Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Much have I travelled in the realms of gold

I am in love with a man who has been dead for 189 years.

It's true. I am in love with John Keats.

I have always been a fan of Keats' poetry; I think his work is just about as beautiful as words strung together can get. The way that he writes is as lovely and romantic as it is despairing and heart-breaking, and his poetry inspires emotions in me in a way that few other poets do. When I was in Rome in the summer I dragged my brother all the way down to the Protestant cemetary at the bottom of the city to see Keats' gravestone, as well as Percy Shelley's and Joseph Severn's. Severn cared for Keats in the months leading up to his death.

As part of my Romantics poetry course at uni this semester, we have just started studying the work of John Keats. If I loved his work before, I love the man now, also.

Keat's story is so, so sad. He was a beautifully talented poet; he loved poetry, he lived for poetry, but he spent a large portion of his teenage years and very early twenties in medical school, or caring for his youngest brother Thomas, who died of tuberculosis. His other brother George also died of tuberculosis, as would Keats himself.
Reading biographies on him, and letters that he sent to his friends, family and girlfriend (fiance, love of his life, whatever you call it) he seemed like such a nice lad, and he was so excited about his poetry. He was confident, but also very self-deprecating. He died when he was 25 years old.
(I think this is one of Keats' last letters to Fanny).

Today I watched the film Bright Star, which is about John Keats' love affair with Fanny Brawne, the above mentioned girlfriend, and ohmygod I cried my eyes out for almost the entire second half of the film! It's the saddest, most touching film I have seen in a very long time, but it was so perfect as well. Ben Whishaw plays Keats, and he is exactly how you imagine him to be when you read his poems. He pulls off the sensitive, intelligent, thoughtful poet magnificently, and he does it whilst breaking your heart and having a perfect haircut. Bravo, Ben. (You may recognise him as one of the Dylan's in I'm Not There, incidentally one of my favourite films).

Oh, and he also happens to have the prettiest voice in the world. Listen to him reading one of my favourite Keats poems. Listen to the language, the words, and imagine yourself there.

I don't know what it is about tragic men that effects me so much; I feel entirely the same way about Vincent Van Gogh as I do John Keats. My heart just breaks for them, and for their lost genius.

Monday, 29 November 2010

BBC 100

I have actually read far fewer than I thought. Goddamn my dislike for whiny 19th century feminist prose.

46: read

16: unfinished

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

Instructions: Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read an excerpt.

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6. The Bible

7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott

12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller

14. Complete Works of Shakespeare

15. Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19. The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20. Middlemarch – George Eliot

21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell

22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald

23. Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck

29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy

32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34. Emma – Jane Austen

35. Persuasion – Jane Austen

36. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden

40. Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41. Animal Farm – George Orwell

42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving

45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47. Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy

48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50. Atonement – Ian McEwan

51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel

52. Dune – Frank Herbert

53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57. A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60. Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov

63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt

64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold

65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac

67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

72. Dracula – Bram Stoker

73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett

74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson

75. Ulysses – James Joyce

76. The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78. Germinal – Emile Zola

79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80. Possession – AS Byatt

81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell

83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker

84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87. Charlotte’s Web – EB White

88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton

91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks

94. Watership Down – Richard Adams

95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas

98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Sunday, 28 November 2010

20 before 21

In February next year I officially become a woman of the world when I turn TWENTY-ONE (dun dun dunnn). When I was but a young teenager I used to imagine all this stuff that I would do when I had a job and some money and could do what I wanted, but instead all I do is buy books and go to gigs. Ok, that's all I had planned anyway, but then I read this post by Lizzie and I realised there's still a load of stuff that I want to officially have done before I reach the legal drinking age in America.

So here's what I'd like to do in the next three months before I'm 21... Oh, and go and follow Lizzie's blog and see if she can cross one of her aims off her list.

20. Get into uni next year to do my PGCE.
19. Actually start writing my dissertation.
18. Get through the 30 Seconds to Mars gig without passing out and/or throwing up. Possibly touch Jared Leto in the process.
17. Have a proper night out with my uni friends.
16. Figure out how to use my phone to it's full advantage, instead of just going on facebook.
15. Clear my wardrobe out and actually put some stuff on ebay instead of leaving it in a bin bag in my brother's bedroom.
14. Have a drawing that I have done framed professionally.
13. Stop panicking. (This will only occur if 20 and 19 are completed).
12. Stop being lazy in the way that I dress most days. I used to make an effort before I started caring about how cold I was.
11. Get some money saved so that I can go travelling again next year.
10. Go to Ireland!
9. Take Hayley to the Tate Modern in London because it will blow her mind.
8. Make sure my parents know how much I love and appreciate them. Same for friends and lad.
7. Start wearing glasses again.
6. Start taking the sort of photos that I like looking at.
5. Show the residents of 38 Brownlow Street how magnificent Yorkshire is, because I'm certain they think I'm lying.
4. Go to bed earlier and get some sleep.
3. Stop buying clothes, because I really do not need any more.
2. Get a super power and become well tough like Future Simon from Misfits.
1. Stop being mean and angry to nice people just because I cannot deal with their niceness or inability to shut the fuck up.

Now you go. What do you want to do before your next birthday?

being creative makes you a weird little beast

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Dr. Martens and snow.

All BBC News ever talks about now is ohmygosh why all this snow! I can't understand why the snow is such a big conundrum - it is winter, afterall. I love snow! There hasn't been much where I live yet, which is a little bit disappointing, but it still looks pretty.
Peeping in there is Max, one of my dogs. It was way too cold to shoo him off and take another picture.

Boots - Dr Martens, satchel - Topman, cape coat - it's so old that I can't remember, shirt dress - asos, scarf - gift, cardigan - New Look.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Review - Never Let Me Go

Today I finally, finally, got my PGCE application paid for and sent off. It's a massive relief just to have it done now, but no doubt after 1st December (the closing date for applications) I will start panicking about whether I'm going to get an interview or not...but I'll think about that then.

I've been quite slow with posting recently because I haven't been able to think of anything to write about. I'm also really tired all the time, so whatever free time I do get, I just want to sit there doing absolutely nothing. Maybe watch a cheeky bit of University Challenge so all my brain cells don't die. My head is crammed full of Bret Easton Ellis, Fight Club and Wordsworth at the moment, so it's quite nice to think of something else for a little while (no offence Bret, you know I love you more than I love mince pies).

I originally wasn't going to do a review post for Never Let Me Go, because quite a few of you recommended it to me, and I didn't want to offend everyone. But nobody I know has actually read it, so I wanted to vent my frustrations at it out somewhere. So here goes: (Kathy H lovers, look away now).
I hadn't read any of Kazuo Ishiguro's books until I picked up Never Let Me Go, and I almost certainly won't read another one. I just did not dig his style. The idea for the book was fantastic (click here for spoilers) but the book, to me, just never seemed to get going. I constantly felt like the narration was building up to something huge happening, but the event it was building up to just never occurred. I can't quite put my finger on why I didn't like the book aside from the writing style - in fact, it isn't even that I didn't like the book. I was simply completely indifferent to it. I couldn't bring myself to care about any of the characters, and maybe that sounds a little heartless (especially considering the purpose of the characters), but I really didn't like any of them. Ok, maybe I liked Tommy a little bit - he was very sweet - but I couldn't stand Ruth (it's quite apt that Keira Knightley is playing her in the upcoming film adaptation - bad acting for a bad character).

I can see why this book is so popular, but I don't like books that are simply written and I don't like books that are poorly written, and I didn't think Never Let Me Go was impressive on any front. To be honest, I was just bored. By about a third in I was only reading it so that I could finish it. I couldn't see any development to the story and there was absolutely no depth to the characters, which sounds very pretentious on my part, but I am an English Lit student afterall.
I've tried not to give much about the story away here, because if you are planning on reading it, the idea for the novel is very cool. However, I cannot say that I would recommend this to anyone. Sorry to all those pople who recommended it to me! At least I'm honest, right?

I am looking forward to the film though, even if it does feature Keira Shiteley and Carey mind-numbingly-boring Mulligan. Helllllooo Andrew Garfield!

Inspire #17

All photos from Tumblr and Google (I think)

Monday, 22 November 2010

once i caught a fish alive

Things that I am interested in right now:
1. Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.
2. Whether to wear that skirt that is hanging on the front of my wardrobe tomorrow, or whether it will make me look like a 1940s librarian. Oh wait...that just sold it for me.
3. Trying to be this cool:

Things that I am not interested in right now:
1. I'm A Twat! Get Me Out of Here/The Twat Factor/Strictly Come Twatting
2. The fact that I am going to look like a wartime grandma tomorrow.
3. Harry Potter.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Giveaway Winner

Just a quick post to say that my giveaway closed last night to win a copy of A Prayer For Owen Meany, an absolutely beautiful book that I read last week. Thanks for all the pretty emails by people who entered; I numbered each email then used a random number generator thing to pick one.

So the winner is Vicky at Aha Shake Heartbreaker. I've sent you an email, Vicky, but if you read this first then send me your address and I'll get the book sent off to you tomorrow!

Sorry to everyone who didn't win. I wish I could send you all a copy but sadly I'm not rich, nor do I won a bookshop (again, sadly). I highly recommend you all still buy A Prayer For Owen Meany, though, because it will probably change your life.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

lucky number seven

A couple of people tagged me in this (I can't remember who you are - sorry! Remind me, if you're reading this), but instead of just writing stuff about me like I have size nine feet and my favourite colour is blue, I thought I'd write down some of the weird (but not, hopefully, terrifying) and random things about me. Just so that you know what kind of a moron you are reading about in the future.

I have a crazily obsessive personality. When I start to like something, I will go completely insane about it and whatever it is will literally consume me for weeks and weeks. This is mostly the case with music, and bands. When I fall in love with a band, I will go to as many gigs of theirs as possible, I will buy all the records, all the limited edition vinyls, every magazine that they are mentioned in. It's crippling really, this obsessive thing, because I have spent a lot of money in the past travelling around and seeing bands over and over that I don't even really listen to anymore (but I loved it at the time).
Sticking with music and my insane obsessiveness, I'll say that another weird thing about me is how protective I get of music. I cannot hear a word said against any of my three favourite bands without being consumed with rage. I care about these bands more than I care about most people that I actually know, which is really pathetic, I know.
Whenever I brush my hair, I always turn sideways and look at myself in the mirror to see how long it is. I always do this. I think it's because in college I cut my hair really, really short and I immediately regretted it. I HATED it, so I spent the next three years wearing hair extensions until it was long enough that I didn't get mistaken for a very skinny boy when people met me. Even though it has been long for ages now, I still like to check.
I cannot stand people talking about any single thing to do with their bodies, unless it is a completely superficial thing, like their hair or make up. If someone mentions, for example, (whisper) spots, it makes me gag. Anything to do with the insides of people's bodies makes me actually be a little bit sick. I don't know why, I just can't deal with it. I can't understand why anyone would ever share that stuff with someone else. The only time I can deal with it, is if someone is hurt. Then I can look after them. But other than that...just, no.
I have a ten foot cinema poster of Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray behind my bed. It's actually too tall for my wall, so I have had to fold it over at the bottom. (See also Number One: Crazy Obsessive)
I once won a competition to go to Hollyoaks. As in, actual Hollyoaks. We broke in to what was then Calvin's flat (and by 'broke in' I mean I reached through the door and undid the safety latch). The Loft is completely not as cool as it looks on tv. Oh, and I was on channel 4, sitting on the floor of The Dog, watching George Craig play guitar. I'm really cool, I know.
I can't stand up for longer than about ten minutes without starting to feel really ill and like I'm going to pass out. This is a bitch considering how many gigs I go to.

Hmm...immediately regretting revealing some of this stuff...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

action stations

I'm really panicking about my life right now, so you must excuse my what will no doubt be erratic blogging over the next few days/weeks while I try and get my future sorted.

Thanks to everyone who has entered my giveaway so far - I'm so excited to pass this book on to someone else. Almost a week after finishing it and the ending is still really affecting me, so I really want someone else to experience that.

If you haven't entered yet, click here and have a read. I won't be accepting any more emails after Saturday at midnight (or whenever I go to bed), so that I can announce the winner on Sunday and hopefully post out on Monday. If you enter though, you must promise to read it ASAP so we can talk about it, haha.

Ciao x

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

proscrastination is the worst word on the planet

I'm 14 hours, five bags of Quavers and 3000 Facebook checks into a 24 hour test essay. This is how I'm feeling:It is going to be a long night.

the war is won

Here's the link to a blog I just started where I write a paragraph of babble each day. Much like a diary, only far more depressing than this blog.


Monday, 15 November 2010

Inspire #16

Weekly Review: 8th - 14th November

This week I have been listening almost exclusively to an Irish band that a friend introduced me to called Villagers. This is one of the friends who I am going to visit in Belfast just before Christmas, and she was looking for things for us to do and found that Villagers are doing a gig there on one of the nights that I am staying. She thought I might like them, so she sent me a video and asked if I wanted to go to the gig.

The saying goes that great minds think alike, and both myself and Emma have great minds, so it was fairly obvious that I was going to like them. Little did I realise that I would adore them right from the very first song I heard. Conor O'Brien's voice is beautiful in a way that singer's voices rarely are these days. They are a bit like Mumford & Sons - this is as close a comparison as I can think of - but I have watched videos of them live this week and they are
(unlike Mumford) so much heavier and raw live; I cannot wait to see them. I ordered the album off Amazon and it's been on ever since I got it. Every single song is a little pocket of musical magic, so they are my recommendation of the week.


Years behind, as always, the only 'new' film that I have seen this week is In Bruges, which was released in 2008. I don't know why it takes me so long to see films that I really want to see; I'm a Colin Farrell fan, so this has been on my priority list for, well, two years.

I thought it was great: very funny, lots of Irish accents, Colin Farrell wearing glasses (for sadly only two brief scenes), lots of running around and shoot-outs, and the adorable Clemence Poesy - everything I require in a film, really.

Fun fact that I learnt about this film from IMDB triva:
the word 'fuck' and its derivatives are said 126 times in this 107-minute film, an average of 1.18 'fucks' per minute.

Aside from A Prayer For Owen Meany, I also finally read Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk this week. It is a travesty really that I have only just read this, because the film is one of my all time favourites; even though it does feature Helena Bonham Carter, who I cannot stand, it is also Edward Norton's best (I far prefer him to Brad Pitt).
The novel is spectacular, absolutely spectacular. I love Palahniuk's writing style, and his ideas and 'philosophies' are mind blowing. Reading the book, you can understand the film so much better, and you can see how good an adaptation the film is (ven though the end is quite different). If you haven't read this yet, you definitely should. It's a fairly perfect book. I really want to go and quit my job now.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

GIVEAWAY - A Prayer For Owen Meany

Last night I finished reading A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving. A woman at work lent it to me, and while she has fabulous tastes in all aspects of life (a big fan of Brandon Flowers, so I know I can trust her), I am always dubious about people's recommendations to me.

But A Prayer For Owen Menay absolutely blew me away. Seriously. When I mentioned it in my review post last week, I think I said that it is quite impossible to explain the story, but I will give it a go. It is narrated by a man called John Wheelwright, who describes his life both in the present (a religious schoolteacher) and in the past (his childhood, teenage years and early twenties). John explains the story of his best friend Owen Meany, who is unnaturally small and has a crazy high pitched voice (semmingly irrelevant now, but not so in the story). Owen accidentally kills John's mum when they are 11 years old by batting a baseball that hits her in the side of the head. This and other events that occur throughout their childhoods bring Owen to believe that he is an 'instrument of the Lord'.

There is a reason for everything.

I assure you that my sloppy description in no way comes even close to describing the beauty, humour, irony, horror and heartbreaking heroism that takes place in this book. I was sobbing at the end, actual tears rolling down my face, which is how I know that it was a brilliant book - it affected me in such a strong way.

Because I know that nobody will go out and buy this just on my recommendation, I am going to give away a paperback copy of A Prayer For Owen Meany to one random reader. I really want other people to read and understand this book, and to love it the way that I do, so if you want to win a copy, make sure that you follow this blog, and then send an email to me at emily.battye@hotmail.co.uk. Include your name and your blog address in the email.

Only email entries count; I'm not using comments for this one. You've got until next Saturday, 20th November, to enter. I will then pick a name at random and let them now, blah blah blah. Ok?

If you can't be bothered to get involved in this, go and buy the book anyway. It could well be the best book you have ever read.

The working man is a sucker.

Today I went with my parents to Bridlington's Old Town to an art gallery there where my dad has a couple of his paintings exhibited. There was also an exhibition there of Matisse prints and lithographs, but they were crazily expensive just for his signature, which is basically what you were paying for. Very beautiful though.

This is me with the two paintings that my dad currently has displayed:
Please excuse my crazy lion woman hair. It is both uncontrollable and inexplicable.

And this is my dad with his pictures:

Today I wore: faux fur jacket - vintage, black scarf - a gift, jeans - topshop, boots - charity shop, t-shirt - Old Navy.
This is one of my favourite t-shirts that I own; I bought it from Old Navy in Manhattan a couple of years ago when I was there in the summer, and I still love it now. It's just so random, and of course I love a good monocle.

While we were in Bridlington's Old Town - which is such a sadly unheralded little part of England, with the old priory church and pretty shop fronts and tiny art galleries and antique shops that nobody ever goes to - I did a small bit of shopping. I'm living on a serious budget at the moment with Christmas coming up and a trip to Ireland to pay for, so spending is limited only to bus fares and university books, but the two things I bought today I could not resist. Both were from antique shops and both were only THREE POUNDS EACH.

First was this little silver ring. I mentioned the other day that I wanted more rings, and while this wasn't exactly the thing I had in mind, it's still very pretty and looks good with the other ones I wear every day (I'm mixing silver and gold at the moment, which I have always been heartily against, but is inevitable now I'm wearing all the family heirlooms).

The second thing I found was this skirt:
I assure you, it is a much nicer colour in person, and it is the perfect Zara-lookbook/Alexa-Chung-for-Madewell length that I have been searching for but have not been able to afford. This will certainly be apearing in an outfit post very, very soon.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

set the tigers free

Beautiful hair.

Today was watching Misfits, getting headaches, trying to figure out if I'm making the right choices, browsing ebay for 'vintage peter pan collar size 12' and reliving my childhood in a number of different ways.
I got caught in a torrential downpour in inappropriate shoes, and I ate fish and chips on my own in a deserted park.
I have just start reading Never Let Me Go. Already frustrated because I don't know what's going on.
Can you believe that Christmas is only six weeks away? This year feels both astonishingly long and depressingly short, simultaneously.
Still trying to figure out the logistics of going into hibernation.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

we will make our own mess on the ship of promises

Life at the moment consists of listening to Villagers, buying itchy charity shop jumpers, reading Fight Club and daydreaming about Frank Iero.
Does anyone know where to get relatively cheap, beautiful silver rings from? I need more on my fingers.
Tomorrow I start work experience at a primary school.
It is too cold to be out of bed, but annoyingly almost every aspect of my existance takes place elsewhere.

I want to be my dog.