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Member since: 12.08.2000

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    • Marbles - Marillion / Music Album / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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      22.08.2004 11:13

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      Marbellous - Advantages: Memorable melodies, Sumptuous musicianship, Classy production - Disadvantages: The best track (Ocean Cloud) is only available on the double album on sale at marillion.com

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    • The dooyoo Redesign / Discussion / 14 Readings / 41 Ratings
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      04.09.2002 09:58
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      There are currently 46,477,453* websites on the internet, so to be successful you have to stand out from the crowd. What you need is a U.S.P. That's a Unique Selling Point. Remember what the teacher used to shout at your while you were playing footy during Games lessons at school? Don't all follow the ball! Spread out a bit. Make some space for yourself. Be creative, be different. You are all different. Yes! We are all different. [Cue the lone voice of a dooyoo boss: "I'm not." Or perhaps: "Ich bin nicht."] Inevitably, he who pays the piper calls the tune. Unfortunately he who pays the piper sometimes turns out to be tone deaf, so he hires a really bad bagpiper, alienates his whole neighbourhood, and ends up being bludgeoned to death by pipe wielding music lovers. It's like what happened at Nottingham Forest a few years ago. The money man who invested in the club (ridding us of that [expletives deleted for legal reasons] Irving Scholar) insisted on having a say in who was appointed manager. And it had to be a big name. So David Platt - who had no previous connection with Forest, and therefore no understanding of the ins-and-outs of the club - got the job. He promptly blew millions on Italian players who made so little impression that no-one can even remember their names now. Forest went from being permanently strapped for cash, yet fairly successful on the pitch, to being financially crippled. Simply because the people in charge suddenly had more money than sense. The manager didn't have a feel for the club he was running, it's particular strengths and weaknesses. To him it was just a club, like any other. And sadly it seems that to the people running it now, dooyoo.co.uk is just a website like any other. They show no understanding of its strengths and potentialities, except those that apply to all websites. They are visionless ball-chasers, chasing the same revenue sources as everyone else, obl
      ivious to the unique selling points that their actions actually undermine. Some people have remarked that newdooyoo looks like Ciao, and talk of an eventual merger. The mad cabbie, kenjohn, has often said that, in the end, maybe only one of them would survive. Well, I've always thought that the practical problems involved in a merger would be insurmountable, and that in order to survive, both sites would have to specialize according to their strengths (or their contributor's strengths perhaps?) Ciao have always made their priorities clear by the way they dole out their Premium Fund. The monthly list of top opinions has always featured cars, electrical gizmos, and the latest blockbuster movies - but not, say, books. (Excuse me while I make that noise cats make when they're really pissed off because you've kicked them off the settee when they were curled up nice and warm. Niaaaagh!) That's one reason why I switched to dooyoo eighteen months ago, as I said in my first opinion. (Go and look if you don't believe me. NO, DON'T! - this new re-design has fecked up the layout of all my ops again.) Book opinions seemed to be valued here, and an impressive database was being built up by some knowledgeable contributors. Indeed, several of the best-known dooyooers (jillmurphy and alkaliguru) were habitués of that section, giving it greater visibility and perhaps importance in the dooyoo scheme of things. I hoped that dooyoo would capitalize on their assets in this regard, rather than taking Ciao's lazy, unimaginitive view that you will make more revenue if you concentrate on expensive stuff. (Ummm, look how many successful websites there are devoted to Rolls Royces and yachts.) But no. Dooyoo made a stupid mistake, and spoiled the ship for a hap'orth of tar, when they laid off the people with hands-on experience of running the site, and who understood what made it tick and where it's strengths lay. It's
      like sacking the driver, and then painting go-faster stripes on the outside of the bus. No, it's worse than that - they've also taken away the ignition key, steering wheel and driver's seat, so the passengers can't make the damn thing go either. Why on earth would you remove so many features that help members to navigate and use the site? Presumably because you've no idea how the site is actually used! I think the trouble is that the mammonish don't see the value in a community - to them "there is no such thing as society" (as some mad old bag once said). Sadly, it looks like the bean-counters have downsized away all trace of human insight and imagination, and now see dooyoo members as little more than a list of e-mail addresses to sell to spammers. When the bugs are cured, operation Aurora may be considered a success - but too much damage to the heart and soul and the patient will die. Members are the heart and soul of any site, just as fans are the heart and soul of a football club. If you drive them away who is gonna come through the turnstiles and buy your merchandise? Only connect, baby, only connect. _______________________________________________________________________ * Of course there aren't, I made that number up because I couldn't be bothered to do any research - just like whoever's running dooyoo these days. _______________________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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      • Beautiful Thing (DVD) / DVD / 10 Readings / 36 Ratings
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        09.08.2002 10:33
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        What does BT mean to you? Does it mean something wonderful? Something liberating? Or something beautiful? Okay, probably not, but, believe it or not, to a lot of people BT stands for 'Beautiful Thing' - this beautiful thing, this film. It is exactly what it says on the box. (Unless you're a Daily Mail reader, in which case it's part of Channel 4's mission to destroy the fabric of society by spreading filthy homosexual propaganda.) Beautiful Thing began life as a play, written by Jonathan Harvey in 1993, and is set on the Thamesmead estate in London during a hot spell in May of that year. It was filmed in 1995 as part of Channel 4's Film on Four series (which will be sadly missed after producing so many wonderful, quirky, British films over the last twenty years.) As a young man in Liverpool in the 1980's Jonathan Harvey had been inspired by the success of playwrights like Willy Russell (Educating Rita) and Alan Bleasdale (Boys From The Blackstuff) and this gem was his first success. He went on to write the appalling sit-com Gimme Gimme Gimme, but please don't let that put you off. [N.B. I've just looked it up, and, yes, you do spell appalling like that - it just looks wrong.] There are five main characters:- Jamie (Glen Berry) his mother Sandra (Linda Henry) her latest boyfriend Tony (Ben Daniels) who is a middle-class 'artist' with a hippy dress sense (he "saw a video about Woodstock once" apparently) and their neighbours Leah (Tameka Empson) who is obsessed with the music of Mama Cass, and Ste (Scott Neal*). Jamie is nearly sixteen, he's the sort of boy who gets picked on at school and doesn't like Games. He very obviously fancies Ste, who lives in the flat next door with his drunkard father, and his bullying older brother, Trevor. Ste appears to be a typical boy's boy - i.e. he plays football with the lads. As he says to Jamie: "You wanna do
        football, y'know. It's all right. People'll talk to you then." (!) But he may be a boy's boy in more ways than one... ...Because this is a fairy tale in every sense. It's a pipe-dream-come-true tale of young love. Every kid's dream of living next door to a gorgeous girl or boy, and ending up in bed with them... After being given a thumping by his brother, Ste is taken in by Sandra. "You'll have to top and tail with Jamie I'm afraid" she says, still unaware that Jamie is gay, never mind Ste, and that this could have arithmetical implications.** It also results in a very poignant moment (one of many): Jamie: Have you ever kissed anyone? And stuck your tongue in? Ste: Looking like this? Jamie: You ain' ugly. Ste: They've made me ugly. "They've made me ugly." That line always stops me in my tracks and makes me think, it carries so much emotional baggage. It's us and them. Us: who believe love is never bad, versus them: the people that spread ugliness. Whose side are you on? Although primarily about the difficulties of coming out, BT subtly addresses other issues too. Sandra is a single mother who has struggled to raise Jamie, and, like Ste, she's been on the receiving end of domestic violence. And it's not a coincidence that Leah's heroine Mama Cass was legendarily overweight either. But, more importantly, there are lots of funny lines too, many coming from the bitchy banter between Sandra and Leah: Sandra: [holding a cigarette] Anyone got a match? Leah: Yeah - my arse, your face. Oh, and there's even a (mercifully) brief snatch of Olive from On The Buses (Anna Karen) doing karaoke! There are no murders, car-chases, or CGIs, in this film, but if, like me, you're a sucker for touching, funny films about first love (like Gregory's Girl and Pretty In Pink) you'll adore it. Unless, of co
        urse, you're homophobic. Last, but not least, there's a wonderful 60's soundtrack, courtesy Leah's obsession with Mama Cass. This was an inspired choice by Harvey,         and is a huge part of the feelgood factor that surrounds Beautiful Thing right from the opening bars of "It's Getting Better". After watching it I was singing "Dream A Little Dream of Me" for days. SPECIAL FEATURES: ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ I got this for less than a tenner at MVC, and like many budget price DVD's of 'old' films, there really aren't any special features. Just the two-minute theatrical trailer, and biographies of the cast. But you don't need special features when the film itself is so special. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Length: 85 minutes. Video Aspect ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Dolby Surround sound. No subtitles. www.filmfour.com/productions This film contains bad language, mild violence (thumps and slaps), drugs, semi-nudity (that's the obligatory shot of Scott Neal's arse), sexually suggestive behaviour and some snogging. So if you're a prude I suggest you f*** *ff and watch The Sound of Music instead. Which, coincidentally, is what Sandra and Tony are watching when Jamie and Ste get to know each other better in the bedroom. Oh, and later on they discuss frottage: Ste: [reading a reply to a question in the Gay Times] You cannot transmit the HIV virus via frottage. [To Jamie] What's frottage? Jamie: Yoghurt - it's French. Awww, bless. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ * These days Scott Neal is better known as PC Luke Ashton in The Bill, and blow me if he's not about to become involved in a gay storyline there too! ** = seventy minus one ;-) ___________________________________________________________ "Jill Murphy asked
        me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just write about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August." ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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        • More +
          02.08.2002 09:57
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          N.B. This opinion was originally posted here on dooyoo a year ago, it was subsequently moved into the short-lived 'suicide' category which was removed following disquiet among some dooyoo members (who, it seems, would rather not see such matters discussed.) Not only was it archived, it was later removed altogether without me being informed. I find such surreptitious censorship cowardly, and this was one of the reasons I fell out of love with dooyoo. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Back in 1990, there was this person, let's call him 'P', and he was socially isolated. Loveless, prospectless, friendless, hopeless, everybloodythingless really. Then 'G', his best mate from school, who he hadn't seen for several years, turned up out of the blue. 'P' and 'G' chatted like old times, but not about feelings of course, what with them being blokes and this being England an' all. Afterwards 'P' wrote an incoherent and desperate letter to 'G' which brought an alarmed and concerned response, and they began to correspond. But, as I said, this is England and they were blokes, so the heavy stuff was quickly replaced by more appropriate topics (sport, basically.) However, this did at least give 'P' something to cling onto. Some hope. Being a bunch of clever-clogs, you will probably have already guessed what happened. I mean, the title of the op is a dead giveaway and as 'P' is still here to write about it, there's only one possibility left - you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to see that. But, at the time, it was very bloody unexpected. Nobody expects to be gazumped in the "f*** the world I want to get off" stakes. The letters from 'G' stopped, and by chance I saw his name in the deaths column of the local
          paper. I thought it was a coincidence - someone old who had the same name. But, of course, it wasn't. He died from an overdose (at the second attempt, apparently) in S****horpe, on August 2nd 1990. It was the hottest day of the century (99°F). Oh yes, you never forget the details. Like coming home from the funeral and hearing Radio One blaring out from a garage - bloody Betty Boo "Doin' The Do". If I may, I would like to digress here. Well, you can't really stop me can you? ...In the massive debate on the comments section of sidneygee's op on cannabis, one of many points he made was: "how would you feel if your daughter took up this habit, say a year before taking her [...] examinations?" Well, that touched a nerve with me, but not regarding cannabis. Having been affected by a suicide, any instances of suicide in the news jump out at you. Things which other people may not notice in quite the same way. You see, what angers me is that there are several REGULAR causes of suicide... and exams are one of them. Every year you read about one or two teenagers who die after taking ecstasy - it's front page news. But every year at least as many teenagers kill themselves because of exam worries, so why aren't their deaths considered worthy of the front page? In answer to Sid's question, if I did have a daughter who began smoking pot a year before her exams, two things would worry me even more than the effects of the drug. Firstly that theoretically she could be imprisoned, and secondly that the pressure of the exams might lead her to consider self-harm. Another terribly regular source of suicide stories in the news are young offenders' institutions... As I was chucking out some old newspapers last week a headline caught my eye: Locking up under-18
          s 'must stop' - Youth's suicide spurs reform campaign. According to the article there were at least twenty-six such deaths in the last six years. Why do the people who set the news agenda choose to value some young lives but not others? Because they are manipulating the news agenda to suit their own ends that's why. Using some people's grief and ignoring others. Or perhaps they think that the deaths of a few dozen wayward teenage burglars and joyriders will serve to reduce the surplus population? The family of the 17-year-old whose death prompted this article "washed their hands of him" after he was caught attempting to burgle a house. Imagine how they feel now, and remember that the next time you hear someone pontificate about "tough love". His name was Phillip too, which didn't help. There was yet another one in the news yesterday. Yet another inquest into yet another suicide of yet another teenager who couldn't cope with being bullied in a young offenders institution. The coroner recorded a verdict of accidental death, suggesting that the lad was trying to get moved to the hospital wing to escape the bullying. I'm sorry, but there is nothing accidental about something which just keeps on happening. One of the most popular "what-would-you-do if..." questions is: What would be the first thing you would do if you became Prime Minister. In my case I would have all young offenders' institutions closed down, as soon as possible. Oh, "it's completely impractical, it can't be done" the Sir Humphrey's would splutter. But I would insist. We need an alternative, one that tallies with the phrase: "civilised society". Because every youngster that commits suicide leaves behind friends and relatives suffering a waking nightmare.
          That phrase "waking nightmare" is doubly apt, because, with an unexpected bereavement, it's the waking-up that's the bastard. The knowledge of their death takes a long time to sink into your subconscious. In your dreams they are there as normal and then in the morning you wake up and remember. Every damn morning. The aftermath of suicide isn't pretty. The what-ifs and the if-onlys swim around in your head multiplying like bacteria on a student's dish-cloth. If I had known I would have done anything to stop it happening. Believe me, I would have used every dirty trick in the book, every form of emotional blackmail imaginable, given the chance. But time's arrow never gives you a second chance. Maybe one day someone who knew 'G' in S****thorpe will read this. If so, don't tell me. Because I may not be able to resist the urge to come and find you and kill you ...for not helping him. Like I tried to kill myself for not being there, and for being one of the straws on the camel's back when it broke. So, if S****horpe is obliterated by a nuclear explosion one August 2nd, that'll be me being angry. If you had known Graham (a kind, generous, modest, self-effacing person) you would understand. You would understand exactly how f*****-up the world was to let him go. You see I have an irrational hatred to anything that might have contributed to his state of mind:- S****horpe; very hot weather; money trouble; the Catholic schools he went to before I met him; myself for not being there; psychiatrists (he would have been seen by one after his first attempt failed wouldn't he?) Etc. etc. Do I sound bitter? Good. I am bitter. I will always be bitter. Some things are unforgivable. It's not the suicide who needs forgiveness though, it's the people w
          ho weren't there for them when it mattered, or who were there but did nothing, the dogs that didn't bark in the night. By the way, if you leave a comment, don't make the mistake of spewing out any of those cliches about suicide being selfish or that it's the coward's way out, because I guarantee that I will never read anything you write ever again. I mean that. Grief is a devastating thing, and many people find it easier to use other emotions to overpower it and protect themselves - like anger and hate. If you focus your anger on an appropriate target and blow your top it can mask the grief. Of course it's much better to tell someone how you feel. Even if you don't feel able to turn to someone you know, there's always The Samaritans. The Samaritans are always there to listen: Telephone 08457 90 90 90 (UK) http://www.samaritans.org.uk/ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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          • Enemy Within, The / TV Programme / 1 Reading / 30 Ratings
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            07.05.2002 09:18
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            Oh dear, how embarrassing. I'm addicted to a daytime TV show. Worse still, it's presented by 'Nasty' Nigel Lythgoe of PopStars infamy! Why? For the same reason that Channel 5's The Mole was one of my favourite shows of last year: one of the contestants is a plant - and we're not talking rhododendrons or chrysanthemums here. One of the five contestants has been given all the answers to the questions in advance. At the end of the show each contestant has to say which of their rivals they think is 'The Enemy' (Within). If, by a majority, they correctly identify The Enemy, then they get to keep the money they've won, plus the money won by The Enemy. But if they don't, The Enemy wins ALL of their money. (In the event of a tied vote, the studio audience have the casting vote.) It goes like this: In the first round, each contestant is asked three questions individually, and then there is a buzzer round. Next Nige asks each contestant who they think is the enemy. At this point, if you watch it when it goes out (rather than on video at about midnight when there's nothing on) you can phone in, vote for who you think the Enemy is, and you could win £200 - whoopee. That must make Zenith North, who make the show, a few bob. Round three sees each player being given three questions on a specific topic, about which they may know sweet FA, before Nasty Nigel divulges some embarrassing incident from each contestants' past which shows that they have been known to cheat in the past. Like the bloke who explained to a teacher that he'd been absent from school because his Mum had had to have her leg amputated. (And yes, he was the Enemy!) Lastly, there's the traditional buzzer round, and then after the audience and contestants have made their choices, the Enemy is revealed... Nasty Nigel himself doesn't know who The Enemy is, which gives him free reign to cast his
            beady eyes on the contestants and express his (and our) suspicions, interrogating them about any surprising answers they give (right or wrong) or any easy questions which they fail to answer. I enjoy trying to detect the Enemy by a process of elimination, or if that fails, by gut instinct. The Enemy will try very hard not to give themself away, but there are certain tell-tale signs that someone is innocent. No-one chooses to make themselves look dumb, so even if the Enemy chooses to give an wrong answer, it will be a plausible one. If the correct answer is Rotterdam, the Enemy might pretend to guess Amsterdam, say. So, if someone gives the answer: "A fridge?" they've obviously misheard, or misunderstood the question and can be safely eliminated as a suspect. And the Enemy won't want to draw attention to themselves, so someone buzzing in and answering the most questions is almost never the cheat. Unfortunately the other contestants often don't believe that that person is just not as dumb as they are, presume he or she is the Enemy, and lose. This is a bit frustrating, but then, shouting insults at stupid game-show contestants is one of the reasons I enjoy shows like this! Occasionally the Enemy blows it of course, and I glean great satisfaction, in my own sad way, by picking up on something that gives them away. Last week, a dumb lad called Dom aroused my suspicion by interrupting the question: "Before Greg Dyke, who was Director General of the BBC?" and answering: "Sir John Birt". I thought: Sir? Who would call him Sir? Unless you were just repeating something you'd read before the show... The Enemy Within was devised by Paul Coia, who used to present Catchword, an irritating daytime word-game-show, in which contestants had to name the longest word they could starting with one given letter, and including two other given letters in the correct order. When the letters
            they were given were, say: P, N, M (and such combinations recurred with monotonous regularity) they would smugly parrot out the longest word in the dictionary: pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis. (Isn't sesquipedalianism irritating? It's almost as bad as googlewhacking!) The Enemy Within is currently being shown on weekdays after the midday news on BBC1. But as I said, I tape it and peruse it late at night when there's never anything to watch. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. At the start of the show Nigel asks each contestant: 'Are you the Enemy?' amid the dramatic music and lighting effects that have become de rigueur since Who Wants To be A Millionaire. On one occasion, one bloke replied: 'No, but I wish I was', I immediately eliminated him from my enquiries. It's certainly an advantage to be the Enemy, and know all the answers - plus you stand to win more...just as long as you don't give yourself away! The show's producers are on the look-out for more contestants, so if you fancy your chances, send a stamped self-addressed envelope to: The Enemy Within, P.O. Box 22122, London. SE1 9GL. ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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            • Spies - Michael Frayn / Fiction Book / 5 Readings / 22 Ratings
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              06.05.2002 09:22
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              Isn't it funny how kids often seem to grow into the names they're given? Maybe names shape personality to some extent. Every Simon I've ever met has been a cheeky sod, for example, and boxers called Tarquin are quite thin on the ground. Okay, there are always exceptions to the rule - like the 1995 Mastermind champion, who was called Kevin. And I suppose there may be someone out there who was bullied at school by a Cuthbert, but it doesn't seem very likely somehow, does it? Some names are posh, some are as common as muck, and some are a bit wimpy. Sad, but true. Which brings me to Keiths... If someone asks you to name a famous Keith, what would you say? Chegwin? Floyd? Penelope? Harris of Orville shame? Vaz? Or that Tory who applied for BT shares in umpteen different names? I've only ever met one Keith, I whupped him in a uni snooker tournament. He seemed like a sad nerdy sort of lad. (I felt a bit sorry for him, I think his pals must have put his name down for a laugh.) Ah, but what's in a name? A turd by any other name would smell as... erm, shitty. Smell is a powerful aide mémoire, Proust understood that - but then his name was Marcel, not Keith. And you see, it's the smell of a shrub in late June that sets Stephen, the narrator of Spies, off down memory lane as he revisits the cul-de-sac where he lived as a child during the war. (Yes, sorry, it's another book set during the war. Just like Ian McEwan's Atonement, Rachel Seiffert's Dark Room and Mick Jackson's Five Boys, to name but three from the past year. Of these, Spies is the one I would recommend, but when are writers going to move on for goodness sake?) Stephen recalls events he was too naïve to understand at the time, revolving around the family of his friend Keith. Keith is the snotty posh boy of the neighbourhood whom no-one apart from Stephen likes. Together they spy on the comings and goings in their cul-de-sac from a
              hidey-hole hacked from the overgrown garden of a bombed out house - trying to spy spies. One day, as they follow Keith's mother, she seems to vanish... Keith's mum's furtive behaviour proves that there is Something Going On. This being a wistful, looking-back-trying-to-put-the-pieces-back-together kind of novel, you just know that the boys' privet investigations, and interference into Keith's family secrets, will have tragic consequences... At first I thought Spies was going to be just another one of those wartime boyhood stories. I had that oh-no-not-another-one-I've-heard-it-all-before feeling. Well, to a large extent it is, and it does seem predictable, but that's what the author wants you to think. He dangles the obvious in front of your eyes, so that, as with the film The Sixth Sense, you don't guess what's really going on. A subtle twist which, with hindsight connects all the dots, and is both satisfying and believable (unlike Amsterdam, Jill!) I know you're probably as fed up with books set during the war as I am, but Michael Frayn is such a good writer, and after all, Spies is only a waffer thin book... I'm sure you can find room for it, can't you? Update 19th August: Not surprisingly, "Spies" is on the long-list for the Man Booker Prize 2002, and I'm sure it has a good chance of reaching the short-list. But can such a waffer-thin book win? Probably not. ¶ Hardback: £14.99 ¶ ISBN: 0571212867 ¶ pp 213 ¶ ¶ Paperback: £7.99 ¶ ISBN: 0571212964 ¶ pp ``` ¶ 3 March 2003 ¶ ____________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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              • More +
                03.05.2002 09:31
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                Just as a dog is not just for Christmas, a Dahl is not just for children. In fact, in this case it's not for children at all. Oh, no. You really don't want your kids reading this one. It's a bit mucky to say the least, what with it being full of fornication an' all. Allegedly taken from the diaries of his Uncle (Oswald Hendryks Cornelius) and dating back to the 1930's, Uncle Oswald's exploits make Casanova seem like a librarian. He describes his hobbies as "rakery and wenching" and he observes a "no-woman-more-than-once" rule. We hear how one Major Grout, having recently returned from the Sudan, tells the seventeen-year-old Oswald about a type of beetle found there which, when crushed into a powder, is an aphrodisiac - a very powerful aphrodisiac in fact - ten times more effective than Spanish Fly.   (Y'know, Viagra hadn't been invented when this book was published - you don't suppose...?)   Anyway, the stuff is so potent that when the Major took slightly too much once, he spent a fortnight lying rigid in hospital. This gives the entrepreneurial young Oswald an idea. So, while staying with a family in France, he nips to the Sudan, buys as much powder as he can get hold of, manufactures pills from it, tests them thoroughly himself with the help of the French family's daughter, and then sets out to make his fortune. It doesn't end there though. While at university, a tutor introduces him to the rather awkward practicalities involved in the artificial insemination of cattle... and this gives him another money-spinning idea - one for which he acquires the assistance of a female student. Together they set out to obtain sperm samples from the great and the good, by plying them with chocolate laced with beetle powder. (Although Proust proves to be a bit of a problem.) The images of Oswald grasping a bull's pizzle in dubious circumstances, and of a king shagg
                ing on a joggling sofa, are ones that will live long in my memory. I imagine that if P.G. Wodehouse had a dirty little brother, then this is the sort of book he might have written. As I said, definitely not one for the kids. ¶ Paperback: £6.99 ¶ ISBN: 0140055770 ¶ pp 205 ¶ 1979 ¶ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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                • Fury - Salman Rushdie / Fiction Book / 0 Readings / 27 Ratings
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                  28.04.2002 09:54
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                  I enjoyed this. As opposed to *enduring* it, which is usually the case with Salman Rushdie's books. The only other one I really enjoyed was Shame, which made me laugh. I must confess that I've managed to avoid reading Midnight's Children - that has now joined the ranks of those books I've bought second hand and shelved, never to read (barring my becoming bedridden and bored). His last novel left me cold, but this one I enjoyed. But my enjoyment of his flowing style and bizarre juxtaposition of words was mixed with exasperation at his incessant name-dropping. At times this book seemed like a literary version of Madonna's Vogue. If the Guinness Book of Records had a record for the most real-life people named in one novel then this would surely be the new record-holder. For example, one paragraph begins: "Patrick Kluivert scored for the Dutch" and ends: "Ask anyone. Ask Idi Amin." And Rushdie also seems to have one eye on the American market: ' "Jack Rhinehart" was a usefully non-black specific name, carrying none   of the ghetto connotations of a Tupac, Vondie, Anfernee, or Rah'schied (these were days of innovative naming and creative orthography in the African-American community). In the Palaces, people were not named in this way. Men were not called Biggie or Hammer or Shaquille or Snoop or Dre, nor were women named Pepa or LeftEye or D:Neece. ' TOP GAMBLING OPPORTUNITY: Here's a game for any number of players. Each player makes a list of, say, ten celebrities who were 'current' in the year 2000. Then everyone listens to the audio book, crossing off anyone on their list who gets a mention. The first person to cross off everyone on their card shouts: BANZAI! Why does Rushdie feel the need to splatter the zeitgeist over every page? What will people make of his references to Brad, Meg, Julia, Tom, Puffy, 'N'SYNC,
                  Naomi, Robbie and Buffy in fifty years time? And who the hell are Sarraute, Gurumayi or Ivana Opalberg-Speedvogel when they're at home? Even so, I did enjoy it. Some readers have complained that the secondary characters aren't really explored, but people who analyze stuff are never satisfied, and always think they know best. Which reminds me... I suppose you want to know about the plot, don't you? Oh, I don't know, one day it's "too many facts" or "too much plot, and not enough opinion", next day it's: "nice opinion, but I'd like to know more about the plot". Well, tough. You'll get what you're given, and like it or lump it. Let's face it, this is a literary novel, so what plot there is, is spread thinly. It's set in New York during "the first hot season of the third millennium", where we find Professor Malik Solanka, who has suddenly upped sticks and left his wife, young son and London home, in the middle of the night. He had already quit the halls of academe (Oxford University to be precise) to make what becomes a cult TV series about the history of philosophy, using 'egghead dolls' to represent 'Great Minds' of history, and starring 'Little Brain' - a female time-travelling doll who interrogates them about their beliefs. But, to his chagrin, when the show is adopted by mainstream television, it is (inevitably) dumbed down. His beloved creation Little Brain becomes to philosophy, what Lara Croft is to archæology. 'Day by day she had become a creature of the entertainment multiverse.' Later in the book, his foray into the world of science fiction becomes equally successful. So much so, that on the other side of the world, revolutionaries wear masks depicting his characters as they take control of a little island nation called Lilliput-Blefuscu. There is love interest, of course. You can'
                  t have a mid-life adventure story without dollybirds. And dolls they are too: A Little Brain fan called Mila Milo, who connects him with the techy compuer geeks who turn his sci-fi tale into an online phenomenon; and Neela, whose beauty literally turns heads (and men to clutzes) and on whom his sci-fi heroine is based. There is also a murder mystery element, which inevitably (this is a literary novel, remember) ends anticlimactically. Someone is going around bashing rich girls over the head with a lump of concrete, and Professor Solanka is alarmed at reports of a man in a Panama hat being seen in the vicinty of the crimes - because he wears just such a hat. And because the night he left his wife he'd found himself standing over her with a knife in his hand... Why is he so full of fury inside, and who or what is he running away from? ' Life is fury, he'd thought. Fury - sexual, Oedipal, political, magical, brutal - drives us to our finest heights and coarsest depths. Out of *furia* comes creation, inspiration, originality, passion, but also violence, pain pure unafraid destruction, the giving and receiving of blows from which we never recover. ' I have to say that I found Professor Solanka about as expressive and animated a character as Sven Goran Eriksson. (Drat, I'm doing it now! Come to think of it they really do seem a lot alike. It just goes to show...   it really is the quiet ones you have to watch!) But I didn't mind because there were no dull bits, I was continually amused by his creative wordplay, it may not be typical Rushdie. but it is one of his most accessible books. I had Fury for a long time before I read it, but not shelved away though - I stood it in the corner of my room so that I could gaze at that stunning photograph on the cover of the Empire State Building in a thunderstorm. Ironically, of course, the Manhattan Skyline was irrevocably devastated   by an outburst of fury just aft
                  er this book was published. ¶ Hardback: £16.99 ¶ ISBN: 0224061593 ¶ pp 261 ¶ ¶ Paperback: £6.99 ¶ ISBN: 0099421860 ¶ pp 272 ¶ 4th July 2002 ¶ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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                  • World Championship / Discussion / 1 Reading / 32 Ratings
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                    22.04.2002 07:50
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                      THE EMBASSY WORLD PROFESSIONAL SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP 2002 ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ (01)   Ronnie O'SULLIVAN 10      (18)             Drew HENRY    5    (01)   Ronnie O'SULLIVAN 13 (16)         Fergal O'BRIEN    8    (54)         Robert MILKINS   2 (54)        Robert MILKINS  10                                                     (01) Ronnie O'SULLIVAN  13 (09)             Paul HUNTER   9                                                     (08)            Stephen LEE  10 (25)           Quinten HANN 10     (25)           Quinten HANN   2 (08)             Stephen LEE 10     (08)             Stephen LEE 13 (24)              Chris SMALL   7                                                                                                   (01)  Ronnie O'SULLIVAN  13 (05)      Stephen HENDRY 10                                                                                                   (05)      Stephen HENDRY  17  (169)       Shaun MURPHY   4     (05)       Stephen HENDRY 13 (12)          Alan McMANUS   7     (31)        Anthony DAVIES   3 (31)       Anthony DAVIES  10                                                    (05)      Stephen HENDRY 13 (13)                Mark KING  10                                                    (04)           Ken DOHERTY  12 (30)               David GRAY   5     (13)                 Mark KING  12 (04)            Ken DOHERTY 10    (04)            Ken DOHERTY  13 (44)        Stuart BINGHAM   8                                                                                                                                                  (05)      Stephen HENDRY 17 (03)           John HIGGINS 10                                                                                                                                                   (07)            Peter EBDON 18 (32)       James WATTANA   1    
                     (03)           John HIGGINS  13 (14)           Graeme DOTT 10     (14)           Graeme DOTT    2 (86)               Robin HULL   6                                                    (03)           John HIGGINS  7 (11)            Jimmy WHITE 10                                                    (06)    Matthew STEVENS 13 (20)            Dominic DALE   2     (11)            Jimmy WHITE   3 (06)    Matthew STEVENS 10     (06)    Matthew STEVENS  13 (72)               Mike DUNN    6                                                                                                  (06)    Matthew STEVENS  16 (07)            Peter EBDON 10                                                                                                   (07)            Peter EBDON  17 (28)          Michael JUDGE   4     (07)            Peter EBDON   13 (10)                Joe SWAIL   6     (27)                Joe PERRY     7 (27)                Joe PERRY  10                                                     (07)           Peter EBDON  13 (15)           Dave HAROLD   6                                                     (19)  Anthony HAMILTON   6 (19)   Anthony HAMILTON 10     (19)  Anthony HAMILTON   13 (02)         Mark WILLIAMS 10     (02)       Mark WILLIAMS     9 (22)           John PARROTT   7      ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Century Breaks (68) [HENDRY 16, EBDON 10, O'SULLIVAN 8, STEVENS 7] ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ 145 Matthew STEVENS 141 Stephen HENDRY 138 Peter EBDON 136 John HIGGINS, Stephen LEE 135 Matthew STEVENS, Dave HAROLD 134 Joe PERRY, Alan McMANUS, Stephen HENDRY (x2), Stuart BINGHAM† 132 Ronnie O'SULLIVAN, Stephen HENDRY 130 Stephen HENDRY 129 Ronnie O'SULLIVAN 127 Peter EBDON 126 Stephen HENDRY (x2) 125 Stephen HENDRY 124 John HIGGINS, Stephen
                    HENDRY 122 Stephen HENDRY 120 Ken DOHERTY 119 Stephen LEE 117 Ken DOHERTY 116 John HIGGINS, Stephen HENDRY 115 Ronnie O'SULLIVAN (x2) 113 Matthew STEVENS, Ronnie O'SULLIVAN, Stephen HENDRY (x2‡) 112 John HIGGINS 111 Stephen HENDRY, Peter EBDON 110 Ronnie O'SULLIVAN (x2) 109 Stuart BINGHAM, John HIGGINS, Joe PERRY, Anthony HAMILTON 108 Peter EBDON, Stephen HENDRY 107 Drew HENRY, John HIGGINS 106 Ken DOHERTY, Anthony HAMILTON 105 Matthew STEVENS(x3), Ken DOHERTY, John HIGGINS 104 Stephen HENDRY 103 Peter EBDON 102 Michael JUDGE, Peter EBDON, Ronnie O'SULLIVAN 101 Peter EBDON, Dave HAROLD, Paul HUNTER, John HIGGINS, Matthew STEVENS 100 Joe PERRY, Peter EBDON (x2), Stephen HENDRY † missed the pink when on course for a maximum break. ‡ missed the 15th black when on for a maximum both times. ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ PRIZE MONEY ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ CHAMPION               £ 260,000 Runner-Up               £ 152,000 Semi-Finalists          £   76,000 Quarter-Finalists     £   38,500 Last Sixteen            £   21,000 Last Thirty-Two        £  14,500 Highest Break          £   20,000 147 Maximum Break £ 147,000 ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Previous World Snooker Finals at The Crucible ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ 1977         John SPENCER 25-12 Cliff Thorburn 1978          Ray REARDON 25-18 Perrie Mans 1979       Terry GRIFFITHS 24-16 Dennis Taylor 1980        Cliff THORBURN 18-16 Alex Higgins 1981             Steve DAVIS 18-12 Doug Mountjoy 1982           Alex HIGGINS 18-15 Ray Reardon 1983             Steve DAVIS 18-06 Cliff Thorburn 1984             Steve DAV
                    IS 18-16 Jimmy White 1985         Dennis TAYLOR 18-17 Steve DAVIS 1986           Joe JOHNSON 18-12 Steve DAVIS 1987             Steve DAVIS 18-14 Joe Johnson 1988             Steve DAVIS 18-11 Terry Griffiths 1989             Steve DAVIS 18-03 John Parrott 1990      Stephen HENDRY 18-12 Jimmy White 1991          John PARROTT 18-11 Jimmy White 1992      Stephen HENDRY 18-14 Jimmy White 1993      Stephen HENDRY 18-05 Jimmy White 1994      Stephen HENDRY 18-17 Jimmy White 1995      Stephen HENDRY 18-09 Nigel Bond 1996      Stephen HENDRY 18-12 Peter Ebdon 1997           Ken DOHERTY 18-12 Stephen Hendry 1998           John HIGGINS 18-12 Ken Doherty 1999      Stephen HENDRY 18-11 Mark Williams 2000         Mark WILLIAMS 18-16 Matthew Stevens 2001   Ronnie O'SULLIVAN 18-14 John Higgins 2002             Peter EBDON 18-17 Stephen Hendry ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ Number of Century Breaks ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ 1985 - 14 - Highest: 143 - Bill Werbeniuk 1986 - 20 - Highest: 134 - Steve Davis 1987 - 18 - Highest: 127 - Steve Davis 1988 - 18 - Highest: 140 - Steve James 1989 - 19 - Highest: 141 - Stephen Hendry 1990 - 18 - Highest: 140 - John Parrott 1991 - 31 - Highest: 140 - Jimmy White 1992 - 25 - Highest: 147 *Jimmy White 1993 - 35 - Highest: 144 - Steve Davis 1994 - 35 - Highest: 143 - Alan McManus 1995 - 30 - Highest: 147 *Stephen Hendry 1996 - 49 - Highest: 144 - Peter Ebdon/Tony Drago 1997 - 39 - Highest: 147 *Ronnie O'Sullivan 1998 - 59 - Highest: 143 - Jimmy White/John Higgins 1999 - 53 - Highest: 142 - John Higgins 2000 - 54 - Highest: 143 - Matthew Stevens 2001 - 55 - Highest: 140 - Joe Swail 2002 - 68 - Highest: 145 - Matthew Stevens [* = A Maximum Break] ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
                    ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯ Highlights of previous World Snooker Championships ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ 1977 The first time the tournament was held in Sheffield, John Spencer put paid to Ray Reardon's five-year reign as Champion, pocketing £6,000. 1979 Terry Griffiths was a surprise winner in his first year as a professional. 1980 Cliff Thorburn took the trophy overseas for the first, and so far, only time, when he beat Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins in a final best remembered for being interrupted by British TV's longest ever newsflash - coverage of the storming of the Iranian embassy by the S.A.S. 1981 Steve Davis won the first of his six world titles, and so began his interesting domination of snooker in the 1980's. 1982 The year of the Hurricane: ten years after becoming the then youngest champion, Alex Higgins triumphed again. Who can forget him tearfully calling his wife Lynn and baby daughter Lauren down onto the stage? And his incredible clearance in the deciding frame of the semi-final against Jimmy White is one of the most memorable breaks in snooker history. 1983 Cliff Thorburn compiled the first 147 maximum break in the tournament's history, in his second round match against Terry Griffiths. Famously, the break started with a fluked red. Thorburn eventually won the match 13-12 at 3:51am - the latest ever finish to a match at The Crucible. 1985 Eighteen and a half million people were tuned to BBC2 at 12:23am when Dennis Taylor made an amazing comeback (from 8-0 down the day before) to beat Steve Davis on that final black ball. 1986 The year of the underdog: Joe Johnson and those shoes... 1987, 1988, 1989 Steve Davis steamrollered all opposition as he racked up titles 4, 5
                    and 6. 1990 Jimmy White finally beat bogeyman Steve Davis at The Crucible... only to meet a new bogeyman in the final: Stephen Hendry - who became the youngest ever World Champion, at the age of 21. 1992 John Parrott notched up the only whitewash at the Crucible when he beat Eddie Charlton 10-0 in the first round, but the man of the tournament was (almost) Jimmy White. Having recorded the second maximum break seen at the Crucible in his first round match against Tony Drago, he led Hendry 12-6 and 14-8 in the final, only to lose ten frames in a row! 1994 Yet again it was so near, yet so far, for Jimmy White when the final went to a deciding frame for the second time in Crucible history. He could only sit and watch as Hendry - playing with a fractured elbow - cleared up with a break of 58. 1995 Stephen Hendry recorded a maximum break in his semi-final match against Jimmy White (who else?) en route to another title. He won again the following year to make it five-in-a-row. 1997 Ronnie O'Sullivan rolled in the fourth 147 to be made at The Crucible in just five minutes and twenty seconds of snooker perfection. 1999 Stephen Hendry won his seventh world title, a record in the modern era. 2000 By winning the first ever all-Welsh final, Mark Williams became only the 17th man to get his name on the World Championship trophy first won by Joe Davis in 1927, when the prize was six pounds and ten shillings. 2001 The Rocket Man finally came good - Ronnie O'Sullivan winning his first world title. Surely he must be the most talented player of all time, he makes the game look so ridiculously simple. 2002 - preview Steve Davis failed to qualify for the second year running, beaten by Robin Hull, who's Finnish and doesn't have an emu, but Jimmy White is back to lose agai
                    n after failing to qualify last year. If you're thinking of having a punt on the tournament, bear in mind that outsiders almost never win. Since Terry Griffiths won when unseeded in 1979, no-one from outside the Top 16 seeds (who qualify automatically for the Crucible stage) has reached the final. Between then, and 4th seed Ronnie O'Sullivan winning last year, 18 of the 21 world championships, have been won by one of the top three seeds. The exceptions being:- Dennis Taylor (11), Joe Johnson (16) and Ken Doherty (7). So if you're not backing O'Sullivan, Williams or Higgins, you're probably a mug. Williams and Higgins look strong favourites to reach one semi-final, with O'Sullivan likely to meet Stephen Lee, Ken Doherty or Stephen Hendry (aiming for his eighth title) in the other. For O'Sullivan to win he will have to overcome the Crucible curse of course (no first time champion has successfully defended the title). My money is on John Higgins - he's a very good all round player. I've always thought he would win the world crown several times, and he's consistent - he has reached the semi-finals every year since he won in 1998. And, naturally, I'd like to see Nottingham's Anthony Hamilton do well, but I won't be holding my breath... 2002 - review: ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ What a memorable tournament! From the streaker in the Sven Goran Eriksson mask, right down to the unbearably tense finish, with Ebdon missing an easy black off it's spot when he was on the verge of victory. The tension was almost unbearable as 7.5 million viewers (1.2 million more than watched the FA Cup Final) saw Hendry force the match into a final frame decider. But in the end it had to be Ebdon, surely no-one has ever fought so hard at the Crucible. There were very few upsets in the first round, and the only
                    close match was the battle of the pin-up boys Paul Hunter and Quinten Hann. Hann's habit of smashing into the pack on the break was heavily criticised, but more power to his elbow I say - snooker needs a bit more individualism. Besides, he reckons he has a 50% chance of potting one, and I believe him. I remember seeing Ray Reardon do the same thing in an exhibition match once, a red went in, and he went on to make a century break, winning the frame without his opponent (poor John Virgo) getting a shot! The only interesting thing to happen in the second round was Anthony Hamilton beating Mark Williams. By the Quarter-Finals I was feeling quite smug. because my tip, John Higgins seemed to be in brilliant form...until he was stopped in his tracks by Matthew Stevens. It looked for all the world like Stevens and O'Sullivan, the form horses, were heading for the final, but they were overcome by two tremendous competitors in the semis... The way Ebdon came back from the brink of defeat in the semi-final, hardly giving Matthew Stevens a chance in the last few frames was absolutely magnificent. The incredibly brave shots (some would say foolhardy - but who's the fool now?) he played then, and in the final, were sport at its best. And more than that he deserved to become champion for the way he battled away - not even giving up frames when he needed snookers, in sharp contrast to Jimmy White's fit of petulance, where he conceded a frame he could still win. That is why, in my opinion, Jimmy has never won the world title and never will. He is one of those players that always seem to be playing against themselves rather than their opponent. They have completely the wrong mindset. Players like Ebdon and Cliff Thorburn become world champion because they will always try to win regardless of how well (or badly) they play, whereas p
                    layers like White and O'Sullivan go into sulk mode when they're off-form. Credit too to Stephen Hendry for getting to another final. I think many people, including myself, had begun to think he was a busted flush, yesterday's man - but his record contribution of 16 century breaks suggests otherwise. Although the match did remind me of the final twenty years ago, where another battler - (Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins) saw off the dominant player of the previous decade (Ray Reardon). Was 2002 a last hurrah for Hendry, like 1982 was for Reardon, or is he still the man to beat? Time will tell. All in all it was a terrific tournament. (I'm glad I missed the streaker though!) As for 2003 onwards... John Higgins and Ronnie O'Sullivan are surely too good not to win the title again, and now that Peter Ebdon has won the title, no-one deserves to win it more than Matthew Stevens. In five visits to the Crucible he has lost two quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final - and four of those matches were very close. The draw for the 2003 World Championship will look like this: (01)           Peter EBDON v Qualifier (16)               Joe SWAIL v Qualifier (09)           Paul HUNTER v Qualifier (08)   Matthew STEVENS v Qualifier (05)          Ken DOHERTY v Qualifier (12)          Graeme DOTT v Qualifier (13)               Joe PERRY v Qualifier (04)         John HIGGINS v Qualifier (03)       Mark WILLIAMS v Qualifier (14)         Quinten HANN v Qualifier (11)               Mark KING v Qualifier (06)    Stephen HENDRY v Qualifier (07)           Stephen LEE v Qualifier (10)          Jimmy WHITE v Qualifier (15)        Alan McMANUS v Qualifier (02) Ronnie O'SULLIVAN v Qualifier ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
                    ¯¯¯¯¯¯ Official web-sites:- http://www.worldsnooker.com/ http://www.embassysnooker.com/ Bored snooker players might like to try The German Sausage Game: http://www.snookergames.co.uk/hisgame1.html ______________________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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                    • More +
                      12.04.2002 03:30
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                      "Someone had to set it all straight. Finally I agreed to regress when I figured it might be a way to blame some of my failings on Cheggers, I urge you to do the same. " - So says Richard Lewis in the prologue to his Encyclopaedia of Cult Children's TV. (That's children's TV with cult status, and not TV for the children of cults, presumably.) This is a lovely, funny little book. It has a picture of that famous Test Card on the cover (the one with the little girl playing noughts and crosses against a toy clown, from the days when toy clowns looked innocent, rather than like something out of a horror movie.) The cover also combines the colours of dooyoo and Ciao (green and orange) giving some idea what a merger would look like. (Just joking.) This is one encyclopædia that you can actually read from cover to cover. There are facts, dates, and trivia, but mostly it's full of Lewis's amusing observations and opinion - so it is suitable for snotty twerps with silly beards and small penises. In fact if Lewis were to join dooyoo he could post many of the entries as opinions. Maybe we should invite him. ( You can check out his website at: http://freespace.virgin.net/goods.in ) Of course, the use of the word cult in the title is a crafty device. It enables him to pick and choose what to include. Also, he rather arbitrarily restricts himself to the years 1960-1988, thereby excluding the Woodentops, Muffin the Mule, Andy Pandy and the Simpsons, amongst others. And yet Champion the Wonder Horse, from the 1950's, is included. Strange. Inevitably, he cheats when he gets to 'X' and 'Y' (what, no Yogi Bear?!) and misses out 'Q' altogether. On the other hand, characters have their own entries as well as shows, which makes it useful if you desperately need to know which programme featured the character Snufkin, say, or Claptrap von Spillderbeans. There's also a complete l
                      ist of Hanna-Barbera cartoons. It's a pity he didn't accord the same honour to other companies like Cosgrove Hall (Jamie and the Magic Torch, Chorlton and the Wheelies, Danger Mouse etc.) Or the actors who provided voices for the characters, like Don Messick (Scooby Doo, Muttley) and Paul Winchell (Dick Dastardly, Bubi Bear and Fleegle in the Banana Splits). These are names that keep cropping up, and deserve their own entries. Many of the entries are quite short and pithy and some are quite scathing. He likens Crackerjack to "being stuck in a hospice with tertiary syphillis" and really lays into the nauseating Diff'rent Strokes. And (understandably) he is quite rude about Rainbow and the Smurfs too. But I think he is going too far when he describes the Play School teddies, and Hartley the Hare, as 'manky'. But then, without doubt, he speaks for children everywhere, when he says of Blue Peter: "If only you could have bought 'double-sided sticky tape' in your local WH Smith, life would have been different." This is certainly the most sarcastic encyclopædia I've ever come across - Lewis doesn't take anything seriously, even making insinuations about Gotham City's dynamic duo - Bruce Wayne and his youthful ward Dick Grayson: "Holy catamites, Batman, what exactly *is* our relationship?" Oo-er. You can find out an awful lot of stuff on the net (and a lot of awful stuff)but last year there was something I just couldn't find. Wiggglypufff had written an opinion on Wacky Races and I wanted to leave a daft comment. Specifically I wanted to quote what Muttley says after Dick Dastardly takes back a medal, as they both plummet to the ground, having failed to stop that pigeon! (Okay, maybe it's not quite the right cartoon, but so what?) But how to spell it? Nowhere on the net could I find anyone who had had a go at spelling it (drat, foiled again!) So full marks to Lewis for
                      his effort: Snckn-fstn-mckn-snckn-wawa-grr. So if you want to find out who did the voice of Benny the Ball in Top Cat, what the theme music to Black Beauty was called, or if you just want an entertaining wallow in nostalgia, this is for you. I'm off to find Wigggly's old op now... Sheeeschsheeeschsheeeschsheeeschsheeesch! ¶ Hardback £9.99 ¶ ISBN: 0749005769 ¶ pp 354 ¶ ___________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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                      • Top Ten Childrens Books / Discussion / 4 Readings / 40 Ratings
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                        01.04.2002 09:26
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                        "Begin at the beginning", the King said, gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop." That's one of many, many, many brilliant lines from: ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND (1865) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ & THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS (1872) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Lewis Carroll .......... ¶ Paperback: £3.99 ¶ ISBN: 0140433171 ¶ pp 448 ¶ Ah, the classic story of a young girl who chases a White Rabbit down a hole, imbibes a concoction which has a very strange effect on her, not unlike that of a magic mushroom (actually, I'm told it's a toadstool called fly agaric) which causes macropsia (the inability to judge size.) Not that I'm suggesting anything you understand... Anyway, then she finds herself at a tea party with a Mad Hatter (it's the mercury y'know), a March Hare (who's as mad as the hatter) and a Dormouse - and that's just for starters! So much of these books has, like Shakespeare, seeped into our language. Every child has heard of the Cheshire Cat, whose grin lingers on after the rest of him has faded away, and the twins Tweedledum and Tweeedledee.` I remember the way my Dad used to mutter "curioser and curioser" while watching mysteries on the telly, and vaguely recall playing the Mock Turtle    in a play while I was at infant school. Y'know, if the National Curriculum was determined by the Mock Turtle, the kiddies woud learn Reeling, Writhing, Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision. (So no change there.) These two books are just dripping with wonderful wordplay. ' "When *I* use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less." ' ~ Twinkle, twinkle, little bat! ~ How I wonder what you're at! ~ Up above the world you fly, ~ Like a tea-tray in the sky. <
                        br>I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of poetry, maybe that's why I love the way JABBERWOCKY reduces poetry to a series of beautiful but nonsensical tongue-twirling sounds: ~'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves ~ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: ~ All mimsy were the borogoves, ~ And the mome raths outgrabe. My thanks to auldmac for pointing out that the full text of both of these books is available online courtesy Project Gutenberg... http://gutenberg.teleglobe.net/etext91/alice30.txt http://gutenberg.teleglobe.net/etext91/lglass18.txt And if I can have two-nonsense-books-for-the-price-of-one in my Top Ten, then why not four-nonsense-books-for-the-price-of-one too... COMPLETE NONSENSE (1846-1877) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Edward Lear .......... ¶ Paperback: £3.99 ¶ ISBN: 0571207367 ¶ pp 308 ¶ Edward Lear was the youngest of twenty-one children, yes TWENTY-ONE! (Most of whom died before him) and for a while he was employed to teach Queen Victoria how to sketch. Lear created some wonderful 'characters' like the Pobble who has no toes; the Jumblies who "went to sea in a Sieve"; The Dong With A Luminous Nose (who fell in love with a Jumbly Girl); and of course, the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bò. They appeared in his four books of nonsense:- The Book of Nonsense (1846) Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany and Alphabets (1871) More Nonsense (1872) and Laughable Lyrics (1877) which contain illustrated poems, stories, and nonsense recipes. And he is also fondly remembered for his silly limericks... ~ There was an old man, who when little, ~ Fell casually into a kettle; ~ But, growing too stout, ~ he could never get out, ~ So he passed all his life in that kettle. Which (admittedly) can be a bit hit-and-miss... ~ There was an Old Person of Cromer, ~ Who stood on one leg to read Homer; ~ When he found he grew stiff, ~ he jumped over the cliff, ~ Which concluded that Person of Cromer. And, of course, kids will particularly enjoy anything that's a bit disgusting... ~ There was an old person of Putney, ~ Whose food was roast spiders and chutney, ~ Which he took with his tea, ~ within sight of the sea, ~ That romantic old person of Putney. All the limericks are illustrated by cartoons, of course, and I love the way Lear used unusual and tongue-challenging words like turbid, mendacious, melancholy and subsisted: ~ There was an Old Person of Ewell, ~ Who chiefly subsisted on gruel; ~ But to make it more nice, ~ he inserted some mice, ~ which refreshed that Old Person of Ewell. And there's a wonderful innocence about Lear's work, isn't there..? Take his most famous poem: The Owl and the Pussy-Cat for example: ~ The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea ~ in a beautiful pea-green boat. ~ They took some honey and plenty of money, ~ wrapped up in a five-pound note. ~ The Owl looked up to the stars above, and sang to a small guitar: ~ 'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love, what a beautiful Pussy you are ~ You are, you are! What a beautiful Pussy you are!' Unfortunately, children often grow up into horrid, dirty-minded adults who concoct filthy, rude limericks. I'm sure that sort of thing never once crossed Edward Lear's mind when he was writing things like: ~ There was a Young Lady of Lucca, ~ Whose lovers completely forsook her; ~ She ran up a tree, ~ and said, 'Fiddle-de-dee!' ~ Which embarrassed the people of Lucca. This strand of nonsense was surely a huge influence on the people who shaped the popular culture of the 1950's and 1960's. Like Spike Milligan - who wrote The Goon Show and died (paving the way for Monty Python)    and John Lennon, who
                        was a certainly a fan of Lear. Some of those odd Beatles' lyrics like: "semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower" which    were attributed to mind-altering substances, were probably inspired by    Lear, as was his book "In His Own Write". Interestingly, like Spike, Lear hated noise. He also thought that most human beings were "awful idiots". ~ There was an old man in a garden, ~ Who always begged everyone's pardon. ~ When they asked him: "What for?" ~ He replied: "You're a bore! ~ And I trust you'll go out of my garden." The Book of Nonsense is also online at: http://gutenberg.teleglobe.net/etext97/nnsns10.txt THE FABLES OF ÆSOP ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ ¶ Paperback: £1.00 ¶ ISBN: 0140621288 ¶ pp 224 ¶ You may not think you know Æsop's Fables but you do. His most famous cautionary tales include:- The Tortoise and the Hare; The Boy Who Cried Wolf; The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing; The Dog in the Manger; and The Fox   and the Grapes (he couldn't have them so he said they were sour.) Aesop's fables are short, pithy little tales, all with moral conclusions which illustrate consequences and stuff. They are an excellent source of wisdom    for the little 'uns - every child should be told these stories at an early age. Think of it as an inoculation against anti-social behaviour. In times of trouble you learn who your true friends are. United we stand, divided we fall. If we want our own lives to be protected, we must protect others. One good turn deserves another. Don't count your chickens before they've hatched. It's better to be content with half, than to lose all. Look before you leap. Slow and steady wins the race. Etc, etc. You can read Aesop's fables online at: http://www.aesopfables.com/ Hans Christian Andersen&
                        #39;s fairy tales are another classic source of morality for kids, and I nearly included them here. The Emperor's New Clothes is, in my opinion, probably the best little story ever told. It is one of two Penguin 60's that I keep by my bed (The Ballad of Reading Gaol being the other.) But on the other hand I really hated The Ugly Duckling as a kid - ugly ducklings do NOT grow up to be swans, they grow up to be ugly ducks! You can buy Andersen's fairy tales for a quid as one of those Wordsworth classics, or better still read 'em for free - they're also on the Aesop website: http://www.pacificnet.net/~johnr/aesop/aesophca.html And, as you'd expect, Project Gutenberg includes the stories of both Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen: xchttp://gutenberg.teleglobe.net/etext91/aesop11.txt http://gutenberg.teleglobe.net/etext99/hcaft10.txt Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce also narrowly misses out here, partly because I came across a copy this next book in an Oxfam shop... THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY (1960) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Sheila Burnford .... ¶ Paperback: £4.99 ¶ ISBN: 0340626658 ¶ pp 117 ¶ I didn't even know The Incredible Journey WAS a book until I came across it in a charity shop. I just knew it as the Disney film we got to watch in school. (Which was quite an event in the days before Video Recorders.) The Incredible Journey is the timeless tale of two dogs and a cat making their way back home across the wilds of Canada. The oldest and slowest of the trio is BODGER, a white English bull terrier. TAO, the "wheat-coloured" Siamese cat with "sapphire eyes", is the most self-sufficient, and LUATH, a young red-gold labrador retriever is the leader. The trio face many dangers along the way, from other animals (a bear cub,    a lynx and a porcupine) and from nature (when an attempt to cross a river p
                        roves disastrous for the cat). It's a delightful, captivating, adventure story; but Disney made such a marvellous film out of it, that I doubt whether anyone bothers to read it to their kids any more, which is a shame. Next is another book I found in that Oxfam shop, having lost my copy years ago (or maybe it was a library copy I read and loved all those years ago.) DOLPHIN ISLAND (1963) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Arthur C. Clarke ...... ¶ Paperback: N / A ¶ ISBN: 0140319204 ¶ pp 158 ¶ This is one of many books set in the 21st century that I read as a kid - isn't it hard to believe we're there now? Johnny Clinton (don't snigger) is an orphaned teenager living with "unsympathetic relatives" (and before you ask, no, he doesn't have a pet owl.) One night he sneaks out and stows away on a hovership, but unfortunately for him, it crashes into the sea. After clambering onto a piece of flotsam, he finds himself surrounded by fins, fortunately they're dolphin fins, and the dolphins push him towards land.    And there he is taken in by a scientific community who are attempting to communicate with dolphins. As well as helping them with their experiments, he learns to skin-dive and explores the Great Barrier Reef. And here, in his descriptions of the underwater wonders of the reef, Arthur C. Clarke's love    of diving in the Indian Ocean shines through. I wonder how many kids were inspired to become marine biologists by this book? When the scientists do manage to communicate with dolphins, they're faced with a tricky dilemma, because the dolphins ask for their help - in a war... HELEN KELLER'S TEACHER (1965) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Margaret Davidson. ¶ Paperback: £4.50 ¶ ISBN: 0590446525 ¶ pp 153 ¶ I wasn't going to include any non-fiction, but how could I leave out a book    as memorable as this? I still have several biographies specia
                        lly written for children, including another one by Margaret Davidson called 'Louis Braille,    the boy who invented books for the blind' and 'The Story of Madame Curie' by Alice Thorne - which I also considered including here. Are kids given potted biographies like these to read nowadays? And if not, why not? Children need, and want, heroes to inspire them and role models to look up to and to emulate - real people, not just boy wizards! (Although, that said, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire' knocks spots off some of my choices.    But until J.K. gives us Harry Potter V, VI & VII, I think I'll keep my options open Potter-wise.) Joanna (Annie) Sullivan was born on April 14th, 1866. Her parents had left Ireland a few years earlier because of the famine. Annie soon developed    the eye disease trachoma and was prone to throwing wild tantrums.    Annie's mother died from tuberculosis, and her father became a drunkard,    so their children ended up being cared for by relatives. But they found her behaviour intolerable and packed Annie, and her younger brother Jimmie,    off to a poorhouse. Now Jimmie had suffered from a tubercular hip since birth, and before long he died, leaving Annie devastated. [Whoever is humming Simon Bates' "Our Tune" just stop it right now!] Eventually, Annie was allowed to go to a school for the blind, and received some education. There she also met an old woman called Laura Bridgeman, who had been taught to communicate despite being deaf, blind and mute, using a hand-to-hand version of sign language. Annie went on to use this technique when she was asked to be a governess to a deaf-mute blind girl called Helen Keller, who subsequently become a world famous academic. Helen had become deaf and blind after contracting scarlet fever when she was a baby, and became shut off from the world. Her parents spoilt her,    and just like young Annie, she became prone to th
                        rowing tantrums. Annie's struggle, first to tame Helen, and then teach her to communicate, is deeply moving. Culminating in the triumphant day that Helen hides in a wardrobe and then spells out her first sentence: G-I-R-L   I-S   I-N   W-A-R-D-R-O-B-E. Talking of wardrobes... [Did I hear someone groan?} THE MAGICIAN'S NEPHEW (1955) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by C.S. Lewis ............ ¶ Paperback: £3.99 ¶ ISBN: 0007115555 ¶ pp 176 ¶ Now here's an odd choice. Why have I plumped for this prequel, instead of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe itself? And how can I choose a book I'm not sure I even read as a child? (I probably did, but it was a long time ago.) Well, the play's the thing, you see... At junior school I was involved in a play based on this book. I played Uncle Andrew (boo, hiss!) a cowardly rotten dabbler in magic, who has some rings made out of dust from the lost island of Atlantis. When his nephew Digory and Polly, the girl from next door, find their way into his forbidden study while exploring the attic, he uses them as guinea pigs in an experiment. He gets Polly to put on a yellow ring and she disappears. Digory is shocked by Uncle Andrew's callous disregard for Polly's safety, and chivalrously goes to her rescue, and they find themselves in a wood between worlds. They end up tumbling from one world to another and back again, picking up a strange entourage along the way, including a queen who's a bit of an old witch, a cabbie and a lamp-post, before witnessing the wonderous creation of a new world by a singing lion called Aslan. The world is Narnia of course, and the lamp-post becomes a significant landmark. So if you've always wanted to know how it got there, you have to read this book! The first actor to play Digory to my Uncle Andrew quit y'know. Aww come on, I wasn't shaking him THAT violently, I mean, it's gotta look realis
                        tic, right? C.S. Lewis died on November 22, 1963, the day that Aldous Huxley died, amongst others. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (1964) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Roald Dahl ............ ¶ Paperback: £5.99 ¶ ISBN: 0141311304 ¶ pp 192 ¶ You know the story: he's just a poor boy from a poor family, but he finds one of the five golden tickets hidden in Wonka bars and, along with his Grandpa Joe, gets a tour of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, along with four spoilt brats who each meet a sticky end. Possibly the greatest novel ever written. Seriously. What do you expect from a classic novel? An imaginative unique, plot? Memorable characters? Wit? Comedy? A sharply observed critique of the moral values of society? Pathos? Bathos? D'Artangnan? (Sorry, I know, I've done that joke before, but I couldn't resist it.) This book has everything, the only things missing are those pretentious, polysyllabic words beloved of intellectual snobs. Now, I know what you're thinking, you're thinking: "Hang on, if that's possibly the greatest novel ever written, why isn't it your number one?" (or else: "How much bleddy more of this is there, you stupid cunctator?")    Well, it's because the last two really were my favourite books as a child,    and so are close to my heart... FOXY (1959) ¯¯¯¯ by John Montgomery .. ¶ Paperback: N / A ¶ ISBN: 0330028251 ¶ pp 120 ¶ After seven years in an orphanage in London, nine-year-old David Grant is adopted by Mr. & Mrs. Hedger, and goes to live on their farm in Sussex. Inevitably he finds the country dull in comparison, but what they do have    out in the sticks are animals. Not just farm animals but pets as well, and he soon yearns for one of his own. He asks the Hedgers if he can have a dog, but they tell him to wait until he's older. Then one day he is
                        sent on an errand which takes him through the woods, even though there is an escaped convict on the loose (well, you can't have    a children's book with an escaped convict, can you!) In the woods he meets a mysterious stranger. Now be honest, you thought he was going to find an abandoned fox-cub and then take it home and keep it as a pet, didn't you? Well, ok, you're right, he does (the escaped convict is a bit of a red herring). He can't keep Foxy a secret for long. But, surprisingly, when they see how tame the animal is, the adults quickly come to accept his new 'pet', and Foxy become quite popular. Yeah, I know, a tame fox is stretching reality a little and the pro-Fox-hunting lobby would scorn such namby-pamby propaganda but then again, the pro-Fox-hunting lobby are vermin, and should be shot, so who cares what they feel (if anything)? And, yes, the fox-hunting season does come round, and yes, Foxy does go missing on the day of a hunt, and yes, I'm afraid little David does see a fox caught and killed by the hounds... Sadly he doesn't see the hunters machine-gunned to death by saboteurs, but, y'know, one day maybe. Sorry, have I gone too far there? Look, if they go around killing things for pleasure, they aren't human they're vermin. But that's a different opinion. The point is, I remember Foxy being my favourite book when I was about seven, but then tragedy struck... Sometime in the mid-1970's our Council House was re-modernised (I'm sure that was the word the council used - as if they'd been modernised before!) While it was being done-up, we were moved into caravan. "It'll take about six weeks, so you should be back in your homes by Christmas..." they said.    It took six months. A lot of stuff had to be packed away in the garage, which is where I thought my copy of Foxy was put, but I never saw it again. I found another copy in that Oxfam shop recently thoug
                        h :o) And (at) last, here it is, my favourite children's book of all time... NO WAY OF TELLING (1972) ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯ by Emma Smith ........... ¶ Paperback: N / A ¶ ISBN: 0006707394 ¶ pp 224 ¶ It was while living in the caravan, that I read this book. I remember starting it on a cold, snowy, New Year's Day. Or perhaps that's just how I choose to remember it? Maybe I was re-reading it - I think that this was the first book   I ever read twice, and maybe it wasn't actually snowing, but this book left me with a love of snowbound stories... I yearn for a week of heavy snow,    so I can sit by the window and read 'The Song of Hiawatha' or 'Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow', while listening to 'Incantations' by Mike Oldfield. (Do you know, I think I've read every other book Peter Høeg has written apart from Miss Smilla - just because I'm waiting for snow!) Who can forget being let out of school early because of heavy snow? Well, that's what happens to Amy Bowen... "Snow, she thought, was a marvel - it was indeed! Snow was like nothing else: it changed the world, the whole of life, in a matter of moments. Not only the shapes of trees and grasses were changed but daily habits - even laws lost their power and had no meaning when snow fell." Amy lives with her Granny in a mountainous area of Wales, and they are completely cut off by the snow. And yet they have an unexpected visitor... ` A huge man bursts into their kitchen, searches their house, and takes some food and blankets without saying a word to them. What a gripping start!    The next day, two men on skis appear, obviously hunting the first man.    They claim to be the police, but Granny is strangely unfriendly to them, perhaps it's the gun... This is a terrific thriller with an amazing atmosphere. It sent shivers down my spine and kept me totally spellbound - just
                        like it did when I was a kid! "No Way Of Telling" was shortlisted for the 1973 Carnegie Medal, but is now out of print. You can't get it from Amazon and you can't have my copy either, so if you want to read it you'll have to beg the publishers to re-issue it, unless you can find it in one of those magical charity shops that is. Phew! Thanks for reading all that, I hope you enjoyed it. If not give yourself a medal! The End. _____________________________________________________________ ¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯

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                        • Control of Time / Discussion / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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                          01.04.2002 09:26

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                          Sorry, I don't have time for this... - Advantages: Being able to do six impossible things before breakfast. - Disadvantages: You run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking...

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                        • Conspiracy Theories / Discussion / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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                          01.04.2002 09:16

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                          RUN! Get out of there - they're coming for you! - Advantages: Find out what's REALLY going on. - Disadvantages: They're all out to get you.

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                        • Money / Discussion / 0 Readings / 0 Ratings
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                          01.04.2002 09:16

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                          It's a gas, but keep your hands off of my stack. - Advantages: It'll buy you a diamond ring my friend... - Disadvantages: ...but money can't buy me love

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                          01.04.2002 09:15

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                          The cat, of course, said nothing. - Advantages: A funny book full of wisecracks - Disadvantages: Very small print,, and you really don't want to know what he likes to do to Beanie babies...

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