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January 1st 2012
Happy New Year everyone. Let's hope that 2012 doesn't end up like the film of the same name, otherwise this will be the last Happy New Year (or HNY, as the Twitterfolk are now calling it, monstrously) you get from me. Allow me to begin the year with one of the annual traditions that make January an unparallelled excitement for you all - Colin's Online Diary Film Awards (Coddies. You remember). To recap: suspiciously Oscar-like awards for films I've seen on general release in 2011, or that were released in the UK in 2011 but that I saw outside the cinema. By which I mean on DVD, rather than in the back alley behind Odeon, which - as we all know - is great for my street break-dancing classes, but not much cop as a cinematic venue. I've extended the number of nominations and added a couple of categories this year, which means that every film I saw (18 in total) appears at least once.


Best Film
X-Men: First Class - this prequel was the fifth in the X-Men series, and the best of the lot. The film breathed new life into the franchise with a fast-paced but comprehensible storyline, a great cast of actors and a believable and intriguing back story for the characters who would become Professor X and Magneto.
The King's Speech - deservedly successful, this joyful story was wonderfully acted and appealed to all ages.
Crazy, Stupid, Love - a comedy that manages a distinctive tone of ironic humour without being too self-aware.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - a fitting end to the series, particularly strong towards the end.
Source Code - the story is not entirely original but it is pretty imaginative and very well paced.

Best Actor in a Leading Role
Colin Firth (The King's Speech) - it is difficult to imagine anyone playing King George better than this; Firth has finally escaped the shadow of Mr. Darcy with an excellent performance that blends strength of character with the fragility of low self-confidence. He succeeds in making stammering pitiable rather than comic.
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) - a fine, understated performance in a truly incomprehensible film.
James McAvoy (X-Men: First Class) - following in the footsteps of Patrick Stewart, McAvoy is not found wanting.
Steve Carrell (Crazy, Stupid, Love) - the role is subtly different to Carrell's previous performances, and stronger for it.
Ryan Gosling (The Ides of March) - the success story of 2011, Gosling shows desperate intensity without overplaying the part.

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Carey Mulligan (Never Let Me Go) - unusually for me, I saw several films with leading females in 2011. Mulligan has been highly praised for several of her roles, and she was typically strong in this adaptation of an Ishiguro novel; alongside Keira Knightley and Andrew Garfield she gives the strongest performance of a clone facing the reality of her life.
Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) - in a dreadful, pretentious, film, Dunst puts in one of her most mature performances.
Rachel McAdams (Morning Glory) - I only saw three films with leading females. This was not one of McAdams' better roles.

Best Director
Asif Kapadia (Senna) - I hate Formula 1, but I was engrossed by this documentary film about the late Ayrton Senna that eschewed talking heads in favour of 100% archive footage. It was a brave directorial decision, but Kapadia provides a fantastic narrative and brings the characters alive in a way I've never before seen in a documentary.
Duncan Jones (Source Code) - in his second film as a director, Jones maintains tension and keeps surprising us throughout.
Matthew Vaughan (X-Men: First Class) - this could have been a poisoned chalice, but Vaughan relaunched the franchise.
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) - he made a superb film from great material, even if it sometimes feels a little too claustrophobic.
Kenneth Branagh (Thor) - Thor was the surprise of the year, especially given that Branagh is better known for his Shakespeare.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Christian Bale (The Fighter) - you have to feel sorry for Mark Wahlberg, who devoted four years to building up the muscle to play the lead in this film, only to be comprehensively outacted by Bale. This is a manic tour de force of a performance (I think I used the same expression to describe Heath Ledger's Joker) that means Bale steals every scene; it is also a suprisingly accurate portrayal of the real-life boxer.
Ralph Fiennes (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2) - an under-rated portrayal, Fiennes is quite peerless.
Geoffery Rush (The King’s Speech) - while Firth and Bonham-Carter were incredible, the film wouldn't work without Rush.
Jonah Hill (Moneyball) - a completely different role to the weak comedy performances Hill normally does, this was a breakthrough.
Stephen Fry (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows) - as Mycroft, Fry was the best part of a slightly disappointing sequel.

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Helena Bonham-Carter (The King’s Speech) - showing a versatility away from her more manic roles, Bonham-Carter not only channels the Queen Mother superbly, but gives a heart-breaking performance as a wife trying to help her husband overcome his stammering. She is unfailingly strong but clearly pained by George's despair.
Julianne Moore (Crazy, Stupid, Love) - a typically fine performance that is both funny and emotional.
Melissa Leo (The Fighter) - she is the kind of grotesque character you rarely see on the big screen.
Emma Stone (Crazy, Stupid, Love) - Stone is always funny, and never more so than in this ensemble comedy.
Michelle Monaghan (Source Code) - with limited screen time she creates a character we empathise with.

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The First Avenger - the transformation of Chris Evans into a small, weedy teen was a triumph that almost defied belief; the effects were certainly the best thing about the film.
Thor - creating a couple of realms in CGI isn't easy, and was admirably done here.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 - typically good, even if the aging for the final scene wasn't great.

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Steve Zaillan & Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball) - Sorkin must be the best screenwriter out there, with The West Wing and The Social Network among his triumphs. That this baseball film was fairly watchable is a credit to the screenwriting team just as much as to the main acting trio of Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
David Seidler (The King’s Speech) - making this mainly a story of friendship was a masterstroke.
Alex Garland (Never Let Me Go) - though curiously uncompelling, the story had a very distinctive tone.

Best Writing – Original Screenplay
Scott Silver (The Fighter) - I saw surprisingly few films with completely original screenplays in 2011, so this wins almost by default. The true story of a boxer who threw away his chances of success includes a range of great supporting characters; the main weakness is the central figure who is curiously uninteresting.
Dan Fogelman (Crazy Stupid Love) - the pacing is shaky, but this is a very funny and touching film.
Ben Ripley (Source Code) - within the restrictions of a few minutes on a train, this screenplay doesn't get boring.

Best Documentary Feature
Senna - as I said above, this was a remarkable film that is compelling even for people who couldn't care less about F1, being an intense story of ambition, rivalry and disaster.
A Life in the Day - a very moving film concocted from thousands of people's own Youtube footage.

Best 3D Film
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - OK, it was rubbish. And, indeed, the only 3D film I saw in 2011. I've only included it because I didn't want to leave any films out, if I'm honest.

On this day in 2010... A very happy New Year to you all! And, indeed a new decade with an unspecified name.

January 7th 2012
We all know, now, that the song 'Every Breath You Take' by The Police is actually about someone stalking their ex-lover. Playing it to a loved one is about as romantic as playing 'Lola' for your friend of the same name, or the chap I once heard on the radio dedicating 'Band of Gold' to his wife on their 30th wedding anniversary. If he'd looked beyond the title, he would have noticed that lyrics such as "That night, on our honeymoon / We stayed in separate rooms" do not speak of a deep love, but rather the sorrow of estrangement. Anyways, I reckon that EBYT isn't the only song with stalkerish undertones (not a reference to Teenage Kicks, by the way), and offer to you as proof these lyrics:
Just walk away Renée / You won't see me follow you back home - Walk Away Renée (The Left Banke)
If I could, then I would / I'd go wherever you will go - Where You Will Go (The Calling)
But enough of that. In other news, there are two things that have annoyed me for a while, which I want to get off my chest. The first is very simple: people saying "no pressure". Y'know, as in this line from the recent Sherlock Holmes sequel: "If we can stop him, we can prevent the collapse of Western civilization. No pressure." This annoys me because it's an old, old joke that now lacks any shred of originality, and is simply not funny. Trying to understand or explain why a joke is funny is a thankless task (like dissecting a frog, E. B. White informed us), and I struggle to put into words why this gag frustrates me so, but it's got to have something to do with its total lack of unexpectedness, redolent of a dreary humour-by-rote generally expressed by people without the imagination to create something wittier.
The other thing that annoys me (and now is as good a time as any to apologise for making my second post of the year so grumbly. Perhaps I'm just gloomy after having discovered yesterday that I'm now older than Mr. Collins is when he first appears in Pride and Prejudice) is when people ask you to guess how much something cost, in order to emphasise what a bargain it was. You'll be familiar with this scenario, I'm sure:
Excited bargain-buying person: "Look at these trainers. You'll never guess how much they cost! Go on, though. Guess."
Me [thinking]: A pair of trainers might set you back about £25-£30 if you're not too fussy. But these are clearly cheaper than that, because my friend here is grinning like a mad chipmunk and barely restraining himself from dancing on the table. So, he's probably paid about £8-£12, but I don't want to diminish his excitement by guessing correctly - or, worse, guessing a price below what he paid. I could go for the old comedic stand-by of wildly overshooting - 25p or £10,000, say - but that joke's getting very old, so I'll just add a few quid to the maximum I think it might be; he'll be happy and I'll be able to get back to doing this crossword.
Me [out loud]: "£16?"
Only slightly less excited bargain-buying person: "No, £12! Good deal, wasn't it?"
Me: "[affirmative grunt that hopefully signals I've played my part in this charade, so we can all move on with our lives]"

On this day in 2008... For real genius, you either have to go to chocolate biscuits (thank you Tom) or moments like this evening, when the last bites of my dinner coincided almost exactly with Scrubs finishing.

January 13th 2012
You remember how I do this every year, right? Well, this year's no different. That's why they call it 'every'.
1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
Quit my job, drove a car, passed CA3, got asked to show my AXA pass before someone would let me through a door, 'listened again' to Radio 4 without being prompted, bought the News of the World for myself, saw a Spanish football team, made a Secret Santa spreadsheet, noticed that my hairline was definitely receding...
2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
According to this page, my last year's resolutions were to eat more healthily and study more. Well, the healthy eating thing didn't really kick in (I'm doing much better so far this year) but I studied sufficiently never to have to study again. I did manage to go the whole year only reading books I hadn't read before (give or take a few pages now and then), so almost immediately dived in to Pride and Prejudice as 2012 hove into view. This year, as well the healthy eating, I intend to jog more (note 'three times a week' was my intention, but has already bitten the dust), and read the Bible & pray every day.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Who didn't? Welcome to the world Barnabus Mellis, Charlie Rawling, Gus Wainwright and Boaz Lee. And that kid who was the 7 billionth, although we were never close.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.
5. What countries did you visit?
England; Wales (it rained); that's it. 2011 was not a big year for me in terms of travelling.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
More than one pair of jeans that doesn't have holes in it; the letters 'FIA' after my name; the same job all year; a driving licence. Maybe.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The Wolves victories over Chelsea and Manchester United were very pleasant, but the most vivid memory has to be the final game of the Premier League season, when an 87th minute goal kept us up. Also August 22nd, which was my first day back at AXA. Also this was my first birthday spent with Simon in eight years.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing all my actuarial exams! Easy question. I was also pleased to have found myself a new housemate without having to move house...
9. What was your biggest failure?
I can't look back on the first half of this year with any satisfaction, given how little I was enjoying work. I came out of it with a mid-year rating of 'Excellent', but even so I know I should have dealt with things better.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I visited one or two NHS establishments this year, and was as unimpressed by them as ever. Other than the odd cold and a week where my back really hurt, I was nowhere near troubling any medical journals.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I'm looking round my room for inspiration... I was pleased with my army costume for last year's Hare & Hounds; my Mr Men socks are truly excellent; the CD / record player is very nice.
12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?
Aidan & Clare, who were married in the only wedding I attended in 2011; Stephen Hunt (of Wolves); the guy who makes the excellent twentytwowords.com, a site that collates amusing & poignant stuff from around the web; Rupert Murdoch, for closing down the News of the World; my old Christian Network, who hosted a very well-attended carol service, I'm told.
13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?
Above all, the rioters. Also the people camped outside St. Paul's (and elsewhere), who should have long-since been turfed out of the place; the comically evil Paul McMullan; the creators of the 'No to AV' leaflet who told me that Nick Clegg would always be in power if I voted yes; Piers Morgan, who continues to receive about as many viewers as I do on my walk to work; Dave Prentis, who wanted Jeremy Clarkson to be sacked for a joke; Ed Miliband, who is an unelectable goon; the European Court of Justice and their stupid ruling about gender discrimination in insurance.
14. Where did most of your money go?
If you don't count the payments I had to make to Friends, that were reimbursed by AXA, then probably rent. Oh, and Olympics tickets.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The final day of the season (sorry to go on about it); finishing my exams (that, I'll go on about for a good while yet); rejoining AXA.
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Thanks to the last couple of weeks of the year, it will probably be 'Price Tag' by Jessie J, which I saw her perform on at least three different TV programmes during that period. While it's catchy enough, someone should tell her that it is not good enough, nor she established enough, for her to 'break it down' on Jools Holland. Especially if she says 'break it down'.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder?
I've usually miserable, it's just the reason that changes. Having said that, I feel pretty good at the moment.
ii. thinner or fatter?
If I were thinner, I wouldn't have started eating so many vegetables and refusing so much cake.
iii. richer or poorer?
Richer. I even have a Stocks and Shares ISA now, although it is with one of AXA's competitors...
18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
It would have been good to keep up the jogging, because it's harder to get back into it cold. Also, my squash playing has almost entirely dropped off.
19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating McDonald's; moping.
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
If this year is anything to go by, receiving Christmas cards from small girls who think I'm the star of a children's arts and crafts TV show. And very few other cards.
21. How did it take you so many years to notice that this thing doesn't have a Question 21?
Good question.
22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
I did not.
24. What was your favourite TV program?
How I Met Your Mother remains the best thing on TV, I reckon. I also got into The Big Bang Theory far more than I thought I would; Doctor Who was still great; Ten O'Clock Live was a bit hit and miss but still essential viewing (apart from the bits with Lauren Laverne), and The Good Wife was an excellent chance discovery based on seeing that Michael J Fox was in one episode. Speaking of whom, I bought the first season of Spin City and was rather disappointed.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Yes, you. jk [Note: I may hate people who write 'jk' after stuff].
26. What was the best book you read?
I'll be honest, by reading only books I hadn't read before, I was hoping for great things, but nothing stood out massively. Shortly before the end of the year I covered this in detail, so I'll just say that Yes, Prime Minister, Michael Palin's diaries and One Day were probably the highlights.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I bought very few CDs in 2011 compared to previous years, but Coldplay's Mylo Xyloto was excellent, if not quite as good as Viva La Vida. I discovered that I like Willie Nelson's version of You Were Always On My Mind, and the song from the Love Film advert ('Higher Love' by James Vincent McMorrow, I've just found out) - does that count?
28. What did you want and get?
A new housemate, a new job, plenty of people in my regular quiz team, a widening circle of friends in church.
29. What did you want and not get?
Ben & Kate to name their child 'Colin James Thomas Rawling'. Win some, lose some.
30. What was your favourite film of this year?
If you'd been paying attention to the Coddies, you would have seen that it was X-Men: First Class. I'm going to come out and say it: the best prequel I've ever seen. Take that, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Star Wars Episode VI: Revenge of the Sith.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old?
My 26th birthday (by the bye, I've reached the age where I continually forget how old I am) began with the rest of my family in Somerset, and once I'd reached Bristol I met up with Ben & Kate, then we - and some others - took part in the Deco quiz. We didn't win, though.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If someone had invented bacon-flavoured cheese. Come to think of it, I've not sure that doesn't already exist... I'll get back to you. And no, cheese-flavoured bacon doesn't come close to counting
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
2011 was the year that I really found myself. I was in my bedroom.
34. What kept you sane?
My reasonable confidence that AXA would offer me a job, even if they took their sweet time about it.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Rachel McAdams. Man, I love Canadadians: considering that their basic ingredients are the USA and France, they've done a phenomenal job.
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Curiously, in a year where we saw the Arab Spring, the death of Osama Bin Laden, the death of Kim Jong Il and the collapse of the Eurozone, the political issue I was most interested by was the referendum on the Alternative Vote. I was very glad to see that the country made what I believe to be the right decision (and resoundingly, too), even if it set me on a collision course with my own father. That's politics.
37. Whom did you miss?
It was a shame to see Matt head off to Nottingham, and I've left behind a lot of friends at Friends, although working for AXA means I'm still in reasonably frequent contact with plenty of them. I really miss the Christian Network, though.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
There are some lovely folk at AXA, but I'd met many of them before... hmm... maybe the guy upstairs who sets the fire alarm off by smoking at 6.30am on a Saturday morning? Probably not...
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
There's no point living with the motto "Out of the frying pan and into the fire"; if you're in a frying pan, you need to get out. Deal with the fire later.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
And it seems such a waste of time / If that's what it's all about / Mama, if that's movin' up then I'm... / Movin' out
Movin' Out (Anthony's Song) - Billy Joel

On this day in 2005...
Philosopher A What time are the Philosophy lectures?
Philosopher B I think they're 4am.

January 20th 2012
Most of you will know that my brother blogs over at Stuck in a Book, and recently the good folk at Penguin asked if he would like to review the Adrian Mole series if they sent him a set. Since I'm more of a Mole fan than he is, I was invited to review them instead, and so I have. The following review was embargoed (oh, yes) because the re-issues were only published yesterday, but here it is for your delectation:

It is 30 years since Adrian Mole leapt into the national consciousness from the pen of Sue Townsend, and to mark the occasion Penguin are re-issuing all eight volumes of the Mole saga.
Eight volumes? Really? The first surprise to many readers who loved Adrian in the seminal The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ - even the title is funny – and perhaps Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, which was televised for the BBC, is that Townsend has been quite so prolific in writing about her best-loved creation. If for nothing else, then, this re-issue is a fine reminder that there was life after high school for the poet of Ashby-de-la-Zouch.
Adrian Mole is, to my mind, one of the finest comic creations in English literature. The diary format is perfect for exposing his lack of self-awareness, utterly delusional nature and inability to understand the world around him (a trick played many years before in The Diary of a Nobody) but, like many of the finest comic characters, we cannot help but empathise with him and hope that maybe, this time, he’ll get it right. Maybe Pandora, the woman Adrian is pathetically in love with for the majority of the series, will return his affections; maybe one of his literary efforts (Longing for Wolverhampton; Lo! The Flat Hills of My Homeland; Plague!) will get the respect it so richly doesn’t deserve; maybe his parents will cease to be a constant source of embarrassment and anguish. But then again, of course, maybe not.
As a teenager, Adrian Mole has a few themes that he returns to with unabated zeal: how much he loves Pandora (“Pandora’s father is a milkman! I have gone off her a bit”); his manifold sufferings (“I will be a latchkey kid, whatever that is”) and, unfailingly, the fact that he is an intellectual (“I have written to Malcolm Muggeridge, c/o the BBC, asking him what to do about being an intellectual”; “I am an intellectual but at the same time I am not very clever”). Then, of course, there is the Norwegian Leather Industry, knowledge of which – based on his score in a single school test – Adrian carries around with him like Bertie Wooster with his Scripture Knowledge prize. Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction begins with a reference to meeting Tony Blair at a 1999 conference on the topic.
When the series begins, Mole is – of course – 13 ¾, and by the final volume (so far; Townsend’s only comment about the future is her hope that Adrian go “onward, ever onward”) he is 40 and a grandfather, and it is a great tribute to the series that the child is still recognisable in the adult. From the first few pages of book one you could tell that he is the kind of person who would engage in a lengthy correspondence about the existence of WMDs, simply in order to get a refund on his travel expenses. Some of his traits are diminished a little by time: Mole no longer has such a heightened view of his importance in the world, and is not so blithely unaware of his surroundings as he once was. This is all to the good; a teenager whose reaction to Animal Farm is to ponder becoming a vet (later amended to boycotting bacon) is amusing; a grown man – and father to children from various different mothers – showing such vapidity would just be sad. Townsend is obviously fond of her hero, and he is not designed to be simply a figure of fun; it is genuinely touching when, in Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years, ‘The Top Secret Diary of Glenn Mole (13)’ begins “When I grow up I want to be my dad.”
As well as being an excellent character study over thirty years, the Adrian Mole series always has its finger on the political pulse, starting under Margaret Thatcher (“I was looking at our world map. I couldn’t find the Falkland Islands anywhere. My mother found them; they were hidden under a crumb of fruitcake”) and self-evident in The Weapons of Mass Destruction. Just the unlikely fact that Adrian’s only published work (actually ghost-written by his mother) is ‘Offally Good! – The Book!’, the companion to his TV cooking show, is an indictment of celebrity culture in Tony Blair’s Britain. Of course, the most overtly political entry in the Mole canon is The Secret Diary of Margaret Hilda Roberts Aged 14 ¼, which forms part of True Confessions of Adrian Mole.
As the series develops, so do the cast of characters in Adrian’s life (helpfully detailed in the back of these editions). Pandora becomes a prominent MP; school bully Barry Kent becomes a successful poet; Adrian’s best friend Nigel becomes a blind, gay, Buddhist van driver (though not necessarily all at the same time). Townsend also introduces a host of new characters, including the excellently-drawn Flowers family, one of whom becomes Mrs Daisy Mole in Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction. It is at this point that Adrian Mole lays down his pen, saying that “Happy people don’t keep a diary”, only to pick it up again in Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years (the title taken from the fact that Adrian has problems with his prostate and, true to his nature, is chiefly annoyed by people pronouncing the word with an extraneous ‘r’) to record the fact that “it is two months and nineteen days since I made love to my wife, Daisy”. In the Q&A accompanying this new edition of the books, Townsend says that her favourite book in the series is The Prostrate Years, because she herself had suffered serious health problems and wanted to tackle the subject in a comic manner. I applaud the sentiment, but I must confess that I wish she hadn’t gone down the path she chose; while Adrian’s pursuit of Pandora was always amusing for its hopelessness, his relationship with Daisy appeared to be the true romance of the series, and its collapse was unfortunate. I would rank the first two and the penultimate books as the highlights of the series, but the central character is so strong that I re-read them all with enjoyment.
So that’s the books themselves: what about this re-issue in particular? I feel sorry for Roderick Mills, who was tasked with designing the new covers, because the original cover (the bathroom mirror with a shaving kit and Noddy toothbrush, beautifully demonstrating the dichotomies inherent within a youth becoming a man) is rightly iconic – something that is tacitly admitted by including it on the inside cover of the new Secret Diary. The designer opted for pastel shades for each book in the series, which strikes me as a little odd given that I would normally associate the colour scheme (though not the overall effect, I admit) with chick-lit. Perhaps it is an attempt to emphasise that Adrian Mole can be read and enjoyed by men and women of all ages, and is not the preserve of teenage boys, even given that David Walliams’ foreword to The Secret Diary (in which he finds space to name-check his own book for children) says “boys who were proud to say they had never read a book in their life read this one”.
The new editions also include a Q&A with Sue Townsend, Adrian Mole’s CV and literary CV, the Mole story, a roll call of principal characters and the first chapter of Townsend’s new book (this last I must confess I haven’t read, but having read The Queen and I and Rebuilding Coventry, I can assert that her skill with her pen isn’t limited to residents of Leicestershire). This is a generous set of add-ons, many of which help to give a sense of continuity to the chronicles of Adrian’s surprisingly eventful life and the array of characters who enter and exit it.
When asked if she regards Adrian Mole as a millstone round her neck, Townsend was emphatic in her response: “authors who complain about the success of their most well-known characters are fools”. If she chooses to continue his run, I won’t be complaining either.

On this day in 2010... Girls love an actuary, y'know.

January 25th 2012
I fear I may have become addicted to online gambling. Not in the traditional sense - my poker skills are so poor that I am not foolish enough to bet anything more exciting than bits of plastic owned by someone else, and I can't bring myself to put money on Mick McCarthy being fired, even at the generous odds of 2-1 - but in a financial sense. Ever since I opened my Stocks & Shares ISA with Hargreaves Lansdown (yes, a direct competitor of AXA. What are you gonna do?) I find myself checking the movement in fund prices a few times a week. It's tantamount to gambling, isn't it? Imagine my distress when my Fidelity Moneybuilder fund lost me £2.82 in just one day (Moneybuilder? Moneyloser, more like. Yeah, they're just a bunch of Moneylosers); imagine my personal conflict in trying to decide whether to shift my Invesco Perpetual Corporate Bond investment, which has raised me nearly £14 since I put money in it a week and a half ago. Has it reached its peak? Or will it surge onwards if I sell my units, leaving me to feel like the chappie who sold the Dead Sea scrolls for tuppence ha'penny. Or something. If I weren't so tired, I reckon this would keep me up at night.
In other news, Bristol is soon getting the opportunity to vote on whether it wants to have a mayor, and without having thought about it a great deal, I'm in favour. Having a mayor would give the city a certain caché, don't you think? I honestly believe that I may well live in the finest city in the UK - certainly I've never been to a city that I've preferred - and I feel that a Boris-ish (Borish?) leader - albeit one with fewer powers and 98% less bumbling - is a fitting thing for such a grand place. The Times, apparently, reckons that I'm not alone, and that Bristol is likely to vote 'Yes'. If that does come to pass, it remains only to be seen who we'll get: Stephen Williams, my local MP, has thrown his cap into the ring, but I'm not particularly impressed by him... mainly because one of his lackeys once sent me a "we're sorry you don't agree with us about tuition fees" email in response to my email congratulating him on the coalition stance on tuition fees, but also because he strikes me as being a trifle smug. I don't have a better suggestion for a candidate, I must admit, but that could be because my mind is otherwise occupied in trying to work up a serviceable pun using 'Weston-Super-Mayor' as my base material. Someone call the Bristol Evening Post, I think I'm getting somewhere...

On this day in 2006... Let's, for a short moment, forget that every second that passes is one second closer to someone you love accidentally tripping over a cat, and look ahead with joy and clear heart.

what was I listening to?
Sunshine On My Shoulders - John Denver
what was I reading?
Dragonflight - Anne McCaffrey
what was I watching?
Pride & Prejudice
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