Sunday 31 January 2010


Of course I wanted Andy Murray to win. The country's a bit short on good news stories so far this year, so a win would have cheered us up no end.

However,Federer deserved to win - he was playing at the top of his game - and it was a pleasure to watch him.

His play today was so single-cream fluent, seemingly effortless and with a killer accuracy that was a wonder to behold.

Hopefully, Andy Murray will have learnt a lot from this master-class display and will up his game even more, which is pretty damn good anyway.

Maybe he'll even reach that higher standard at Wimbledon:I am an unashamed optimist after all.

Sunday 24 January 2010


If you'd like to read my review of the novel 'Tribute' by International Bestseller Nora Roberts, click onto The Book Review section. Cheers.

Wednesday 20 January 2010

THE WIRE AND AGENTCOOP plus a maggie rant

If you fancy what I would describe as a 'real blokey blog', then look no further than agentcoop (there's a direct link on the right hand site of my site).

Anyway, I've thrown down the gauntlet to agentcoop to watch Season One of The Wire and write a blog about it. Since we had very different experiences of the Essaouira 2009 Festival, should be interesting to see what he makes of The Wire.

And on a totally different subject but I might as well write about it here, am I the only one to recognise the irony of items on the news?

Gross exaggeration coming up but I'm sure you'll get my drift. One half of the world seem intent on helping Haiti recover from the destruption of their country, searching for survivors, giving aid and support, whilst the other half are intent on actually causing death and destruction on as massive a scale as possible (i.e. in Afganistan etc).

Shame on all those terrorists/would be terrorists throughout the world. Life's difficult enough as it is without their negative and hateful actions.

What? I'm going to have a fatwah imposed upon me? Some-one's got to tell the truth - Allah/God isn't hateful and vengeful. He's a God of love although sometimes that can mean tough love, a very tough love indeed, but that's very different from the narrow interpretations that fundamentalists of all faiths home in on. So, read your Koran/Bible again.

And while I'm on the subject, because I'm pretty annoyed at this, American Evangelical T.V. 'Christian' preacher - Pat Robertson - read your Bible again if you really believe that God was punishing Haiti because of the voodoo superstitions sometimes practised there. In particular, read the bit about Jesus Christ, The Cruxifiction, The Resurection. The forgiveness of sin. 'I came to save the world not condemn it'.

Mr Robertson, you think you're not a sinner too? We all are. So, get off your moral high ground and start praying for desperate people who need all the help they can get. Show some humility. Stop judging.

And since I'm really in the groove now, a word or two to the Archbishop of York. No wonder so many people are put off the Christian Church if church leaders like you give such wishy-washy answers about God's intent/involvement in Haiti (Radio 4).

Yes, of course He's there, waiting for people to turn to Him and ask for his help, to be alongside them in their misery but it goes much deeper than that.

I believe that all these tragedies that we have witnessed over the years are 'wake up calls' for people to revalue what is important in their lives. To think beyond the 'me-my-and-I' mentality, the 'men/women have total control of their lives and can do what they want' mentality.

It's what I describe as 'very tough love'. Heart-breaking for us mere mortals and devastating for those involved. I'm sure if there was a better, less painful way for God to focus our attention back onto him, then He'd do it that easier way.

I can write this because I was involved in a war in 1974 in Cyprus.

I was so close to exploding bombs/machine-gun fire/bazooka fire that each day that I have survived from that is a bonus. I lost relatives, dogs, everything I possessed. My way of life, too. Became a refugee. Was traumaitised by the whole experience. So I am in no way complacent about the effects of disasters - natural and man-made. I just see it now as part of a much wider picture.

It's all there in Revelations (the last book in the Bible.) It's a pretty scary book but its predictions seems to be unfolding before our very eyes. Aren't there any Christian leaders with the guts to say this? Are they so frightened of their own beliefs? Don't they realise anyone can be next? Any one of us.

What? I'm going to be ex-communicated? I'm shaking in my shoes.

Shall probably regret writing all this tomorrow morning but it's actually what I'm feeling/thinking.

P.S. It's now tomorrow and I don't retract a word of what I've written. In fact, I've added a bit more for good measure.

Friday 1 January 2010


More to come once I've had a lie down (slight hangover, to tell the truth, but it was worth it).

Particularly want to tell you about the film 'The Painted Veil' based on the novel by Somerset Maugham, which played on BBC 2 last night - absolutely brilliant. I'm green with envy at such plot and character development. Must read the book. But really must lie down now!

Okay. Have had a good rest and, armed with a nicely strong Bloody Mary, I am resuming this post. And, by the way, thank you to the person from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, who was the first to view my site in 2010.

One of my very favourite novels, one I used in my English teaching, is 'A Town Like Alice' by Nevile Shute. It's set mainly in Malaysia, including, Kuala Lumpur, so the very name brings back lovely memories of when teaching used to be not only rewarding but also fun.

So, New Year's Eve at the daftnotstupid household. John, myself and trusty guard dog and excellent companion, Archie, who had great fun at midnight running up and down the garden chasing and barking at all the sparkly fireworks cascading through the Winchester skyline (sorry neighbours) was a hoot.

Having had a smashing Xmas visiting relatives and friends, felt rather flat after Boxing Day. So many of us devote a lot of time preparing for Xmas but afterwards it's very easy to think 'what was that all about?' The goal has been achieved so what now? So, I wasn't feeling New Year's Evey one iota. And, of course, the cold, gloomy, rather wet weather wasn't exactly helping.

Come the evening, though, with the champagne opened, the log fire burning, candles lit, things started to slot into place in a quite delightful way.

Spent the earlier part of the evening working on the re-editing of Cyprus Blues, aided by a delicious glass of champagne. This re-editing is taking far longer to do than I had anticipated but I know it's worth the effort. I'm getting the text even tighter now and when I play back each chapter with via-voice, I'm liking what I hear.

Then supper (I make a mean curry), wine, wine, wine and more wine and a tele-fest.

Have really enjoyed the several Victoria Woods programmes shown during the last week or so - she really is an excellent writer and comedienne - and the repeat of the New Year's Eve episode of Dinnerladies, travelled well after all these years.

But the revelation to me, and what had me routed to my seat, not wanting to miss even a minute, was the film 'The Painted Veil' (BBC2 9p.m.), set in the 1920s and based on the novel by Somerset Maugham, who wrote in the era of British colonialism and gave such evocative insights into the lives of the Brits who were living abroad.

Starring Edward Norton and Naomi Watts, it was about a newly wed couple who were not ideally matched to say the least. The husband, a scientist, had been posted to China to help with a cholera outbreak and his wife went, most reluctantly, with him. So the film charts what happens to them and how their relationship changes.

The Guardian T.V. guide classified it as a 'revenge story' but I think it was an absolutely overwhelming love story. Everything about it was superb - the acting, the character and plot development, the spectacular Chinese scenery, and the capturing of the mood of a nation as it rebels against its forced colonisation.

If you can get your hands on a copy of this film, then I recommend you get it and watch it. And, if you disagree with my opinion, then leave a comment. I love comments.

I certainly want to read the book for myself to see if that superb character and plot development are as exciting as in the film or whether the director and actors added a special dimension not found in the book.

Now well and truly in some kind of celebratory mood, we next watched Jools Holland - the best music show on tele. Always a joy to watch because the music's so good.

Was particularly impressed with Florence somebody, thought that Tom Jones proved himself to be a giant of a performer, and was pleased to see Boy George on his feet again.(If he lost some weight, stayed clean and had singing lessons to retrain his voice he could well make a successful new start.) The other acts were pretty good, too.

Somewhere along the line, John made an enormous dish of home-made pop-corn and we wolfed that down pretty damn quickly.

Oh, yes, and then it was midnight and the start of not only a new year but also a new decade. I like the sound of 2010. It has a strong ring about it. As if it's making a bold statement.

I think none of us have felt the optimism of better things to come that we expected with a new Millenium. There have been so many events in this last decade we could not have anticipated or desired.

And the twenty-first century does not necessarily mean progress or improvement. With an expansion of quantity comes, it seems to me, a decline in quality. Grab what's good when you can, is my motto, and cherish it.

Moving back to T.V. fest, seemed to be watching Glastonbury now. Bruce Springstein is still a great performer, is he not. And to our delight, they played a song performed by Stornaway, who we watched in Winchester.

They have a strong following and the recordings John made of that gig for his You Tube site have been very popular. I have a hand-written note somewhere written by the lead singer for the DVD he sent them of his recording. So, I'm hoping Stornaway make it big and that paper could be of value. (Well, one always lives in hope.)

Pity that Polly and the Billet Doux, who also played at Glastonbury, weren't filmed but I'm sure their time will come.

About 3.30 a.m.(where had all that time gone?) I slid gracefully to the floor in the kitchen and realised that it was time to go to bed although I don't actually remember doing so.

And this morning, we awoke to a clean blue sky and bright sunshine. Sorted.

The hang-over will go, life will return to normal, I'm jolly well going to finish Cyprus Blues if it's the last thing I do. And I'm going to grab every joyful moment when it comes along and I suggest that you do the same.