The Top Ten Facebook Crimes – Chapter Five

facebook userBook Number Three, Chapter Five

Chapter One – An Unexpected Start to a Sunday Morning

Chapter Two – Sleeping on Your Front

Chapter Three – Destination Obal B

Chapter Four – Half a Hot Dog in a Handbag

 

Sunday morning into the afternoon, somewhere in the city.

I appear to have turned into a Facebook bore.

I know, Facebook. Like, who would bother when you’ve got Twitter, and Instagram? I just used to go on it for the occasional nose, and maybe once or twice I posted a pic of me and various other people getting drunk, or one of Corky the cat doing his cute-sy stuff. I maybe posted something once or twice a month.

I never posted up inspirational quotes about love, friendship and/or fitness, or a bet that 97 percent of my friends would never share this earnest quote about cancer, or reply to a post with one word, and preferably a word that was flattering, that described me.

But now? Now I seem to do all the above. And yet at the same time, I have ten times the number of friends on Facebook I used to have and people keep sharing my shite. Those inspirational quotes seem to be very popular indeed, and my Facebook friends appear to love all those sickly pictures and videos of cute kids I keep posting.

And not one person has made a sarcastic comment about this: Celebrating our 20th year of marriage. Can’t believe we’ve been together and so happy for so long. Love you so much baby. You’re the best which was posted a week ago.

20th year? Well, that ties in with the dodgy wedding pic on the landing I guess. Continue reading

The Wave Singer, by Greg Michaelson

The Wave SingerThe Wave Singer by Greg Michaelson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Wave Singer isn’t a book I wouldn’t usually read, but a quarter of the way through I started to really enjoy what I was reading. To use the cliché, I was grateful that I had been pushed out of my comfort zone. I always think the ultimate compliment or a book is how quickly one reads it and I read this book in three days – really, it would have been much sooner if I hadn’t been working.

I loved the starkness of the language and its simplicity. I felt that the author was giving the reader lots of scope for their own imagination. The setting of the book isn’t made clear, except that it is probably a post-apocalyptic east coast of Scotland – and the thought of an abandoned Edinburgh was intriguing.

I liked the individual explanations for the characters and the religious analogy. I also appreciated the little domestic touches which I thought really brought the life of people living in this world to life. Not having the ingredients to make curries for example, or not keeping pets.

The story moves along at a reasonable pace and the explanations given fit with what you have learned so far. It’s an interesting and satisfying read.

View all my reviews

You can buy The Wave Singer on Amazon.

The Outcast, by Sadie Jones

The OutcastThe Outcast by Sadie Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought this was an astonishing book – a debut novel too, no less. I found it in my local library, put off reading it for a while, took it up one evening and then couldn’t put the book down. I read it in one night.

The book tells the story of Lewis Aldridge, starting with his release from prison in 1957 at the age of 27. It then backtracks to the end of the Second World War when Lewis’s father returns from the war, interrupting the cosy life he and his mother have made together without him. Tragedy strikes and father and son are unable to help each other through it.

Lewis is a deeply flawed protagonist, but the author deals sympathetically with him at all times – and with most of the other characters who surround him. You feel as if the author really wanted to explain why people act in certain ways and why they are unable to rectify situations.

The portrayal of 1940s and 1950s English life seems very vivid and realistic and it’s an interesting exploration of social mores and how they constricted people’s lives. The writing is beautiful and the ending satisfying.

View all my reviews

The Beauty Myth – Review

The Beauty MythThe Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve been aware of this book for a long time, but I’ve only just got round to reading it and I wish I’d read it years ago.

Wolf puts across many thoughtful and considerate arguments for why the beauty myth exists and its use to control women in society. Beauty, she argues, has taken the place of what religion used to do and it’s an insidious and powerful tool of oppression. Without the enforced obsession with the appearance (and the projected image is impossible for most women to achieve, and certainly to continue to achieve), how much more would women do, Wolf argues, how powerful would they be?

If you’re not convinced by the arguments that dieting doesn’t work (it almost always results in disordered eating and it ruins the metabolism), then be convinced by Wolf’s political arguments against dieting –

“A culture fixated on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty, but an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.”

And definitely be convinced by her arguments against the cosmetic surgery industry.

“Whatever is deeply, essentially female – the life in a woman’s expression, the feel of her flesh, the shape of her breasts, the transformations after childbirth of her skin – is being reclassified as ugly, and ugliness as disease. These qualities are about an intensification of female power, which explains why they are being recast as a diminution of power. At least a third of a woman’s life is marked with aging; about a third of her body is made of fat. Both symbols are being transformed into operable condition so that women will only feel healthy if we are two thirds of the women we could be. How can an ‘ideal’ be about women if it is defined as how much of a female sexual characteristic does not exist on the woman’s body, and how much of a female life does not show on her face?”

The book was published in 1990 and I found it rather depressing that many of situations she describes and ruminates on have worsened. Facilitated by the internet, for example, the preoccupation with appearance and looks is worse than ever in my opinion while the growth in the cosmetic surgery industry continues at a frightening rate. It’s completely debilitating for women everywhere.

Having said that, the book is really worth your while reading. The majority of women will recognise the situations Wolf describes. The text is easy to read and absorb, and the book allows you to equip yourself with knowledge. I felt as I had known a lot of what Wolf describes, but her elaboration made it clearer and brighter, and knowing what is behind the beauty myth makes it a lot less powerful for me, which can only be a good thing.

View all my reviews

Delia’s Daughter

SONY DSC

As a life-long fan of the pint-sized pop princess, Delia was determined her first-born daughter would be named in her honour. Little Kylie Jones was duly monikered.

Two days in to motherhood (and having bored their family and friends senseless with endless entreaties to marvel at their daughter’s tiny eyes/nose/ears/fingers/hiccups) a letter arrived. It had an ominous air of officialdom to it.

“The name Kylie is trademarked!” Davy Jones exclaimed in horror. “We can’t use it.”

Delia Smith smarted: “Surely not? Surely you can’t do that, can you…?”

 

©Emma Baird 2016

 

OK, I couldn’t resist this story after reading about Kylie Minogue’s bid to stop Kylie Jenner trademarking the name Kylie. Go read the story – the legal wording of the opposition is hilarious…

Job Satisfaction

breadThe baker did her best. She sourced artisan flours from organic wheat. She hand-kneaded dough and left it to prove for a long time – often overnight.

She nurtured a sour dough starter, lovingly tending it and feeding it ever day so that she could produce the most delicious bread, rich and chewy its flavour fizzing on the tongue.

Naturally such bread did not come cheap. Her loaves were four times as expensive as supermarket squishy sponge as she referred to it.

Did you go into the business to make money, her friends asked?

No, only to make dough she was able to reply.

 

©Emma Baird 2016

Mad for the Mouse – The Disruptive Powers of the Cat

freddie next to computer

Gerroff my keyboard!!

I’m a fully-paid up member of the mad for moggies ladies club – so mad for them, I even wrote a book, Katie and the Deelans, where teenagers discover the power to change into cats. (Oh joy – can you imagine?!)

I’m not the only one to write a book with cats as the star. Editor, features writer and author Melanie Whitehouse was adopted by her cat, Gus, in 2003. He inspired her book The Tail of Augustus Moon (2008, Book Guild), which tells the story of Gus’s adoption of journalist Maisie and his experience of the chaos that is a 40-something woman in search of a man.

As a member of various writer forums, I’ve noticed a number of throw-away comments about cats and I began to wonder to myself: “Is there something to this ‘cats as inspiration’/’writers having cats’ feeling that I have?”

One thorough, scientific experiment later – well, a quick straw poll of a freelance women writers’ forum – and the results revealed themselves. Within minutes of posting up a question about cats, inspiration and how cats like to sit on your keyboard, I’d been inundated with responses.

And an awful lot of fabulous pictures of cats curled up next to laptops, cats sitting in in-boxes, cats taking up room on top of notebooks.

The overwhelming feeling was that cats make the writer’s life less lonely. In the main, freelancers work from home and the cat helps to make up for the lack of contact with human beings. Continue reading

Re-ordering Blog Posts and Getting Rid of Pingbacks

Power of WordsI’ve been tidying up book number three (working title: Parallel) as it appears on this blog.

I’d had feedback that it was confusing – which is understandable in that my book juggles the stories of three women so it can be hard to keep track of when it’s appearing in serial form on a blog. I added in some times and days for the start of each chapter and I also added in links to all the chapters on the blogs and on one page, here.

Incidentally, adding links in your own blog usually leads to pingbacks. According to the very useful website, WordPress beginner, pingbacks give software the ability to communicate between websites and if you link to an article on your own blog, WordPress automatically sends a self-ping.

I’m not entirely sure I understand it yet, but I did want rid of the feature because I found it annoying and, as it turns out, it’s easy to remove.

  1. Go to the dashboard.
  2. Go to settings.
  3. Go to discussions.
  4. At the top is an option – Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article.
  5. Untick this.

Voila – no more annoying pingbacks!

And here’s my new page setting out the location of all the chapters of book number three that I’ve posted here.