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Europe

Tuesday, 25 April 2006
from near

Health Foods plaque

This is the plaque I found on the wall in front of the Just Bikes shop in The Green Ashby-de-la-Zouch.  There must be some mistake: Janes Health Foods is some way away in Rushton’s Yard.

I also looked around and didn’t see any green. Perhaps it is behind the shop.

Posted by bigblue on 25/04/2006 at 09:55 PM
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Monday, 24 April 2006
Dog in van

dog in van

Continuing the dog theme of yesterday, although there is no lost dog in this photograph.

I spotted this dog in a van in the road outside my workplace this evening. I stopped and took two photographs, and was lamenting the fact that I only had my mobile phone and couldn’t do the scene justice, when the owner of the white van returned. He was an ugly man with lank and greasy hair, and looked at me shiftily as he climbed in next to rover.  I was happy to get back in my car and drive home. As I accelerated away I glanced in my rearview mirror: he did not look like the kind of person I would like to follow me.

We tend to blame the media such as magazines, films and books, for cultivating prejudices based on looks. And yet if I know this is unfair, can I as an adult continue to blame my socialization?

This month, according to The Times the author JK Rowling wrote on her website

that she had become irritated while “reading a magazine that featured several glossy photographs of a very young woman who is either seriously ill or suffering from an eating disorder”. The writer added: “She can talk about eating absolutely loads, being terribly busy and having the world�s fastest metabolism until her tongue drops off (hooray! Another couple of ounces gone!), but her concave stomach, protruding ribs and stick-like arms tell a different story.

“This girl needs help, but, the world being what it is, they�re sticking her on magazine covers instead.

“I don’t want [my daughters] to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I�d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny - a thousand things before ‘thin’.”

The Telegraph also had a detailed report on Rowling’s pronouncements.

Louisa O’Conner of Kent wrote in to the Telegraph that Rowling

does not help matters by the way in which characters are portrayed in her own books.

Unattractive characters in the Hogwarts series are almost always physically unattractive as well. Harry’s horrible cousin, Dudley, is routinely described as fat, and his eating habits are criticised.

Most of the members of Slytherin house are described as ugly, Pansy is said to have a face like a pug, and ugliness and evil are clearly linked together. It would be more interesting if Pansy was stunningly beautiful, to contrast with her nasty character.

If Ms Rowling is really concerned that children should value personality above looks, then perhaps it would be more helpful if she did not consistently make most of her bad characters physically repulsive, and if she didn’t dwell so much on Dudley’s fatness, as if that were the worst thing about him.

The next day another Telegraph reader, Madeleine Hurd, responded that this was unfair:

although Dudley Dursley of the Harry Potter books is portrayed as being both cruel and overweight, the two female Death Eaters, Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy, are both thin, beautiful women, Harry Potter’s friend Neville Longbottom has been described as plump, the bigoted Draco Malfoy has a skinny face, and Lord Voldemort himself is first seen when he is completely bodiless and later remains no more than cadaverously thin.

I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. I discussed the matter with the biggest Rowling fan that I know, Miney. She put forward the same arguements to me as Madeleine. However I still tend to think it is a touch hypocritical of Rowling to make such a big issue of her character’s looks and link it to their personalities and then complain at the way other writers and journalists do something similar. At the same time I would like to be the last pot to call the kettle black.

Posted by bigblue on 24/04/2006 at 08:59 PM
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Sunday, 23 April 2006
Bee lost and found

image

While Miney and I were

pamphleteering

leafleting today for a local council election candidate in Oxted South I spotted the poster above, concerning a lost dog:

Bee went missing from a secure garden in Brasted,Kent on the 12th February along with a Lurcher dog and 2 red Lakeland Terriers. Please look out for these dogs appearing in your area.

The poster also provides a link to a website where I was relieved to find that Bee has been found.

Posted by bigblue on 23/04/2006 at 09:35 PM
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Saturday, 22 April 2006
Traffic jams

traffic jam

I experienced three serious traffic jams on Friday afternoon driving from the Midlands down to Surrey. The first (pictured above) involved a vehicle fire, according to the traffic report on the radio. In the second accident I saw an overturned truck.  The third traffic jam involved a normal Friday afternoon situation on the M25.

Tomorrow is the London Marathon. Most of us might like to briefly consider why we don’t run these things. Visitors to England at this time might want to consider reading travel advice. The tourist body Enjoy England responded to the description of the English nation as

overweight, alcopop-swilling, sex-and-celebrity obsessed television addicts

as “unhelpful”.

Posted by bigblue on 22/04/2006 at 11:22 PM
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Thursday, 20 April 2006
Spring at last

blossoms

Spring is here at last. Now if only that pesky rain would go away so that we could enjoy it.

Summary:  Mild tonight with scattered showers tomorrow.

This Evening and Tonight
Mild and fairly cloudy with just the odd shower continuing. Minimum temperature 8 deg C (46 deg F).

Friday
Bright with some sunny spells but scattered showers developing, some heavy in places. Feeling pleasantly warm with light winds. Maximum temperature 16 deg C (61 deg F).

Outlook for Saturday
Dry with early fog clearing to leave some warm sunshine.

Text issued at: 1800 20 Apr 2006

Posted by bigblue on 20/04/2006 at 10:10 PM
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Wednesday, 19 April 2006
Customer Information

customer notice

This is the high street in Oxted, Surrey, known as Station Road East.  The notice in the window reads:

Customer Information
We wish to advise customers that this store will cease trading on Saturday 3rd September.

The shop has therefore been empty now for over seven months.

Posted by bigblue on 19/04/2006 at 11:26 PM
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Tuesday, 18 April 2006
Parquet

parquet

My blogging feels like it is slowing down at the moment. I have been busy laying wooden floors in my life.

I was interested to read the New Scientist article that suggests that the Goth subculture may protect vulnerable children:

About half of teenage goths have deliberately harmed themselves or attempted suicide, a new study suggests. But joining the modern subculture ? which grew out of the 1980s gothic rock scene ? may actually protect vulnerable children, researchers say.

The study followed 1258 young people who were interviewed at ages 11, 13, 15 and 19. It found that of those who considered themselves goths, 53% had self-harmed and 47% had tried to commit suicide. The average prevalence of self-harm among young people in the UK is 7% to 14%. Self-harm includes behaviours such as cutting or burning oneself. And about 6% of young people admit suicide attempts. Some studies suggest the incidence is rising in society.

Researchers at University of Glasgow found that while most self-harmers started the practice at age 12 to 13, they did not become goths until they were a couple of years older, on average.

Posted by bigblue on 18/04/2006 at 10:27 PM
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Sunday, 16 April 2006
Inside the building

Theatre Royal

This is the view inside the Theatre Royal which is the reflective building that I noticed the other night.  I took several photos on my camera phone and merged them to form the panoramic view above.

On Friday night we went to see a gala performance by the Bolshoi Ballet:

This Gala is a celebration of the greatness of the Bolshoi Ballet and will feature fully staged elements of the Company�s most spectacular and lavish productions such as Act 3 of Swan Lake and excerpts from Spartacus, as well as exciting divertissements including Le Corsaire and Don Quixote.This unique programme will only be performed to Nottingham audiences and is certain to attract ballet lovers from across the whole country. Book now to avoid disappointment!

Contrary to the above information, taken from the Royal Centre website, they performed Act II Scene I of Swan Lake and Act II of Spartacus, with the divertissements in between.

Posted by bigblue on 16/04/2006 at 05:53 PM
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