Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Charles Dickens Birthday Book Blog!

7th February 2012 - 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens

The Charles Dickens Birthday Book Blog!

 Good Evening, Bookworms!

And a very happy what-would-be 200th birthday to Charles John Huffam Dickens, born 7th February 1812 in Portsmouth. Regular blog readers will know that I posted a blog last night on this matter to try to get votes for favourite Dickens novels. I also did likewise via Facebook and Twitter, and had responses from some of my friends, particularly on FB. Hence, this evening, the names of nine Dickens novels were written out by yours truly on slips of paper and folded up. They were then put into my snowman teapot! Don’t worry – the teapot was dry inside – haven’t brewed up in it for quite a while, which is a bit of a shame, but at least it didn’t make the papers soggy! I was going to draw out the slip of paper myself, but then decided, in the interests of neutrality, that I’d ask my mum if she’d like to do it! Mum duly obliged and picked out a slip of green paper from the teapot, unfolded it, and thus, drawn by Mrs Jean Dixon-Jackson, the winner of the Joanne’s Bookshelf Dickens Draw is…. Our Mutual Friend.

I have now acquired, not quite free but very cheaply, an electronic version of said novel for reading on my Kindle. I would like to thank all my friends who named their favourite Dickens novels and thus earned those books a place in the draw. Gitte Hannus and Claire Howarth both recommended Our Mutual Friend, although a couple of other novels got more than one mention too – Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities were recommended by more than one friend. They will not be ruled out as future reading matter, but let’s see how I get acquainted with Our Mutual Friend as the Dickens 200th Anniversary read! ūüėÄ

On a Dickens-related note, and regarding one of his works that I HAVE previously read, I would be interested to know if anyone can tell me exactly how many film and television adaptations of A Christmas Carol have been made by now! I reckon it must be in double figures by now. This Christmas just gone (2011), I watched two different adaptations of it on tv, both on Christmas Eve (which, of course, is the most appropriate day to show it)! Surely that has to be one of his best-known and best-loved works of fiction, and one whose chief protagonist, Scrooge,¬†has entered into popular culture to describe anyone miserly and tight-fisted with their money! (Now, why am I thinking about politicians here? I can’t possibly imagine! lol!)

Anyway, now I’ve done the draw and announced the result, it’s time I settled down in a nice cosy bed and started reading Our Mutual Friend on my Kindle. Until next time, take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • Our Mutual Friend – Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  • A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens


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Filed under Arsehole Politicians, Authors, Books, E-Books & Audiobooks, Literary Issues, My Bookworm History, Television

What The Dickens Should I Read Next?!

Good evening, Bookworms!

It was the best of blogs, it was the worst of blogs! Actually, it’s probably neither, but I hope it’s entertaining and book-related enough, even when I go on one of my rants, as I did last night! However, I do have a clearer purpose to my blogging activity this evening – I have come to request recommendations, as I have already asked on my Waterstone’s group on Facebook, for which Charles Dickens book I should read to celebrate the fact that tomorrow, 7th February 2012, marks 200 years since the author was born! Any recommendations made to me on here and on Facebook will be put into a hat or other suitable vessel and one will be drawn out, unless there is an overwhelming majority recommending one particular novel or another.

I have read some Dickens previously. I have read A Christmas Carol more than once (besides having seen many adaptations of the novella for television every Christmas since I was a fairly young child) and not long ago, about a year or so ago, I read Great Expectations. Not quite sure how that came about really, although it was probably something to do with a wall comment or a discussion on my Facebook group “I’d spend all day in Waterstone’s if I could get away with it!” and I think I’d said that I’d only ever read A Christmas Carol at the time. Not entirely sure which of my FB friends recommended Great Expectations, but I have a feeling it may have been David Hunt. My sister Ellie may also have recommended it as I know¬†she read it at school and enjoyed it. So far, this time, I have received two replies to my current Dickens-related wall post on my book group, with Lizzie Harvey recommending A Tale Of Two Cities and Helen Adams opting for Oliver Twist. Those two are therefore the front-runners, but if any of you amongst my blog readers wish to comment and add your personal Dickens favourites, you are most welcome. In fact, I advise you do so! As they say during wedding ceremonies, speak now or forever hold your peace!

I was actually considering reading David Copperfield. Any thoughts for or against this choice?

Well, that concludes the votes of the Swedish jury! Oops! Sorry! That’s the Eurovision Song Contest! I’ll try again…

Well, that’s just about all we have time for this evening and all that remains is for me to wish you a good night and don’t forget to switch off your sets! Television closedown mode, there, but you may as well turn off your sets anyway as there’s a right load of rubbish on the box these days, isn’t there?! Don’t start me on that or I’ll be off on one like I was last night! I’ll be back, as Arnie would say, with the results of the Joanne’s Bookshelf Dickens Anniversary Book Vote, but until such time I wish you goodnight! Take care & Happy Reading!

Don’t forget to put the cat out (if you have one)

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens
  • Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  • A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  • David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

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A Winter’s Tale (or two…)

Good Evening, Bookworms!

Yes, I know, long time no blog, so I’d better wish you all a Happy New Year. And a Happy Chinese New Year too as we’ve recently let in the Year of the Dragon. Kung Hei Fat Choi! In case anyone needs to know, I’m an Ox as far as Chinese astrology goes, so there you have it! Anyway, on with the blog…

Having not blogged since before Christmas, I thought I’d better have a quick shufty through older blog entries of mine, see if I could get some inspiration for this one. It’s not that I haven’t been reading books, I have, but due to matters at work, it has been very personal reading purely to help myself remain positive during potentially tricky times. I guess, though, to celebrate the re-forming of the Happy Mondays, I ought to continue with Shaun Ryder’s autobiography, Twisting My Melon. Plus, he’s a local lad! (No, not remotely biased, lol!)

I did have a look at an old blog from December 2010 and I was reviewing Read This Next, which was basically a book of book recommendations! In that book, there was mention of a book called The Conscience of a Conservative, which I said, at the time, had to go down as an oxymoron as I didn’t believe the Conservatives could possibly HAVE a conscience! Well, not one in full working order, at any rate! Actually, I didn’t believe anyone on the right-wing of the political spectrum could possibly have one.

However, I feel I may have been too narrow in my criticism in that blog because it is patently obvious that politicians, the whole world over, regardless of party, regardless of left/right wing leanings, are all as bad as one another and none of them can possibly be proper believers of ANY faith! To my mind, it is how you treat others which shows me whether you have any sort of faith or not. You can wear all the symbols you like (a cross, a crescent, a Star of David or any other outward sign of any belief system) and you can witter on in Parliament until the proverbial cows come home about the country you are the government of being a Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc (delete as appropriate) country… BUT if you then carry on like a selfish, avaricious, money-worshipping fatcat, then DON’T expect me to believe that you’re a believer of any sort!

I am fairly certain that ALL faiths have rules regarding how you are supposed to treat your fellow human beings, mostly along the lines of “Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”, this biblical instruction being echoed in Charles Kingsley’s novel, The Water Babies, particularly by having a character in¬†this famous children’s novel¬†named Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby! If politicians treated us as they would like to be treated themselves, they would NOT be treating the rest of us like shit, as they currently do! Therefore, I maintain they cannot currently be genuine people of faith. Not saying they can’t ever be changed, but I fancy it would take something major to cause them to see the error of their ways – perhaps they need some ghosts to visit them, as happens to Ebeneezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol! After all, the eventually-redeemed anti-hero of Dickens’ festive novella is one of the most tight-fisted, money-worshipping fatcats in literature, but thanks to the intervention of 4 ghosts (his ex-business-partner Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet To Come), ol’ Scrooge realises, just in time, that a major change needs to be made for his own good and for everyone else’s!

Does anyone need that much dosh anyway?! Enough to make you and your nearest and dearest comfortable, but beyond that, where people have absolutely bucketloads of “wonga”, for what can they actually require all that much money? As I said in my blog back in 2010, when I first commented on The Conscience of a Conservative, if our world’s politicians had any TRUE understanding of the teachings of any major religion, they would know that having money is a test and brings with it enormous responsibilities! Those who have been blessed with considerable financial fortune are expected to ensure they use it to help those who haven’t been so financially blessed!¬†As this clearly isn’t happening, dare I suggest the ghosts which visited Scrooge should pay a visit or two to some of his modern-day imitators?! I would love nothing more than to see a transformation happen in this day and age, to see some high-profile MP acknowledge that he or she has behaved like a selfish, greedy, moneygrabbing tosser but has realised that he/she cannot continue in that manner.

I am usually a fairly happy bookworm, I want to get on with people as much as possible and don’t really want any cause to have to hate anyone. It disappoints me enormously that I live in a world which has far too many disagreeable arseholes in it, particularly politicians, as they get my back up and cause me to go on a rant, which is not good for me, let alone for anyone else who has to put up with any of my said rants! It destroys my peace and calm and is unhealthy on several fronts, particularly mental well-being. This is partly why I have practically given up reading newspapers! (Well, OK, not local papers, they’re not too bad, but the national ones…. oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…)

As you can probably gather, the main reason for me avoiding papers is to avoid reading about politicians, particularly right-wing ones, thus preventing my blood from boiling! I also often have issues with the back pages of the papers and feel like most papers are prejudiced against the team I love, so again, I avoid reading their negative shit-stirring in order to prevent my blood pressure going through the roof. And what else there is in my country’s national daily papers, alongside the detestable ConDems and ABUs, tends to be “news” of the celebrity gossip variety. Well, when I say “celebrity”, I use the word in its loosest possible sense, of course! As Jim Royle on The Royle Family might put it, “Celebrities My Arse”!¬† Most “celebs” these days aren’t even worthy of the definition, they are in fact infamous rather than famous. They have become well-known for behaving like utter tossers!

What is even worse, and is a damning indictment of the pathetic world we live in today, is that some of these plebs have become “celebrities” because they went on Big Brother or X Factor and made a complete undignified tit of themselves. This then made them famous (infamous, more like) and in the eyes of the media qualified them as a celebrity! This then means that the same said plebs can fetch up on some “celebrity” reality tv show! Hence you get some eejit who gets booted off Crap Factor for snorting drugs, a fact which then renders him “famous” and thus, hey presto, he is now a “celebrity” and entitled to turn up and make a similar arse of himself on any celebrity-based reality tv shows!

Even ACTUAL celebrities, though, can also get on my nerves. OK, if you actually DO have some talent worthy of fame, then you are at least a cut above the rest of today’s idiotic celebrities, but please try and uphold that difference by acting with class and proving you are deserving of your fame. Regular readers of my blog will know I am a football fan and Manchester United season-ticket holder. Die-hard Stretford Ender, in fact. Even so, I will not exempt my own club’s players from criticism if they are fetching up on the front pages of papers! Your job is to deliver the goods on the pitch and NOT get a bad name away from the field of play!

I may have admired many players ON the pitch, but there are very few I can admire for their conduct OFF the pitch! In fact, footballers, I only TRULY admire you if I don’t bloody hear about you other than for footballing reasons! My roll of honour is VERY short! It contains two players. Those two players are Paul Scholes and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Those players did not go out on the town, you didn’t see them getting drunk and/or cavorting with scantily-clad females of the cheap tart variety. Those two players won LOADS of trophies and have medal collections of which many other players the world over would be insanely jealous. And yet, despite all this vast achievement, they were not players to even mention it! They avoided the limelight as much as they possibly could, gave all credit to the manager and their teammates if they ended up as man of the match and had to give an interview, and just wanted to go home to their wives and kids after the game with as little fuss as possible. I wish more players were like Scholes & Solskjaer! My admiration for those two guys is enormous. If only more footballers followed their examples, I might have a longer list of players I could genuinely admire.

Oops! I do seem to have gone on a bit of a rant! Mind you, as I’ve not blogged since December, it’s only fair to do a reasonably-sized blog, isn’t it?! Wouldn’t want to leave you short-changed, lol! Also, I had matters to get off my chest, such as politicians and so-called “celebrities”. Just don’t start me on spammers! Seriously, I really do think there ought to be an 11th Commandment. Thou Shalt Not Spam! The amount of drivel I’ve had to delete from my inbox of late is unbelievable! I don’t want all this crap in my life! All I really want to do is settle down somewhere comfy and read my books in peace!

Oh well, I shall get down off my soapbox now (I can imagine your sighs of relief there) and bring this waffle to a close! Until such a time as I blog (or rant) again, take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • Twisting My Melon – Shaun Ryder
  • Read This Next – Sandra Newman & Howard Mittelmark
  • The Conscience Of A Conservative – Barry Goldwater
  • The Water Babies – Charles Kingsley
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

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Filed under Arsehole Politicians, Autobiography/Biography, Books, Football, Manc Stuff!, Mental Health, Rants, Television