28 October 2007

Generous Journal: Generous stuff I've done in the last fortnight

  • Bought 'The Big Issue In The North'
  • Bought from a charity shop - a black long-sleeved top for work
  • Avoided using carrier bags in a two-hour shopping stint yesterday (much to the annoyance of some shop assistants) and in the weekly shop today
  • Bought an organic cotton hoodie from Next - hopefully if enough peple choose to buy from that range they'll expand it
  • Bagged up an old mobile phone for donation - alas, haven't got round to positing it off yet ...
  • Started a new charity collection bag (currently containing 'Don Quixote' and a pair of shoes that I've accepted are un-wear-in-able)
Hmm, I kind of feel like a lot of the 'generous' things I do are a bit middle-class and money-orientated, can't help but feel like I could do more and I'm getting complacent. Could do with some inspiration really ... if anyone reads this and has such inspiration, feel free to comment, I like to be challenged!

24 October 2007

The 200-word review: Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (trans. Edith Grossman)

Don Quixote is called the first modern novel, and many say it’s one of the greatest. I think many are saying that just to sound intelligent and hoping that nobody reads it. In its time it may have been great, but to my modern mind, this book is boring, repetitive and ludicrously long. A parody on chivalric novels, it could have achieved its ends in 100 pages rather than 940.

Don Quixote is a man who’s read too many chivalric novels and thinks he’s a knight errant. He appoints the village idiot, Sancho Panza, as his squire and goes in search of adventures. Most of these adventures feature increasingly beautiful blonde women and revolve around supposedly amusing incidences of mistaken identity, with Quixote believing inns are castles, windmills are giants and the aforementioned beautiful blondes are exotic princesses. None of the adventures are connected and the whole story is so disjointed I would often get to the end of a chapter wondering if there was any point in me reading it since it had no relevance. The second part, published twenty years after the first, is more cohesive and interesting, but it’s still not worth three months of my life!

23 October 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... hoping my new bathroom is finished soon so I can wash and pee and stuff
... feeling jealous that hubby is off work and I'm not
... buying new trousers (another pair bit the dust this weekend, not good)
... enjoying my Friday night off from youth club
... sulking that my job has made my eyes worse again but they still won't pay for my eye test

16 October 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... wishing I'd never started 'Don Quixote' as I'm still reading it!
... getting more headaches
... knitting more cupcakes
... arguing with hubby about whether they are cupcakes or buns
... looking forward to my new bathroom that's coming next week, woohoo!

14 October 2007

Generous Journal: Contradictions

There's an action on the Generous website called 'Try to shop local, organic, animal-friendly and Fairtrade.' I've not signed up yet as I've been trouble by a contradiction in this. We are encouraged to buy local foods to cut down on foodmiles, right? But then we're also encouraged to buy Fairtrade products, which by nature have a pretty high mileage. So what do I do? Eat bananas that are Fairtrade and thus support this system for reducing poverty and promoting economic equality in the third world, or do I buy local apples to cut down on carbon emissions and support local people? There's also the issue that few greengrocers stock Fairtrade fruit, which means I have to go to a supermarket.

This has got me thinking about other contradictions you can come across in trying to be generous. Here are a few:

* Voluntary Service Overseas is very laudible and hugely generous for obvious reasons. But how can you do it if, for instance, you've signed a flight pledge to say that, to reduce carbon emissions, you won't travel abroad by air?
* You go to the library to ensure that this valuable institution doesn't become obsolete, and also to reduce the number of books you buy and thus the amount of paper being used up. But what does this do to local bookshops, many of which are already struggling?
* Ethical banking is an area I looked into until I heard that certain well-known ethical banks rate pretty badly when it comes to looking after their staff. Should I go for a bank that may lend to dubious figures but treats its staff well, or one that treats its staff badly but won't use your money to fund the arms trade or other nasty stuff?

You see, I can recycle, turn the tap off when I'm brushing my teeth and be careful not to overfill my kettle, but go deeper and there are big questions that need answering. I'm not giving up, I'm just pausing for thought!

09 October 2007

This Week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote' STILL! Will I ever finish??
... suffering from headaches STILL!
... knitting more cupcakes
... singing random 70's songs
... watching 'Bringing Up Baby' tonight and getting all broody
... sleeping. Or attempting to.

04 October 2007

Ten Things I Hate about Christmas

1. The build-up - it's just October and Christmas stuff has been in the shops for weeks already. Who devotes three months of their life to Christmas preparations? Other than Santa of course
2. Family politics - when I was single and living at home it was so easy: Christmas dinner with Mum, go to see Dad in the evening, then see the extended family on Boxing Day. Now I have a husband and in-laws to consider too, and there's the juggling act of making sure me and my brothers will actually cross paths at some point. Arrgh!
3. Over-indulgence - we've all been there. It's the culinary climax of the year, you can't possibly refuse seconds. But then you end up watching repeats of 'The Two Ronnies' because you're too full even to lift the remote. Which brings me to ...
4. Rubbish Christmas TV - there's always a ridiculous soap wedding, a deluge of sitcom episodes even worse than usual, and then the obligatory films that everyone's heard of but nobody has ever actually managed to sit through
5. Novelty Christmas songs - Now let's get this straight, I'm not talking about Slade, Wizzard or any other Christmas-themed musical gems. I'm talking about the plethora of dreadful 'songs' (often covers) by cartoon characters or reality TV rejects. No time of year excuses that!!
6. Shopping for boys - Fact: Boys are horrible to shop for. Not only do I have a father and a husband, I have two brothers who also both have their birthdays around Christmas. That's six presents. Any inspiration? Otherwise they're all getting socks!!
7. The last day at work - the boss has said that you can go as soon as all the work is done. Which means everyone runs round like headless chickens, shouting at anyone who dares take a ten-minute lunch break and it takes you another hour to wind down from the stress anyway!!
8. Emotional blackmail - shops give you Christmas catalogues which convince you that you must buy everybody a gift, be it your family, your distant work colleagues, or even your pets! Sorry to break this to you, but even if you get him a little doggy Santa jacket, Rover still won't know that it's Christmas, or what Christmas even means!!
9. Christmas cards - I'm not really a card person. I just don't get it. You give someone
a card, they give you one back, ad infinitum. Wouldn't it be easier and less wasteful to just say "Merry Christmas!" and have done with it? Plus there's always that card you get on the last post day before Christmas from someone you've forgotten to send one to ...
10. The aftermath - at some point you must leave Christmas world and deal with the fairly useless food leftovers, the masses of wrapping paper, the presents you don't really want, need or have space for, and the fact that Christmas is basically the end of the year. Yes, another year has gone by, you've failed in your resolutions, you've gone nowhere in your career, it's cold and dark .... pass me those last chocolates!!

01 October 2007

This week I will mostly be ...

... reading 'Don Quixote' - still!!!
... suffering from headaches
... eating chocolate and drinking tea to allay said headaches (because ibuprofen doesn't work)
... perfecting the novelty cupcake pincushion
... watching 'Friends' repeats
... feeling cold and miserable that the year's nearly over