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Member since: 17.06.2009

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    • More +
      20.07.2009 23:52
      Very helpful



      I won't be going back

      Remembering how much I loved Alton Towers when I was younger I decided to take my younger brother and cousin last year. My Dad offered to drive us there and in return I paid for his ticket.

      The park is in Staffordshire and the costs of entry to the park are now £29 per adult and £22 per child. (these may have gone up again by now)

      The park itself is great, we all know the rides etc so I will not bother to list them all. They have many different places to eat and rest.

      The one ride that sticks out in my mind is Oblivion. I recall loving rollercoasters...and now after going on Oblivion I really don't plan to ever go on one again! The ride slowly takes you to a great height and then stops at the top of a very big vertical drop. Okay... now I am scared.... but then the actual carriage tips toward so that your face is directed to the ground.... Okay... now terrified. Then you are dropped into a black hole very fast. At this point I needed fresh underwear. I got off frantically looking for a medic, certain that I was going into cardiac arrest (no, I really am not kidding) and must have had palpitations for the next 20 mins. After that I did not go on anything other than the tea cups!

      The park layout is extensive and will easily take a whole day to go round. They have great shops, with Alton Towers gifts starting for just a few pounds... so it's great for the kids.

      They have one HUGE flaw with the park in my opinion. My Dad is 18 stone and was quite looking forward to the day out and when we got there he was hardly able to go on any rides due to his weight (there is a tester seat and none of the harnesses would lock over him). I was really gutted as my Dad doesn't often look forward to things and he spent the day unable to have fun and was pretty glum and humilated actually. It was also a total waste of £25 quid!

      Also after waiting 40 minutes to go on Rita: Queen of Speed my brother and cousin were left unable to ride on it as it broke down with people still stuck on it. This did not really fill me with confidence!

      It is nowhere as good as I remember it being and I don't plan to return.


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      • Tesco Express / Supermarket / 16 Readings / 16 Ratings
        More +
        20.07.2009 22:33
        Very helpful



        Use it when you need too

        Tesco Express seems to have cropped up all over the place, no more are local shops an individual business, they are now all exactly the same. It's a little sad really as I quite liked the individually owned shops that were all cramped and quirky.

        That being said Tesco Express is pretty useful. It contains all the things that you may need to put the finishing touches on a meal and the typical 'bread and milk type items. It is well laid out and not stupidly priced. Basically it is Tesco but on a smaller scale.

        One of the things that I really do not like about Tesco Express is that you will pay up to 30p extra on some items than if you went to your Big Tesco Extra. I don't really understand this - if something is £1 in Tesco Extra then why oh why is it £1.10 in Tesco Express? If you are buying quite a few items you certainly notice the price increase when you look at your receipt.

        In my personal opinion it is a lot cheaper than the local Co-op shop and around the same as One Stop.

        The other thing is that they will only ever sell the more expensive brand of a product. For example last night I needed some frozen veg, which I normally pay 99p for in Tesco Extra. In Tesco Express they only stock the Steam Fresh frozen veg which I paid considerably more for.

        One of the main perks though is the 'scuff shelf' as I call it, where they reduce products with a short sell by date. You can quite often pick up a really good bargain, for example last week I got quiche from there for 30p and froze it. Bargain!

        In general it is okay for buying one or two bits but I wouldn't suggest getting your weekly shop there!


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        • Prototype (PS3) / Playstation 3 Game / 28 Readings / 27 Ratings
          More +
          20.07.2009 04:09
          Very helpful



          A good game but nothing amazing

          In this game, the "hero," is Alex /mercer, a man that cannot remember anything about himself but finds himselfwith strange abilities. As the game progresses you find out his past and what happened to him to aquire these abilities. As you find out about these abilities the city of New York gets infected by a virus (that is very similar to the resident evil T virus). I will go no more into the plot and spoil it for those who have not yet played.

          The game itself is based in a representation of New York (never been so don't know how accurate it is) which is a free running paradise, lots of tall buildings and places to hide and "change" (shape shift).

          Graphically the game doesn't run 1080p, instead running at 720, which to the modern gamer is almost an insult, however the game play is smooth, the cut scenes are interesting and the city is colourful. The only minor bug bear is that all the enemies look identical bar 2 or 3 varieties and there are far too many taxis.

          The game play itself is twitchy, lots of button varieties to do lots of things which makes trying to remember some essential moves very difficult indeed, however it is possible to button mash your way through it without too much hassle.

          The game length is very long, it will take you more than a week to complete, be prepared for the long haul, and to complete fully will take an age.

          Would very much recommend this game to anyone, just keep in mind it is very long!


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        • More +
          20.07.2009 02:40
          Very helpful



          Log on and start losing!

          After trying the Cambridge Diet, Atkins, Lighterlife, Slimming World and Weight Watchers to no avail I stumbled across WeightLossResources.co.uk
          I skeptically signed up for the 24 hour free trial (no credit card details required).

          Once I logged in I was asked some questions about my weight and height, how active I was and how much weight I wanted to lose each week (you have the option of choosing between .5lb to 2lb per week), and your target weight. After inputting this information you are then given your own little graph which shows where you are with your current weight and then shows you your target. Everytime you have lost you simply input your new weight and it updates your graph. It's really positive to see it it decrease. It also keeps a check on your BMI and lets you know what your new BMI is every time you put in your new weight.

          It will allow you a certain amount of calories (depending on your height, weight and rate of weight loss) per day. You then input everything you eat into their extensive database and it puts the calories in for you... so for instance if you eat Hovis medium cut white bread then that is what you type into the database and the amount of slices you have eaten and it will give you the amount of calories you have consumed by eating that bread.

          If for any reason the food you have eaten is not in the database then you can add it yourself by inputting the information from the packet into the database.

          You can also keep track of your exercise too, and for any exercise you do, you earn extra calories to eat. The amount of calories you earn for exercise again depends on your weight, height and rate of loss. For instance, I would earn 270 cals for 30 mins of cross training.

          It's great for if you are going out for a drink at the end of the week as you can earn your calories in advance and not feel guilty for "binging".

          It works out how much protein, fat, carb etc your food has so you can really keep track on what you are eating.

          The other great thing about Weightlossresources is the forums/boards. They have hundreds of other members on there to provide motivation and support for when you are having an off day etc and it's a really great atmosphere. The boards are usually busy from 7.30am until about midnight. I have made friends on there and even gone to some of their birthday parties!

          They also have a Helpteam which are available from 8-8 (from memory) and also able to answer any queries you may have. The longest I have ever waited for a response from the Helpteam is about 1 hour.

          They even have things like Mcdonalds and Domino's Pizza in their database so if you want a treat you can have it and still keep track of your diet. It tends to go by the theory of everything in moderation, which is superb and stops you feeling like you are actually ON a diet.

          I have never managed to lose weight on any other diet but on Weightlossresources.co.uk I have lost two stone in less than 3 months without punishing myself and made lots of friends.

          It works out quite cheap too at £9.99 per month (if you think some slimming clubs charge £5 per week so you are actually saving money)


          Log on and have a look!!!


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          • More +
            20.07.2009 02:05
            Very helpful



            It needs to be done.

            I currently have my Grandad suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and fibrosis of the lungs. Yesterday my Nan (his wife) was taken into hospital and may too have COPD and also has a clot on her lung. We have been told by the Doctor that their illness is smoking related. They have explained that my Grandad, will be dependant on oxygen 24 hours a day and is confined to the house due to this. He has lost all his independance and feels very useless. The Doctor's have also told us that he will die a very horrible, nasty death where he will be gasping for breath but unable to get it.

            I personally, do not want this. So, I am giving up smoking. I am currently undergoing heart investigations as I have heart problems in my family. Chances are it will be that what gets me in the end but I have no intentions of assisting it!

            I live in a house with 3 other smokers, my partner and both my parents.

            I have given up several times in the past and everytime I have done it cold turkey. I find that for two day's I am a complete cow and then after that it gets easier. This is mainly due to the fact that nicotine only stays in the body for 48 hours and after that I tell myself that the addiction is all in my head. I have lasted 3 months before whilst not living at home. When living at home it has been about a week. In that week I found I could taste more, smell more and breathe better. One major downside is all the gross stuff you cough up - but when you consider it has been on my lungs for months I'd rather it came out!

            The hard part for me is that my parents buckle every single time. It is then I buckle because they will continue to smoke around me. I don't believe it is the 'giving up' that is difficult but actually STAYING given up. Don't get me wrong - giving up is no picnic but it is made a thousand times harder by other smokers being inconsiderate and continuing to smoke around you.

            Really if you put a recovering alcoholic around drinkers and alcohol then they are much more likely to be tempted to go back to their own ways.

            I am simply going to have to put up with it this time. If they want to kill themselves then fine but I refuse to do it to myself. I think now each time I am tempted I am going to have to say to myself "I do not want to die earlier than I have too".

            I can give a few tips on giving up as that is what I find the easy part....

            Everytime you want a ciggie - have a mouthful of water. You will find you drink loads of the stuff but hey, it's good for you and it keeps your hands occupied.

            Nicotine is out of the body within 48 hours - after that it's strictly habit and all in your head. You can beat it!

            The night before you give up make a point of brushing your teeth for a seriously long time and do not smoke after that. Then when you wake up you do not have the smoke taste in your mouth.

            Chewing gum will keep you doing something with your mouth.

            To all those wanting to give up - please do, I am having to watch the effects of the people who have chosen to carry on smoking and it really isn't pretty.

            To those who choose to carry on smoking - please be considerate to those wishing to give up.

            *** have also written a general review on smoking.


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            • Twilight [2008] (DVD) / DVD / 31 Readings / 31 Ratings
              More +
              06.07.2009 18:07
              Very helpful



              I won't be watching the next one

              I am really not sure I like this film...

              Kristen Stewart plays Bella Swan, who has just moved to Forks to stay with her Dad due to her mum going travelling with the new husband.

              At school she meets Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson and they are drawn to each other. Turns out though that he is a vampire, but a good one that doesn't feed on humans (how many times is that one going to be used? It worked in Buffy and now everyone is a good vampire. Pfft!).

              Edward has to protect Bella from the other vampires who want to munch on her, and does this with the help of his vampire family.

              Firstly, Robert Pattinson. Every was ranting about how gorgeous he was after he starred in this... sorry I really don't agree. Average.

              Secondly, I do not like the character of Bella at all. I don't know why but I found her to be a bit of a muppet. Her reactions are totally unrealistic and no one in her shoes would act that way.

              Kristen Stewart who played her, I thought was naff. Too hesitant and in my opinion did not deliver her lines well at all. No conviction or emotion really. She also done thid weird "thing" (which I think was supposed to show she was under Edward's 'spell') with her eyes and it looked utterly stupid. I thought she was going to have a seizure or sneeze.

              Edward Cullen was an odd character and I couldn't really warm to him either, he didn't really have much of interest to say. That being said, even though I do not find Robert Pattinson attractive in the slightest I couldn't help but keep my eyes glued to him.

              Pattinson's acting was okay, he was a broody vampire. Nothing more, nothing less really.

              The plot did not exactly thrill me, I found it all a little slow, the relationship with Bella and Edward did not feel "real" at all.

              The 'bad guy' didn't really come into play until the end of the film which I didn't like either... it was almost like someone thought " oh darn we forgot the badguy, quick chuck him in".

              Not something I would watch again and after seeing it I would not be tempted to read the book either.

              Was sorely let down after being really excited about watching this...


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              • More +
                02.07.2009 21:34
                Very helpful
                1 Comment



                Just give me 2 million, keep the other 23!

                Okay, if we are looking at the £25 mil jackpot then I think my spending list would go a little like this....

                1. Buy my mum, dad a new house and car each. Clear their debts. Then I would give them 2 million and let them get on with it.

                2. Give my lil bro 100k to play with and put a million in trust for him.

                3. Give all of my cousins (10 of them) 200k each. 100k to play with and the rest to be saved.

                4. I would buy myself a nice 5 bedroom house with a pool. (750k?)

                5. Employ a chef and personal trainer lol (40k)

                6. Take my driving lessons and buy a half decent car. (20k)

                7. Travel the world. (50k)

                8. Get married and have a big lush ceremony (100k)

                9. I would study degree after degree on everything that interested me (100k?)

                10. Go under the knife (30k)

                11. Work for free with small local charities.

                12. Donate a few million to Willen Hospice (our local charity) and Huntingtons charities. (4 million)

                13. I would take care of all my grandparents (2 million???)

                14. Get involved with funding a homeless centre in our area (10 million)

                15. Put the rest away for the kiddy winks

                Mind you if you ask me the same tomorrow no doubt my answer would change.
                I don't think I would actually WANT that much money. A few million sure, but 25 million!? I wouldn't know what to do with it, or myself!


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                • The Punisher (DVD) / DVD / 15 Readings / 13 Ratings
                  More +
                  02.07.2009 16:46
                  Very helpful
                  1 Comment



                  Give it a watch...

                  Ok firstly, this is a review simply on the film itself as I have never picked up one of the comics.

                  Released in 2004, this film stars Tom Jane (oh yum!) playing Frank Castle. Frank has just retired from being an FBI Agent. The opening scenes show him in his last undercover operation, in which a young man is killed.

                  It transpires that this man is Bobby Saint, son of the notorious Howard Saint. When Howard hears of his son's death he orders that the man responsible is killed. His wife however has other ideas and orders that his entire family is murdered.

                  Meanwhile Frank is at a family reunion happily relaxing with his family, when Howards mob descend upon the party and kill every family member including his wife and son. Frank is shot and left for dead but... who would have guessed it? He pulls through!

                  He becomes determind to find who is responsible for killing his family and makes his sole purpose to punish them.

                  Not spoiling the plot so that is all you are getting.

                  This is the first time I have come across Tom Jane and found him brilliant (and beautiful!!!). He plays a totally cut up man who, when he is isn't delivering a good beating, is drinking himself into oblivion trying to forget the pains of his past.

                  I love the fact that he isn't all outright brutal but actually very clever in the way he gets his revenge. It's not simply about kicking ass (although there is plenty of it), its more about being clever, sly and manipulating people.

                  John Travolta plays Howard Saint and I am not 100% sure on him being the bad guy...He is a great actor but I just don't feel this role suited him particularly well. He is enthusiastic enough he seems a little over the top. I think it was a bad casting choice, there are much better candidates for this role.

                  All in all I found it a good film and watch it often. It's nothing outstanding but will keep you entertained for a few hours.


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                  • More +
                    02.07.2009 16:16
                    Very helpful
                    1 Comment



                    Only buy one pack. The more you get, the more you will eat.

                    I bought these whilst in Thorntons a few weeks back. They were £1.79, which I must say I would not normally pay but it was my payday and I was feeling flush.

                    The packaging makes the product look quite tempting (well tempting enough to pay £1.79!) and was easy to open and did not spill crumbs everywhere. It is slightly different packaging to the picture provided - more expensive looking.

                    Once opened you find 12 little squares of the caramel shortcakes, which are about 1 inch square. They come in a gold foil tray and you just pick them out when you want them.

                    The chocolate is 3mm thick on the top (just enough, not too much or little) and the caramel is about the same thickness, as is the biscuit at the bottom.

                    I personally put these in the fridge when I bought them as it was a hot day and when I ate them the chocolate had a fim bite/crack to it but the caramel was still very soft and gooey and the biscuit was firm but crumbly.

                    Just pure heaven! The fact that it is a bite sized piece is great as it stops it being too big and becoming sickly, the balance of chocolate, caramel and biscuit is just enough, there is not too much of one ingredient that overpowers the others.

                    I bought three more packs (they were that good!) for a girlie night in and they were gone in 20 minutes with everyone commenting on how yummy they were.

                    Best part is that per serving (which I assume is 1 square) they are only 86cals. Bad part is that you can easy eat 860calories worth!


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                    • Ghost Whisperer / TV Programme / 17 Readings / 17 Ratings
                      More +
                      02.07.2009 15:37
                      Very helpful



                      Give it a go... you might like it!

                      The Ghost Whisperer is a programme that is based around the life of Melinda Gordon who owns an antiques shop in Grandview, New York. What makes Melinda different from normal people is that she can speak with the dead.

                      The episodes are around 50 minutes long and usually consist of a ghost coming to Melinda for help and she has to unravel the mystery of the ghost's past and help them to cross over.

                      I love this show, it's very emotional and I always end up in tears whilst watching it.

                      The format of the programme is quite repetitive and almost every episode ends up the same.... Melinda in tears, being thanked by the ghosts family for helping the ghost to cross over. Ghost goes into the light and everyone cries. During these episodes there is usually a little sub plot which eventually builds up and leads you to the Season Finale.

                      Even though every episode is pretty much the same old story I do really enjoy it and always have my kleenex ready.

                      Melinda is played by Jennifer Love Hewitt and I find she plays the role very well and love the way that each season you find out more and more about her and her past, how she deals with her 'gift', her relationship with her mother etc. I also think its quite funny how a lot of the local folk think she is a bit weird as she is often seen talking to herself!

                      David Conrad plays Jim Clancy, Melinda's husband who has to put up with his fair share of grief from Melinda's gift.

                      I am really not into spoilers so that is all you will get from me I am afraid!

                      Even though the format is the same it is a really enjoyable programme and even my partner likes it so it can't be THAT girly.

                      Season 1, 2 and 3 are currently available to buy from most reputable retailers for between £20 - £30 with Season 4 being released in September of this year.

                      You can also catch the programme on Living TV on Tuesdays @ 9pm!


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                      • Sister Act (DVD) / DVD / 21 Readings / 20 Ratings
                        More +
                        01.07.2009 14:16
                        Very helpful



                        Get the family together and enjoy!

                        This is a film that I grew up watching and I still watch it now I am older.

                        Released in 1992 this film is about Delores Van Cartier, who sings in her married boyfriend's casino.

                        After an argument she runs off to find her boyfriend Vince (Harvey Keitel) to tell him she is leaving but witnesses him in a room standing by whilst his sidekicks shoot one of his employees.

                        She goes to the police and they enlighten her to the fact that Vince Lerocca is actually a major underworld figure and they have been trying to get something on him. Detective Eddie Souther (Bill Nunn) decides to hide her in a convent, much to her dismay! Meanwhile Vince has got a contract out on her.

                        Mother Superior (the outstanding Maggie Smith) takes a dislike to this outspoken woman and forces her to join the convent's awful choir after dubbing her "Sister Mary Clarence".

                        I am a huge Whoopi Goldberg fan and think she fantastic in this role. She plays her role brilliantly and is totally convincing. The only issue I have is that sometimes when she is having one of her 'hissy fits' it can be quite hard to understand what exactly it is that she is squealing. The fact that she is the only black nun instantly means she sticks out like a sore thumb and other nuns are quite curious about her.

                        Wendy Makkena who plays Sister Mary Robert is a brilliant character, extremely sweet and innocent and I love the look of shock and amusement on her face whilst she is listening to Mary Clarence's food blessing. It's great that she seems to find her place in life throughout the film and become more confident.

                        Kathy Najimy is Sister Mary Patrick, who has a huge heart (and vocals to match) who befriends Mary Clarence. Her acting in this film is superb!

                        Mother Superior is my favourite character in the film. The looks of utter disgust she gives are hysterical and the annoyance on her face is so evident.

                        The songs are really catchy and after watching this film I am usually caught singing them whilst cleaning!

                        The only problem I have with this film is that there is not really much explanation about the relationship with Delores and Vince... it just seems to storm right on in there and possibly could have done with a bit more attention.

                        All in all a brilliant film for the whole family!


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                      • More +
                        01.07.2009 13:36
                        Very helpful



                        Brilliant fun!

                        Well I had one of these last night and must say it was such a giggle!

                        I go in Ann Summers shop from time to time but they do not tend to stock everything in the catalogue, hence having a party.

                        Some people think these are seedy (my mum is one of them, she made a point of going out and refused to enter the house until the sex toys were put away, I wouldn't mind but she's only 45!) but to be honest they are a real good laugh and not intimidating at all.

                        My consultant Mandy arrived about 20 minutes before mt guests to set up everything. I invited 10 people and out of which 7 showed up.

                        Once we were all sat together Mandy gave us all name stickers (I was Hump Me Hayley and my friend was Jiggle Balls Jane just so you get the drift) as a way of getting to know each other.

                        She then showed us all the underwear and basques etc explaining about them and the prices and told us we were free to try on what we liked.

                        After that we played a game where she held out a card with a letter of the alphabet on and whoever shouted out the most sexually explicit thing beginning with that letter first won the card. The most cards won. The winner... Me... got a lovely little Ann Summers phone charm.

                        We then all passed round the sex toys and had a look at those.

                        This was followed by another game, where we had to put a piece of paper behind our backs an d do our best to rip out the shape of a penis. Best penis won a prize!

                        We then all tried on some more bits, had a raffle (which I must say, the prizes were excellent).

                        My organiser was fantastic - very friendly and helpful.

                        Just so you know what you will be getting for hosting a party...

                        Okay I had 7 people and excluding me they spent £250 between them. I got 10% of that to spend on products, plus a little party pack for having the party (which included some body candy, an 'over the counter viagra', flavoured lube etc) and because my guests spent so much and 2 further parties were booked I also got to choose from a selection of free gifts (I chose a cami top and top pants).

                        Sorry if this review is a little too much info for some but my take on it is, there are going to be some people reading that have debated having a party but were not sure, this should sway you either way because it tells you exactly what goes on and the kind of thing to expect.

                        I enjoyed it so much that I am looking into becoming a consultant!

                        BTW - log onto the Ann Summers website! They have a fantastic sale on at the mo and you can get basques and crosets from £5!


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                        • Constantine (DVD) / DVD / 26 Readings / 24 Ratings
                          More +
                          30.06.2009 01:14
                          Very helpful



                          Watch it if there is nothing better on.

                          Ok I have never read the comics, so cannot tell you how true to the comic the movie is (according the other reviews though - not true at all lol).

                          In a world where Demons and Angels exist, there is John Constantine, a guy who once committed suicide, yep the mortal sin, as he could see these demons and wanted a way out. He died and went to Hell but was revived.

                          Knowing exactly where he is going for his sin, John tries to 'buy' his way into Heaven and back into God's good books by sending demons back down to Hell.

                          He is running out of time though as he actually is dying of lung cancer.

                          Enter Angela, who's identical twin has just committed suicide. She seeks out John to help her as she feels there is something more to her Sister's death.

                          As in all my film reviews... I am not one to spoil a plot so will leave it there.

                          I am not particularly a fan of Keanu Reeves, who plays John Constantine. I find him passionless and he just doesn't seem to have more than 3 facial expressions. I think that is quite good for this role though as John comes across as a man who is without passion and who has lost his enjoyment for life as he knows he is off to Hell.

                          Rachel Weisz, who plays Angela Dodson/Isabel Dodson, in my opinion is a fantastic actress but did not really come across well this in film. She is great at delivering humour (The Mummy for example.....I, am a Librarian!) but there is no real humour in this movie and she seems quite wooden.

                          But that being said I don't think the script was particularly powerful.

                          I did enjoy the film because I am quite into the whole heaven/hell/supernatural type films but when I think of it, it doesn't make me instantly think "wow what great acting". The acting is average.

                          The plot seems a little far fetched, but when is chatting to the Angel Gabriel ever going to come across as realistic? It has a rushed feel to it, like they tried to cram too much in and too quickly.

                          I love the fact that Gabriel, who we are all taught to believe is naturally an angel and therefore good, is quite resentful and twisted.

                          I think my favourite part is when you see Lucifer (yes, thats right, they have the Devil in this movie!). Most associate him with a pitchfork and lots of red and fire.

                          In the film you do not see him rise from the ground as you would expect but to slowly descend from above donning a white suit. I do like this as it is slightly more true. I mean, in the bible Lucifer was a fallen angel, so why shouldn't he be in white and coming from the sky? Kind of like he is replaying his 'fall'. I couldn't quite understand why he feet were covered in black goo but I found his appearance quite effective.

                          The graphics are okay but nothing spectacular. I watch the film often as I quite like the plot but would never say it's an "outstanding" piece of cinema.


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                          • NHS Direct / Other Service / 35 Readings / 32 Ratings
                            More +
                            29.06.2009 23:33
                            Very helpful



                            NHS Direct save lives. Simple as.

                            I wasn't actually intending to write a review on NHS Direct. I am simply a former employee that was nosing at what people thought of the service.

                            Some of the scathing reviews and downright bull on here have really got my back up and I feel I need to voice my opinion, especially since I was an employee so know both sides.

                            Okay, most know what NHS Direct is, it is a 24 hours free telephone and internet based communication method to help people with health information and queries.

                            My first issue is reading a review where someone had basically slated the service based on what they had read in the paper. If you have not experienced the service first hand - don't review. Simple as.

                            I worked for NHS Direct up until 2 months ago (I left due to my Grandfather being very ill) and would take on average 60 calls per evening. I was one of the Health Advisors, which is the first person you speak to (the 'fresh graduates' as people on here have called us). We undergo very good, thorough training and are reviewed throughout out employment.

                            The first moan people had is that we ask pointless questions... okay let me explain as I can understand how it may seem to someone who is ignorant of how the system works.

                            The Health Advisors ask your name, age, date of birth and current location and postcode as if you are having a serious problem, they can get you an ambulance straight away and they have to relay this information to the ambulance service.

                            A lot of people don't know this but you can actually say you would prefer not to give the information, you are well within your rights. However, if you call with a stomach ache and do not want to give your age it means they do not know if you are pre or post menopause etc. Some illness are more common in certain ages and sexes so it is always going to be a more accurate assessment the more information you provide.

                            After that they ask your main symptoms. They will then ask further questions on the symptom to determine the severity of the issue.

                            This is called prioritising. Lets say you ring up with a painful foot, that you have told us you can stand on. That has established that it is not excrutiating as you would not be able to stand on it. Meanwhile you have a man that is struggling for breath and has chest pain. Who is a bigger risk and a higher priority? Obviously the gentleman who is struggling for breath.

                            The less severe your symptoms, the longer you will wait for a call back. To me that is logical. The longest I have ever known someone to wait is 15 hours, and according to some of the other staff that was the longest they had ever seen a call back time; so I must disagree with the review where someone claims they waited 48hours for a phone call and 'could have been dead by then''. That persons' call would have also been assessed to ensure it was not urgent. It does not make sense, if the call back time was only 15 hours in our busiest period ever. Sure, it was probably urgent to the caller but that does not make it a MEDICAL EMERGENCY. That is what people need to realise.

                            Depending on your symptoms the Health Advisors will refer you to your GP if you require seeing face to face, A&E, dispatch an ambulance or refer you to one of our nurses.

                            It has been PROVEN that we HAVE reduced the pressure on out of hours doctors and A&E departments.

                            I cannot stand the way people seem to think NHS Direct are idiots. The nurses there are very knowledgable and well trained and the 'fresh graduates' have saved lives. Slate them all you want. THEY HAVE saved lives and that is an amazing feeling. I should know.

                            It is also a very emotional job and I have been in floods of tears on several occasions (am actually in tears writing this thinking back to some of my experiences) and when you get callers that are rude to you it is awful.

                            I have had calls where I have had a hysterical screaming mother on the phone because her baby was choking and turning blue. Suicidal callers standing there on the other end of the phone with a knife in their hand to slit their wrists. Someone who is having a very apparent heart attack. People in sobbing fits and do not have anyone to turn too. Screaming mums with their son choking on his own vomit.
                            It is NOT an easy job and anyone who wants to argue otherwise is not worth my oxygen.

                            If a problem is assessed as extremely urgent then it is the job of the Health Advisor to call 999 and have an ambulance sent out. It is the most scary feeling in the world. You constantly worry "am I going quick enough? Am I going to be responsible for someone's death"

                            When you have calls like the above, you then get someone else call going beserk at you because they have have an assessed low priority problem and are waiting for a call back. It does take a lot to not bite and say "ok Madam, I will get the nurse to hang up on the man who is about to kill himself and get her to call you straight away about your sons papercut"

                            That being said the Health Advisors do understand that you are in agony, but medically if you have an earache then that is not an emergency, but it is still hard to hear someone crying in pain and knowing that there is nothing you can do as you have to follow protocol. They do feel bad that there is nothing more they can do.

                            I personally have never ever been rude to a caller, you may not be aware but NHS Direct do also offer other services such as locating you an NHS Dentist, GP or answering general questions such as "Can I take nurofen with paracetamol?" They treat every call the same, even when I had a call from a 14 yr old lad asking me if he was pregnant after having gay sex (with all his mates howling with laughter in the background) I remained professional.

                            I did actually have people call in to speak to a manager to tell them about the excellent service that I personally gave, which is just lovely and gives you a huge boost.

                            I also am a user of the service. I have called before with general questions, and one particular one that sticks in my head was when my friend was leaking a clear fluid from a wound on her back after having surgery. I spoke to a lovely nurse who advised (after I gave the full information) that she was quite possibly leaking spinal fluid and needed to get back to hospital as she could end up brain damaged. My friend went back to her consultant and this 'assessment' was totally and utterly correct.

                            I am making myself even more irritated so I will sum up...

                            I would never say that any service is correct 100% of the time, there will always be one or two that slip through the net. However, the media do love to portray NHS Direct in a negative light. They do not mention the statistics of the people we have helped. Oh no, they only ever report the controversy.

                            Also, do try to keep in mind that the people at NHS Direct are exactly that. PEOPLE. They have feelings and they work very hard doing their best.

                            1. NHS Direct do make it very clear on ALL calls that they do not diagnose as they are not with you and therefore cannot examine you. They assess your SYMPTOMS. Let me be clear on that. SYMPTOMS. So if you miss out a symptom that is important that is not their problem. This can be proven as every single call to NHS Direct is recorded to ensure the staff are not doing anything wrong.

                            2. You do have the choice to not take the advice given, if a nurse has said 'do not worry, your child is fine' but you are gravely concerned that they have not given you the right advice then SEEK OTHER ADVICE.

                            3. If NHS Direct refer you to your out of hours GP, then it is not their fault if the GP takes ages to get back to you. Nor is it their fault if there is not an emergency dentist in your area.

                            I was a huge fan of the service before I was an employee. Seeing it as an employee made me appreciate it even more.

                            People do not praise enough - if you receive good service then let them know. They do not hear it often enough!

                            FYI - not a graduate.

                            DISCLAIMER. Please be advised that I am not a spokesperson for NHS DIRECT and speak of my own experience of the service. This is my opinion and experiences only.


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                              29.06.2009 20:21
                              Very helpful



                              If my family were that thick... I'd disown them

                              This film is about the Bartel family, Claire Bartel (Annabella Sciorra), her husband Michael (Matt McCoy), and their 6-year-old daughter Emma (Madeline Zima).

                              Claire is pregnant and whilst in the care of her new Dr, Dr Mott, she is sexually assulted. Michael encourages Claire to report it and soon other women start to come forward saying the same.

                              Dr Mott then shoots himself, leaving his heavily pregnant wife to have a miscarriage with the stress of it all. She has to undergo an emergency hysterectomy and blames the Claire Bartel for all of it as she is the woman who made the complaint about her husband in the first place.

                              Meanwhile life is still going smoothly for the Bartels, Baby Joey has just been born and Soloman, played by Ernie Hudson, (who is mentally handcapped) has been helping them make some home improvements and generally taken under the familys wing.

                              Wanting to have some more time to pursue her hobby Claire begins looking for a Nanny.

                              Enter Payton Flanders (Hmmm we have seen her somewhere in this movie before!) who just seems to good to be true and the Bartels hire her immediately.

                              The thing about people that seem to good to be true is that they usually are....

                              I am not one for spoiling plots so will leave it there... if you are wanting a spoiler there are plenty of websites/reviews that will give you it :)

                              I am on the fence when it comes to this film, I can sit there and enjoy it but still pick fault the whole way through.

                              Firstly the acting by Annabella Sciorra was in my opinion pathetic, she has the worst 'asthma' I have ever seen and I just remember thinking "well love if THATS how you take your inhaler no wonder you are always wheezing".

                              Also I must say I disliked the character of Claire Bartel, considering she is supposed to be the eventual hero of the film she is a very weak, whiny, over emotional little thing and also not very bright. At all.

                              There is not a lot that can be said for the character and acting of Micheal Bartel as there was little evidence.

                              Their 6 year old daughter Emma seemed to have more balls than both of them and a higher IQ. Madeline Zima was brilliant and gave a good firm tug on the heartstrings.

                              Rebecca de Mornay's acting I found more pleasing. I loved the fact that she could switch from good to bad in a split second and had two different voices, the voice of Payton and the voice of Mrs Mott.

                              I actually felt a little sorry for Mrs Mott, although she seemed a hard faced old bat it must be a real kick in the teeth to find out your husband is accused of sexual assult (which lets face it, she doesn't know if it is true or not), then kills himself, then you lose a baby you were desperate for, then you can't ever have any kids. I think I would be fairly miffed in those circumstances... I think some of the ideas she came up with to tear the family apart were classic!

                              However, I think in this film the award has to go to Ernie Hudson for his role as Soloman. The acting was outstanding and to see him being bullied by Peyton/Mott was really quite heartwrenching for me.

                              I do like the character of Soloman as well, I think it is great that not one person of normal intelligence doubts Peyton for a second but the very moment he (the 'retard') first meets her, he knows this woman is not right. I love the way he kind of stalks the family to ensure they are safe and its lovely at the end when he becomes the hero.

                              There are some scenes in this movie that the director or producer or writers should have picked up on and improved.

                              Firstly, the scene where Claire goes into respiritory arrest. My other half is a nurse and during this scene was shouting and cursing at the screen about how unreliastic it was and how a respiritory arrest looks NOTHING like that. Needed to have been more thoroughly researched.

                              2. When the credits were rolling up at the end I was in fits of laughter to see that they actually employed "asthma consultants". Well... I'm sorry, they should have been sacked! What a total mockery of asthma!!! The actress should have known how to take an asthma pump and how to wheeze like an asthmatic. This is the job of the asthma consultants one would assume? Well... they were skivving.

                              3. Someone hits you in the back with a spade and you pass out... highly unlikely. Yeah you would possibly fall over and be a little dazed but doubt you would pass out.

                              4. Why, oh why would you hire someone to come into your home after meeting them for 4 hours and not checking the reference provided?!

                              5. The fact that both Claire and Micheal have no depth or initiative! None.

                              6. If you thought your child had been abused would you really have just sacked the person and then carried on like normal? NO, after you had informed the police, you would surely try and get some counselling for the child!?

                              7. And in my opinion this is the more important.... would you, ever let a woman who is far more attractive than you move into your house, sorry no. Every female I know would pick the ugliest Nanny they could find... just to be on the safe side lol.

                              Basically this is an okay film to watch if you are bored and at a loss but expect to question the intelligence of some of the characters.

                              You can pick it up in Tesco these days for about £3


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