Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Say you, say meme...

So, the ever delightful bee (find her awesome blog on my sidebar, under ‘Waiting On The Front Porch’. She’s a star!) has tagged me with a book meme. As most of you know I am kind of obsessed with reading, so this is quite the challenge. I really adore a good read…even if during termtime I sometimes struggle to get anything major achieved. Oh, to be a student once more and to be meant to read…

I have to plagiarise one part of bee’s blog:
“first, though, a disclaimer: this is brutal for me, like picking which child i want to save from the oven.”

1. A book that changed your life:

Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
The Beauty Myth – Naomi Wolf
The Inheritors – William Golding
The Hobbit – J.R.R.Tolkein
And Still I Rise – Maya Angelou
Matilda – Roald Dahl
The NIV Bible
Talking In Whispers – I can never remember who wrote this. Argh!
Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage – Alice Munro
Captivating – John and Stasi Eldredge
Debrett’s Guide to Modern Etiquette

2. A book you've read more than once:

So many…Pride and Prejudice, The Fabulous Girls’ Guide To Decorum, Little Women, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Elegance, The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets… I like to get my chicklit on after a stressful day! Sad but true, but familiar books are a comfort blanket for me. I was also very in to rereading Debrett’s Guide to Modern Etiquette and Enid Blyton / Roald Dahl as a child.

3. A book you'd want on a deserted island:

(bee – the narnia series is a very good call. I’ll go with that!)

4. A book that made you giddy:

Recently? Both PS, I Love You and Memoirs of a Geisha moved me – they were written so competently, with such passion and virtuosity. Two very different books covering massively different genres, but by gosh I was thrilled by both of them!

5. A book you wish had been written:

...Colin Hanks’ account of his falling in love with a curvy, quirky country girl from middle England. Hey, it’s late and a girl can dream, right?

Like so many people, I’d love to write a book one day, so I guess that’s a wish I’d like to see fulfilled.

6. A book that wracked you with sobs:

Hannah’s Gift (oh my gosh, y’all. 2 chapters in and it’s all sobbing, streaming nose, weeping heartache chez moi. Brilliantly written book.)
What Was Good About Today.
Little Women.

Can you beat a good cry?

7. A book you wish had NOT been written:

Good In Bed – utter tripe. I threw this book with ferocious velocity after completion. It sucked… but of course, ymmv. I’m also not the biggest fan of Moby Dick, as much as I tend to adore American Literature!

8. A book that you are currently reading:

The Kindness of Strangers – Kate Adie

9. A book you've been meaning to read:

The pile on my bedside table, in all its glory:
Coppola – Peter Cowie
Complete Prose – Woody Allen
Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
The Year of Reading Proust – Phyllis Rose
Siddartha – Herman Hesse
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
The Scottish Nation: 1700-2000 – T.M. Devine
Freedom In Exile – The Dalai Lama
Lying Awake – Mark Salzman
Orson Welles – Simon Callow
The Weaker Vessel – Antonia Fraser
A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf
A Million Little Pieces – James Frey
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Sacred Romance – Brent Curtis and John Eldredge
Mere Christianity – C.S. Lewis
The Hours – Michael Cunningham

Will I ever get through them all? All thoughts welcome! I will no doubt break up this pretty heavy list with some chicklit and fluff also, as I can often be tempted by a pink cover (I’m pretty good though, I only like the better stuff!).

10. now, for the tagging:

If you would like to lift this and use it, gentle reader, please do so and let me know! No forcing though, because I know how many of you loathe these…

Have a great day,


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Singalong Saturday 23/9/06

Straight in…

1) The Lone Wolf – Kathleen Edwards.

This song is so cool, I just love it. I haven’t blogged in a few days so this is going to be a pretty usual, Clairetastic ramble fest. It’s Saturday here and we are definitely deep in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. It’s the season of crisp leaves, foggy mornings, hot tea and crumpets, thick tights, curling up with a good book, lying in bed an extra five minutes to relish the warmth of the duvet a little longer. Mmm, I love autumn.

School is back with a vengeance now – did I ever really go away? My battle with the ubercrush continues apace – we seem to have reached an odd impasse though, where every conversation we have is a little stilted and subtext filled. Don’tcha just love it when that happens?

2) Land of 1000 Dances – Wilson Pickett.

Na-na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na, na-na-na-naaaaaaa.

Ahem. Well apart from the fact that my heart is breaking (haha, just faking you out – it’s a pain, but hardly a fatal blow) it’s been an OK week. I have had a sore throat like woah, which resulted in a strange low huskiness to my voice, always good for storytime! But other than than, all is well in my little world. Ish.

3) I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – Aretha Franklin.

Aretha. Heck yes.

It’s been a week of thinking and pondering and daydreaming. These are three of my major talents, truth be told. I’ve also been thinking about the boy situation a lot, and delving back through the chain of almosts, kind ofs, what ifs and complete disasters that litter my romantic history. Now I’ve kind of got the single thing down, but back in the day I made so many wrong steps. I also blew some really good things, and let some good things pass me by.

4) Ex-Factor – Lauryn Hill.

Haha, I think media player gets where today’s ramble is going.

I sometimes wonder what path my life would of taken if I’d played some situations differently. The two that spring to mind are the situations with M and S (these names are totally disguised, cos I’m sad like that).

M and I were in the same social group and got on really well, had a similar sense of humour, dug each others moves etc. etc…..and one night we got together at a party (I should add here that in countrymouse vernacular ‘getting together’ means kissing and fun, nothing more. I have never been that kind of girl!). It was fun, but as we know, one night of snogging does not a relationship make. So I hummed, he hawed, we fumbled and it went by. We stayed friends, and the what if hung in the air. Had I not had the misfortune to get involved with a really, really, really awful guy a few months after, I really think we could have had something awesome. But my dealings with the really, really, really awful guy (RRRAG) left me struggling to cope with the basics of life, let alone dating, so that whole scenario passed me by.

5) House Carpenter – Nickel Creek


Fast forward to this summer, and a chance encounter with M. He’s all settled with a fabulous girl now and has everything that he deserves, and it’s really nice to have him back in my little universe. I’d never dream of even daydreaming about another girl’s partner, but it was jarring to see how happy he is, and how happy I might have been, had some things which happened not happened.

But life is like that, isn’t it?

M is a great guy, and a taken guy, and I’m cool with that. I just hope that the happiness that has eluded me thus far will arrive one day with someone else. In the meantime, I’ll rejoice in the happiness of a renewed acquaintance with a man who can always makes me smile, dances like a fiend, and calls me endearments like ‘babe’ without me wanting me to throttle him!

6) Game On – Catatonia

S. What can I tell you about S. We were high school friends and close at uni too. Two film geeks who adore trivia, we were always going to have a Dawson-and-Joey esque vibe going on. We were friends, and he liked me (really liked me) for a solid term sophomore year…and I?

7) Right For Me – Justin Timberlake.

BRUTALLY rebuffed him. I was, in short, a fool.

A cute, funny, intelligent, kind, honest guy liked me. Really liked me. And what did I do? I panicked life a mofo and used whatever methods I could to dissuade and discourage him. And now I’m writing this five years later and kicking my ass (metaphorically speaking – I’m not that bendy!). Karma, you are a biatch!

Nah, it wasn’t meant to be, I get it. And the sea is teeming with fishes (Oh, I am soooooooooooo sure). But on a foggy Saturday, when you haven’t been kissed in months, these things prey on your mind!

8) I Could Hurt You Now – Aimee Mann

Angsty girl music of the indie rock variety.

This is so the anthem of spurned girls.

The thing that occurred to me last night, after a glass of red wine (I tend to do my best thinking on trains, after a glass of red, or in the shower), was that both these ‘things’, the one with S and the one with M, occurred before the whole situation with the RRRAG.

The RRRAG? Nearly ruined my life. Have you ever had an experience that made you question your will to live? The RRRAG gave me that. I stayed in bed for days. I comfort ate like I never had before and never had since. I slept for fifteen hours at a time, I didn’t sleep at all. My grades slipped, my weight ballooned, my friends had no idea what to do with me.

9) Baby I Love You – Aretha Franklin.

It was a dark, bad time. For pretty much the first and only time in my life I truly hated someone.

And you know what? I got through it.

I don’t hate him…he’s literally nothing to me. I do resent the fact that a few months of my life have gone on to shape my life this way sometimes, but now I can see the good and the bad of the situation.

The bad? I find it hard to trust men. The low self-esteem I’d always had plunged farther south. I had a really rough year or so…

The good? I’m kinder. I’m more empathic. I’ve grown into a better person, I think. Sure, I may me more guarded, and may be a whole lot lonelier some of the time(I tend to hold parts of me back), but I’ve survived what happened and am happy with who I am. It’s great to be able to say that!

10) Jump – Mary Lou Lord.

Let’s finish on an up note, shall we? I love these singalong posts – I never know where they are going to go.

But no matter what may have passed, the present is just fine. I’m safe and happy and warm, comfortable with the present and excited about the future. Wherever you guys are today, I hope you feel the same.

Have a great weekend!



Thursday, September 21, 2006

Song of the summer?

Can anyone get this song out of their head?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

These are a few of my favourite things..

After the sadness of Monday’s post, and the girly trauma of Thursday’s, I thought I’d break out the sunshine for today’s….

Here, in no particular order or precedence, are some things little things I love.

Emma-dog and Freddie – my little doggy friends. I really love having them around.

Chilly, clear nights where the air is crystal and crisp, where your breath comes out in clouds and dissipates to nothingness.

Hugs. As grownups we really don’t hug enough, but my little people are all about it – a good thing!

Recommended books – I read ‘The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie’ on a recommendation this week. It’s awesome (thank you Henry and Naomi)!

Good food to cook and enjoy. If there’s something better than grilled chicken topped with cheddar and salsa, with herb salad, warmed bread and white wine on a chilly Friday evening, I don’t know what is!

‘Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs’ on Radio 2. I always catch the end of the worship show beforehand, then listen to this show as I bathe and get ready for church. It’s such a guilty pleasure. I love the whole package – the soft-rock music (Chicago! Leo Sawyer! Heart!), the cheesey features, the open and unashamed declarations of love.

Time to catnap. Mmmmm, catnap.

The few TV shows I am following – ‘How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?’ (it’s the final tonight! Go Connie and Siobhan! How did Helena get there?), ‘Extras’ (love it – but missed the series two kickoff, boo!), and my Sunday afternoon delights – ‘Smallville’ (Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum? Hel-lo…) and ‘Beauty and the Geek USA’.

The chance to work hard at something I enjoy.

Teen movies. I watched ‘Heathers’ last night for the first time in a long time, and was startled to find it just as good after a break of five years or so. Just a truly kickass movie – “What’s your damage, Heather?”. I’m going through a bit of a teen flick stage at the moment – I have ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’, ‘Rushmore’ and ‘Hairspray’ to watch over the next few days.

Blogging. I kind of love popping on here as and when and rambling. It’s nice to feel a part of something bigger.

Tesco’s finest Jubilee strawberries. Yum.

Ben Folds. The man is a genius!

Friends, both near and far. Whether it’s a dinner thing, a lengthy phone call, a letter, a trip to the fair, or just a text, it’s so great to have some awesome people to chat to and call on.

Classic fm – without it my classroom with be a much sorrier place.

Mail! I love the cards and packages that rock up on a twice or thrice weekly basis…hurrah for cheesey pictures, books, postcards, carrots and other randomness.

Comfy PJs and sweatshirts – after spending most of my life each week in heels and skirts, it’s so nice to veg!

And with that, I bid you happy Saturday! Hope your weekend is 'very'!

Love, as always,

Friday, September 15, 2006

Ah, the delight of being young, hung up on an unsuitable guy, and two glasses of Chardonnay to the good...

(Written last night at about 11.30!)

Save thinking bout the things that you wanted,
Fast cars and the handmade shirts,
Save dreaming bout the boy who ignores you,
You aim low and you never get hurt.

Save reaching for the level up above you,
Saves crawling to the company scout,
Save trying to improve on your surroundings,
You aim low and you never miss out.

Never fails to avoid disappointment,
Never wind up with a broken heart,
You’ve got no target, it’s impossible to miss,
You can’t lose if you don’t take part.

Never asked you if you’d like to go dancing,
Save hearing that you might decline,
Never told you that I long to be with you,
I aim low and you walked on by,
I aim low and you walked on by,
I aim low and you walk on by.

The guy I like? Is totally not interested. Not only that, but he’s seeing someone else. Quelle surprise, right? Like a single, cute, funny, nice guy was going to be single for more than a heartbeat! But allow me a moment of mourning, please – teenage crushes die hard I guess. I have wine, friends and chocolate. I’ll be fine.


It’s been a busy few days for the country mouse, including (yesterday) an escape to the city. Yes, I took the afternoon off to attend a meeting type thing in London (more on that soon, I feel). It was very odd swanning about the Tottenham Court Road vicinity at 3.30 on a Wednesday – won’t somebody think of the children? The interview type thing I had to attend went well – I think! – talking about yourself for quarter of an hour is bizarre. Think about it, how often do you do that? In job interviews or on first dates, maybe, but then you edit and euphemise. Yesterday I was totally honest and upfront – it was cathartic in a way – almost like a session on the analyst’s couch.

After that I went to Oxford Street and tried on clothes before heading up to Marylebone to meet Hoti. We ended up hitting a random vegetarian restaurant (how? I’m not sure) and having a heck of a chat. He’s an awesome guy, I’m so glad all is going well for him. We must do dinner again soon – it was great to be out and about.

Today was a hard, tough, long day at school. We had thunderstorms last night which screwed up my sleep patterns – never the best start to a day! Then I just felt like I was taking tackle after fumble after suckerpunch all day. Thank heavens it’s Friday tomorrow!

This evening was fun though РRach, Soph and Fi, the three Y4 teacers came round for dinner. We had nibbles, then salmon, bulgar wheat and stirfried veg, and strawberries with cr̬me fraiche and almond biscotti for afters. Pretty cool, huh? I am typing this in the aftermath, after two loads of dishes and a flower arranging session. Genius!

So that’s me. I’m good, but tired, and a little blue about the confirmation of the boy situation (not that I didn’t see it coming, oooh, three months or so off. Bloody cute, clever, bendy, nice people!). Never mind, another day, another challenge.

How are you all, gorgeous people?


Monday, September 11, 2006


What else was I going to write about?

I mean, seriously.

I could waffle on about shoes or boys or music. I could discuss the pros and cons of gym membership versus eating less chocolate. I can do one of those lengthy missives where I rail against the Pussycat Dolls or banana chips or the tabloid media.

But that hardly seems fitting today.

It’s 9/11.

Five years ago today, the world watched in horror and disbelief as not one, not two, but four planes were hijacked. Two of the most famous buildings on earth crumbled to the ground, taking thousands of innocent lives in the process. The Pentagon, the very hub of American military power, was hit also. As we watched the scenes of trauma, horror and devastation, an unnerving sense of nothing ever being the same again swept across the Western world and beyond.

Where were you when it happened?

I was thousands of miles away from the Eastern Seaboard, working in a shoe store, taking stock. At about two I swapped onto the front-of-house position, where you greeted customers and dealt with queries and questions. After a while a friend of mine popped by on her way to uni and told me that a plane had hit the WTC. My boss insisted it was ‘nothing’, at most a misreport, but I had a horrible feeling that something very bad was happening.

My shift ended a little after half-two, and I ran down the street to the electric store and looked in the window at the TV screens and saw the image which is now branded into the memory of most people who were on the planet that day. The two towers, smoke billowing from them. A ticker tape running below the picture told of chaos in the states – planes reported missing, a hit at the Pentagon, grounding of all non-essential flights. I walked through the city, catching snatches of conversation, all about the events unfolding overseas. My own mind was racing…was Clare, one of my colleagues who had been interning near the WTC, OK? Was Jonathan, in DC en route to NYC, OK? Was Sars, whose blog I loved, so full of NYC in jokes and witticisms, OK?

I got to where I was meeting my friend Hilary. Neither of us were in the mood for discussing costumes and cast lists, as you can imagine, so we went to hers and watched the TV coverage until the early hours of the next day.

We watched as the towers fell, as people threw themselves to a quicker, surer death. We watched as the brave policemen and firemen tried to save who they could. We learnt that a plane had crashed in rural Pennsylvania. We sighed with relief when we discovered that all the ‘missing’ flights had been accounted for. We watched as President Bush addressed his nation and the world; a nation in mourning, a world in turmoil.

So much has happened since that day.

We’ve declared a war on terror, made ourselves enemies of the ‘Axis of Evil’. This has been a double edged arrangement – while maintaining the moral highground for our leaders, our involvement in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere have cost us dearly. Too many lives have been lost. Other atrocities have hit Western nations – the bombings of Madrid and London again reminded us that for many people in the world, Western democracy is the enemy.

But today, we remember those we lost on 9/11. We spare a thought for those who dread this day and the memories it invokes. We think of families missing husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, daughters, sons….I could go on. We remember with horror a day when one of our worst nightmares came true, when an evil, evil force struck us so hard we were left reeling.

We are still at war. But when you are fighting for the right to be free, to choose how you live, to vote for your leaders…this war must be worth it.

I don’t think much of President Bush. Tony Blair doesn’t get my vote. But they are in their positions because of free and legal elections – whatever I think of their politics they are in power fairly and squarely. I think that is worth fighting for.

The people who were killed on 9/11 died because some people hate freedom. They hate choice. They hate majority rule. They would rather kill than achieve their goals legally, without force. The victims and survivors of 9/11 didn’t choose to enter into this conflict, they were forced to because of the decisions of others – dictators of the most heinous kind.

Today I’ll say a prayer for those lost. I’ll say a prayer for those who grieve or those lost. I’ll pray for guidance in a world that often seems ridden with hatred and horror. And I’ll hope that is we all remember 9/11, we might feel motivated to improve our world in some small way today. If everyone did, think of all we could achieve.

God bless you all. Regular Countrymouse programming resumes tomorrow.


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Singalong Saturday - 9/9/06

It’s been too long people! But with no internet at home and the sheer madness of week1 of term, I’m afraid my blogging capability was shocking this week! But enough of that, it’s 6 pm, it’s the weekend (finally! Saturday school never fails to shock me!), and once I’ve done this I can go home and relax. Bad TV, DVDs and merlot, here I come!

1. Call Me When You Get This – Corinne Bailey Rae.

I love this woman’s voice. It has a deep, soulful velvet to it which is just lovely to listen to (I believe I’ve raved about her on here before). As I begin we are catching the tail end of this track – if you’ve got a few spare quid, do give her album a whirl, it’s fab!

2. Lover, You Should Have Come Over – Jeff Buckley.

I actually heard this version of the song second. The first version I heard was the jazz-lite, rather sanitized, radio friendly Jamie Cullum version. But this is the big daddy version, in my humble opinion. Buckley’s voice is capable of such frailty and passion, and this song uses his talents to the ultimate degree. This is also the perfect song for drinking red wine in the early evening, staring through a misty pane at the gloom beyond, and conjuring up remembrances of times past and lost. Believe me, I’ve done it (moody staring across water is also good for the soul!).

3. Tribute – Tenacious D

I hear from my peeps (do I have peeps? Should I have peeps? Do I need to start drinking brandy and cursing all the m*****f***ing time to have f***ing peeps?) that Tenacious D have a movie coming out soon. My inner frat boy says “Yes!”. The rest of me remains unconvinced.

I love the video for this song – Dave Grohl as a devil. Kudos to my man there.

4. I Will Follow You Into The Dark – Death Cab For Cutie.

Deathcab… are one of those groups that I’m never sure how many members there are within(see also Belle and Sebastian). This song is just one guy and a guitar though, and it’s beautiful. Love and death are interchangeable in the world of the singer songwriter.

5. Glory Box – Portishead.

How dirty is this song? The bassline and violins just creep up, menacingly, and then the woman starts singing and it’s not even singing, it’s sing-purr-talk-growling, and the guitars come in and its all so dark and deep and breathy and Serge Gainsbourg and oh my. Brilliant, brilliant track, and a unique effort all round. Seriously, how many songs do you listen to and think “Oh, that sounds just like ‘Glory Box’”? Answer – none, I’ll wager!

6. Delicate – Damien Rice.

Today’s entry is going quite muso, isn’t it? Well as this little indie gem plays, I’ll bring the usual gabbling to the table, never fear. The first week of term has been BUSY, but what else was I expecting? Haha. The pinacle was Thursday, when I was so tired I literally cried myself to sleep! The kiddies are settling in well though, and my timetable, while insane, has a few random gaps in it which I have a feeling I will learn to cherish! It’s good to see colleagues again though, and nice to be busy (the last few weeks of summer I was feeling on the edge of a boredom spiral!). The social side of things is as fun as ever – lunch with the ladies today, and yesterday Fi and Seb and I embraced some pintage. More to follow, I have no doubt. No real plans for the weekend – I’m singing at church (yay!), then we’ve got a shared lunch (mmmm, eating lots of different things at same sitting), then I’ll probably splodge out on the couch and watch ‘Beauty and the Geek’ and ‘Smallville’. Good times!

7. Sometimes – Ash.

There are a gang of noisy preteens outside my room, so I’m going to post the next few slots in quick succession sans writing in between, as I’m tidying. Hurrah for freedom!

8. Girls and Boys – Blur
9. Aim Low – Jamie Lynn
10. Through The Dark – KT Tunstall

And I’m done! Have a great weekend, everyone!

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