Wednesday, November 21

Data Girl... saviour of data rooms everywhere

When I think of Jon Pickup I generally feel pretty sick.

As my old Classics classmate, I was sickened to my stomach by his superior vocabulary skills and plethora of natural talents. He is one of those annoying guys who seem to be able to do everything. He can draw, he can write, he can play and compose music, he is very intelligent and probably has read more books than me. To top it all off, during lessons, he had the audacity to, correctly, challenge my (mis)use of vocabulary.

Like I say, he makes me sick.

So…… the reason why I am here, talking about Jon, is that this guy holds the key to me achieving one of my '101 things to do before I die' (for the uninitiated - see

He could be that hero.

Back in the old days of Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School to where I once went, Jon was inspired by his sixth form Latin and Classics class chums, to create comic strips to chart the shenanigans of the classroom. One was based upon Star Trek and the other, James Bond (aptly titled James Blond after Max Wilde, the 'Sun-in' blonde school-boy who was to play the title role).

Jon, in his omniscience, mainly used me as his villain in these creations from what I recall. Apparently I had the requisite authoritarian nature to fill the roles. As the Blond villain my mandate was to rule the world with a social reform that consisted of banning all burping, spitting and farting, insisting upon all woman wearing corsets and dresses and enforcing the rule that men must open doors for women and pull out their chairs. (Fair enough I think.) In his 'The Agamemnon' parody, I took the role of Clytemnestra. In Jon's estimation, audience sympathy for Agamemnon was assured given that the hero of the Trojan war was forced to return to a loud-mouthed, dictatorial and nagging wife who felt she could rule Argos better than he. (She probably could.)

Anyway, despite taking on the role as Blond villainess in the comic strip, I was highly disappointed never to be caricatured by Jon. All you ever saw of my evil persona was the back of my head. (But what a pretty head it was)

Over ten years on, now has come the opportunity for Jon to revisit my role in the comic world by helping to create my comic-book alter ego. I would like him to draw me AS A SUPER HEROINE.

The initial inspiration for my super heroine alter ego is based upon a pseudonym I gave myself as work based upon the unseemly amount of disclosure and data room creation I do.

Need a data room creating faster than lightning?
Need your documents organising, identifying, titling and redacting with the speed of a bullet?
Want some more info on that pesky asbestos issue?
Fear not o'Partner…call Barbosa aka. DATA GIRL.

Yes, that's me. Data Girl. Only problem is, and this is a self-deception I have previously identified….. I am no longer a girl. I am… 'a woman'.

'Data Woman'. There was Superwoman and Wonder Woman so why not Data Woman?

Thing is, it just doesn't sit right. I don't like it. It's not snappy like 'Data Girl'. I thought about simply 'Data' in the kind of X-Men tradition of naming superheroes. Give them a single name - make them more approachable - the People's Superheroes. I like it - 'Data' - but there is of course a 'Data' in Star Trek and so that's a real problem. The name lack uniqueness and could be easily confused in the minds of sci-fi geeks.

And so I'm calling upon the plethora of readers of this blog to come up with alternative suggestions.

I'm not going to outline the full extent of my powers and persona here but in order to think of names, you'll need at least something to go on. So here it is:

DATA……Data is information. Information is knowledge. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is in books. Books should be read at lightning speed by a super reader. A super reader would be super-powerful from their super -intelligence. Super-intelligence at a super-speed….
Have an enemy who is a martial arts expert? Give Data Girl a raft of martial arts books to read at lightning speed and, hey presto, she knows every martial arts move ever written about.
Got a nasty, little complex bomb to deactivate? No problem. Data Girl has read every tome in the British Library on bombs. She knows how to dispose of it in the most efficient and effective way.
Need a war strategy? No problem. Data Girl knows the Art of War like the back of her hand.

You seeing it?

So there's the brief for Data Girl and her powers of the mind.

All name suggestions much appreciated.

Data Girl…… Where did she come from? Who is her arch enemy? What are the full extent of Data Girl powers? What is her superhero costume? What be her weapons? Find out… same time, same place…

Monday, November 19

Three further

OK, so I could have deleted out three of my current 101, create a 104 list or just add them here.

Deletion of three would mean new additions may go unnoticed by my profusion of readers; I don't like the number 104...... so the new three will just get added here.

Be a gangster's wife.
Be an art thief.
Serve on an MI6 mission.

Thursday, November 15

101 things to do before I die

So yesterday, being quiet at work, I spent some time mooching around links from friend's blogs and came across this site

I love making a list as much as the next man (or woman) so inspired by the blog, decided to while away my non-chargeables by constructing my own '101 things to do before I die' list.

It's highly idealistic - I have not limited my goals by realism or achievability in any way.
Feel free to add any list you care to make to the comments section. I'd love to read them.

Live in Calcutta
Start an animal sanctuary in Africa
Meet my soul mate
Weigh eight and three quarters of a stone (as an adult)
Contribute towards the survival of the Mountain Gorilla
Meet Johnny Depp
Write a best-selling and critically acclaimed book
Meet an alien life form
Back-pack around the world for two years
Stand as a Green Party Member of Parliament
Learn at least one non-native language fluently
Understand and remember the theory of relativity
See the inside of the Sistine Chapel
Be surprised by the man I love by a silver service dinner on a cliff side/beach side position and a waiter to serve us.
Go to a masquerade ball at the Venice Carnival
Meet a mountain gorilla
Buy my Mum a house abroad
Buy a house in Tuscany
Drink a bottle of wine that costs over £500
Be a classics scholar
Enter a tango competition
Run an independent book shop
Go to the Hay-on-Wye book festival
Own a cottage in the country with an open fireplace
Work for the United Nations Human Rights Commission
Go to Glastonbury Festival
Become an adept skier
Own a horse
Meet the Dalai Lama
Witness China's withdrawal from Tibet
Learn to recite fifty of my favourite poems
Learn Sanskrit
Be in a Bollywood movie
Go skinny-dipping in my own pool at midnight
Paint a picture that's competent enough to hang above my fireplace
Buy a golden retriever
Go on an African safari
Develop a successful eco-business
Establish a human rights precedent
Go on holiday with my siblings and cousins
Be written as a character in a novel
Spend £1000 on Rigby and Peller lingerie
Invest in the stockmarket
Bake my own bread
Read the Oxford English dictionary front to back
Grow a cottage garden that has a stream running through it
Inspire someone to something wonderful
Learn to play the violin
Be described as 'diplomatic'
Join the Northern Ballet Company
Do a PhD
Solve a crime
Stand at the window of a traditional Parisian apartment with a wooden easel and stand and paint Roll in a field of daisies
Walk unafraid through a woodland at night-time
Camp in the rainforest
Live in Lisbon again
Dye my hair peroxide blonde and wear it with Marcel waves
Find an abandoned bag of puppies and give them a happy life
Learn how to do The Times Cryptic crossword
Have an article published in The Independent
Swim holding on the fin of a dolphin
Become a vegan
Make a chocolate soufflé
Volunteer with Medicin Sans Frontier
Learn the art of Burlesque
Own an LPG engine Nissan Figaro
Cry with happiness
Get jiggy in a library
Visit every country in the world
Have dinner with Bill Clinton, Shami Chakrabati, Michael Moore and George W Bush
Have tea and cake with Alan Bennett
Have a picnic in the grounds of a ruined castle
Star in a musical
Fly first class from London to New York
Work at the Virunga Mountain Research facility
Eat at a three-star Michelin restaurant
Own an Italian vineyard
Create and draw my comic book superhero alter-ego
Wear a white and gold sari to an Indian wedding
Find a dead body
See England win the World Cup
See my critically acclaimed book be converted into a film
Get jiggy in a lift
Win Pro-Bono Lawyer of the Year
Be able to identify all countries of the world on a blanked-out globe
Have a party attended by every single one of my friends
Meet a talking animal
End the fur trade
Become a makeup artist
Design my own range of corsets and lingerie
Spend a night in a museum
Develop and apply my own employee policy
Open a vintage clothes shop
Attend an open air opera in Venice or Verona
Learn how to fence
Be in Strictly Come Dancing with Brendan as my teacher
Live in a hippy eco-commune for three months
Stay a night at the Ritz
Find a treasure map

Have my own library

Wednesday, November 14

Head over heels update

Trips have been quite low on the ground this week. I suffered one yesterday and one the day before that. Monday's imbalance occurence was a highly dangerous and potentially fatal one, however, and falls into the category of imbalance I call

The Down Stairs Heel-propeller

This is my most feared imbalance. Not only is it rationally the most dangerous but also I have a long-standing phobia of stairs. Stairs will end my life. Stairs are how I will pass.

When I am old and more imbalanced than I currently am, I will fall down a case of metal stairs and hit my head on the bottom stair and die.

I can't recall when this came to me but I know it for sure. Thus the reason for my phobia. (Which happens to be the opposite of my Mum's. She has a phobia of lifts and takes the stairs.)

So, on this particular occassion, I was approaching the METAL stair case that leads down from Darwen train platform to the car park, a stairwell I have to face daily. On about the fourth or fifth step, I did not outstretch my foot enough when passing from one stair to another.... the back of my heel nipped the front of the passing stair and I was propelled forwards treacherously. Fortunately, the treachery was only momentary and I managed to regain my balance. My heart raced but I was fine. I was alive.

The Sidewards Swoon

This is the imbalance most directly descended from my weak ankle genes. The Down Stairs Heel-propeller has nothing to do with ankle/weakness and more to do with a lack of foot/eye coordination on my part (I will return to the subject of this equally worrying and potentially fatal infirmity at a later date)

So I was walking down Manchester's pavements, minding my own business and I came to pass over the bumpy, red concrete slabs that adorn the ends of our pavements for the benefit of the sight-deficient. If you imagine my ankles as personas akin to that of Mrs Bennett, then you will understand that the slightest divergence from the norm is likely to result in fits of faintness. And so it was this Tuesday afternoon. My ankle, finding the red bumps a little too offbeat, responded by simply passing out. It decided instead to lie down there on the pavement and thus collapsed itself sidewards to meet the street.

Fortunately, I managed to remain upright. Which does not always happen. No, on this occasion I stumbled, I called out to the Lord in pain, but I prevailed perpendicular. It was of course the right ankle. It's always the right ankle. It's also always this unnatural 90 degree bending motion that is the imbalance that most often results in a swollen ankle. It is my most frequent imbalance.

(A thought has just occurred to me, perhaps I should dab my feet with smelling salts each morning in an attempt to ward-off any inclination to swooning.)

Monday, November 5

Head over heels

No, I'm not talking about love...... I'm talking about a far more physical phenomenon, a phenomenon I experience daily.

To expand, it is, I suppose, more of a physical instability. A musculoskeletal frailty. I entitle it a 'phenomenon' as bizarrely both myself and my younger sister are subject to it. Not so Caroline though. Caroline, the eldest, has always been the more level-headed and balanced of the lot of us. On this issue, it is no different.

Amanda and I seem (unlike the majority of people above toddler-age and below decrepitude) unable to remain upright for unbroken periods of time. We are prone to, literally, falling head over heels, on an alarmingly regular basis. I'd say I that on average, twice a day I will experience some form of slip or trip or tumble or fall or totter or nose-dive. The most i have experienced in a 24 hour hour (sober) period is four 'imbalance occurrences'.

My former-partner made much of the fact that I am perennially found in a pair of (de minimis) two inch high heels and was constantly heard to wail 'Naaaaddderlie, buy some sensible shoes' 'Hon, you can't go out in thoooose'. And then, when I fell, he would just look at me and shake his head and often (and this KILLED me...or made me want to kill him) say 'See, I TOLD you not to wear those shoes'. I would rejoin with the same argument I will outline here:-

It is NOT my shoes. Ever since I was little, I have had 'weak' ankles and wrists..... when I was FIVE, my Uncle dislocated my wrists by merely picking me up by them. When I was SEVEN, Mum dislocated my wrists by PULLING MY COAT OFF (elasticated wrist bands). It's NOT my shoes.... I have a physical impairment. (note Amanda did not suffer from this dislocation - just me - I am more severe than her i.e. I need more sympathy).

Anyway, the whole point of me detailing this to you is because from today onwards I plan, merely for my own amusement and interest, to diarise in this blog my daily imbalance occurrences along with an in-depth description of the specific 'imbalance-type' and apparent cause.

I will note at the outset that my right ankle has been in a constant state of inflamation since one especially bad stumble some four months ago. It has never healed properly and I doubt it ever will. I think I am terminally injured. I therefore anticipate the majority of injuries to be sustained in the right ankle and to compound my terminal injury.

For your information, said imbalance occurred in a wholely sober state. I was, coincidentally, wearing my wardrobe's highest heels.

Tuesday, October 23

Am I wrong?

I have just received through my inbox news of large wildfires in Southern California and the subsequent evacuation of peoples from the surrounding areas.

My question is this: is it wrong that my immediate thought on reading this news was:

'It's good this has happened to America. The more natural disasters that happen to them, the more the current administration is likely the change its environmental policies/lack of them'

I suppose the real issue is how far can the American people be blamed for the actions or omissions of its administration and be fairly punished for them. Especially this is pertinent in light of the fact that Bush did not legally accede to the presidency. I was going to say that I don't feel the need to apologise for Tony Blair's policy decisions but I suppose that's not true. I do often defend myself when speaking to foreigner about the war in Iraq or the war on terror and am at pains to ensure that I am not understood to be pro-war in any sense and clearly distance myself from the attitude of the government.

I think this reveals more, however, that I understand that often citizens are wrongly allied with their leaders choices and policies by on-looking states and I am thus aware of the need to combat this presumption. Perhaps a better question would be whether I feel responsible for Tony Blair's decision and simply, I don't. I didn't vote for the man and I have taken pro-active measures to voice my objections.Secondly, if I accept that perhaps my response was prejudicial and unfair, can it be defended anyway? Is it preferable, ignoring any sense of retributive justice, for environmental disasters to hit America as opposed to any other nation state? Certainly, it has the economy to withstand the hit more than any other country and certainly its leaders do need a lesson in planetary humility. And whether or not the American people support US environmental policy, each individual US citizen consumes more than any other state-citizen, whether that be food, fuel or materials. Surely it is fair that a modestly impacting nation such as say, Uganda or the Netherlands, is only modestly impacted by environmental disaster whereas a excessively impacting nation, such as the U.S or China, bear the majority of such disasters.

This seems as basic and logical a premise of justice as even a child could grasp. It's the basis on which every modern legal system is based. The more serious the impact of the offence on society/the individual, the higher the punitive response.

Monday, October 8

Woe is me?

Today I am blighted with despair and ennui.

In an attempt to lift the ennui, I will attempt to dramatically and metaphorically convey said despair…..

I am a pebble pressed down by the carriage of life.
I am a helpless ant drowning in a sea of troubles.
I am splodge of soot upon the world's blackened brow.
I am Atlas struggling beneath the burden of the globe.

Truly…..this is not a auspicious start to the week.

I felt happy at about 1.53pm when I saw one of my colleagues wearing a yellow tie. And then there was the moment when I realised BOTH options on the canteen menu were vegetarian. Fool's hope! Our canteen food is shite, whatever the dish.

So that's it really, that has been my happiness quota for the day.

Maybe pondering on my forthcoming Death will cheer me up……..

Friday, October 5

Poets, poetry and a poem

I've been reading quite a few books of poetry recently and am attending several poetry events over the next week or so (organised as part of the Manchester Literature festival) One of the poets I am going to hear is my long-time favourite - Carol Ann Duffy. I was first introduced to her in sixth form A-level class with 'Standing Female Nude', she has been my undisputed poetry heroine ever since.

Sadly, she will not be reading selection from her love poems collections - which are by far the works of her that I enjoy the most. (Love, passion and death are the subjects that in all poets I enjoy the most in fact). Instead Ms Duffy will be reading from her children's collections, including her latest book, The Hat. I haven't read any of her children's work, so despite being disappointed not to hear some old favourites, I will at least get the joy of hearing some new stuff from the lady herself. I've re-produced below my favourite poem from her book 'Rapture' which collection deals with love - from its conception to its death.

You - Carole Ann Duffy

Univited, the thought of you stayed too late in my head,
so I went to bed, dreaming you hard, hard, woke with your name,
like tears, soft, salt, on my lips, the sound of bright syllables
like a charm, like a spell.

Falling in love
is glamorous hell; the crouched, parched heart
like a tiger ready to kill; a flame's fierce licks under the skin.
Into my life, larger than life, beautiful, you strolled in.

I hid in my ordinary days, in the long grass of routine,
in my camouflage rooms. You sprawled in my gaze,
staring back from anyone's face, form the shape of a cloud,
from the pining, earth-struck moon which gapes at me

as I open the bedroom door. The curtains stir. There you are
on the bed, like a gift, like a touchable dream.

Saturday, September 8

The Evil Peacock

I am scared of peacocks.

I was reminded of this fact when I saw a heron on the side of the motorway today.

Herons share with peacocks the characteristics that I think forms the basis of my peacock fear - the beady eyes and tiny head in comparison body size. It is wrong. And the little head of the peacock with the black beady eyes flits around in an unpredictable, angular manner. And as if one pair of beady eyes isn't enough, it can open its tail and stare at you with ten more pairs of black eyes.

It looks like it is thinking sly thoughts too. It looks like a crafty, evil bird with its pea-head and tiny brain. I don't like it at all at all.

Look at it....

How scared would you be if you woke up to find that peering down at you one night???

Oh evil, unnatural bird, begone with you.

Wednesday, September 5

Oh what to do???

Am in a quandary.

I have for some time had the most ardent desire to go and visit the Mountain Gorillas in the Virunga Mountains. I was doing some research today for a presentation on Dian Fossey I am doing (don't ask why - it's rather geeky and I don't want to destroy the 'cool' persona I have drawn around myself over these many years) and my attention was drawn to a topic that Dian spent many years debating with her peers.

Fossey was a campaigner for (and arguably the promulgator of) 'active conservationism'. Active conservationism espouses directly participatory methodologies such as, anti-poaching patrols, boundary enforcement and the active preservation of natural habitat. This theory posits itself against 'theorectical conservationism' which seeks to protect wildlife through the promotion of tourism and promotes a more spectatorial role from the conservationist with respect to the wildlife and their habitat. (Yes. I made up 'spectatorial' in case you are wondering but it should exist as I can't find a nicer sounding synoynym for 'passive/hands off' ...... inert? phlegmatic? Don't like either)

Given that Fossey is my absolute heroine and I know of no-one who understood more what was needed to rescue these animals from present-extinction, I am loathe, to say the least, the pursue the very kind of activity that she was so vehemently opposed to.

A quick look at the fatality figures for the gorilla population quickly supports Dian's argument that not only is gorilla-tourism morally dubious (are animals there for the entertainment of mankind?) but actively harms the gorillas themselves. In 2005, eight gorillas died from tourist contracted diseases (e.g. measles)

I would be horrified to think that my love of these animals actually harmed them and brought about the very opposite circumstance that I was ultimately seeking to acheive through my visit(I was intending on making links with a view to establishing a small gorilla charity in the UK).

Thus today (or rather, now, as I write this) I have come to the terribly sad conclusion that I should forego my trip to trek them in the Virungas and accept that I should never see these creatures I am so passionate about in their natural habitat.

The best thing I and to promote their welfare is to leave them well alone and support them through other means available.


Thursday, August 23

The 'D' word

Ok. So tonight, in order to cheer myself up after a night at work until TEN O'CLOCK I would like to talk about the 'D' word.....


I normally rein in my proclivity for discussing this subject with all but my oldest and closest friends who kindly 'indulge' me as I am aware from years of experience that as soon as I open up the 'D'iscussion, most people explode with 'Oh God, Natalie. Stop being so bloody morbid... JESUS!'... or something along those lines anyway. Because speaking of death is apparently morbid. Most people I have come across think seem to think so anyway and immediately because of this 'morbidity' close the shutters on any conversation on the topic.

I find this frustrating, a wee bit bizarre and strangely amusing. It seems so incongruous. We all all going to die. We are all "marching towards" at all points in our life. Life is a progresion towards death. There is very few things so certain in life as death. Or change that. There is NOTHING so certain in life as death.

If this thing or state of being, if you can call it that, is something that so profoundly touches all of us - why don't we discuss it. It's at minimum the one fact we can all agree on and own a common interest in.

I understand the fear factor, Christ. I'm petrified of It. Samuel Beckett encapsulated my personal fear of the reality of death to a tea...

``Instead of zero it may be some ghastly hallucination, such as the square root of minus one.''

But that's just me :)

With all fears, at least, so the shrinks would have us believe, the only way to deny it of its power is to face it. If we all discussed It more freely and with the truthfulness that you can't deny It, It could seem less... well... petrifying.

I think, the closer you get to death, the more willing you seem to be to talk about it. You hear old people lamenting their death and discussing their wills etc. with sense of almost glee sometimes. I wonder if it's a relief at finally being able to approach the subject. Maybe this reveals that what people are really doing is living in a state of denial for the majority of their years. Denying that they are going to die and it's only as you get older that the reality of it simply can't be avoided or you begin to embrace the freedom that acknowledging It can bring. I must say, I do think there are huge benefits to be had from reminding oneself that you are going to die on a quite regualar basis. Sincerely! It reminds me to be happy and joyous and to become aware of my existence. You can only appreciate life if you are conscious of your own existence within it.

It's all too easy to trudge through town on a grey rain day, bemoaning the dull sky and the cold and wetness. Next time you are doing this, try remembering that one day you won't be around to experience the cold and the rain. You remember that right now, you are alive! Then the rain becomes something to enjoy. So what if the sky is grey, it's the "o'er hanging firmament" that is our constant companion through life. In these moods I actually put my umbrella DOWN, slow my walk, HOPE the maximum amount of rain hits my face and delight in the wetter I get. If I arrive piss-wet through back at the office, I'm pretty chuffed. I aim for the biggest puddles I can find and jump in them. It's so liberating and infantile and FUN and this kind of random, uninititiated joy from the mundane can so simply be brought about by mulling on the frailty of our being and the short span we have alive.

(As a general rule actually, I find people far to averse to rain. It was in India that I discovered the only way to respond to rain is to revel in a down pour. In Indian monsoon season, you can't escape from the rain no matter what you do or how many umbrellas you carry - it comes UP as well as down.... the only option was to greet it and get about your business alongside it. It's far more relaxing to uncover yourself, hold your head up into it and have foolish fun than bury your head in the pavement, shrug your shoulders and hurry scowled-faced back to the office. You can be sure you'll arrive in the office with a laugh on your lips.)

Friday, July 27

A considered appraisal on 'Why baths are SHIT'

I have, of course, the greatest respect for Sylvia Plath. Anyone obsessed with death, alienation and self-destruction has to earn my vote. BUT I have to say - Sylvia, you got in completely wrong in believing,

There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won't cure, but I don't know many of them.

On the contrary, there are few things in my mind that are not worsened by taking a bath.

It all started when I moved into my current abode.
Until then, like the rest of my kin, I was a confirmed shower girl. For me, the second best part of staying in a hotel is the mammoth jet-stream power showers I get to play in.

It was thus with great remorse that I took my first shower in my first home-owned property to discover I had a system built in the seventies and never subsequently updated. The large showerhead that had caught my eye upon viewing the property belied the meek trickle of water it produced.

As I have already expressed within this blog, mornings are not the best part of my day; I have also expressed the daily trauma of temperature change occurring when decamping from my bed. A trauma for a sleepy, cold, naked body that can only be exacerbated by a urinating showerhead. In the very first day under that shower head, I made my decision.

The shower is out, the bath must come in.

And so it was.... my daily cleansing routine became thus:

Morning wake up call. Stumble out of bed. Put on warm clothing. Stomp to bathroom. Stick head over bath. Wash hair with pissy showerhead.
Finish work. Arrive home. Do random stuff. Get in bath. hate bath. Fume in bath. Get increasingly irate in bath. Get out of bath seething. Stomp downstairs.

So why the anger?

Well, for me a simple bath is simply a half hour of hot boredom. For those who think a bath is meditative, I pose this scenario as the pure, 'asthetic' bath experience:

You sit in it. It's hot. The steam rises. It makes you sweat. You have nothing to do. You look at a wall. You wait. Your skin starts wrinkling. You wait. You stare at the wall. You notice the grouting needs redoing. You wait some more. You stare at another wall. You stare at the ceiling. You sigh. You count to one hundred. You get out.

This is the 'pure' bath experience and I can't stand it. It bores the shit out of me quite frankly.

And so, to alleviate my boredom, I transform the bathroom each night into a ghetto of activity. I spend a full thrity minutes preparing the battleground.

First: Large glass of wine (must be very cold to counteract the heat of the water)
Second: Book. For obvious reasons - diversion.
Third: Thesaurus. Often the thesaurus is the book choice itself, I only ever read a thesaurus in the bath for some reason, but in any event, it is required in case I come across a word in a book I don't know.
Fourth: Candles. These are optional. The option is - do I feel arsed locating and lighting them.
Fifth. Music. Again - a diversion and mood enhancer. Again, the music is optional depending on if I can be arsed setting up the extension lead.
Fifth: Blackberry.Facebook I mostly check this every ten minutes in between pages.
Sixth: Phone.

So, the bath is full, the accoutrements in place. I get in. I jump out immediately and swear.

I've never yet figured out if it's just me or if everyone finds that the part of their anatomy most sensitive to heat is the leg below the knee. This is certainly the case for me for whilst the rest of my body can happily accept a warm bath, whenever I step in it, my legs go bright red and I feel my skin begin to melt away.

It is a problem. I obviously can't dive in. I can't suspend myself from the ceiling so all parts of the body barr the highly-strung lower legs don't get wounded. I have no choice but to grit my teeth and literally SCREAM as my legs enter the water and wait until they calm the hell down and accustom to the temperature. As I say, my back is fine, my arse is fine, my arms, head, stomach and every other part of my body is A-OK with the water. It's just the lowe legs. WHY????? I just DON'T get it.

So. A couple of minutes pass. I realise it's too hot. I'm sweating, I hate sweating, it's unseemly. I empty some of the bath and refill it with cold.
I realise I'm now too cold.
I add hot. The hot creeps from one side of the bath so my bum is cold and my feet are being scorched again.
I add cold. I add hot.

This farce goes on for about a good five minutes until I give up....usually on the side of too cold.

Accepting the temperature will provide me no joy, I turn to my trusty book.But hang on,I have got my hands wet, I need to turn the page. I can't as this will defile a page.

Inevitably, the only prop I do not have is a towel. So now I have to reluctantly get out of the bath, dripping water everywhere as I go in search of a towel.

I find one. I traipse back to the bath. I get back in, dry hands and turn page.

I get ready to relax. Do I relax lying down or relax sat up? I never know whether to sit in sitting position with book in front or lie back with book above face. Latter is more relaxing but wets hair, former keeps hair dry but not relaxing.

I swop between both, uncertain, curtailing my 'relaxation' to five minutes spurts. Somehow my hand gets wet again and I need to turn the page. Bring back the towel.

And so it goes on.

Twenty five minutes later I stand, light-headed from the heat and slop onto the floor. I face a good ten minutes of putting things back in their place and allowing my skin to return to it's happt temperature before seeking the solace of a cool bed to lie on whilst I try to recover my zen.

Friday, July 6

Numbers 3 - 11 of 357 of things that annoy me.

Unlike previously, this collection has no central theme.They are, however, backed by some hardcore opinion-giving so that's OK. As always, please share with me details of what pisses you off and I will adjudicate on the merits or no of your justification.

Even numbers.

Why? Odd isn't it. (Sorry, couln't resist. Cheesy I know.) To me they seem a little too goody goody and a bit smug with it. The number 2 especially gets my goat.

White ford escorts

They're so tacky though aren't they? Snobbish? Most certainly. Am trying unsuccessfully to purge snobbery from my veins at the moment but am finding it trying.

The trees and shubbery planted by the council along motorways and dual carriageways

Sorry, but they are piss poor excuses for arboriage. What kind of environmental heritage are we leaving here. It's the natural equivalent of the 70s architectural legacy to towns and cities. Has the council ever heard of oak? Mountain ash? Sycamore? Christ almighty. I am almost tempted to go chuck some bloody decent seeds around myself.

Big watches

They are simply unecessary and it's presumably meant to be impressive. Especially if you're a bloke. It's a bit predictably phallic in it's intention isn't it? Come on now.....let's have a bit of restrained taste.

People who warble and harmonise when singing along to a song.

This one applies to females only. It makes me cringe with embarrassment and sometimes. If the girl is especially putting in Maria Carey-like warbles, my head
actually spins with embarrassment. Literally, I get head spin. Please stop it. Save my balance. Sing like a normal person for god's sake.

Religious people

It's the self-certainty here that offends.

Pot, kettle, black? Do I give a...? Nothing wrong with a touch of inconsistency every now again....

Ready washed and shredded bags of iceberg lettuce

Especially if it's from Marks and Spencers. You are just compounding utter laziness with complete disregard for monetary value.

People who eat Ryvita and claim they like it

It's just bare-faced lying is all it is. Who are you trying to kidd?

Wednesday, July 4 promised

So….. I said I'd discuss my use of the ellipsis, didn't I?

Hmmm. Hardly a topic that sparks a natural array of issues to consider. I can see I am beginning to regret my rash suggestion already.I did state that awarding unwarranted attention to issues is part of this blog's mandate, didn't I? Shame. Anyway, lets see where it takes us.

Well, I suppose I will start with the obvious… let us settle, firstly, what would be the plural of this quaint little word…. makes sense.

Ellipsises, ellipsi, ellipsum?

If in doubt (which I am) refer to the noble; fantastic web resource which I recommend heartily….a wikipedia for language.

"Ellipses", apparently.

Makes sense. Doesn't accord with basic grammar rules for formation of plurals though, which would dictate the simple addition of an -es to the noun thus creating 'Ellipsises'. Who ever said grammar was meant to be inflexible however?

Secondly… is my use of the ellipsis indeed appropriate?

Consultation with Oracle again.

Usage: Printing marks to indicate an omission or suppression of letters or words.

Christ. believe me, I would much rather be discussing Derren Brown at this point who is currently backgrounding in my living room. However, I committed therefore I must. I'm sure you'd probably be reading about that too though. Let’s take a break…..

Robbie Williams is today's guest appearance. About to be made a pin cushion if the intro man is to be believed.

Now hanging Jesus-like on the top of a scaffold (why here I don't know, dramatic tension?)

Robbie…..have never seen the huge attraction myself. I must be out of sync with his TV-projected pheromones I guess. From what I can gather it's the 'bad boy' element combined with the 'little boy lost' aura he exudes that forms the basis of his attraction. Appeals to the nurturing element in women I suppose… and the secret romantic vanity that women all wish to realise that their affections and love can save a storm-tossed man from drowning. The saviour complex.

Or maybe that's just me?

Damn you Charlotte Bronte. Damn you and your beautifully drawn Jane and Mr Rochester.

Intermission over. Back to the serious consideration of the life and death issue that is the ellipsis.

I suspect my personal usage is more of a dramatic pause interrupting two connected ideas or statements then a suppression of words. I suspect actually that most current usage falls into this category. Evidence? None to hand and I can't be bothered finding it just to convince you I am right but I am right so just accept it and move on.

Lastly, do I overuse it?

You, readers, are the ultimate judge of that question and I invite your opinions on the idea. This in an opinion-sharing forum after all is said and done.Though I get the last word. Remember that. Only I have full administration rights…...and so it should be.

Sunday, July 1

Ignorance and irony

So....... the blog's been off for a while.

An expanse of thoughtless silence for near four full moons.

I'd call it a writer's block were I a writer. As a lay-narrator I have no such grandiose and tortured excuse however. I simply ran out of things to say...... I ran out of anything worth saying.

Yes, I will say that again, you are right to doubt your very ears. Yes, you may never hear its like again.

I, Natalie B******a, RAN OUT OF ANYTHING TO SAY.

It knocked me.

I don't mind admitting it.....

it shook me to my very core. I stood shivering and naked in a confused void and uttered not a sound. Silence challenged me. Nothingness caused self-examination more profoundly than any cram-filled conversation could.

Why the confusion, I hear you ask?

In answer: Fundamental to my self-perception has been the belief that 1. I could fill the blackest hole in space with continuous opine, and 2. I would opine whether necessary, welcome, wanted or not.

What could be the future for natalieuninterrupted if this was not so? A rename? Occasionalnatalie? Nataliepunctuatedbyperiodsofmuteness? Thequiescenceofnatalie? (Actually, that's bloody good, isn't it? Admit it. Mental note for the future, let us all use 'quiescence' more).

This was a blog with communication as its central tenant. Where life's littlest details could, and positively should, be freely and intensely mooted, dissected and bestowed unnecessary, maybe even unwarranted, attention. Where to then if a gamut of minutae and circumstance elicited not even a murmur in response? Where a change in leadership went unchallenged. A new President inaugurated without comment. A teen idol group reunification unexamined. A thousand fags and a hundred bottles of wine inhaled and consumed without a single exhortation. The explosion of bloody Facebook for god's sake????

Truly, people, you can see clearly that this called for some contemplation and conclusion. And there, just as I embarked upon my quest for an answer, there it came.....the nub. There, ladies and gentleman, was the rub.

In my search for an answer had I fallen upon the irony that has so far famously elluded the well-meaning young Alanis?

In looking for an answer I discovered that I cannot answer all questions. Yes, even I. Sometimes, and let us have a preparatory deep intake of breath here..... ignorance is wisest. Inaction the best course to take. Yes. I appreciate this may appear blasphemous to all who know me, and yes, it does sit uncomfortably within my soul. I took many a glass of water to drink down this unpalatable truth. But I am convinced now.... finally and humbly, that sometimes it's OK to have nothing to say. You don't always have to have a solution. Dare it even, an opinion!!!

And so, it is in this new spirit of mis-apprehension that I will recommence my blog.

I will undergo and experience and expect nothing in return. I will proudly and freely announce to be non-committal and ignorant in opinion to all the world. And what I truly hope, is that it is in this new spirit of freedom and ignorance, we will all find the answers we seek.

And that, Miss Morisette, would be just a little bit ironic.

NEXT EXCITING TIME ON NATALIEINTERRUPTED: Is Natalie's use of the ellipsis excessive. Discuss.

Tuesday, February 20

Harmless email or ignorant misanthropy - 2/2

And from Emily we move on to today.
Women's magazines shriek out the fact that women need not men but the Raging Rabbit for sexual satisfaction. Broadsheets reveal that women exceed men in every subject at school. Internet sperm bank offer an alternative form of father, for as everyone knows, fathers are always absent anyway. Political correctness prohibits the opening of doors and going dutch is the accepted norm for restaurant etiquette. Machismo is wrong and 'being in touch with your feminine side' right. Wherever men turns it seems, they are being told that to be a man is wrong because being a man is violent, selfish, insensitive, power-hungry, emotionally-stunted and the list goes on.
It's the eighties turned on it's head, women shouldn't be wearing suits but men should instead wear skirts.
And so, it's is not the female part of the population who feel ignored, undermined, side-lined and unappreciated, but the men.
Some say this is fair pay-back for centuries of patriachal rule, Eve's reputation must be restored and this is part of the road to recovery. I'm not so sure I believe this. Or even if I do believe that restoration or rebalancing needs to take place, this is the best way to do it. And anyway, isn't it highly hypocritical that those who lambast men for their contentious/over-lording tactics utilise similar tactics to defeat them.
I can recall reading a feminist law books which stated at the outset at the book that 'This is not a forum for debate. Debate is a male form of interactions, we will be utilising the female alternative of 'consciousness-raising'. What the hell is that when it's at home and when was 'consciousness-raising' ever ascribed to females? They went on to pronounce that the 'consciousness-raising' exercise would be in some senses futile from the start as 'we have only a patriachal vocabulary with which to express our ideas and will so will be limited in our expressions to male-bias concepts'. It is at this stage that I begin to lose my usual solid respect for academics and ponder on whether all forms of learning or research are indeed useful for society.
It tires me that what this comes down to is our apparent need to always differentiate between sectors of society and seem to only ever be able to accept the one model or type from which all others should be judged. Deviation from the norm is not acceptable, whether it be because of race, religion, sex, culture, waist size, music taste, political opinion. Why is it that variety and difference is so distrusted and why are we always striving to amalagamate everyone into the same form of being?

Monday, February 19

Diane Fossey's Gorillas


We've all seen Gorillas in the Mist and know about Diane Fossey and her lifes-work trying to save the endangered Mountain Gorillas - of which there are about 650 IN THE WORLD left. I defy anyone to not worship these beautiful, intelligent and gentle creatures.

Unlike most Hollywood stories, there has been no happy ending for the gorillas of the Virunga Mountains and they are still be slaughtered.... Only last month two silverbacks and one female were murdered by the resident poachers who terrorised the Parks Rangers so that they were unable to remain at their positions protecting the gorillas.

Please go and check out the site - the blog is written by the Head Ranger who tries to report on a daily basis the events in the Park. If you can link your blog to theirs, pass details on to your friends or raise some money we can all do our little bit to raise awareness and support the Virunga Rangers/the Dian Fossey Foundation's ongoing effort.

I am hoping to go to the Virungas next year and see the gorillas - will keep you posted if anyone is interested on my travels plans and if I'm lucky I might catch a glimpse of one (or two) and take a picture.

Friday, February 9

My breast friends

Can someone help me? I've got myself into a bit of a pickle……

I'm too scared to wear deodorant.

In fact, I'm so scared of deodorant, I haven't worn it for about two years.

It all started about two years back………..

I read an article in a silly woman's magazine that described the links between deodorant and breast cancer. Deodorants and anti-perspirants have aluminium. The aluminium is what actually stops perspiration. The mineral sits IN your hair follicles/pores and clogs them so that perspiration (no sweat you note - ugly word) can't get out. The thing is of course, you have not only glands under your arm, but direct veins etc to your breast. It is a fact that most women get breast cancer first in their left breast. Why? Because most people are right handed and so we all tend to put more deodorant on under our left arm. More deodorant means more aluminium which means more carcinogens into the armpit/breast area.

I spoke to one of my health-freak friends who stated she had know this fact for years and herself had stopped wearing deodorant aeons before. It's a problem because, like most people, I do need to wear it. I've not got some hideous odour problem you understand but, like most, I don't perspire rose water and deodorant/antiperspirant masks this fact.

Since the day I read the article, I haven't worn deodorant since, not in usual Nivea/Impulse type anyway. One of the few body parts I'm actually content with are my generous assets. If one disappeared, I swear I would have problems walking in a straight line. I just can't risk that kind of subsidence.

I've tried several organic, aluminium-free versions which are about as capable for their intended purpose as blue-biro rubbers are.

Summer is fast approaching - do I risk social ostracism or my left boob?

Thursday, February 1

2/357 things that annoy me

Was disturbed yet again on the train to work this morning by a selfish commuter.
This selfish commuter sniffed every 2 - 7 seconds. Every 2 to 7 seconds for the entire forty-five minute journey. I kid you not.

I counted at sporadic and random periods and not once did the gap in-between sniffs exceed seven seconds. Several came thick and fast in a 2, 2, 3, 2, 4 formation. I tried to catch the eye of a commuter to do the old 'flicking-eyes-to-the-ceiling' look to convey my annoyance. that same look that I hate so much when other people do it to me. I succeeded but felt in a hole when five minutes later I realised she was a friend of the sniffer.

I suppose if you haven't been exposed to sniffing when trying to sleep you may think this is not that much of an inconvenience and how can I become in anyway annoyed sufficiently to share it with you.

Well, let me tell you, unrelentless sniffing is as bad as it gets. It's on a parr with some of the most famous irritants of our time.

Remember the creaking pipe that wakes you just as you are about to drift off into sleep. They went to the same school.

The period when you are nodding off in front of the TV and suddenly your ears zone in on the audio which seems to have leapt in volume although no-one has touched it and you can't turn it down as you would disturb your relaxed pose but you can't leave it on as it is stopping you falling asleep. Best friends.

The nagging need for a wee when you are wrapped up warm and don't want to get out of bed. Teacher.

Why the hell didn't she bring a tissue?

I tried to quench my anger by imagining the various caustic remarks I could attempt at the girl had I the gall and nastiness to make them. I couldn't try to sleep it away could I? I did sincerely consider leaning over and saying 'Could you turn the sniffing down please'. I figure if it is accepted that it is socially-unacceptable to play ipods loud so that tinny music escapes into the ears of passengers, what's the difference with constant sniffing berating my ears?

Wednesday, January 31

Harmless email or crass misanthropy?

For some time now, I have begun to suspect a growing misanthropic movement and today, receipt of one the usual-style joke spam-emails on the differences between men and women reiterated this belief to me.

I feel it is prudent to spend some time considering this issue, assisted in part by discussing the process of my thoughts openly, honestly and vigilantly in this hallowed forum of truth.

Let us begin in the beginning.

In the beginning there was an amoeba.

Perhaps it was not an amoeba but something far smaller and far more fundamental in it's biological makeup.

Something Wikipedia or Stephen hHwkins could explain but I have not the time to look up and this way I get to use the word amoeba. (In animal form, an amoeba would surely look something like this…. )

No-one knew where the amoeba came from but it was there nonetheless.

And the amoeba created the world when it exploded for some, as yet, non-universally agreed upon reason.

And so the amoeba created man life on earth. And lo the earth did turn into itself and bring forth man and woman.

Lots of things happened and were created on earth. Things like the wheel, emancipation, industry, political theorem, utterly butterly and custard.

From as far back as discernable, it appears the male of the species was dominant in his role. In the time of the cave, man dominated the animal kingdom. In the time of the Vikings, man dominated the sea. In the time of Prince Albert's, man dominated the world.

Throughout this time, woman was subjugated, silenced, abused and held helpless.

Half a century after the Corn Laws, a woman called Emily was born. Emily told her fellow women to burn their bras and to hold fast to iron railings. And so the women did. And lo it came to pass that women in a small island nation were given a vote with which to lift up their voices and be heard.

And that is where the beginning ends.

In tomorrow's blog, I shall consider the present which is also the middle and the end and use this period to enlighten myself more over this issue.

Example joke email

How To Shower Like a Woman

Take off clothes and place them sectioned in laundry basket according to lights and darks.
Walk to bathroom wearing long dressing gown.
If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.
Look at your womanly physique in the mirror - make mental note to do more sit-ups/leg-lifts, etc.
Get in the shower.
Use face cloth, arm cloth, leg cloth, long loofah, wide loofah and pumice stone.
Wash your hair once with cucumber and sage shampoo with 43 added vitamins.
Wash your hair again to make sure it's clean.
Condition your hair with grapefruit mint conditioner enhanced.
Wash your face with crushed apricot facial scrub for 10 minutes until red.
Wash entire rest of body with ginger nut and jaffa cake body wash.
Rinse conditioner off hair.
Shave armpits and legs.
Turn off shower.
Squeegee off all wet surfaces in shower.
Spray mould spots with Tile cleaner.
Get out of shower.
Dry with towel the size of a small country.
Wrap hair in super absorbent towel.
Return to bedroom wearing long dressing gown and towel on head.
If you see husband along the way, cover up any exposed areas.

How To Shower Like a Man
Take off clothes while sitting on the edge of the bed and leave them in a pile.
Walk naked to the bathroom.
If you see wife along the way, shake willy at her making the 'woo-woo' sound.
Look at your manly physique in the mirror.
Admire the size of your willy and scratch your bum.
Get in the shower.
Wash your face.
Wash your armpits.
Blow your nose in your hands and let the water rinse them off.
Fart and laugh at how loud it sounds in the shower.
Spend majority of time washing privates and surrounding area.
Wash your bum, leaving those coarse bum hairs stuck on the soap.
Wash your hair.
Make a Shampoo Mohawk.
Rinse off and get out of shower.
Partially dry off.
Fail to notice water on floor because curtain was hanging out of bath the whole time.
Admire willy size in mirror again.
Leave shower curtain open, wet mat on floor, light and fan on.
Return to bedroom with towel around waist.
If you pass wife, pull off towel, shake willy at her and make the 'woo-woo' sound again.
Throw wet towel on bed.


Thursday, January 25


The place where I work, 'Anon LLP', nominated it's new charity for the year yesterday. Happily my proposed charity was chosen and I am unashamedly happy and proud about this. Anon LLP will now be raising money for children the street childfren including 'The Railway Children' of Calcutta and I am hoping to persuade those in power that a heroes and heroines charity fancy dress Ball is an excellent idea. I have plenty other excellent ideas but none so excellent that wuld permit me to dress up as Scarlett O'Hara (again.) (Designed my 21st around this hankering and held a Corset and Crinolette fancy dress party. We played croquet and had a finger buffet. It was great. I was the only one who thought so I think. Everyone else just thought it was odd. It was, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Now I'm just running on. 'Running on'. How very Alan Bennett. Oooo lemon wedge.)

So I thought I'd give a link to the charity in case anyone is doing a 10 km run and wants an excellent organisation to do it for. I think that supporting smaller charities is in many ways a lot more advantageous to those the charity is there to assist in comparison with their national or international cousins. I know of course all charities need money and even those well-known charities such as The Samaritans have had to take to the streets with collection boxes to pay for electricity etc. to keep their services going but I can't but be disheartened by charities that plough 65% of their funds into advertising. I know there is the circular argument about how else do they raise lots of money without expending lots etc. etc. but to a charity like the Railway Children, £2000 can provide for a quarter of their yearly budget and importantly, goes straight to the source where needed. None is taken out for admin etc.

There is also the consideration that the larger a charity gets, unfortunately, the more distanced it becomes from it's target. Take the charities surrounding the tsunami. Many of them still have sizeable funds unallocated. How can this be? Funds were crucial in the immediate aftermath, years have passed and how is the reconstruction effort being encouraged by such a delay. What are they waiting for? Much of the assistance given wasn't the assistance required either and this is where becoming too removed from your target through bureaucracy etc becomes a real issue. Many charities were sending over school books, pens, pencils, food bags etc. when there were no schools for kids to be taught in and no crockery for food to be cooked in. It was the on-the-ground independent charities and ones that developed in situ in response to the tsunami that understood what was required were tools, cement mixers, hammers etc. to help people start the rebuilding effort.

Anyway, here's the link of you would like to check it out. there are more street children throughout the world than the British population one and a half times over. Calcutta/Kolkata suffers from notorious problems of poverty and I have visited this station myself. The charity has a permanent presence there and addresses the full range of issues raised by these kids situations, education, health, personal safety and emotional well-being.

Monday, January 22


I'm calling on all readers of this blog to make a concerted effort to use 'shall' more often in their every day speech. If you could also enjoin your friend and family to do the same, we might be able to bring back to life this gentle and civil modal auxiliary that has been suffering in this bullish, modern world of ours.

It is a dying form of modal (If you doubt my words, peruse please

Given that we have only fourteen of them, (have included 'dare' and 'need') losing one of these endangered species is a cause for concern throughout the entire english-speaking world. If we could all make an effort to at least twice a day choose 'Shall I open the window?' over 'Should I open the window?', our poor maligned hero might be able to start the long journey back to the Land of Customary Use, that safe and popular place where all words long to reside.

And who is 'should' anyway?

Why has he eclipsed his more sensitive, older and wiser cousin?

'Should' - being young as he is - is still unsure of himself. He asks advice wherever he goes and never sounds sure of what he is supposed to be doing. 'Shall' on the other hand, having lived a long life in the mouths of some of the most intelligent men and women in the world, already knows what he wants. He just doesn't want to impose himself on others without asking if his actions will concern anyone.

And what of 'will'? We can't over-look his part to play in this sordid affair, especially his prostituting of himself, his 'special relationship' with they over the Atlantic, the great U S of A - a sure-fire way to ensure his domination at the cost of all others. When being presented with two future-looking modals, our Atlantic cousins became rather confused and decided they must concentrate their energies on only one, thus saving themselves world-ridicule by demonstrating an inability to speak English well.

(Whether they have indeed managed to pull the wool over our eyes in this respect, despite their cunning tactics, is debatable. Perhaps we should look to their leader for an answer on this.)

Let us look at the wil/shall debate in context and compare the impact of using one over the other in a dramatic setting.

(Picture a beautiful and distraught young woman, standing in the doorstep of a large, old white house, gripping the door-frame to prevent herself from collapsing in despair onto the marble-tiled floor. She stares desperately out into the garden where the figure of a strong, dark-haired man is beginning to vanish into the fog.)

'Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?....'

'Rhett, if you go, where will I go? What will I do?....'

Need I say more? I think I needn't.

So I shan't.

Let's get behind this worthy cause and start to spread the word.

Tuesday, January 2

It looks like a professional took it doesn't it? I know, I was quite proud of it myself.

It's in sepia.

That's the joy of digital cameras. Everyone's an artist. I zoom petals with 6 millions pixels in 'closeup' mode and think how talented I am.

I don't know who the lady is but I like her. She looks solemn and melancholy which appeals to me if only as it allows me to use two lovely adjectives. Could be Cassandra or Medea I suppose. My favourite adjective used to be 'sunlit' but god knows what I was thinking. Far too trite. I also hankered after 'cascade' which is a revoltingly showy word.

Oh how I am waffling innanely. I do apologise.

I have been sat at work Googling for 6 hours and 54 minutes now and have lost the will to live. Coffee machine is on the blink as well so I was dragged to Starbucks for coffee this lunchtime.
Will have to perform at least three Hail Mary's for that one.
Anyone read the latest Lionel Shriver book? I haven't read great reviews on it and wondered if anyone I know has first-hand experience. As you may or may not know I think We Need to Talk About Kevin is a masterpiece. It's inevitable that I'll be disappointed with the next one. I can remember how let down I was on reading Sense and Sensibility post Pride and Prejudice. You think you have found a literary god and then realise they are human after all.