You could go to Vue Cinema and spend £8 a person to see the latest Shrek film, Shrek: Forever After.
Or you can take a trip out to Nairn.
The BBC has highlighted Firhall, a settlement on the edge of Nairn where only people over 45 are allowed to live. A village where children are forbidden by contract, the media has delighted in showing them as 'child-hating ogres'.
We all know they're just a retirement village trying to keep things quiet, but that doesn't mean it's not fun to watch everyone get up-in-arms about the rule.
You're also not allowed ducks, rabbits, pigeons or bees. Presumably because rabbits are really noisy. You can have a dog though, if you like.
It's an interesting way to bring attention to the area. I'm a bit tempted to go there and wander the streets to see if Mike Myers pops out of a door.
In other news, I have an official author page on Facebook now. You can like me, if you like?
A 'group'* on Facebook has been formed out of ex-librarians and other culture workers to protest cutbacks and closures affecting Highland Libraries. Their profile gets quickly to the point:
The rural libraries which could face closure are: Bettyhill; Knoydart; Achiltibuie; Lochcarron; Cromarty; Golspie; Lairg; Broadford; Mallaig; Bonar Bridge; Muir of Ord; Plockton; Caol; Invergordon; Helmsdale; Ardersier and Beauly. Other libraries would suffer reduced hours. Also under fire is the Bookstart programme, which introduces literacy to young children.
Highland Libraries have more than 1 million visitors every year, they loan 1.3 million items and provide more than 90,000 hours of free Internet access. Your council wants to reduce that service by more than half for a saving of less than £200,000
The council is seeking the public's views on the following ideas:
- Closing up to 17 small local libraries (saving £185,000).
- Closing one major urban library (saving £87,000).
- Reducing library opening hours by 10 per cent (saving £71,000).
- Removing seven school librarian posts (saving £97,000).
- Ceasing Bookstart, the early years library service for young children (saving £44,700).
These Highland Council cuts are getting incredibly out of hand, I wish they'd just cut back spending on the things that don't form a vital part of daily life. For some examples: Streetscape; winter festivals; fireworks; Gaidhlig translations**; billboards and magazine ads; various underperforming; overpaid Council staff. None of that is necessary.
But when it comes to checking out expensive reference books, or light reads, comics and DVDs, getting internet access when your own is broken, taking kids out for the day or having some time to yourself - the libraries and pools are a vital and well used part.
You have to wonder what they'll be cutting next.
* Being pedantic, it's actually a Facebook user, not a Facebook group. I might speak to them about creating an actual group if they need assistance with that.
** Suas leis a'Ghaidhlig! I (clumsily) speak and support it, don't get me wrong, but it takes lesser priority than community facilities. Money alone won't save it.
I'm taking part in 'To Write Love On Her Arms' tomorrow. It's a big American-based movement, and the site can be a little preachy if you're not Christian, so to summarise it:
To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
To take part, write 'love' on your arm tomorrow, Wednesday 21st April.
That's it. It's quite simple. The idea is to raise awareness, so if right-minded people notice it you can tell them about the movement, or if other people are doing it they'll get a boost from you joining in as well. Some weird looks are bound to happen as well, but hey, so it goes.
As I see it, by marking your arm I'm saying that I understand that suicide, depression, self-harm and addiction is a serious issue and I understand how hard it is to be suffering from these conditions and thoughts and support any suffers in their efforts to get through this. Which is a worthy cause, because the people struggling through their issues are a hardcore and brilliant bunch.
What it means to you is personal, though. For example: it also reminds me of someone I've lost.
You can comment anonymously or using a false name and e-mail on this blog if you have anything to share regarding these issues, and do not wish to supply real details. Comments will take time to show up, as they're moderated to prevent spam.
It's Burns Night, a night when Scots young and auld sit down for a proper Burns supper of haggis, 'neeps and tatties; whiskey and a recital of some of the bard's famous works.
Well, we had haggis. One out of three isn't so bad, right? ...Right?
Came home for work and bought a haggis for Dave to cook for dinner, after haggling over what kind of tatties we were having (no 'neeps, Dave isn't too keen on turnips). He was surprised that I bought a real haggis instead of a tinned one. I'm not entirely sure why anyone would eat haggis out of a tin, the squishy meat-bag in the fun part.
We had it with some Pimms & lemonade, played video games, watched TV, washed the dishes, and made Rocky Road. It wasn't exactly traditional, but it was delicious.
Now I'm checking up the Wikipedia page on Burns Suppers, getting excited about the 'Address to a Haggis' and regretting not reading it. Then I try to read it and get horribly self-conscious about how ridiculously Scottish I'm sounding, and keep interrupting my own reading going 'What...?' and 'I don't know what that means...' before trailing off confused and defeated.
I think next year I might do it properly, complete with embarrassing poetry readings, a messed-up Toast to the Lassies because Dave will no doubt have made the meal again, and maybe even a fair share of whiskey.
I love To A Mouse, and not just because I went through a fangirl stage for Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men".
But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!
Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!
...It's because we all guess an' fear sometimes.
Now, I've got some Rocky Road to nom on.
If you haven't guessed, I get bored sticking to set days. So here's Skiver Friday Skiver Saturday URL Thursday.
I like bookcases. None of mine match, and some of them don't even fit my bigger books and comics. If I was one of these then things would be different.
My top 3 - The Cave Book Shelf (above), DIY Inverted Bookshelf, the Round Sofa. I like the idea of being able to go straight from shelf to sitting and reading.
This week they also announced the winner of the bad sex award, for writers whose bedroom prose leaves the reader unsatisfied. Amusingly, most of the winners are award-winning authors who just have that one weakness. This years winner was Jonathon Littlell, author of "The Kindly Ones". Originally written in French, it has receive France's highest literary honour the Prix Goncourt.
Writing Advice: My advice is to avoid steamy scenes if your writing doesn't need them. While adding some explicit content might boost movie ratings, in writing it more often leaves your readers uncomfortable and shocks them out of the story if done badly.
If you need to do it, do your research and know what you're talking about. No flowery prose and metaphors, call things as they are and focus on trying to capture the emotions of the scene instead of panicking that people might think badly of you for writing about what goes on behind closed doors.
As I'm writing for a young adult audience, unless there's good reason I leave that out and have fun with tension, flirting and 'innocent' romance instead. Taking a look at Twilight, that style of writing seems to be flourishing at the moment.
Last links - a futuristic vision of the advances e-readers and e-books will take. Some of them I love - bonus content and lending particularly - while others like obtrusive adverts I'm mixed about, and print-on-demand in bookstores (while cool) doesn't seem likely. It's dystopian antagonist is found over here, in an article where copyright protection on electronic work has reached tyrannic levels.
With that, we're done.
It's time for more random links! Skiver Tuesday, I guess?
Awesome deer photos by the award-winning and very enviable 15-year old Sam Rowley. I love deer - this may be because I've never experienced the joys of them coming down from the wood to eat my plants. My old home in Inverness was close enough to the woods to have a fair few of them, though being honest I haven't really seen many up-close. One of the characters in my novel The Network is a Kirin, a deer-like creature of Japanese mythos, and I've toyed with ideas for a YA novel linked to the animals. Yay deer. :D I could browse Sam's gallery all day.
An article in the BBC covers the tricky topic of parents being abused by their children.Most of us will have seen kids and teens who treat their parents with disgust and anger, or more subtly walk over them, but abuse isn't a commonly seen or discussed thing. Food for thought.
I try to use my writing to cover a lot of the darker things that people would feel less comfortable with outside of a fantasy setting. For example: both of my current in-progress works deal frankly and honestly with suicide and depression, because those are both important things that the target age range (teenagers) are going to come up against. It comes with stigma - the book dealing more heavily with it comes across as gothic, and the content in my lighter work will probably get called 'emo'; both will attract negative attention from people who insist they have no respect for the suicidal and think they're selfish. It all comes with the territory, and despite that it's still an effective way of getting a message across.
There a Nepal animal sacrifice festival going on this week - the largest sacrifice in the world - where over a quarter of a million animals ">are killed. A difficult to believe amount, and understandably it has the animal rights activists up in arms. I'm indifferent - I'd have to be Hindu and understand more about the beliefs behind it to hold a strong opinion, really. However, I am interested in the quote in the article about how the gods would be just as easily appeased by fruit or flowers.
Morality aside, this paragraph caught my eye:
"Festival organisers estimate more than half a million people are already at the festival site.
Many of them, like Suresh, have brought their own animals to be killed. "
Festival organisers? It makes it sound like Glastonbury. Gadhimai-bury, woohoo!
In America, a man found out he was adopted as a child, and traces his mother and father only to discover his dad is Charles Manson. Yikes. D: I didn't even know Manson was still alive, actually.
Then some inspiring Inverness news, a courageous and beautiful woman who became paralysed after a climbing accident and has still gone on to complete the Great North Run in a racing wheelchair, and aims to go on to be the first woman to sit-ski across Antarctica to the South Pole. Bless her, what an inspiration.
The heating is still broken at work, and the weather outside is frightful. So it goes.