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Lactulose is a laxative which is available either on prescription or over the counter from the pharmacy. It contains sugars which are not broken down by the body but act along with the bacteria which is in the gut to pull water into the bowel and thus soften the stool making it easier to go.
Lactulose is an extremely sweet and sticky liquid, the usual adult dose is three 5ml spoonfuls, which can be taken up to twice a day. There are reduced doses for children and babies but it is best to consult a doctor if they need treatment. The liquid tastes really sweet, unpleasantly so but it can be mixed with either water or juice to make it more palatable. I personally recommend that adults just gulp it down as quickly as possible and then rinse the mouth out with water afterwards. It is recommended that you up your fluid intake when you take lactulose as your body needs the extra liquid to be taken into the bowel in order for the medicine to work.
I have taken lactulose a few times and found that it is effective within a day or two doses. It is a gentle laxative in that it does not cause an explosive bowel movement like some other medicines can but rather works gently to restore normal bowel functioning.
Lactulose also works on cats, although it is probably not a good idea to use it without a vets advice. My kitty Shadow was severely constipated a few months ago and the initial enema did not work so he was sent home with a bottle of lactulose. The dose for a 5Kg cat is 5ml and getting that sticky liquid inside a cat's belly is not easy. I discovered that a downside of that sticky liquid is that it sticks to a cat's whiskers! The lactulose did work for Shadow after a couple of doses and I have occasionally needed to give him a half dose when I see the symptoms of constipation starting again.
One thing that really annoyed me about the lactulose being prescribed for the cat was the price, a 30ml bottle from the vet cost over £6 to be dispensed while a 500ml bottle from the pharmacy costs around £5.
If you are constipated and the lifestyle changes of drinking more water and eating more fibre do not work then give lactulose a try, suitable for all the family from young babies to adults and feline friends too!
Ruth finds a plastic bag washed up on the shore of the small Canadian island where she lives with her husband Oliver. Inside bag is a hello kitty lunch box containing a diary, a wristwatch and some papers written in kanji and French. She suspects it may have travelled from the Japanese tsunami and sets to work reading the diary and discovers that it was written ten years ago.
The diary is written by a Japanese teenager called Nao (pronounced Now) who sits and writes in a maid café in Tokyo. Life is tough for Nao, she has spent almost all of her life in America until her father lost his job and the family were forced to come back to Japan. Japanese culture is not kind to anyone who is different and she is relentlessly bullied at school. She is worried that her depressed father cannot cope with his jobless state and does not see any hope for her future. Nao decides to record the life of her 104 year old Jiko or great grandmother, who is a radical feminist and Buddhist nun, and hints that she will end her life when she is finished.
Who is Nao, and can Ruth trace her and reach out to her? What has happened to her in the years since she wrote her diary?
"A Tale for the Time Being" takes us on a tour of contemporary Japan; both to the city and a rural monastery, and the two worlds couldn't be more different. Japan can be a very harsh place to live, if you do not fit in then you are shunned and Nao is viciously bullied at school. It is a culture shock for a young girl who has grown up in America to go into a society where "we" rather than "I" is important, where she lives in an apartment block amongst prostitutes and her father grows increasingly depressed at not finding a job. The second Japan is the mountain monastery where Jiko lives and has a completely different pace of life. The book also goes back in time to World War two where Jiko's son Haruki was a kamikaze pilot, his life and death having had a lasting effect on his family.
The parallel story of Ruth helps to piece together the mystery of Nao's life and at the same time she deals with her own struggles. The themes that Ruth deals with are often similar to those that Nao faces with ageing relatives, where your roots are and identity being explored.
The book looks at the meaning of time, both through the perspective of a wise old Buddhist nun and through quantum physics. I already knew a little bit about the Buddhist idea of living in the present moment so this aspect fascinated me. I will admit that the quantum physics went way over my head and made my brain hurt! How can Schrödinger's cat be both alive and dead? Are there multiple branching universes where different scenarios of our lives pan out? Who knows, but I would prefer to deal with the here and now.
I really enjoyed "A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozaki for the quirky way in which the book was written. I fell in love with Nao and Jiko and I found that the descriptions of all aspects of Japanese life and culture had me hooked and wanting to learn more. It is a really good book which will make you think about your place in time in a different way.
I have owned a Kindle for a year and have always been happy with it. I decided to buy my daughter an E-reader for her birthday but didn't want to spend a lot of money. I decided on the Kobo mini as it was on special offer for just £30, RRP is £60 but it seems to normally retail around the £50 mark.
The Kobo mini is the smallest of the E-readers on the market with a screen that is 4.9 inches. The Kobo mini weighs just 132 grams and because of the small size, it can fit inside many pockets making it highly portable. It is a good looking wee gadget; the casing is silver with a diamond pattern criss crossed over the back. There are a range of covers you can buy to protect your device and make it look even nicer.
The screen on the Kobo mini is black and white, with a choice of several fonts and font sizes. The display is e-ink which means you can read it in sunlight without glare affecting your reading experience. The screen is nice and clear and easy to read. The only downside of an e-ink display is that you cannot read in low light conditions. You can buy small reading lamps to fit onto e-readers but this would spoil the portability somewhat.
The Kobo is controlled by the touchscreen; there are no buttons at all on the reader. It is easy to navigate all of the menus, the page changes forward and backwards with a simple touch of the screen. The screen is generally responsive but is a bit slower than other readers sometimes.
Although mostly a basic e-reader, the Kobo mini also has a few added extras built in which makes it more fun to use. You can set yourself reading challenges and the Kobo awards you badges when you achieve them for instance. It has the ability to highlight and make notes which would be handy for academic work. Unlike the Kindle, the Kobo displays real page numbers which is much better than the % read.
The Kobo mini supports a few different formats of e-books, those being plain text, HTML, RTF and EPUB. The Kobo store does not have nearly the same range of titles as the Kindle store, although it still has all of the classics for free and some special offers. It is possible to convert any file into a Kobo file by using an application called Calibre which is free to download and easy to use. You then just attach your Kobo to the PC with the USB cable and click and drop the file onto your reader. My local libraries lend eBooks in EPUB only format for two weeks at a time and being able to borrow free books is a massive advantage that the Kobo mini has over the Kindle.
The battery life is really good. Someone reading for an hour a day would probably go around a fortnight between charges. The Kindle can go longer but this is still a great battery life.
The Kobo mini is a high quality e-reader in a small package. Whether or not you will like it will very much depend on whether or not you can cope with the smaller screen. My daughter loves hers, but she was previously using an e-reader ap on her phone so the mini is huge compared to that. I'm sticking with my Kindle for now, but I'm happy that I bought the Kobo mini as a gift.
When you read a lot of reviews on Dooyoo, then you get to hear about lots of really good products you would not normally try. One product kept coming up in reviews with users raving about it, and that was argan oil hair products. I decided I wanted to try this miracle product for myself so bought myself shampoo and conditioner from B and M for 99p each. This is the same shampoo as pictured in the listing above.
The argan oil shampoo contains moroccan argan oil extract, although to be honest for the price of 99p I would not expect it to contain very much oil. It promises to cleanse, nourish and hydrate my hair, which is exactly what I want from a shampoo.
The shampoo itself is a pale white colour, it is fairly runny and I don't really like the scent too much. It has a vague soapy smell combines with a slight oily smell. I am used to my highly perfumed shampoos so this was a bit of a let down for me.
The shampoo lathers up adequately, it doesn't have a brilliant foam but it is enough to cover the hair. It washes out easily. It leaves my hair feeling cleanish but not nearly as nicely clean as most shampoos leave it feeling. I suspect that this is because of the oil contained in the shampoo that sticks to the hair, leaving it feeling less than squeaky clean.
I found my hair looked slightly lank after using this shampoo. I also found that instead of being able to go for 2 days between washes that I wanted to wash it the next day. Because of this, I would not buy this shampoo again.
Maybe argan oil works wonders on some peoples hair but I suspect you need to buy a better quality product than a 99p shampoo for this to happen.
When we had tickets to go and see Rocky Horror on the stage, of course we had to dress up for the occasion. As well as finding a nice outfit to wear, I decided to dye my hair too. I wanted something really bold and daring, but also only wanted a temporary colour. Enter Schwarzcopf Live colour XXL no.91, raspberry rebel.
Most of the schwarzcopf dyes are permanent but a few are semi permanent and the raspberry rebel is one of those. It is from the ultra brights range and promises an electrifying, bright and extra vibrant colour. The dyes are meant to last for between 6 to 8 washes which is ideal if you fancy something outrageous for a special event but are too chicken to use a long lasting dye.
I did both a strand test and allergy test as directed. It is always really hard to see the results from a strand test but I was happy that it was a reddish hue. The box shows a model with gorgeous bright red hair, with a slight tinge of pinky-purple. The side of the box said that my dark blonde/light brown hair would have a slightly more subdued result.
The hair dye comes ready mixed in a tube so it was a case of just applying it to towel dried hair, as well as using it all over your head their are instructions for streaks and dip dying. I would advise using the gloves provided as the dye is extremely bright and stains the skin really easily. It would probably be a good idea to use vaseline around the hair line to stop staining there too.
The dye left my hair feeling a little bit dry, even after I had used the conditioner, most dyes leave my hair feeling really nourished so I was not really happy with this.
The colour I was left with on my hair was really patchy, I would have blamed poor application technique except for the fact I have dyed my hair dozens of times and never had a similar problem. The colour it gave was deep and vibrant, a deep purply red but the colour varied a lot. The dye did stain my scalp also around the hairline and parting but after the first shampoo then this disappeared.
The dye also washed out extremely quickly. After the first wash, significant amounts of the colour came out. The colour was still patchy after another wash but by now my hair was looking far more pink than red which was not what I wanted. All of the dye was gone by 4 or 5 washes which was a massive relief but also proves the colour does not last the promised 6 to 8 washes.
I would not use this dye again as I was unhappy with the patchy result. I know people who have been happy with the schwarzkopf permanant dyes so maybe the problems are just with the semi permanent ones.
When my old purse was looking the worse for wear, I decided to treat myself to a new one. Rather than buy a cheap one like I usually do, I decided to buy a nicer one. I spent quite a bit of time browsing so that I could find one that had loads of space for cards and coins and receipts. After rejecting tens of purses as unsuitable for one reason or another, I stumbled on the Kipling Uzario wallet. I paid around £16 from Amazon for mine, the r.r.p. is £37 and Amazon are currently selling them for around £31 so I got a real bargain. I chose to get grey but they are available in a few different colours.
The wallet is a large rectangular shape with zipped compartments on each side. It has the Kipling logo stitched onto one side on a rubber circle. The zips are extremely sturdy, much thicker than most zips on purses and the tabs for opening and closing them are quite big with the Kipling logo on them. The zips feel really secure and it is obviously well constructed. The outer material is some kind of synthetic material which gets grubby quite easily and is not wipe clean.
The card compartment holds 11 cards so enough space for all your bank and loyalty cards. There is a clear compartment where you can have a photo or photo card showing. There is also a loop to put in a pen but I have not used that, it is long enough to take a standard sized pen but it would need to be quite thin so as not to bulk the wallet out.
The second compartment is further divided into two pockets for change, two thinner compartments for notes and a thin zipped compartment in the middle. Notes can be placed inside unfolded, they fit fairly snugly so not much wiggle room. This compartment overall is extremely roomy, I can fit in loads of notes and change, throw in my receipts all scrunched up and it takes ages before it is so full that I need to clean it out!
There are a couple of niggly things that annoy me about the purse; the first one is that when the purse is closed you can't tell which segment is which from the outside and I frequently end up opening the wrong side. I have tried to remember that the card side is the one with the Kipling logo sewn on but for some reason keep forgetting this. It would be easier if the card and note space were together as when you are at the cash machine you end up needing to open both sides to take your card out and put the money away. Like I mentioned earlier, the material of the purse gets grubby fairly easily but I think it would be less noticable on a darker coloured purse than mine.
Overall, I like my Kipling Uzario wallet, but am not crazy about it. There's no doubt that it is well made, roomy and practical but a few little niggles make it less than perfect. I'm happy that I spent £16 and feel this is a good price but I would not be happy to pay the r.r.p. for it.
I suffer from back pain on and off and like to use external remedies where possible for pain relief. My back pain is caused by muscle spasms after my back was left weak after a problem I had, I have had the pain checked by a GP and physio so know it is not something more serious. The pain is in my lower back, and sometimes goes into the hip too, although I also sometimes get pain in my upper back. I have had success using both heat and cold sprays in relieving the pain so decided to try the bargain bucket Supercool freeze spray from c.m.s which I got from Poundland.
To use the spray, you spray it onto the affected area for 3 seconds, you can put it onto the same area a second time if the pain is really bad. It's easy to use and feels cold when it goes on. It has a fairly strong spray, a bit like cough medicines which lingers on the skin but is not nearly as pungent as the likes of deep heat. The only ingredient in the spray is denatured alcohol.
With other cold sprays and gels then the area becomes really cold over a period of around 10 minutes after using them but with the Supercool Freeze spray this did not happen. After the initial application which felt cold, but not icy cold, this kind of lingered for a little while but the cold sensation did not develop or penetrate into the muscles. The spray was almost useless at relieving the pain, I tried it several times and each application was the same.
Most of the time, the cheaper medicines work as well as bigger brands but in the case of the c.m.s supercool freeze spray this did not happen. It is next to useless at relieving pain so is best left on the shelf.
One of the things that I hate most about winter is having to defrost my car every morning before I can drive away. I hate people who don't clear their windows properly, just leaving a wee gap to peer out of and make sure I clear both my back and front windows, mirrors and side windows. One of the tools I use is the Halfords ice clearer which costs just £2.
This is not your bog standard ice clearer as it has both a squeegee and brush as well as the scraper. It is available in a few colours, mine is blue.
The ice scraper is a simple plastic surface around 4 inches long. The corners do a fairly good job of cracking thick ice letting you get started in clearing. It works really well on all but the thickest ice in scraping, allowing you to clear the windscreen with little effort. The blade is at a nice angle so that you can
The squeegee bit is meant to be for getting rid of water and again this does a good job. It is also good for removing thinner snow. It is good for clearing the thin layer of ice that can sometimes appear inside the windscreen as the rubber is fairly hard and inflexible.
I find the snow brush a bit pointless. If the snow is soft then I use it but generally the hardened snow on the window needs the ice blade to remove it.
The blade is too small to get into the mirrors to clear them of any ice, which is frustrating as I end up using the corner to scrape the best I can and then using my hands to clear the rest. I must remember to buy a smaller scraper this winter just for that job.
Overall the Halfords ice scraper is cheap and cheerful and does the job it was designed to do with minimal fuss. Being all plastic means it is sturdy and will not rust or degrade with being wet. If only it had a smaller attachment to clear the windows and it would be perfect.
Jean Patrick dreams of running in the Olympics after a former Olympia visits his school. He practices by running barefoot up and down the hills of Rwanda with his brother, Roger, as they tend his uncle's cattle and finally manages to beat his older sibling. Things have not been easy for Jean Patrick's family since his teacher father was killed in a car accident and his family were forced to move from their home and live with their mother's brother who is a fisherman. Uncle built a metal roofed shack for them to sleep in and his mother cleans the houses of rich people to put food on the table.
Jean Patrick is a bright boy and sees a scholarship to America as his way to make his dreams come true. He wins a place first at high school and then university, despite the fact that Tutsi pupils are finding it harder and harder to gain entry of these institutions. He has always been aware that some of the Hutu majority dislike Tutsis but believes that the president will fix things. Soon he cannot ignore the growing tensions in his country as the hatred grows towards Tutsis fuelled by radio broadcasts where they are described as cockroaches and the cause of all of Rwanda's problems. He is somewhat shielded by what is going on around him by the fact that he is "Mr Olympics" and his coach demands even procures a Hutu identity card for him. Then the killing starts and Rwanda explodes into a mass of violence where Hutus seek to wipe out the Tutsi minority. What will become of Jean Patrick and those around him?
'Running the Rift' was the latest choice from my book club and I will admit I was not looking forward to it as I thought it was going to be a sports book. I expected a simple tale of a boy who beat the odds to reach his dream but this book is so much more than that. In telling the story of one boy and his family and friends it tells the human story of the genocide in Rwanda and is extremely moving.
The first section of the book concentrates on Jean Patrick's family life in rural Rwanda as part of a large and warm family and community. The book really gives a good feel of African daily life and I found myself falling in love with the country. It gives a good idea of the type of values that Jean Patrick grew up with from both is father who believed that the president would protect the Tutsis and his brother and uncle who had more radical views.
Moving on to university life and Jean Patrick comes into contact with a far wider range of people including the highly political family of his girlfriend Bea and a friendly American geology professor. Unrest simmers around them but they do not foresee the extent of the violence that is to come. I found that I learned a lot about the political and social situation at the time, including the unbelievable daily radio broadcasts where Tutsis were derided. The way Benaron writes gives you the same type of shock when things happen in the country as a resident of Rwanda would have experienced, a mix of daily atrocities and everyday life.
I found both the descriptions of the massacre and the aftermath vivid, gruesome and heartbreaking. I have honestly never been so moved by the contents of a book and I sobbed as Rwanda exploded into violence and Tutsi and Tutsi sympathisers were slaughtered with machetes by their fellow citizens as the international community did very little to help. When you hear of the vast numbers killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994 (up to a million people died in just 3 months) then the enormity of the situation makes it hard to take in the horror. Reading about the human story of one boy and his friends and family sheds a new light on the situation. It was a book that also made me furious. Why did I only have a very vague notion that something bad happed in Rwanda? We are rightly made aware of the horrors of the Holocaust in the media and survivors tell their stories. Why are the horrors that happened in Rwanda not taught in every school to let people know that we need to be vigilant against allowing groups to be marginalised and dehumanised lest similar happens again. Is it because the victims have brown skin?
There are only a couple of niggles about the book. I found that several African words or acronyms of political organisations were used in the text that I did not understand and so a glossary would have been nice. The print version has some notes giving some background to the events which were absent from the Kindle version, I ended up reading up about the genocide after I had finished the book which helped my understanding of some parts of the story.
'Running the Rift' by Naomi Benaron is a wonderful book, rich in description where the story of one boy is used to sensitively bring the story of a country into print. I highly recommend that people read this exceptional book.
When it comes to a mobile phone, I'm not someone who wants all of the latest features; I just want to be able to make a few calls and send a few texts. It doesn't mean I want one of the ancient bricks that you can pick up for less than a tenner, I still want a phone that is more modern and has a colour screen and the ability to change ringtones. I chose the Samsung Chat for around £50 because as well as being a basic phone it had a few extras. I could take photos, go online, and check on Facebook when I was out and about.
The chat is a compact phone with a 3.2 inch screen and QWERTY keyboard. The display is really clear with bright and vibrant colours. The keys are brilliant if you have teeny little skinny fingers. Unfortunately, I have massive sausage like fingers so need to use the tips of my nails to press they keys. There is also a joystick just under the screen. This is the single most annoying feature of the phone as it is so sensitive that when you use it you end up scrolling through the menus and going past what you wanted to find.
It functions perfectly well as a phone. The ringer could do with being a bit louder and ringing a bit longer as it always stops ringing as I take it out of my bag but when I do make or receive calls the sound has always been great. Likewise with texts, it's easy enough to type and send them, but getting into my text message folder is always a hassle because of that joystick!
I'm not someone who goes online a lot on my phone but have tried out the internet and Facebook functions. You can connect to the internet via Bluetooth which is good as it does not eat your data and cost you money. It's a waste of time trying to use anything except the pre-loaded websites as it takes forever to connect to anything and the internet crashes a lot. It's reasonable enough on Facebook when it's not crashing, after I set it up to load automatically to my Facebook then it goes straight there and uses a mobile version of the site. I can see what people have posted with no problem, replying is a bit of a faff due to the tiny keys. I used it one night in the car to scroll through my personal messages to find a phone number we needed so it is a feature that comes in handy. I don't think it's the best phone for internet access and I don't use it to surf the web for fun when I'm on public transport as it is just too frustrating.
The phone also offers instant access to twitter, I've got a feeling this will work better as the site is simpler with fewer graphics. You can also access MSN and Yahoo messengers (does anyone still use them?) and Google Mail instantly but I have never tried them.
Other features on the phone include a camera and MP3 player and radio. The camera is fine for taking snaps of things when you are out and about, they are good enough quality to catch a moment and stick it onto Facebook or send to someone, the lack of flash means the camera can only be used in low light but that is the same with all phone cameras. The sound is good from the MP3 player and radio but the supplied Samsung headphones are so uncomfortable I didn't want to listen that way.
I really dislike the Samsung Chat, I have owned it for several months and it drives me nuts. It is all the small things like the over sensitive joystick and annoying way the menus are set up which take away any enjoyment from using this phone. The phone cost me £50 on PAYG, current selling price is around £50 to £60 so it might seem like a good option for a mid ranged phone but it has caused me no end of hassle so I can't recommend it.
Most parents put a lot of time and energy into decorating their child's bedroom but many plump for the typical pink Disney princesses for girls or Thomas for boys. An attractive alternative to the sickly sweetness of the princesses or popular but rather dull Thomas comes in the shape of a magical mushroom nightlight from Stendoo which is decorated with adorable traditional drawings created by Nigel Foster in 1972 and given a new lease of life by his son.
These nightlights are nine inches high and made of porcelain They are in the shape of a mushroom and made out of one piece of porcelain with the light fitting cleverly concealed in the bottom of the lamp. The lamp comes in three colours; the cap of the mushroom can either be pink, blue or a pale green so there is one to match most colour schemes. The lamp passes all safety tests, but best to keep it away from little fingers in case they drop it and break it!
The lamps are beautifully painted with traditional illustrations, these are not well known literary figures so you can make up your own names and stories for the characters if you desire. There is a doorway leading to a sleeping figure in a wooden bed, a frog wearing a crown, a bespectacled hare sitting beneath a sunflower with green petals.....or is it a beanstalk? a mole fishing in a boat with little fish bobbing around in the water, an elderly tortoise knitting, a mouse playing a harmonica and a butterfly flitting around. The whole scene is charming, very relaxing for both children and adults alike to look at and spend time taking in all of the detail. I like the fact that the scene is not too babyish so the lamp will look at home in a baby, toddler and older child's room.
The light is operated by a single on-off switch in the long cable. There are two small double windows carved into the stem of the toadstool and the cap has a number of holes which also allow light to shine through. This gives a really unusual effect, the soft light is projected onto the wall and ceiling in a number of circles. The light is not bright enough to read by, it is just enough illumination to give a reassuring glow in a bedroom or hallway. I was worried that the night light would become hot in use but the bulb is a 6watt cool bulb meaning the lamp remains cool even after it has been on all night so no worries about kids touching it and getting burnt fingers.
I love the Stendoo night light. It is unique and has a timeless charm to it which will delight both children and adults. It is an ideal gift to give to a new baby, or to decorate a baby's bedroom as its beautiful classic design will never go out of style.
I had noticed that my bathroom sink was draining increasingly slowly. I would fill it with water and it would trickle away; if I ran the tap at the same time then the basin would fill and overflow. I had tried using the plunger with no success so thought I would have to either try to take the pipes apart or call a plumber. When I saw the Mr Muscle kitchen and bathroom drain gel on special offer I thought it was worth a try, it cost £3 for a 1000ml bottle, when normally it is this price for 500ml. I had previously used Buster bathroom sink unblocker in my shower which is useless but had read positive reviews of Mr Muscle so was hoping it would work better.
I have no idea what was down my sink but I expect that it was mainly hair. My cats like to drink from the running tap and I am forever finding cat hair in the basin and washing it down the drain. Add to that my daughter's waist length hair which seem to get everywhere and the remains of Lush face masks and general build up of soapy products.
Mr Muscle sink unblocker contains sodium hydroxide, a strong alkali which can be corrosive to skin so care needs to be taken when using the product, in particular not to mix it with any other cleaning agents which can cause the release of poisonous gas. You need to read the label for all safety instructions.
The product is easy to use, simply pour 500ml down the plug-hole and leave for at least 5 minutes before flushing away with warm water. The bottle says that the gel will sink through standing water and this is accurate as you could see water by looking down my plug hole and the gel went straight down, not lying on top of the water. There was very little smell from the gel, a very faint smell like bleach if I put my nose to the sink but nothing overpowering. I decided to leave the gel for a lot longer than the minimum 5 minutes to give it time to work on whatever was causing the obstruction.
After a couple of hours I came back and ran the hot tap and was delighted when the water was running away freely. The Mr Muscle had worked and the blockage had been fully cleared.
The Mr Muscle kitchen and bathroom drain gel was a good buy, it might seem expensive at £3 for a single use product but it is a lot less expensive than having a plumber come and un-block your sink for you!
Jack moves to Manchester to make a fresh start. He has a job as a driver's mate, lodgings with a friendly landlady and enjoys regular meet ups with Uncle Terry, his only relative. He soon settles in to his new life and makes friends with the lads at work and even gets a girlfriend. Things are going well for Jack but he knows that this life has been built on a lie. He is boy A, who along with Boy B, killed a young girl and dumped her body under a bridge. It was a crime which shocked the nation as the baby-faced killers were still in primary school and many believe they should never be released. Jack loves his new life but struggles to keep secrets from his new friends. How would they react if they discovered who Jack really was?
Boy A obviously takes a lot of inspiration from the Jamie Bulger case; while some details are changed (the killing of a girl rather than a boy, the city where the events take place) a lot of them stay the same. Just like the real life story, there was one ringleader in the horrific killing who had been brutalised by abuse within his family along with another child who was easily led. Jack is a habitual truant who is drawn into a series of events outside his control. Does the fact that he is capable of a horrific act of violence at such a young age mean that he was born bad and deserves to be locked up for life or is it possible for him to lead a normal adult life?
The character of Jack was mostly believable and also fairly likeable. He has a strange combination of naivety and world weariness. Having grown up in a secure unit he has missed out on all of the socialising and normal coming of age experiences that most teenagers have yet has witnessed things that most people twice his age have not seen. The author does not try and paint him as a saint, rather as a normal young man who has as many character flaws as anyone else. We want to see murderers as monsters when they are just like the rest of us. I wonder if that is a way to try and protect ourselves by pretending we would be able to recognise the badness in someone or to try and hide the fact that we would also be capable of horrific acts if provoked enough?
Boy A forces you to see things from the murderer's perspective which can be difficult at times. It is easy to empathise with the families of those murdered and join with the Sun newspaper baying for the killers blood but less easy to see that the perpetrators of the crime are human too. I am someone who believes that the killers of Jamie Bulger should have been rehabilitated and freed if possible, which seems to be the minority opinion so I don't know if someone with the opposite views would have their perceptions changed or hate the book for containing what they believe to be the wrong opinion.
There were a few flaws with the book; when Jack visited at town I know reasonably well I was screaming at the pages of the book for containing inaccurate details about the town. Apart from that, I did find the fact that the story was so close to the Bulger case really insensitive and potentially distressing for anyone involved.
I did enjoy reading Boy A, despite the subject matter it was an easy book to read which had a good story and was also thought provoking. It would make an ideal choice for a book group due to the number of issues brought up and I am seriously considering making it my choice when it is my turn to choose as I know it would trigger some brilliant discussions.
When you buy ink for your printer, you need to decide whether or not to buy the branded replacement or an unbranded version. Contrary to popular opinion, using the unbranded ink does not void the warranty on your printer and you can save a lot of money by buying compatible cartridges. I recently changed the cyan ink on my printer so thought I would share my experience of the T0422 cartridge.
This is a genuine Epson cartridge, which currently costs from around £8 from Amazon and other retailers. It is a small cartridge which has tabs making it easy to insert and remove. The printer automatically recognises the cartridge and the ink levels letting you know when it needs changed.
Cyan is a blue green colour, although the ink in the nozzle of the cartridge seems more bright blue than a true cyan. It is used by the printer mixed with other inks to produce a range of colours. I have always found that the colours produced by the genuine cartridge are vibrant and glossy and have good coverage on the page. Epson's estimate is that you will get 420 pages of printing at 5% coverage and I have no reason to dispute that figure.
The one problem I have with the genuine Epsom cartridges is that they seem to dry up very easily and cleaning the printer heads uses up to 10% ink. This can lead to a waste of a lot of ink if you do not use your printer frequently as even a fairly short period of leaving the ink heads makes them dry up.
Overall, the genuine Epsom is a fairly good buy. It gives good coverage and the ink is good quality, with the only flaw being a propensity to dry up.
I owned a Microsoft Comfort keyboard previously which claimed to be able to cope with spills without breaking. That was true when it came to minor spills but when a full glass of water came tumbling over it then it died and it was time for a new one. I am an internet addict so in order to buy a new keyboard quickly I had to settle for the limited choice in my small town. The Microsoft Wireless 800 seemed like the best option, I was sick of all the wires trailing behind my desk and Microsoft is a good brand. As a bonus, it came with a free mouse.
To use the keyboard and mouse you need to set it up first. There is a tiny USB receiver which is simply plugged in and then two AA batteries are inserted into the mouse. The keyboard and mouse automatically installed themselves with no need for disks and were ready to use straight away. The receiver has a range of 15 metres, I have not tested this range but it works well enough on my desk which is the distance most people will need to know about.
The mouse has always been a dream to use, it is an optical mouse with scroll bar and it is completely responsive.
The keyboard, however has been a completely different matter. The battery low light comes on randomly for a few seconds, normally if there has been a break in typing for a couple of minutes. When this happens then when typing the keyboard leaves random letters out of words which is most annoying as I keep needing to go back and correct the typos. It leaves out the space bar and characters from the bottom row more than any other for some reason.
The keyboard itself is a fairly basic one. It is easy enough to use but is not ergonomic and the keys seem really hard after using the nicer Microsoft curve keyboard. The main annoyance is the lack of Euro symbol above the number keys, mind you we Brits don't tend to use that symbol much so work out for yourself how much annoyance the lack of one would cause you. There are a couple of nice little extra buttons on the Wireless 800 keyboard, mainly a start button,calculator shortcut and buttons for playing and adjusting the sound of your music player.
I'm really disappointed with my Microsoft Wireless 800 keyboard. I have no idea what causes the problem with the battery light coming on randomly causing it to stop typing but it is so annoying that it makes me hate this keyboard. I have tried changing the batteries but this makes no difference so it is obviously a flaw with either the keyboard or receiver but since the mouse works perfectly then I am guessing it is with the keyboard. I paid £20 for the keyboard and mouse and it was £20 badly spent on a poor quality product.