Despite my grumbles about the Hobbit being made into three films instead of one, we did go to see the first of the new trilogy today and enjoyed most of it. I'm assuming that readers of this blog will have read the book so can go on to say that the way they handled the troll scene really irritated me. The whole point of the scene in the book (about the use of wit instead of weapons) was sacrificed in favour of an all-out action sequence, seemingly created by nervous film executives for the attention-span-of-a-gnat generation.
My favourite scene? When Bilbo's hobbit hole was being slowly taken over by strangers and he was trying to make his fury known by repeatedly saying "I'm sorry". That clip should be shown as an instructional video to people emigrating to the United Kingdom.
In other news, Lucy Mangan's columns in the Guardian Weekend magazine are always good but today she really excelled herself with a well observed, poignant column about the luck of the draw:
I consider myself lucky. But, despite all their wealth and security, I suspect our political and business leaders never think that of themselves.Do they never have moments when the weight of their astonishing luck makes them buckle at the knees and fall to the ground in gratitude? I suppose not. It can only be by thinking yourself entirely responsible for your own fortune that you can think of all those who are poorer, less successful or less independent of the state as personally responsible for theirs. Thus they deserve punitive policies and sanctions designed to remedy their immorality and sloth. A moment's honest thought, that's all it takes. I wager that you'll agree, because I wager you have them yourself. It would take an inhuman, almost sociopathic degree of arrogance and lack of imagination not to.
I have often wondered whether most people born into exceptionally lucky circumstances or those who have had the fortune of an unusually lucky break ever stop to think about the ratio of luck versus their own efforts; whether they have narrated their situation internally so that they deserved it, were entitled to it and therefore feel arrogant and protective about it. Many people in positions of power, especially in politics and leadership roles tend to hold "lesser beings" in thinly veiled contempt.
Things like the workfare scheme in the UK have, quite frankly, been a disgrace.
I've been writing for Blogcritics since 2005 and although I haven't had the time to be particularly prolific, it's gratifying to be able to write about the topics I enjoy and review books that look interesting. My latest review, "Creative Illustration" by Andrew Loomis was published today and I'm delighted that it's been selected as an Editor's Pick, too. That's the fourth overall and second one in a row. No pressure, then.
I still colour code things in my diary. A red dot means "travel or out of office". In the last few months I've been in Poole, on Dorset fields, in Finland and in London more than I've been at home or in any kind of stable desk-based environment. My diary looks like it's suffering from a bad case of measles.
Pros: Not boring. As one might be able to work out from the title of this blog, the threat of boredom is my kryptonite. I've become really good at transporting all my "must-have" items to almost anywhere. People who know me always come to me for those plaster, painkiller, spare lipgloss, herbal tea and chocolate emergencies.
Cons: I always manage to take on just a little too much, so something has to give. This blog, for example. Or my attendance at Rushmoor Writers. I seem to be always either packing, unpacking or doing laundry. I have failed to get back into shape because I am either "too busy" or too knackered. Still haven't solved the living-in-my-head problem.
I've just spent the last six days at a wonderful community project, playing something called the Oasis Game. I'll be writing a diary about it this week and pop it over to Blogcritics and here when it's ready. I had the opportunity to spend time with some of the most inspiring, hard-working and loving people in the world, including Saci Lloyd, a local author, Tamsin Omond, a well-known campaigner, our Brazilian, Spanish and Dutch facilitators and many amazing colleagues from Lush.
This experience was definitely unusual for me; I'm not known for campaigning or direct action. Being fairly introverted and wishing to stay behind the scenes has meant that I've not even considered participating in anything like this before. Last week left me feeling more than a little bemused at my own attitude towards direct action. After all, I love doing stuff and doing stuff RIGHT NOW. Nothing frustrates me more than fussy bureaucracy and not being able to act fast once I get an idea. (I just need to learn to accurately assess the time I actually have available. Right now I feel that I haven't got a work-life balance. More of a work-work balance).
In the meantime, Jane Austen fans might be interested in reading about Martin Owton's writer friend's book "The Unexpected Miss Bennett." It took me a bit too long to get the book review out there, but hopefully it will still help unite fans of Austen's work with Patrice Sarath's fiction.
My list of writing committments is not too terrible, apart from the fact that as soon as I tick one item off it, something else appears. It's entirely my own fault for agreeing to or volunteering to do things because they interest me. Just don't expect fast results. I'm doing my best to fit everything in.
I'm back in Poole tomorrow and will get briefed on some new research projects. Next week I'm going to Finland for a few days. Timo and I will stay at his cousin's summer cottage at Nuuksio, then I'll be interviewed for Evita magazine and on Saturday I'll meet my 90-year old great aunt for the first time and finish the day off at my uncle's 75th birthday party. The day after we come back from Finland, I'll be off to Bournemouth for a big Lush meeting.
Look out for the Newham Oasis Game diary here soon.
There have been many library closures in the UK and North America recently. Meanwhile South Korea is opening new ones. What's going on? Are public libraries obsolete? I wrote an article about this topic at Blogcritics and would love it if you took a look and spread the word. I'm not willing to give up on the concept of the library, though I think the current model does need to evolve.
This month I have been mostly smelling of roses and attending festivals. If you're interested in what happened in Turkey during the rose harvest, head on over here - and if you'd like to see my Hipstamatic snapshots from this week's festival, check them out here.
This week I'll be the Guest of Honour at a Korean 'Smelly Concert' - a recreation of London's Carnaby Street with a Lush theme. It would have been a better job for Mark or Simon but the former is on holiday and the latter is on his honeymoon. So off I go to represent the perfumery team!
This seems to be a week full of celebration for many. I'm mostly just thinking about a) how to survive the 12-hour flight (though the flights to Tokyo and back in December went well so I don't know what I'm worrying about) and b) how to survive the Korean food (I will not be eating fermented cabbage, red hot chilli paste, squid, deep-fried larvae or dog).
I've got back-to-back interviews scheduled for three days in a row but I will have a day and a half of free time during which I hope to randomly bumble into some excellent local sights. Either that or go shopping.