Thursday, 27 January 2011

You say Santander and I say Salander

Had another exciting (! SO not.) exchange with my current financial services provider, the extraordinary circus sideshow that is Banco Abbey De Santander Nacional or whatever (regularly voted number 1 for appalling customer service! No argument from this customer, oh no). Who blocked my card because of "an unusual transaction". Then claimed they hadn't blocked it, but said they'd unblock it. The "unusual transaction" was a direct debit of £3.29 that goes out once a week, regular as clockwork. The man in the Complaints department agreed that it was a strange course of action to take - but hey, that's the wacky world o' banking! So yet again I'm vowing to move to First Direct (please don't ruin my day by telling me they're just as bad, I'M NOT LISTENING LA LA LA). When I have a day off. And I will follow this by channelling Lisbeth Salander for enough time to hack their website to say "We're Crap! And Proud Of It! And There's NOTHING You Can Do! Ha Ha Ha!!!" Well, I can dream anyway.
Apart from that brief blip, a good week so far - so good, in fact, that I have a sore shoulder from trudging home, my bag straining at the seams with proof copies of things I ACTUALLY WANT TO READ. I'm amazed I have time to update at all. In fact I haven't.
And finally: an invoice we received the other day. Nice to know the lovely Bookpoint are branching out and providing other items than books and stationery.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

What the more chi-chi menus describe as "a melange".

How swiftly time passes when you're failing to update a blog (here I would like you to imagine a montage of tiny scenes from my daily life, book pages blurring as I read, hair growing inch by inch as time speeds by, waistline also increasing exponentially as the twin evils of Christmas and We Have To Finish These Leftovers wreak their vile havoc, all to the haunting strains of "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler On The Roof).
That's enough of that.
There is very little to say about Christmas 2010 apart from the fact that it was calm, relaxed, and I got everything I wanted. I have accordingly struck at least one ridiculously expensive perfume off my WANT list.
Oh yes, we went on holiday! I would elaborate, but it was Thailand again, and I've already bored you all with tales of the slow loris we saw in Khao Lak AND my near-addiction to chilis, so I won't go on, except to say that no, we do not have a sex-dungeon full of ladyboys (in reply to people who say with deep suspicion "Thailand again?"). I had a moment while eating a VERY HOT Panang curry where the endorphin rush brought on by the chilis caused the inside of my head to start to expand, and I may or may not have seen the face of Buddha in a thousand revolving lotuses, or perhaps that was the lemongrass martini I had had several of beforehand. Either way, sod you, Carlos Castaneda.
I read, and was bowled over by, Dark Matter by Michelle Paver. I think there's some kind of blind spot that makes authors of grownup fiction think that writing kids' books must be a piece of cake (McNab, Patterson, Ryan, Grisham, I'm looking at you and frowning), despite the fact that this is completely untrue. Talented authors of kids' books are rare and wonderful things, and having once written successfully for children they seem better able to turn their hands to very good adult fiction (Geraldine McCaughrean, Diana Wynne Jones, etc). Dark Matter is so creepy and implicit that I was very glad indeed I was reading it in the sweltering Thai sunshine - it's set in the Arctic, about a jolly 1930s group of exploring chaps who fall foul of some nameless malevolent presence in the long wastes of the sunless Arctic winter. Fabulously atmospheric and, like M R James, best read in a brightly-lit house full of people. HIGHLY recommended.
Updates to ensue more regularly...