I must have bought a copy of this book when it was super cheap on the Kindle store because it definitely isn’t the kind of thing that I normally have much hope in. I’ve also never read anything by Louise Candlish before. Still, there was obviously a time when it appealed to me and I ended up buying the ebook and audiobook version. After finishing Animal Farm last week, I decided that I wanted to read something silly and an audiobook sounded like a great idea. I’ve been so tired that even reading exhausts me. I had reached a point when I couldn’t get my way through a chapter before I started falling asleep and I hate stopping halfway. It just makes me feel uneasy. As if I’ll have no idea where I am when I start reading again.
Yesterday was the first day of my holiday and I did absolutely nothing. I should probably have sat down to finish the book I’m reading but I was just so damn tired. I know I’ve been shut up inside since mid-March but it’s been exhausting. So, I just need to get some rest this week. After all, I’m pretty sure I have to go back to the office in August. I’m not entirely happy about it but I don’t think work will let me continue working home. Now that Boris Johnson has called time on shielding for high-risk people, I just can’t see them listening to my concerns. But, no matter what the PM says, the virus is still out there and I’m still at a huge risk if I get it. The virus can stay in the air for 3 hours and I work in a small office with only the windows as ventilation. This means if any of my colleagues are asymptomatic then I don’t stand a chance. Work can say they’ve taken precautions but they can’t guarantee that we won’t catch it. I’m sure that none of us wants to get it but having a suppressed immune system does make me extra wary. And it’s not as is I haven’t been doing my job at home for the past few months. But nevermind that now. Let’s talk about books.
Not long after Donald Trump became President of the United States, there was a massive increase in sales of 1984. The George Orwell dystopia received a boost after Kellyanne Conway uttered the phrase “alternative facts” in a TV interview. Everywhere you look, people were turning to social media to make sure the world knew that they knew how Orwellian it was. That’s the great thing about social media. Thousands of people are having the same original thought at the same time. Just think about what Orwell would have made of Twitter. But I digress. The point is, it seemed that everyone had suddenly decided that we were living in a time that was just as awful as the one Orwell had imagined. In the same way that people had started to see the world as mimicking Gilead, we were suddenly living in a version of Airstrip One. It’s a fun idea but, let’s be honest, it’s total bollocks.
Do you know what we don’t talk about enough? Robert Downey Jr. was nominated for an Oscar for using blackface. Now I don’t necessarily want to criticise Robert Downey Jr or the film itself. I also don’t necessarily want to give it a pass either. I just think the fact that the academy thought it was Oscar-worthy is a bit weird, right? I mean, how often do they nominate a comic performance for anything? Then they pick the one where a white dude is acting like a Black dude? I find it weird. In terms of the film, I get what RDJ and Ben Stiller were getting at. It’s the lengths that actors go to fully immerse themselves into a role. Officially, RDJ is in blackface but it’s more complicated than that. The character isn’t a Black man but a white actor playing a Black character. I guess you can argue that it raises questions and adds to the conversation. At least more than something like Little Britain did. But, at the same time, you have to ask if nominating the actor for an Oscar legitimises the practice more. Instead of just being a humorous footnote in history. Read more
I’ve had the Simon Callow reading of Animal Farm in my Audible library for a while now but it’s never felt like the right time to listen. Until this weekend. I just had a desire to revisit George Orwell’s animal allegory. I’ve always loved Animal Farm. I think it’s a really great book and is so readable. I love a book that you can digest in one sitting and I love one that does exactly what it needs to. Plus, the idea of it being read by Simon Callow was wonderful. I love his voice and the thought of him playing an angry pig made me very happy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Robert Downey Jr. as much as the next person but, let’s be honest, he’s been playing the same character for years now. The actor was getting his career on track during the early 2000s but it wasn’t until Iron Man that he really became a person to watch. Since that point, it’s kind of felt that we’ve been getting the same thing in almost every film. He’s basically just playing a hyped-up version of himself. The major difference between his Tony Stark and Sherlock Holmes is a hundred or so years. Now I think RDJ. is a great guy but there’s just no surprise any more. When you see that RDJ is in a cast, you can be pretty sure about the kind of character he’s going to play. Yeah, I understand that Dr Dolittle is a pretty odd guy but he’s inherently British. He’s described in the books as a well-respected and quiet man. Not an absurd comic figure of fun. I just couldn’t see how a big Hollywood adaptation with RDJ in the titular role would work as well as the classic 1967 film did. But I was willing to be proven wrong.
It was announced recently that the sequel to Ready Player One will be released on November this year. I can’t say that I’m too excited by the news. I found the book really annoying and thought the film was kind of dull. I think it’s a problem with all novels that rely too heavily on their pop culture references. For one thing, I think it shows a lack of imagination and writing ability. For another, I think it’s a really lazy way of getting your readers onside. It’s using nostalgia to create engagement instead of a captivating story or developed characters. I’d go so far as to say that Ernest Cline’s YA novel made me quite angry. So angry that I’ve really stopped trusting any book that uses popular culture to draw people in. Which means that Slay wasn’t a natural choice for me to start reading. It’s a YA novel about an online video game and it’s really pushing the Black Panther connection. Writer Brittney Morris was inspired by the movie to write her first novel. Something she apparently accomplished in 11 days. But would it read like an 11-day long composition or would it actually make up for the wounds left by Cline? There was only one way to find out.
I feel tired this week but I also feel good. I had some good news on Tuesday when I found out that I passed my apprenticeship. Not only that but I got a distinction! Part of me is sure this has something to do with the fact that I’m about twice as old as the typical apprentice and have made it through an Undergraduate and Postgraduate degree. However, I’m choosing not to focus on that and, instead, am focusing on my achievement. Something my boss isn’t doing. I’ve only heard from one person I work with since I got my grade, which really sums up their whole attitude towards the whole thing. I’m not letting it get me down. I feel great about what I achieved and how I achieved it. Now I just need to start thinking about the next chapter. It’s a shame that Covid-19 has made that more difficult than I’d have liked.
I used to listen to Brett Goldstein’s Films To Be Buried With podcast when I was working. For those who haven’t listened to it, each episode was based around a series of film question that Brett put to his guest. It included the question “what is the funniest film ever?” Comedy is one of those genres that is so subjective, which is perhaps the reason why comedy films don’t have the same lasting appeal as dramas. Some comedies do have staying power but funny films tend to age quicker than straight films. There are only a handful of really important classic comedy films, so most people answering this question would pick more contemporary ones. Of course, the one major exception is This Is Spinal Tap. It was the film that was picked most often in this category. So, is Spinal Tap really the funniest film ever made?
This is one of those books that everyone seems to have read when they were younger but it passed me by. I don’t know why but I just never read it. I mean it is often referred to as one of the greatest pieces of English literature of recent years. In 2019, BBC News included it in their list of 100 most influential novels. So, there must be plenty of people out there who think it was worth reading. I just never did. Maybe I just didn’t like the idea of reading a boy’s diary? As much as I don’t want to perpetuate the idea of gender stereotypes, I wasn’t exactly interested in what a 13/14-year-old boy had to say. Or maybe it was something about diaries in general? I never wrote a diary when I was younger. I think I was always a bit too embarrassed. It seemed too self-indulgent and pathetic. Why did I think my life was so worthy that it deserved being immortalised in a diary? Part of me is quite sad I never did, especially as my memory is o bad these days. Of course, every time one of my friends tells me about reading their old diaries, I am overjoyed that I never tried. Remembering what I was like as a teenager, I can be assured that it wouldn’t make for an easy read.