Monthly Archives: February 2013

Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason

threegravesfull  I’ll tell you the exact moment I lost interest in Three Graves Full. Half-way through the book, the police officer in charge of the case is at home and his 14-year-old daughter is preparing to go out. He then gets lost in a reverie about how alike she is to her mum.

My inner censor put her hand up and refused to read anymore. I convinced her to carry on past a few more skimmed pages where the plot became even more convoluted and there I lost any sense of interest I once had. What does this have to do with our main character Jason and the man he killed?

Why are new characters being introduced half-way through?

I already know about Jason, his wife, her father, the guy who died (although I had him mixed up with another guy for the longest time) , the other two bodies, the brother of the husband of one of the bodies , the husband, the police officer, his partner, the partner’s dog who is also given some time to express himself, and the girlfriend of one of the dead people.

I couldn’t take anymore. My brain just couldn’t handle it. There wasn’t even any question about the story that I needed answering, it was all there already. So why would I keep reading?

The writing is nice, Jamie Mason has a very likeable style but in this first novel she gets too carried away with her love of writing rather than focus on her character. She chose breadth rather than depth and if she isn’t interested enough to find out more abou them then why would I be?

There are some brief forays into deep philosophy which just don’t work with the shallowness of this plot-led book which loses momentum once the plot is done.

The story wasn’t strong enough to hold up narration such as the following:

There’s the what and the when of a deed; there’s where it happened and how it was done. But it’s at the why that the liar’s margin begins.

What? This arty construction may sound nice but the emptiness of the work doesn’t back it up with any substance.

Mason is an extremely likeable writer but this story just didn’t work for me. I’m looking forward to trying again with her next book, whenever that may be.





It’s Monday, what are you reading?

I finally have enough books to join in with  It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? organised by Sheila.

Last week I finished

A review on A country lost, then found. I decided to stop reading Three Graves Full by Jamie Mason. I also finished the Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.


Books I received

David Cronin’s Europe’s Alliance with Israel: Aiding the Occupation which is a review for New Europe.

Five books from Quirk: Jokes every woman should know, Insults every man should know, Stuff every dad should know, stuff every husband should know and stuff every mom should know.

I recently enjoyed their book Stuff Every Woman Should Know and they sent me some more. I bought The Last Policeman just before Christmas but probably won’t be reading that just yet.


Books I bought in the last week

The 4-hour chef but the file is so large that I still haven’t managed to download it to my Kindle app on my phone.

The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler.

Finding the River by Sally Topham.

Lost & Found: Book one of the Emi Lost & Found series. This was free on Kindle so I bought it.

thebeginnersgoodbye 4hourcheflostandfoundottolorifinding the river

Books I am currently reading

Death at Wentwater Court A Daisy Delrymple Mystery — I’ve been hearing about these mysteries for a while and when the first one was available for free on Kindle I just couldn’t resist. I find the writing a little tiring at the moment but my love of female sleuths is overpowering my eye-rolling so on I read;

Vagina by Naomi Wolf (for review for New Europe) — there were some terribly vindictive reviews of this book, with a lot of jeering and mocking, when it was first released so I wanted to review it for myself.


Books I heard about

Lost & Found by Tom Winter (Leeswammes Blog);


A midsummer night’s dream at the Bristol Old Vic

February 28 to May 4.

More information on the website.

One billion rising and a cause for celebration in Bristol

On 14 February, women in Bristol were dancing in the city centre and in various locations throughout the day. They, and others around the world, were responding to the One Billion Rising campaign to get women dancing and rising up against violence.

Bristol mayor George Ferguson showed his support by showing up to a flash mob and tweeting “#BristolMayor gives strong support to UN campaign against violence to women and #OneBillionRising”, as did UK prime minister David Cameron who tweeted: “PM: I’m proud to add my voice to all those who stand up to oppose violence against women & girls. #1billionrising”

The Bristol Feminist Network (BFN) had a more specific reason to be rising up, with their submission to the Bristol City Council against cuts to services protecting women. This year, Bristol’s first mayor has had to find £35 million in savings and cuts in his first budget and a draft had just been produced on February 13.

Almost half the women in the city are likely to be raped, sexually abused, assaulted or stalked in their lifetimes, according to evidence from the Bristol Fawcett report ‘Cutting Women Out in Bristol’.

“Across the UK, domestic abuse support services have seen 31% of their funding cut, but in Bristol, we have done better than this. However centralised funding has led to cuts across the sector, including the loss of funding to South Bristol service Wish and the Well House” the Bristol Feminist Network submitted in their evidence.

“There really is not enough support to cope with the scale of the problem and although we are lucky in Bristol that funding has been protected (in part due to the fantastic work by feminists within and outside of the council for years) as the cuts continue to bite it looks like this problem is going to get worse“ said Sian Norris, one of the BFN’s coordinators.

The One Billion Rising campaign, set up by Eve Ensler, author of the Vagina Monologues and activist, has raised $90 million for rape crisis centres so far and has received worldwide support and participation. In Bristol the dancing was a sign of celebration as well. Mayor George Ferguson’s first budget proposals showed that the council have protected domestic abuse support funding.


Beep beep and row row

Mersina is currently in love with YouTube. I find a nursery rhyme for her, either Row Row (your boat) or Round Round (the wheels on the bus), and from there she can press play and scroll down to the other suggested videos.

The way she learns is amazing to watch. She is fascinated by the beep beep noise that the horn makes and puts her little hand out as if pressing the horn. She’s been doing this all evening.

She knows round and round and does the hand motion, she knows swish – swish – swish, ding dong and wah wah (the baby goes) and she’s still practising beep beep.

So much so in fact that after she’d been asleep for maybe 10 minutes, she started briefly and looked around only to say beep beep and do the little hand movement.

She then rolled over and kept sleeping. Fabulous learning from YouTube.

A tasting menu at City Restaurant, City of Bristol College

My daughter has been to five tasting menus in her entire life of two years, if you include Bell’s Diner when she was still in utero, and the one at City restaurant was probably her favourite (and mine).

The restaurant has the feel of a badly lit and greying office space appropriated for the night by a comedy troupe of high schoolers. An older adult by the door ensures everything is going ok but the rest is left to the younger students who in times of quiet cluster around each other as if in the playground. A training restaurant is a most curious thing.

The wine prices start from £11 a bottle, left unopened at the table, and the tasting menu is £22 each. The waitress’s forgetfulness with our cutlery was fun rather than annoying and the service seems the training ground for the perfectly presented food with astonishing contrast.

The off-menu amouse bouche of blue cheese panacotta with redcurrant jelly is seasoned well and tangy in a most delicate way and an interesting precursor to our first dish of potato ice cream. The creme fraiche and caviar of this course is enhanced by fresh young purple basil which is a tasty touch on the dish that is painted on the oversized plates.

Potato ice cream with creme fraiche and caviar

The guinea fowl + parsnips + girolles + oats dish was my daughter’s favourite and she devoured half of mine. She has excellent taste. The meat was tender with crisp skin and well seasoned. The portion would have been enough for a two-year-old but it was lucky there were a few more dishes.

Tasting menus I have tried so far, which include Moreish, Berwick Lodge and the Square Kitchen, have small courses and at least one or two ‘mains’ with some form of meat dish that provides the substance while the rest are there to impress. I didn’t walk away hungry from the City Restaurant but it was close. The six dishes were tastes and there was no attempt at a main.

The meat-heavy content was also a boon for my companion who was eager to point out my hypocrisy at eating foie gras while purporting to aim for veganism at some point. He wasn’t fun but he was right and the dish itself was cold and not my favourite.

When I looked for a vegetarian option on the menu the only suggestion was that patrons call ahead to ask about substitute ingredients in the dishes. I’m not sure if this place is the best for non-carnivores or those intolerant to dairy. The dessert included the word milk and I didn’t like it at all.

The service however was quick and friendly which was perfect as we were out with a toddler and done within an hour and a half. No staring into each other’s eyes here, just alternating between keeping our daughter amused.

Who is entertaining who?

And in how many places can you make snow angels on the floor and not get kicked out?

The City Restaurant is part of the City of Bristol Colleges and there are four around the city which act as training ground for future chefs. The restaurants provide lunch, snacks and themed evenings. 

From the Human Rights UK blog, the home secretary and bakewell tarts

The home secretary attacked immigration and judges in the Mail on Sunday and the Human Rights UK blog have a great post on how wrong she is and why:

Wonderful use of the Great British Bake Off for an analogy.

M’s red cardigan

Mersina received the most beautiful hand-knit red cardigan for her birthday from our lovely friend Paula (and Philip!) and I’ve been trying to collect some photos that show off how well this suits little M.



Thank you!

Bizarre love triangle at the Arnolfini


M enjoyed listening to New Order at the Arnolfini. We didn’t understand much of the rest of the exhibition and may have to go again. Or not.

Update:  the exhibition, from what I remember, was spread over two floors and had quite disparate elements so it was quite hard to understand the message. Here’s a description from the website and I don’t understand this either:

How do we relate to the world through images and objects? How is our vision of the past and the future affected, or transformed, by the contemporary information economy?

Version Control is a large-scale survey exhibition about the notion of appropriation and performance in the expanded field of contemporary artistic practice. Instead of an understanding of performance as a live activity or connected to an exploration of the artist’s body, the exhibition explores performance in a radical sense as a method of making the past present. Performativity, in this way, explores the conscious moment of staging, appropriating, archiving and re-visiting images and other forms of representation, touching on questions of historiography, mediation, subjectivity, and ownership.

This lack of understanding is not my usual experience at the Arnolfini.

Anger and art, yin and yang

There are two subjects that keep coming up for me and they both have to do with femininity but in very different ways. One is art and the other is anger.

Art in Bristol is everywhere. You walk the streets and another bit of creativity has just popped up opposite a fish and chips shop or a fake moon rises over College Green or men and women sit in a darkened theatre watching short film nominations for the Oscars.

Anger seems to come up whenever women discuss oppression or violence against women. Anger is that last resort of communication when nothing else has worked and destruction is the only way to get your point across. Anger makes you act, escape, respond. It’s full of energy. It can push you out of depression for a moment.

There’s plenty of anger in the ‘feminist’ world. I am qualifying the word feminist because I don’t believe the angry ones represent the movement as such. There are plenty of people out there supporting and promoting women’s rights but anger attracts attention because the media loves a good argument – inflammatory words and rage and everyone making as much noise as possible is perfect for a news machine that needs impact.

The ‘feminist’ movement in the media tends to get attention for being angry. They point out injustice and rage against men and other women and keep pointing out how women are victims – constant, constant victims. Suffering abuse and violence and having to fight their way out of this oppression.

No part of me denies that there are problems and that women in the roles they mostly make up (service, caretakers, creative industries, social anything) are disproportionately disadvantaged. It’s not just domestic and other violence against women, which is recently starting to take a prominent place in political agendas around the world, it is also in the destruction brought on by capitalism, by the military industries, the wars brought on by domination of resources, the neglect of the environment and so much more.

But women are more than just victims. They are better educated, they are more likely to enter higher education than men, they are better trained, they drive better, they save better and ultimately they survive better.

But then when everything in the world is involved at some point it must involve everyone else in it as well. The women’s movement can’t be seen in isolation. Any impact on women is spread towards everyone. Women’s anger, which does not rise up in isolation, is directed and absorbed by those around them and those around them tend to be children who go on to pour out the same.

Then there is the other side of the feminine; art. There is a £35 million cut in our local budget in Bristol and yet the beauty keeps growing and spreading and no part of it screams out I am a victim and I will destroy you.

As far as the newspapers and the channels see: the art movement which captures the media’s attention is, like the urban graffiti movement, mostly male. It’s the men that draw on the walls and bring colour to the city and it is the women who are screaming and ranting and unleashing sarcastic tirades in the media.

Can that be right? I don’t see how that can be true in reality. There must be more in real life than what we are seeing in the media. I’m going to keep looking.