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The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is probably one of the best children books ever written. It starts out like it means to be a high gothic drama, with spoiled little Mary losing her family in India and being sent to live with distant relatives in a dark and cold mansion on the Yorkshire moors. She's left to her own devises in the large house because nobody has time for her - especially not the serious and remote Lord of the house - and soon she's hearing strange cries in the night from one of the bedrooms. But all of this is just suspense wisely used to hook the reader. It's when she meets the gardner and starts spending more time outdoors (something she never did in India) that sun literally pours in and the book turns into a homage to Yorkshire's beauty.

There's a particular garden on the grounds that nobody has been inside for ten years - a secret garden that doesn't even have a visible door anymore. Mary discovers its entrance with the help of a bird and soon she's enlisted a local boy (who talks to animals and smokes pipes) to help her clear it.

I felt as happy finishing this read as I did when reading Pride and Prejudice. Only I now have a really strong desire to get back into gardening!

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Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables, #1)Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Before sexy vampires, before muscular werewolves, before mortal games in dystopian futures, teenagers had to content themselves with reading fiction that made them daydream of being top of their classes, losing their ginger hair when they grew up and perhaps marrying a boy who'd get a job as a teacher. Being orphan and poor was so much worse than having a boyfriend that glittered in the sunlight, but with the right prayers at night and good Christian morals one could overcome anything.

Gosh... Anne of Green Gables hasn't really aged well! It's still easy enough to read, and is sickly sweet in a sort of nice way, but it now reflects an age long dead. I remember reading this for the first time when I was 17 (as a dare from a friend - she had to, in exchange, read one of the horror novels in my collection) and being enchanted by it. But that may have been a result of watching the Canadian TV series not too long before it.

I don't think I'll be reading the sequels.

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commonpeople1: (Default)
My family bought its first VCR in 1985, when I was ten years old. Our building had an inhouse cable TV channel (very modern for the time) which showed two films at night (picked by the building manager); but we lived right by a large film rental shop and had wanted for a while the option to choose our own films. The weekend routine was for me to pick five films (this would allow us to keep them until Monday morning) - one comedy, one drama, one action/thriller and two horrors.

The first two films we rented were Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and a B-movie horror from 1983 called The Lift. Indiana was my brother's choice while The Lift was mine. Afterwards, I invented a game with my friends in the building where everyone was trapped in a space (say, a part of the playground that was made up of three walls) while one person played the killer lift (arms for wires that snuck through the door, latched onto legs and dragged them out to their death.)

This memory came back to me today as I was waiting for my tower block's elevator. There's a sign by it that says: "don't throw any garbage in the elevator. CCTV is in full operation." Pointless: you can find all sorts of things in the elevator, from chewed chicken legs to napkins and candy wrappers, and as far as I know nobody has ever been penalised for this. The elevators are new too, installed just last year at great expense to all property owners, but they are already keyed, scratched, spat and battered.

I toyed with this private fantasy as the elevator rose, of it coming to life as someone was defacing it, the walls slowly starting to close in on them as the light flickered and they desperately tried to get out (to no avail). Squish.

The version of The Lift I watched back in 1985 was dubbed in Portuguese - I somehow always thought it was an Italian film. Just discovered that it's actually Dutch and you can watch the whole thing on YouTube.

Here's the trailer with a Marc Almond lookalike for the hero:


commonpeople1: (Default)
Tantrum by Gillian Syer
Tantrum, a photo by Gillian Syer on Flickr.
I was waiting for a bus home at Bethnal Green when I noticed a father and his young son standing nearby. The boy was holding a union flag umbrella and was arguing with his father about something. The bus arrived and the father ushered the pissed off little boy inside.

As they climbed the double-deck, the boy started crying. I'd been thinking about my brother and his son and I became curious about these two - about what they were arguing about and how the dad was dealing with it. So I chose a seat right behind them to eavesdrop on their conversation.

I didn't realise I'd just purchased A1 Stall tickets for the mother of all tantrums!

The boy cried louder and louder, his face red and wet from tears. The father told him to shut up and calm down but it only wound up the boy. "I want to go to Sidney's! I want to go to Sidney's!!" he cried. Louder. And louder. AND LOUDER.

The father slapped him once, then twice, then three times, telling him to shut up and calm down. He could go tomorrow to Sidney's, not today. This worsened the situation because apparently the dad had previously promised a visit to Sidney's today. Everybody in the bus was hypnotised (some disturbed, some smiling with sympathy.)
commonpeople1: (Default)
commonpeople1: (Default)
Morrissey by etchasketchist
Morrissey, a photo by etchasketchist on Flickr.
There's some mild debate going on as to whether this website and this Twitter account are run by Morrissey.

He released an official statement saying that it wasn't him... however, there's some good evidence that it's actually him, as someone mentioned, hiding behind this meta-persona that sends himself up.

If it's not him, the person has access to as-yet-unpublished chapters from his autobiography coming out in 2012 and is a very good imitator. If IT IS him, he's got a lot of spare time on his hands. Plus, I'll be mad chuffed knowing that I got a retweet from him to his 2,000+ followers!

Apparently, it's popular to film your children singing or dancing to the Smiths/Morrissey.


commonpeople1: (Karaoke)
This is for [livejournal.com profile] beeorkendurkey <333

commonpeople1: (Morrissey)



commonpeople1: (14 yrs old)

Michael Jackson
Originally uploaded by justjnia
I lived with all my brothers and sisters in our father's mansion. We had any room we could choose, but somehow we chose to sleep together in the same bedroom - a row of bunkbeds for children of all ages. Our mansion was on a hill, part of a grand estate that was used by local walkers and visited by international tourists.

Some of us had been in the car accident that killed our father. I asked my brothers how old I was then. None knew too well but they thought I'd been three years old. I was one of the children in the car when the collision happened. I couldn't remember how he died. It was a national tragedy that people still spoke of years later.

Baby Haunt

Oct. 18th, 2010 08:33 pm
commonpeople1: (Glasses)
I had to stand on the tube ride home today. As is often the case, I aimed my eyes at an ad in front of me so I wouldn't have to look at the great unwashed that fill the train carriages each morning and eve. This one particular ad had the photo of a baby in diapers. Not a particularly cute baby; a bit of fuzzy hair on its bald head, a friendly smile, rolls of baby fat. Probably a baby from Sheffield. He was advertising an upcoming showroom event for men wishing to donate sperm and get paid for it.

In Bethnal Green's Sainsbury's, I added this evening's dinner into my shopping basket (£16.01) and got in the queue. When I got close to the cashier my eyes wandered over the baby products section and stopped at a box of Rice Milk for babies. There was the same baby again, this time in a green T-shirt. Probably from the same photo shoot session.

I wish more people would adopt or foster.
commonpeople1: (Glasses)


Here's my nephew riding a horse for the first time (which he loved.) He's 14 months old. My mom just told me they have a video too, which they'll send me shortly.

That's his grandfather (from my sister-in-law's side), by the way, who is a pig farmer and owns the horse (before you start wondering who's that crazy man letting a little toddler horseback ride).

My nephew's name in the original Greek means "friend of horses". I wish I lived closer to my family.
commonpeople1: (Morrissey)
Long day at work then the struggle to get home in packed Tube trains. Find a seat in the Central line and listen to my iShuffle as the doors open and close at each station.

An Indian family enter the carriage and the mother sits down with her baby on one knee and a seven-year-old boy on the other. The father stands and takes care of the carrier. When the person beside me leaves, the mother quickly orders the boy to take the empty seat. I close my eyes and fall into a half-sleep. Feel a nudge against my side and realise that a warm head is resting against me. I'm a giant pillow for the next few stops.

[livejournal.com profile] wink_martindale is preparing curry for dinner. I want to lie on the couch for the rest of the evening reading a good book and listening to music.

Leanne

Sep. 14th, 2010 07:29 pm
commonpeople1: (Paul Simonon)
On Saturday, after I came back from the community garden's harvest festival, I noticed the tower block next to ours was cordonned off, with two investigators in suits having a chat while a cop stood nearby. I just found out from my landlord that they were there because of a nine-year-old girl who fell from the 15th floor. They think she may have been leaning too far out to speak to a friend when she fell. So so sad.
commonpeople1: (Beer)

Old Ford Road
Originally uploaded by wirewiping
There was a really ugly accident on Old Ford Road this afternoon. I missed it by a few minutes. I was walking home from the gym when an emergency ambulance car sped past me. Up ahead, in front of a block of flats, about twenty people were gathered around a couple of people lying on the sidewalk. There were more emergency cars, an ambulance, a fire truck (?!) and a police car (I think.) In the middle of these vehicles was a red car with a spiderweb-like smashed window on its passenger side. The two people on the floor were a mother cradling a 10 year old girl who (I hope) was only passed out, scratched, her face bloodied.

That block of flats has a green space bordering the sidewalk that was recently converted into a playground. Moms with little kids use it throughout the day but it's also popular with pre-teens. It's a hang out for the ones from the block and for the ones that live on the other side of Old Ford Road. My guess is that the girl was running across the road when she got hit - either playing with her friends, trying to catch a ball, or simply jaywalking. There was a big group of kids perched nearby crying their eyes out.

It's sad to conclude this but it was an accident waiting to happen. The playground doesn't have any sort of fence and it's only just a few feet from Old Ford Road (a fairly busy road) - I've seen kids run into that road before after their ball. I hope that girl will be OK.

Just round the corner is Victoria Park. I think one couple lying on the grass close to the Canal were doing it. When I saw a mother with three kids walking in my direction, I thought of warning her about the upsetting scene up ahead so she could take a detour. Then I didn't say anything.
commonpeople1: (14 yrs old)
My 10-year-old cousin wanted to hear songs that I like because she doesn't know anything other than Brasil's style of country music (Sertaneja). So I played her Alkaline Trio's "Don't Say You Won't" (got a bounce and some air guitar) followed by a-Ha's "Take on Me" (excitement).

I'm now going to show her some music videos and ask her to rate them from 0 to 10. First three up are:

- A-ha's "Take on Me"
- The Cure's "In Between Days"
- The Smiths' "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before"

Which videos do you think she MUST see? Is the PG rated version of Gaga's "Telephone" appropriate?
commonpeople1: (Jehovah's Witness)
Mandragora

Mandragora, 1997, Dir. Wiktor Grodecki
This must be a favourite of Catholic priests and the Pope Nazi Pedobear who currently sits in the Vatican.  It's the story of a 15-year-old small town boy who runs away from home and gets trapped in a world of prostitution with older men, drug addiction, crime and disease.  It makes Christiane F and My Own Private Idaho look like Disney productions.  Some of the scenes, involving children below the age of 11, are so uncomfortable that I'm sure the version I watched doesn't survive intact in many countries.  It's long - two hours - and unrelenting in its depiction of how boys are tricked into selling their bodies and losing their souls.  It's graphic, it's grim and there's less hope available than in a Cormac McCarthy novel.  It captures Prague's underbelly in all its gray misery and Communist residues, without a single shred of sympathy towards its gay community.
commonpeople1: (James)
Star Trek

Star Trek, Dir. J. J. Abrams, 2009
I saw this with my film club (Kevin, [livejournal.com profile] desayuno_ingles, [livejournal.com profile] sushidog) and Victor from Big Brother 5. From our seats a few rows behind Victor, I noticed he was as horrified as me by the constant conversation and noise in the cinema. That's because most people couldn't contain themselves with the action and humor on screen, which I guess is a testament to the film's success. I kept thinking "oh, I wonder what will happen in next week's episode", to then be reminded that all this character introduction and set up will only be continued next year. Spock stole all the scenes, Simon Pegg had bad timing, and Kirk was a mixture of Luke Skywalker, Luke Perry 90210 and a punch bag. The action scenes were brilliant and the special effects (black holes, planets, space ships) were frequently gorgeous to watch. While you wait for the sequel, why not watch Star Trek: Phase II (a.k.a. the future of television).

The Innocents

The Innocents, Dir. Jack Clayton, 1961
Why haven't I seen this before? Why, why, why? And why did I watch this by myself at night? Spooky mansions, creepy children, a sexually repressed governess and a screenplay by Truman Capote that lays heavy into the narrow-minded religious mind and the horrors that can lurk in the corner of our eyes - there's something here for everyone. It's like the long lost sibling to The Haunting, from 1963. It's based on Henry James' classic The Turn of the Screw, brought to life through beautiful black & white cinematography. If ghosts do exist then I have no doubt they look and behave exactly like the ones in this film.


Suspiria

Suspiria, Dir. Dario Argento, 1977
A good example of a beautiful failure. It's a visual feast for the eyes, with some crazy ass set design that made me grateful I hadn't smoked a joint before watching it. I could practically feel the walls that made up the strange dance school where things go chop-chop in the night pulsing with evil. The story, editing and acting, however, were a bit pants. Its influence on popular culture is noticeable too; I can see where Quentin Tarantino and Pedro Almodovar got some of their inspiration, as well as the Hostel films and even the composer for the Harry Potter soundtrack. Kevin gave up on it after ten minutes because of the bad dubbing.
commonpeople1: (Jackie)
My brother and his soon-to-be-wife have been thinking about names for their baby. They have come up with two names they like if the baby is a girl: Iara or Yasmin. (My brothers and I were supposed to be named Yasmin, whoever was the first born girl in the family.)

They can't think of any names they like for a baby boy! Also, there's growing suspicion she may be expecting twins! So, as you can imagine, your help in this matter is vital:

[Poll #1322231]

I have to apologise to anyone who doesn't like babies about the sudden insertion of this topic into my journal. I don't filter my journal for anyone or anything and I'm not going to start doing it now just because some readers don't like babies. Sorry! I don't think I'll be writing much about my little niece or nephew since I won't play a big role in their lives (seeing as I live across the world); but in case I go all baby crazy on your asses, feel free to skip my posts or remove me from your Default View. No offence intended or taken. And no intention on my part, of course, of causing Drama with this post. Much. ;-)
commonpeople1: (Jasmin)

Planet Angels
Originally uploaded by Daisy Flame
When Kevin and I left the apartment yesterday evening, we thought we'd meet some friends in a downtown pub for a quiet night of beer, trays of nachos and chit chat. Never in our wildest dreams would we guess that by 5am we'd be wandering the empty streets of London, pupils so big they took up half of our faces, bodies still warm from dancing at Planet Angel.

We nearly didn't go, but [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula is very good at changing people's minds and making them see the light. So, after a few hours of mellow pub conversation with the [livejournal.com profile] patsy_social, we headed back to Rosamicula's - courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] sarcaustick and [livejournal.com profile] thirstypixel who were in town and willing to drive us - for some food, wine and outfit changes.

Planet Angel doesn't have a fixed address. Every month they throw a party in a different London location. Yesterday's was in Vauxhall, in a venue decorated like a 60s sci-fi film set smoked with hundreds of incense sticks. Bouncers and "carers" wandered around, through a mostly young crowd, smiling at everyone and making sure people were having a good time. Rooms played hard trance, drum and bass or happy house. The latter was my favourite, but it was played in a tiny room used as corridor for the other two main rooms, so one couldn't get lost in the music without someone pushing past on their way somewhere else.

The crowd was mostly young. Really young. As in, I saw groups of 14-year-olds and I wondered how the hell they'd got in. [livejournal.com profile] rosamicula seems to think many were freshers, and she's probably right. I think it's very precocious of 6th form freshers to party like this these days!

Once in a while, in the sea of smooth torsos, pouty emo boys (oh, how [livejournal.com profile] sushidog and [livejournal.com profile] naturalbornkaos would have loved there) and tiny girls in angel outfits, you'd glimpse someone in their 60s, clearly making time there until the outdoors festivals return. A giant poster on one wall, with paint on the floor, encouraged revellers to scribble messages or decorate their own faces. And if anyone felt like getting some rest, there were couches in chill out rooms, videogames, lego and toys to lose oneself in. They even sold food and tea, and occasionally bar staff wandered around with trays of strawberries and grapes.

But despite all this, Kevin and I didn't have enough energy to dive head-first into the night. We tried our best in each room, finding briefly some fun in New Order's "Blue Monday" on the happy house dancefloor, but the feeling never remained. Men kept approaching Kevin and asking him for drugs or lighters. Rosamicula disappeared because she wanted tea and a podium to pound the night away (plus, she seemed to know half the people in there). I was still wearing my work clothes and didn't feel 100% comfortable. So, at 4am, Kevin asked if we could leave.

Outside, London slept and the streets were deserted. We walked past a silent House of Parliament, and it suddenly struck me that I was peaking. I asked Kevin if he felt anything and he jabbered for about 10 minutes on how he wasn't high at all, and how he really could do with some chips, and how there were various places we could catch the night bus, and how he wanted to do some drawing on Saturday, and how he might come to Sushidog and watch X Factor and on and on and on. So cute.

Today, we have been completely useless. We watched Beautiful Thing and Horrible People, and we ate easy fare like oven chips and fish fingers. My lower back has gone to pieces and I keep forgetting what I want to do. I'm surprised I managed to write this post. It must have taken me about two hours, but I can't be sure. What I do know is that the X Factor and some hearty winter food from Sushidog's kitchen will be the perfect way to ease me into the night.

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