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Anarchy in the UK

So 3 days after the General Election and we still don't know for sure who's going to be in Number 10 for the next 5 years (okay, 6 months to 1 year, which is how long any coalition will last before we go to the polls again). I hope there's a firm answer by 7am tomorrow morning because if we're still in political cloud cuckoo land then the markets are going to take a kicking.

If there's one thing I've learnt from all this it's that I'm actually at my happiest when there's complete chaos and confusion in the ruling echelons. Election 2010 gave me what I'd always wanted - a result where everyone lost.

According to the conservative press, Brown managed to lose his shit with Clegg during a phone call yesterday when he was supposed to be trying to butter him up for a coalition.

I admit it, I LOLed.

Part of the reason why this is all so interesting to me is that I work in the field of public procurement. If Labour gets in, then we know that there will still be some public spending on new schools, hospitals and other infrastructure. We also know that if the Conservatives get in, then they want to re-examine the way in which we procure schools, hospitals and other infrastructure, which could see a drastic restructuring (if not a collapse) of the UK infrastructure procurement market.

Good times.

And on the subject of public procurement, last week Transport for London took the Tube Lines project (i.e. the concession for the Jubilee, Northern and Picadilly lines) back into public hands for £310 million. I worked on an element of this deal back when I was starting out on my legal career and ended up reading all of the concession contracts and some of the technical due diligence. So I know about the naturally occurring anthrax in the Northern line tunnels (don't worry - you're safe provided you don't stand in the tunnel underneath the Thames for 100 years without moving), the fact that Tube seats contain samples of every bodily fluid known to man (and some that scientists are still trying to identify) and how fast escalators are allowed to go (1.7 metres per minute).

Anyway, now we can all look forward to more decades of underinvestment in public hands. I for one feel safer now.

In other news, Doctor Who continues with the race fail and not even the awesome Helen McRory could save the

This will be brief. The whole episode irritated me.

The fish people were allergic to sunlight, except for when they were standing in sunlight.

Amy's petulant attitude towards Rory was pathetic and way too reminiscent of Rose's relationship with Mickey for my liking. Ditto Amy's crush on Eleven.

In fact, Rory was too obviously a parallel for Mickey and I felt quite bad for the way that both Amy and Eleven basically batted his concerns to one side when he was only saying the obvious and being pretty reasonable about it. I found myself telling my television that he could do better than Amy and should run away while he had the chance.

What was good was Helen McRory. She's probably best known at the moment for being Narcissa Malfoy in the HP movies but I first watched her as a barrister in a criminally short-lived British drama series called North Square and she was Cherie Blair in The Queen. I fangirl her so hard that one of the characters in KYBS is partially drawn from characters she's played (there, I admit it - I am an out and proud fan girl). Loved the way her Rosanna played Eleven like a violin and was quite upset by her canal jumping end. I only really felt interested when she was on screen.

Also good was One's library card - because we all know he would have had one.

Apart from that, we had the typical DW race fail of yet again having to have the black characters die. Really - it's getting to the point where I feel uncomfortable whenever a black character comes on the screen because you can guess what's going to happen to them. Since when was "Afro-Caribbean" a synonym for "red shirt"?

I am tentatively looking forward to next week's episode Amy's Choice though because it has another awesome actor - Toby Jones (and much as I love Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jones was the better Capote and deserved an Oscar nomination) who seems to be high on snark.

Sticking to the subject of TV, the last series of Ashes to Ashes is leaving me v. meh at the moment as well although it's not the fault of the cast who have been excellent with what they've been given (even Keeley Hawes who I was not initially a fan of but who I think really works with the thankless role of Alex Drake). Special mention goes to Daniel Mays as the creepy as hell Jim Keats.

Last night's episode also suffered some Who race fail by killing Viv - a character who was criminally under-used this season and whose death was for somewhat silly reasons (do we really think he would believe a psychotic prisoner's claim to help his incarcerated cousin?)

The big problem with the whole series though is that the writers blatantly haven't known what to do with their premise so now they're faced with having to conjure a logical explanation for everything that's happened. Hence we get the repeated references to Sam Tyler to try and bring things together.

I'm hoping that I'm wrong but it seems to me that they're going down the route of having the 70s/80s be a form of limbo where people are caught if they're in comas or when they die. I think that the dead PC who Alex keeps seeing is Gene Hunt who is caught in this world but knows all about it and is trying to protect the inhabitants. Jim Keats is someone who is trying to move the souls onto the next place (wherever that may be). Alex therefore becomes the means to determine the war going on between Gene and Jim for once and for all.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. It would be great though if John Simm came back for a Sam Tyler cameo at the end. Preferably with Annie.

Writing is going fairly well. Have almost finished another chapter which is good as it will then leave me down to the last 3. In honour of the situation in Greece, I've decided to have a riot in the penultimate chapter (mainly because I'm always secretly wanted to smash up all the windows along Tottenham Court Road) and I'm going to have an awful lot of fun smashing up museum exhibits. Who says YA fantasy fiction can't be topical?

And because this entry has mainly been a kvetch and whine negativity session, I thought I'd make use of all the reading I've been doing on my commute into and out of work and suggest some good fiction that I've read recently:

Middle Grade Fiction (Aged 9 - 12)

- Mortlock by Jon Mayhew - historical fantasy about two orphans who become embroiled in a hunt for a flower that grants immortal life. It's a great read and the three murderous aunts in this are worth reading for their own sake.

- The Blackhope Enigma by Teresa Flavin - adventure fantasy about 3 teenagers who get sucked into a painting and have to find their way out again. It's a traditional story told well and with an obvious love of art and painting. I got this as an ARC and will be doing a competition to give it away in the next few weeks.

Young Adult Fiction (Aged 12+)

- The Thirteen Curses by Michelle Harrison - a sequel to THE THIRTEEN TREASURES, this is a much better novel focusing on Red, a teenage girl who wants to get her brother back from the fairy realm.

- Timeriders by Alex Scarrow - first in a new SF series about 3 teenagers who become time-police, patrolling the time lines to make sure that history isn't tampered with. The characters are a bit 2-D (particularly the Oirish one) but it's a fast-moving story with a creepy as hell view of a dystopian nuclear holocaust future and I suspect it will appeal to boys who might not otherwise want to read.

- Verdigris Deep by Frances Hardinge - creepy fantasy about three teenagers who get more than they bargained for when they remove coins from a wishing well.

- Ash by Malinda Lo - a retelling of the Cinderella fairytale, this is a wonderfully written novel with a sweet storyline and a lesbian romance. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

- The Toymaker by Jeremy De Quidt - spine-chilling YA historical horror about a boy who comes into possession of a secret when his magician grandfather dies. It's got a creepy, murderous dwarf, living puppets and loads of death and betrayal. You won't look at a puppet in the same way ever again.

- Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce - a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood fairytale, this is an excellent YA fantasy about two sisters who hunt werewolves (Fenris) in Georgia and about how the ties that bind them are slowly pulled apart. It's a really good read and a great take on werewolf fiction. I got this as an ARC and will be doing a competition to give it away in the next few weeks.

- Crawlers by Sam Enthoven - YA horror about a group of teens who become trapped in the Barbican when creepy crawling monsters start to take over everyone there. It's a tense and chilling read, only slightly let down by the ending. I got this as an ARC and will be doing a competition to give it away in the next few weeks.

- Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide by William Hussey - YA horror about demons and a teenage boy who discovers he's a witchfinder able to defeat them. Lots of throat slitting and murderous fun but at times the pace is a little slow. I got this as an ARC and will be doing a competition to give it away in the next few weeks.

- The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan - billed as Shan's first proper fantasy novel, it follows a teenage boy who embarks on a quest to visit a god and be granted the power to take over from his father as the executioner in his country. Lots of head chopping and lessons learnt but what does let it down is the inclusion of two characters called Bush and Blair. I got this as an ARC and will be doing a competition to give it away in the next few weeks.

- The Inferior by Peadar O Guilin - set in a world where people have turned to cannibalism in order to survive, this is a mix of stone-age technology and science fiction with aliens where the main character is in a constant fight for survival. Utterly different to any other YA novel I've read, it's engrossing and thrilling.

- The Lost Art by Simon Morden - YA science fiction set hundreds of years into the future where a cataclysmic event has seen the Earth's poles reverse and set people back into more primitive living. When books containing forbidden knowledge are stolen from a remote Russian monastry, a number of characters come together to retrieve them. Again, this is utterly different to any other YA novel I've read (not least because there are virtually no teenage characters in the book) and it's full of interesting ideas and exciting technology.

Fiction For Grown-Ups

- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi - this is a graphic novel/autobiography about Marjane Satrapi's experiences growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It's funny, heart warming and shocking in equal measures and was turned into an Oscar-nominated film. Check it out - particularly if you've never read a graphic novel before.

- East End Chronicles: Three Hundred Years of Mystery and Mayhem by Ed Glinert - an interesting take on the history of London's East End, this book has lots of interesting little stories and details on everyday life in the East End of London (although the Jack the Ripper section left me a bit meh).

- Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick - the classic SF novel that inspired the movie Bladerunner (and which is nothing at all like the film), it's a bit of a head-shag of a book but well worth the read.

- The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith - first in the bestselling series, this is really a series of short stories that interconnect with each other than a single narrative, but the setting is lovingly depicted and the characters full of warmth and charm.

- Vicious Circle by Mike Carey - second in the Felix Castor urban fantasy/horror series sees Felix having to track down a stolen ghost and stop the attempts of a demon to break free of his best friend. Worth reading if you want to see how well geography can be used in fiction as London is a character in its own right in these books.

- In The Dark by Mark Billingham - a novel that's set within the world of the DI Tom Thorne series but where he's reduced to a cameo, this follows a pregnant police woman whose policeman boyfriend is killed in an apparently random accident. The depiction of gang culture is utterly convincing and it was interesting to read something from the perspective of a pregnant woman.

- Spellwright by Blake Charlton - first in a fantasy series set in a world where words themselves hold power, it follows a character who's a cacographer (i.e. is prone to misspelling words - essentially a form of dyslexia). The world building is great and it riffs on the cliche of prophecy in a way that keeps you interested.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
May. 10th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
I am having the time of my life with this Election. What with Brown resigning, it's like all my birthdays and Christmases have come at once.

Chaos reigns. Rocks fall. Everyone loses.

Mike Carey is awesome. He is a god.

May. 9th, 2010 04:08 pm (UTC)
*Waits for the Sisters Red competition with great anticipation*

I'll be buying Ash soon; good to know it'll be worth the wait. =)
May. 10th, 2010 05:30 pm (UTC)
I can see if I've still got my copy of Ash if you like (I tend to offload to the teen daughters of one of my mum's freinds). If I've still got it then I can post it up.
May. 10th, 2010 07:01 pm (UTC)
Ooh, that'd be nifty! Thank you.
May. 10th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
Aha! I do still have it. Drop me an email at caroline_hooton AT yahoo DOT com and I'll try and get it in the post on Wednesday.
May. 10th, 2010 06:08 pm (UTC)
I wanna read Sisters Red too so bad :D
May. 10th, 2010 09:55 pm (UTC)

:points to latest post:

May. 9th, 2010 08:22 pm (UTC)
1. The lectuion is still depressing me.

2. Who depressed me on the racefail. 2 non white characters and you bump them both off? I sense a strongly worded letter to the BBC coming on.
May. 10th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'm at the point where an email to the Beeb feels in order. If only so I can be patronised by Jeremy Vine on Points of View.
May. 10th, 2010 07:46 am (UTC)
Listening to the radio yesterday, it seems coalitions are quite common on t'continent and the Belgians once took 200 days to get their shit together enought to form a govt after one election!

Personally, I think procurement infrastructure needs nuking and starting again from a big smoking hole.
May. 10th, 2010 05:29 pm (UTC)
Personally, I think procurement infrastructure needs nuking and starting again from a big smoking hole.

But ... that would make me redundant.

May. 10th, 2010 05:31 pm (UTC)
Nah, you'd be the one in charge of nuking and rebuilding ;o)
May. 10th, 2010 05:32 pm (UTC)
Hooray! Sanity is restored!
May. 11th, 2010 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: racefail... but the black characters DON'T always die. And lots of white characters die in the series too. Personally I find it more faily when the POCs are just random background deaths. These two were fleshed-out characters who died heroically. I mean, that's something.

Also, I was irritated in the beginning of the series when I thought Rory was Mickey Mark Two, but this episode was the first one where I saw a significant difference in their character arcs. Rory's blindly in love with Amy in the same way that Mickey was with Rose, but I think it ends there.

I mean, Amy blunders around with him as much as he does with her. They've come to an engagement that's, let's face it, probably a bad idea. But in a rather un-Moffat-like reversal of gender stereotypes, he's the clingy one and she's the one with cold feet. Whereas Rose just wasn't all that serious about Mickey. They were having fun, but when Rose ran off with the Doctor and Mickey called her out on her shit, she obviously hadn't thought they'd been too serious in the first place.

Also, Nine and Ten both dismissed Mickey himself as irrelevant, whereas Eleven only dismissed Rory's fixation on the kiss as irrelevant, mostly because they were in mortal danger at the time. Eleven still wanted Rory to come out on top (eh heh heh, ON TOP).

There's a marked difference between Amy and Rose that also informs the relationships... Rose fell head over heels for the Doctor, but slowly. Slowly enough that she refused to give Mickey a direct answer for a long time. Amy has a crush, but it's a superficial thing, thrust forward by one adrenaline rush after another, and pre-wedding cold feet.

So yeah, there are deeeeefinitely parallels, but this ep gave me enough differences for it to start working.

Amy herself though? Starting to booooother me.
May. 11th, 2010 02:22 am (UTC)
P.S. Also, I'm glad you dig Spellwright! Blake's one of the Bossman's clients. :D
May. 11th, 2010 12:43 pm (UTC)
smashing up museum exhibits????

Even fictionally that makes me scream in horror.


*runs for the hills*
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline Hooton

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