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Sunday, 29 July 2012

Lancashire lad captures the essence

Like a lot of other people, I enjoyed the Olympic opening ceremony. Danny Boyle communicated a real sense of what it means to be a Brit without any element of misplaced nationalism or overweening pride. An Australian commentator described it as 'boastful self-depreciation' (great use of an oxymoron),  which is pretty spot on.  Rather than trying to compete with China's impressive display of autocratic  imperial grandeur we stuck to what we're best at: a spot of Shakespeare, a big nod to the significance of the industrial revolution and some good tunes. It was great to celebrate children's literature, whilst reminding the Tory grandees that the NHS and the work of our nurses  is something to cherish as well as to be proud of.

Overall It was a grand* cerebration of who we are and what matters to us from social networking to the suffragettes. There was something really symbolic about the forging of the Olympic ring. It reminded the world of Britain's industrial heritage but went beyond it. It made me think of all the people who labour long and hard, all over the world. It reminded me of the people working at the Olympics, not only the army of volunteers, but those working bloody hard to earn a crust  in places like McDonalds, those  working in  fast food outlets in almost every major town, city and airport the world over. It reminded me of those who sweat a living making sports clothes and trainers for athletes and 'hoodies' alike; the army of factory workers who produce the clothes on almost everyone's backs. It was hats off to  labour, literature and popular culture and who the heck could complain about that?

I read in Saturday's paper that Boyle himself invited Frank Turner to sing  'I still Believe' prior to the ceremony. Great publicity for an underrated singer songwriter, bringing him to a massive audience and allowing Boyle to convey the sense of hope we may not always wear on our cynical sleeves but which lies well protected in our collective heart.  Someone posted it on You Tube.(It was taken off later.)

*Usage note: 'grand' in the sense of Lancashire dialect for bloody good rather than to denote magnificence.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Fifty Shades of.... Jeremy

It's the holidays.  A break from the routine of work and more work. Time to go shopping, cook more, go away for a bit, sleep longer - afternoon naps a speciality - and read.  Currently, I'm reading Jeremy Hardy's book about trying to trace his roots. To the disappointment of his mother, he's not  famous enough for 'Who Do You Think You Are', so he wrote a book instead, which is funny.

I have just finished reading a book about the Pre-Raphaelites, which makes it two non-fiction books in a row. That's good because, apart from work related reading, it's nearly always fiction I find myself reading for pleasure but now I'm stuck with reading 'Fifty Shades of Grey' - an insane book group choice - I may have been put off fiction for some time to come.   How tedious to read of perfect, pounding, earth shatteringly orgasmic sex with characters as near to cardboard as those little cut out and dress up figures I used to play with when I was a little girl.  I have now  reached the stage where the book kicks in to the BDSM stuff, which I'm finding doesn't lie very comfortably with me. I really don't like the idea of control or submission to that degree. Each to his own, of course, but I'd rather sit in the sun and be entertained by Jeremy Hardy describing his experiences at the National Archive than have to bother reading about Anastasia and Christian Grey. 

Tomorrow I'm thinking of going to Wigan to do some shopping. I think I'll take Jeremy with me. At least I don't need a Kindle to read him in public. 


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