parrot and olivier in america – peter carey

Parrot & Olivier in America

Considering how tired I’ve been with work recently, this book took me a lot longer to finish than I was expecting – but I had whole days when I read nothing at all!

Actually, if I was totally consumed by the book, I reckon I would have finished it quicker, but I wasn’t.  It was enjoyable enough, but not at all compelling.

The story is set in the early-mid 18oo’s, told by two narrators – Olivier, a seemingly-frail French aristocrat whose family has survived the 1793 Revolution; and Parrot (John Larrit – so nicknamed for his shock of red hair) from Devon.

The main bulk of the story starts when Parrot is assigned to be Olivier’s manservant / secretary that his mother had sent him on to America.  Supposedly researching prison reform, but really to keep him away from the troubles in france and thus protect him.

Parrot is much older than Olivier, and upon leaving France (where he has fallen under the wing  of a dubious French aristocrat for many years), he deigns to take his long-term French mistress and her mother to America with him.  She is an artist, but would be deemed a peasant in french society.

However, the book is about how democracy in America affects the lower and upper classes from other nations.  The lower classes finding that there is the ability to ‘make their name’ and build their fortune from nothing in new ways, and the aristocracy (in this case Olivier) finding that they are expected to treat their servants differently, and that their standing has much less impact.

The book seemed pretty well written, but the narrative was just, well, too realistic almost.  I felt like I couldn’t trust what either Parrot or Olivier’s versions of events were.  ‘Facts’ seemed to be changed throughout the story, and the order of events occasionally felt rather random, so I kept feeling lost as to whether I was reading a part that had happened in the past, or was happening currently within the story.

Based on this book, I woulnd’t pick up another Carey, it was pretty hard-going, and I didn’t feel there was a satisfactory outcome.  And I didn’t particularly feel anything for any of the characters – I think I’ve said before, that to invest any emotion into a story, you must feel something for the characters, whether it be empathy, compassion or hatred!

I am slightly bemused as to why this had been shortlisted for last year’s Booker Prize!

thought I’d share my wordpress 2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2010. That’s about 14 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 243 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 250 posts. There were 196 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 34mb. That’s about 4 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was October 8th with 133 views. The most popular post that day was mega buzz.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,, WordPress Dashboard,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for 2012 mascots, people walking on the street, pretty stars, olympic 2012 mascot, and mood.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


mega buzz October 2010


as i was saying September 2010


wenlock and mandeville May 2010


conversations with my daughter March 2010


all around me are familiar faces… June 2010

world cup memories

Prepare for the depression...

I am not a football lover (although I have always had football-mad boyfriends), but I do begrudgingly get wrapped up in general World Cup/Euro fever whenever it occurs.  I say begrudgingly as it is obviously a double-edged sword – I love the feeling of expectation and togetherness that takes over England – something that gives as a common goal *groan* and gives everyone something to talk about to anyone they happen to meet/get stuck in a lift with/have a blind date with etc.  But, of course, England always loses matches and goes out of the World Cup, and the national depression that descends is almost unbearable – and that’s the part I hate, as I don’t invest enough emotion into it to feel it myself, I just get dragged down by the depression of all around me.

One of my most vivid World Cup’s for me was 1998 – I had just met The Girl’s dad in the May, but it wasn’t serious.  I was living with my gorgeous Aussie friend Michelle, and I had quite a few girlfriends living near me at the time – and we used to watch the matches as a group – drinking far too much at the same time, which was great fun.  i miss those days.

England’s very first match of the tournament was memorable for me too.  Mainly because I went to Menorca with my friend and her 2 year old daughter, and we flew out on that morning.  England was playing Tunisia.  My dad is Tunisian, and I was taking a small sadistic pleasure safe in the knowledge that England would trounce them.

We’d made sure that the hotel was going to be showing the game in the bar, and were really looking forward to going to watch it.  My mate’s mum worked on Walton pier at the time, and they’d been putting England t-shirts in one of those awful grab-machines, so she’d given us a couple.

We’d spent the afternoon in the pool and sunning ourselves, and then we went back to get ready for dinner and the match.  We were over-excited and jumping around our room getting changed, put our t-shirts on and started singing “It’s coming home, it’s coming home…..” and then just at the point where we shouted at the top of our lungs “THREE LIONS ON MY SHIRT!” I happened to look down at my t-shirt…and realised that OURS only had two lions.

We never lived the shame down.  But it still makes me laugh when I think about it now 🙂

I sent The Man out this morning to buy bunting (which ha has got) – mainly because ‘bunting’ is one of my Top 5 favourite words in the English language, and I don;t get much of a chance to use it.  So at least now I can tell people “I have bunting up in my window at home.”

He also bought The Girl an England football-style t-shirt from the market for the princely sum of one whole English pound.  only for the guy who sold it to him to turn round and say “It might go a bit funny in the sun”. 😮  which was odd.  What’s it going to do?  Melt??  Slightly concerning, LOL

So, World Cup 2010 bring it on! I’m ready for you!  (But in a passive ‘good-reason-to-get-very-drunk-and-talk-to-strangers’ kind of way 😉

i can’t go out – i might as well sort out my love life

Internet dating SHOULD be done in your PJs or underwear!

OK, the title isn’t relevant to me obviously as I have The Man at home, and am quite happy with him.  I am referring to an article in The Telegraph last week which read:

Many businesses are suffering due to the snow, but here is one that is thriving –, the online dating agency founded by TV presenter Sarah Beeny.

According to the company, the first Sunday of 2010 saw a 140pc increase in people signing up to its service, compared to the previous weekend. By last Sunday this figure had increased to 290pc. Beeny says that January is always the busiest month for the site but describes the current surge as “unprecedented”.

“Who knew the snow could ignite our passion for love? Perhaps it’s the thought of snuggling up to someone you fancy,” she says.

Traffic to Mysinglefriend increased by 55pc last week, with browsing time peaking at 3pm rather than the traditional post-pub 10pm. This means one of two things – that more single people than usual were off work last week because of the weather, or that people have started to log-on to the site at work. I suspect the former.

Further, Beeny said that sign-ups last week built steadily over the course of the week, a reversal of the normal trend whereby sign-ups tail off on Fridays and Saturdays as people head out the for night.

Although pubs are no doubt suffering because of the cold snap, is clearly making hay while the snow falls.

Now, in my time I became pretty internet dating savvy – at least I’d like to think that I did!  It’s something that I did from the mid-late 90s, and how I met The Man and also The Girl’s dad.  Of course, there were a whole host of other guys that I met with varying degrees of  ‘success’ – but I have always prided myself on never being surprised by someone being different in person to exactly how I thought they would be.  Of course, that doesn’t just go for the dating side of things, I’ve made quite a lot of friends from the internet over the last 15 years or so too – and the only freaks I’ve found are ones that I have met in a group situation that I would never have met one-to-one.

So, if I was single, would the snow be more likely to make me join another dating site – hell yes!  If you’re stuck indoors, you’re going to try out new things, and that might just be trying out a new dating site compared to ones that you’ve been using in the past, or just trying internet dating for the first time!  Also, the fact that last weekend (not the one just gone) was the first full weekend that was likely to be more sober after the New Year would probably have soemthing to do with it, I reckon.

In a survey conducted by CitySocialising at the turn of the year, found that 22% of people making New Year’s resolution listed ‘Find true love’ as one, making it the 5th most popular resolution choice – rising to 4th in Londoners.  I suppose it would be higher for Londoners as it’s very much a young city with more single people than the rest of the country I guess.

So, not surprising that the first full weekend, more people would be turning to dating sites is it?

I’m glad that the stigma attached to internet dating finally seems to have abated really – when I was first doing it, people were still really shocked that I met ‘normal’ people – but I always stood by my idea that the people meeting freaks on the internet were the people who met freaks in pubs, clubs or anywhere else – they were just crap at filtering out the nobs and weirdos.

In 2000, I was contacted by a journalist and featured in an article about internet dating in Ms London (remember that free mag Londoners?) and I even wrote a weekly column for a women’s magazine website called Chocolate back in the same year about internet dating.

Ahhh, the good old days.  I do miss the thrill of it all.  It was a really exciting time, and reinforced the fact that I love meeting people (even though new groups give me the jitters as I mentioned before, I still put myself through it), and I am very very very happy being single.

Of course, I stupidly ended up meeting someone on uDate who I knew within 3 seconds of meeting that it was going to be for good, and I had to deal with the sinking feeling of knowing that my dating days were going to be over, just buoyed a bit by knowing I was going to have a bit of stability.  and yes, for the unbelievers out there (of which I am one), yes.  It really really was that instant.

And that was 6 years ago.  I guess that I am officially ‘out of the loop’ when it comes to current dating knowledge!  Am I allowed to wish that I was still ‘on the scene’, or does that just sound bad?

farewell to the noughties!

Yes - people will be making my 2010

So – it’s farewell to the noughties (obviously sung to the tune of Farewell to the Fairground by White Lies who I saw at Brixton a few weeks ago).

I love New Year’s Eve/Day.  I always have.  It means more to me than Christmas that I have never really been that keen on.  I love the idea of a shiny new year – one that can be full of anything.  I love the fact that everything that happened in the last 12 months is now definitely behind me and can be classified as ‘last year’.  New Year’s Eve is like a final full stop at the end of a chapter that you have now finished editing.  that probably makes no sense, but it always fills me with a little frisson of excitement to be on a new page of life.

2009 had some very hard parts for me, but I think it will probably go down as the year that me, my other half and my daughter really got so much closer.  That’s something I really want to build on in 2010.

Last night was bloody marvellous – our local must be one of the few pubs in London that doesn’t charge entry on New Year’s Eve, and seeing as it takes us less than a minute to get from our front door to theirs, it’s always a favourite haunt of ours.  So, our mate came round first and we had a few swifties and went over there about 9ish, by which time most of the regulars were there anyway, so we were in brilliant company.

There was a live swing band there who weren’t too bad either.  And my friend also came down that I wrote about yesterday – the one where i’m trying to put an elastoplast over our slightly broken relationship.  So that was nice.  the disco went on til about 3 so I had a good boogie and came home feeling happy, full of love, laughter, vodka and the excitement of a new decade.

Although what the hell IS this decade?  It can’t be the teenies as 10, 11 & 12 are ‘teens’ – they’re ‘tweens’.  Do we call it the tens?  It’s just very confusing, and I don’t like unanswered questions!

why don’t I read at home any more?

Because of the ‘festive season’, I haven’t been into the office for a week now, and wont actually be returning for another week (as I have a few days off).  For some reason, this means that I haven’t read a single page of my book for more than a week!

I actually think this is quite disgraceful of me – I’m a huge reader, and tend to get through books pretty quickly, but these days I only ever seem to read on the Tube.  I no longer seem to read at home at all.  Whenever I pick a book up at home, it sends me straight to sleep.  I will be reading it, go to turn over the page and realise that although my eyes have been scanning, I haven’t taken a single word in, and have no idea what I just read!

I am currently reading The Secrets of the Lazarus Club by Tony Pollard but it has sat by the side of my bed, untouched and probably starting to collect dust and cat hairs.  I also have a huge mountain of books to get through by the side of my bed once I have finished this one, and at the moment that is looking totally daunting.

Perhaps I will aim to make 2010 the year that I start reading at home again!

Just another blog

I haven’t blogged for years.  I used to be a blog-addict, and I could probably have gone back to my old blog, but I wanted to do this more anonymously.

There always seems to be so much going around in my head, and I really haven’t felt able to deal with it apart from the times that I have written it down – but it’s a case of finding a ‘safe’ environment to put it down, isn’t it.

I have two people that live with me – my boyfriend and my daughter, and I don’t particularly feel that writing it down properly…in real WRITING is necessarily ‘safe’ – either of them could find it!  Plus, of course, i haven’t written for any length of time for years, and I find that when I try, I get wrist-ache!  I hope that’s not just me and that it’s a result of being a typing generation.

I’m not quite sure what I want to get down for my first entry here…I just want to get something down so that I can start organising myself a little more.  I need to choose a theme etc yet!

I want 2010 to be a fantastic year for me and mine, and I’m pretty sure that getting all my inane (not INSANE) thoughts down will really help me think clearly and make that a reality 🙂

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