Posts Tagged ‘books’

Burning books – symbolic or ridiculous?


I know this is really more of a mummy blog, but I wanted to write about this…

I was on my way to the supermarket this morning listening to a random radio show on a random channel (something BBC, not sure what as it was left on by Hubby) and it was various members of the public commenting on a current news story. I was getting more and more shocked before they recapped the news story and my jaw hit the floor.

I should probably preface this post by saying that I am not religious. I am an atheist but more relevantly, organised religion makes me uncomfortable. This quote from the film ‘Dogma’ sums up my feelings pretty well…I have no issues with the ideas other people have about higher powers or life after death, it’s when it becomes an organised belief structure and people start thinking their ideas are the right ones and everyone else is wrong.

Anyway, before I get into a huge debate (which I tend to), I’ll skip ahead a little and warn you that despite current appearances, this post isn’t going to be about religion…or maybe it’s about something that comes closest to being my religion…confused yet?!

So, I’m listening to the radio, in shock that some religious guy thinks burning another religion’s important book is a good idea. Quite obviously it’s not, and I think most of the commenters thought he was wrong, but one comment really made me think. I don’t remember it exactly, but someone said that if he wants to burn this book, he can…it’s ridiculous and pointless but at the end of the day, it’s just a book.

I actually think she had a point…technically speaking it is JUST a book….just a few hundred pieces of paper held together with a spine and a cover. On the other hand, I disagree completely. Vehemently in fact. The very idea of burning books makes me shudder, and frightens me in a way that isn’t entirely rational. I know I have a thing about books – I have shelves and shelves and shelves of them, in practically every room in my house, and several boxes of them in the loft, and I’ve recently begrudgingly given away eight large boxes of them to charity, and I am still surrounded by books. And I’m not the sort of person who can fold down a corner of a page or write my name in the front. I get edgy when people put my books down spread open (the spine could get damaged), or use them as coasters. All this despite loving second hand, well-read books with random notes from previous readers tucked inside. So I know I’m biased in favour of protecting the book…but still, I do feel that burning books is wrong.

The thing about books is that they contain things. Words. Thoughts. Ideas. And we’re not talking about someone destroying a book by accidentally dropping it in the bath; burning is symbolic. Hell, even shredding would be symbolic in this case. Destroying a book because of what it contains can never be right, because it’s not just destroying the paper it’s printed on, it’s saying that the words themselves ought not to be written, that they are so wrong that they should be destroyed.

That is censorship.

Don’t write anything I don’t agree with or I will destroy it, because what I think is right so everything else is wrong.

I don’t understand how anyone could be so arrogant as to think that way. The written word is precious. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything that’s written, but I do feel that it has value. At the very least it helps paint a picture (together with other books and other historical sources) of the time it was written in. It gives us an insight into the mind of the author and the minds of the people who agree with it…those who follow its teachings if it is a religious or political book. Isn’t it always a good idea to try to understand other cultures and belief systems? Because to me, destroying their words isn’t that many steps away from wanting to destroy their culture.

Burning a book in your own back garden with no witnesses and not telling anyone would, I agree, be faintly ridiculous, but to do it in front of anyone, to shout it out, is to say you are symbolically destroying the words, not just the paper.

Anyone else agree with me? Or the lady on the radio? Just burning paper? Or burning ideas?

8 Things


OK, I’ve been away again…still haven’t got the photo thing sorted & spare seconds for myself have been few & far between. I’m crap. Deal with it :D

Alternative explanation: after Twink recovered from chicken pox, Hubby came down with something random that looked like it might be his appendix, so off he was sent to hospital (& I HATE hospitals), where he stayed for 3 days before being told it was probably a viral infection & was sent home. They said he would take 2 or 3 weeks to recover fully…so almost a month since it started. He lost a couple of stone in a week. My darling man was not well. I am not made for nursing people (not enough patience…not nearly enough patience!), but that’s what I’ve been doing forever. Well, anyway, we’re all home, we’re all feeling relatively human and I thought I’d ease myself back in with a meme I was tagged in ages ago by the fantabulous Skip over at Skippedydoodah. I knew what I was going to write the day after I was tagged…but pesky life got in the way…sigh…I’m over it…really…karmically we’re due a really big break, any minute now *taps foot impatiently*.

Here we go:

1) When were you most relaxed – and I mean so chilled you couldn’t move?

My honeymoon. I can shut my eyes and I’m back there – in the spa listening to the chilled music with a background of running water, hydrotherapy pools bubbling and the ocean lapping at the beach. The entire island (in the Maldives) smelled of the scent they used in the spa as they had little oil burners scattered around. I don’t think I was so chilled I couldn’t move in the spa though…perhaps in the bar, drinking cosmopolitans & (shh!) smoking a strawberry flavoured shisha while (wait for it…my honeymoon was nothing if not fast-paced) playing Uno with my new husband! The bar was built on the beach. Or maybe the beach had invaded the bar…at any rate, my bare feet were able to wriggle in the sand while we chilled in the warm, reddish light & they brought us cocktail after cocktail. The dry martini Hubby ordered was particularly memorable…the only liquid I have ever drunk that left my mouth dryer than it started. Weird! He stuck to cosmos with me after that. When the bar shut, the shisha was finished, and we’d had 5 or 6 cosmopolitans…we wandered the island. It was our first night and we hadn’t adjusted to the timezone. At about 3 am we ended up in the hammock next to the pool, watching the bats wheeling about in the treetops, putting the world to rights. Not sure where everyone else on the island was, but we might as well have been alone.

2) Who in your life has changed you the most? (for good or bad)

This could easily descend into an unadulterated love in…so I’ll be brief. My husband. Without him I would never have even begun writing my novel, I would be living some ridiculously shallow, alcohol-fuelled life & I would be miserable.

Actually, in a more basic way, an ex changed my life: if I hadn’t had a boyfriend when I went to uni, I couldn’t have split up from him just before my final year, I wouldn’t have spent my final year getting drunk and er….moving on…;-) so I wouldn’t have failed my degree (well, I got a third…pretty useless), so I’d never have started temping, and I’d never have worked at a Ford dealership & got a taste for the motor trade, so I would never have sent my CV to the new local Merc dealership, never have got a job there & never met Hubby who then changed my life :D Follow that? No? Stick to the first answer then!

3) What gets you up on your soap box – finger waving, rhetoric spouting, red-faced, passionately standing up for what you believe in?

Oh, practically everything! I love a good rant! Lately lots of parenting issues get me fired up…anti-breastfeeding comments, formula adverts with stupid white print at the bottom you can barely see, etc etc. My latest finger waving rant (& I really did wave my finger!) was about mums being so unsupportive to each other and basically making each other feel guilty for absolutely everything. But I don’t restrict myself to parenting issues…I’ll join in a good debate about practically anything…nobody would ever say I’m short of an opinion!

4) Which book/s have you read the most number of times (and are likely to read 100 times more)?

There are a few. When I was little I read The BFG (Roald Dahl) & The Magic Faraway Tree (Enid Blyton) more times than you would think humanly possible…and then I read them a few more times. As a teenager 1984 (George Orwell) was a favourite, but before I left school I discovered Ian M Rankin and ‘The Player of Games’. I love his science fiction books, especially ones about the Culture, & this one is my favourite. That’s not it though, I have also read all Asimov’s sf books more times than is healthy, and Arthur C Clarke’s The City & The Stars is wearing a bit thin too. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind has also been read repeatedly. I don’t think I could pin down one book that I’ve read most…just lots of books that I’ve read lots of times. Here’s a few more: Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber, Wild Swans by Jung Chang (everyone should read that book…I’ve sadly lost my copy or I’d be reading it again!), The Northern Lights Trilogy by Philip Pullman. I’ll stop now…I read a lot, and I have a useful gift of forgetting the end of a book once I’ve finished it…so I can read it again!

5) Where is ‘Home’? The house you grew up in, the house you’re in now, or the house in your dreams?

Home is wherever I am. Currently that is the house I grew up in, which is also the house I am in now…& the house my children were born in. When I go on holiday home is the place I go back to in the evening. I’m not fussy. But I’ve lived in this house since I was a week old. When I went to university I lived in halls, so this house was still my real home. Hubby & I bought a house together where we lived for 2 years, but Mum died before we moved in & left me her house so we always knew we would be moving back here. I don’t know how I’ll feel when we buy the house of our dreams (it will happen!) and move out of here…not sure I’ll ever feel comfortable selling it.

6) What attribute of yours would you most like to pass on to your children?

Probably the one that got me into trouble most…my sense of right and wrong. Even as a young child, if someone was behaving unjustly, I was never afraid to tell them so…even if they were a teacher and as such ‘ought’ to be respected. Respect has to be earned in my opinion…or at least deserved. I got in so much trouble when I pointed out that my games teacher in Prep school had blatant favourites. Thankfully my parents agreed with me – perhaps a 10 year old shouldn’t have told a teacher off like that, but I had a point! And as for the teacher in secondary school who thought the best way to teach was to scare most pupils, and humiliate a few in order to get a laugh from her favourites…well, no, I did not agree!

7) How do you organise your life? Are you a list-maker, a scheduler or a “we’ll see when we get there” kinda person?

I’m a compulsive list-maker who ends up just ‘seeing when we get there’. I have lists everywhere but rarely get to tick everything off (usually because I lose the list). I am always late for practically everything, and almost always forget to take something I need…last time I went somewhere I forgot to take the birthday present…the birthday in question was in May & this was on Wednesday…I’m that crap!

8 ) And finally, because this one’s been bugging me for a while now: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Let’s work through this:

Assumption – woodchucks CAN chuck wood.

x = quantity of wood a woodchuck can chuck (this is the number we want to calculate)

We need more information to solve this. We need:

t = the amount of time the woodchuck will spend chucking wood (in minutes)

s = the rate of chuck (number of bits of wood chucked per minute)

Then x =st

This assumes there is an unlimited supply of wood and the woodchuck can chuck wood at a constant rate without taking any tea breaks or breaking a nail.

Sorry…channeling my inner mathematician ;-)

My Fantastic Son – random thoughts about Twink


This post is going to be all about my boy. He’s fantastic.

His eyes are just so beautiful. I still get comments from everyone about how unusual his eyes are with the dark ring around the iris.

Who me?

Who me?

The problem is of course when he wants something & turns those puppy dog eyes on me! He’s just recently started telling me off when I’ve told him ‘no’. He points his finger, his voice sounds very strict but with those innocent eyes the effect is just so funny!…I’m assuming he’s learnt that from someone at nursery…I don’t think I’ve ever wagged my finger at him like that!!

Squishy, look at all these animals.

He is so loving with his little sister. To say he adores her is an understatement. I have never seen him show any sort of jealousy towards her, even when he has had to wait his turn for mummy milk (although he does get impatient with me!). He insists on giving her kisses first thing in the morning, and whenever he sees her again after a break (like when I pick him up from nursery). He is just as generous with his kisses and cuddles with me and Hubby, although he doesn’t like it when people he doesn’t know well try to kiss him…it has to be on his terms. So if you get a kiss or a cuddle from him – you know it means something.

One Year Old

One Year Old

I love how much he loves books. I’m a bookaholic myself, so I’m pleased that he loves them too. This is the pile he usually takes to bed with him:

As you can see, sometimes his Colordoodle joins in. He usually cuddles a book to sleep…usually a Doctor Who one, obviously! Tonight he is cuddling one of my birthday cards…a Doctor Who one that screams ‘It is your birthday. You must celebrate or you will be EXTERMINATED. EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!!’. Wherever we go, as long as they have books he will be happy to sit and flick through them…giving them back before we leave can sometimes be challenging though!

He makes me laugh every day.

He does things his own way, and I hope he always will.

He snores like a trooper!

He has an unerring ability to spot biscuits from a mile off, but always asks me before taking one…and then shouts if I don’t allow him a second…or a third ;-) He also likes proper, grown up, dark chocolate…although he’s partial to the odd milk chocolate button too.

He was a cosleeping, (now tandem) breastfeeding, baby led weaning, (still) sling riding, (still) cloth nappy wearing happy little boy.

He is TWO already.

He has changed my life completely, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  He has shown us the way right from the start – we coslept from 3 days old because otherwise no one slept. People told us we’d never get him out without leaving him to cry, but he moved into his own bed, in his own room, in his own time…and started sleeping through at about 11 months. Obviously he stopped shortly afterwards (blasted teeth!), but now he sleeps through more often than not, and as of Tuesday night, he falls asleep without anyone in his bedroom. I’m so proud of him!

My baby boy is growing up.

Me & My Veg Patch


With all the lovely sunshine we’ve had today, me & the friend who visited (bang on time, making me feel doubly bad for all the things I was thinking yesterday when I thought she was late!) today, spent the afternoon in the garden so the boys could race around without destroying my house. It gave me the opportunity to have a look at the state of our garden properly.

We’ve (well, my husband & his step dad have…I wouldn’t want to give you the impression that I actually garden myself…I prefer to take a supervisory role!) been working on it a lot over the last few weeks, getting rid of a skip full of unwanted plants and concrete slabs. The result so far is that we now have a good sized lawn again. The next stage is buying a swing/slide/some kind of garden toy for Twink, some chickens for me (my Granny kept chickens on her croft & there’s nothing like the taste of really fresh eggs) and digging out the vegetable patch before planting some vegetables.

We have decided to postpone the last bit as a little experiment. Last year we planted a nice selection of vegetables. What we harvested was one inch-long carrot and a potato the size of a two pence piece.

Not exactly what we’d hoped for!

However, despite an over thorough weeding sesh late last year resulting in the removal of all visible plants, something is growing! Something is growing in straight lines, in between all the weeds.

Brave little plants.

The thing is, we have no idea what they are! We can’t remember what we planted where, and as you may have already guessed, we are NOT gardeners, so definitely can’t identify plants by sight. At some point I imagine we will have to decide they are ready to pull up and find out what they are, but as that will probably be when they start looking a bit dead, they may not be edible…I’ll aim for homegrown veg next year instead!

It’s a bit dark now to take a photo of The Patch, so I might update this post tomorrow, if I feel up to admitting that the weeds are bigger than the mystery vegetables. Hey. Maybe they’re not weeds. I honestly wouldn’t know.

Veg Patch


In other news, I visited a friend this morning and we exchanged carrier bags full of books! So I now have a large stash of books to add to my already huge pile of books I need to read. Luckily I have a small girl whose only wish in life is that I spend my days sitting on the sofa with her attached to me (& a not so small boy who goes back to nursery on Monday for 3 mornings a week) giving me lots of reading opportunities…if I can tear myself away from my new obsession with Twitter ;-)

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