Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Hmm. I have a dilemma.
I started reading a book a while ago, but now it's driving me MAD. And I think it's the Optimism Gene (TM) that is causing all the trouble...
I bought Jed Rubenfeld's 'The Interpretation of Murder' about two months ago from WHSmith in my local shopping centre. I fancied a coffee and, as one of my all-time favourite indulgencies is to sit in Starbucks (or Costa, or Caffe Nero, etc etc) with a good book, I thought I'd treat myself to a new read before settling down for half an hour over a great cappuccino.
Now, everything about this book suggested that it would be right up my street. It's set in New York (which I have been in love with from afar for many years); it's set at the start of the last century - a time when all the skyscrapers were being built; there's a mystery to solve... and the cover looked good!
Richard and Judy must have liked it, because it was their 'Best Read of the Year' Book Club reads. Now, I have to admit I'm not an avid follower of their literary taste, but on this one I thought I'd take their tip.
...But, oh, Mr and Mrs Madeley, what were you thinking?!
Initially, I loved the book - I read the first chapter really fast and started to get involved with the story... But then, the going got slower and slower until I was forcing myself to pick the book up at the end of my day. It took me the best part of six weeks to read thirteen chapters (which isn't even halfway...).
Now - this is the bit where my Optimism Gene (TM) causes the problem. Everything about the book tells me I should love it - but I don't. Yet, I can tell it's incredibly well-written and clever, so I feel like I should finish it. I keep thinking it must get better SOON.. Any minute now...
But I'm finding it so difficult to muster the enthusiasm to continue reading it...
...And now, other books that I have waiting to read are starting to sparkle and wink at me...
So, you can see my dilemma. Should I abandon the book and read something more exciting instead, or carry on out of sheer bloody-mindedness, just because I don't want to be defeated by a load of words?!
Sometimes, being an Eternal Optimist is such a tiring occupation!
Monday, July 30, 2007
My Dad is a Star...
Here he is! ----->
And I don't just mean he's a star because he's the Best Dad in the Whole Wide World (not that I'm biased in any way, of course!) As well as being the Dickinson family knight in shining armour - my sister and I call him 'Sir GallaDad' - he is also a TV and Film Star! He's worked with A-listers, on prime-time TV shows and now on two feature films... He is a Supporting Artist (don't call them 'extras'!) and has been appearing on national and international screens for the past four years.
Most recent appearances have included: Life on Mars (series 2, episode 1 - Dad is the body on the double-decker bus!), Crimewatch (Dad was the guy who got attacked with a skewer - eeuuww), Blue Murder (Dad was in the episode featuring Tom Bell, as a family member claiming they killed someone - he was wearing a green fleece!), Doctors (lots of episodes) and Casualty (quite a few appearances in the waiting room)...
He was a passer-by in The Libertine, with Johnny Depp, and has most recently worked on the upcoming film version of Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl - with Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Eric Bana - as a nobleman at the Boleyn family table!
What is so wonderful about this for me is that he deserves it all so much. Dad worked for 40 years in a job he really didn't like and wasn't valued in, just because he was determined to provide for his family. He got 'given' early retirement at the age of 56 and felt like he'd been dumped by the company. My sister and I never wanted for anything - even when often it was a struggle for Dad and Mum to do all the things they wanted for their family. Dad was always content to carry on being undervalued and ignored at work, just as long as we were all cared for, fed and clothed. And every situation my family faced was always approached with my parents' trademark sense of humour, fun and creativity.
Dad has been involved in amateur dramatics for over 40 years - in fact, my earliest memories are of him and Mum learning lines, going to rehearsals and performing in plays. And Dad is a KILLER on stage... Somehow, when he has lines to say and an audience in front of him, my unassuming Dad becomes this amazing acting phenomenon. He has timing to die for and an expressive style that wins audiences at every single performance. He comes alive when he's on the stage and he's always loved being able to "get up there and sock it to 'em.."
So, when he got the opportunity to work as a Film and TV extra, he cautiously accepted. And he hasn't looked back since!
One funny thing about Dad is that he rarely knows who his co-stars are - he'll get home from a day's filming and say, "Do you know who Natalie Portman is?" or "I'm working with this guy and I'm sure I know him from somewhere - do you know Jonny Vegas?" One time, he worked with Jonathan Wilkes' mum (Robbie Williams' mate) and had a great chat with her about "Robert"!!
Dad has a blog, where you can read all about his exploits in the TV and film industry - as well as other really funny stories about his life. You can see it by pasting the following into your browser:
Trust me, it's well worth a visit!
So, next time you watch a TV programme or a movie, watch out - you might just see my Dad!
Friday, July 27, 2007
Yesterday after work, I went out shopping with my lovely boyfriend, Bob. He's just moved into his new house - which is all very exciting - so we are still getting extra little bits and bobs (no pun intended!) for his home.
One of the things on the list was an extension lead for Bob's bedroom, so he can watch TV in bed (oh, the decadence!). Which meant a trip into B and Q - a cavernous warehouse full of DIY stuff and a place where many non-DIYers fear to tread (me included...)
It's easy to get unnerved in this Temple of All Things Manual. The aisles are seemingly never-ending, there appears to be no logic to the order in which items are arranged and, with all the paths almost identical, you quickly lose your sense of direction... I'm not proud to admit it, but I've had more than one panic attack in B and Q stores. My ex-husband used it as a form of torture sometimes, I swear - he'd instruct me to find something and would go careering off in the opposite direction, leaving me alone, disoriented and lost in a sea of DIY products. And woe betide me if I came back empty-handed...
There are shop assistants in B and Q. But they are strange, disconnected - almost ethereal - beings. They walk around in bright orange aprons, marching purposefully towards unspecific destinations, avoiding eye contact with any poor, unfortunate lost person, to ensure they are not distracted from their mission. In any other shop, someone in a uniform walking round the store usually means they're willing to help you. But not in B and Q. Oh no. Ask an orange-aproned temple guard a question there and it's like the whole warehouse falls silent in shock... A million eyes zoom in on you. A wisp of loft insulation blows along one of the aisles. Somewhere, way in the back of the store, a doorbell tolls. The answer you wil receive will be curt and icy-cold, a hand waived dismissively in a general direction, before the assistant hurries away - leaving you alone to face the unbridled scorn of B and Q's learned customers...
So, you can understand the considerable trepidation with which I approached the Mecca Of Handymen yesterday... Especially when I remembered that, as I had gone shopping straight after work, I was still wearing my gorgeous new kitten-heeled shoes from Monsoon with my office clothes. This was going to be a mighty challenge for my sparkly Optimism Gene (TM) - how was I going to blend effortlessly into the hushed, reverent shopping atmosphere when my every heel click would be heard echoing through the palatial hall?
But, do you know what? I actually found it amusing - and quite liberating, in fact - to click-clack proudly round the store. I kept thinking, "I am the only person in high heels in B and Q - that makes me unique!"
Sometimes, it's good to stand out. It's taken me a long time to learn this, after years of feeling crushing embarassment in various scenarios. Yesterday made me think that it can be fun to proclaim your difference to the world, instead of hiding away in shame.
The Eternal Optimist is back in da house!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
So... I'm writing a novel, did I tell you?
Aha, well let me enlighten you then, dear Reader...
I started writing my book about 4 years ago. And what's strange is that it was all a bit of an accident, really. I was given, quite possibly, the oldest - and definitely grumpiest - PC in existence, by a good friend. It was so old that the hard-drive unit for it was HORIZONTAL and the monitor, whilst having a depth to rival a fridge, possessed the smallest screen you can imagine.
But, being the self-confessed Eternal Optimist that I am, I loved it as soon as it arrived. Because it was MINE.
I won't go into too much detail (way too depressing!) but, at the time my lovely-but-grouchy gadget arrived in my life, I was in the middle of an incredibly unhappy and painful marriage. Problems at home had more or less sapped the life out of me. I felt alone, uninspired and unable to be myself.
A very dear friend took me to one side and said I needed, "A good, old-fashioned dose of selfishness..." - which turned out to be a gem of advice that, quite literally, changed my life. What she meant was that I needed to find something that was just for me - and nobody else.
So, one rainy Saturday afternoon at my parents' house, I booted up The Grumpster and waited.
And waited a bit more...
I got up, made a mug of coffee, helped myself to a biscuit, had a quick chat with my Mum and returned to check the progress of my 'new' machine...
...Five minutes later, the desktop page loaded.
This, I was to discover, was one of the many questionably endearing characteristics of my PC. But, you know, it was OK - it gave me the chance to do lots of other things while waiting for everything to load up.
I'm one of those people who attribute human characteristics to inanimate objects. I feel a compulsive need to apologise to the twenty teddy bears I'm leaving behind in the shop, when I've finally chosen one of their number for a gift. And it's the same with my PC - I couldn't bear the thought of trading him in for a much better model - after all, he'd served me - in a fashion - for a couple of years and, you know, once he got going, he wasn't too bad... It's like the kettle I had when I was married. The switch on it broke, so it turned itself off before it had properly boiled. So you had to hold the switch down until it had boiled - burning your fingers in the steam every time. But, still, I couldn't quite bring myself to part with it - it worked fine as long as you held the switch down, you know?
Anyway... Once my PC had loaded up, I began to write. Quite by accident, the 100 words or so that I originally typed suddenly started to grow, as if by themselves... Characters started to appear, whilst others I'd intended to be 'supporting cast members' developed into main players.
And I fell in love with writing...
Now, the book is about 2,000 words off completion... It needs some revisions (although I have been editing as I've gone along - I find this works best for me) -but it's nearly there. And it's good! So good, in fact, that it was one of the things that brought me and my lovely boyfriend Bob together.. But I'll tell you more about that another time.
So - I'm writing a book... Don't know if it will ever get published, but being the Optimist that I am, you just never know...
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
I'm an eternal optimist. I can't help it. And, it's not for want of trying, believe me.
I think I have an in-built Optimism Gene (TM). Somewhere, way back in the depths of my psyche, this little gene sits - probably in a really cosy chair with a nice cup of tea and a blanket over its knees... Then, whenever a situation arises that may cause me to doubt, despair or just plain give up, the little gene jumps into action. Sparkling like a twinkly star in a dark night, my Optimism Gene (TM) dashes round my subconscious mind, spreading its warm, happy glow, making everything feel safe and snuggly again.
Not that I don't occasionally get down and disheartened - sometimes I do (maybe when the O.G. is asleep or just far too snuggly for its own good). But it isn't long before my little happy gene snaps back into action and I'm all positive again.
Rain for 100 days? No worries, I can see a tiny patch of blue sky, so it can't last much longer. And even if it does, I love my big green anorak - and wellies are SO this season...
Unceremoniously dumped? Well, it's just making way for the next adonis who will arrive. Any moment now... Um..
*checks watch, whistles embarassedly*...
Well, even if there's a Handsome Prince Shortage (happens more often than you realise), I can get all those things done that you never get the chance to attend to when you have a "significant other". And I can have sole use of the remote control. Ooh, and I never have to worry about watching my cringingly-embarrassing DVD collection...
See? It's inescapable...
...But then, is that necessarily a BAD thing...?