Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tesco Books Review: The Book Seller of Kabul

I’m a huge lover of books, as most of you probably know by now, so when Tesco launched their new books blog I was very excited. As part of this Tesco are running an experiment and what they are looking at is grouping books by how they make you feel.....so ‘books to carry you away’ or ‘books to turn your heart in somersaults’.

I was sent a list of books to choose from and having read every single book in my usual category (books to turn your heart in somersaults *ahem*) I thought that I would strike out in a different direction and choose from the ‘books to make you think and talk’ list. Radical, huh??!

I chose the ‘Book Seller of Kabul’ (see my first post here). I posted about some of this over on my review blog but it made me feel so strongly I thought I’d post the main review here!!!  The task from Tesco was to read the book (obviously) and to figure out how the book made me feel to make sure they’ve got it in the correct category. Well all I can say is that this made me think and talk without a shadow of a doubt. In fact it made me think so much that I had to have a break half way through the book to enable my brain to untangle my emotions!!!

The blurb on the back of the book says: For more than twenty years, Sultan Khan defied the authorities to supply books to the people of Kabul. He was arrested, interrogated and imprisoned, and watched illiterate soldiers burn piles of his books in the street.

In Spring 2002 award winning journalist Asne Seierstad spent four months living with the bookseller and his family. As Seierstad steps back from the page and lets the Khans tell their stories, we learn of proposals and marriages, hope and fear, crime and punishment. The result is a unique portrait of a family and a country.

If I’m honest it’s not a book that I would normally have chosen but I’m glad that I did. It made me think......

It made me think how lucky I am to live in the UK and live the life I lead.

It made me thank god that I’m not under the control of the males in my family.

It made me realise the freedom that I have in actually having a choice in music, men, clothes, make up.

Actually it made me think about how precious freedom is and how much we take it for granted.

It frustrates me that there are still women in the world that have no choices. No access to education and live for their men.

I have talked about it with anyone who will listen.

I have ranted to anyone who will listen and sometimes to myself.

I have wished that I could do something to help, make a change, give one girl a chance but it’s their way of life and there is nothing I can do.

Most of all, I will just never understand the Afghan way of life, mainly because it’s so different from my own and trying to imagine it and get my head around is the same as trying to imagine living on the moon or being Queen Victoria.

So does Tesco have the category right? I would suggest so, yes!!! They could also place it in 'books to break you heart' or 'books to infuriate you' ;-) I would be interested to hear opinions from anyone else that's read it.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Aiming to be Better!!!

You may not have seen me around these parts so much lately. It’s not that I don’t care about my lovely blog readers or that I’m not writing but just that I have so many other things going on in my crazy life.

I’m trying to be better.  A better Mother, Housekeeper, Sister, Friend, Runner, Employee, Parker......... Obviously I jest about being better at parking ‘cos that’s never gonna happen but the rest I’m seriously working on.

It’s just it takes so much time and energy to be better ALL the time. I’m not switching my laptop on until Chick is fed, bathed, storied and sleeping and the lunches made for the next day and the clothes ironed and the house some kind of tidy by which time I’m so incoherent from lack of sleep all I can think about is my resemblance to a Stepford Wife!

Also, through only my own fault, I have a HUGE backlog of reviews and commitments to reviews that I’m trying desperately hard to keep up with. I hate to let anyone down or fail and I’m saying no to so much cool stuff but I just don’t have the time and the stuff I’ve said yes to is already diluting the time that I get to write the stuff that I want to.

Having considered all my priorities, I’ve belatedly come to the conclusion that Chick has to be the most important. Previously I’ve let other stuff get in the way but now I’m beginning to realise that I only have a few precious years left until she can’t bear to be in the same room as me and will lock herself away and be the same EMO kid that I was.....dodgy music and all!!

So if you don’t see me around here so much then please take heart. It means I’m out living life, being a good Mum to my gorgeous daughter, trying to teach her manners, how to survive life, keeping the house tidy and pretending that I’m actually a grown up ;-)

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Five Minute Writing Workshop

*This is my weekly writing whatever is in your head for 5 minutes post... This week's thoughts are not my own but are written by someone who would like to remain anonymous. Could I make a request that if you know the writer that you don't talk to them publicly about this on Facebook or Twitter. Please feel free to leave supportive and lovely comments though :-)

I just read a book called 'How to Break Your Own Heart'.
The storyline closely follows my life at the moment so I felt I had to read it.
However, I'm sitting here now, having had an argument with hubby so he's sitting downstairs and I'm up here typing. And I'm realising that he's probably waiting for me to leave since our last discussion re: children. Can you imagine going through your life waiting for the day the other person says 'that's it, I'm off '. How hard would that be?
So it's made me realise that I'm going to break HIS heart - and that's worse than anything I'm going to feel. In all this, I've never let myself consider how he's going to feel. Which makes it even harder for me to leave and which only prolongs it for him.
The books and movies that I've read and seen have only ever covered how the woman or man who wants kids is feeling but no-one ever covers how the other person feels. And usually they're the ones who have not changed thier mind and has always maintained they never wanting children but they are the ones left alone wondering what the hell happened and where has this person they fell in love with gone.

I would definitely recommend that you try this whether you have a blog or not. Five minutes of writing without thinking, no judgment, no topic prompts, just anything that falls out of your head.....I'm actually finding it extremely therapeutic.....leave me a comment if you publish yours and I'll make sure to pop over and read it :-)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 Memories

Apparently you always remember where you were when tragedy strikes be it JFK or Diana dying or the planes hitting the twin towers.

Ten years ago, I was touring America with two of my best friends, Carol & Nicole. We had driven from California to Chicago where we were staying with the family of a friend. I’d phoned home to England and told them that we couldn’t decide what to do next. We were thinking about carrying on to New York and seeing the sights and to meet up with other friends who we knew would be there at the same time.

As it turns out we decided to head back to California over the next few days. They were actually the days of my life. Giggling, arguing, laughing at Japanese tourists who turn up the most unlikely of places, ice cream socials with old people, camping, arguments, ridiculous States with nothing but corn, snow in September, being stopped by the police, smelly feet, shopping at Walmart, being apparently abandoned by the two said best friends and doing the tourist thing:

After the snow and apparent abandonment we spent the night in a random hotel in Boise, Idaho and then drove all the way back to CA. A couple of days after we got back was the 11th of September and I remember the first 10 minutes as though it happened yesterday....

We were all sharing a room and the phone started ringing. Nicole and I pretended to be asleep so Carol got up and answered the phone. In my half asleep state I could hear Carol saying ‘what do you mean you’re coming home?’, ‘No, I don’t know what’s happened’. Then the TV went on and her words turned into OMG, OMFG, What’s going on? At which point Nicole and I ran into the living room to discover that the planes had flown into the Twin Towers and they’d both collapsed.

We sat on the couch in a state of bewilderment watching the replays over and over again of what had happened. Nicole is an engineer so we asked her endless questions about how the fuck this could have happened.  Her Dad worked for the local government which was why he was being sent home and was who Carol had spoken to earlier.

Carol and I tried to speak to our families at home to reassure them that we hadn’t gone to New York but were safe and sound thousands of miles away in California but we couldn’t get a line out. Initially they were asking all Americans to donate blood and to do whatever they could to help the cause. As I was English and we were in the full throes of foot and mouth they wouldn’t let me donate and I remember thinking how terribly unfair this was!

The other thing was the panic about our friends that were visiting NY and not knowing where they were or when they were leaving. Weirdly enough they’d been to the Twin Towers the day before and were on a plane over the Atlantic when it happened. They were devastated afterwards that all the people they had spoken to the day before on their visit had likely died.

All three of us are big fans on Country music but the only song I remember them playing afterwards was:

I’m proud to be an American,
 Where at least I know I’m free

And I won’t forget the men who died,
 who gave that right to me

And I’d glady stand up next to you. 
and defend her still today......

Part of my soul has been American since that day and I still cry when I hear that song.

Eventually I got to speak to my family, to reassure them that I wasn’t in NY and that they had nothing to worry about but I’ve never known my Grandma be so cross and so upset all at the same time.
Eleven days later I flew home to England and heard their stories about 9/11.

One thing that I hadn’t considered was the time difference. My family (knowing that I’m an intrepid traveller) had presumed that we had gone on and headed for NY as I’d suggested when we were in Chicago.  They were watching the news and saw everything unfolding. After the first plane hit they were freaking out about me being anywhere near New York. I can only imagine their horror and distress as they watched the second plane hit. They actually WATCHED it. To top that off they watched each building fall presuming that even if I wasn’t there I was in the immediate vicinity.

Until recently I never appreciated quite how horrific that must have been. It was awful for the whole world, but for us watching it when it all had happened and the buildings had already collapsed was sheer disbelief. I can’t imagine watching it all back and seeing everything unfold not knowing if Chick was there or not. It just fills me with absolute horror.

When I came home I went straight to see my Grandma who to my amazement broke down and cried and told me never to break her heart like that again.

Do I agree with the way our Governments dealt with it?  Well that remains to be seen and is a whole other blog post. However when I think 9/11 my first thought is all those people that were caught up in the tragedy and the terror they must have felt.

 My second thought is my two best friends, how much fun I had that Summer and also how much I miss Nicole. Carol lives in London and is as good as my Sister so we get to spend a lot of time together.  I would love and miss them anyway but 9/11 binds us in a way that can never be forgotten.


World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is world suicide prevention day. As the child of a suicide victim (?) I feel that I should say something positive or do anything to help people but to be honest I just don’t know what to say.  I have this online voice that could probably do some good if I knew how to direct it. I’m not sure I’m even at that point yet or strong enough to even talk about it out loud. It’s taken me seventeen years to be able to bring myself to write it down.

My Dad dying was rough enough but the fact that he committed suicide made it even harder. I think nowadays it’s spoken about more but it still tends to be swept under the carpet. Partly I guess because no-one knows how to deal with it or what to say. If a person dies or cancer then you say to the relatives ‘It’s so sad, but at least they are no longer in pain’ or ‘They put up a good fight’ or ‘Life is unfair’. 

When a person commits suicide nobody knows how to react. I had colleagues, friends and acquaintances that just ignored me when my Dad died. They didn’t know what to say........so they said nothing.  (For future reference saying ‘I don’t have any idea what to say’ is a million times better than ignoring a person who’s Dad has just killed himself unexpectedly).

I spent a lot of years hating my Dad for killing himself. How dare he leave us kids and be so selfish? Throughout those years of hate eating away at me inside, many people have tried to reason with me about what could have behind it. My Dad had a tough upbringing and suffered with anxiety and depression for many years and it’s only recently that I’ve begun to understand quite how destructive a force this can be.

Knowing that anxiety and depression run through that side of my family, I’ve spent many years determined not to pander to it. When I look back over my life I can see a couple of times when I was clearly depressed but managed to hide it behind this bubbly exterior that I present to all.  In the last couple of years I’ve begun to lose the battle that I’ve always fought against this side of my personality and have succumbed to panic and anxiety attacks. I hate it about myself but can do nothing to stop it and so am learning to live with it the best I can.

A fact that only occurred to me recently was how many people were affected by my Dad’s suicide. Obviously there’s the immediate family. My brothers and I have all dealt with it in very different ways but have been hugely affected by it for almost our whole lives. As was our half Sister. It also affected the rest of the family and friends as you would expect. But what about the relationships that we’ve built since? It affects those too whether we want it to or not. It makes me so sad that by this time next year I will have spent more time apart from my Dad than with him.

Yesterday I read a blog post from a lady who’s Dad was an alcoholic. She said that she spent many years hating him for not putting enough effort into giving up the alcohol and staying sober. Why didn’t he fight harder she wondered?  As the years have gone by she’s now seeing that actually he was fighting it but just lost the battle.

I haven’t stopped thinking about that for 24 hours. What if my Dad just couldn’t fight it any longer. Maybe it isn’t a reflection on how little he loved us. Maybe he just lost the battle this time.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Five Minute Writing Workshop

*This is my weekly writing whatever is in your head for 5 minutes post...

Recently I met a man. I thought he was pretty cool and I got the feeling he felt the same about me.

A couple of days later, I was bored and being a TOTAL girl decided that I would Google him (whilst waiting for him to phone!!) to see what I could discover. Turns out that was maybe a teeny, weeny mistake. I discovered from my good friend Google that this person has a lot of money and a rather lovely property portfolio......

Holy Moley! Now what am I supposed to think???

As shallow as it is, it’s changed my whole opinion of him.

How could I possibly go out for dinner with him and bring him back to my house for coffee???

Now, this may sound like a ridiculous quandary to you all, BUT......I live in a house roughly the size of a postage stamp! We have lived here for 7 years and still have no carpet on the stairs because I would rather spend the little money that we have on travelling around England and the world.

How do you persuade someone with millions that the local cafe is a great idea for a lunch date without admitting that you only have £55.70 in the bank????

Now I’m crossing my fingers that he doesn’t call so that I don’t have to turn him down.........


I would definitely recommend that you try this whether you have a blog or not. Five minutes of writing without thinking, no judgment, no topic prompts, just anything that falls out of your head.....I'm actually finding it extremely therapeutic.....leave me a comment if you publish yours and I'll make sure to pop over and read it :-)

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Old Skool Daze

So, I post cute pictures of my daughter starting year 4 on t'interwebz and y'all are 'she's so cute, but she looks so much like you'! Awwww, I thought to myself..... what lovely comments. Then some smart arse (*ahem* Jen *ahem* ;-)  says 'you should show us pictures of you at school'!!! Hmmmmm.....well it ain't pretty but here goes.... this one is me just before I started school aged 5:

@urban_massage and I are just so good looking...... hmmmmm.....anyways.....  The next lovely picture was taken just after I turned 12 and I was very proudly wearing the Bon Jovi t-shirt my Mum bought me from my first ever concert (many, many years ago!!!)  I'm looking for a good word to explain how attractive I am but there are just no words......

Lol!!!! Hope it made you smile at least ;-)

Friday, 2 September 2011

Back to School - Year 4

So my gorgeous (attitude fueled, mouthy) year 4 daughter went back to school yesterday. Many moons ago when all was right in the world and she didn't have a mouth on her or attitude *ahem* (like two years ago), Chick was this cute:

Even last year when she had slightly more attitude she was still kinda cute:

This year that cuteness has been replaced by complete and utter Tweendom:

Yes, I say it every year at this time but how much has this girl grown???? She keeps reassuring me that this is supposed to happen but my baby is just so big *sob*!!!