It's great to be back after quite a long break from this blog. Although I never stopped tweeting (@RanaAsfour) and of course reading, life obligations seemed to take over and one day merged into the other and here I am back at the computer after quite a spell; so let's get started. There is so much to tell but will not cram everything into one blog (too long and boring!) but will share as the days go along.
I do hope you have all started to feel less lethargic, less satiated, less puffy and bulgy after the excesses of December. I must admit I did start on a slow-burner but I can confidently report that things seem to be back on track this Monday and I am ready and burning for action. Reading and writing action that is.
This is a month not only to look forward to what life has to offer but also a good month to re-assess the previous year's achievements (or lack of) and decide whether to go on with what worked and take time out to eliminate what didn't and I'm not just talking about work. It could be anything from work ideas, to diet plans, to negative friendships. None of us get any younger and experts have been warning about the dangers of attaching yourself to 'latchers' who are people who befriend you because they want something from you and then are never there when you need them. Recycle these so-called 'friends' and you'll be the better for it they say. It isn't an easy thing to do but I have for the first time in my life made such a list (I wonder if 2 names qualify as a list?) and I'm going to see what happens. On the other hand I have made a list of people, definitely more than 5 names on there, of people I consciously want to see more of and keep promising myself that I will but never get round to doing. So, it is not all doom and gloom in the BOOKFABULOUS household! There will be parties and people will make merry at ours minus those 2 people on the list that is. Oh dear! I think I'm feeling guilty already.
Talking of re-cycling it turns out that a large percentage of people are no longer offended if you recycle the Xmas present you give them. We all do it and I guess more of us are now mature enough to openly admit it. Not that I am going to tell a certain someone that I HATE what they got me and wish they hadn't even bothered. But I am going to send it to the charity shop. Yes, it is that hideous that I would never choose it for anyone I know. ugh!
Having got that off my chest (which is adorned by the way by a gorgeous necklace from Megan), I must say that barring that above mentioned gift, all my others gifts were fabulous. Out of the many other treasures I got given were two fascinating photography books written by photographer Patrick Dalton. The books are called 'Shit London: Snapshots of a city on the edge' & 'Shit London 2: Even more snapshots of a city on the edge'. I absolutely love them and they now occupy pride of place on my living room table. The images in the book are taken from Dalton's website which has the same name.
According to Dalton in his introduction of the first book he found that everyday 'Londoners are surrounded by pure acts of comedy... from random acts of sign vandalism to the dirty joke fingered on the back of a van, or just plain awful shop names, it's all there' and so a few years back he decided to grab a camera and take snapshots of ones that caught his eye. He soon had a hoard of them that he stuck onto a website and soon had followers waiting for his next upload. The books naturally followed, although the second book seems to have emerged thanks to people sending Dalton photos they had taken in their areas. However, it seems that the real compilation of these photographs is to show a city in constant stages of movement and that 'beneath the veneer of our digital age there is still a human heart beating'. Awesome! so thanks Helen :)
Thanks to my darling friend Tiffany my 10-year-old and I got a really cool Xmas present in the form of two tickets to watch 'Horrible Histories: Barmy Britain' at the Garrick Theatre in the West End. Now that was superb especially if your child like mine has just been introduced to the Tudors at school. Good laughs and I must say, I did learn a few things I had no idea about in British history like the story of Amelia Dyer, the Baby Farmer (more like baby butcher) who lived in Victorian times. Her story is quite chilling seeing as she is thought to have murdered around 400 babies in the River Thames over a period of twenty years. She was eventually caught and hanged for her crimes. What is even more interesting is that upon further reading it turns out that author William Stewart had suspected her of being Jack the Ripper but to this day no evidence has linked her to that. Interesting no?
Another really amazing piece of theatre my 10-year-old and I managed was Simon Callow's rendition of 'A Christmas Carol'. One of my favourite Dickens stories and no Christmas would be complete without it. It was clean, clear, pure acting at its best. No gimmicks, no thousand-pound staging, just Callow up there on the stage doing what he does best. At the best of times Simon Callow is an acting force to be reckoned with but give him a Dickens script and he is beyond human. The man is phenomenal. The ability to recite the story by heart nearly word for word to a packed house is a feat not to be taken lightly at all. No one and I mean no one other than Callow should ever attempt to do this. Ever!
The short days, and long nights in January need not be depressing especially with the sun refusing to put in an appearance but what better way to while away the hours than with a cup of cocoa and a good book warmly snuggled up on your favourite couch. Guess what? I can help with both: Yup, I have come across an amazing recipe for cocoa and even for those of us on a diet (yes hope that New Year resolution is holding up well!) we can still have it as a treat to keep us going. It's easy and really really yummy. As for the reading look out for tomorrow's list of the 'January Reads' here at BOOKFABULOUS and I have to admit that although Hilary Mantel's 'Bring Up the Bodies' is a re-read it is still worth having on that list for its mere brilliance.
Lots to do and look forward to this year and hopefully I can highlight a lot of them here. The International Prize for Arabic Fiction short list is to be announced tomorrow and I will try to bring highlights of that. Well, if you've made it so far into the article and are still with me, all I can say is thank you for staying. You are truly fabulous!