Saturday, 18 November 2017

Anything But Books ~ fun blog tag thingy from @ShelleyWilson72 and @BrizzleLass

I'm pleased to take part in one of those random questions things, after being tagged by writer pal Shelley Wilson ~ you can read her post HERE.  She in turn was tagged by Claire from BrizzleLass Books ~ I shall tag a few people later, too...

 Q1. Name a cartoon that you love.

There is no finer cartoon than South Park, ever.   I've watched some of them nearly as many times as I've watched The Walking Dead....  I have Eric Cartman on my mantelpiece and keyring!

Q2. What is your favourite song right now? 

I don't listen to the radio/watch music channels and have no idea what the popular music is these days, because about ten years ago I reached the point when I find chart/pop music mostly abhorrent (if you're younger than forty-five: you'll get there too, I promise!).  In our house we listen to all sorts.  Yesterday it was Rosemary Clooney.  Lately, there's been a fair bit of AC/DC.  Can never have too much.  😉

Film from 1970s of Let There Be Rock, which is one of my all time AC/DC faves... (note a few hours later: just found out that Malcolm Young has died...)

Q3. What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

Watch The Walking Dead.  Can and DO!


Q4. What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

I'm always stumped by questions that ask me to reveal something fascinating about myself.  I am possibly the most unfascinating person I know.  I've done a whole bunch of stuff but nothing I would want to put in a blog questionnaire.  Mostly, I just write.  And read, and watch telly.  Okay.  My husband says that doing the washing is my hobby.  It's true.  I get a little bit excited when, say, I come home from a rare few days away and there are at least four loads to do.  I love having all our clothes and bedding washed and ironed at all times.  There.  Told you it wouldn't be very interesting.  And ps, it's the only domestic chore that I do much of!

Q5. What is your favourite, unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

History.  I read lots of non-fiction history, as well as the sort of historical fiction that teaches you about a time period (not the women in long dresses/castles/period unspecified historical romance type!).  I also watch lots of historical documentaries, read articles, etc.  Wish I'd developed the interest earlier and become a learnéd historian, or something.

Q6. What is something unusual you know how to do?

It’s not particularly unusual but (as per Shelley's answer), it's about the only thing I can do well that not everyone can.  I am very good at stuff like logic problems, and games on my tablet that require logic, like backgammon and Plague Inc.

Q7. Name something that you’ve made in the last year.

Made?  I don't make anything, except the bed!  I'm not arty.  I heat food rather than cook.  A friend came to stay for three nights last May, and I was panicking over what the hell I was going to give her to eat.  My sister has just stayed for three nights, too, and it was great, because she has the same attitude as me.  She had fish fingers and broccoli, every night.

Q8. What is your most recent personal project?

I became a vegan a few months ago.  I did so because I don't want to support the animal agriculture industry, which is the responsible for most of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and, thus, a whole other bunch of crap things that are happening to the planet.  


Q9. Tell us something that you think of often.

My dad, who died in September.  Sorry, don't want to bring the mood of the post down, but it was my immediate answer.  And they're often happy thoughts, remembering all the lovely things about him.

Q10. Tell us something that’s your favourite, but make it oddly specific.

I will do as Shelley did, and name my current favourite TV shows.

The Walking Dead - of course!  A link to the many blog posts I've written about it HERE.

The Deuce ~ fabulous series set in early 1970s New York.  James Franco, nuff said. 😋 Read more about it HERE

Currently watching Mindhunter, terrific series set in 1977, in which two FBI agents visit lots of serial killers....

Just finished watching Tin Star with the fabulous Tim Roth playing an alcoholic cop who you loathe more and more as the series unfolds...

I'm tagging....

(Please don't feel obliged to do this, it just means I'm suggesting it to you!) 

My sister, Julia
My friend Andrea, because she has recently started up her blog again.
Book blogger chum Liz
Book blogger chum Abbie
Writer chum Georgia

Thursday, 16 November 2017

The many faces of Daryl Dixon ~ a character study. #DarylDixon #TheWalkingDead

I was asked to write this character study some months ago, before Season 8, for another site's proposed 'Daryl Dixon Appreciation Week' that did not, in the end, come to pass, so I thought I'd put it on my own blog for Daryl appreciators everywhere!  It's an in-depth look at our favourite zombie survivor, showing how he's developed from the 'redneck asshole with an even bigger asshole for a brother' (his words!) to the man who everyone would like to have beside them when fighting the Walkers and Negan.

I've looked at him from the point of view of the relationships with other characters in his life; he is or was something different to each of them, and each one has brought out something different in him.

Daryl and Merle 
The Little Brother 
Merle was everything to Daryl: his brother, both parents, mentor and best friend.  Daryl respected, feared, relied upon and looked up to him, and moulded himself in his image, to no small extent.  Merle taught him self-sufficiency; remember the conversation with Andrea, when they were looking for Sophia in Season Two, about him getting lost in the forest for nine days when he was a kid?  Merle had shown him how to survive—and not only in the wild.  He taught him how to put on a brave face when he was being beaten by his father, and, after his mother died, how to live on his wits.  Merle shaped the younger Daryl—so what would happen when he was no longer around?

Daryl and Rick 
The Brother Outlaw 
Come the end of civilisation, Merle gets himself handcuffed to a rooftop then disappears, leaving Daryl with the group of survivors that he and Merle had planned to rob.  Although never slow in speaking his mind, it's notable that he accepts Rick as leader of the group immediately and without question, and, for the most part, does as he's told; he's learned from Merle to respect the authority of the stronger man.  When the brothers reunite, Merle mocks Daryl's status as Rick's wingman: 'You used to call people like him sheep'.  But in the new world, Daryl and Rick are not Outlaw vs. Lawman.  Now, they're both outlaws, fighting the Walking Dead and shared foes together.  Free from Dixon Major's shadow, Daryl has discovered values of honour and responsibility that Merle tried to quell, but Rick has brought to the fore.  When Rick says to him, 'You're my brother', late in Season Four, you know those ties go just as deep as any blood. 

Daryl and Carol 
The Family Man 
The pairing that everyone loves—but are they brother-sister, very close friends, or could their love ever become romantic?  Their special bond starts when Carol loses daughter Sophia, and, more than anyone else, Daryl goes the extra mile to find her.  In searching for Sophia, is he trying to save the little boy who was left out in the woods?  To reunite child with mother, as he couldn't be with his own?  His relationship with Carol brings out a side of him that previously had nowhere to go: his instinct to love and protect—the man, not the boy.  Carol herself echoes this sentiment, when they're in Atlanta searching for Beth in Season Five; she tells him 'Back then, you were a boy.  Now you're a man'.  She's the person who sees how insecure he is, too—in Season Two, she reassures him that he's every bit as good as Shane and Rick; only she sees this lack of confidence in him, hidden by his wall of not caring.  Now they're reunited, we must watch and wait...

Daryl and Martinez 
The Competitor 
They had just one scene together, but it was such a good one.  As they competed with each other to kill Walkers in the most daring and artful way, we saw the little boy in Daryl, who wants to run the fastest, jump the highest; growing up in poverty, maybe all he had to show off about was his physical ability.  Afterwards, they bonded over cigarettes instead of train sets and model cars.  Daryl didn't hate the other man, even though they were on different sides; he and the equally loyal and trustworthy Martinez would probably have been comrades if they'd fallen in with the same people.

Daryl and Joe 
Boy to Man
When Daryl is lost and alone and teams up with Joe and his 'Claimed' gang in Season Four, we see (and he realises) how far he has come since his pre-Walker days.  Merle would have fitted right in, but although Joe refers to 'men like us', Daryl knows that all they have in common is being able to survive in the wild new world.  Daryl has changed; the decency brought out by Rick, Carol, Glenn and the rest of our group is here to stay.

Daryl and Beth 
The Protector 
What strange bedfellows, to have ended up on the run together after the fall of the prison.  At first, Beth's optimism, naïveté and girlish behaviour irritates him, but later he becomes her teacher and protector.  He shows her how to survive (one shot with his crossbow and Beth quips 'Soon I won't need you at all!'), and her glass-half-full attitude to life rubs off on him and gives him faith.  She makes him believe that yes, there are still decent people out there.  She's the first person to whom he opens up, albeit when he's full of moonshine, but at last he feels safe to show his vulnerability.  Daryl doesn't trust many people, but he recognises a genuinely good heart, and can see this in Beth.  Would their relationship have developed into something else?  Sadly, we will never know.

Daryl and Aaron 
The Fellow Outsider 
... and Aaron points out that Daryl can tell the difference between a good and a bad guy, too.  This is another strange pairing, and an oddly touching one: the gay, educated, middle-class aid worker and the redneck with the crossbow who, pre-zombie apocalypse, had never been outside Georgia.  Aaron makes the point that the rest of the community is wary of both of them for different reasons, but what they also have in common is the need to go off on their own, away from the safe haven.  Daryl mentions how stifled he feels in Alexandria, when they're Walker-trapped inside the car in the Wolves' territory.  As with Beth, Daryl trusts Aaron enough to talk about his feelings.  Aaron's warmth, acceptance and invitation to become his co-recruiter gives him confidence; once they've become tentative friends, Daryl decides that living in the über-straight-laced and middle-class Alexandria might be okay, after all.

Daryl and Dwight 
The Role Model 
A complex relationship indeed.  By the time Dwight meets Daryl in Season Six, there is little left of the young terror that was Merle's apprentice.  He's grown in strength and wisdom, and is confident enough to give a second chance to someone who held a gun to his head.  Then, when Dwight does the dirty on him and, later, kills Denise, all Daryl feels is hatred and desire for revenge.  Few people have brought out such ferocity of emotion in him, but even at the darkest hour, when he is filthy, eating dog food, and at absolute rock bottom with Dwight as his captor, Daryl is still the bigger man - and Dwight knows this.  Later, Daryl is given more insight into his adversary's motivations, and there is a split second of commonality between them.  Still, though, when the tables are turned and it's Dwight in the cell, Daryl wants to kill him.  Rick stops him, but would he have gone through with it?  I suspect their relationship will change yet again.  Sherry said in her goodbye letter to Dwight that he saw in Daryl the man he used to be.  I think he sees in him the man he wants to be; the new world has made Daryl grow from wastrel sidekick, to a man respected by all who meet him—even Negan.  As he said to Aaron when they were trying to catch Buttons the horse, 'When you've been out here a while, you become who you really are'.  

And what is Daryl? A man of truth and honour who doesn't waste words, and will do anything to protect those he loves.  And if he ever fancies jumping in the shower, there are ten million women who will offer to scrub his back 😜

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

What are you reading this week?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading! All you have to do is answer three questions and share a link to your blog in the comments section of Sam’s blog.

The three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Here are my answers :)

I'm currently reading Jonah by Carl Rackman (which is BRILLIANT, definitely one of the best books I've read this year!) 

I've recently finished reading All The Tomorrows by Nillu Nasser: a very well written, highly emotional family drama set in Bombay.

I think next I will read For the Love of a Child : a short story collection by Jenny Twist.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

PATIENT ZERO: It's out now, and it's FREE for 5 days! #PostApocalyptic #ShortStories

FREE from Wednesday 15 November ~ 
Sunday 19 November

Patient Zero

Click HERE for Amazon link

The blurb:

The year is 2024.

A mysterious virus rages around the UK.

Within days, 'bat fever' is out of control.

Patient Zero is a collection of nine 'stand-alone' short stories featuring minor characters from Tipping Point and Lindisfarne, the first two novels in the Project Renova series.  Please click the titles of the books to see the reviews on Amazon.

1.  Jared: The Spare Vial
Jared has two vaccinations against the deadly virus: one for him, one for a friend...

2.  Flora: Princess Snowflake
The girl with the perfect life, who believes in her father, the government, Christian charity and happy endings.

3. Jeff: The Prepper
What does a doomsday 'prepper' do when there is nothing left to prepare for?

4. Karen: Atonement
She ruined her sister's last day on earth, and for this she must do penance.

5. Aaron: #NewWorldProblems
Aaron can't believe his luck; he appears to be immune.  But his problems are far from over.

6. Meg: The Prison Guard's Wife
Meg waits for her husband to arrive home from work.  And waits...

7. Ruby: Money To Burn
Eager to escape from her drug dealer boyfriend's lifestyle, Ruby sets off with a bag filled with cash.

8.  Evie: Patient Zero
Boyfriend Nick neglects her.  This Sunday will be the last time she puts up with it.  The very last time.

9. Martin: This Life
Life after life has taught the sixty year old journalist to see the bigger picture.

The next novel in the series, UK2, will be available around late spring/early summer 2018.

Monday, 13 November 2017

On This Day... Carol saves it again! S8:4 Some Guy #TWD #TheWalkingDead

Comment: First Three Episodes

Season 8 Episode 4: Some Guy

Someone told me I would need to get my hanky out in tonight's episode ~ there was me thinking it was just about the demise of the lovely Daniel!

The Lovely Daniel

The contrast of the rousing Braveheart stuff at the beginning, compared with the reality, was so well done ~ and finally we saw the man beneath the crown, who had never really done much fighting at all.  Not like the totally awesome Carol, who saved the day once more.  Like with the hand grenade at the CDC in Season 1, and the explosion at Terminus in Season 5, she kept her wits about her when all around her were losing theirs.  Makes you wonder if, during those long evenings in A&E when she was married to Ed, she used to read self-help books called 'Discover Your Inner Post-Apocalyptic Warrior'.

The best bit of all was the sight of Daryl steaming down the road on the Dixon Machine, after the Saviours and their Big Guns.... with Rick following.  Btw, anyone else noticed that Daryl has been wearing the same shirt since he escaped from the Sanctuary?  

If he'd like to come round to my house and take it off, I'll wash it for him.  No worries.

Had I read the recent comic books I would have known that Shiva was to die, though I didn't think it was as sad as the death of Buttons the horse in S5... if only you'd been able to catch him, Daryl! 

At least we won't have to listen to anymore of Ezekiel's pantomime speeches, though I felt so sad for the sorry figure he cut, as he walked through his expectant subjects at the end....  

But at least you've got the guns, Rick 😉

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

And the war rages on.... #TWD S8 Episode 3 Monsters

For my review of the first two episodes, click HERE

Never a dull moment, eh?  So much variation in last night's episode, I loved it!

Twice we saw the new 'shoot and ask questions later' Daryl, when he killed Morales and the guy in the yellow trousers, even after Rick had given the latter his woorr-rrd...  our Daryl is hitting back at the Saviours to purge the guilt he still feels about Glenn's death, I'd say, and it made me wonder ~ will this be a bone of contention between him and Rick?  And will he show mercy to Dwighty-Boy, when the time comes?  I'm guessing yes.  Meanwhile, someone close to me commented that he should have done the same to Big-Girl's-Blouse Jesus as he did to Yellow Trouser Guy...

Jesus playing in the woods, instead of killing nasty Saviours

...which brings me to Jesus's tussle with 'is-he-totally-losing-it-yes-probably' Morgan, who seems unable to find a middle ground between 'all life is precious' and 'kill anything that moves'.  I'm with Morgan and Tara on this one.  What do you think the captured Saviours are going to do, Jesus?  Sit in a trailer and twiddle their thumbs until they're let out, then start baking bread along with the Hilltoppers?

'I cannot sanction the harming of the scumbag who murdered dear sweet Benjamin.  I will, however, kick a guy who is supposed to be my friend and is also around 20 years my senior, in the chest.  I rock'.

This is just an excuse for a picture of (the lovely) Daniel

Talking of Morales, I was most disappointed to see him Dixoned before he and Rick ever had a chance to catch up.  ('So what did happen to Merle?  He ever get his hand back?'  'Hey, you ought to see the Widow Peletier now, bro.  No more moaning about her missed Maytag; she's a lean, mean fighting machine!').  Think that was a storyline opportunity missed ~ could he have been brought back into the fold, as a double agent?  ('We won't talk about you holding me at gun-point.  You have my woorr-rd.  But watch for flying arrows').

Who thought Eric was going to die, then?  Last we saw of him, he was Walkering off to join the herd ~ but wouldn't Aaron have run after him to do the knife-to-head thing?  I'm thinking he was let go so we can see him sink his teeth into an appropriate person's neck later on.  So (the lovely) Aaron takes Baby Gracie, and presumably heads back to Alexandria.  Which I'm missing ~ I want more Michonne!

I was thinking, earlier, about the brilliant first ever scene with Shane and Rick in the car, and wondering if the dialogue is not as good as it used to be ~ but then I thought of episodes like the terrific last talk between Rosita and Sasha at the end of the Season 7, and am sure there is more like that to come.  And probably more 'human' episodes, and hopefully some good Walker stuff too, for those of us who want more zombies!  A few less cheesy lines now, please, writers ~ we all know that they're going to stand side by side and take the world back.  We've got that, okay?  And we know Ezekiel's a good guy, and we know why he acts like a pantomime king (did community theatre in the old world, likes to play act as well as motivate his kingdom, etc etc), but perhaps a little less of it?

Now, Gregory....

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

#TWD100 Thoughts on the first two episodes: S8 #TheWalkingDead #TWD

A friend of mine said she thought episode one was too cheesy, and whereas I can see what she means, I kind of didn't care.... I loved Rick's Braveheart-style, motivational speech!  

Also loved the reflection of the very first episode - after the titles, the silence when Carl drove up to the overturned vehicles and got out, petrol can in hand ... he even looked under the car, just like his dad did, all those years ago.  

Blast from the past - Rick in the first ever episode, Days Gone Bye

So... where will Gregory go?  Who will have him now?  Will he head back for his Hilltop mansion, and skulk under the faded space where his painting used to be?  Justice for leaving the born-again priest to face the dead all on his own ~ not to mention facing Negan, who also found 'sanctuary' (!) in the trailer.  But why didn't Gabriel just turn round and shoot him?  Okay, I know... we're saving Negan's death for later.  Not today, not tomorrow, but some time soon, and at Rick's hand.

Really sad to see Francine die - a minor character who I've liked since she slapped Tobin in the mush in Season 5, when he left her for dead on the construction site.  And Craig and Freddie, but I'm betting that newbie gunslinger Eric will be miraculously saved.  How could they make the lovely Aaron suffer?

Evil Benjamin-shooting Jared
Not sure why Morgan didn't just kill evil Benjamin-shooting Jared straight off, as he doesn't seem to have a problem unloading his piece into everyone else in his path, but Jesus seems to have taken on the philosophies of his namesake; has he become the new Glenn, giving it "It's still who we are" in every episode?  And another observation, about Jesus, and Daryl ~ how come the chicks (Tara and Diane, and that nasty piece of work who got her neck eaten) get to tie their hair back for battle, but the guys don't?  Doesn't Daryl ever wonder why all he can see in front of him is hair?

And then we come to the big one: Morales!  What a brilliant surprise - until Rick said his name I was thinking, dammit, I know that face, who is it?  And that's me, who has watched the whole show an embarrassing amount of times.  Yes, he was the guy on the rooftop, when Merle was handcuffed to a pipe, who said, "Okay, Rick from down the road a ways, welcome to the big city", or words to that effect.  And to think Rick gave him a gun as a going away present!  He's a long way from Alabama, though; weren't his family going to Birmingham?

As for the rest, I'm loving Carol being back to normal, wondering if Saviour Gavin may end up being a good guy (he always seemed almost okay when he was at the Kingdom), hoping Dwighty-Boy sticks to the plan and maybe even gets forgiven by Daryl and Tara, wondering why Judith looks nothing like Lori, Rick or Shane (though she is SO gorgeous!), and if Maggie is ever going to look pregnant ... and no, I didn't think Rick was in a coma and it had all been a dream, in Bobby Ewing*-stylee ~ the flowers were different, and it was a different clock!

*for the under 45s ~ Bobby Ewing was a character in 1980s super-soap Dallas, who famously woke up at the beginning of one season, revealing that the whole of the previous one had been his wife's dream.  Yep, and we lapped it up.  Our TV expectations were much less sophisticated thirty-odd years ago.
Yes, Pam, you just dreamt the whole of the last season...

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

My Clever Brother: Hamworthy Junction #Trains Railway Modelling #Nostalgia #Railwayana

My brother has been a railway modelling artiste since childhood, and he's made a layout in his loft to reproduce Hamworthy Junction in Poole, Dorset, from the 1950s (see YouTube video from 1964 at end of this post).  I thought you might like to see some of the photos; the artistry and workmanship is amazing.  I've included some of his explanations from his regular bulletins, because the information will be of interest to others who enjoy this pursuit.  Sorry the photos are so small on my blog!  I have much larger versions.

 'A view across the yard with an eastbound train speeding through. I built the yard crane from a kit and added the figures, which have had their arms and legs
repositioned to suit. The crates are a one-piece moulding that only needed a coat of paint, and the trolley started life as a market stall kit. The Bedford truck is built from a kit and seemed to take ages to get right, however I was happy with it once I had found the right shade of blue.'

'The stationmaster wonders who has parked their brand new E-Series Vauxhall
Cresta outside his house! The telephone box is built from an etched brass kit and
features full interior detail, not that you can see it here. I think the plinth needs
letting into the road surface as it is quite a step up into the box.'

'These are ready-to-run Hornby items, weathered and
with suitable loads added, either from kits or lengths of balsa ‘plank’.'

'Waiting at the bus stop on Blandford Road could be a fruitless exercise; although many trains cross the bridge above, I have yet to see a single bus on this road!'

'This picture and the next are eye-level shots down Platform 2. Canopies are built
from 1959-vintage Airfix kits and the waiting room is scratch built from card
and plastic sheet.'

Hard graft outside the loco shed.

 A new arrival waits for a taxi! 

Watching the world (and the trains) go by

Finally, the following may be of interest...

'It is a piece of footage taken in 1964 of a Locomotive Club of Great Britain rail tour hauled by a Maunsell Q class, running from Poole via Holes Bay and through Hamworthy, down the branch to Hamworthy Goods. It shows fleeting glimpses of the station that I have been trying to recreate in miniature over the past few years and I hope that I have been able to capture some of the atmosphere.'