Book review: Burn by Patrick Ness

Thanks to Walker Books, who sent me a review copy of Patrick Ness’s new YA book Burn via NetGalley. It is out now (yay!) so if it sounds like something you’d enjoy, order a copy from your nearest indie bookshop. Not from Amazon, please pretty please.

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Of fairies and facebook

During this morning’s walk my dog stopped in front of an elder tree – one of many trees in a plantation that seems to be a mixture of oak, elder, ash and beech. It was marginally larger than the others around it and the only one not to have its trunk cased in plastic. She sniffed it and went to move on to the next one – then abruptly turned back and sat, in the pouring rain, staring at this tree with her head cocked and her tail wagging like it does when she thinks she’s going to get a biscuit.

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Sunshine and vaginas

It’s been a lovely, hot day. I spent a fair chunk of it sitting in my suntrap of a yard, doing a bit of writing and work. Then I made a cuppa and went back out with the latest Paris Review and a parasol that I bought at the music festival last year, so that I could be warm but not burn. It was far and away the most pretentious thing I’ve ever done, I think, and I can be really fecking pretentious. Continue reading “Sunshine and vaginas”

This post will change your life*

If I had the Power, I would occasionally add an extra day to the week. Just when it was needed; just another 24-hours to do all the little things that aren’t really fitting into the usual days of the week. (It’s kind of late right now, and the clocks are about to jump forward and steal an extra hour, so I don’t have the time or inclination to think of a suitably Hellenic name for the extra day. If you can think of one, then please, answers on a postcard or in the comments.) Continue reading “This post will change your life*”

A long time ago, we used to be friends

This week, the site closed down once and for all. OD, as it was affectionately known by its many users, was one of the earliest social networking/blogging sites out there. Here, have a link to Wikipedia. It was a surprisingly innovative site – maybe not as well-known as Live Journal, but it solidly paved the way in a few areas.

Ladies and gents, this is not my first blog – I wrote over at OD, under various pseudonyms and at various levels on privacy, for about thirteen years, on and off. It was more of a journal than a blog, though. I certainly didn’t hold back on subjects there that I don’t even mention here.

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The week that was

So this entry is actually last week’s entry. If I hadn’t made my own arbitrary rules saying I’d do at least one a week, I’d be skipping this altogether (rather than writing two entries in one weekend to make up for it, which is what I’m doing).

Thing is, skipping this entry – excusing myself because I was busy actually doing things rather than writing about doing things – would open the door to endless excuses and no writing for the ages. Which would be sad, given that this blog is almost at its one-year anniversary of regular writing. Continue reading “The week that was”

Extra extra: Sinead O’Connor and Miley Cyrus (opinion)

I can’t believe I’m actually writing an entry about this when there’s a whole mess of other more important things out there, like, for example, every dodgy thing the current British government is saying and doing. But in the same way that a week of emails at work marked ‘urgent’, ‘urgent URGENT’, ‘URGENT URGENT URGENTIST’ has completely numbed me to the concept of urgency, so my sense of outrage has been completely ground down by current happenings on the political front. So where I used to get angry, now I just shrug wearily and think Of course they said/did that. Of course. And fret about who the hell I’m supposed to vote for in the next election. I’m seriously thinking anarchy might be the way to go.

Anyway. Because of that sense of resignation and inevitable fucked-upedness on the Important Things front, today, instead, I am getting my tuppence in on the Sinead O’Connor/Miley Cyrus shitstorm. No, I’m not linking to the letters, facebook posts or tweets – google away. It’s all out there.

I’m not sure why I actually feel quite strongly about this. I know two O’Connor songs and I couldn’t name any of Cyrus’s (though, yes, I probably have heard some of her stuff at the gym or something). So this isn’t a case of favourites. I’m a fan of neither.

Here’s the thing, though. I think that O’Connor, in writing that open letter at all, starts out in the wrong and then stays there. It’s concern trolling of the worst kind. I think that Cyrus’s twitter response was classless as well, but Sinead got in there first, so. To the bullet points!

– In its most basic form, what’s happened here is that a young, hardworking woman professed admiration and made a bit of a tribute to an older woman, only to have that older woman take to a public forum and tell her that she’s doin’ it wrong and compare her to a prostitute (the word pimp is thrown around a lot). It’s a presumptuous, patronising letter that implies she is being fucked metaphorically and literally by everyone and that she has no self respect. That sort of response from someone you admire would be bad enough, but sent out as an open letter? What a kick to the gut. It was harsh and irresponsible.

– If O’Connor were really that concerned about Cyrus that she couldn’t just shrug and take the intended tribute as a compliment, she could have skipped the ‘open’ aspect of the letter and contacted Cyrus privately. She didn’t. And I don’t believe that she wasn’t aware that posting a presumptuous and critical missive to the current pop culture scape goat under the guise of ‘advice’ would stir up a massive media shitstorm.

– Did O’Connor really think Cyrus would or could ignore that letter? Or read it and proclaim that, My God, she’s right! And abruptly change her ways? Of course she wasn’t going to do that. Cyrus is 20 and on top of the world and was just humiliated, in public, by someone she (previously, I’m guessing at this point) admired. I’m not defending (or condemning) Cyrus and her music or her style with the ‘Ah, but she’s just a kid’ argument. She’s 20, she’s a woman. But I will point out that I have known very few people who had their shit together and a solid sense of self at 20. Of those people, a couple had had their wild years by the time they were 17, and the others had various experimental meltdowns in later years. No one escapes a period where the world is judging them for their suddenly, apparently extreme, life choices. Everyone has a period of figuring themselves out.

– I am condemning Cyrus’s twitter response though. It was as low and graceless as O’Connor’s initial ‘reaching out’. And O’Connor responded straight back with the good old ‘you’re nothing but an ignorant prostitute’ argument. Neither of them are coming up shiny in this particular situation. It’s bloody ridiculous but could have been avoided if…

– O’Connor had just paid attention to her own 2012 album title and applied those wise words accordingly…

"How about I be me (and you be you)?" Yeah, about  that.
“How about I be me (and you be you)?” Yeah, how’s about that.

God knows you can’t expect other people to listen to you if you don’t follow your own advice.