BOOK: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

Brief Synopsis: Lisbeth Salander is a highly intelligent computer hacker and code cracker who can find out the most minute details about someone’s life easily. Mikael Blomkvist is a disgraced journalist hired to solve the disappearance of a 16-year-old girl back in the 60s. The task seems impossible, unsolvable; that is, until Mikael meets Lisbeth.

 Good Points: It’s not the sort of book I pick up regularly but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. It was fast-paced, exciting and not too in-depth, as I thought it would be.

Bad Points: In my opinion, it tails off towards the end and I found some of the sexual violence scenes gratuitous.

Good For: A thrilling read, but not for sensitive souls.

Overall: 4/5

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A Bolt from the Blue

The other day, I received a rather surprising Facebook inbox message. It was from Mr P’s ex-girlfriend, who I’ve told you about before. I was perturbed somewhat to see her name peeking from my inbox but, with Mr P sitting next to me, I opened it and read on.

She basically said that she thought I might be shocked to hear from her but that she wanted to congratulate me on my engagement, that she wished nothing but the best for us and passed on a Happy Birthday message to Mr P.

Nice. Very nice, completely unexpected and not something she was obliged to do.

I thought for a few minutes before writing back. I thanked her, promised to pass on her comments to Mr P and wished her well.

And that was that.

Mr P had already heard from her; he received a text message back in December when our engagement was announced on Facebook. I didn’t expect to hear anything but I’m taking it as part of her ‘closure’ for want of a better word (damn you, Rachel Green). She was madly in love with Mr P so hearing that he is now engaged, despite it being 8 years on from their relationship ending, must’ve hit her like a lightening bolt. I don’t carry feelings for either of my ‘ so I don;t think I would feel the same but, for her, this is big, big news and for her to email me her best wishes shows maturity and proves that, finally, she has moved on with her life and is hopefully happily gallivanting around London, buying shoes, going to gigs and being generally young, free and fabulous.

Cheers to her.

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A Touch of Class

Mr P and I sometimes jokingly argue about who was the most working class when growing up. Mr P’s dad used to cycle to work every morning, whereas we never had a car at all. Ever. We didn’t get a telephone or a VCR until I was about 10 years old. Mr P can remember having a black and white TV.

So you van see that we’re pretty much on par in the poverty stakes.

My upbringing on a council estate and our lack of hard cash used to be a constant source of embarrassment when I was at primary school. When writing up what we had done that weekend, my entries would inevitably be “went to the pub with my dad” whereas everyone else was going to theme parks and on educational nature rambles.

I remember going to my friend’s house (both of her parents were school teachers) and being amazed that they ate dinner sitting at the table and that they had to wash their hands before doing so. This makes it sound as if I was dragged up rather than brought up. I wans’t. My mum did an astonishing job raising three little girls on her tod but the differences between me and my middle class friends were very apparent.

So apparent in fact, that I took to lying about what we did during weekends and school holidays. I recall making up an entire holiday in Greece when I was about 7 – something which my friend, J, still takes the piss out of me for.

The other day, Mr P and I were discussing this and he admitted that he did the same. He once told someone he was a lacrosse champion and often made up glamorous holidays and fun weekend outings to keep up with his richer friends.

Then, something changed. Something came along that made a council estate start in life and a working class status cool, something to be admired and not embarrassed about. And that something was Oasis.

The Mancunian band were proud of their working class roots and, through them, made myself and Mr P proud of  ours. Once I reached the age of 13, I wouldn’t dream of making up lies about my class. I would gladly invite my middle class friends round to our council house, I would laugh about how our TV was roughly 50 years old and wasn’t even operated by a remote control. I even bought a top with a Council Estate Princess slogan emblazoned across the front of it.

Somehow, Oasis made being poorer, being working class, cool without making it exclusive., There was no saying that middle class people couldn’t like Oasis but there was a feeling that maybe they didn’t quite get it as much as their poorer counterparts.

Some might say the concept of class is outmoded these days but I’m not so sure. I went on to get a degree and Mr P and I now live in a – allegedly – salubrious part of the county. That’s all very well but we only got there by working for it and I would never dream of labelling myself as middle class.

This is easy to say when you’re not being teased at school for not wearing the ‘right’ trainers; I just hope that, if class is still a question of contention in playgrounds, that there is something, or someone, that helps the working class kids overcome their need to lie about their wealth and to value their roots.

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The Rules of Engagement

Miss U, a girl I work with, is soon to undergo an arranged marriage. Although I don’t necessarily agree with this method of coupling, I do understand that she has been brought up to expect this and that for her, it is the norm. I also know that some arranged marriages are successful and I hope that Miss U’s will be, that she will grow to love the chap she is betrothed to and that they live a happy life together.

I was a little coy in telling her when I got engaged. She congratulated me but then bemoaned the fact that I would be married before her. She is 27, like me, and in her culture, she might as well be on the shelf. I cajoled her by saying that she would probably get hitched first anyway, what with mine and Mr P’s erratic wedding planning skills. As it turns out, I was right.

As I mentioned, I don’t agree with arranged marriages, but understand that for Miss U and thousands like her, it is a way of life.  The saddest thing though is the that she never got the chance to fall head over heels in love, she never got the amazing marriage proposal, the kneeling, the ring, the tears.

On a different tip, Dr Snobbish who I mentioned earlier, had to stick her pointy nose in. Miss U said that she would probably marry in our hometown and then would have to move to Newcastle to live with her new hubby. Dr Snobbish acted completely irresponsibly and ignorantly, asking Miss U whether that was “really necessary” and wondering why “he couldn’t move down here instead”. Miss U pointed out that, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

I know Dr Snobbish probably disagrees with arranged marriages as well, that she is concerned for Miss U’s welfare but I’m not sure such statements helped the situation. As far as Miss U is concerned, once that knot is tied, the decision is out of her hands.

I wish her all the best for the future and truly hope she grows to lover he husband dearly.

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Random Work Irritations #10

An example of the truly scintillating nuggets of conversation my bloody work colleague KKK is capable of coming out with:

KKK: I ate a Toffee Crisp on Sunday.

ME:(cocking imaginary shotgun)Oh yes?

KKK: Hmmm.

Long, long pause.

KKK: I haven’t had one for years.

ME: (aiming virtual gun at own face) Mmm.

Longer pause

KKK: In fact, I’ve told you a lie. I didn’t eat the Toffee Crisp on Sunday, I had that on Saturday. I ate a blue bag of Doritos on Sunday.

ME: (pulls trigger, blood and brains splatter over computer screen)

Rivetting, eh?

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RESTAURANTS: Rustique, York & The Punch Bowl, York

Facade: Ancient, historical

Decor: Dark and cavernous, smelled amazingly of mulled wine when we were there.

Dress Code: Chilled out, relaxed but cosy. Think woolly jumpers and knee-high boots (or hotpants if your name’s Rosie).

Snap: I had flat mushrooms grilled with Cheddar cheese and rocket. It was nice enough but uninspiring and a little bit cold. Mr P had fish and chips. The fish was a battered hake which was gigantic. The chips were a bit on the tepid side but he enjoyed his more than I did mine.

Good For: Decent pub grub, or just a drink.

Facade: Not the most exciting facade, it reminded me of a modern church built in the middle of a housing estate.

Decor: Relaxed, casual, typically French, and much more appealing than the frontage.

Dress Code: We were overdressed in a black dress (me) and suit (him) but, hell, it was Mr P’s birthday. The other diners were very casually dressed, despite the dapper waiters. I suspect weekends might be classier affairs though.

Snap: I had a flavoursome seafood fricassee with crusty French bread which was hearty and tasty. Mr P had venison which he said was the best meat dish he had ever eaten. Praise indeed from the carnivore.

Good For: A taste of France in the north of England.

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Gotta Love a ‘So There’ Moment

The other day at work, we were discussing Miss U’s upcoming arranged marriage (she’s a Muslim) – more of which we will talk about another time.

During the conversation, one of the doctors, let’s call her Dr Snobbish, remarked:

DR S: Well, Rosie and her boyfriend are never going to get married, are they? How long have you been together now? Six years?

ME: actually, we got engaged at Christmas.

DR S: (stumbling) Oh. Right. I didn’t know that. Err…congratulations.

Yeah. So up yours, Dr Snobbish. Ha.


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