Tuesday, August 31, 2010


On Sunday night, we went to see the Girl Who Played With Fire. We enjoyed it, but I think we would have been highly confused had we not read the book – and also had the advantage of having seen the previous film in the trilogy the night before. But it was nice to see shots of Stockholm and Gothenburg having been to many of the places featured in the film. The film is worth seeing by the way, but if you’re not familiar with the plot already, I think you will be a bit perplexed by who some people are and what is going on at various points.

We actually only paid 30p to go and see it because I discovered that you could used Nectar points to pay at Vue cinemas. I do like a bargain. However, I think I was less popular with the people behind me in the queue because they have to swipe your card to take the points off at £2.50 per time. I think we were keeping some people from their popcorn.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Tres Bien*

Paris was great and I had a really good time there with my sister and nephew. We went up the Eiffel Tower and to Note Dame and Sacre Coeur and on a boat. We ate crepes and pain au raisin and various other things that weren’t really great for the waistline.

It is a really nice city and I much prefer it to Madrid. I went to Madrid with G last year and we weren’t massive fans. But Paris was a much more interesting city and I felt like we hardly even touched the surface of it. It’s a good job that’s the case, given that G was a bit gutted about not being able to go. So I think we will probably go there together in the next few months. We will possibly stay in a different hotel though given that the staff were a touch surly and the room was a bit 1970’s MFI.

I broke my rule about reading books based where I am at the time. I had considered reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame, but I was part way through a Swedish book and wanted to continue reading that. However, I have stumbled across a book that I think I need to buy, which gives suggestions of books to read from all over the world. How marvellous!

Tonight we are going out for dinner with my mum and sister. It will be the first time I’ve seen or spoken to mum since I fell out with dad, so we’ll see if she says anything about that. On Sunday I think G and I are going to see The Girl Who Played with Fire at the cinema. I think that will be only about the third time we have ever been to the cinema together. Most strange.

*I'm practically fluent

Monday, August 23, 2010


I find the current spate of bad weather somewhat depressing. Since we got back from Sweden, it has hardly ever felt as though it is still summer. G is refusing to wear a coat to work on point of principle. It is summer, even if it is wet and cold!

I am off to Paris tomorrow with my nephew and sister. G can’t come due to various work related things, which is a shame. I am hoping that the weather will be decidedly better there. We are only allowed to do “B list” things while we are there though because G wants to go at some point and we are a) not allowed to have any fun while we are there this week and b) all the “A list” things need to be saved for a future trip. So that means, no Eiffel Tower or boats on the Seine or visiting the Arc de Triomphe or Notre Dame. It’s going to be great…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The really excellent three part series called Dear Diary is being repeated starting this week on BBC4. It starts with the Richard E Grant episode. As it is on at 00.30, you should set your video/ DVD/ Freeview/ Sky Plus box to record it.

It is a series “which asks what we get from reading, and writing, diaries”. It is a marvellous programme and it is a shame it is on so late at night. So record it!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I had rather a bust up with my dad on Friday night. I had gone over for dinner (G was away) because my nephew was there. My dad and I slightly rubbed each other up the wrong way not along after I got there because he started to give a lecture on how I needed to make it clear to mum if I needed a lift home, so that she didn’t drink too much. Seeing as mum never drinks too much and she also knew that I had come straight from work so would need a lift home made me think this was all a bit unnecessary and I (a bit stroppily) said so. My day then walked off and then came back a few minutes later and, rather angrily, said not to lay him a place for dinner because he would not be joining us. We told him not to be so daft and to have dinner at the table. He then made a few digs at my nephew (who is five years old) and I told dad to leave him alone.

Then my nephew and I went and played ludo and snakes and ladders and about an hour later we all sat down for dinner. Dad kept getting angry during dinner and made a few more digs at my nephew, and both mum and I told him to stop. Dad then got really angry and shouted at us and told us not to tell him to stop it. My nephew said to dad not to get annoyed and, as dad kept saying things with his mouthful, my nephew said to him to stop talking with food in his mouth.

Then dad got really angry with me and kept making mean comments to my nephew, and then dad started to swear at me – and these were definitely not the sorts of words you would want a five year old to hear. I was just so angry with dad about the things he was saying to my nephew and him then swearing that I stood up and walked round to where he was and really shouted at him to tell him to stop. I have to say I was reminded quite how scary my dad is and I did rather think I had bitten off more than I could chew by going over to him. The shouting match didn’t last very long, maybe 20 or 30 seconds, and it came to a very abrupt halt on my part because I turned and saw that my nephew was really shocked by what was happening. I went over to my nephew (who had gone over to my mum) and apologised to him for shouting and I said that I shouldn’t have done it. We talked about it and he was fine with me. But he was talking to me a little while later, after dad had left the room, and told me that he was scared of granddad and didn’t understand why he kept being mean to him. Then he said that he thought it was his fault that granddad was so angry i.e. because of what he had said to dad. I explained that it wasn’t his fault – he is five whereas dad is 69 and therefore dad is the one who needed to behave better. My nephew said it all just made him feel very sad.

I managed to cheer him up and we wrote G a letter and ate ice cream etc, but mum tried to get him to say goodnight to dad, but he refused and said he didn’t want to talk to granddad. I had thought it was a risky strategy on mum’s part as there was high chance dad would have just ignored him. In fact, later when my nephew had gone to bed, dad turned out the light that was left on for my nephew because he doesn’t like sleeping in the dark. Very, very mean.

I also heard dad (rather loudly) telling mum that he didn’t know why I came round and that she should go round to mine if she wants to see me. It’s like turning the clock back a decade to when he and I were on such bad terms and we didn’t speak for a couple of years because he thought I was such a waste of space.

Anyway, I explained to my sister what had happened and that I shouldn’t have shouted in front of my nephew but that I was just so angry at the way dad was speaking to my nephew and that he was swearing etc. My sister was fine with me about it and was concerned that some of the things dad did were very reminiscent of how he treated us when we were children i.e. threatening to take things away from us – be that physical things or emotional things, and that there was no way she was going to let dad treat him in the same way.

I spoke to my sister again yesterday and asked what had happened when she went to collect my nephew. Dad had told her that he and I had an argument and that it was over what he said about getting a lift home and that I had reacted badly to it. He didn’t say anything about having a go at my nephew or swearing – and he didn’t point out that there was about an hour and a half between the conversation about getting a lift home and the argument.

My sister knows that he wasn’t telling the truth (not least because my nephew had also told her a bit of what had happened!) and we discussed why he might have done that. The most obvious explanation, of course, is that he wanted to cover up what he had done, but actually another possibility, that is equally credible, is that he really believes that is what happened.

On a number of occasions dad has come up with stories and we have suggested to him that we were dubious about whether that is actually what happened. Several times mum has said that she has never heard the story before and dad then looks confused and then no-one, including him, is sure whether what he has said is actually true. He rewrites history to make it show whatever suits him – you’d have to see him in action to quite understand what I mean. So possibly after a night’s sleep he had a different view on the previous night’s events. Thus meaning that the argument was down to me and that he had said nothing inappropriate to my nephew etc. You can’t reason with someone like that.

I also wonder what will happen next time I see him. He can hold a grudge for a very long time and be very malicious. I do feel like this is a massive step backwards, and I also feel sorry for mum, as she will have to pick up some of the pieces of it. But it also reminds me why we have had a very acrimonious relationship for so long – he is a bad tempered man, not very trustworthy and will say what he needs to try and get out of a tricky situation. Ultimately he is only interested in himself.

I know he is getting old though, and he has already had two strokes, so I need to decide what to do next. That’s not going to be an easy decision.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


We had a barbecue at the weekend. Despite the best efforts of the weather to dampen it for us, we all seemed to have a good time. My carpet looked less than pleased, what with all the mud trampled on to it, but I managed to get that cleaned up. The only problem now is that we have far more alcohol than we had when we started the day and nowhere to store it all. We might have to start giving it away to people at any possible opportunity.

Over the weekend, I also managed to find a way to change my broadband provider that means that we won’t have to pay anything for it for the next year. I do like to be able to track down a good deal…

Someone at work has leant me a book by Tove Jansson called Travelling Light. I will try and read that soon (although I have a large number of books already waiting to be read). However, if you already like her as an author or want to find out what she is like, tonight is your perfect opportunity. At 9pm tonight on BBC Radio 3, The Hothouse, a short story from her book Travelling Light is being broadcast. There is also a programme on at 7.45pm about Scandinavia called The Summer House and that will also have excerpts from some of her books (I think primarily The Summer Book). Have a listen if you get the chance. Enjoy.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


I am still in a Swedish phase in my reading. I am actually reading a book by a Finnish author at the moment, but she wrote in Swedish, although I am reading it in English.

Anyway, the book is The True Deceiver by Tove Jansson, and it is a really good book. A very readable and light read, and yet has a distinctly dark undertone.

I shall give you an excerpt from chapter 14.

Anna stood by the telephone for a long time and stared at the snowdrift through the window without seeing it. A great sadness gripped her. It can be sad having a friend you’ve admired too much and seen too rarely and told too many things that you should have kept to yourself. It was only to Sylvia that Anna had talked about her work – without reservation, boasts and cruel disappointments all jumbled together, everything. And now all of it was there with Sylvia, unloaded on her over the years in a dense clot of rash confidences.

I shouldn’t have called, Anna thought. But she’s the only one who knows me.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I had a good birthday. We went to my parents’ on Saturday night and had a very nice meal. I also told my nephew a rude (by five year old standards) joke about a bear and a rabbit. I had made him promise to laugh, even if he didn’t find it funny, because it was my birthday. I think he was genuinely amused though. He then told us a somewhat bizarre joke he had just made up about a chicken that crossed the road…

I got some nice presents, but the best one was from my sister, which was afternoon tea at a posh hotel in London that I have wanted to go to for ages. Now I just have to decide who to take with me.

There were other highlights, such as fitting a new flush to the toilet. We served that joy until Sunday. The holiday really is over.