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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Severus Snape and the demise of Alan Rickman

I never read the sixth Harry Potter novel.

Sorry, let me start from the beginning.

I have only read one HP novel - The Order of the Phoenix, in 2003. This was because it was a freebie from one of my contacts and I had nothing to do that halcyon summer except read it to my best friend while sunning ourselves in Canada. And quite frankly, JKR's writing style sucked. She used repetitive descriptions and basic syntax. Her structure was incomplete as she endeavoured to weave various fragments together. But anyway.

I have, however, seen all the films and am coming to the very startling conclusion that I am in love with Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. I am in love with Professor Snape.

I am surely not the only one - I believe Catty also loves him. Now this started to present a problem for me when the last book came out, exactly a week ago (Hong Kong time).

The problem was, I knew that he violated Prof Dumbledore with his wand in the sixth book. Now I was supposed to care about this, I know that. Dumbledore is good, Snape is bad. Snape belongs to MouldyWarp the Mole. Or is it Voldemort? Whatever. Snape is on the Dark Side.


a) Dumblebore is dull
2) Alan Rickman is Snape
c) 2) should have been b)
d) Snape is sexy
e) So is Ralph Fiennes, who plays Voldemort
f) Voldemort is not attractive
g) Therefore e) and f) are irrelevant to the argument
h) Dumblebutt is good
i) Snape is evil

I am sure by now you are all either in total agreement with me, or completely confused.

So, to help clear up my traumatised heart, I had, in my stupidity, bought the last novel last Monday. It cost me £10. That, for my Canadian cousins, is what books should cost. Not CAN$45:00 + Tax. In Canada, the same book in hardback costs, with taxes, CAN$49:50. Which would be about £24. I paid the equivalent of CAN$22:00 by getting it in England. Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Not so proud of living in the second biggest country on Earth now, are we?

Books are so expensive in Canada. This is because it's the second largest country on earth, rendering distribution expensive, but it has a low population density of just 34,000,000 people. Suppose the fraction of Canadians buying HP and the Ring of Utter Crassdom type of novels is one-eighth of the population (the entire under-18 demographic), it is still economically unviable to transport those copies to stores across the Land of the Beaver and charge less than $45:00 per book. Canadians would be best served by driving down to the States and picking up their books there, along with a bottle of booze, purchased at the border.

I digress.

Severus Snape: Evil, or playing a deadly double-agent role? Given JK Rowling's literary prowess at developing the subtle genre of subterfuge (ie, none), I feared that Snape would not prove to be good in the end. I really wanted him to be good. I knew that I would hate Harry Potter for the rest of my life if he or one of his boring friends knocked off the best character in the books. I may end up stalking Daniel Radcliffe or send him threatening letters with used staples inside.

So I bought the book and, in my hunger for knowledge and power to take over the world, I skimmed the first few pages at lunch on Monday, and read that he was talking nicely-nicely with Wimpleport.

All day, I was thinking: "What if Snape is evil? What will I do? What can I do? What can any decent girl do? I wonder what he wears under his robes?"

That evening, and any moment I could snatch on Tuesday, witnessed me finishing the entire novel - ah, be still, my poor, beating heart...

(slow readers who've not finished the book please turn away now)

You see, I knew in my heart that he could not have been evil. And he isn't! I knew it! My greasy-locked, shampoo-phobic, stinky, self-sacrificing dreamboat is "The bravest man that I ever knew" according to Harry Potter. Severus is a hero! And I love him!

So... I thought... Maybe someone had Alan Rickman's address? Maybe I could stalk him for kicks? Maybe in life he could be a slightly cleaner version of Snape? Maybe I could sneak up on him, drug him with chloroform or rehypnol, drag him back to my studio flat, staple him to the floor and make him mine. ALL MINE... mua ha ha ha ha ha. Well, let's face it, I've tried normal ways to attract men and they've failed.

And then I found this.

Oh oh oh, how the mighty have fallen.
I'm sure he looked buff in Robin Hood. WHAT IS WITH THE TOUPEE? WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? Did a piece of gingery minge just land on his head after being blown off a German tourist who leant too far over the Tower of London? Has Alan Rickman been attacked by a leprous Tribble? He has seemingly gone from being GQ mag's Buff Thinking Woman's Man in 1991 to a pissed-up retirement home janitor.

Bring back Snape. Please Alan, for the love of Merlin's underpants, I beg you, ditch the neon flange bestriding your noble temples. Eschew the comfy loafers and crumpled 'chinos for a mysterious cape. And make sure your wand is in good working order when you perform some magic for me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Cuz I is royalty, innit?

Which Disney Princess Are You?

You are Jasmine. You are loyal and would visit the ends of the earth for what you believe. You would never let obstacles stand in the way of true love.
Find Your Character @

Please remove your item from the bagging area

Shopping for lunch should not be a chore, but a pleasure.

I had opted for Tesco over Sainsbury's this lunchtime, however, which proved to be a stupid, schoolgirl error. It was traumatic.

Firstly, I embarrassed myself by setting off the alarm when I walked in. Note. I had nothing on my person except my clothes, my purse and a smile. No-one was coming out, no small midget sneaked past me, furtively clutching a Milky Bar. No. I walked in, and alarm bells rang. What a comment about the state of my life: no matter how hard I try, I always make an entrance. And it ain't pretty.

Then I have to trawl through the vegetable counters for my weekly salad purchases, while this little old guy who looked like the incarnation of Mr Magoo kept following me around the veg. stand and smiling every time I looked his way. Short of beating him around the head with a carrot or shoving a squash up his wrinkly nose or stapling his head to a marrow with a pricing gun, there was little I could do except call it a day for fresh fruit and veg and go and hide in the deep freeze under some McCain's chips for a few hours.

Note to Tesco's: Tinned Treacle Pudding is not one of the following: "Tinned soups, vegetables and meats." It is not one of the four main food groups. It belongs to the group: "Bad, Very Bad, Totally Calorific and Cavity-making." Tinned tuna, however, does not qualify for either of those two food groups and therefore does not exist in the world of Tesco employees. "Tuna? Tinned Tuna? Uhhhh...Not Sure..."

Furthermore, putting a small Krispy Kreme counter right next to the weightwatchers yoghurt and dairy section is simply barbarous.

Also, selling "fresh" pomegranate chunks that, when opened, taste like soured vodka that has been left to stand for six days in the heat, beggars belief. The taste - and some of the darn pips - will remain with me for days.

Then to proceed to the self-service checking counter. All goes well until it does not allow me to take my full shopping bag off the "bagging area" and start a new one. "Please place item in the bagging area" it says in a loud woman's voice, over and over and over. Eventually I end up talking to the machine, just as loudly. Yes. I am insane.

Then after I pay, I realise it has not charged me for something worth £5 (that's US$10 and CAN$600,023). So I ask the lady if I can re-do my shop or just pay for that one item at the same bagging counter. She is very helpful and polite - a highlight in that dark Tesco - and I put the order through for that one item. As I go to pay, the automated voice starts up again: "Please put your item in the bagging area. Please put your item in the bagging area. Please put your item in the bagging area."

By now, I am thumping the bagging area and cursing like an old sunday school teacher - vis-a-vis: "Condarn you, you little beggar", "Confounded nuisance" "Dadblamed machine." All the while the same message is booming out: "Please place your item in the bagging area."

Eventually I bang the bagging area so hard the red light starts flashing on the top of the self-service (SERVICE? HA!) area and a voice starts up: "Calling for assistance. Calling for assistance". I pull out my credit card, throw £5 cash at the attendant who has been standing there all the time, and run out of the shop like a thief.

All this for a bleeding garden salad and a lemon yoghurt.

Life sucks

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Come onto MyFace. MySpace. I mean, Facebook. Whatever.

There is a new phenomenon sweeping the interweb. Actually, for people like me, it is not so new, as the under-30s were among the first to discover the addictive virtual drug that is Facecrack.

Oh yes. It is surprisingly pleasing to find out that you have more online "friends" than the school super-cow, who not only has fewer allies than you, but most of her wall posts were written by her sister. Even better - she has also become very, very fat. There may even be a hairy mole on her lip. Oh yes. There is a sense of divine retribution visible through the medium that is ArseFace.

It is also delightful to have an old acquaintance, with whom you only stopped contact for very good reasons, and not because you could not be bothered, or because he secretly hated you and your poxy jokes, suddenly nudge you out of the blue and request you to be their friend.

But the downsides are becoming ever more evident the more addicted one gets to Facecrack. Firstly, there is the random date that you had who happens to find you on the web - CURSE thy parents who did not christen thee "Sarah Brown" or "David Smith". Or, there is the guy you dated so long ago that now, you must be friends, so you send him a chipper email thinking "he can accept me as a friend". Virtual rejection can be harsh.

Secondly, there is the utter stranger who wants you to be his special friend. You don't know him, so you "explore" his own profile, to discover he's a single friend of a mutual friend who happened to like your picture. He's also likely to be the person whose list of "Top Friends" includes several busty blondes from Arkansas and Dita von Teese.

Thirdly. Oh, yes, thirdly - your personal life is centred all over the page. It's easy to "hide" what you write on other people's walls, but when your friends start scrawling on your walls, or tagging you in photos looking drunk or semi-naked in a sheep dip in Wales, that's when you have to start worrying. Your friends are no longer compartmentalised into sanitary little boxes. I don't mean sanitary towel boxes. I digress.

Fourthly - this is starting to sound like a Mennonite sermon - there is the endless line of "pokes". These started off as a little way of saying hi to the people you're semi-friends with, or people you fancied but did not like to keep writing on their walls in case they served you with a restraining order, sued the hell out of you, or - worst of all - removed you from their list of friends. So, a little Poke. Hi! How YOU doin'?

BUT NOT ANY MORE. Now you have super poke! Poke Pro! Pokemon, pig in a poke, poke-ahontas and Poke on Trent. You can now slap, tickle, throw a sheep at, high five, punch, beat someone over the head with a metal chair until they are senseless, give beer to, send a cow to and crap all over someone's face virtually.

The other day I came onto facebook and found 14 pokes, and more people lining up to throw sheep at me. Thankfully I realised that if I returned the sheep-shag to someone else, I would end up having that application automatically installed onto my profile.

Applications have to be the fifth point, moving logically on and enabling me to count without having to look at my other hand. APPLICATIONS SUCK No, worse. They blow. They blow enormous stomach-chunks. There are applications to share a happy hour cocktail! There's a Hot Rating application (someone gave me a 10 out of 10 but I still didn't want it on my profile. Thanks anyway, Mum). There's applications to show how far you have travelled in your lifetime - the more countries you visit, the higher your global percentage is. Well not if all the freaking countries you visit are tiny - Monaco, Belgium, Holland, Jamaica, Cuba and Luxembourg do not show up very well. But for the greenies out there, is there ANOTHER map application you can use to show what your travelling carbon footprint is? No, but I'd like some of those "I've visited all the big ones" show-off nark heads to have a go on one of those applications, the carbon-crunching, polar bear murdering arsewipes.

There are applications for opinion polls (which biscuit would you be and why? A: A poisoned batch that has been sent to the Facebook office). You can be in a battle between vampires and werewolves. You can get bitten by a zombie, play tag, share fortune cookies, list your favourite movies, create slideshows of your cars and have special facebook pages created for your mangy old dog. Oh Yes, there is Dogbook, catbook, hamster book and myfavouritecock book.

All of these applications sound great fun if a) you really have nothing better to do in your life b) you are under 20 c) your internet connection is fast enough and smart enough to deal with all these things.

Sixthly - over to the other hand now, I hope it doesn't get to 11 or I will have to take my shoes and socks off - there are Groups. Alan Whicker is Probably a Very Nice Man. I was at Wahiki. I am a Gimp. We Love Our Cats. We know the difference between Your and You're (because we are smart-assed little basement geeks who have no girlfriends and who wear colours that do not appear in nature). Christians Against Rich Tea Biscuits (actually, I am in that one, it is a cause I support dearly).

In retribution I have finally snapped. I think it was the invitation to join the group: "People who cannot spell my name correctly desurve (sic) to be shot" that made me want to reach into my computer, find the Facebook organiser, staple their ear to a doorpost and pussywhip them into a bleeding mass with my bare hands.

So I have created my own group: No more Groups, Applications or Events, Please, For the Love of Mercy. Yes, I appreciate the irony.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I'm not a feminist, but...

... men are definitely weird creatures. The more of them I see, the more I feel the urge to burn my protective sea-shells and throw myself under a sea-horse in protest. Emiline and Cecilia had the right idea - the only way you'll get a man's undivided attention is to either show up naked and bring beer, or create a scene in public. Or wear a Wayne Grinsky mask, but the latter only works in North American countries.
We females, contrary to male expectation, do not walk around in the nude carrying six-packs for our partner hominids, nor do we actually LIKE to create a scene in public, especially on a bad hair day, or when we've got a cold, or when we have an Ugly day, or when it's a birthday. Or when we're wearing the wrong shoes. Or have mis-matching accessories. Or are not wearing enough accessories.
So, how to get a man's undivided attention without exposing ourselves or leaping under public transport, is a problem that bugs every woman.
Let's take some case studies.
Many years ago, my mum one night woke up, wondering whether my feet were cold (*this was before I became a mermaid). She nudged my dad. "Are her feet cold?"
"I think there are two of them out there."
"Two what?"
"Two men."
With that, he rolled over and went to sleep.
A classic case of divided attention. Mum wanted to wake him up with a spurious question about my welfare, probably at 3 am, which is when she inevitably wakes up and hears "noises". And Dad wanted to sleep before going back to work the next morning. How selfish!

Talking of mum and noises... my late uncle Leo used to live with us. Every night he would come back from the theatre (he worked the West End stage scene) about 1pm. He would creep in quiet as a mouse, but mum would inevitably wake up. Every single night for eight years, she would lean over the balcony and say: "Is that you?"
Finally, he snapped. One night, she asked the question, and he replied: "No, it's a burglar and I'm stealing your marmite". I thought that was hilarious, but a bloody battle ensued, during which the offending sandwich spread bought the worst of it, along with the kitchen wall.

I've digressed. Back to my original lament. This classic case of "divided attention" has continued to bug me. Once I was on a date with a nice young man. Might have been Andrew the First. Andrew I and I were having a meal, and I had dressed up especially for the occasion. As it was my birthday, I thought that was a reasonable excuse to make an effort beyond ironing my jeans. But before I'd even got my coat off, Andrew I gave me a perfunctory glance up and down, said: "You look nice", and promptly walked over to the bar, where Wigan were playing Arsenal in a friendly. As he knows less about football than I do, and supported neither team, I felt this was an affront to the birthday girl. We stayed there all evening, the table reservation forgotten, while I munched on a celebratory bowl of onion rings.

Things have gotten worse the older I get. In the old newsroom, while trying to get my former news editor to pay attention regarding this potentially legal minefield of a story I was writing,I noticed that he was evidently on another planet from the rest of us. To us, it was one hour to press deadline. In desperation, I shouted out: "SEX". Immediately he turned his undivided attention to me, but before I could go over the story, he leant over, and whispered: "Do you think Holly is wearing suspenders?"

Then there's the late-night phone call. Girls who call boyfriends after 10 - beware. They are either watching footy highlights, or there's a Steven Segal film on. I once phoned my bloke about a problem at work, but found him distant and distracted. So I started to make stuff up to see if he was listening.

"It would not have been too bad, apart from the alien invasion."
"Oh yes, dear"
"They made the men dress up in gimp costumes and whip themselves with page proofs"

"Are you actually paying attention to me"
"Pink. Definitely the pink. Or maybe red."

Turns out he was watching snooker championship highlights.... On his BLACK AND WHITE TELEVISION.

So I've got used to the fact that there's not much one can do to get a man's undivided attention. I raised this fact this weekend with dad and one of his male friends. "So all women need to do is show up naked and bring beer, eh?" I said.
Frank thought about it.
"Nah, women should just show up naked - we'll supply the beer."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vicks Vaporub

What is it about illness that makes me flit from being all sweet and helpless, to being a sarcastic monster? One minute, I'm all cute and small. "Please may I have a cup of tea? Thank you"... in a small, tiny voice, accompanied by as cute a look as I can muster, while I've got sore, red, piggy little eyes and vicks Vaporub stuck up my nose.

The next minute, my head starts to pound with inner mental RAGE and explodes! I don't mean literally explode like the alien in Men in Black, although that would be rather amusing in meetings. It would certainly liven up someone's boring powerpoint presentation. Imagine the scenario. It's slide 78 and everyone is wanting to die. Me, I just start to go slowly red in the face.

"Did you hear anything I said, mermaid? Are you deaf?"
Nothing. Just getting more and more red.
"What's wrong with your face?"
Nothing. Maybe a vein starts to bulge on my forehead. Perhaps even my ears would twitch. I'd like to think my eyelids would flicker menacingly.
"I said, "Did you hear me?""


My head explodes in a violent surge of slimy grey cells and nerve endings. There's a second's pause of utter horror and silence, followed by mass vomiting. If only I could be there to see it, except my eyeball will no doubt have been spattered across the trophy cabinet or impaled on the end of someone's pencil.

Sadly my head did not explode. It did not even go slightly red. All that happened was that I sneezed violently and coughed up the insides of my lungs in my sick bed.

So from being cute and helpless and ill, I have become a grumpy old woman and am in no mood to take prisoners. Some half-baked moron wanted to be my friend on Facebook. I don't know the chap, he just said he liked my picture. It might not even be my picture. I could have just one colossal eye. I could have no head. So anyway, he won't bother me again.

I also got a "sick form" to fill in when I returned. This is something the English tend do to but Europeans don't bother to do. I remember once at primary school, the school nurse Mrs Valentine (pronounced vallotin) was tending to a gash on my forehead where the ground had jumped up to hit me. I said mournfully (for I was a precocious 8-year-old who read far too much for her own good): "I must look like a sight for sore eyes." Instead of laughing and patting me endearingly on the shoulder, as I had expected, she said: "Gracious me! The child is vain as well as stupid! You should care about what you look like on the inside, not what you look like on the outside." And I was stupid, too. For I replied: "But nobody can see my inside" and promptly got sent off to stand outside the head's office for answering back.

Had I been a cute child, who looked pretty on the outside, no doubt I would have got a lollipop. But I was a scrawny wretch and spent the afternoon in the naughty room. I always called her Mrs Valentine after that. Deliberately.

Anyway, I got a sick form. It says: "Sickness absence form". It mentions the word "sick" four times. I fill it all in and when I get to the bottom, it says: "State briefly why you were unable to come in".

FOR THE LOVE OF MERCY!!! It's a sickness form!!

"I got arrested by the MOD for wearing a beard"
"I got soap stuck in my belly button and could not come out in the rain yesterday because I started to lather up"
"I fell asleep in Ikea and got locked in"
"I was involved in a drug bust in west london"

In the end, I opted for the simple reply:

I was sick.

Within 1/2 hour, I came back to my desk to find the form back on my keyboard, STAMPED with the word: "Rejected". I resubmitted it. It now reads:

I was sick. My head exploded and it took all day to clean up.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I just don't know what to say to this

I hope you do. And I apologise for this spoiled little snot's language. She's been given a $70,000 lexis for her birthday and she starts calling her mother a bitch...!!!
Spoiled and rude!