Sunday, 30 October 2011

It's Britney, Bitch

This week, a childhood dream was realised. I saw Britney Spears in concert. Oh, yes, I am that cool.

It was her "Femme Fatale" tour, and we'd have preferred a greatest hits tour, to be honest, but it was still brilliant, and she did as many old songs as new ones. Okay, I don't know that for certain in terms of exact numbers, but I wasn't bored listening to dozens of tracks I didn't know. It was funny, though, that her cover of Rihanna's "S&M" got the best reaction any song had had by that point.

And thanks to Imogen McCarthy for these photos - I left my camera in Winchester!

Monday, 17 October 2011

What began as a really interesting post about writing became...

...something else entirely.

So, I was thinking - oh, I don't know, twenty seconds ago? - that it was about time I did a post about writing, since that's the actual point of this blog and I'm actually quite bored but can't go to bed yet because if I do I'll get eleven hours sleep and be therefore unable to function in the morning. (Nobody tell me I could get up earlier, it's just not going to happen).

There was a slight flaw to this plan, however. This week, my laptop died. It's very sad, because it was a beautiful laptop and just perfect in every way, so I'm using a stealthily-acquired laptop instead to write this. Okay, I borrowed my mum's, but stealthily-acquired just sounds so much more interesting. I had a point. Oh, yes, my list of writing topics that I wanted to write about and some of the stuff I was going to say about them are on my other laptop. Problem.

They're also on my back-up drive, (yes, I have a back-up drive and yes, I keep it in a super safe place because I'm that paranoid) but that would require me to get up and I'm not sure I want to leave the warmth of my duvet and venture across the icy room.

So, instead of a brilliant and interesting and thought-provoking blog post about writing (one day I'll actually manage one of those) how about an excerpt from something I've been working on instead? Now, be warned, this is a very first draft so be constructive rather than just flat out rude, okay?

. . .

The music pounded, the bright lights pulsed, the air in the packed auditorium was thick with excitement. It was almost time for the show of the year. The anticipation surrounding it had built to an astonishing level since it had been announced just two weeks before. The whole world was watching. There were cameras everywhere, already broadcasting images of the rich and famous to the rest of the world. Models, designers, actors and musicians, as well as anyone else who had managed to get their hands on a ticket to the most prestigious event of the year.

The music changed suddenly, the pulsing lights now static, waiting. All eyes were on the catwalk. All around the world, waiting. She appeared, stepping out of the bright white light, dressed all in black. It swirled around her as she walked, her long chestnut hair spilling over one shoulder, her famous smile in place. It wasn’t the cold, forced smile of most models; her dark eyes glimmered as though she was laughing. She reached the end of the catwalk and stood for a moment, all eyes on her, enraptured. The music as loud, too loud. Loud enough to mask the gunshot. She fell backwards, the smile not quite gone from her face. Confusion. Was it a stunt? Was it a part of the show? And then they saw the blood. And then the screaming started. The cameras kept rolling, broadcasting every moment to the world as panic took over. Tears and blood and screams. And Dana. Lying on the catwalk. Surrounded by people but completely alone. Dana. Dead.

Monday, 10 October 2011


A week ago today, I went to see "Crazy. Stupid. Love." starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Julianne Moore, Steve Carell and a bunch of people you've almost definitely never heard of. From the trailers, I guess I was expecting a slightly more grown-up rom-com, and I was prepared to go and see it even though it had Steve Carell in it.

Basically, Julianne Moore slept with Kevin Bacon and now wants a divorce from Steve Carell. He is, naturally, rather depressed about this, and starts spending a bunch of time at the bar where Ryan Gosling goes to pick up women. Sick of hearing Carell whine about his wife, he decides he's going to help him fix his life. Cue a makeover and a master class in picking up women. I know it probably sounds dire, but it's very entertaining and then...well, I don't want to tell you the rest and spoil it for you.

I was pleasantly surprised, though. It was much better than I thought it would be. It was funny and at times genuinely moving (I saw it late at night, so exhaustion may have played a part with the latter) and pretty much anything you could want from a film. There's even a sort-of car chase and sort-of fight scene.

If I had one complaint, it would be that it's a tiny bit long, but I'm not sure what could be cut in order to fix that. And there was a part when Carell wonders why Gosling is helping him sort his life out, and it occurred to me that he'd been in the same position and that someone had helped him through it, and he was now paying it forward, but that didn't happen. And I was glad. It was too obvious, too cliche, and the film actually manages not to stray into cliche territory.

So, to sum up, go and see it. It's really good, and if you weren't that impressed by the trailer and absolutely loathe Steve Carell (like me) you should try to see it anyway. It's worth it.

30 Days of Books Meme (Part 5)

At least, I think this is part five. Oh, well. So, in case you've forgotten or you're new, I'm doing the 30 Days of Books Meme but cheating and doing it in instalments of three because I can. I'm not sure, however, that I can spell instalments. Is it one L or two? Anyway, for full details of the Meme, click the tab-y thing-y on the right.

Day 13 - Your favourite writer
This was not a tricky one. It simply has to go to Neil Gaiman. I'm sure you're all sick of hearing me talk about him, but I don't care. Buy his books. They're exciting, intriguing, interesting, funny, moving and about a hundred other things, but most of all, they're beautifully written. Unfortunately, they're all at home in Reading and I'm at uni in Winchester, otherwise I'd sit here and quote some passages to you to prove my point. As it is, you'll just have to take my word for it and go buy his books. I would particularly recommend, to anyone who has a basic knowledge of London...

Day 14 - Your favourite book by your favourite writer
"Neverwhere" follows Richard Mayhew, a stunningly average guy who helps a girl named Door and then finds himself disappearing from our world. He falls through the cracks and discovers a whole world in the city that he has never noticed before.

It's a fascinating read, a sort of adventure/quest story but with more depth than you might expect, fascinating characters and it's bursting with humour. I actually laughed out loud at it. A lot. If you don't know London, specifically the tube lines and stations, parts of it won't mean much to you, but I don't think it would detract too much from your enjoyment of it. To be honest, Croup and Vandemar are so brilliant that you might not even notice the references passing you by.

It was difficult to choose between this book and "Stardust," (he's written loads of other great books, but those two are definitely my favourites) but "Neverwhere" wins because it's a fair bit longer than "Stardust," meaning there's more to enjoy. (Don't let that put you off, "Stardust" is really, really short).

Day 15 - Favourite male character
I don't know why I said that in a pirate-y way (in my head at least) because the character isn't a pirate at all. As far as I know.

You've probably noticed my love for Harry Potter, I might've mentioned it once or twice, but the hero isn't my favourite character. Heroes are boring. In fact, my favourite character from the series has always been Severus Snape. I always thought there was more to him than just disliking Harry, who, let's face it, was pretty annoying at times. And then in Deathly Hallows, I was rewarded with what is possibly my favourite chapter ever written. Okay, that's a broad claim, one that I can't really back up, but he's a fascinating character. I'll be honest, I always find villains much more interesting than heroes. Harry was good because he was. Voldemort was evil because he was. Snape, on the other hand, was much more complicated than either of them, and I love that. I like a good, complicated character. Flawed characters are much better than perfect ones, I love it when a writer has a character do something that is completely unexpected, but at the same time stays true to the character. And Snape, well, Snape's pretty awesome, really.

Hey, look at that, no spoilers.