of his writing is excellent as are his personal, social, political and economic observations. In fact, sometimes when I'm over his place I'm in complete awe of his intelligence. However, I feel even more thick when he gets into conversations with my second nominee, Eddie from The Cliff Walk. Where do they both get all their knowledge from? Yikes, when the two of them are wielding their intellectual prowess I have to go down to my kitchen and clobber myself with the rolling pin just to see if there's still a brain inside my head. Then, If I'm not seriously concussed, I go back upstairs and start googling all sorts of subjects just so when I leave my own comment I don't sound too stupid instead of something more akin to my initial reaction which would be on the lines of;

"Nice Post Geoffrey. What the **** were you talking about?"

Yes, I'm quite good at cunningly disguising my ignorance. It's a habit I've been perfecting for the last 17 years. Rather like my attempt to cunningly disguise my bottom by telling everyone I'm a surrogate mother to a baby hippo and it's very attached to me......

I did mention once before that I've been proof reading Mr Geoffrey's novel Love's Passage which is pretty hot... and I don't mean that you get a free curry with it. In fact, I was so steamed up...um...impressed....that I've put myself forward to read the sequels; Love's Passage II, subtitled, The Second Coming and Love's Passage III, subtitled, Knackered and not before time.

(I gather the last of the trilogy is a bit of a let down at the moment. Never mind Geoffrey; keep firming it up and it'll turn out splendid!)

I must also report that having to spoken in person to Mr Geoffrey, I can inform interested ladies that he has a voice comparable to taking a luxurious bath in melted Green and Black's dark organic chocolate. Indeed, when I'd finished talking to Mr Geoffrey I went straight to my desk, got out my exercise book and duly wrote;

I must not stalk Mr Geoffrey
I must not stalk Mr Geoffrey
I must NOT stalk Mr Geoffrey......
I MUST NOT stalk Mr Geoffrey.......

Ah yes.....um........now back to Eddie.

Now Eddie is a smart cookie too and has a photo blog at The Cliff Walk which has some amazing photos from beautiful scenic shots to quirky comical ones. You saw two on my review of The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore but here's a couple more of his scenic shots;

Says it all really, doesn't it?

I must not stalk Mr Geoffrey
I must not stalk Mr Geoffrey....

Yeah....um.....ah...Now, I know I'm repeating myself from previous blogging awards but I'm sure a lot of bloggers in India including my friends Hillgrandmum and Eve's Lungs would agree that Usha and her blog AgelessBonding is thoroughly marvellous. Usha tackles just about every subject from the humorous and mundane to the serious and challenging. She is truly gifted in her ability to connect with people on so many different subject. She has an easy, natural manner and combined with an obviously thoughtful and caring nature her blog makes for great reading. So get over there and read her blog. ( God, I love those jackboots I bought in the sales.)

Then of course there's Mr Intrepid. Yeah, he keeps coming over here flouncing around in his big frilly shirt but over at his place he is writing all sorts of eclectic posts but this one called Guns for Bread is a recent favourite of mine. Now Intrepid has turned down my offer of a nice tie to go with his shirt for Christmas which is unfortunate as I thought this one would go rather nicely with the frills;

Mmm...lovely and it's real polyester! I think it would look really special teamed with those fetching plus fours Mr Intrepid likes to wear;

Mmm... sweet. But now I'm thinking that frilly white shirt is just not colourful enough. Maybe this one from his wardrobe would be better;
Oh yeah baby! Now your looking HOT ! Mmmm...Mmmmmmm..........

(Yeah, okay I know you've got a tux Mr I - kindly get it on and send me a piccy will you?)

And my last nominee?

Well, of course, it's my old buddy Master Sy for not just been a super funny blogger but an all round top guy. He's special. (In a sort of weird, disturbed way.)

Now just before I finish, there's been so many awards flying around the blogosphere these last few months I thought I'd initiate a few of my own. My first award is;


Nominees must proudly display the following picture on their blog along with a credit to Mrs T.

You had no idea I was so talented did you?! Yep, art is amongst one of my many skills. In fact, I've now developed my own school of art. You've heard of the cubists? If you take a good look at my piccy you'll see how I'm working in the bananaist fashion. Uh..huh..pretty cool eh?

Okay, my nominees are Master Sy for being insane at all times and that fruitcake Speedcat over at Hollydale for being just plain bonkers. I am proud to know them both... because they make me look sane. Hurrah!

See you all soon!

Mrs T

I must not stalk Mr Geoffrey
I must not stalk Mr Geoffrey....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Music Mondays; A woman in Love

When I first saw the Music Monday link I thought it would be a rather nice opportunity to not only play some of my favourite songs but also take a little meander back through the years and remind myself of some of the singers and songs that have marked some stage of my life.

The first record I remember owning was a compilation "floppy" 45 inch record that came free with a weekend newspaper. It was the by the group with the royal connection; The Three Degrees. If you don't live in the UK you may not know that it has been been well reported that Prince Charles had a huge crush on Sheila Ferguson, the lead singer, and when you see her in the video you'll see just why!

I used to play the disc on a small record player passed on from a colleague of my father. The disc had three songs on it. "When Will I See You Again" which is probably their most well remembered track was one of the songs but I can't remember for sure what the other two were. Anyhow, it was pretty much the start of my record collection. The song I'm playing today was one of their later songs "A Woman in Love" and thirty years on it's still a great song....A simple, powerful and timeless song that will ring true in the heart of any woman who has been in love....

And boy do I luvvvvv those dresses!

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A hot chick for Gary

Yeah, I 've been having some trouble with the cousin of Bob The Builder, Gary the Geezer Davison, the author of Fat Tuesday. He's been trying to get into a verbal fight with Mrs T over that political correctness post of mine. But now he's realised the error of his ways and aplologised by posting a nice piccy of Pierce Brosnan for me on his site.

So all is forgiven! Yep, and since I know Gary fancies young ladies like Danni and Kylie Minogue and the beautiful Cheryl Cole I've promised I'd post a piccy of a real hot chick for him 'cos that's just the way I am. Generous from the bottom of my soul!

So just for you Gary.... One Hot Chick! Enjoy!

I'm guessing you like sprouts Gary! Ho, ho.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore

I was first introduced to The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore over at The View From Here literary magazine where I read Mike French’s interview with Paul whom I’m sure as most of my regular readers will know, I now refer to as PB. Now Paul’s interview was pretty sensible but as you are probably aware he often indulges with me in a little bit of British silliness but don’t be fooled Paul’s book is not silly in any way; it is a wonderful piece of literature…..

Thomas Passmore is a family man who has emigrated to Australia in the search of a better life. But his roots are in the England; the England of his childhood and of his ancestors. As his mother lies dying, Thomas travels home but his journey is not just one of duty but also of reconciliation because Thomas’ past is an unclosed chapter in his life; it is strewn with emotional debris. His father’s suicide, the death of his childhood friend and the loss of his first love have followed him to foreign shores but now Thomas must retrace his footsteps, relive his memories, and free himself from his constraints.

The first thing that grabbed me about Paul’s book was the title. From the outset its lyrical quality had me intrigued because there are so few books with long, descriptive titles. But the title is a good indicator of the superb quality of writing in The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore; each word is carefully chosen, each description meticulously constructed giving it an almost poetical feeling in places so the words, like Thomas’s memories, wash over you like gentle surf. This is a book that to be fully appreciated really needs to be read a second time, so that you not just taste the flavour but savour it. Paul’s sheer, almost indulgent, use of words is rare in today’s blockbuster market; it’s rather like savouring a rich dark truffle when all you’ve had previously is cheap milk chocolate. Rather tasty.

The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore works on two levels. There are two stories running parallel. One is of his relationships and his need to find closure with them, especially with his former lover, Kate. But there is also the story of Thomas’ connection with the land of his birth, the roots of his being and his connection to English heritage. This is the England of ancient stone circles, of worn paths and of aged spreading oaks.

The novel switches between what is seemingly the past and present. There are dream like sequences too, so sometimes the reader is left wondering how much of what is happening is truth or reality and what, if anything, is happening to Thomas. His life seems to be flashing before him and as the book progresses one wonders if this really is the case. Is there more to Thomas’s journey than mere recollection? The dream- like sequences too have an ethereal quality and Kate, the long lost lover, is also almost ethereal in concept. Even at 18 she is seemingly flawless; beautiful, intelligent, wise beyond her years, as well as being a fantastic lover. As a woman I felt Kate was perhaps too perfect although her perfection fits well with the novel and explains Thomas’ continued adulation.

As Thomas remembers his past he recalls a hiking trip with Kate during which the strength of Thomas’ bond with the land of his birth and its ancient history becomes apparent. It is obvious that his early childhood curiosity for flints and fossils has developed into much a deeper connection; Thomas may have left England but he is still connected to his past; not just by the his immediate family but by that of his forefathers.

But what Thomas has yet to learn is that he must accept the past, especially the loss of his lover and his father so that a chapter of his life can be closed. He must merge with his past and his heritage. Not so much that a new chapter can be opened but in order that he can becomes a richer, happier man at peace with himself. This is very much the essence of the book for Thomas, metaphorically, lies buried under the snow of the title and underneath there is a new man waiting to emerge.

There was a point in the book when I wondered if Thomas was indeed going to change, the snow melt, and the green shoots appear that would bring about his rebirth or whether I had been mistaken in my assumptions. But as the book moved towards the end, Kate begins to personify all of Thomas’ past and finally in his dream world she becomes Katelin…an oak tree representing not just the past but also the present. In a moving, beautifully written, sequence Katelin and Thomas, also visualized as a tree, merge together...

Katelin steps closer to me then; face to face. She pushes her arms carefully through my foliage to embrace me, noses through the leaves until her nose is touching mine, her tongue stroking my lips…She lifts one leg and wraps it around me, and every part of me enters her, grows through her, until the warmth that’s running through me is rising in her through her body too, and it becomes pointless to consider that we were ever separate or could ever be separate again. And why did I never know this before?

“Forever and ever,” we think.

And so the greening is complete. Thomas is reconciled, his redemption complete. His separate, incomplete lives have become one.
The Snowing and Greening is a fabulous book. It’s a story of love, loss and redemption and so beautifully written. Frankly, I’m amazed it’s taken Paul so long to be published and I’m really looking forward to reading his next novel because, like Thomas, this is just the beginning.

In a day or two I’ll be reporting on The Book Club's meeting to discuss The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore, Mr M’s (Yes, MR M) foray into publishing (A tale of woe) and Master Jacob’s foray into baking. (A tale of horror.)

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Pictures of the oak leaves and winter scene at night have been produced by kind permisson of Copyright Free Photos, Winter Song (trees covered in snow ) and Lost in the the clouds (forest in mist) have been produced by fellow blogger Eddie McHugh over at The Cliff Walk, the final picture is by Mrs T.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Scottish Play, political correctness and the death of comedy

Gosh, I've just realised that I did something very naughty in my post The Day of Reckoning; I mentioned The Scottish Play by its proper name. Oh dear, now I will be cursed with even more bad luck! Perhaps I should explain - just in case you don't know - but in the thespian world to mention The Scottish Play means doom and gloom and certain disaster - actors drying up, breaking legs and falling off the stage. The production is cursed!

The Scottish Play is, of course, the play by William Shakespeare called...um...ah... How can I say it? .....If you shortened the name Macdonald or their well know product you'd have the first half of the name and if you thought of a nickname for Elizabeth you'd have the other half.....

Hmm... that was challenging eh?

There are a number of theories as to the origins of the curse but I think the most interesting (although probably the least likely) is that Shakespeare stole some of the lines of the play by observing a witches coven and later when the witches saw a performance they were so offended they cursed it. It's a nice little story isn't it? But I suspect it's more likely an actor hammed up his role, got booed off stage and made up a story that the production was cursed to cover up for his inadequacies!

Of course The Scottish Play is a tragedy so it lends itself to such dramatic stories but who hasn't laughed at one of Shakespeare's plays? I sure have! However, I believe it is now becoming increasing difficult for teenagers to appreciate what is now essentially an ancient language. I'm no longer sure that studying Shakespeare in depth for 14- 16 year olds at school in the UK is appropriate. Sadly, maybe it would be better for Shakespeare to be left to those more interested in literature at 16 -18. I say this with a heavy heart as someone who has read numerous Shakespeare plays and been lucky enough to see some of our finest British actors performing at Stratford. However, I believe our young people are so distant to our language now with the advent of texting, email and such like and their lives so consumed by immediacy and commerciality that I think it would be better to establish a love of literacy with texts that are easily understood and then move onto the likes of Shakespeare at a later date. There are some terrific modern classics out there so the examining boards really have no excuse not to liven up the curriculum.

Shakespearian comedy performed at its best is marvellous. I love it. But then I love laughing and I love making people laugh too but unfortunately comedy in the UK is changing for several reasons. One of these is political correctness... Comedy, often by its very nature, can walk a fine line between an obvious joke and being just plain rude and insulting. Even with visual slapstick sometimes one might wonder whether it is acceptable to laugh at someone who trips over... as indeed we might in real life. But what the new creed of political correctness fails to recognise is that the average adult knows the difference between what is funny and what is offensive. I believe too that those on the receiving end of a few jokes are usually mature enough to know the difference. Yet, our present British government seeks to repress individuality and freedom of speech with Acts of Parliament which may have good intentions at their core but which can also be interpreted in such a way to prosecute anyone they wish... and that could by default include comedians. Interestingly, one of our foremost comedians, Rowan Atkinson, has become prominent in speaking up for those of us who believe free speech is being repressed;

"I believe that it is the reaction of the audience that should decide the appropriateness of a joke, not the law of the land. For telling a good and incisive religious joke, you should be praised. For telling a bad one, you should be ridiculed and reviled. The idea that you could be prosecuted for the telling of either is quite fantastic. " (Letter to The Times 2001)

Later he wrote to The Times in 2007;

"This “tick the box if you’d like a law to stop people being rude about you” is one way of filling the legislative programme, but there are serious implications for freedom of speech, humour and creative expression. The devil, as always, will be in the detail, but the casual ease with which some people move from finding something offensive to wishing to declare it criminal — and are then able to find factions within government to aid their ambitions — is truly depressing."

Political correctness has now become stifling in the UK; it would appear the movement that was instigated to protect individual freedoms now, ironically, destroys them. Ludicrous wordspeak too has replaced pure common sense. For example; I should no longer use the word "handicapped" unless in relation to golf or racing, I should not say someone has a "carer" but they have a "personal assistant or enabler" and I should not say a toilet is a "Disabled Toilet." (Unless it is not working!)In fact, I should call it an "Accessible Toilet." (Yes, that's despite the fact they're usually locked!)

Personally, I believe it's time for the government to stem this tide of political correctness; their socialist tendencies are running amok. It's quite something when a man known for being a clown is more respected than the politicians who make the laws.

But it would be as well if some comedians could police themselves. Over the last few weeks despite the world wide economic crisis a debacle involving one of our younger comedians, Russell Brand and TV presenter Jonathan Ross has repeatedly made headline news. During Russell Brand's Radio 2 programme they left messages on the answerphone of Andrew Sachs, the actor who played Manuel in Fawlty Towers, a great comedy classic sit com. In these telephone messages they talked about sexual relations between Russell Brand and Andrew Sachs' grandaughter. Frankly, it was childish and puerile behaviour and after the press got wind of it the incident generated over 30,000 complaints.

Today, I learnt that Russell Brand has been voted Best Stand Up Comedian at The British Comedy Awards. I've no idea who votes for these things but I can't believe honouring Russell Brand will do anything but damage the voice of real comedians. His childish humour will only spur on those who seek to curtail freedom of speech and the comedy contingent should have been wise enough to recognise that. He isn't a martyr to the cause he's a fool - and don't mean in the comical sense of the word.

I never seen Russell Brand live and at present I've no desire to and that may sound judgemental but I've seen him on the television a number of times and he's yet to make me smile, let alone laugh. I've seen many comedians live including Frankie Howard, Dave Allen, Jim Davidson, Julian Clary, Freddie Starr, Marcus Brigstocke and even Ken Dodd! And when Russell can make me laugh enough to want to go the theatre to see him I'll review my opinion. I'm all for giving someone a second chance but making a hero out of him is not perhaps the wisest decision.

Hmm... that was a bit of a rant for Mrs T wasn't it? Ah well, here's something to cheer us all up. It's Rowan Atkinson trying very carefully not to mention The Scottish Play....

Now that IS comedy!

Copyright JaneTurley 2008.

Music Mondays; Musical Inspiration

Personally I find music of all types inspiring; it has the ability to alter or lift my moods or indeed intensify them. Unfortunately, I've never been that much of a musician and I've a voice any sensible dog would howl to - so I'm always in admiration of those that create beautiful and uplifting music whether it is vocally, lyrically or instrumentally. Wouldn't it be fantastic to be one of those people who sit down at a piano and just play? No wonder Christie Brinkley fell for Billy Joel. Hey, I'd fall for Barry Manilow if he wrote a song for me!

Hmm...on second thoughts...maybe not. Well okay,maybe I'd have to be pretty tipsy.

(And very possibly blind.)

At my Book Club we often play music in the background that we feel adds to the flavour of the book just for a little added extra. So as we were due to discuss my friend and fellow blogger Paul Burman's book The Snowing and Greening of Thomas Passmore I asked him what we should use and he sent the link to the video below. It's a song called Fleur de Saison by the French singer/songwriter Emilie Simon. The lyrics are in French but actually I think that adds to the potency. I did use an automatic translator to look at the lyrics on line but even with my extremely limited French I thought it was probably a poor translation. If there's anybody out there who wants to have a bash at translating then please do let me know your results. However, when I viewed the song it I could really see how both the song and the video had provided inspiration for Paul's book and if you get the chance to read his book you'll understand just why. I'll be reviewing Paul's book later in the week but in the meantime let's have a look at this amazing video and equally addictive tune.

Well wasn't that fantastic?

Aren't you glad I didn't play Barry Manilow?

Come join Music Monday and share your songs with us. One simple rule, leave ONLY the actual post link here. You can grab this code at LJL Please note these links are STRICTLY for Music Monday participants only. All others will be deleted.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Book Review; Fat Tuesday by Gary Davison

I was taken by surprise by Fat Tuesday by Gary Davison. I’d also like to be taken by surprise by Pierce Brosnan but no such luck. (Stop thinking what you’re thinking Gary – I meant taken out to dinner.)

Whoops veered off there… back to Gary’s book…Anyway why was I taken by surprise I hear you ask?

Well…. Firstly, I’d read Paul Burman’s interview with Gary at The View From Here and found Gary quite an interesting character so I started reading his blog. Gary comes from the North of England (I know it’s terrible but someone’s got to) and runs his own construction business and from what I’ve read Gary both works and plays hard. He’s a bit of a tough cookie but with a soft centre. He also gets blind drunk, gambles and spends nights in shopping trolleys trying to work out the plot for his next novel whilst consuming large bars of Galaxies. Again, shameful, but someone’s got to do it just so England can keep up the reputation of producing geniuses pushing themselves to the limit to produce masterpieces of English literature. Personally, I think any man that can squeeze himself into a shopping trolley this small IS a genius; I certainly couldn’t - even after amputating my legs.

So anyway, after reading Gary’s interview instantly my fantastical imagination took off and I was thinking Fat Tuesday was about some huge fat northern gangster (not that Gary is fat but I hear fish and chips are good up there) dressed in a pinstripe suit sorting out the mob in Newcastle. Then I changed my mind and thought that Fat Tuesday was actually a big Momma with an oversized pinny, a penchant for baking and a heaving bosom….And then I discovered “Fat Tuesday” means “Mardis Gras” in French. Well I don’t speak French; how was I to know? Stop laughing at my ignorance! So I thought it must be a thriller with a secret agent running through a carnival being chased by knife wielding hoodlums….

Okay, the book took me by surprise because it’s not about any of those scenarios. It’s actually about young adults finding their way through life in what can be at the same time a hugely exciting adventure but also a dangerously stupid one. Young adults can be very vulnerable and easily influenced and Fat Tuesday grabs you full on and shows you how disastrous it can be when you take the wrong path…

Spencer Hargreaves is a wealthy young man. His mother died when he was a child and he has been raised by a series of nannies and an overbearing father whom he despises. He is isolated at school and disliked for his social standing. On his father’s death Spencer takes flight on a journey of discovery and finds himself stealing packaged meals in a supermarket in Australia and planning to clean out the safe with his new found buddies. The robbery complete, Spencer find himself in the middle of Mardis Gras where the decadence of sex, drugs and rock “n” roll assault his senses and propel him into an unstoppable chain of events that leads to his imprisonment….

Spencer is an intriguing character. As many young people are he is not at ease with himself or the class into which he has been born and he strives to rid himself of the ghosts of his past by going against the grain of everything he has been taught; stealing, fighting and cheating his way through life. He searches for acceptance, to be one of the gang and in doing so throws away his morals, falls in with in the wrong crowd and his life that could be rich with opportunities starts to spiral out of control. Early on in the book there are hints of mental instability and as the story progresses Spencer’s thoughts and actions become increasingly erratic. A murder is committed and the reader is left guessing whether Spencer did it or not.

But the crux of the book is Spencer’s experience of the pulsating vibrancy of the Sydney Mardis Gras. It’s a critical moment; will the loss of his inhibitions, his experiences of sex and drugs pull him back to reality? Will his crazed walkabout make a man of him or send his mind spiralling into madness?
Photo; Getty images

Fat Tuesday is an exciting book with the events moving speedily onwards. It was a thoroughly entertaining read but at the same time I felt it was an accurate portrayal of how some young adults search for their identities amidst excitement and new opportunities. For the majority, this journey of self discovery leads to maturity and personal development but perhaps for a few vulnerable adults, especially those beset with problems, it can lead to chaos and mental illness.

So how does Spencer’s rite of passage affect him?

You’ll have to read Fat Tuesday to find the answer.

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Day of Reckoning (TDOR)

Yes, the day that I dread all year has arrived; The Day of Reckoning. For those of you who haven’t read my latest BBC article I must clarify that TDOR is the day when you receive notification of what role your child has been allocated in the Christmas nativity.

Sadly, Master Sam and Master Jacob have never had a starring role in the nativity or indeed any school play so Master Benedict is my last chance at being the mother of a precocious child star and publishing a book entitled “How to get rich quick on the back of someone else’s talent” - which would be a pity because I could really do with the cash to pay for all that plastic surgery I’m planning. Damn.

However….and I don’t like to boast…. but Master Benedict is as an undiscovered raw talent and at 7 years is at the peak age to play Joseph. Yep, if Master Benedict had landed the role of Joseph it would have been the pinnacle of his career before he moved on to other lesser achievements like Hamlet and Macbeth.

Yes, Master Benedict is a real actor. You won’t come across another boy doing an impression of a penguin, elephant or a vomiting cat as well as Master Benedict. Many a time he has had me genuinely convinced the cat was going to throw up outside my bedroom and when I’ve rushed out to fondly stroke the creature in its hour of need (cough, cough) I’ve found him sniggering away in the hallway. Hmm… I’m not sure where Master Benedict has got his sense of humour from… but after I’ve made him mop the kitchen floor and clean the toilets he usually feels pretty remorseful….

Anyway, I was fully expecting Master Benedict to be Joseph this year and to make a stunning entrance on stage wearing a top notch Harrods’ gold threaded tea towel on his head and matching robe. In fact I was so optimistic I was sure the role would help him secure a holiday job as a Redcoat at Butlins next year. (Not that I believe in child labour but there is a credit crunch on you know and I’m expecting all my kids to pull their weight.)

But no, Master Benedict is not playing Joseph! The horror, the horror!

Oh dear; my dreams of his superstardom and renaming myself as Jane Stallone have been completely dashed…

However, Master Benedict HAS been assigned a role unlike any other role before in a school play. He is to play…..

Bruce Lee.

Yes, that’s right Bruce Lee.

Yep, I can hear your brains ticking over… was Bruce Lee really at the stable in Bethlehem??

Well, of course not! Well…. I don’t think so…. but come to think of it that inn keeper was really suspicious looking….

The answer is that there is to be no nativity this year but instead there will be a production of ...

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

BUT now the seven dwarfs have been usurped by Doctor Dwarf, Builder Dwarf, Cleaner Dwarf, Elvis Dwarf, Silly Dwarf And Karate Dwarf…

Yes, I know what you’re thinking;

Who writes this shite??

Okay…I swear to God I had NOTHING to do with it. However, I am seriously worried about the teachers at Master Benedict’s school and will be launching my own investigation into this madness as soon as Master Benedict has done his turn and I’ve run out of space on my digital camera.

Oh yes, and I should mention that the Dwarves will be auditioning to Simon Cowell in an X Factor type scenario. Hmmm…

Anyway, I've exaggerated somewhat as Master Benedict who is a bit of a karate kid will actually be performing as Carl Douglas, not Bruce Lee, with some suitably dressed backing singers. Yes, he will singing along and doing freestyle kicks to the 1974 classic "Kung Fu Fighting." Which I'm afraid to say folks I remember very well even though I was still in my high chair. (That's a chair placed on the table for strategic viewing.)

Yeah, that was brill let's have it again with a different spin;

Well what can I say?

Move over Jackie Stallone; my time has come.

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dancing with insomnia

Now rumour has it Craig David wrote his latest song Insomnia for me. It's a groovy little number currently getting a lot of airplay in the UK and if I get bored in the night surfing the net or writing I can always have a little jiggle along to it.

By the way I should say out that hot pants like the leading lady is wearing in the video should not be allowed. Obscene! Older gals like me just want to sing along not be shamed into getting out the cellulite scrub.

Yeah, okay Craig didn't write the song for me but a girl can dream can't she?! Oh wait...dreaming is what you do when you sleep..... damn...fooled again.....

Copyright Jane Turley 2008

My Nominees for the US and UK Elections and Other Waffle

It's the early hours of the morning, and I have had a large gin... Late-night alcohol is always a good recipe for writing gibberish. And...