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Posted on March 30, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by JayComments Off

TDEDeppCarWe all need to become more aware of the need to reduce pollution, don’t we? And we all know that the UK is a crowded little place with far too many cars on the road, so it would be a Good Thing if we all thought about using public transport as an alternative to getting the old jalopy out, would it not?

With this laudable aim in mind (not to mention that I hate driving long distances) I spent some time looking up trains and coaches for a trip to see my mother, who lives about 100 miles away.

First I tried the trains. I went to the National Rail Enquiries site, which is actually pretty good for planning journeys (although it’s a real pain if you want to actually book a ticket online), and I looked up my journey. Now, a trip to London is roughly the same distance for me as the one to Mum’s place, and it takes me less than an hour from my local station to Kings Cross – so, perhaps naively, I thought hopping on the train to see Mum might be more restful than driving.

The list of journey times for the five trains they offered me ranged from two hours and forty-one minutes to four hours and thirteen minutes and I’d have to change trains at least once. No fun for a middle-aged woman with back and neck problems carrying an overnight bag and an enormous Little Red Riding Hood basket of goodies. However, if I didn’t mind delaying my journey until later in the afternoon, I could get a train with no changes at all, and so I thought ‘to hell with it, I’m staying overnight anyway, I’ll go later’. So I rang to see about booking a seat because there’s no way I’m going to stand for over two hours on a train, and that’s the train everyone’s gonna want, right?

And the very nice lady on the other end of the phone said ‘Sorry, we don’t take reservations for that train’.

Next I thought I’d try National Express coaches. Encouraged by the paragraph on the home page which describes National Express as ‘the most comfortable and reliable coach services in the UK and Europe, offering great value for money and much more’, I put in my journey details and waited for my easy and stress-free travel options to appear.

Six hours and thirty minutes. Wait … what??? SIX HOURS AND THIRTY MINUTES?

Why? Because it goes to London first, and there’s a seventy minute stopover, that’s why. Oh, but the coach does have a toilet on board. Well, thank heavens for small mercies!

But when it comes to a choice between just under two hours door to door in my car, and anywhere between three and seven hours using various forms of public transport involving carrying stuff and finding connections … well, sod that for a game of soldiers.

So, it’s the Beemer and a stack of CDs then. And I’ll be able to listen to Johnny Depp singing to me on the Sweeney Todd soundtrack.

Posted on March 29, 2008 in Johnny Depp by Jay2 Comments »

DMCPicYou know, sometimes – as a committed Depp fan – I’m torn. I want to see all the new pictures as soon as they arrive, but on the other hand, it’s not always in my best interest.

Take for example the upcoming movie Public Enemies. He’s busy shooting this one right now in various locations in the Midwest of America. This movie is reputedly the life story of John Dillinger, about whom I know precious little except that he was one of the Depression era gangsters, and I like it that way because I’m one of those people who hate to know the story before I see the movie. In other words, I hate spoilers.

Naturally, those fans lucky enough to be close to the chosen locations are going along with their mobile phones and their cameras and taking pictures. Many, many pictures. And occasionally, someone on the set itself will sneak one out. Now, here’s my problem – and it’s the studio’s problem too – sometimes, those ‘sneaked off the set’ photos will give something away about the storyline. And I don’t want to know!

So here I am. On my friendly local Johnny Depp forum, I have made it quite clear – to the point of frightening half my friends to death – that I will be seriously pissed if I get to know anything about this movie before I see it.

And now they won’t show me anything much at all!

Oh, I’ve managed to see a few – and he looks as delicious as ever, despite being clean shaven – but I dare not go looking because I might see more than I bargained for.

So, I can’t show you a recent picture.

Dammit!

But so you won’t go away completely disappointed, up there is one I took earlier. At the London premiere for Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man’s Chest.

Posted on March 27, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay4 Comments »

Tragic Life StoriesConsider me appalled. Appalled and saddened.

I went into town today to buy a birthday gift for my mother, and as I wandered aimless and increasingly frantic, as you do on such missions, I passed my local W H Smith – which, in case you don’t know, used to be a newsagent. It’s now more like a bad mix of bookshop, newsagents, stationers, coffee shop, music shop and games emporium for kids of all ages, but it’s with the bookshop part I am concerned right now. And concerned is a bloody good word for what I am.

I thought I might see if there was a book or two my dear old Mum might like, and as I browsed the shelves I came across something which stopped me dead in my tracks.

Imagine, if you will, a section of tall dividing units supporting bookshelves. Now imagine that the two sub-sections of shelving in front of your disbelieving eyes are labelled ‘Tragic Life Stories’. Yes, dear reader, that is indeed the sight which saddened and appalled me this afternoon. I’m notoriously bad at estimating distance, so I took a picture. It’s pretty much the entire content of the picture above, and as you see, it’s crammed with an assortment of paperbacks – 90% of which had titles like ‘Please, Daddy, No!’ and ‘A Cry in the Dark’ and ‘Damaged’. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that these books all spew out, for the entertainment of the reader, the graphic details of abusive childhoods.

What is it with all this? Why do people want to read, over and over again, these nasty little tales? If the covers are to be believed, these are all true stories, but I’m afraid I’m too cynical to believe it. I did read one once, and found myself by turns dismayed, outraged, desperately sympathetic and finally, disgusted. Not disgusted because of the things that happened to the poor child, but disgusted because the tale, whatever its basis in fact, had been exaggerated and sensationalised to the point where it lost credibility. I stopped reading when I found myself thinking for the third time ‘but that child would be dead if that had really happened!’ And yes, I do have some medical experience, so it’s not just ‘turning a blind eye’ or trying to make myself feel better.

I don’t doubt that some of the books are indeed true accounts. I don’t even doubt that some of the things in the dramatised/fictional accounts are true. I don’t doubt that it is cathartic to write about it if you are a victim of such abominations, but that is not why those books are there, or why the section is so large. No, the only reason those books are there is to cater for a voyeuristic public interest in reading the sordid details. And that is what I find most disturbing. It says something about society, don’t you think?

The other 10%, by the way, were ‘adult interest’ Tragic Life Stories. For example, there was a whole little series of ‘Belle de Jour, the Adventures of a London Call Girl’. Top shelf stuff that. I couldn’t even reach it.

And no, I didn’t buy one for Mum.

Posted on March 23, 2008 in Life, the Universe and Everything by JayComments Off

HelleboresBank Holiday weekend… what does that conjure up for you? Nose to tail traffic jams? People stocking up as if for a siege at the local Sainsbury’s? Or maybe lazing around on a sun lounger in the garden with your favourite book?

Well, if you were looking for the first two, you might not have been disappointed this Easter, but the third? Dream on! I woke this morning to the blinding white of the early light reflecting off snow, which was coming down thick and fast. So fast that I let the first dog out, and she came back as fast as her Princessy little legs would carry her, and by the time the second dog went out, the Princess footprints had pretty much faded to mere dents. I think she levitated.

So, okay, it didn’t last long. By lunchtime most of the white stuff had melted and in the early afternoon we walked the little doggies in the park where I took that photograph of hellebores which you see at the top here. Pretty, ain’t they? I hope they’re also tough, because by teatime the white stuff was back in the form of driving hail which took the heads clean off four of my barely opened daffodils.