Monday, 11 August 2014

No Other City Ever Made Me Glad





In 2007, on the night I met the boy who was to become the ‘love of my life,’ he asked me – quite nonchalantly – if I’d like to go to New York with him the next Christmas. Fast forward to just over a year later and we were grabbing a yellow cab at JFK. It’s one of my favourite stories to tell about the way that we met, and, New York is quite possibly in my top two places on earth (the other is by the sea but that’s a story for another day.)

Fast forward another 6 years from that and here we are. We watched the New New York episode of Glee this week and when it ended we looked at one another and sighed a little sadly. We miss New York, we miss it in a way not dissimilar to the way you miss an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while: it was fun and we want more and why are you so far away. That’s kind of how New York makes you feel, like it’s that holiday romance, all too fleeting but so intense that you look back on it both fondly and with a sense of longing that almost takes your breath away.

I’ve been having a lot of New York feelings recently, perhaps due to my best friend’s forthcoming wedding (in real life, not the Julia Roberts film) which has a New York theme. She got engaged in New York (top of the Empire State Building the whole shebang), super romantic, right? I KNOW. I’ve been feeling nostalgic for that week we spent there, possibly the best week of my life, and have what can only be described as a longing to go back. A quick look on Skyscanner and a check of my bank balance swiftly reminds me that that is not even a remote possibility right now. Woe is me, I know. Feel free to send sympathy on a postcard.

I never expected to love it so. I went because Ian wanted to, mainly. I mean, I wanted to go, don’t get me wrong: who doesn’t want to go to New York, but I hadn’t spent the 25 years of my life prior to my trip with New York City dreams. I’m not a city girl. At all. I like the feel of the sea breeze on my face; I like the feel of grass between my toes; I like wide open spaces and making daisy chains in a field knowing there might not be another person for miles. That feeling, of being the only person in the world? I love it.
My grandparents owned a farm when I was small and I grew up collecting eggs and venturing as far away as I was allowed (which looking back wasn’t all that far but which felt like a million miles to me) and rolling down the hills in the top fields, faster,faster,faster. I was nettle stings, and grass stains, and sitting on a fence, laughing when the goats tried to eat my shoelaces. My cousins moved to Manchester when I was in my teens and visiting them, whilst an adventure, left me feeling like a fish out of water: it was big – too big- and loud – too loud- and dirty and all of the people were in such a hurry to get nowhere and I longed to go home to my small town life.
 
London was the same again – a big city, too much too fast, although I was older when I first went there (for my 21st birthday) and I kind of got caught up in it all – I love me some time in the capital, but I’m always ready to come home again after a couple of days, to the relative peace of a hometown that doesn’t even have a shopping centre, where a 5 minute walk has me feeding the ducks in the park.

I thought New York would be the same: bustling, and a little insane, too many people in too much of a hurry and so much to see it would make my eyes burn. I thought I’d be ready to come home after a couple of nights; I worried our trip would be too long.

It was exactly what I expected: New York is bustling, and a little insane, with too many people in too much of a hurry and so much to see it made my eyes burn.

& I loved it.

Our trip wasn’t long enough.

I loved the line of yellow cabs waiting for us when we left the airport, bundling our cases into the trunk and giving the driver our hotel address, and the way Ian’s hand felt in mine as we crossed over to Manhattan. My heart raced and my stomach churned and I was just so freaking excited. Excited and overwhelmed and head-over-heels in love.  I loved the way it looked; the way it smelled; the way it sounded. I loved wandering through NoHo on our first night, grabbing a coffee and not being able to quite believe I was really there, being tired and grumpy but not wanting to stop walking those streets, ever.
 
We went in December, so it was cold, and the Christmas Tree was outside the Rockerfeller Centre and all the shops on Fifth Avenue were lit up with pretty lights and we got to go ice skating in Central Park. There was a Christmas market at Union Square and every day was so cold I could see my breath mist in the air in front of me. We walked and walked and walked til my boots wore away a patch of skin on my ankle; we didn’t catch the subway once. One night as we wandered hand in hand through Greenwich Village to John’s Pizzeria on Bleeker St it began to snow, enough for me to leave noticeable footprints on the New York sidewalk, and I stuck out my tongue – do New York snowflakes taste different than those back home in Lancashire? They do: they taste like possibility and dreams coming true.

I loved the people, the ones in the street and in the shops and in the all night deli on the corner of the block near our hotel (Washington Square baby) where I could buy hairspray and takeout food and a packet of Cheetos all under one roof. I loved the amazing concierge we made friends with in our hotel, and the guy who gave Ian a high five when we stopped for a slice of pizza in the pouring down rain when even my best Carrie Bradshaw couldn’t secure us a cab (you’re from England. Happy holidays!) and the lady with the broadest of New York accents who handed me my plate of pancakes and bacon in the diner we shared with the NYPD and a massive big dog. She said ‘coffee’ like they do in the movies. I kind of wanted to sit there all day. I loved the shopping (as did Ian. So many pairs of shoes oh my god) and the food and the sights. I loved the atmosphere. I loved how everything somehow felt familiar but at the same time utterly unknown; the view from the Empire State building that blew my mind and the view from the Statue of Liberty that did the same; Ground Zero which made my heart hurt and my eyes burn; Times Square and Wall Street and Bloomingdale's and Grand Central Station and City Hall and The Brooklyn Bridge and this tiny little cafĂ© almost hidden by some scaffolding where the lino was peeling at the edges and the grilled cheese tasted like something straight from heaven.

I loved it all, so very much and even if I never get to go back I will be forever grateful that I ever went at all.

Oh New York. No other city ever made me glad.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Love Letters to the Dead



 You think you know someone, but that person always changes, and you keep changing, too. I understood it suddenly, how that’s what being alive means. Our own invisible plates shifting inside of our bodies, beginning to align into the people we are going to become.


Things about me that you probably know if you are an avid reader of this blog: I am a sucker for pretty pretty words.

Love Letters to the Dead is full of them . Full to the very brim. Delicate words, and breakable characters and a storyline that haunts you.  It’s like Perks, which is how Jen sold it to me, in one of her zomgz Jo read this book text messages (always my favourite kind of text messages.)
She said: it’s a modern day ‘Perks…’ It has lots of Jo sentences and I want to quote the whole book to you.’
So I bought it, and I read it (in like, an evening) and now here I am, rather wanting to quote the whole book to you, o lovely readers. It has that vibe that made Perks so special, but it is by no means a carbon copy; it’s the same sort of special in an entirely different way. Because this is my blog, and I will talk in sentences that make no sense if I want and you can’t stop me.


Sometimes when we say things, we hear silence. Or only echoes. Like screaming from inside. And that’s really lonely. But that only happens when we weren’t really listening. It means we weren’t ready to listen yet. Because every time we speak, there is a voice. There is the world that answers back.”


There is no getting away from the fact that this is a stunning debut; I am doing well with those lately, and that makes me extremely happy. Give me all the books from all the new exciting people please.

So, why’d I like it?

The voice of Laurel, our protagonist, is so strong the whole way through, so absolutely spot on, and so real: this kid is messed up, and Dellaira gets right inside her head so that your heart kind of breaks right along with hers. There’s a strong cast of supporting characters too: Laurel’s new best friends who are falling in love with each other and don’t know what to do about that because being gay in high school is the opposite of easy; Sky, the boy Laurel loves who is just so precious and kind and utterly flawed – he’s such a teenage boy sometimes in his actions and reactions and I love how real that makes him. Sky isn’t perfect ands sometimes he’s a bit of an asshat, and I love him for it; the two seniors that Laurel and her pals befriend, a couple of years older but no more sure of who they are; Laurel’s Dad and Aunt Amy. Every single person is just so real. So, we have excellent characterisation and a strong narrative voice combined with the utterly beautiful use of language: yep, s’probably exactly why Jen was so adamant I read it. She knows me well.  (& it’s super clever too: I loved how the letters to all the different (dead) celebrities were used to explain the complexities of grief.)

This book felt eerily like being taken apart and then slowly reassembled as somebody new: I got that feeling, albeit on a much deeper level, when I read Perks, and The Book Thief. It has that kind of under-the-skin emotion to it. & you know, you might kind of hate it, because on the surface it is just another ‘high school sucks’ book full of teenage angst and drama, and I get that, I do, except this book is so much more than it seems on the surface.  It really is: it’s a book about loss, and pain and how to deal with that and how to keep going; it’s about putting a person on a pedestal and how dangerous that can be; it’s about forgiveness and finding a way to like oneself, to accept oneself.


When we are in love, we are both completely in danger and completely saved.”



It was then that I could feel that the moths in him, with their wings so paper-thin, will never be near enough to the light. They will always want to be nearer - to be inside of it. It was then that I could feel the lost thing in him.”



It wasn’t fair what happened to you, either. Or what happened to her. A lot of things aren’t. I guess we can either be angry about it forever or else we just have to try to make things better with what we have now.”

Saturday, 26 July 2014

in which I mark the passing of time.



This week marks the seven year anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Can you even believe it?

I was 24. I’m fairly sure that puts me outside of Harry Potter’s intended demographic and yet I felt like I had been waiting for this book my whole life. Helen and I had spent more hours than it’s probably even possible to count after the end of Half Blood Prince coming up with theory after theory: Who was RAB and surely Dumbledore’s not really dead and omg the Snape of it all. We drove ourselves crazy.

I live out in the sticks a little bit, so there was no exciting midnight release for me. I was living with Helen at the time, and instead two shiny new copies of the book were delivered by a postman (who likely had the heaviest post bag of his career that day, except for OotP release day, obvs). They were so shiny and new and beautiful and my tummy did a funny flippy thing.

& then Helen went out. I’m not even kidding. Off she went with her chums from work on a beer bus around the Yorkshire Dales. She had to lesve the book behind – needless to say she wasn’t happy about it. I waved her off and then I went back to bed. To read. I spent the morning reading in bed and the afternoon reading on the sofa & I exchanged a ridiculous number of text messages with Jen (who thank goodness reads at the same speed as I do)

By the time Helen got home that evening I was done. & emotionally drained. I’d laughed and I‘d cried (oh God, the tears) and I’d held my breath. I’d barely been able to turn the pages fast enough. And then it was over.

All was well.

I felt strangely bereft, knowing that there would be no more. These books had a profound effect on me, one that I still don’t really understand. & I didn’t quite know what to do once I’d read the last words of the last book. When I went to the premiere a few years ago, Ian asked me what I would say if I met Jo Rowling. Half Blood Prince  had been my lifeline; the only thing I could think of was ‘thanks.’

I think I all but threw the book at Helen when she got back. I pretty much forced her to read it, if you listen to her version of events. If you listen to mine she didn’t take much forcing, but still, whether my fault or her choice, I don’t think she’s read a book that fast before or since. ‘Where are you up to?’ I’d demand at intervals, or when I heard a quiet ‘oh,’ from her bedroom ‘Hedwig?’ (Still not over Hedwig. Will never be over Hedwig.)

I can’t believe it’s been seven years. I still love the books and the characters as much as ever, but more than that I love what they represent: the hours of conversation, the friendships that have formed (and strengthened) because of a shared love of Hogwarts, the way it’s like being part of a really big family – you see someone reading HP and you give them a little nod and a smile. You do right? It sounds trite, but the Harry Potter series has given me so much more than just a story. & if I ever do get the chance to meet JK Rowling, I still think the only think I’d be able to say is thanks.

Friday, 25 July 2014

We Need New Names



We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo is actually a very very good book. I gave it 4 stars on
Goodreads, which for me means I really liked it. I’m curious, actually, about how people interpret the Goodreads star rating. For me it works as follows:
5 stars: THIS BOOK IS SO AMAZING I HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO EVEN.
4 stars: This book is an excellent book
3 stars: This book is a good book. I liked it.
2 stars: I am indifferent towards this book. It was okay.
1 star: Do not like.

Anyway, the point is, I gave We Need New Names 4 of those pretty red stars. So, that says a lot.

Paradise is all tin and stretches out in the sun like a wet sheepskin nailed on the ground to dry; the shacks are the muddy color of dirty puddles after the rains.

It’s a story about Darling and 5 of her friends growing up in an African country I assume to be Zimbabwe although this is never explicitly stated. The six children dream of escaping the hell that is their life, a shanty town called Paradise where they sneak into the streets of the rich and gorge themselves on guavas, so hungry they don’t even care that the fruit will make them ill. The stories are terrible. Darling’s friend Chipo (aged ten) is pregnant with a baby we are led to believe is her grandfather’s; Darling’s father is dying of AIDS – the children call it ‘the sickness.’ It feels sometimes like every turn of the page brings with it another terror, another heartbreak, another image of a nation on its knees. It pulls no punches, but, and here is the sheer genius of this book, even the most horrifying scenes are told through the eyes of a child, with defiance and a certain matter-of-factness that comes of knowing little else, with mischievousness and humour. You’re reading and there are paragraphs that rip out your heart and then you’re smiling, or you’re rolling your eyes and it never becomes the kind of depressing that makes you want to stop reading. There is no sensationalism here: Darling is too immersed in her life to describe it in any other way than ‘this is how it is, so there’s no judgement, no opinion, no cry for sympathy and it makes a difficult subject somewhat easier to read about at the same time as being weirdly haunting. It also makes you fall head over heels in love with these kids.

Darling’s life in Paradise is hell. She finally makes it out, goes to live with her Aunt in ‘destroyedmichygen USA’ and finds that the land of Barack Obama and plentiful food is an entirely different kind of hard. It’s hard to adjust and hard to fit in, and hard to go from that to this, and despite it all, Darling misses home. She wants to go home but she doesn’t know where home is anymore, and suddenly America doesn’t feel so much like the land of the free she;s spent a lifetime dreaming it would be. It’s a different world and Darling doesn’t know how to fit in, and she doesn’t know how to understand it. Darling makes new friends, and together they work their way alphabetically through porn videos on the internet and steal someone’s mother’s car to go driving and it’s so different from the shenanigans of paradise and yet at the same time so similar, and there throughout it all is Darling’s commentary. Watching her assess this Brave New World is like a sucker-punch sometimes, it’s that good and that powerful:

We are cruising like that and I’m being forced to listen to this stupid Rihanna song that everybody at school used to play like it was an anthem or something. Well, maybe the song isn’t stupid, it’s only that I just got generally sick of that whole Rihanna business, the way she was on the news and everything, I know her crazy boyfriend beat her up but I don’t think she had to be all over, like her face was a humanitarian crisis, like it was the fucking Sudan.

There’s another scene with a teenage girl on a diet, putting 5 raisins on a plate for lunch. Darling’s response takes the air from your lungs. You have a fridge bloated with food so no matter how much you starve yourself, you’ll never know real, true hunger she says. Well fuck. Ain’t that just the truth. & we waste food and it’s almost a clichĂ© isn’t it. There are children starving in Africa people say when you can’t finish your sandwich and we don’t even think about it. Ten chapters ago Darling was so hungry she ate guavas til she was too constipated too eat any more and now there’s a rich American girl with a fridge full of food, starving herself. It’s intense and it’s incredibly real, the pictures painted for you when you read this book are absolutely crystal clear.

You feel for Darling the whole way through but more so somehow at the end, when she is sort of untethered, she has no ‘place’ – she is absolutely not and will likely never be an American, but she’s so far removed from who she thought she was and who she used to be too. She’s not an American but she’s too far away, now, to be able to really feel the suffering of the country she left behind. Near the start of the book one of her friends tells her that you always have to be able to go back to where you came from. I think Darling spent the second half of this book thinking that she could, and then she talks to Chipo, a mother herself now to a daughter she called Darling. Chipo sees it differently: You left it, Darling, my dear, you left the house burning and you have the guts to tell me, in that stupid accent that you were not even born with, that doesn’t even suit you, that this is your country? 

This, dear friends, has been a recommendation.

Monday, 9 June 2014

A Song for Issy Bradley

Sometimes I write about books and I write and write because I love that book so much and I have SO MUCH to say, and I just want to flail around a little, and get my thoughts down and feel all the things really vocally.
& then other times I really love a book, and I want to write about it, but I don’t know quite why or indeed, how, because I don’t have all that many words at all. I just want to kind of bask in a little bit, to sit back and feel and just kind of gesture towards the book and say ‘hey guys, I read this thing and it was super, and you should read it too, but I can’t talk about it too much right now because I am too busy feeling.’
This is one of those times, and so this review is shorter than some, but please know that has zero bearing on my love for this book: I loved this book.

Carys Bray. It’s a name you should take note of; it’s a name we’re going to hear a lot of, if her debut novel A Song for Issy Bradley is anything to go by.
Honestly, this book is beautiful. I devoured it in an afternoon, and it left me breathless.

Issy Bradley is 4 when she dies, quite suddenly, from meningitis. The story that follows is that of her family, and how they come to terms with losing her.

The Bradley’s are a strict Mormon family. Issy’s Dad, Ian, is a bishop and believes staunchly that faith should be enough to carry the family through: losing Issy must be all part of God’s plan, because what other option is there?
Issy’s Mum though, falls apart.
The other children find their own ways of dealing with both their sister’s death and their parents reactions to it, and at the same time try to find a way to keep putting one foot in front of the other, because however much their Mum might wish it had, life didn’t stop the day Issy died: Zippy falls in love for the first time, Al is sort of angry, and views the world with the cynicism of a misunderstood teenage boy and then there’s Jacob. Little Jacob is only 7. He believes that if he just believes hard enough he can conjure a miracle. So he believes as hard as he can. His faith is bigger than a mustard seed, maybe even bigger than a toffee bonbon, and that has to be big enough for the kind of miracle he so desperately needs, hasn’t it?

Every single member of this beautiful flawed family makes my heart hurt in different ways.

This book is beautifully written. It made me cry tears that were utterly unconnected to my hay fever (how high must the pollen count have been this weekend, my God) and it made me laugh. Carys Bray takes you into the hearts and minds of a grieving family and shows you with tact and honesty how life goes on in the midst of utter devastation. You should know, though, that this isn’t a book about death. Nor is it a book about organised religion, although it gives an interesting and clever insight into both of those things.  It’s a book about family, and about love, and about what that really truly means. It’s beautiful.

A Song for Issy Bradley is released later this month, so I believe. I promise it’s worth a look.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

in which Jo loves Disney.


My favourite Disney film is The Little Mermaid (except for Alice, but Alice is Alice. It doesn’t count.) I think I like it – The Little Mermaid – so much because it’s my Disney film. It’s the first one I can really remember watching, and loving. I got the video tape for Christmas when I was 6 and ¾ (my brother, then aged 20 months got The Rescuers. I can still remember us opening them on Christmas Day) and I thought it was the best thing. I watched it over and over and over. I had the dolls – my Ariel had a removable tail and a purple seashell bra, so cool - and I knew the words to all the songs. When I was in the bath I would pretend to be a mermaid.  I tried to make my brother play the role of Flounder but he never quite understood. Prince Eric was the first man I ever loved, aged 6 and ¾ when I hoped an animated Prince would fall in love with me, too. On my desk now, aged 30 and 11 months, I have a small stuffed Sebastian. Sometimes, when I am alone in the office I make him dance across my keyboard singing ‘Under the Sea.’
Disney’s Frozen will be, I think, to my niece Daisy, what The Little Mermaid is for me. She’s only 3 (and ¼) and Frozen is the first film she saw at the cinema. To date, it’s the only film she’s seen at the cinema. And she loves it. All she talks about is Anna & Elsa & Olaf and she sings Let it Go at the top of her little voice, like she really means it. It’s a joy to behold. The other week she tried to get Ian’s attention by yelling ‘YOOHOO! HI FAMILY!’ at the top of her voice – a reference you’ll only understand once you’ve seen the film. When I printed off some Frozen themed colouring pages for her, she did an actual gasp followed by a happy dance. STOP IT WITH THE CUTE.
The other little girl I’m super close to (Lydia, aged 4) has always been a Tangled girl, for the same reason. She cried when I got my hair cut last year because ‘now you can’t be Rapunzel anymore’ and I felt awful.  I felt worse when every time we played pretend for weeks afterwards I was relegated to the role of Mother Gothel. MOTHER GOTHEL, I ask you. That hurt. Now though, Tangled may as well not exist. It’s all about Anna and Elsa for her too. Daisy can rock Let it Go; Lyd’s and her rendition of Do You Wanna Build a Snowman make my face hurt with all the smiling.
I missed it at the cinema, but naturally I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Besides, I love these two kids, I love the very bones of the pair of them (some people are worth melting for) and this film matters to them: I needed to get on board. And then, in the car one time, Let it Go came on the radio.
‘Hang on a minute’ I said, over the top of Daisy’s singing, ‘I know that voice. It’s Queen Idina. LEMME SEE THIS FILM.’

I finally (I am always so late to all the things) saw it this weekend.

The Little Mer-whonow?

Just kidding, I still love The Little Mermaid but when it comes to Frozen, I totally get what all the fuss is about, although I reckon my reasons for loving it so hard are completely different to those of Daisy and Lydia.

*SPOILER ALERT*

I love Anna. (Oh, perhaps not so different to Daisy and Lydia after all, then.) 

Oh my, I love Anna. She’s so feisty, and awkward and clumsy and real and she says things that she wishes she hadn’t said and then dies a little inside (‘I’m awkward; you’re gorgeous. Wait. What?’) and she knows what’s right and won’t give up on it, and she’s just as strong as her sister, if not stronger. I just, I want to be her friend ok. Hey Anna, come and have a duvet day with Helen and me. I promise it will be fun times. She’s so much more everything than the Disney Princesses that came before. She kicks the animated ass of everybody else. She proves that there is more to being a girl than finding a handsome prince – in fact she goes on a journey with her love interest. This kid doesn’t need saving: she is the role model that I want for Daisy and Lydia and all the other little girls.

 
I love that Frozen makes a stand for marriage equality. You spotted that right, the YOOHOO HI FAMILY scene that our duckling loves, when Oaken's family wave back from the sauna, his partner (or who we assume to be his partner) is a man? GET IN THERE DISNEY. (Googling of this to make sure I am not mistaken takes me to the several news reports of some crazy ass folks who fear that Frozen will turn their children into homosexuals. I’m not even joking, people are actually saying that. Don’t watch the awesome Disney film; it will infect your child with THE GAY. Sometimes the world scares me.) Personally, if the chappy in the sauna is Oaken's partner then I offer Disney the highest of fives.
I also read another article about how Elsa is being interpreted as a metaphor for homosexuality; that gay people can relate to her character; that Let it Go is swiftly becoming an anthem in the gay community. It was interesting reading. I kind of get it, though: Elsa’s is a story of growing up, becoming your own person and being proud of who you are. It’s a story that matters whoever you are.
I think Elsa is an awesome character; Frozen could have been a different but equally fabulous story if it had been told from her viewpoint I think. I would love to go deeper into that whole tale – the teenage me would quite probably have fanfic’d the life out of her – but the story we actually got, the character. I loved it.
I love how when she breaks free from the world that has been holding her back and misunderstanding her she blossoms, and yeah ok she’s kind of chased out of town which sucks, but she doesn’t let it get on top of her, she doesn’t crumble, she grows. She’s finally free, and independent and she can be the person she knows she is because the cold never bothered her anyway. She’s totally fine on her own: she builds herself this awesome castle and gets a pretty dress and sings that song and you kind of want to punch the air, and you definitely want to sing along with her because she’s some kind of beacon of strength. She gives a big old two fingers to the rest of the world but at the same time she’s kind of fragile, and you’re proud of her and you ache for her and it’s fabulous.
Also, I love that the isolated character isn’t a villain this time.
(Alsoalso, anybody else get Elpheba feels when Elsa is belting out her song on the mountainside? It had a defying gravity air I felt. YOU’RE NEVER GONNA BRING ME DOWN. Etcetera. Love it)

Disney films seem to follow a formula, more often than not: Princess Damsel in Distress is saved by ‘True Love’s Kiss’ (or, in the case of Beauty and the Beast, Beast buys damsel a library. Beast is saved by True Love’s Kiss) point is, these films ,which we all LOVE are generally about true love, romantic love and how it’s pretty much a fix all. They’re about falling in love and living happily ever after and whilst that’s all well and good, I love that Frozen is not your typical love story. Frozen sticks to the age old fairytale theme of true love breaking any curse, but it does it differently. It’s not Kristoff and his love for Anna that saves her, as he races across the frozen fjord. It’s Anna who saves herself, through her true love for her sister.
That’s my favourite, the way it shows that you don’t need a man – even if it’s lovely to fall in love with one and be together for a while (or even ever) you don’t need him to save you and that also, there is so much more to love than boy meets girl –the love for your friends, your family can be just as powerful and just as true. A most excellent message – another one. 

This is another thing I loved about Frozen: the way it so blatantly poked fun at Disney films past.
Seriously. The scene with Anna and Kristoff where he is all ‘YOU CANT MARRY SOMEONE YOU JUST MET’ is probably one of my favourite in the whole film. Kristoff (and Elsa prior) are quite right. Marrying someone you just met is all kinds of crazy, but how many Disney princesses have done just that? Kristoff is kind of bewildered about it all, because he doesn’t think you can fall into love; love and relationships take work. Kristoff is a ‘fixer-upper’ so whilst Anna goes on about ‘true love,’ Kristoff tries to tell her that it makes no sense, she doesn’t even know Hans. It’s so refreshing, and I lovelovelove that this is a new generation of Disney film, that little girls might stop waiting, like I did, for their handsome prince and their easy come happily ever after because in Frozen, as in life, it ain’t that simple. I love Kristoff. (Also, the way at the end he asks Anna if he can kiss her. High five again Disney, high five.)

You know what else is amazing about Kristoff? He’s voiced by Jonathon Groff. I didn’t know this for sure til the end credits (the whole way through I was all ‘I know that voice dammit. Is it Jon Groff? No, I don’t think it is, but is it’ but my phone was charging on the other side of the room and I couldn’t IMDB it!) I love Jon Groff. I loved him as Jesse St. James in Glee and I loved him as adorable asshat Patrick in Looking (you all watched Looking, right? Please say you did.) But whilst I was all ‘yeah GROFF’ when I realised it was him, I was also a little frustrated, because, way to underuse a gem of a cast member, people. Jonathan Groff is talented and his cute little song with Sven is cute and all but it’s too short and nowhere near enough. I mean, listen to this (the number of times I’ve played this track is embarrassing.) Boy can sing, right? So if you’re going to put him in a musical then please, let him sing.
(Also, HOW CUTE IS THIS??)

Frozen doesn’t end in a ‘happily ever after.’ Frozen is too real for that. It ties up the ends of the story neatly, but it lets you know there’s more to come. Nobody rides off into the sunset. Elsa comes home and is Queen and has to learn to control her power and find the balance between who she needs to be, and who she wants to be – she has to learn how to rule the Kingdom and at the same time still be her; after pretty much a lifetime apart Anna and Elsa have to relearn each other; Anna is starting a brand new relationship with Kristoff, and they’re both less than perfect. It’s a happy ending, but it’s not a happy ever after: it’s the end of the beginning I guess. The story evolves after the film has ended and the film feels like a big step forward.

I love it.

Also that scene where Olaf becomes a giant snowball. Actual gigglesnort. I love Olaf.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Goodness, it's been a week. It's funny how some weeks seem longer than others; I have no idea why that is. I am however, pleased that it's Friday. Today would have been the birthday of somebody who was very dear to me, which is always a weird kind of a feeling. I shan't dwell though, because I always try not to; I shall instead head home from work, and get myself ready for wine and food and the best of company. A little bit of MotherDaughterQT with my Mum and my best friend (and, obviously, her Mum) sounds perfect to me.

Last night I hung out a while with my niece and nephew. Daisy is three now and an absolute joy and delight. The way she wraps her arms around my neck and hugs me with all she has is my absolute favourite thing.
Last night we were stood in the kitchen and she said with an exceptional air of sadness, and from nowhere: 'I want another pet.'
'Another?' her Mum asked with a smile, as Daisy's eyes literally filled with tears, 'we have three already.'
'I know' Daisy sighed, 'but I need a parrot.'

Toby's 10. I think he's awesome; he pretends like I am the bane of his very existence. Last night he was falling asleep on the sofa and was holding off going to bed ('I'm not even a little bit tired') til I told him that if he went up now we'd read a chapter of his book. Seems like even ten year old boys still like to be read to.  He curled up on his bottom bunk whilst I sat on the floor with my back to the bed and read 'The Boy in the Dress.' The way he looked all fast asleep as I kissed his forehead and turned off the light was enough to melt my heart. Being an Auntie is the best. Don't ever tell him about that stolen forehead kiss though. He'll never forgive me! 

I'm about a quarter of the way through The Cazalet Chronicles at the moment, if you're interested in what I'm reading (that is the point of this blog I know, and I do apologise that I often get sidetracked.) It's really good, you should read it.

Have a lovely Friday <3 br="">