Well. So much for posting twice a week. I do have a reason for my absence; my laptop (or rather, the laptop belonging to my brother) decided to retreat behind an eternally black screen. I was not overwhelmingly happy with this decision.
PANIC LIKE THERE’S NO TOMORROW
You know, like ‘party like there’s no-‘ fine. my blogging skills are rusty.
It is a second of extreme crisis – that moment when you realize that technology has Failed You. History fans out before your very eyes. (Interestingly, history is mostly represented by Mongols). How on earth did they survive without a laptop, you demand of Wikipedia.
(Oh. Wait. You can’t look up anything on Wikipedia. Your laptop is as responsive as a stone.)
ACCEPT YOUR FATE
After brief moments of panic in which the future is hopeless and your life void of joy, you realize that … you can survive this. The Mongols did. The Vikings did. Robin Hood didn’t need twitter or, or a blog to have his valiant adventures.
(Actually. He didn’t exist. Probably. Except in your head. Diverted, a moment of quiet, sad reflection is spent on this thought.)
You can survive this absence of technology.
You can use your iPad, kindle, and phone.
You can cope.
EXIST. LIVE- NAY. THRIVE!!
Suddenly you find that you aren’t wasting time, whiling away the hours surfing the web. (You are versatile – you find other ways to waste time.)
Instead of being distracted by your blog, you write Greenwood unintelligibly by hand, your letters formed with grace and skill that a drunken chicken would be proud of.
You write twelve pages.
And then, you snap. You’ve had enough. Why?
You have to edit a project
It just … is a different experience, writing without a laptop (You like it. to an extent. but not to a very large extent. And certainly not for an entire six months)
You are never – in a million years – going to be able to reread your handwriting
TO HECK WITH IT. BUY ANOTHER LAPTOP
It doesn’t have to be flashy. It just has to have Word, a (working) screen, and a keyboard. (Definitely a keyboard.)
Yes. It will cost money, and yes, Dickens and Austen authored books without the aid of computers (and yes, that makes you feel like a second-rate writer, but … pfft. Time travel. They could have time traveled.Hypothetically speaking.) but you know what’ll it save you?
Squinting at your own handwriting.
So, I have a new laptop. His name is Ivanhoe. He is fast in the way of glaciers, with more memory than a gnat. But he has Word, a screen, and a keyboard. And so life is good. Nay. Life is beautiful.
I love so-bad-they’re-good movies. It’s fun to yell at the screen, give a loud, dramatic gasp when oh my gosh I never saw THAT coming! or rant at the characters for making stupid decisions.
I enjoy it. With a bad movie, there is no pretence. It’s just plain old bad. It’s like a form of catharsis. But then, a friend of mine introduced me to the The Test. And, in The Test, I met my match.
The Test is the story of Nathan who puts his fiancée, Julia, through a series of increasingly bizarre ‘stress tests’ in order to see if she is worthy of marrying him.
There are five steps that a movie viewer goes through when watching The Test. I am here to guide you through them. You are welcome.
When you start watching The Test the feeling is akin to that of being slapped in the face with a decaying fish. You look at a scene with disbelief:
He’s not actually hired an actor to test her fidelity, has he? you ask in horror. He’s not peering through the glass of the restaurant to spy on her responses, is he?
Yes. Yes, he is.
This second stage is the worst, and I’d suggest getting over it as quickly as possibly. Nathan pretends he’s been fired from his job due to accusations of insider trading.
“You’re lying to her now, to see if she’ll believe you when you do tell the truth to her about not being dishonest?”
(Logic. It’s a beautiful thing.)
Yes, he does arrange for his fiancée to be fake fired from her job (If she is completely desolate will she still love him?). But you know what? To quote the movie:
It’s not crazy. It’s love.
For reasons only apparent to the script-writer, Julia still believes his innocence and is willing to be homeless on a Hawaiian beach with him.
BUT DON’T WORRY! He ‘gets his job back’ and it doesn’t matter about her job (which she still has, but doesn’t know she has) because “she’ll be his wife”.
Despite the fact that we’ve no evidence as to why they love each other (and therefore, no evidence for why they shouldn’t love each other) Julia is prepared to stand by him. BUT THEN TWIST. SHE HAS HER JOB BACK!!
Honestly, that Nathan! Such a catch!
Okay. So he’s a bit … emotionally unintelligent and a touch dim and he is definitely narcissistic, you say. But, like, it can’t get any worse. Surely.
By this time, Nathan is enjoying the experiment. ‘Would she die for me?’ he asks with pathos that surely belong to Hamlet.
“I’d take the bullet for her.”
“That’s very chivalrous.”
“I’m just that kind of guy.”
It’s important to know if your partner would die for you. Dreadfully so. In fact, I’m almost certain that it is probably included in any number of pre-marriage counselling sessions.
Nathan knows this. But pre-marriage counselling sessions are beneath him. He is so dedicated to the cause of proving Julia is worthy of him that he arranges a home invasion.
What a guy!
It takes some nagging but Julia declares:
“Okay. I’m willing to die for you. Now will you just DROP IT!!!”
For some reason, Nathan doesn’t feel that her response is good enough, and that she wouldn’t be prepared to die for him.
The first time, I watched this movie the whole way through. The second time, I had to stop the movie. It was too hard to go on. Life had lost its meaning. I would have cheerfully stomped barefoot in a room full of Legos or – as one review puts it ‘licked a brick wall’ rather than to have continued.
But one must push through.
… which Nathan does too! He thinks that Julia’s ‘B-‘ is a bit rubbish. He won’t settle for anything less than an ‘A’. He needs one.
So he comes up with the genius plan of faking a coma.
It’s not crazy. It’s love.
Now, I did have some screenshots to share with you. But my computer decided to make them all grey and as:
I refuse to spend money on this movie for the third time
Nope. It’s just that. I. Refuse.
Please imagine Nathan on a hospital bed, faking a coma whilst his hysterical fiancée is mourning him for reasons that completely escape me at this point.
And then of course, he ‘wakes up’ (after his buddy threatens ‘I’m pulling the plug. No pun intended’ thereby ruining all puns for me forever more. You monster) and pretends to have amnesia.
Don’t worry! He ‘remembers’ Julia – just in the nick of time too! It’s a scene with emotion – similar to one from a Shakespearean play or a Nicholas Spark movie, in that all three have people saying lines.
At this point, you are beyond outrage. Beyond everything. This movie exists and you are watching it. Watching as Julia discovers Nathan’s ‘stress tests’ on her wedding day. Watching as she calls him out. Watching as Nathan does the adult thing and blames his friend. Watching as … as… Watching as the truly spectacularly hysterical and completely beyond any rhyme or reason ending happens.
In the end, we have no idea why Nathan and Julia are in love. They tell us they are. The movie says they are. And, so they must be.
This movie transcends all such things as ‘acting’ ‘comedy’ ‘writing’ ‘cinematography’ ‘production’ ‘screenplay’ ‘character growth’ ‘chemistry between actors’ ‘editing’ etc. One must look past these mortal coils and peer far, far, far, far, far beyond them – to where the movie’s heart lies.
And at its heart – deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep, deep down – are the ambiguous messages of trust, fidelity, commitment and above all, love.
It’s true: the movie handles them with the skill of a dizzy toddler performing open heart surgery, the gentle subtlety of a sledgehammer, and the clarity of muddied stream brimming with dead rodents … but I think, to finish this guide to The Test, I will leave you with a quote from Nathan, that is in no way, shape, or form, an excuse for doing terrible things to the person you love:
Love makes you crazy
(As will this movie if you attempt to watch it and review it. You will regret everything. EVERYTHING!!!!) (ALSO I’M SORRY BUT THIS MOVIE RUINS PUNS!!! HOW CAN A MOVIE RUIN PUNS YOU ASK?!! IT SIMPLY DOES AND I’M BOGGLED) (Also, Nathan’s friends keep on saying how brilliant these tests are. like they’ve discovered the secret to the fountain of douche or something. WELL GUESS WHAT THESE TESTS ARE NOT BRILLIANT YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT BRILLIANT MEANS. CLEARLY.)
Glorious news! I can now spell ‘prejudice’ without the help of spell check. It – and this will blow your mind – doesn’t have two d’s.
ALICE IN WONDERLAND
I can’t read Alice In Wonderland right now – the artwork in my library edition is off-putting.
It’s just not pretty and my books must have:
epic dragon illustrations
… but I’m going to push through. Probably. Or I’ll put it on my kindle and read it without any drawings whatsoever.
Once upon a time, I read Wintersong. The front cover was pretty. The sequel has just landed in my kindle because I rather thought that though I disliked the first quite intensely, it made me think about validation and where we draw it from.
Perhaps this sequel would give me an issue to ponder, was my line of thinking. But then I read the introduction and it had a trigger warning for suicide ideation, and said that this book was the author dealing with her monsters.
It’s not that I have anything against authors fighting their demons through the written word, it’s just that I never think ‘well, gee, let me read about someone fighting their demons in a book duology that I liked just as much as I like liver and onions.’
LADY JANE GREY: NINE DAY QUEEN OF ENGLAND
Fun fact: I once saw the back of the author’s head. (It was, I rush to assure you, attached to the rest of her body.)
Now, I have a reread of My Lady Jane planned for this year, but it is comparatively flippant to the actual reality. (Flippant, but hysterically funny.)
I rather hoped the ending would change, but apparently history is set in stone and you can’t change it.
Lady Jane’s letter to her sister had a quote that quite struck me:
‘Live still to die … and trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life; for as soon (if God call) goeth the young as the old: and labour always to learn to die …
She was sixteen years old, and that letter was the last she ever wrote.
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice before. Yes, yes – I’ve watched the movies, the T.V shows … all of that jazz, but I’ve never read the actual book.
But it has now been consumed, and it is with great astonishment that I discovered that it was quite wonderful. Just as good as everyone said it was. I am now eating enormous quantities of humble pie.
Behold, my pride – it has toppled! My years of prejudice have taken a bruising fall! And yes, I shall admit it: Mr. Darcy is very romantic.
(Is it better than Georgette Heyer’s books though? Hmm …)
Look, it wasn’t a Blandings or Jeeves novel and it wasn’t hysterically funny, but it was written by Wodehouse. And a ‘it was alright’ Wodehouse is still wonderfully written with wit and wumour.
(Sorry. I was trying to keep the ‘w”s going.)
by P. G. Wodehouse
So. There’s this bloke, Ivor Llewellyn. He has a problem. He’s just become a bachelor for the sixth time.
Yes. You’ve read that right – he’s been in the blissful wedded state no less than five times.
The fault lies in his small talk. He’s terrible at it. When out at dinner with a female, he finds himself proposing over coffee:
“Coffee’s the danger spot. There is a pause in the conversation.”
… “It’s put me off coffee for life”
His lawyer, Mr. Trout – a member of Bachelors Anonymous (inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous), belatedly follows Llewellyn to London. Llewellyn who is frantically dodging the clutches of the actress, Vera Dalrymple. Of whom this can be said:
‘Tell me,” she went on, as the door closed behind them, “what do you think of that gifted artiste? Off the record. Just between you and me.”
It was a question which Joe was well prepared to answer. He did so with the minimum of hesitation.
“Let’s say that I think it possible her mother may love her.”
(The way Wodehouse writes … ah! It makes me laugh. You’re reading along nicely and then all of a sudden BOOM! a hilarious turn of phrase and you’re choking with laughter.)
Joe Pickering, bodyguard-of-Llewellyn’s-bachelor-state, and Sally Finch, heir-to-a-fortune-if-she-doesn’t-smoke, are attempting to fall in love, but are consistently foiled by hijinks; fate attempts to throw them together, Mr. Trout tries to wrench them apart – for Joe’s own good, of course.
“Like so many young men,” said Mr Trout, “you have allowed yourself to be ensnared by a pretty face, never asking yourself if the person you are hoping to marry is capable of making out your income tax return and can be relied on to shovel snow while you are curled up beside the fire with a novel of suspense.”
… is that the criteria for being a good wife nowadays?
I shovelled snow once. But tax returns?
There is a chase scene, done in a Wodehousian fashion …
“Follow that car!”
The driver was a stout man with a walrus moustache, not that that matters, who when given instructions like them to be quite clear, with no margin for error. He said:
… and an astounding change of heart by Mr. Trout, confirmed bachelor of countless years.
Mr Llewellyn was staring dumbly, as Tennyson’s Lady of Shalott might have stared when the mirror cracked from side to side and the curse had come upon her. Indeed, if the Lady of Shalott had entered at this moment, he would have slapped her on the back and told her he knew just how she felt.
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In the rush of work and life, holidays and visitors from England, it’s been a while since I’ve sat down with an honest to goodness book, and I’d forgotten how much I love reading.
Words are powerful. Books are powerful. (I would love to say that’s the reason I called my blog ‘of words and books’ but it isn’t; I was just trying to keep my bases covered. I know. Genius.) They can give hope, inspire us, change us, aid us in rising above the ordinary to perform the extraordinary.
They can also install a crippling – crippling! – fear of everyday objects.
My uncle and aunt’s copy of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a well-worn and battered paperback. I read it, in the quiet, sitting on the attic stairs. A dedicated bookworm, even at a young age.
Was I entranced? Did I fall in love with Narnia and the adventures of the Pevensie siblings? I’m not sure. I grew fascinated with Turkish Delight, I remember that. I still am a little.
Usually, I think, after reading about Narnia, you’d want to open every wardrobe door ever. Just in case. Just to see. You’d hold your breath a little and reach in, past the coats … just to make sure. Maybe, just maybe, adventure was waiting for you, just beyond your fingertips.
But me? OH HECK NO.
Coming into the room? The doors are open?! Close them. You know. Just in case.
Open the doors to retrieve clothing? Better make sure those doors are closed.
Going to bed? CLOSE DEM DOORS!
I can still almost see what I feared the most – the White Witch, bursting through my white wardrobe doors on a chariot drawn by snarling creatures, arm raised with whip in hand, her expression most terrible.
I thought she was waiting behind the wardrobe. Waiting for me to forget to close the doors. Waiting for that sliver of light to appear. Waiting for me.
So the wardrobe doors were shut, lest worlds seep through and threaten my very existence.
One would think that one fear from the literary realm would be enough; one burden to haunt a little girl was sufficient. An active imagination is somewhat of a curse and a blessing … and occasionally a hinderance to visiting the bathroom.
At night, I wasn’t afraid of the toilet, or of the windowsill, or of the mirror from which my dark reflection would glance back. But rather, what might be laid out in the bath, waiting for me, morgue blue, eyes wide, and really quite dead.
Whose Body? is a delightful book – I’ve since reread it. I wasn’t terrified in the least. But to a young girl who listens avidly as an innocent person walks into their bathroom and discovers a A RANDOM CORPSE IN THEIR BATHTUB … well it didn’t take long to connect the dots.
My house had a bath
My house had a roof
Ergo, my house could have a corpse
[LOGIC STRIKES AGAIN!]
It was terrifying. Answering the call of nature at night became a fraught experience. Even when it wasn’t night-time, a suspicious glance at the bath first just had to be given. To make sure, you know.
I knew how it could be done, you see. Someone could – quite legitimately – drag a corpse over the rooftops and dispose of it in our tub: they would, perhaps, start at our next door neighbour’s roof with the body and then jump across to our’s. Then with gymnastics worthy of an Olympian, they’d climb through the narrow slit of the bathroom window with the body and deposit the body in our bath.
And there I would find it.
Gradually I grew up and forgot to be afraid, but I shan’t forget those nighttime trips and those quick, fearing glances at the bathtub, and that moment when you’d hopped into bed, well you’d better get out again – the wardrobe doors were cracked slightly open.
Sticks and stones may break bones, but words will invoke wardrobes and bathtubs and they will always haunt you.
Or at least, they will until childhood slips away little by little.