sarah in the ma advert

For some reason we are watching ‘live’ TV. Every now and then we do this, and it reminds me why I love TiVo – it’s so that I don’t have to watch adverts as they annoy the hell out of me!

Take this one for example that I have just been subjected to:

Firstly, if Sarah wants to be able to afford a holiday, perhaps she should go to work.

Secondly, she quite clearly tells the brat that if he doesn’t pick up his muddy goalie gear off of her beige floor, then he wont be GOING on holiday. And yet he doesn’t pick it up.  That would definitely save the cost of at least one place on holiday.

Money advice from me there.

the returned – jason mott

The Returned

You may have guessed that i picked this book up due to it sharing the same name and premise as the fantastic French series currently showing on Channel 4.  However, I will start by warning all those that get all excited by that thought – this is NOTHING like the series.

The dead are returning.

In Arcadia, a small town in the US, elderly God-fearing church-goer Lucille tells her husband Harold “They’re not people – they’re devils!”

That is before Agent Martin Bellamy from the Federal Bureau Of The Returned turns up on their doorstep with Jacob.  Jacob, their only son who died 55 years before – drowned on his 8th birthday.

As Lucille seems to whole-heartedly embrace the boy as their son, Harold is suddenly the one with the doubts. How can this be possible? The dead are dead – they can’t come back.  he looks for signs that the child is something other than exactly what he seems. His son.

When Agent Bellamy asks “Do you want to keep him?” Harold has to search his heart for an honest answer.

As more and more of the Returned appear across the world, emotions run high.  Different cultures react to them differently. Soon they will outnumber the living – and then what?

And Arcadia has its own protesters against the Returned.

There were parts of this book that I loved, and parts that just didn’t work as well for me.

I believe that the author had the idea for the story after his parents had died, and he had a dream that he came home and found his mother sitting at the dinner table just waiting for him.

These are the parts of the story that worked for me.  The emotional, difficult question – how would we react to our beloved dead if they suddenly came back and started iving amongst us again.  How would their return affect us?  How would the changes in the world appear to them?

I think that this is being explored far better in the French series – it’s far more about people and coming to terms with what’s happened and is now happening.

The Returned

I think the book lost a little momentum in the middle. Overall it was a good story, and the main characters were believable and likeable. The ending was simple, but effective, although I wasn”t as keen on the last chapters leading up to it.

I am thinking that perhaps the very reason I picked the book up in the first place was the reason I ended up not being quite as taken with it.  If you haven’t watched the French series, you’ll probably really like the book!

And just for those who have been watching the series – did you know that it’s a remake of a 2004 French film called “They Came Back“?  I didn’t!

The Returned by Jason Mott will be published on 27th August 2013.

tour of bbc television centre

BBC Television Centre

As part of her Christmas present, I booked me & The Girl onto a tour of BBC Television Centre, and we went along on Sunday.

As probably everyone in the country knows, the BBC have sold this wonderful old iconic building, and have been distributing the teams across the country.  Many up to Salford and many over to the new extension of Broadcasting House in Portland Place, so this really was the last chance to look round the place before it gets turned into a hotel or knocked down or something!

The Girl goes into the TARDIS

As almost all the teams have moved, there’s not really a lot going on in the building now – so we didn’t see any live action, but this really didn’t detract from the enjoyment.

The Girl presents Match of the Day

The tour guides are specially trained, and there is still some interaction – luckily for The Girl (who wants to be a weather girl), the weather team are still currently based in the building, and so we saw a couple of them recording their broadcast – and even better, she got to have a go herself!

The Girl presents the weather – it’s a bit wet

We went inside one of the studios too, and they explained the process of setting-up and filming etc, although I was rather dumbstruck by all the lights on the ceiling!

Just a little bit of lighting

When we got to the end of the tour, they had a little room that had everything set up so that someone could be a newsreader (although everyone in our group was apparently too shy!) or for 3 people to do a quiz.

I volunteered for the quiz, whcih turned out to be on BBC show intros.  I surprised myself for being quite quick on the buzzer.  I got eastenders, and then Casualty, and then Last of the Summer Wine, at which point I decided I wouldn’t buzz, but the guide asked me whether i ever go out.

“I don’t even watch any of those shows!” I replied.  “So how do you know the theme tunes so well?”  “Well, they come on and I think “I’m not watching this rubbish!” and turn it over!” I answered!

I still won a pen, which The Girl happily took off of me 😉

If you get the chance, I highly recommend going round.  At £11 / adult and £6 / child it was a very reasonable and enjoyable couple of hours – and you wont get another chance there.  The last tour date is 8th Feb.

I will definitely be booking up for us to look round New Broadcasting House when they start the tours in April!

borgen, series 1 – denmark (first thoughts)


I am always late coming to these things – I may have watched all of Spiral now, but I am yet to watch any of The Killing.

However, yesterday I watched the first 4 episodes of the first series of Danish political drama Borgen (apparently from the same producers as The Killing anyway).

I have to say, it really did grab me from the start.  It begins a few days before a general election and follows the rise of the leader of the Moderate party Birgitte Nyborg to being Denmark’s first female Prime Minister and how her new-found power affects her.

There is also the sub-plots of the politcial media andhow they can change the course of politics themselves – all very interesting stuff, and as always, very topical.

I am totally loving it already, and can’t wait to get the next 4 episodessent to me from my Blockbuster subscription.  I realise I have totally missed it being on BBC Four somehow.

A couple of silly observations I made was how Danish doesn’t seem to be a very ‘flowy’ language – they all sounded as if they were speaking a foreign language (not to me, silly, but to themselves!) and that when it said “Shit! shit shit!” on screen, they actually say “Piss! piss! piss!” which amused me.  And finally, I thought that two of the main characters looked a bit like the Danish Billie Piper and the Danish Ewan McGregor.  But that could just be me, of course!

Denmark provides it’s answers to Billie Piper & Ewan McGregor?


Beautys & Geeks

It’s been rather a wearing time at home for the past couple of weeks as The Girl has had problems breathing due to an infection in her windpipe!

So, today is the first day back at work – and I have been working from home while she has watched Back To The Futures 1 AND 2!

After watching that, she’s watched a couple of other things, and has just settled on what is apparently the fist programme in Series 4 of Beauty & The Geek, which I have never seen before.  Personally, I am so exhausted that I can’t even be bothered to get her to turn it over – in fact, she wants me to TiVo it!

So I said to her “So, which would you be?  Beauty or a geek?” and she said “I have absolutely NO idea, mum! I think I’d be right in the middle, cos I’m just totally average. I know I’m really geeky, but I can be a little bit of a beauty too, can’t I?”

Bless her, and she’s right!  She’s geekily gorgeous!

I have no idea what happens in Beauty & The Geek?  Should I be letting her watch it?  Does it all come out right in the end?  Is it good for trying to break down perceptions of stereotypes, or does it play to them?

(She’s currently getting VERY vocally annoyed with the girls trying to do some IQ type test that she is doing without even thinking hard!)

why i love the man i love

Well? Are you?

We were watching the total pile 0f pants that is ‘Falling Skies’ the other day, where aliens have invaded earth and are killing everyone in sight, and the survivors are trying to fight back etc. (To be honest, it didn’t grab me in the first 10 minutes, and although The Man thought that the aliens were pretty cool, I have no idea what was going on!).

So, he suddenly gets all animated and turns to me and says:

TM:  I  can’t believe we haven’t made any plans!
Me:  Plans for what?
TM:  If there’s a disaster of some sort and the three of us aren’t together!
Me:  What sort of disaster?
TM:  Well, alien invasion, zombies, Peak Oil suddenly kicking off – what if we’re both at work and The Girl is at school when it happens?  What are we going to do?  Where are we going to meet?

I have to admit, we’ve discussed our options in the event of such catastrophes, but never what we should do if we’re not all together.

“We need to sit down and talk about it with her”, he said.  “I’ve never had anyone that I’d really worry about and want to be with if it happened before you two.”

He was deadly serious – and that is one of the reasons I love him so much. 🙂

the important things in life

Knock, knock at the knocking house...

I am currently watching BBC London News, and there has just been a rather lengthy piece on the police raiding a brothel.

The Girl is eating her dinner and watching the news and has been making loads of comments and asking questions about previous stories, so I was a little concerned what she was going to ask me during this particular segment.

There were pixelated faces and loads of words being bandied around such as ‘prostitute’, ‘brothel’, ‘sex-worker’, ‘madam’, ‘client’ and I was gradually getting more and more wary as she looked as if she was concentrating rather intently.

Suddenly, there was a quick soundbite from the slightly chavvy looking, heavily pierced next-door neighbour of this particular brothel, when The Girl finally decided she had something to say.

“Do you know, you can get an infection from having your ears pierced twice.”

bossypants – tina fey


I have to say, me and The Man LURVE 30 Rock.  We find it very amusing.  probably mainly because it’s a little childish.  Ok, well, a lot childish.

So, when we were off on a long car journey recently, I decided to get this on audiobook as it is read by Tina Fey herself.  I have decided I am never going to read another autobiography if there is the option to have the audiobook read by the author – it adds SO much to the experience.

So, Tina Fey is she off of (and writer of) 30 Rock and she who famously ‘did’ Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live during the election campaign.  30 Rock is just really an embelished story of making SNL as far as I can make out.

I have to say, I loved the way Tina read the story – I can’t imagine having read the book myself and getting all her nuances and everything.  Especially the chapter on her dad, the great ‘Don Fey’ who she obviously totally idolises – the feeling just wouldn’t have been there.

From men weeing into jars at work to being air-brushed by lesbians, to how to deal with ‘right-on’ mothers who are disgusted you’re not still breast-feeding your five year old, Tina had some great stories, insights and general comedic timing.  I especially liked her responses to various people’s posts about her on random forums.

If you like 30 Rock, you have to get this – but as I say, I can only recommend the audiobook!

spiral (engrenages) – series 1

The main cast of Spiral

I have been rather slow on the uptake with this one.  The first series was first aired in 2005 in France, and first shown on BBC Four in 2006.  There have been another 2 series since then, with the third currently showing on BBC Four.

When a friend mentioned it to me 3 or 4 weeks ago, I sat down to start watching it, not realising it was the THIRD series, until the title credits came up…so I switched it off and got Series 1 Part 1 from Blockbuster.

So glad that I did – I have now watched the whole of series 1 and it is brilliant!

This is a police drama series with true grit and hard-hitting storylines.  The series starts on the body of a Romanian prostitute that has been chucked in a skip with her face horribly smashed in.  This main story arc continues throughout the series (and will into series 2 by the looks of it!), but other stories are dealt with including a mother whose baby is cut into pieces by the nanny, a father accused of raping his two daughters, a detective with a coke habit and a father accused of killing his handicapped son.

It took a little while for me to get my head around the obvious differences in the French judicial system – judges and magistrates seem to be interwoven into the police investigations.  In particular, Deputy Prosceutor Pierre Clement, played rather dashingly by Gregory Fitoussi, and Police Captain Laure Berthaud played by Caroline Proust.

This is a fantastic series – but it’s not The Bill – it’s not for the faint-hearted…it deals with difficult cases with no glitz and sparkle.  it shows brutal crimes in exactly that manner.  It shows the worst of human nature in a disturbingly believable way.

I have ordered Series 2 and can’t wait for it to show up!

i’m not making light of the situation, but…


BBC Breakfast really manages to piss me off with its shoddy journalism and Daily Mail approach to everything.  I hate it.

And yet, I still manage to end up watching it every morning, as The Man puts it on while he’s getting ready for work, and it’s just become habit.

So – when I’m NOT screaming at The Girl first thing in the morning, I’m screaming at Bill and Sian for being crap.

Anyway, I would like to point out that I am not in any way belittling what has happened in Japan, and I know that it is horrific – I have watched so much footage, and heard so many statistics on how many people’s lives have been affected.  My heart goes out to all of those that have already been involved, and I can’t even begin to imagine what they are going through.

However, this morning, BBC Breakfast had some young British guy on the phone who has been living in Sendai, and the new angle that they were approaching this from was that there isn’t enough food.  That the supplies are running low.

Now this seems awful for anyone in the developed world to imagine.  We’ve all witnessed how decimated Sainsbury’s looks around Christmas, and had a panic that that we can’t find any sponge fingers for the trifle – so can you imagine what the UK would be like if there simply wasn’t enough food full stop?

They kept mentioning that everyone is having to queue for food, and how awful it is.  And I felt awful – I’d seen the images of Haiti when their food supplies had dried up – it was heart-breaking.  And then they asked the guy, “So, we understand that you have had to queue for food today.”

And he replied, “Yes.  I went down to the shops and I had to wait around half an hour.”

I couldn’t quite believe what I’d heard.  Half an hour?  BBC Breakfast were making a huge deal about a guy who had waited for food IN A SHOP for half an hour?  I’ve spent longer than that queuing up in bloody Asda in Walthamstow!!  Half an hour??  And Bill and Sian still managed to look horrified.

I believe this is another example of shoddy journalism.  I know that there are people in Japan who are really suffering, people who have lost everything, and yet we get some bloke on the phone (probably just cos he’s British) who is inconvenienced as he had to queue up for half an hour?

BBC Breakfast need to get real.  And get researching.

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