The Upright Revolution: Or Why Humans Walk Upright

What a lovely little story!


The Upright Revolution 4


Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

A long time ago humans used to walk on legs and arms, just like all the other four limbed creatures. Humans were faster than hare, leopard or rhino. Legs and arms were closer than any other organs: they had similar corresponding joints: shoulders and hips; elbows and knees; ankles and wrists; feet and hands, each ending with five toes and fingers, with nails on each toe and finger. Hands and feet had similar arrangements of their five toes and finger from the big toe and thumb to the smallest toes and pinkies. In those days the thumb was close to the other fingers, the same as the big toe. Legs and arms called each other first cousins.

They helped each other carry the body wherever it wanted to go; the market, the shops, up and down trees and mountains, anywhere that called for movement. Even in…

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The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George

As one would suspect from a French novel The Little Paris Bookshop is all about love (of people and of books), sex, food, regret, adventure and gorgeous French scenery. Written mainly in the third person, but focussing on one man’s life, this novel shares the story of Jean Perdu who is going through life as a broken man with the ambition to fix everyone but himself. On his waterborne boat-cum-bookshop, Perdu uses books as a means of medicating the soul but is unable to treat himself in the same way.

Nina George’s writing in this novel is exquisite. Every sentence rolls around in the mind and soothes, touches, pains or stimulates the senses. It’s both erotically sensual and romantically sad.

We are transported back and forth between a time when Perdu indulged in the company of a married woman, whose thoughts are also documented in the occasional excerpt from her travel diary, and his present life of simply getting through each day trying to feel as few emotions as possible. Their time together appears to be exciting, bittersweet, and ultimately traumatic. If you pardon the cliché, it would only be right to deem this novel as one of the most enticing emotional rollercoasters a writer has ever taken me on and I loved every moment of it. This was one of those books that I read casually for a while (for the first few chapters) and then I suddenly found that I could not put it down as an early turn of events ensured I was hooked; I was transported on a whistle-stop tour of the French coastline upon which I encountered writer’s block, new-found friendship, the hope of big love following the loss of little love and many other lost souls who refused to lose hope.

Even as someone in a happy, long term – although long distance…sigh – relationship, I could feel the pang of Perdu’s loss. Each word expressed his emotions so vividly that I was truly affected. However, despite all this heartache, the misery Jean feels is in no way aggressive: it is an ever present force, but not impeding. It isn’t upsetting, merely moving (and I don’t mean “merely” in a negative ‘this is just about adequate’ sense, more like ‘it should be heartbreaking but it’s actually much more bearable than you would expect’). It is all very well crafted, as any book dealing with such raw emotion should be.

I would also like to point out that amid the turmoil of regret, the pang of lovesickness and erotic flashbacks there are also many funny moments. One special piece of information I have taken from this book as words of wisdom, comfort and utter joy are these: “pasta makes women bellissima“. Thank you Cuneo, thank you! May you never feel guilty again. You want that big bowl of penne? Well now you can, safe in the knowledge you will only become more beautiful the more carbs you eat. (Not that I need to change my habits now – as I buy my pasta 3kg at a time – but it’s nice to hear somebody say it’s not only okay but good feels great.)

I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fiction, food, indulgence, cats, music, and sun, or is experiencing grief, loss or writer’s block – or somebody who simply wants to be transported away from their own troubles with the hope that things can improve, no matter how long it takes.  This is one of those books I will cherish for a long, long time.

Happy reading,

Uni Life: The things you really miss, and those you learn to hate

Although this might seem rather heartless, I’ve never been one of those people to get get “homesick” and I didn’t think that would change even at University. I just tend to keep myself really busy and almost forget that I’m missing home. I’d be lying if I said I’m totally fine but I’m not as bad as I perhaps should be. However, although I have no particular attatchment to my home town or even my house I do, of course miss my family…and my cat. I absolutely miss my cat. So, I just thought I would make a list of things that I do miss, even the little things.

Things I miss the most:

  • My cat running towards me when I open a packet of tablets or go into the kitchen. Seriously, I still expect her to be there under my feet;
  • Not having the basic ingredients that have lived in the cupboard since I was like five (not the exact same packet but you get me);
  • TV: as a massive fiction fiend I desperately miss finding new films and/or shows to watch, record and play back over and over. Of course, there’s iPlayer and Netflix but it just ain’t the same;
  • The dishwasher;
  • Fridge space;
  • Freezer space;
  • Film nights with my mum;
  • Coffee trips with my dad;
  • Dad’s radom urges to go to White Rose or Meadowhall (shopping centres);
  • Not having to pay for my clothes washing;
  • The constant sarcasm from my brother;
  • My brother shouting into the Xbox at 3am;
  • My nerd cave full of books, DVDs and crafting gear;
  • Having a livingroom…or just somewhere to be other than my bedroom;
  • My family;
  • My neighbours;
  • My local bkery and its incredible blueberry muffins and egg sandwiches.

Yes there’s a lot, and maybe they’re not what you expected. However, there are also things I have learned to really hate or things that I’m just fed up with.

Things I have learned to hate:

  • Washing up. Well, to be specific, washing cutlery;
  • Deciding what to eat;
  • Absolutley any wastage of food;
  • Having to eat an entire lettuce to myself before it goes brown;
  • Opening my curtains and seeing a herse roll up the drive…or worse, a body van (I live next to a morgue now! Woo!);
  • Not having a toaster;
  • Buying my expensive lactose-free cheese;
  • Not being able to talk to my family or my boyfriend as often as I would normally;
  • Missing out on seeing extended family;
  • Having to carry a tonne of food home when I’m too small to let the bag just hand by my side…even when I’m in heels;
  • Having to pay for my own food;
  • Buying food that costs over £1 from Lidl (that one may seem weird but I’m not the only one);
  • Not knowing how to use a storage heater and melting each time I walk in the door;
  • Having only people of my own age arounf me (I don’t hate this but it’s becoming quite strange);
  • Having an irregular timetable;
  • The amount of homeless people in Edinburgh. 😦

Some things on these lists are specific to my own experience but there are others to which you could relate, I’m sure. I thought I would share this with you guys because I personally wasn’t sure what to expect. My new friends and I have all come to realise that University is most weird due to the living conditions: you end up spending as much time with people you have never met as you would do with your own family…if not, more because you spend the day together as well; not just after school and weekends. It’s really odd, but it’s growing on me.

Just rememeber, there’s no right way to do this Uni stuff. You are much more likely to miss the little things than the things you would expect to miss. There’s a learning curve which is different for everyone. Just enjoy it! That’s what I’m doing!!

As ever, happy reading,

Carenza x

Posts to expect in the (hopefully) near future:

Halloween in Edinburgh, Going Back Home for the First Time, Jane Eyre and Why I Waited So Long, York Christmas Market, Edinburgh Christmas, Christmas in Edinburgh and a few reviews along the way!

Cloud Nine – Caryl Churchil

I would just like to begin by apologising for my recent absence and lack of posts but there is a very good reason: I MADE IT TO UNI!! That’s right, I made it to The University of Edinburgh to Study Scandinavian Studies and English Literature. I’ve just been so busy with packing, moving, seeing family, studying and (if I’m perfectly honest) drinking and, thus, I have neglected my blog. However, that is all about to change right now:

One of the texts I am going to study this year is a play by Caryl Churchill called Cloud Nine and, honestly, I am  obsessed. It is so, so clever, so vulgar, so brilliant that I am sad it wasn’t in my life before hand. If you’re a fan of  the Glorious Oscar Wilde you will certainly love a bit of Churchill. Think The Importance of Being Earnest amplified freely by the loose boundaries of the 1970’s and you have yourself one fine play.

I think one of the most interesting things about this play is the complete reversal of gender and racial roles. The first act is based in a section of Victorian ruled Africa which is where we meet one family, of high standing and wealth, going  about their normal, Empire-driven lives full of misogyny, racism and colonialisation. I think one of the most striking and refreshing things about this play is the casting. In the first scene Clive, the man of the household, introduces his family. First of all, he introduces his wife, Betty, who is played by a man (much like Lady Bracknell in some renditions of The Importance of being Earnest). He then goes on to introduce his son Edward, who is played by a girl, and his servant, Joshua, who is played by a white man, even though he is black. Don’t worry, these points are not brushed over in the play at all as these three characters really struggle with their identities. However, the struggle is not so much self-inflicted as it is enforced by Clive, who represents Society, as a labyrinth of social expectations, stereotypes and contradictions. There are many, many issues addressed about sexuality, gender, stereotypes, the Empire and acceptance. Caryl Churchill expresses in her preface that their goal was to highlight the parallels between the oppression of women with the oppression of Africans during the Victorian era and beyond.

The second act, bizarrely, is set 100 years afterwards, but only 25 years have passed for the characters. In this act the relationships amongst the family grow to become very strange. I shan’t ruin it for you but just prepare yourself for some incest. It starts with a monologue by a man named Gerry (normally played by the same man who plays Joshua in act 1) about his experiences with other men  trains and how little he wants them to talk. This character is very interesting as he speaks about being gay as a way of avoiding all the “annoyances” wives have to offer. He sees women as a border and sees men in the same way if they become to loving. It turns out that the man he is speaking about (one he talks about who doesn’t really say much) happens to be Edward. This act also introduces Victoria, Edwars sister and Betty’s daughter, who was played by a doll in the first act. In the second act she is shown to be very well-read, very intelligent and rather bad at marriage in a modern world. Her husband, whom she is divorcing, is far too understanding of her wanting a new life with a job in Manchester and seizes it as an opportunity to talk and talk and talk about all the casual sex he’s been having with his lady friends. My theory about Martin (her husband) is that he is the man Gerry complains about speaking too much because, seriously, his speeches are looooong! Unfortunately, this is never confirmed but I just thought I’d throw it in there.

I would totally recomend this play to anyone who’s into Wilde or literature in general because it is spledidly dripping in things to analyse and apreciate and I cannot wait to study it properly!

Anyway, I’m definitely going to try to get back into blogging as I think I had just about got the hang of it and then BOOM life changing event occurred. So yeah, expect more from me in the coming months…if I’m not inundated with essays and more socialising than my introverted teen years prepared me for.

Happy reading,

Carenza x

Humans – ITV

It was introduced to us via strange, creepy ads and has now reached its climax, its finale, with the promise of another series.

This new series is, to be honest, almost too like I, Robot but it does have its differences. It’s a Sci-Fi drama with hints of distopia as we venture into a world full of robot servants. However, some of these robots – “Synths” as they’re known – were created to feel emotions and pain the same way we do, which is where the problems all lie.

The main family is the Hawkins family, the mother and father of which are the favourite, yet controversial, lovers from Mr Selfridge: Amanda Abbington (who plays Miss Mardle) and Tom Goodman-Hill (Mr Grove). Once again, they work beautifully together and I thought it was genius bringing them together agian in a totally warped version of a period drama…with the “period” being in the future and all that.

The Hawkins family, despite Laura’s (the mum’s) objections, opt for one of these Synths and decide to call her Anita. Anita does as she says, makes breakfast, makes the parents somewhat redundant and unintentionally rubs in the daughter’s face that she has no career prospects etc. etc. but there’s something odd about Anita…she doesn’t behave like other Synths, nor does she “share” with other Synths and they can’t figure out why. As a viewer, you alreay know that Anita/Mia was ripped away from the family of sentient Synths and was resold with Mia essentially trapped inside Anita.

I’ll be honest, the first episode didn’t really thrill me, I wasn’t imediately hooked. I thought it was all a bit “yeah, we’ve done this before – robots have feelings and dreams and secrets and they’re going to take over the world blah blah blah” but I was wrong! Not totally wrong, I must admit, as it is a bit I, Robot-esque but that’s no reason to avoid it because it does eventually stray from that predictable path. There are actaully some real twists – both human and robotic. I actually can’t wait for the new series now.

Also, it has to be said, there’s quite a few well-known actors in it! I’ve already mentioned Amanda Abbington and Tom Goodman-Hill but there’s also the man who played Merlin. He doesn’t have the odd little neck scarf thing but he does have the same odd way of speaking. There are some more people that my mum recognised but I’m afraid I don’t know them at all. I honestly think this show would be good for most ages, unless they’re very young because there is some violence and brothel work amongst the PG content. There’s some light swearing but not in your face at all.

If you’ve seen it, please let me know what you think!

Happy watching,

Carenza x

The ABC Murders – Agatha Christie

If anybody read my previous Christie review of And The There Were None, then you know that this one will also be absolutely glowing!

As expected, The ABC Murders was not only gripping but intensely clever. Christie’s mind was a cave full to the brim with dastardly plots, I tell you. I think what I’ve found, though, is that she didn’t come up with many ways of killing people…just how to hide that you did it at all! Which, to be honest, is much more entertaining than some kind of extravagant method of murder – in my opinion anyway. So, this mysterious “ABC” has written a letter to the famous H. Poirot to inform him of a murder which is about to take place in Andover on a specific date. At first it is written off as a silly prank but then, on the selected date in the selected place, a Mrs. Alice A- (I would check the name but I lent the book to a friend) is murdered in her own shop! Suddenly, the letter doesn’t seem so silly. The only issue then is that they have no way of knowing where the next strike will be…Bath, Buxton, Belfast, Brighton…nobody knows but Mr. ABC himself. They will only know where to look once the next letter arrives.

As ever, this book is wonderfully written. Some of the more old-fashioned turns of phrase throw me a bit and I have to read them like two or three times but that’s okay, it’s not exactly a problem. It’s just a little difficult when all the words are basically backwards in comparison to how they would be written nowadays. It’s very Latin! Like, sometimes the adjective will come after the noun, and not just when Poirot is speaking! That would make much more sense.

If you like crime novels then Christie, the Queen of Crime, is the lady for you. Next on my reading list (whilst I’m on holiday in France) are The Orient Express, The Mystery of the Blue Train and, if I’m a really speedy book-worm, The Clocks. 

I may have to join an AAA meeting for Agatha Addicts Anonymous or something…it’s a true addiction, I just can’t get enough of them! As you’re reading this I’m probably in a French swimming pool or cafe where I will be reading more than my brain can take. Then, I’ll come home and get my A Level results and I’ll probably cry and get hammered and lose all possible reading ability…so, I better get reading while I still can and so should you! Oh, and prepare for lots of photies of France.

Happy reading and happy holidays, wherever you may be,

Carenza x