Monday, November 29, 2010


I have agreed with some people at work to read the Costa Award shortlist. We are only reading the “First Novel” and “Novel” shortlist, which totals eight books. We have until almost the end of January to read them and I am about half way through the second book.

I sourced all of the books for us. Both Amazon and Waterstones were remarkably unreliable for supplying the books- which I think in part was because the publishers were perhaps caught out by the nominations and so weren’t able to meet the demand at such short notice.

In the end, I managed to get the books from two different sources, and both sent the books really quickly. One was The Book Depository and the other was AbeBooks. The latter supplies quite a lot of second hand books, but they tell you what the condition is of the book.

So far, I have read “The Blasphemer”, which was pretty good, if a little unbelievable at times.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Five minutes

I have mentioned before about a BBC programme called Five Minutes With, which is an interview that lasts five minutes with a well-known person. This weekend, I was listening to an interview with Alain de Botton and he made some comments about reading and writing:

I think people become intellectual because of disturbance. My goal raising my own children is that they will never read a book or at least not be that dramatically inclined towards writing and reading ... because, I think, as I say, reading and writing is a response to anxiety often having a basis and childhood and, as I say, I hope to quench at least some of that need in my children.

I think there is some truth to what he says about intellectualism – that we can try and rationalise and to understand through expressing, or reading other people’s expression or understanding of, an issue or life in general. But a life without reading would seem a strange and alien one to me. Reading can be a great pleasure, a form of escapism, a way to challenge our own view or discover ideas that you would otherwise never have even considered. Sometimes there can be nothing more satisfying than sitting down with a good book, and not because it is intellectual or stretching, but because it is not. It is a pleasure in and of itself. What a shame it would be to miss out on the joy that can come from reading – and indeed in learning to express ourselves through the written word.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


If you have ever watched the BBC programme Heir Hunters, you might already know that Treasury Solicitors (part of government) get people’s estate if no living relative can be identified to inherit. Professional organisations, like the one on Heir Hunters, charge a commission for reuniting you with the money (although as some connections are totally unknown etc the people would have ended up with nothing if it wasn’t for the firm getting in touch). However, if you can prove a connection, you can apply direct to Treasury Solicitors to claim the inheritance. The current list is here for England and Wales (you need to click on the PDF on the left hand side). For Scotland, the list is here. I do actually think there is something very sad about those lists. They are people who had no known relative and whilst that doesn’t mean they died a lonely death, it is no the most cheery thing to think what them featuring on this list might say about their lives. Anyway, it’s worth a look at the lists to see if there might be an inheritance that has unknowingly passed you by.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I bought some new bulbs for the kitchen last week. They are energy saving bulbs that are to replace some other energy saving bulbs that took a long time to warm up. Not only do these bulbs light up instantly, but they are so much brighter than the previous ones that we are concerned that an aircraft might accidentally come into land. I went into the kitchen one evening last week and G was in there wearing sunglasses.

I got my first Christmas card on Friday.

Monday, November 08, 2010


We took Friday off work and headed to East Sussex for a couple of nights at a very posh B&B. I don’t think I have met many people who are posher than the woman who ran this place, we were a little nervous in case we didn’t quite meet her standards, but we appeared to pass muster. When we arrived we had tea and cake in the Drawing Room and sat in front of a roaring fire. It was lovely.

On Saturday we went into Lewes and then to Eastbourne, where we ate fish and chips – because clearly having a cooked breakfast and going for an evening meal at a pub was not enough food for us, so we had to top up with a big meal in the middle of the day. It was all very relaxing and it is only when I leave London, and I say this as a Londoner born and bred, that I realise that people outside of London are generally more friendly. Perhaps all Londoners need to spend lots of time outside of the Capital to remember what it is to speak to other people. But perhaps our attitude might rub off on others and we would lower the rest of the country to our standard. Anyway, it was a good break and we need to find more opportunities to go for nice weekends away.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Catching Up

The weekend was pretty busy. We finally managed to finish watching Flashforward, which finished in May this year. It was inconclusive, as everyone else presumably already knew, but we ploughed on with it anyway.

We went out for lunch with my family on Sunday and my nephew was playing twenty questions. He didn’t quite get how it worked having only heard of the game the first time that morning when he had seen it on friends. We were trying to explain to him that “is it a chair?” was a bit too specific and would make it a very long game. He didn’t seem to get that the game was meant to be limited to 20 questions. He did make us laugh a lot though when we were asking his questions and managed to narrow it down to it being some kind of train. In the end he told us the answer: The Pizza Express Train. He meant the Gatwick Express.

I also started the interview with mum and spent about an hour doing that. I have found out various things, including a strange story about mum’s adopted cousin, but I shall save that for another time.

Instead I shall leave you with a photo of a pumpkin that I carved for my nephew.